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Ross: What the US can learn from China’s coronavirus response

China hasn't been slow to give all of its citizens protective masks. (Getty Images)

The New York Times checked with disease experts to find out what we can learn from other countries about stopping an epidemic.

It turns out that what saved China was its authoritarian government, which was able to isolate a whole city, track people using cell phones, send the police knocking on doors to take temperatures, and drag away sick people who didn’t cooperate.

That’s not going to work here. We prefer to defend ourselves, not be ordered around.

Unfortunately we’re up against a virus that thrives in societies where it’s easier to get a gun than a surgical mask.

But there were less intrusive things that worked for China, like hand washing at transit stations, and masks for everybody.

When the virus strikes, everyone wears them – and there’s a reason for that. Here, wearing a mask means you’re sick – and who wants to walk around announcing “look at me! I’m sick!” But when everyone wears them, sick people will too.

Of course, for some reason, we don’t have enough masks. People are having to make them out of t-shirts, which at least is something.

But allow me to suggest that from this day forward – your t-shirts need to stay in the t-shirt drawer, your socks in the sock drawer, your surgical gloves in your surgical glove drawer, and your mask at the ready in your mask drawer. Never again should we have to walk bare-faced into an epidemic.

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