Why Couldn’t We Be Like New Zealand?

While I try to be careful about making comparisons when there are two many dissimilarities between what is being compared, it can be quite helpful to at least be aware of how some entities tackle a problem you too are confronting.

And so, we are compelled to look at the island nation of New Zealand and how they have handed the pandemic in comparison to the U.S.

Basically, there is little to compare.

Whereas this county of almost five million (almost identical to Alabama) is tiny compared to our country, the fact that they have not had a new Covid-19 case in the last 101 days can not be ignored.  At last count, they had had 22 deaths.  We have had 160,000.

The World Heath Organization declared that Covid-19 was a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on Jan,. 30.  In other words, WHO told the entire world at the same time to get ready.  The virus had already reached the U.S. by that time (the first case in New Zealand was reported Feb. 28.).

While leadership in this country went into denial, dismissiveness and misinformation, New Zealand got serious.  And in a hurry.  Two things were in New Zealand’s favor.  1) There is one central government in New Zealand   Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.ran the show.  There was not the mish-mash of down-the-line politicians making their own plans as in the U.S.

2) Equally as important, there was significant public buy-in among New Zealand citizens. A survey showed that 87 percent of the citizens approved of what was being done.  Heck, we couldn’t get 87 percent of our population to agree than the sun comes up in the east.  Instead, we get mired in such silliness as red states and blue states

In short, New Zealand moved swiftly, tested widely and relied heavily on good science.

March 14 the country began requiring that anyone entering the country would have to self-quarantine for two weeks.  they had only six cases at this time.  Five days later, with cases up to 28, foreigners wee banned from entering the country.

Five weeks of the strictest lockdown procedures went into place.  An emphasis was put on ramping up testing.  While numbers show that in most countries, every person infected passes the virus to another 2.5 people. This number is 0.4 in New Zealand.

“We got on top of the clusters and isolated them before there were too many of them,” says epidemiologist Brian Cox at the University of Otago.   “Once we realized it was a cluster epidemic, we worked really hard to isolate people that were infected and quarantine the rest of the people in that person’s network. And we managed to achieve that for all the clusters that had developed.”

Cox said, “It was a lot of hard work, and we did that at the moment we went into lockdown.” By the end of the country’s strict lockdown, all of the clusters had been contained.

Today life in New Zealand is basically back to normal, whatever “normal” is today.  All restrictions on businesses were lifted in June.  Bars, restaurants and sporting evens are now open.

This is a far cry from the U.S. where Covid-19 in like the Energizer bunny and just keeps going and going and going.

But what do you expect when your focus is on the next election, rather than the health of citizens?

Maybe we should just go to New Zealand.  Oh, that’s right.  They won’t let us in.