Beijing, CNN, Corona virus, COVID-19, DC, Novel Virus, Washington
This is a story about Beijing and Washington, the two capital cities of the two most powerful countries in the world. Actually, it’s also a tale of two countries.
First, some Background:
Almost 40 years ago we had the good fortune to meet Qin Xiaoli. It was 1982, she was finishing a graduate year at Stanford, and under the sponsorship of the US-China Peoples Friendship Association she was visiting several parts of the US before returning to Beijing where she was a journalist.
We hosted her for five days, while she attended various seminars and meetings in Washington, and we became friends. Over the next four decades we continued our friendship, visiting her and her family in Beijing sometime in the early 1980s and hosting her husband, Qian Jiang (several years later), when he came to Johns Hopkins as a Visiting Scholar. (He too was a journalist and an historian).
Xiaoli came to our elder daughter’s wedding here in Washington, some 25 years after she first met Annie as a three-year old. Then, when their son was married here in DC, we ‘stood in’ for his parents at the ceremony, and two years ago we traveled throughout China with Xiaoli and Jiang for almost three weeks. Most recently, Xiaoli and Jiang came to DC to visit and stay with their son Kun and daughter-in-law Xi, but primarily to get to know their first grandchild. Now they have been here five months as it has not been possible for them to return to Beijing.
The Tale: Yesterday, when they ‘strollered’ young Dun Dun (Alex) over to see us – they were masked and socially distanced themselves – Xiaoli told us the following stories:
Two weeks ago her sister in Beijing received a phone call from the authorities saying she needed to appear for a COVID-19 test because of a new outbreak of the virus in the largest outdoor wholesale food market in the city. Her sister said she had not been there. She was ‘reminded’ she had been at a ‘nearby’ flower market and was told to appear the next day for a test. Apparently, “Big Data’ (Big Brother?) had identified her whereabouts from her cell phone. Taken to a hospital, she was tested, found negative but had to isolate herself for fourteen days. Today she can emerge from that isolation.
(Note: “Before the new cluster, however, Beijing – population 21.4 million – had only recorded 420 local infections and 9 deaths compared to over 80,000 confirmed cases and 4,634 deaths nationwide, thanks to its strict travel restrictions imposed at the start of the pandemic,” according to this CNN article – China’s New Cornovirus Outbreak.)
Xioali also told us that here in Washington where she and Jiang are staying in a West End apartment building with their son, daughter-in-law, and grandchild, there have been three cases of COVID-19 in that building. When her daughter-in-law asked the management of the building for more information about the ‘outbreak’ (which elevators had been used, what floors the three positive cases were, and in what part of the large apartment building they lived), she was told no information could be given out. They received no instructions on how to protect themselves and their family from contagion. Xiaoli and her family here (three generations living together) rarely leave their apartment and are trying to protect themselves as best they can.
(According to the most recent statistics, Washington, DC, has a population of 705,749 and has had 10,327 positive tests of its population and 551 deaths).
Two different responses to handling COVID-19 issues. Each raises questions.
What do you think?
Bill plitt said:
Is the question, do you invite the family to move in with you? What is the availability of testing in dc like? Are there other friends they have to share the responsibility? What is the official response of the US government here to their visa status? Are we one world now and not two cities? bp
Fruzsina Harsanyi said:
Are you suggesting that our president may be wrong and testing is not the cause of the increase in the number of cases in the US? I’ll have to ponder this tale.
Land Wayland said:
Democracy only works when the minority accepts the decision of the majority, even as they may work within the system to change that decision. The majority in this country understand that masking and distancing are essential for the safety of all, but the minority simply doesn’t care because they believe that sometimes many must die so the survivors can remain free to live as they choose. They see masking and distancing as being appeasement to the virus and that is not the way you deal with any enemy.
They are, for the most part, the same group who denies that climate warming exists and that there remain serious racial inequality and poverty issues in virtually every town in the U.S.A but, they have decided, these and other issues can be ignored or denied because the “facts aren’t certain” and “no easy solutions are available”.
They are the “groundhoggers” who only want to venture out when the sun is shining and everything is copacetic and otherwise refuse to leave the dark cave where they feel safe.
This might be a good strategy when everything is “normal” but not when an ecological or social plow is bearing down on the cave and it is tearing up the entire landscape.
From the histories of the disease that I have read, the Chinese quarantined early in country but allowed people from infected areas to travel to other countries. In America people do not just follow suggestions or laws easily. There are pros and cons to that.
Judy L White said:
A tale of two villages: Our daughter Lisa lives on a little farm outside a village in Belize. Belize is a poor country and she dreaded the coronavirus coming there because medical facilities are very basic; they probably have only a couple of ventilators in the whole country. When a Belizean returned from a visit to California with the virus, he was quarantined, cruise ships were blocked from entry, the airport shut down for passenger planes, and every resident was ordered to wear a mask when outside their home — failure to do so incurs a $200 fine, which most Belizeans cannot afford, so masks are worn. Since then there have been fewer than 10 cases. All have recovered, and no Belizean currently has an active case even though Guatemala and Mexico, which border Belize, have had big surges and people can walk across the border and do so illegally all the time.
We live on a small farm outside a village in Ohio in the world’s richest country. Everyone reading this knows what the situation is here, despite having the best scientific and medical knowledge. What can we learn from this tale?
James M Kilby said:
In order to fight, if it’s a battel or a virus, leadership is needed. Over misfortune, as a country, in the worse pandemic in 100 years, we are cursed with the worse leader in our history. What we have to do is evolve, as a country, and stop acting like spoiled little brats. Man is no different then any other creature, on the planet. Evolve or die.
Does anyone trust the data out of China? The response in this country has been OUTSTANDING. From countries that actually HAVE data (mostly Europe), our deaths per capita are lower…..and they’d be WAY lower if we didn’t make the criminally incompetent move to place COVID patients in with seniors.
At the start, we had shortages of equipment/ventilators etc….and the government moved to lift red tape more quickly that I’ve ever seen….and the lockdown worked to flatten the curve in order to not overwhelm our medical facilities.
One curious thing….we were being reminded daily of how many deaths there were (not deaths per capita)……then George Floyd happened, and all we hear about is cases. Before GF, it was deaths, now it’s cases.
Anyone find that curious? That we’ve now had ten weeks of deaths going down, but all we hear are cases?
And we are praising the Chinese…..good lord, what has happened to critical thought…..