Washington / Vienna / Seoul: The Trump administration has cited success stories in South Korea and Austria as it calls for Americans to return to work – but those countries moved faster than the U.S. to combat the pandemic and have been more cautious in reopening their economies.
And a third country U.S. officials once regarded as a model, Singapore, is now struggling with a resurgence of the outbreak.
Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett have said in the past two weeks that the Trump administration is monitoring those three nations as it plans for the U.S. to reopen.
But they offer flawed comparisons at best, given the much larger size of the U.S. and its outbreak, as well as measures taken to curb the virus.
Austria acted faster than the U.S. to clamp down on business and social life, while South Korea much more rapidly built a robust testing regime.
Yet they are both now just edging toward easing restrictions, even with infection rates far lower than the U.S., and South Korea have seen a new flare-up in nightclubs. Singapore, meanwhile, you’ve seen a second wave that has forced a pivot to mass testing.
Public health experts have warned that reopening the U.S. too quickly risks sparking a fresh wave of the outbreak, possibly leading to another, even more damaging shutdown. Trump, though, made his most forceful case over the past week, saying that easing restrictions would cost lives, but it’s a price “warrior” American citizens must tolerate to get the economy back on track.
The Labor Department announced Friday that an unprecedented 20 million jobs were lost in April as Americans sheltered themselves from the pandemic.
States across the U.S. South and Midwest including Georgia and Texas are beginning to reopen even as the number of infected continues to climb.
“We’ve been able to contain the spread of the coronavirus in Texas,” the state’s governor, Republican Greg Abbott, said at the White House on Thursday. His state has more than twice as many cases as Austria and three times its population. “But at the same time, we created these surge forces that will go out to regions where there are flare-ups, and it’s like putting out a fire.”
The U.S. You have endured the largest publicly reported outbreak in the world, with more than 1.3 million infections and at least 78,000 deaths. Cases and deaths are still mounting, even as Trump spurs governors to reopen. Trump is tested daily, while Vice President Michael Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller, is now among the confirmed cases – a development that sent top U.S. health officials into self-quarantine.
The U.S. president has said he believes the country is now prepared to both return Americans to work and quickly respond when the virus flares up again.
“I think you can really have it both ways,” Trump said April 26 during a Fox News town hall event, before spending the week regularly spurring along a reopening. “We have to get our country back. Yeah, I don’t want to do this forever. ”