Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera 19 Mar 2020

COVID-19 inaction: US state governors want gov't to take charge


US state authorities in the northeast say that in the absence of any leadership from the Trump administration to combat the coronavirus sweeping the country, they have had to step up to the plate.
Governors in the states of Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut and New Jersey have shut down many schools and restaurants and banned large gatherings.
But they say the federal government needs to put in place a nationwide, coordinated response.

Al Jazeera's Gabriel Elizondo reports from New York.

New Orleans is another major coronavirus hotspot in the United States.
It has a mortality rate double that of New York state.
The city's health system is under massive strain, bearing the load for the state of Louisiana, which now has more than 14,000 cases and at least 500 deaths.

Al Jazeera's Andy Gallacher reports.
Jay Glazer talked to New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton via video call to discuss the coach's experience having COVID-19. Payton has since recovered and is now looking ahead to the 2020 NFL Draft and what it will be like to have to face Tom Brady twice a year.
A US surgeon is out with graphic images of the lung damage COVID-19 can cause. He released them partly to counter the idea that coronavirus mostly attacks the elderly. CGTN's Owen Fairclough reports.
The coronavirus continued to spread around the world this week and Italy's death toll surpassed that of China's. Governments called on citizens to self-isolate, closed borders, put cities into lockdown and shut all but essential businesses.

Amid the crisis, and despite a second wave of infections in Asian countries, South Korea continues to lead the way in containing the spread of COVID-19, with one of the lowest casualty rates in the world.

According to John Hopkins University medical researchers, as of this week, the COVID-19 death rate is 0.97 percent in South Korea, compared to 7.94 percent in Italy, 3.98 percent in mainland China and Hong Kong, and 1.68 percent in the United States.

Jerome Kim, director general of the International Vaccine Institute, said one of the reasons South Korea has done so well is that it has a robust biotech industry made up of many small companies run by scientists.

"The Chinese published the sequence of the coronavirus. These companies looked at it and then they rapidly developed tests," Kim said.

Korean companies acted fast to produce those tests and the country now has enough to screen some 20,000 people a day.

"They [South Korea] opened up testing centres that people could drive in and go through. They made it all free and once they identified people, they put them into quarantine," Kim said.

In early February, the government also obtained mobile phone records, credit card receipts and other private data of everyone who tested positive for COVID-19, and used the information to track the spread of the virus, making much of the data available to the public.

"In this case, you have the health of a nation or the health of a city and you have individual rights. And so I think a lot of people don't mind because they want to know where they might potentially have been exposed, particularly if they develop symptoms," Kim said.

Kim acknowledged that while South Korea has worked diligently to combat the virus, the battle is far from over. "This is a war and like a war, winning the first battle is important but it's not the only thing," Kim said.

He believes the government's ultimate aim will be to restore normalcy to everyday life.

"And the only way to really achieve that is to use a vaccine. You'll have to be able to ensure that as people carry on their activities of daily living, that they're going to be protected," he said.

In this week's UpFront Jerome Kim, director general of the International Vaccine Institute, explains how South Korea has been able to stay on top of the coronavirus.

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