Covid-19 from Two Worlds

COVID Regulations in China and the U.S.


Kevin Jin and Alexander Meyer, Staff Writers

The first case of COVID-19 was identified in Wuhan, China, in December of 2019. The rapid spread of the virus caused a 76 day lockdown, where 11 million residents of that city were unable to leave their homes. Now, a similar situation is occurring for the 25 million people in Shanghai – China’s most populated city.

Shanghai, China:

A sudden spike in the number of positive cases caused the Chinese government to enact quarantine measures in late March 2022. People are unable to leave their homes, relying on government-issued deliveries for food. As a result of such short notice, citizens are now struggling to find basic necessities. Food delivery services are scarce, and there simply is not enough shipping capacity for the government to support all districts. People have begun bartering goods instead of using money, as currency is only useful when there is a surplus of goods.

The restrictions have also impacted healthcare. Residents who test positive are sent to quarantine centers, unable to leave or properly prepare for relocation. Some construction sites and schools have even been turned into makeshift centers, sometimes without doctors or proper living conditions. Furthermore, because residents are unable to leave their homes, some have even died from lack of medical attention. People must wait for an ambulance to arrive at their home instead of driving to the hospital, and the extra minutes can be crucial for someone with a serious condition. Medicine is also delivered instead of pharmacy pick-ups, and some worry that a lack in personnel will result in delayed or mixed up medication deliveries.

Civilians have also begun to emotionally break down. People have begun to scream from their balconies, asking for help. The government has had to send drones to apartment complexes, telling people to remain calm. Several individuals are refusing to get tested in fear of testing positive and having to leave their homes. The main source for this panic is the unknown. People have no idea when they will be allowed to go outside in search of goods or how long they have to stay in quarantine centers for.

Philadelphia, PA:

After most cities and states across the U.S. ended their mask mandates in February and early March, people were hopeful that a sense of normalcy would return. However, after a sudden surge in coronavirus cases, Philadelphia reinstated its indoor mask mandate that took effect on Monday, April 18th, becoming the first major U.S. city to do so. This decision has sparked controversy across the United States among those who hope that their city does not follow the same path. Specifically, many restaurant and small business owners strongly oppose Philadelphia’s actions, and believe it will simply harm their businesses that recently began to recover from the pandemic.

Philadelphia reached the threshold of its city guidelines once their confirmed COVID-19 cases rose more than 50% in ten days, and increased to 142 cases per day as of April 11th. Most health officials believe the increase in infections is due to the new, highly contagious BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron, which has become the dominant variant throughout the U.S. Despite the increase in COVID-19 cases and the city’s direct response, the CDC recommends that masks should remain optional due to Philadelphia’s minor level of community spread and low hospitalization rates.

Dr. Cheryl Bettigole, Philadelphia’s health commissioner, stated how the decision to reimpose the mandate was made based on a multitude of factors, one of which being new data from Europe. Similar to Philadelphia, European cities experienced a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates earlier on in the year due to the BA.2 strain of Omicron. Dr. Bettigole views this as an opportunity to get ahead of the virus, and prevent any potential casualties within the city until they gather more information on the variant. Despite Dr. Bettigole’s intentions, many claim that her actions are “overly cautious”, and cite how the current number of cases are minimal compared to the cases at the worst of the Omicron wave, which averaged to around 4,000 per day.

Since the beginning, China has instituted more and stricter COVID mandates than the U.S. This can clearly be seen in the number of reported cases and deaths. The U.S. has had 80.5 million cases and 987,000 deaths, while China has only had 563,000 cases and 4,638 deaths. However, China’s laws have taken a larger emotional toll on residents, while the mandates in the U.S. are simply an inconvenience for citizens who want to return to their normal everyday life. Either way, both plans have had a positive impact in reducing cases, although with varying effectiveness.