If you’ve read the news recently, you probably saw that Florida is the new coronavirus hotspot in the U.S.. Specifically, on July 12, the Florida Department of Health reported at least 15,299 new COVID-19 cases for that day — yikes! The coronavirus situation in the U.S. is atrociously bad and you don’t need another blog post from me to persuade you of that. So, instead, today, I will shift my attention to another coronavirus hot spot that has been getting a little less attention (well, at least from the U.S. media) — Brazil.
|July 14, 2020||Brazil||United States||Worldwide|
The number of coronavirus cases reported in Brazil and the U.S. (at the time of this writing) hovers at around 1% of the total population in each country. This means that both countries are doing rather poorly when it comes to coronavirus management. Why is that?
Leadership in both the U.S. and Brazil seems to play a significant role.
When it comes to the discussion about the pandemic, Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, has expressed strong concerns about the nation’s economic crisis and has dismissed the coronavirus as no more than a “little flu.” This is particularly insulting as Rio de Janeiro’s poorest regions, known as the favelas, have struggled unduly from the rampant spread of the disease.
Other startling news out of Brazil includes the fact that two Ministers of Health have left office during the pandemic. The first was fired because he did not agree with the President Bolsonaro’s strategy and the second quit less than a month into the job. Apparently, since mid-May an active-duty army general with zero experience in health care has been in charge of the Ministry of Health.
Both Brazil and the United States took a staggered approach to implementing quarantine measures; namely, the states (rather than the executive) in each country decided when to close down what. The first non-essential business closures in both countries occurred in mid- to late March, but in both instances quarantine policies were slow to spread.
Similarly, both countries opted to begin re-opening measures pre-maturely.
In the U.S., re-opening measures were introduced in May 2020, a time when the reported number of cases was rather consistent, but not exactly tapering off.
In Brazil, re-opening measures were introduced in May 2020, which is a bit preposterous as we see that the number of cases was on the rise.
A weird coincidence between Presidents Bolsonaro and Trump is that they both, at one time or another, supported the use of hydroxychloroquine (an anti-malarial drug) for use in coronavirus prevention and treatment, although scarce (to no) medical evidence has proven these claims.
While I believe that the disease has been mishandled in both countries, one of the most tragic things about Brazil’s failure to contain the disease is that the country absolutely had more time to prepare. If you look at the above “Cases over time” graph for Brazil, you will see that Brazil’s case numbers did not spike until May, unlike the U.S. and Europe, where cases spiked in March. In my opinion, it is rather unfortunate that with all of the information available about the spread of the virus and measures taken to prevent it, Brazilian leadership (namely the president and others) were unwilling to adopt the strict measures necessary to prevent a wide spread.
The situation is dire in both Brazil and the United States. Everyone plays a role in spreading or containing the virus, but leadership plays a disproportionately big one. For Brazil and the U.S., this is a major problem….
…wishing you a healthy summer!!!