An Inside Look at South Korea’s Covid-19 Warning System
How one nation keeps everyone safe and informed when cases rise
A few weeks ago, a colleague came into my office and announced, “Damn, it looks like things are starting to get bad again.” He turned his phone toward me. It was opened to Worldometer’s Covid-19 tracking page. I scrolled down to select the country we live in: South Korea. “How many days has it been going up?” I asked. “It was 303 then 343 and 363 cases today. They’ve just increased the alert level to 1.5.”
That night, I stopped at the grocery store on the way home to pick up some extra food. If cases keep rising, I know restaurants will likely start reverting to takeout orders only and closing earlier. My weekend appeared likely to be an isolated one.
At home, I turned on the news in America. I listened to an interview with a crying nurse. She was crying because the number of cases in America had risen exponentially, and, on her drive home after spending her day watching people die from the virus, she passed bar after bar packed with maskless people. She was talking about how helpless she felt, desperate for people to understand the severity and horror she was experiencing every day.
Masks, Protection, and Our National Character
Public health is inherently unselfish; why aren’t we?
When I Skype with my family back home in Massachusetts, I am amazed by the stories they share. The U.S. appears as an alternate reality. My brothers are lucky enough to have work that allowed them to go fully remote. One of my brothers has a baby on the way, and he and his wife are frightened to even leave the house. My grandparents shop for groceries in hazmat suits. My mom is concerned about family members who are convinced Covid-19 is a conspiracy designed to steal the election. My parents want to celebrate the holidays with family but can’t trust that all of the members of their “pod” are listening to and taking recommended precautions.
Masks are not just encouraged in Korea. If I am out and about without my mask, I receive an $85…