Expensive Sacramento: Greetings from coronavirus future.
Being in Vietnam, I’m 14 hours forward of you. I’ve additionally had months of expertise dwelling by this viral epidemic earlier than it lastly unfold to the 916 space code.
Folks in Vietnam first met information of the COVID-19 virus with some curiosity in January. Then, a handful of sufferers examined optimistic for the illness. This was adopted by the panicked stockpiling of meals and hand sanitizer gel, faculty closures and diminished enterprise.
After the sufferers recovered for probably the most half – and nobody died – individuals cautiously returned to work, eating places and occasions. After all, they nonetheless take care to scrub their fingers completely. Extra completely, maybe, than earlier than the coronavirus.
Sacramentans will attain this stage, too. You’ll ultimately get again to dwelling your lives, conscious of good precautions however now not on edge.
Within the meantime, the virus is placing us all to the check. It’s a check of whether or not now we have arrange strong methods to deal with a public well being disaster. It checks our means to filter false information, assess threat, behave rationally and exemplify prudence with out falling prey to prejudice.
Quickly after the coronavirus outbreak in China in December, the epidemic was seen as an Asian drawback. I watched it unfold in Vietnam, the place individuals began to make money working from home and one occasion after one other was canceled. Even the air pollution cleared as fewer individuals went outdoors.
At first, these had been simply particulars to share after I Skyped with household and mates again in Sacramento (who would urge me to not eat out or work together with too many individuals).
However then the virus jumped the Pacific. Day by day, it’s changing into extra of a California drawback, too. That is turning right into a shared expertise. The face masks scarcity is hitting hospitals in Roseville simply because it did pharmacies in Bangkok. When mates textual content me pictures of empty cabinets or clients hoarding items, generally the pictures come from a comfort retailer in Japan. Different occasions, they arrive from a Costco in Rancho Cordova.
Whereas the virus spreads round the US, so does a sort of racialized concern. Hmong males rejected from a hotel in Indiana had been instructed “anybody from China” needs to be quarantined for 2 weeks. Folks ask whether it is suitable for eating Chinese language meals, avoiding Sacramento eateries like Tealicious and Hong Kong Islander. These “sniffling while Asian” have turn into suspect.
Some show an eagerness to put blame on China. A Fox Information host linked coronavirus to Chinese language individuals consuming uncooked bats, saying, “The Chinese language communist authorities can not feed the individuals, and they’re determined.”
It’s true that the virus started in China. It’s additionally true that the U.S. has struggled to test fewer than 2,000 individuals for the virus, whereas different nations check a whole bunch of 1000’s; that it reduced funding for the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention and different well being applications; and that U.S. coronavirus officers had been untrained and unprotected.
That is on high of shortcomings in different developed nations, from Japan admitting vacationers from an contaminated cruise ship with out screenings to ignorance sharing amongst unprepared European nations.
I wouldn’t dare recommend a false equivalence within the errors made by every nation. Chinese language residents who helped to show the disaster have gone lacking. However missteps even on the planet’s richest nation ought to humble us sufficient to keep away from casting aspersions elsewhere.
This expertise has me pondering again to “Blindness,” a novel by Portuguese Nobel Laureate José Saramago. Within the e-book, an inexplicable epidemic renders entire communities blind. Quickly, the troubled are rounded up, cities descend into filth, meals is rationed and we uncover which characters would rob the blind, and which might assist strangers to wash.
If epidemics are a check, it’s as a result of they expose our weaknesses. However they make us replicate, too. COVID-19 reminds us that the world is much extra built-in right now than in 2002, when SARS first struck and when South Sacramento was as shut as most of us received to Asia.
The virus has extra individuals reflecting on and debating well being care coverage, paid sick go away, the necessity for collective motion and even telecommuting – which, by the way in which, might assist remedy commuting issues in Sacramento, the place the average commute rose to 27.6 minutes in 2017.
The virus, now formally a pandemic according to the World Health Organization, additionally has spawned a golden age of handwashing and Public Service Bulletins. One such video PSA from Vietnam has gone viral. “Final Week Tonight” host John Oliver says the video’s catchy tune “absolutely slaps.” It’s value watching his coronavirus episode to the tip to see Oliver do the “corona dance” that goes with it.
So, benefit from the video, have amusing and wash your fingers. To that I might add the Bee Editorial Board’s advice: Keep calm, take heed to consultants and eat some Chinese language meals.
Lien Hoang is a Sacramento native and journalist dwelling in Vietnam, the place she writes about Southeast Asia. Contact her at twitter.com/lienh.