By Chand Bellur
March 15, 2020 at 3:52 p.m. PDT
- Responding to novel coronavirus concerns, all Apple Stores outside mainland China will be closed until March 27.
- Apple has donated $15 million to help combat COVID-19.
- The World Wide Developers Conference will be held online this year.
Apple Stores Outside of Mainland China Closed Until March 27
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared novel coronavirus to be a controllable pandemic this past Wednesday. While many around the world are clearing out supermarkets of toilet paper and other essentials, such overreactions are unnecessary. COVID-19 is a serious disease, however, social distancing, testing and other measures are in place to control the pandemic.
Eventually, most people in the world will contract COVID-19. There’s absolutely no immunity to this virus and it will likely infect up to 70% of the global population. For most, the disease will be less harmful than the common cold. Most healthy individuals will experience a fever and dry cough, with aches and pains throughout their body. Others may experience shortness of breath, in addition to the aforementioned symptoms. Only some will suffer severe respiratory symptoms, however, these can be quite deadly.
The impetus for banning public gatherings and encouraging telecommuting is to slow the spread of the disease. Eventually, most people in the world will succumb to COVID-19. If we can slow the spread of the disease, this ensures that healthcare infrastructure will not collapse.
Individuals who get very sick from novel coronavirus will need to be intubated and put on ventilators. There’s a finite number of such facilities. By slowing spread of the disease, we can ensure that those with severe symptoms can be treated.
Apple, responding to the public health authorities, will shutter all Apple Stores outside of mainland China until March 27. The move gives the company time to disinfect brick and mortar stores. It also minimize spread of the disease until testing expands.
Social Distancing and Travel Bans Necessary Due to Lack of Testing
Following the WHO’s regular press conferences, it’s clear that the United States’ response to COVID-19 has been ineffective. Top leaders like Donald Trump have buried their heads in the sand. Trump’s first response was to label the disease a hoax. Then, the President claimed that everyone could be tested, however, that’s not even close to accurate. His happy talk hasn’t placated Americans, who are anxiously buying up toilet paper and cleaning supplies.
As testing ramps up, a better strategy emerges. The WHO’s gold standard for controlling epidemics involves testing, finding contacts and quarantining these people. Since we do not have adequate testing in place, the next best option is to require social distancing and shut down unnecessary public gatherings.
The WHO contents that travel bans are ineffective, especially after the disease has spread. Trump, who thrives on xenophobia, seemed to opt for familiar close-minded and ineffective policy.
Apple, a company built and run by analytical minds, seems to understand the reality of the situation. Until testing is in place, people should not congregate in public places. Shutting down almost every Apple Store in the world is necessary until testing, identifying contacts and quarantining specific individuals is in widespread practice.
China and South Korea Have Effectively Contained COVID-19
With all of the doom and gloom propagated by twenty-four hour news networks, it’s important to realize that nations have turned the tide on novel coronavirus. Both China and South Korea have effectively reversed the epidemic’s course, by practicing the WHO’s methodology. The countries engage in extensive testing. They find people who have come in contact with infected individuals. Both the infected individuals and their contacts are quarantined. With these steps in place, life can get back to normal.
Life is getting back to normal for China and South Korea. Foxconn has re-opened factories and iPhone production is back to pre-epidemic levels. China, in particular, has done such a great job of handling the epidemic, Apple Stores on the mainland will remain open.
If anything, this is good cause for optimism. Don’t assume that cancellation of events or store closures are to protect you, the individual. Most people won’t get very sick from COVID-19. The goal is to prevent the spread, so that the small percentage of people who get very sick won’t overwhelm our fragile healthcare system.
China and South Korea have shown that testing, finding contacts and quarantining these individuals works. It works far better than travel bans or social distancing. For now, due to abysmal leadership, the latter two strategies are all that we have. As testing increases, the US and other nations can employ more effective containment strategies. Until then, do the right thing. Stay home, wash your hands, cough into your elbow, avoid touching your face and stay three feet away from individuals.