It's even worse than it appears.
Saturday May 2, 2020; 10:53 AM EDT
  • 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.#

© 1994-2020 Dave Winer.

Last update: Saturday May 2, 2020; 12:10 PM EDT.

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