Here and there
To the editor:
Taiwan’s population (23.7 million) is just over that of the state of Florida (21.5 million). To date, Taiwan has experienced seven total COVID-19 deaths, while Florida’s COVID-19 death count is nearly 19,000. Why this startling discrepancy?
You might guess that Taiwan must be tightly locked down with shuttered businesses and oppressive stay-at-home orders; but you’d be wrong. Business is booming in Taiwan. Restaurants and bars are open. Sporting venues are full of cheering fans.
As word of a new potentially-deadly virus reached Taiwan, borders were immediately snapped shut. Large scale testing ramped up quickly. The 500 citizens testing positive were quarantined and intensively contact traced. Those who had close contact with those testing positive were also immediately quarantined for 14 days. Meals and groceries were provided during quarantines with regular monitoring and testing and medical care, as necessary. The Taiwanese government rapidly tapped into their well-maintained PPE stores and quickly ramped up domestic mask production ten-fold. They learned their lesson during the SARS scare. They didn’t disband their pandemic rapid response unit, unlike us.
Meanwhile, Florida Governor Rick DeSantis responded to the virus by engaging “in a pattern of spin and concealment that misled the public on the gravest health threat the state has ever faced,” according to a South Florida Sun Sentinel investigation. As the virus spread and emergency rooms filled up, DeSantis followed the lead of the great denier, President Trump. As a result, nineteen thousand Floridians are dead.
Over and over, the so-called “leader” of the free world has predicted that this virus will miraculously disappear. Instead, disease trackers now predict that over a half million Americans will likely die from COVID-19 by April of next year. If the past is prologue, 14,000 more Floridians will die by April, 2021. The economy will remain in ruins, and many misinformed or uncaring Americans will likely still be moaning about the unbearable burden of wearing a mask at the grocery store.
Meanwhile, unless something goes terribly wrong, Taiwan’s COVID-19 death toll will remain at seven; as it has for months. Its bars and restaurants will be wide open, stores will be filled with shoppers, and families will routinely come together for holidays and celebrations.
Why? Because of responsible leadership, national unity, and a sense of common purpose.
You really want four more years of this? I don’t.