Great news! China restarts after COVID-19. Watch & learn.

Summary: Great news for the world: the nation first hit hard is restarting after only 3 months. So much for the confident bold predictions that this would last for years and years. Our pride prevented us from learning from China’s successful fight against COVID-19. Will we learn from China’s restart? Success or failure, either will provide lessons.

Road to recovery - AdobeStock - 136686926.
By 3D generator, AdobeStock – 136686926.

China is a poor nation that was the first to encounter COVID-19. By now the evidence is overwhelming that they defeated it by roughly February 1. As the epidemic burns across America, with more cases than in China, many (most?) America react by screaming WE’RE NUMBER ONE. CHINA CAN’T DO BETTER THAN US. THEIR NUMBERS MUST BE LIES! We are too rich and too powerful to learn from East Asian nations (this is also the guiding principle of our health care system, as we are defeated by challenges successfully managed by other peer nations).

While we lurch into the future with our eyes closed, China takes the next step in fighting COVID-19: restarting its economy after the lock-downs. They are following WHO’s advice: restart society when the epidemic recedes to the point at which testing and contact tracing can suppress new cases. America probably won’t learn from this, either.

Can China return to normalcy
while keeping the coronavirus in check?”

By Dennis Normile in Science, 29 March 2020.

“Life is almost back to normal in much of China. Shops, restaurants, bars, and offices are open for business. Manufacturing activity is picking up. Traffic once again jams the highways of major cities. Three-quarters of China’s workforce was back on the job as of 24 March, according to one company’s estimate. Wuhan, where the COVID-19 pandemic originated, is lagging, as is the rest of Hubei province – but even there, the lockdown is set to lift 8 April.

“China has done what few believed was possible: Bring a blazing epidemic of a respiratory virus to a virtual standstill. On 18 March, the country reported zero locally transmitted cases of COVID-19 for the first time. Since then, only six of such infections have been reported, only one of them in Wuhan. Now, the key question is: Can China keep it that way?

“Public health officials worldwide are watching closely. “China is addressing an issue every country and location in the world will eventually face: how to normalize and restore societal activities, while at the same time minimizing disease-related dangers from the outbreak,” says epidemiologist Keiji Fukuda of the University of Hong Kong (HKU).

“‘I believe that there are few local cases,’ says HKU epidemiologist Ben Cowling. But with most of the population still susceptible to infection, fresh outbreaks remain a constant danger. ‘How to balance getting back to work and a normal state versus maintaining the current status [of few new cases] is certainly critical,’ says Ding Sheng, director of the Global Health Drug Discovery Institute and dean of the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Tsinghua University.

“Officials are relaxing restrictions very slowly and methodically, Ding says. Many restaurants at first reopened with shortened hours and for a limited number of customers; now, doors are open to all. Primary and secondary schools in several provinces have reopened, but only in communities free of the disease, and schools must check students’ temperatures and watch for symptoms. Universities, where students from around the country mix, remain closed, with classes taught online. Events that draw crowds are still banned or discouraged. Live music venues and gyms in many cities remain closed. There are temperature checks at subway entrances and factory gates.

“A number of local governments had allowed cinemas to reopen, but last week the national government decided it was too early and closed all theaters for the time being. And habits developed during the epidemic persist. Face masks are ubiquitous. People keep their distance in public and at work. Millions continue to work from home.

To guard against flare-ups, investigators trace and quarantine close contacts of every newly confirmed COVID-19 case, including those who may be asymptomatic, Wu Zunyou, an epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), told the communist party newspaper China Daily earlier this week. In another precaution, everyone visiting fever clinics in Beijing and other major cities is now tested for the virus. And many provinces check the health status of migrant workers and others crossing their borders. “Any new transmission will be identified quickly and controlled swiftly,” Ding says.

“Friday’s travel ban …addresses the other main risk: reintroduction of the virus from the rest of the world. More than 500 cases have been confirmed in incoming air passengers since 18 March. …Flights into China have been severely curtailed. Chinese citizens who arrive undergo strict screening en route and upon arrival and go into quarantine for 2 weeks. …

“The Chinese strategy is aimed at buying time until a vaccine or drugs are available, says George Gao, director of the China CDC. …”

——————————

Careful experimentation as China restarts

AP, March 31: “China’s manufacturing rebounds as virus controls ease.

