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Saving Lives and Livelihoods: What the US Can Learn from Other Nations?

    Leaders, experts, and students gathered virtually to share their thoughts on medical and economic aspects of the Covid-19

    On April 15, 2020, China Business Studies Initiative (CBSI) at the University of San Francisco hosted its first webinar: “Saving Lives and Livelihoods: What can the US Learn from Other Nations?”

    This webinar took up the interconnected medical and economic aspects of the COVID-19 crisis as it has unfolded across the globe, with a focus on containing the virus while avoiding wholescale economic collapse. In particular, the event highlighted how US deficiencies in both coordinating the public health response and implementing international collaboration can be compared to the successes in East Asian and other nations, and offered suggestions for how to reallocate resources in the future fight against this and other diseases.

    The event opened with welcome remarks from the Director of CBSI, Prof. Xiaohua Yang. She began by giving her warmest welcome to the audience, and went on to provide the context for the event and pointed out the important role of CBSI in providing a platform for the discussion of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis on lives and livelihoods of people both around the world and here in the US. She ended her opening speech with special thanks to the student team, sponsors, and the coordinator and moderator, Prof. Stephen Roddy, who led the organization of this panel. As Roddy and other speakers noted, by learning from nations where neither death tolls nor unemployment have reached catastrophic levels, and reorienting its spending priorities away from military and other nonproductive sectors, the US could still turn the tide of this pandemic.

    The highlight of the evening was the informative speech delivered by Jeremy Howard, an entrepreneur, business strategist, developer, and Senior Researcher in the USF program in informatics. By analyzing the successes of controlling the pandemics in East Asian and other nations, Jeremy Howard emphasized the impact of requiring public masking. He used the Czech Republic, which has enacted a nationwide law requiring the wearing of masks, as an example. The results, he mentioned, are impressive: “It already looks like the number of cases has been tailing off more quickly than any of its neighbors.” He encouraged Western countries to learn from studies published outside of Europe and North America. “People in the West are just not reading the Chinese literature,” he said, “even though a lot of what’s being written is in English in English language journals.” One attendee asked for clarification on the cultural versus the medical or practical ramifications of wearing a mask. Howard responded that in some cultures, choosing to wear a mask may evoke negative reactions and even hostility, but this could be mitigated by making it mandatory. “When we say everybody has to wear a mask, it removes that signal,” Howard said.

    This event was co-hosted by USF Office of International Initiatives