There are no plans to end the coronavirus crisis

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Atlanta locked.
Photo: Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images

For the past month, American journalists and public health experts have praised the response of coronaviruses from South Korea and Singapore above all. Singapore will close its schools and most businesses on Tuesday to guard against an out of control epidemic; South Korea has just extended its policy of social distancing. In the early months of this pandemic, the most developed regions of Asia visibly outperformed the rest of the world – a differential that produced a series of viral graphics showing the benefits of universal mask and testing. But in recent days, Hong Kong and Taiwan, noting an increase in new cases arriving via international visitors, have closed their borders. Cases are increasing in Japan and a second wave of infections is also feared in China. Which means that, all things considered, many desperate countries in the United States have spent the past few months renting out because exemplary models of public health management don’t really have the virus under control – or at least not in the to the extent that it appeared a few weeks ago, or to the extent that you might hope if you expected a (relatively) quick end to quarantine measures and an economic stop followed by a (relatively) quick return to “normal” life and economic recovery.

If the countries that have established themselves as models on how to proceed cannot understand this, what does this mean for the United States, which is struggling with broken institutions and has already missed and delayed their response at almost all stages? Here in New York, we are about to enter our third week of shelter there; in San Francisco and Seattle, social distancing orders have been in effect for even longer. However, there is no clarity to be found at the federal, state or local level as to the duration of these measures. And there is no public or concrete plan, and few visible discussions on what it would mean to remove them: how and when and in what ways we will try to get out of this temporary but indefinite national bunkering of type war for almost 330 million of us are found now. What exactly is the final phase here?



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