South Korea's new outbreak should be a warning
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
South Korea — a model for how to handle the coronavirus well — has had to re-tighten some of its commercial restrictions as on Sunday it reported the biggest-single day increase in cases it has seen in over a month with 34 new cases.
Why it matters: The U.S., by contrast, is seeing roughly 25,000 new cases per day — a discrepancy that far outstrips the differences in population between the two countries.
- What happened in South Korea is pretty much what you'd expect: An infected person went to several clubs in one night. He is believed to have infected 43 fellow clubgoers, who in turn infected another 11 people, per NPR.
We will almost certainly see much bigger subsequent waves of infection here in the U.S., where the focus is on reopening — even in nursing homes. We're already seeing full flights again, and our adherence to social distancing has never been uniform.
- There's even a risk of an outbreak within the White House — close quarters where many people are still showing up to work and few are wearing masks.
- Two West Wing workers have tested positive, prompting a slew of senior officials to self-quarantine — including, per the New York Times, CDC director Robert Redfield, FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn, and the NIH's Anthony Fauci.
- Eleven Secret Service employees also have the coronavirus, Yahoo News reports.
Between the lines: The White House is a model of what it would look like to go back to work with ample testing and ample protections, which most of the country will not have.
My thought bubble: The coronavirus can gain a foothold even in the most highly guarded workplace in the country. We've seen in South Korea that a return to normal life can open the door to a new outbreak, even after things seemed under control. We know they're not under control here.
- We know this is a highly contagious virus, and we know that distance from other people is the only real protection at this point.
- In other words, we know what awaits us as we reopen.
Go deeper: U.S. coronavirus caseload has held steady