Regardless of whether you believe the novel coronavirus was cultivated in a Wuhan market, or a bioweapons lab, or whether you think China underreported deaths and cases by 1,000 or 100,000, there's little question at this point that Beijing's triumph over the virus as been an unmitigated success that western democracies like Italy and the West will struggle to emulate.
China's authoritarian system allows its government to act swiftly and with overwhelming strength. They built hospitals, kept entire cities locked inside their homes, as the message from the propaganda warned that individuals must make sacrifices over the coming weeks for the benefit of China.
Shifting over to the West, the situation is very different. In Italy, PM Giuseppe Conte warned that he would extend Italy's lockdown and crank up enforcement as too many Italians have simply disobeyed the order and continued to spread the disease. In the US, college students have crowded onto beaches in Florida and Texas for an extended spring break, that is until local authorities finally closed the beaches. Millions of Americans - including Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert - bought into the lie that the virus was a 'media hoax', with disastrous results.
The inevitable flood of thinkpieces arguing that the outbreak will help China undermine the west and export its system more broadly has already begun, courtesy of Bloomberg.
Some might cry 'racism', but cultural differences truly have made a difference: In China, the collective attitude is that the individuals must make sacrifices for the good of society. In the US, where 'individualism' has largely soured into selfishness, Americans will stand and scream "not in my backyard" even in the face of an unprecedented crisis.
Good morning to everyone who isn’t actively interfering with the public health effort.— Wash Your Hands Charley Grant (@CGrantWSJ) March 19, 2020
That's exactly what's happening in Connecticut's lush Fairfield County, a haven for wealthy Wall Streeters, which has become the epicenter of the outbreak in the state. On Thursday morning, we noticed a disturbing headline in the Darien Times, a local newspaper covering the town of Darien, one of the wealthiest towns in the country.
A day earlier, the paper had reported that the town had partnered with a company open a planned to open a 'drive-thru' testing center for COVID-19 in the town as part of the broader response effort. After failing to ramp up availability of tests last month, the US is scrambling to catch up, and expanding that capacity is literally the top priority of the officials leading the effort to combat the virus.
Unfortunately, the callous, wealthy townspeople of Darien simply don't care: After the townspeople complained to the first selectman about the testing center being too close to their homes, the town announced that the testing center had be cancelled, and would open 'elsewhere' at a later date.
It's almost enough to make you wish for a communist revolution.
Darien’s drive-through testing has been canceled, according to a tweet from First Selectman Jayme Stevenson. The testing was to start Thursday. Some neigbhors expressed complaints with the location of testing so close to their home on social media.
In a press release from Town Hall, First Selectman Jayme Stevenson and Department of Health Director David Knauf said “We appreciate the important work being done by Murphy Medical Associates to provide testing to our residents at their other locations.
Fortunately, there are other testing centers nearby - but that's not really the point. During a time of crisis, all Americans must band together and act in the best interest of the country, even if it's mildly alarming or inconvenient. The people of Darien are even worse than the Londoners who are still crowding into pubs and college students who were crowding onto beaches in Florida, because they have immense resources, and should know better.
The NYT published yet another story complaining about wealthy Americans receiving preferential treatment, including early access to tests (how do you think Tom Hanks and all those basketball players were tested so quickly?). America's wealthy have been securing tests from private sellers and fleeing to their bug-out bunkers and private islands while the poor get sick and die at much higher margins.
Their state confirmed its second death Thursday morning, with more expected soon. A pandemic is no time for NIMBYism.