There are no clear precedents for restarting a nation after a sudden stop due to a pandemic. China is proceding by trial and error. As in this from the Hollywood Reporter, March 27: “Over 600 movie theaters across China were given the green light to reopen their doors over the past week, but Beijing’s Film Bureau put out a notice late Friday ordering all theaters to go back into shutdown.”

We too could have contained COVID-19

Forner Federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy explains that Trump has the power to implement travel restrictions like those China used to contain COVID-19. He could have done this in late February or early March and probably prevented this massive and growing epidemic. 

In his 1994 novel Debt of Honor, Tom Clancy described how a loaded civilian jetliner could become a powerful weapon – crashing down to destroy a giant building. In his 1996 novel Executive Orders, he described how a president responded to early signs of a massive epidemic – a highly infectious form of Ebola. We would be better off today if a similar scene had occured in the Trump White House.

Executive Orders
Available at Amazon.

“Therefore containment is the only option,” General Pickett went on.

“How do you contain a whole country?” said Cliff Rutledge, Assistant Secretary of State for Policy.

“That’s the problem we face,” President Ryan said. “The only way to contain the epidemic is to shut down all places of assembly – theaters, shopping malls, sports stadia, business offices, everything – and interstate travel. To the best of our information, at least 30 states are so far untouched by this disease. We would do well to keep it that way. We can accomplish that by preventing all interstate travel until such time as we have a handle on the severity of the disease we are facing, and then we can come up with less severe countermeasures.”

“Mr Presdient, that’s unconstitutional,” Pat Martin (representing DoJ) sid at once. Travel is a constitutionally protect right. … {But} Mr. President, I do not see that we have much of a choice here. …The Constitution is not a suicide pact.” …

“Thank you” Ryan said, checking his watch. “I am calling the issue on the table.”

Defense, Treasury, Justice, and Commerce voted aye. All the rest voted no. Ryan looked at them for a long few seconds. “The ayes have it,” the President said coldly. …This has absolute and unconditional priority over any other matter.”

A reminder of the key fact

Epidemics, depressions, and wars are natural aspects of life. If we become weak, one of these ills eventually will destroy our society. For America to survive, each of us must stay connected and committed to our communities and nation. As the Director-General of WHO has said since the beginning, we can survive this well if we support each other. We have the resources. We need only the standard virtues of compassion and courage plus some wit and willpower.

It’s easy to follow the COVID-19 story

The World Health Organization provides daily information, from highly technical information to news for the general public. These are the best sources of information.

Also, see the wealth of information at the CDC website, especially their situation reports.

Posts about effects of COVID-19

For More Information

Ideas! For some shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon. Also, see a powerful and disturbing story about “Birth of a Man of Steel …for the Soviet Union.

Also see: “Anthony Fauci tries to make the White House listen to facts of the pandemic” – an interview in Science with the Director of and member of the Coronavirus Task Force.

Please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Also, see these posts about epidemics…

  1. See the ugly cost of the next big flu pandemic. We can do more to prepare.
  2. Stratfor: The superbugs are coming. We have time to prepare.
  3. Posts debunking the hysteria about the 2009 swine flu in America.
  4. Posts debunking the hysteria about the 2015 ebola epidemic in America.
  5. ImportantA vaccine against the fears that make us weak.

 

15 thoughts on “Great news! China restarts after COVID-19. Watch & learn.”

  1. While what you write looks more or less okay to me (apart from the very different ideology), there are factual problems that are persistently turning up. One is this: “China is a poor nation”. FYI China is not poor at all, it’s very likely the richest nation on Earth at the moment. In terms of PPP, China has the highest GDP, and this is what counts (especially if you take into account the fact that China is producing most of the industrial products it needs, and it’s importing mostly raw materials).
    And while the per capita PPP GDP doesn’t look great, China is much less polarized in economic terms than most of the “West”, ie. ordinary people aren’t really poor in China compared to the West. The other thing is that while the “West” routinely (and usually without evidence) accuses China of manipulation, GDP data is very likely heavily manipulated in the “West”. Furthermore, sizeable (and increasing) portion of Western GDP is the result of financial services, an arguably not really productive sector. The “China is poor” trope looks an American delusion to me, in Europe, people see it much more realistically.
    One interesting data to illustrate the above is the number of hospital beds per 1000 people. The old Eastern Bloc has consistently high values (in the top), and China’s value is increasing, and it’s higher than Italy’s. One can argue that the quality of these beds isn’t the same and there are problems with distribution (there’s a pronounced rural-urban divide in China), but the fact is that “Italy’s health care resources are” NOT “immensely larger” than China’s (https://fabiusmaximus.com/2020/03/16/covid-19-new-center-of-the-world/ , a comment of yours), and the way Italy (and more generally the “West”) copes with the epidemic compared to China is a good illustration.

