Just a few months ago, the coronavirus outbreak in the United States was serious, but it was not such a different picture in Europe. Now that severely affected European countries such as Italy, Britain, France and Spain have had their outbreaks under control while the situation in the US is still bleak.
There is much to be learned from the affected countries who managed to turn things around, as well as those who were so quick and organized that they all eradicated the virus.
Here are some tips from abroad on how Americans can move forward.
Don’t party like it’s 1999
In South Korea, celebrated for delivering a model response to the virus, reopening nightclubs in the capital Seoul led to a peak in the fall in May. The city was forced to close all bars and clubs soon after.
The difference is that South Korea had the virus so well-controlled and had such a well-oiled testing and tracking system in place that the authorities could get in touch with most affected people and contain a group of cases.
The opening plans have varied between different countries, but in general America has opened much faster than affected countries in Europe. In the UK, for example, pubs are only set to begin opening again on Saturday, 15 weeks after they were ordered closed and as the UK’s curve obviously releases. You can no longer say that about the curve in the US and bars in many states have long been open.
So going on a visit to indoor places with large crowds this weekend will undoubtedly help prevent the spread of the virus. In many states, the audience is limited to under 100, 50, or even 10, and some have forced rods again.
Wear that mask
But the tide is turning. Health experts are now generally finding that masks are helpful, especially when a virus is widespread in communities. WHO and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommend worm use in public spaces.
Several studies show that wearing face coatings is effective, but these are yet to be reviewed and there is simply no existing information on how successful they have been in this pandemic.
Outside Asia, Germany was one of the fastest countries to adopt mandatory nationwide masking, while much of the world was still debating about its effectiveness. There are many reasons for Germany’s success in keeping deaths low and curbing infections, but at least part of its success has been attributed to the wearing of facial coatings.
Even Trump’s most loyal supporters, including Vice President Mike Pence, are beginning to wear face covers. Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Thursday ordered most in the state to mask in public, as the state’s experience is one of the nation’s worst waves of infection. Other states, such as California, have also published public service announcements encouraging people to wear them.
Test if you think you should
At the beginning of the outbreak, it was virtually impossible to test in the United States if you had not been hospitalized. That has changed, and although there may be obstacles, tests are more accessible than they once were.
President Trump has made the substantial argument that the country should reduce the test to keep its affairs down. WHO has reiterated that testing is the key to keeping the virus under control. Sites that have had some of the most successful responses – South Korea, Germany, Iceland, New Zealand and Australia – have, among other things, tested at high speed.
The CDC Council is that if you have symptoms you should call your doctor and ask if tests are recommended. Also, some asymptomatic individuals should be tested under certain specific circumstances.
As a case in Florida, for example, the White House coronavirus coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx all Floridians who have been to mass gatherings for the past four weeks to be tested, even though they do not show symptoms.
Quarantine when asked to (and sometimes even when not)
Widespread testing goes hand in hand with efficient tracking, tracking and quarantine systems.
The idea is that anyone who has recently come in contact with an infected person will be notified by the authorities and asked to quarantine, usually for 14 days. This means that if you have become infected, even if you have no symptoms, you are unlikely to transmit it to anyone outside your home.
The United States as a whole is struggling to get enough contact trackers to have an effective system up and running, as are some other countries, including the UK. The CDC aimed to have 30 contact trackers for every 100,000 people in the country.
This is especially true for eight states that are hotspots for Covid-19: Nevada (13), Florida (7), Arizona (5), Idaho (14), Texas (11), Tennessee (9), Georgia (2) and South Carolina (8).
If your country has not yet created an effective contact tracking system, there is no reason why you cannot request a test if you suspect that you have come in contact with an infected person.
In the meantime, it may make sense to keep your Fourth of July plans modest and continue practicing at a social distance until the United States has the virus in control.
CNN’s Jacqueline Howard and Natalie Croker contributed to this report.