MINNEAPOLIS — While many people are focusing on issues here at home, Dr. Jeremy Youde, the Liberal Arts Dean at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, is taking a global approach to fighting COVID-19.
"It's absolutely staggering just thinking about the scale of an outbreak like this and how it's changed daily life for so many people around the world," Youde says.
He does research in international affairs at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and says we can learn a lot from how other countries are responding.
World Health officials now say the virus has spread to more than 170 countries.
And Youde says every one of them is in their own unique situation.
“Some countries are better off than others,” Youde says.
"It's on a scale of something I don't think we could have envisioned."
World health officials say now that Egypt and India have both decided to enact nationwide lockdowns, more than a third of the world's population is now stuck at home.
Youde says right now Europe is the new hot spot for the virus.
In Italy, they're seeing some of the highest death rates out of any country.
Health officials there are reporting more than 600 new cases every single day.
Of the entire world’s recorded fatalities, nearly a third of them came out of Italy.
“Italy is in the midst of a pretty devastating outbreak,” Youde says.
However, just a few countries over, in Germany, it’s a completely different situation.
According to worldwide numbers compiled by doctors at Johns Hopkins University, Germany ranks 5th in the world when it comes to COVID-19 cases.
However, Germany has one of the lowest death rates out of any country.
Numbers show Germany’s death rate is nearly 10-times lower than the worldwide average.
"I think Germany is going to be a real model for a lot of countries, both in terms of the actual policy response itself but also in terms of the importance of sharing this information and making sure there are best practices that are being shared among governments so we can avoid things getting worse in other countries,” Youde says.
And looking over in Asia, Youde says we're starting to see some progress and some signs that nationwide lockdowns may actually be working.
The situation in South Korea is improving greatly.
Back in February the country was reporting nearly 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 daily.
This past Sunday Korean health officials reported only 64 new cases, the lowest number in nearly a month.
And over in China, where the virus originated, health officials are seeing more good news.
Doctors at Johns Hopkins University created an interactive map that shows every confirmed case of COVID-19 around the world.
When you zoom in on China, large red circles symbolize areas with the highest concentration of confirmed cases.
Those circles represent every recorded case dating back to December.
But, if you switch the map’s settings to show current cases, it’s a much different story.
Nearly every single dot gets smaller and most of them disappear completely.
"It looks like they might be at a point where their number of cases are starting to go down and they're seeing the payoffs from the policy responses they implemented," Youde says.
It’s good news, but Youde says we should all take it with a grain of salt.
We will don’t know exactly what this new information means, if the numbers are truly going down in China and other countries, and if they’ll stay that way.
Youde is worried about country’s lifting lockdown measures too quickly after seeing signs of progress, which could cause a 2nd wave of infections if governments don’t take the proper precautions.
“We are the midst of a really tough pandemic right now. Everything is not lost. We do have opportunities to really aggressively deal with this outbreak and to think about how we can use these lessons learned to make ourselves better prepared for the future.”
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