From Brazil to Beijing, Berlin to Baltimore, today’s reading list investigates how different governments are coping with the COVID-19 crisis.
While Yasheng Huang warns us against praising China’s response to coronavirus, arguing that its suppression of information helped cause the problem in the first place, Paul Hockenos applauds his adopted home of Germany. “I don’t know of anywhere else in Europe,” he argues, “where such a generous and speedy injection went to the smallest cogs of the economy.” More than 6,000 miles away, the small city of Maricá, Paul Katz and Leandro Ferreira argue, has “the most ambitious city-level response to COVID-19 in Brazil, and arguably the world” thanks to the city’s basic income provision.
Closer to home turf, two doctors question particular COVID-19 decisions. Obstetrician Daniel Grossman rails against abortion bans, outlining how they use minimal PPE and thus aren’t draining hospitals. And taking a broad look at the surge of telemedicine, physician and medical historian Jeremy Greene details how all outpatient medical clinics he knows of in the Baltimore area have had no access to testing. “Instead, the screening response has been outsourced to another group of private entities,” he argues. “Retail screeners who promise ‘drive-thru’ coronavirus testing and nothing more.”
Rounding out the list, historian Samuel Clowes Huneke makes a compelling case for why Trump’s COVID-19 response shouldn’t be labelled “totalitarian,” and Scott Stern outlines how conservative fears of “undeserving” people receiving coronavirus benefits have deep ties to racism and the policing of black women’s bodies. Lastly, sociologists Sarah Burgard and Lucie Kalousova reveal how every American recession—including the Great Depression—has typically resulted in higher life expectancy. But unprecedented features of coronavirus lockdown make it unclear whether this trend will hold.
Some have praised China's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but its suppression of information helped cause the problem in the first place.
Fixating on whether Trump’s response to COVID-19 is totalitarian makes it difficult to have a nuanced discussion about the role government should play in times of crisis.