COVID-19 deaths top 1 million in U.S. as Americans stop caring
Thomas W. Pauken II
Walk-in COVID-19 testing patient Oraphan Wentz takes her test at the Jessie Turner Health and Fitness in Fontana, California, March 22, 2022. /VCG

Walk-in COVID-19 testing patient Oraphan Wentz takes her test at the Jessie Turner Health and Fitness in Fontana, California, March 22, 2022. /VCG

Editor's note: Thomas W. Pauken II is the author of the book "U.S. vs. China: From Trade Wars to Reciprocal Deal," and a consultant on Asia-Pacific affairs and geopolitical commentator. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been impacting our lives ever since the virus strain became publicly known in December 2019. Public health officials and medical caregivers have been working overtime to tamp down the rapidly spreading virus. But as we are set to enter April, many people feel overwhelmed by "COVID-19-fatigue" and some governments have eased social distancing measures to appease their citizens.

Many Western nations support "living with COVID-19" campaigns to encourage their citizens to return to their work places, travel more and take off their face masks. The "return to normal" philosophy sounds reasonable but we are not living in normal times.

Many Americans who rushed back to their "ordinary lives" have learned a hard truth: the pandemic is not fading away and continuing to spread in waves. The numbers look terrible after conducting a careful review.

The United States ranks number one in many categories, such as total cases (81,527,329), total deaths (1,001,175), total recoveries (63,623,166) and active cases (16,902,988).

U.S. loses its COVID-19 narrative

Many Americans have long boasted of having the best medical care and ranking high on global surveys for having one of the world's best living conditions. One could conclude that if you are U.S. citizen residing there during a pandemic, you would be safe, right? Well that's wrong and the coronavirus has proven that countries vigorously enforcing wearing of face masks, imposing stringent social distancing measures and pro-actively vaccinating the public are better suited at containing COVID-19.

Children and their caregivers arrive for school in New York City, March 7, 2022. /VCG

Children and their caregivers arrive for school in New York City, March 7, 2022. /VCG

The U.S. has failed to cope with COVID-19 for a number of reasons. Some Americans view face masks, vaccine mandates and social distancing as infringements on their long-cherished political liberties.

Nevertheless, many Americans chose to get vaccinated and follow all public health regulations, but several still caught the virus. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki announced earlier this week she tested positive for COVID-19. But why is that so?

Most Americans may believe they have complied with all social distancing measures but they haven't. Few Americans continue to wear face masks or closely monitor public health conditions.

I have a friend Carlos Zaldivar, an architect from San Antonio, who told me that it's been a long time since he saw people wearing face masks at grocery stores. And when people are seen with face masks, they are treated as outcasts, strange and paranoid. He said this has become the common consensus for both Republicans and Democrats in San Antonio.

Hence, Americans have let their guard down and the new wave of Omicron has spread like wildfire in the country.

China's 'zero COVID-19' policy bears fruit

While Washington has largely failed, Beijing has achieved remarkable success in containing the spread of the virus – death toll from COVID-19 in China stands at 4,638 with infections totaling 139,285. China is the world's most populated nation but the numbers are a small fraction of the U.S. figures.

The Chinese government, health officials and citizens have acted in a heroic manner and with a unity of purpose to keep the coronavirus largely at bay.

Beijing had to take the tough decisions of enforcing contract tracing, mass-testing, quarantines, travel restrictions, face masks' wearing requirements and occasional lockdowns. The Chinese government understood it would harm economic growth with such measures but still went ahead to place public health as the nation's top priority.

Additionally, the regulations would have never succeeded without the cooperation of the masses. When asked as to why the Chinese people accepted social distancing measures without much complaint, a Chinese friend, who wishes to be cited anonymously, said, "I'm saving lives by wearing a face mask in public and many other Chinese think the same."

China has made tremendous sacrifices to follow up on the "zero-COVID-19" policy. Everyone living in China, including expats such as myself, faced multiple inconveniences on account of Beijing's tough measures to curb COVID-19.

There were times when we were required to work at home, endure quarantines and bared from domestic and international travel. Such times can make us feel tired and burdensome but results matter most. People in China are much safer than in the U.S. amid the current pandemic era.

What's strange is that many Americans, U.S. officials and U.S.-based media outlets have been very critical of China's tough measures. But let the numbers speak for themselves and we see that China, not the U.S., is winning the war against the coronavirus. Americans have no ground to proclaim victory here with over 1 million of them dying from COVID-19 already.

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