It's even worse than it appears.
Good morning fans of great weather in the NY area. #
I have a great birthday. I admit it. I know people who were born in the summer, so school was out when they celebrated. Or people who were born in the days after Christmas, when everyone is all finished celebrating. I was born on a day where it's beautiful weather pretty much everywhere I've lived. And school was in session and every year my mom would send me in with a box of frosted cupcakes for all the kids. So everyone had a party. And today is a special birthday, the big 65. I'm now officially old in every way. Also, now, for the first time, I get real health care. It took a couple of months of research to figure it out, but I now have a Medicare card. I also bought a Medicare Advantage plan, so pretty much everything is covered. And where my health insurance, when I've been able to get it, has been outrageously expensive, I now pay less than $100 a month for excellent coverage. Thank you LBJ and the Democratic congress of the 1960s. I haven't usually written about this day on my blog, but this year has a big WTF element to it. Who cares. I'm still here, so that's something. And as they say -- still diggin! At least for now. 💥#
I wonder if any reporters are investigating where the PPE that the government is stealing is going.#
On March 12, I pointed to the day's Daily podcast with Donald McNeil from the NYT re "the tragedy of America's non-response to the virus." I just listened to an episode of Fresh Air from this week, in late April, with McNeil telling exactly the same story about how we're not fighting the virus, the same story he told in March. I could finish his sentences. The interviewer asks the same dumb questions they all do, when will the lockdown end, what will it be like when we resume life. The frustration McNeil feels, and I feel, having heard the same story at least four times, the questions assume that all we have to do is penance, stay home for a while, and we will be able to go back to normal, having done our time. This is what Trump seems to think too, and the other Repubs. Maybe some Dems. That's not it. #
Isolating is like plowing a fire line in the middle of a city being inundated by fire. It slows the spread. But you don't get to resume life, a very altered life, until there are no new cases, until the fire is out. Until you've shut down transmission of the disease. This is not a punishment, it's how we save ourselves. #
I've heard it said of countries like South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam that they had a bad experiences with H1N1 or swine flu, and didn't want to repeat it with Coronavirus. Their people had experienced a pandemic, and therefore motivated to believe there was a problem before there were massive infections. This is why imho it's been so bad in the US, this is our first experience with such a bad virus since 1918. No one alive remembers it.#
We should pay more attention to Iceland. #
  • I keep hearing peripherally how well Vietnam has been doing with the virus, but they're rarely listed among the examples of countries that have it more or less under control.#
  • My best source has been my old friend Steve Goodman, who I know from Silicon Valley in the 80s and 90s, who now lives in Ho Chi Minh City. He's teaching English to Vietnamese kids. It sounds like a great life, low cost of living, great food, good work, friendly people -- until Coronavirus happens -- now it's practically paradise, relatively speaking. #
  • I wanted to write about it even if few others in America were, so I asked Steve a few questions on Facebook:#
    • I listen to a lot of podcasts, and when they talk about countries that do it right, Coronavirus-wise, they almost always leave out Vietnam.#
    • But based on your stories, it sounds to me that Vietnam is tops, or close to the top. I'd like to write about this, briefly, on my blog.#
    • I was wondering what your status is now? Are you able to go out to eat in a restaurant? Food shopping? Go to the park on a nice day? Go to a bar or listen to music?#
    • Is school back in session?#
  • Steve's answers were so thorough, I'll just include them here: #
    • Schools reopen on Monday and I am in a restaurant right now having breakfast.#
    • The government here started easing restrictions last week. There are still many things prohibited though. Here is a chart.#
    • As you can see, bars and other places where many people gather are still not allowed to be open. Grocery stores and food markets have always been open, but they check people's temperature before allowing them to enter, and of course provide a face mask if you don't have one. Everybody has one though!#
    • Our schools have been closed since mid-January, they open again on Monday, May 4th. They were closed in January for the Tet holiday, but it was only supposed to be for two weeks.#
    • Domestic flights are just starting up again, but they still won't allow any international flights and all borders remain closed.#
    • There are many articles in the press about what a great job Vietnam has done, and they have been often commended by WHO and other such organizations for their rapid, decisive, no-nonsense approach.#
    • I typically go for an early morning walk through a nearby park. Today it was almost completely back to normal with joggers, exercisers, aerobics classes, people playing badminton, etc.#
    • It will be interesting and challenging to teach with a face mask on, but that is the law for now, so of course I will obey it.#
    • Today in the US known infections per million stand at 3,416. In Vietnam the number is 3. The difference is like night and day.#
    • And we have a border with China. People are generally extremely health-conscious here. A large percentage of the population wear face masks anyway, at least in the big cities, mainly due to concerns about air-pollution. Still, it's fair to say that there was already a face mask wearing culture in place long before the coronavirus.#
    • I am so proud of Vietnam, and very happy to be a vital member of a community here.#
  • I asked why he thought Vietnam has done so well.#
    • I think the government here feels accountable to the people and is especially sensitive to widespread public concerns about health and safety. The problem was taken seriously very early, and it was handled with respect for science. They deferred to scientists and health professionals and placed health and safety ahead of short-term economic setbacks. Vietnam is an up-and-comer and has experienced very consistent and seemingly unstoppable economic growth. While the coronavirus' economic impact is a massive setback, it does not change the fundamental long-term outlook for growth and prosperity.#
  • It's time to do whatever you were sent here to do.#

© 1994-2020 Dave Winer.

Last update: Tuesday May 26, 2020; 4:21 PM EDT.

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