The global COVID-19 pandemic has reached every country in the world, leaving each at the mercy of its infrastructure, its organizational skills and national spirit of cooperation.
Some countries are making out better than others.
Iceland had tested 5 percent of its population by April 1, offering diagnosis — free of charge, of course — to anyone who wanted, regardless of age, symptoms or travel status.
Germany has one of the lowest coronavirus death rates in the world at just 1.8 percent (Italy’s is 12 percent), largely due to a generous public healthcare system and a trusted government organizing the response.
South Korea, which is the size of Indiana but with 51.4 million people living in it, leveled off by March 7 due to rigorous testing and enacting social measures like masks and gloves.
Canada is mobilizing its national guard, offering full-time jobs to all enlisted personnel. And the government in March began direct-depositing up to $2,000 a month into the bank accounts of citizens affected by the pandemic.
Spain is having a terrible time with the disease, second only to the United States in confirmed cases and death toll. But its government has taken the first steps to establishing universal basic income payouts so that the economy can keep rolling.
In Great Britain on March 12, before being hospitalized by COVID-19, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed new legislation that would prevent private renters from being evicted.
Here in the United States — much bigger and more populous, of course, than any of these other examples — we’re still trying to get everyone on the same page in terms of social distancing and facemasks. Our healthcare system is unprepared in terms of equipment and personnel, not to mention budgetary concerns. And this is the only developed country where people can go bankrupt from surviving the disease.
Unemployment dollars have begun to trickle out, but it’s already apparent that our existing safety net is extraordinarily vulnerable to pandemic. Emergency economic legislation has been passed, and a first round of checks and direct deposits are supposed to go out next week — a one-time payout of about $1,200. The Small Business Administration has a few products for small businesses there, too: loans with great terms that have yet to be connected to business owners.
So, while the United States’ generosity towards its distressed citizens perhaps doesn’t stack up as well as, say, Canada’s, these promises of money — from the president himself! — are giving a lot of Americans hope this week.
Of course, these checks have yet to clear. Let’s see how we feel next week.