A Tale of Two Cities by River, Age 10


BROOKLYN, NY— COVID-19 is definitely not an equal opportunity killer. In two cities, the virus has affected them in different ways. While NYC is struggling with the virus, it seems that a city all the way in Taiwan isn’t very worried.
“Everything here is pretty normal,” my grandma said. This shocked me. It was a completely different answer than I expected. My grandma, who is in her 70s, has a greater risk of getting the virus, and described life in Taipei, the most populated city in Taiwan, as normal.
Taiwan is 81 miles off the coast of China, and was expected to have the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases in 2019. But instead, as of April 13, 2020, until now, Taipei is one of the cities with the least amount of COVID-19 deaths, while NYC has a shocking amount of deaths. While NYC was ill-prepared, Taiwan prepared in advance.
I wondered what they did first, trying to stop COVID-19 to hit them hard from Wuhan, China.
Taiwan has dealt with situations like these before. For example, SARS, a species of coronavirus that infects humans, bats, and certain other mammals. Taiwan has also dealt with measles.
According to an article by the JAMA Network about how Taiwan is responding to COVID-19 , “COVID-19 occurred just before the Lunar New Year during which time millions of Chinese and Taiwanese were expected to travel for the holidays. Taiwan quickly mobilized and instituted specific approaches for case identification, containment, and resource allocation to protect the public health.” In Taiwan, the first COVID-19 case was confirmed on January 21, 2020.
Taiwanese citizens took it seriously from the very beginning, trusting the government’s contact tracing technology, and practicing social distancing and wearing masks when they are outside. Because of both the government response and the citizen’s response, the government not only has a low infection, but the schools, stores, and the economy are open.
But the health threat wasn’t the only challenge brought on by COVID-19. Mass panic buying is also a problem that many countries had and are having. The urge to buy more food, masks, and toilet paper was chaos in some countries. Taiwan decided to deal with this problem differently from most other countries.
“Supported by technology experts, pharmacies and convenience stores, we devised a system for distributing rationed masks. Here, masks are available and affordable to both hospitals and the general public. The joint efforts of government and private companies—a partnership we have deemed ‘Team Taiwan’—have also enabled us to donate supplies to seriously affected countries,” said President Tsai Ing Wen of Taiwan.
When I interviewed somebody in NYC, it was exactly the opposite. I know from my own experience that it isn’t fun being stuck in your home in NYC. Definitely not living normal. The streets are empty most of the time except for the casual runners, dog walkers, and people who do delivery. I’m not used to the empty streets of NYC as I walk. I interviewed Dorchen Liedholdt, a lawyer living across the street from her 99-year-old mother.
“It’s so sad. I love the way of life in New York City. We have very exciting lives, and are constantly encountering new things, and we get to meet new people, learn new cultures, and go to new exciting places, and we’re not that living that way anymore. We can’t live that way anymore,” Liedholdt exclaimed.
New York has an overwhelming amount of COVID- 19 related deaths, leaving them in high pressure, not to mention New York is the most populated city in the United States. The city is not like its regular bustling self, though. Mayor Bill de Blasio has told New Yorkers to stay inside as much as possible unless they are essential workers; people can go on a quick dog walk, or sprint to the grocery store or bakery. Schools are still shut down, and NYC is not planning to open up anytime soon. It’s not exactly clear when schools will open up again. A newly released document from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) provided some guidelines for school and summer camp. They say, “the establishments should feel comfortable opening if they are not violating local laws, promote good hygiene, increase cleaning, encourage social distancing and institute lenient sick leave policies, among a few other suggestions.”
“As of this moment, we believe we can reopen schools safely and well in September,” de Blasio said.
The mayor’s office has not managed the overwhelming amount of medical masks and Personal Protective Equipment that the hospitals, workers, and the public are in need of. According to Metro News, “Authorities have now advised residents to wear face masks when they leave home, and healthcare workers are calling for more ventilators, personal protective equipment, and healthcare equipment.”
People are pretty much hoping this will die down, and doing whatever they can to try and recreate what people are missing out on in person. All over the internet, people in the U.S have been posting videos of prom at home, or online Zoom graduations. At 7:00 in NYC, people go out on their balconies and cheer for the workers.
NYC and Taiwan used so many different strategies to try and prevent the outbreak. Some of them worked, some of them didn’t. Taiwan used strategies like trying to prevent the outbreak earlier on, using tracking systems and watching the airports, to make sure that somebody that is sick doesn’t come into the country. They made sure it didn’t start an outbreak in Taipei. They also tried evenly distributing masks to prevent mass buying.
NYC had different strategies, starting too late to try and prevent an outbreak, but holding their ground and trying as best as they can to support everybody in NYC. Staying strong and fighting to stay alive.
After interviewing my Grandma from Taipei and Liedeholt in New York, who are both in their 70s and taking care of their mothers who are in their 90s, but with two very different experiences, I hope other cities, countries, and people can learn from these tales so that we can do better in the future if something happens like this again.

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