It’s been nine days since we started worrying about my parents’ health, and I’m pleased to report that they are back to full health. They were actually feeling much better after a few days, and Dad was ready to go back to work last Thursday, because he was out of sick leave. Oh America, with your perversely unhelpful incentive structure! He was talked into staying home until Monday, at least, and Mom did as well.
Because they’re in America there aren’t enough Covid19 tests available for your average mortal, so we can’t confirm if they had the real deal or not. Probably they did; they do live in NYC after all. NOT Harlem, my Mom hastened to correct me–Washington Heights.
It’s interesting for me to ponder the differences between the pandemic in the USA and in NZ. I have this innate distrust of Socialism; I’m sure it was from grade school history class. I imagine our arch-enemy the Soviet Union, also Chile, Cuba….you know, the baddies with dictators and propagandized citizens.
I remember vividly the moment when I realized that NZ was a socialist state. Maybe not officially, according to wikipedia but in the attitude that says “I’m part of the society; the society is important; we should take care of the weaker members of society….. That realization came on a car ride back from Akaroa (I can see the bend near Kaituna valley in my mind’s eye) when we were listening to a podcast, something to do with guns. Perhaps it was after the Mosque shooting last year, when swiftly and apparently without resistance the Parliament passed new gun control laws, logical kinds of laws that have failed to pass in America time and time again. And I realized that NZ attitude was completely different to that of Americans, and that NZ citizens seemed to actually TRUST their government, by and large, and of course Americans don’t. The longer I live in NZ, I realize that it’s really a socialist state, and during a pandemic that certainly seems to have its up sides.
I’ve been tremendously impressed at the leadership skills shown by the NZ government. I’ve only listened to a few of the daily updates, but EVERY DAY at 1:00 there is an update, aired to all real-time on you-tube, where the Minister of Health reviews the new Covid19 numbers for the day and the Prime Minister and sometimes other officials give updates, then take tough questions from the press. I listened to the announcement that the PM and ministers would take a 20% pay cut, in solidarity with the businesses and citizens who are struggling. I’ve heard consistent, calm messaging about being kind to neighbors and staying in your bubble. I’ve heard respectful correcting of misinformation and an open-minded willingness to follow up on problems. The models and data that are used for decision making are made available quickly to the public; it feels open and democratic. Very quickly and early in the shut-down the government announced wage subsidies that incentivize employers to keep on their employees, as well as make it more likely that employees will obey the stay-at-home rule–in fact, I just saw my second stay-at-home pay check come through, seemlessly, and I think I still have a job to go back to. Not sure how long we’re going to be paying for this, but the likelihood is that we all pay for it fairly evenly, because the tax system is more evenly applied than in the US.
I don’t know, call me a socialist, but I’m impressed.
The population of NYC itself is 8 million and metropolitan NYC is 20 million. The population of New Zealand is 5 million. I wonder if the density of the population has much more to do with the disease impact than any policy.
No doubt population density has something to do with disease transmission, along with the unavoidable shared surfaces in apartment buildings and such. The cultural differences in behavior are also unavoidable. I guess we don’t have a controlled trial to fairly test variables, do we?