A few months ago, the outbreak of coronavirus in the United States was serious, but it was not so different in Europe. Now that hard-hit European nations, such as Italy, the United Kingdom, France and Spain, have been brought under control, the situation in the United States remains bleak.
There is a lot to learn from the affected countries that managed to turn things around, as well as from those that were so fast and organized that all but the elimination of the virus.
Here are some tips from abroad on how Americans can move forward.
Don’t take it like 1999
In South Korea, which has been celebrating the delivery of a virus response model, reopening nightclubs in the capital, Seoul, has led to an increase in cases in May. The city was forced to close all bars and clubs immediately afterwards.
The difference is that South Korea had the virus so well controlled, and had such a well-oiled test and detection system, that the authorities were able to contact most of the people affected and include the case.
Reopening plans vary from state to state, but overall, America has opened up much faster than it has affected European countries. In the UK, for example, pubs are expected to reopen on Saturday, 15 weeks after ordering closed, and as the UK curve clearly flattens out. You can no longer say that about the curve in the US, and bars in many states have long been open.
So, waiting for an indoor visit with a large crowd this weekend will undoubtedly help you prevent the spread of the virus. In many states, crowds are limited to less than 100, or 50, or even 10, and some have closed their bars again.
Wear this mask
But the tide is turning. Health experts agree that masks are useful, especially when a virus is prevalent in the community. The WHO and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are now proposing the use of a mask in public places.
Several studies show that the use of face masks is effective, but these have not yet been evaluated by peers and there is simply no evidence of how successful they were in this pandemic.
Apart from Asia, Germany was one of the fastest-growing countries to adopt mandatory nationwide mask use, while much of the world was still discussing its effectiveness. There are many reasons for Germany’s success in keeping its mortality rate low and slowing its infections, but at least part of its success is due to wear and tear on face masks.
Even Trump’s most loyal supporters, including Vice President Mike Pence, are starting to wear faces. Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Thursday ordered most people in the state to hide from the public, as the state experience is one of the worst increases in the country in terms of infection numbers. Other states, such as California, have also issued public service announcements encouraging people to wear them.
Try it if you think you should
At the beginning of the epidemic, it was almost impossible to get tested in the US unless you were hospitalized. That has changed, and while there may be obstacles, testing is more affordable than ever.
President Trump has made the unwarranted argument that the country needs to reduce testing in order to maintain the numbers of its cases. The WHO reiterated that testing is the key to keeping the virus under control. Parts that have had some of the most successful responses – South Korea, Germany, Iceland, New Zealand and Australia – have, among other things, tried everything at a high rate.
The CDC’s advice is that if you have symptoms, you should call your doctor and ask if a test is recommended. Even some asymptomatic individuals should be tested in some specific cases.
As in Florida, for example, the White House Coronation Coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birks, urged all Florida residents who have attended mass rallies over the past four weeks to be tested, even if they show no symptoms.
Quarantine when requested (and sometimes even when you are not)
Extensive testing goes hand in hand with efficient tracking, tracking and quarantine systems.
The idea is that anyone who has recently come in contact with an infected person will be notified by authorities and asked to quarantine, usually for 14 days. This means that if you are infected, even if you have no symptoms, you will probably not transmit it to anyone outside your home.
The United States as a whole is struggling to acquire several contact trackers to run an efficient system, as have some other countries, including the United Kingdom. The CDC aims to have 30 contact trackers for every 100,000 people in the country.
This is particularly worrying for eight states that are hotspots for Covid-19: Nevada (13), Florida (7), Arizona (5), Idaho (14), Texas (11), Tennessee (9), Georgia (2). and South Carolina (8).
If your state has not yet established an effective contact tracking system, there is no reason why you should not be able to request a test if you suspect that you may have come in contact with an infected person.
In the meantime, it may make sense to keep your plans until the fourth of July and continue to socialize until the US controls the virus.
Jacqueline Howard and CNN’s Natalie Croker contributed to this report.