    1. Jazzbot,

      “China is not poor at all, it’s very likely the richest nation on Earth at the moment. In terms of PPP”

      You are confusing aggregate GDP with per person GDP. When speaking of rich and poor, we look at the latter. A nation of billion dirt poor people can have a high aggregate GDP.

      This affects everything. Their health care system is primitive compared to that of the US. For example, the US has 38 MRI machines per million people while China has 0.2 per million (a total of aprox 20 thousand). Saying that they are the “richest nation in the world” is silly.

      Hospital beds is a meaningless metric. It’s just a bed. The number of ICU (or critical care) beds is a more useful measure.

      ” the fact is that “Italy’s health care resources are” NOT “immensely larger” than China’s”

      Again, silly. Italy has the 4th largest number of MRI machines per capita (28 per million) vs. China’s 0.02 per million. I’d bet that in every other measure of medical care adequacy, Italy is far ahead of China.

      “and the way Italy (and more generally the “West”) copes with the epidemic compared to China is a good illustration.”

      The comparatively poor response is entirely a result of politics (aka wit and will). Not wealth. Not health care.

  2. I teach Asian students and they are amazed how Westerns don’t stay inside when ordered and take no personal responsibility.

    Another thing is the shut down, I work in a College with all students sent home, but we are all attending work, we have to write online materials to help the students in virus crisis. Anyone that thinks that probably thinks they flush pure chocolate down the toilet after they have pooped.

    The management is using this to cut jobs after the virus, as most lessons will be online and they will off shore all they can, and we have no copyright as we wrote it as employees. China thinks nationally, the West think cost cutting. I asked the Manager today if true, the poor Lady just went red and said feebly “of course not”.

    They control the virus, we organise to make teacher redundant after the virus, or at least in Australia they do.

    National is wanting to better the life of your nation, it does not have to be I support Hilter, Westerners are growing to PC to see this, but China can.

    1. Just a guy,

      Thank you for your first-person reporting. Always appreciated! I am writing tomorrow about the implications of the shift to at-home work. Vast, perhaps like invention of the assembly line.

  3. The Man Who Laughs

    “Forner Federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy explains that Trump has the power to implement travel restrictions like those China used to contain COVID-19. He could have done this in late February or early March and probably prevented this massive and growing epidemic. ”

    Well, maybe. So far as I know, Trump has pretty much done what the Smart People told him was the Smart Thing to do, The ensuing court cases would have been interesting, and it would have been interesting to see if the military actually would have carried out his orders. If there was ever a place where lockdown and quarantine made sense, it was New York City, but I suppose that would have inconvenienced the city’s billionaires. I’m not saying you’re wrong on the facts, but I honestly do wonder if Trump could have ever issued such an order and made it stick.

    I work in a critical job in city services that has to run 24/7. We’ve modified our schedule, reducing the number of people at the plant at any one time to minimize the exposure of critical personnel to other critical personnel. I still get my 40 hours but am losing a bit of overtime, and vacations are cancelled for the duration. We have a Continuity Of Operations plan, but it’s mostly based on unicorn flatulence.

    We’ve run shorthanded for a very long time because they have taken so long to post vacant job, and then the hiring process is stretched out to unendurable lengths. People we would love to have hired have bee forced to go take a position elsewhere because they needed a way to pay the bills and couldn’t get answer from us. When we called to offer them a job, it was too late. So now they’re going to try to cross train (half train) people from other divisions to fill in. (Which defeats the idea of minimizing the exposure of critical personnel, when you come to think of it.)

    As for the people we’ve hired, they mostly haven’t been trained because management has preferred to use them as gophers, janitors, and glorified secretaries, and now that we need them they aren’t ready. I have to babysit some 23 year old kid and try to crash train him this weekend. I’ve seen goldfish with more testosterone. Because of the longtime failure to hire and failure to train, we’re in a very vulnerable position right now. if a couple of experienced operators go down with the Kung Flu, I have no idea how we’ll cover shifts.

    Memo from a Deplorable to the Smart People: Not training is stupid.

