Being Philadelphia or being Saint Louis: the dilemma of governments against the coronavirus (Clear the X, 1x85)

The coronavirus is already a pandemic and, from the WHO, they say time and time again that they are "deeply concerned about both the alarming levels of spread and the alarming levels of inaction." As the number of cases grows and countries like Italy are closed completely, all the governments of the world face the same question, what to do? How? When to do it?

Unfortunately it is not the first time that it happens. Between 2018 and 2019, the Spanish Flu killed 5% of the world population and although we have made great progress in these years, key events of those days can help us understand what we are playing for. What can we learn from that epidemic? What can we learn from countries that are fighting coronavirus? Is it "too late" for us?

The coronavirus has become the great theme of the year and its consequences are altering our lives as we would never have imagined. We talked about this in the last episode of Despeja la X, with Andrés P. Mohorte (@mohorte), Magnet coordinator; Javier Jiménez (@dronte), head of science, health and environment at Xataka; and, as always, Santi Araújo (@santiaraujo), the show's producer.

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'Too little, too late'?

On September 17, 1918, Philadelphia found the first cases of the Spanish flu. However, the authorities did not consider it important and life in the city continued as normal. In fact, on the 28th a huge parade was held as part of the celebrations of the end of the First World War. Soon after, the peak of the epidemic arrived. But still, neither schools, theaters, nor churches closed until October 3 when the city's hospitals were collapsed.

Instead, San Luis detected the first cases on October 5 and, from the outset, the authorities designed a shock plan aimed at stopping the epidemic and promoting social distancing among its neighbors. Two days later, these measures were already underway. The results were radically different.

Cities that closed before 30 deaths per 100,000 citizens were reached were able to contain the maximum death rate below 65 per 100,000. Those who delayed the measures exceeded 127 deaths per 100,000 people.It may seem like an academic curiosity if we were not faced with a very similar dilemma live and direct.

And beyond what history teaches us, questions pile up. What has China done? What happened in Italy? What is behind Korea's success? What can we learn in Spain? That is what we try to elucidate in today's chapter of Clear the X.

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