Letter: Astonishing fact
It is an astonishing fact that, as of June 21, there were 446 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and seven deaths in the entire country of Taiwan and 645 confirmed cases and 8 deaths in Eagle County since the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic. And Taiwan reopened its schools on a restricted basis on February 25.
Taiwan is a densely populated country of about 23 million people off the coast of mainland China. Thousands of people traveled between mainland China and Taiwan every day before travel restrictions were imposed. Eagle County has a largely dispersed population of about 55,000.
To be clear, this is not a criticism of Eagle County, which I believe has been doing an excellent job of handling the pandemic relative to other places in the country. It is just uncanny how close the COVID-19 statistics are for Taiwan and Eagle County.
Information about Taiwan’s COVID-19 response is available here. Among other things, “Widely available masks for the public allowed Taiwan to rely on less aggressive social distancing measures — such as “lockdowns” — which permitted normal social and economic activity to largely continue, with some modifications, rather than prohibiting all non-essential activities.” This suggests that wearing masks in public settings — even outdoors — may be critical in controlling the spread of the coronavirus and reinforces the message conveyed in Saturday’s letter to the editor signed by a number of people urging mandatory wearing of masks.
There are many things that were done in Taiwan that Eagle County cannot do. For example, it is not possible to test every person who enters the county for COVID-19. Nevertheless, adopting and enforcing low-cost measures such as the routine wearing of masks in public cannot hurt and may well make a very big difference in allowing us to safely return to a more normal life.