    Years ago I was at a seminar on disaster planning for county and municipal workers. About all that people did all day long was strut and preen and brag about how important they were. The FBI gave a good presentation on data security and protecting computer systems from cyber attack. (This was not long after 9-11), but then they’re the FBI. Mostly it was “I brief the Mayor” and “I brief the Governor.” The whole day was mostly a waste. On the up side, that was the best catered lunch I’ve ever had in my life. I’ve been on site when disaster actually struck, and the people I met at that seminar would mostly just have been a dead weight and were in no way qualified to make decisions under pressure. And these are the people now dealing with an actual emergency.

    1. The Man,

      Your comment is, as always incisive – pointing out ambiguities in my post. If I could put flags prioritizing comments, yours would get big ones.

      “So far as I know, Trump has pretty much done what the Smart People told him was the Smart Thing to do”

      That’s only sorta true. We don’t know what his expert advisors recommended. I hope they echoed the WHO recommendations, which we have pretty much ignored. Trump’s failings, imo, are that he and Pence failed to provide the leadership that WHO said was necessary – and that US presidents have provided at key points. That is, the “whole government” mobilization – and beyond that, the “whole society” mobilization. That would have requited kicking asses in local elected leaders and corporate officers.

      The other failing was equally significant: Trump has repeatedly undercut the “this is serious” message necessary for full mobilization. So much of the Right has become (again) a negative force in this emergency.

      The ensuing court cases would have been interesting, and it would have been interesting to see if the military actually would have carried out his orders. If there was ever a place where lockdown and quarantine made sense, it was New York City, but I suppose that would have inconvenienced the city’s billionaires. I’m not saying you’re wrong on the facts, but I honestly do wonder if Trump could have ever issued such an order and made it stick.”

      “The ensuing court cases would have been interesting”

      Screw them. Throughout US history, the US Courts have been reluctant to cross a President in an emergency. Even when he was clearly violating the Constitution (eg, Lincoln’s declarations of martial law, Roosevelt’s actions helping Britain in WWII before Pearl Harbor). The Constitution is not a suicide pact. The limits on Presidential power are what Congress will remove him from office for doing during an Emergency.

  4. We need perhaps to be a little more cautious on China. Yes, all may be well, certainly that is what they are reporting. But cautious skepticism would be in order. Not acceptance of the credibility of the wilder conspiracy theories you find on the net. But caution. This is a regime with a track record. It doesn’t prove they are up to it again, this time, and they may not be. But it does say, curb our enthusiasm for another two or three months till we see for sure.

    By the way, watching Cuomo’s latest, and his presentations are just fine. Fact filled, low key, overheads that mostly amplify the verbal message, or highlight key elements. No rhetorical flourishes. This is what a democratic elected leader of a democratic community sounds and looks like.

    1. Henrik,

      “We need perhaps to be a little more cautious on China. ‘

      That’s probably exactly what many US allies are saying about America, as we seize vital medical supplies that they ordered – because we were too stupid to mobilize during the two months that WHO was giving increasingly dire warnings.

      Perhaps America needs a bit more self-awareness and less “let’s blame others for our mistakes.” The list of foreign demons grows over time, but America’s ability to reform itself dwindles even faster.

  5. John F Pittman

    LK: Screw them. Throughout US history, the US Courts have been reluctant to cross a President in an emergency. Even when he was clearly violating the Constitution (eg, Lincoln’s declarations of martial law, Roosevelt’s actions helping Britain in WWII before Pearl Harbor). The Constitution is not a suicide pact. The limits on Presidential power are what Congress will remove him from office for doing during an Emergency.

    What is it that persons show such a poor understanding of the word “emergency”? You are correct about the limits. Politically, I would point out that he can do whatever until about 15 Republican Senators say no. The Supreme court understands the word, and the broad powers recognized in the law. They would not be the problem. To me, the most interesting part of the Supreme’s rulings would be how each voted, and just how many and how far they would allow the President to act in an obvious emergency. My bet would be pretty far since it would be temporary. The Supreme Court has allowed all sorts of normal violations of the law for up to years as the cases wind through our court system. The EPA “Waters of the US” and the Obama “Clean Power Plan” are two recent examples.

    1. citizen,

      That you for number ten zillion in demos of how Americans will believe absolutely anything they are fed. That video is too stupid to comment on.

      You’ll believe what you are told, then forget everything (again) when it’s proven false. Then you’ll believe the next set of lies. This is what makes us so easy for our elites to govern. Pleasant peasants. natural serfs.

      1. citizen,

        Yes, this is why so many Americans are ignorant – they get their info from youtube videos like that. It makes us pleasant peasants, easy to rule.

        Good-bye. No more such nonsense here.

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