While the United States is figuring out how to send students back into schools amid a pandemic, countries in Europe are much closer to navigating life in a post-pandemic world. Things like testing availability, public guidelines and education must all be taken into consideration when a country responds to COVID-19. Countries like New Zealand seem to be on the fast track to getting back to as normal of a life as possible. You aren’t alone if you are wondering why some countries are fairing this pandemic better than others, but the worst part is that there is not a definite answer yet. Could it be the testing availability? Could it be the public guidelines put in place? Does the level of education on COVID-19 given to the people matter?
The United States seemed to have honorable intentions with its lockdown procedures; however, many were disheartened and felt that these procedures and requirements were lifted prematurely and introduced too late. Many people got the impression that the economic state of the country became a priority over the health and safety of citizens. Rachel Cooley, a student at the University of Tulsa says, “Unfortunately, instead of caring about the cases, the U.S. cared about the economy and people at jobs or people in schools.”
When asked to compare the United States’ reaction with the reactions of other countries, Cooley says, “I think most countries have done better with COVID-19 than the U.S. because they took it more seriously at the beginning than we did, resulting in the U.S. having more cases.” Cooley lived in New York when COVID-19 was beginning there “They always took it seriously with following guidelines and enforcing them.”
While New York was seemingly quick to jump into defense mode against COVID-19, many other states were not in any hurry. In order for an impact to have been made early on, the United States needed all the states on the same page. Equal access to resources did not even exist before the pandemic, and sadly nothing has changed.
New Zealand passed the 100 day mark with no COVID-19 cases as well as no new cases on Aug. 9, 2020. It took New Zealand 65 days to eliminate the virus from the first case recorded on Feb. 26, 2020 to the last known community-transmitted case on May 1, 2020. An article in “The Conversation”, an academic journal from New Zealand, reports that a few days after the 100 day mark, there were four new cases recorded in Auckland. The country responded by changing restrictions to level 3 in Auckland, while the rest of the country was switched to level 2 restrictions. New Zealand was able to revert back to level one restrictions on June 9. How did New Zealand kick COVID-19 so quickly? There are a few key elements that aided in New Zealand’s success. “The Conversation” says that New Zealand relied on three different things when working against the clock to eliminate COVID-19. Being an isolated island was something New Zealand took advantage of, border control was quickly enforced. A lockdown was put into effect as well as enforced social distancing. Testing was also readily available and contact tracing was implemented. Even though the country is technically COVID-19 free, there is still no rush to open colleges. However, New Zealand is planning to accept a small number for international students. Younger children are getting the opportunity to head back to their in person classrooms, with parents dropping them off in “kiss and go zones” according to Daily Mail”.
It is definitely a hard time to be a college student in the United States of America right now, especially when it is so easy to compare our situation with those in other countries that are living with fewer regulations and restrictions. While the United States sits on the sidelines and watches other countries get closer to where they were pre-pandemic, it is important to understand that these countries aren’t just lifting regulations because they are bored quarantining. Countries that are lifting restrictions are doing so because they are having much fewer cases and fatalities than other places around the world. What helped them get better so quickly? That is truly the magic question.