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14. 4. 2020

On December 31, 2019 China alerted the World Health Organization about an unusual cases of pneumonia occurring over the preceding few weeks in Wuhan, and by January 7 they had identified the cause as being a new strain of coronavirus – COVID-19. The category coronavirus includes SARS, which is best remembered for its pandemic in 2002, but the common cold is also a type of coronavirus. The first case outside of China was reported on January 13 in Thailand. COVID-19 would make its way to the USA on January 21 when a man in Washington State was reported to be infected with the virus.

At first, the cases of COVID-19 in the US were not spreading rapidly. On February 24, President Donald Trump would tweet that “the Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA”, and for the time it was. The USA now has more cases of COVID-19 than any other country in the world. So how did the USA go from 24 confirmed cases, to over 580,000 cases in a little over a month and a half? For starters, many in the US underplayed the seriousness of the disease. Comparing it to the flu or even to the common cold, led many into a false sense of security. Even today, one does not have to look hard on Facebook or Instagram and see many people saying that the US government and media are exaggerating the dangerous nature of COVID19. Second, a delayed response by the US government allowed the virus to spread rapidly before proper measures were implemented. These two events have led to experimenting with an anti-malaria medication in an effort to cure patients, but this too has many drawbacks. Finally, one of the biggest challenges facing the US will be a potential spike in new cases in the weeks following the Easter holiday weekend, when many people will be gathered for church services despite calls for social distancing.

Policy Paper – Ryan Jacobsen, April 2020

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