Authors: Aurora Chen, Brandon Chen, Sophia Xu
Editors: Tiffany Chen, Joyce Hai, Demi Leng, Lydia Ren, Kira Tian, Molly Zhao, Leon Zhou Artist: Nicole Tseng
As of June 14th, 2020, Italy has 236,989 coronavirus cases, and this number is slowly decreasing day by day. Italy was once the epicenter of the pandemic in Europe, but it has recently begun to gradually loosen its lockdown measures. In early May, factories, construction sites, and other businesses began to reopen as long as they followed social distancing measures. However, Italy’s economy has worsened dramatically because of COVID-19. In South Italy, the people are faced with an economic depression on two ends, the repercussions of World War II, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. South Italy also has a poorer health system compared to the North, with many hospitals facing significant debt and many patients being sent to Northern Italy.
To handle the devastating effects on Italy’s economy, the Italian prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, presented an economic package with €55 billion to attack the economic impact. It freezes corporate tax for companies and grants aid to small businesses. The government also used the money to improve unemployment benefits, healthcare systems, universities and research, and agricultural industries.
Like many other countries, Italy took social distancing measures by adopting an online education system in late February, along with the largest lockdown after China’s crisis. Also, by enforcing all nonessential workers to stay home, along with the closing of factories and restaurants, the government attempts to decrease the chance of the virus spreading.
In hospitals, life is even harder for frontline workers. Early on during the pandemic, doctors were being asked to fight the virus without adequate protective equipment to prevent the spread. As a result, over a hundred Italian doctors have died because of coronavirus. Doctors and nurses worked tirelessly in hospitals and critical care units, taking shifts of up to 12 hours. FNOMCeO health association’s president, Filippo Anelli, said that allowing doctors to fight without any protection against the virus is “an unfair fight.” The burden has resulted in many physical and emotional imprints on them due to their efforts to ease the virus.
As of June 13th, there are 233,836 cases and 6,261 deaths and the numbers are still increasing. Within a matter of weeks, infections had spread to over a dozen countries in Africa with the case numbers still rising in most African countries; south African countries are increasing most rapidly. Despite this fact, The World Health Organization (WHO) has been helping the African government by providing thousands of testing kits to African countries. The WHO has also provided remote assistance, allowing these countries to analyze and keep track of the outbreak, allowing African countries to tackle COVID-19. As a society, the community is taking protective measures, such as self-isolation. WHO is helping African countries to spread the message and inform more people of COVID-19’s risks.
Although Africa consists of more low-income populations and the people have less access to expensive medications and treatments, they have taken early preventative measures and have shown lower case numbers than expected. As an alternative to expensive medicine, many Africans have turned to herbal remedies, which has been praised by the president of Madagascar, Andry Rajoelina.
Up until June 16 th , 2020, the United States had the largest number of COVID-19 cases: 2,085,769 total cases and 115, 644 total deaths according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The states with the highest amount of cases include New York, New Jersey, California, and Illinois. The number of cases and deaths is still increasing rapidly every day, but at a slower rate than before.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, most states have already shut down; more than 48 states have ordered or recommended school closures until the fall of the next school year. In-person summer schools have also been replaced by virtual online classes. Moreover, the President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) on March 27th, 2020 to help citizens get through this pandemic. This over $2 trillion economic relief package promises to protect citizens from the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19. Programs like the Child Welfare Services, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs are included in this act.
However, despite the closures of schools, all 50 states have begun to reopen in some way since April. In many states, certain regions or sectors have reopened while others remain closed. For instance, a Stay-at-home order expired on April 30 in Alabama; Sectors such as outdoor and recreation, retail, and personal care have reopened since then.
South Korea's preparation for COVID-19 was instantaneous and considerate. In 2015, the outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome in South Korea killed 38 people. The government made large efforts to find the reason behind that: a lack of tests made patients miss the best time for treatment. The Korean officials made an important reform, allowing the government to give near-instantaneous approval to testing systems in case of an emergency. When COVID-19 broke out in Wuhan, China, the four companies in South Korean simultaneously manufactured tests from a World Health Organization recipe. Because of these adequate medical supplies, such as masks, COVID-19 testing in the country quickly developed a system that could assess up to 10,000 people per day. Thus, because of such measures, the outbreak was gradually brought under control. The number of active cases started to drop after reaching its peak in March.
Different from the US, which stopped updating the case numbers daily, South Korea kept its people posted with information about COVID-19. Since February, people could see the precise movement of everyone who tested positive, even the seat numbers they took in the movie theater. While some might say that it was also a "double-edged sword" because it raised anxiety among the public. A South Korean official stated that they “believed that if the government did not post extensive details about infected people on social media, COVID-19 would have spread even more quickly.”
South Korean hospitals have been properly equipped with mechanical supplies. The government realized that if they didn't protect frontline workers and physicians, the virus would not be controlled. As a result, the government fully supplied all the necessary equipment so frontline workers can handle tests and treatments safely.
The sudden outbreak of coronavirus in Wuhan had affected China’s policy. Since Wuhan had no previous experiences in dealing with an issue like this in the past, there was a significant shortage of protective clothing, masks, and nucleic acid detection agents. Hospitals even had to ask for citizens' help on social media platforms to seek protective clothes and masks. In March, after the country's outreach to mask manufacturers, supplies gradually became sufficient again.
After the situation started recovering, the Chinese government announced on April 10th that high school students in major cities could return to school. However, the government was also afraid of a second wave of the COVID-19. Therefore, schools enforced students to follow social distancing rules and wear masks in school; all of these measures were being strictly followed. Wuhan was set to reopen its high schools on May 6th.