The importance of leadership in times of crisis

How the U.S. COVID-19 response fares with the rest of the world


The challenges that would come as a result of a global pandemic at the start of a new decade were unexpected, to say the least. Leaders around the world are being put to the test, racing in search of alternatives and solutions that will keep infection rates low or produce a vaccine. As for the United States, a lack of leadership along with the contradicting message that has been spewed to the American people has truly placed us in an capricious and vulnerable position. 

Vietnam has made great strides in its quest to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Vietnam overcame rising infection rates quicker than other countries due to “strong leadership and coordination, rapid case detection and isolation, aggressive contact tracing, and strict quarantine measures.” Despite the country’s close proximity to the epicenter of the pandemic, Vietnam’s response gives us a glimpse into how citizens cooperated with health officials, ensuring that public health guidelines were followed accordingly. 

 Unlike other countries, Vietnam rushed to establish travel bans along with health checks at its borders. Vietnamese government officials utilized social media to consistently remind and encourage citizens to follow pandemic precautions. Many people in other countries might say that Vietnam’s hasty response to the virus seemed overexaggerated  at the time, but it’s always best to be prepared for the worst.

As an American, it is disappointing to know that the President of the United States continues to discourage his citizens from  wearing a mask and consistently overrides the advice of public health experts. The problem with the U.S. is that we are incredibly divided — between the power struggle of the federal government against the state authorities— and the public does not know where to obtain accurate information. Rather than having the states work in unison, local officials established their own policies regarding travel limitations, a major problem from the start. 

Donald Trump’s response delayed the necessary actions that could have prevented the loss of thousands of lives earlier this year. The number of cases in the U.S. could have been reduced if we had only closed our borders three weeks in advance. Additionally, the message about the use of facial coverings was often confusing, as some claimed that only those who exhibited symptoms had to wear one. As weeks passed, the ineffective response from  the U.S. official led us to be one of the countries with the greatest number of cases and deaths. 

While the infection rate remains low in the U.S., it is incumbent that people remember to avoid gatherings and to always wear a mask. After a while, we tend to become comfortable and assume that we are safe, but it’s important that we keep our guard up, especially in public spaces. As we wait for an effective vaccine, contact tracing and testing are crucial tools for us to prevent the rise of infection rates.