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What the US Can Learn From Spain

By: Briani Questelles and Katelyn Diaz

Empty streets in Toledo, Spain (Briani Questelles)

The return to a functioning society has proven itself difficult for all countries affected by COVID-19, so how can the country with the most reported coronavirus cases succeed with reopening soon?

The United States still remains behind other countries even with the action already taken. Many news sources are reporting that Spain will recover quicker than the U.S, even though both countries saw cases rise practically overnight. Intel from students in Spain can show the United States what they can expect of their future.

Spain is noted as having one of the strictest lockdowns of all of Europe, but it also is one of the worst countries hit by the virus. The health ministry in Spain has just reported its lowest death toll rate in more than a month but does this really give a “clear, positive direction in the evolution of the epidemic” as BBC quoted, Fernando Simon, director of the Spanish Health Alert and Emergency Coordination Centre, saying.

In both countries, the government’s actions to prevent the spread of coronavirus have been criticized by some of its citizens.

“In Madrid it was a disaster, at first the government told people it wasn’t anything to worry about,” said Paula Rodríguez Angulo, resident and University student in Madrid. “Political meetings and sports events were celebrated and that made the situation worsen.”

The Spanish government has given out fines to ensure people are practicing safe social distancing and forbid all social gatherings and travel. Although the government has a part in preventing more spread, it wouldn’t be possible if it weren't for the support of the residents doing their part to follow quarantine rules.

“In general everyone is very concerned with the situation and take all the measures they can,” said Zamora Resident Sofía Hernández Macías. “There are always irresponsible people, like everywhere, but they are a minority.”

So what can we expect as some states decide to reopen as soon as the beginning of May while others already have people filling up the beaches?

In Spain, there is a similar dilemma, as people wonder when this will all be over.

“If the government allowed us to go out and to schools again,” said Henrique Lasmar, a study abroad student from Brazil, “I would be kind of scared.”

Although he was forced to stay in Madrid because flights home were canceled, he is afraid Spain will get too ahead of themselves.

“The government said they will open May 9, doesn’t seem realistic,” said Lasmar with a deep sigh.

It is easier for all Spaniards to get tested because of universal health care, but a less obvious reason is the people are still cautious and careful. The situation is unfortunate for everyone involved, but Spain's recovery offers the US the opportunity to observe and hopefully mimic their successes while learning from Spain’s mistakes and avoiding future outbreaks.



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