COVID-19: The alarming situation in the USA and Brazil viewed by expats

  • people wearing mask in California
Published 2020-07-27 12:04

The situation in America is more than alarming, with more than 4.3 million COVID-19 cases and nearly 150,000 deaths in the USA, followed by Brazil with more than 2.4 million cases and over 87,000 deaths. Citizens of these two countries are currently banned from entering many countries, especially in the European Union. This is a major concern for expatriates living there while governments are advising them to return at the soonest. Some expats in the USA and Brazil share their views about the crisis and talk to us about their new routine.

Expats in the USA: between anger and insecurity

Although expats have mixed opinions on the situation in the USA, most of them agree that they feel insecure since March when the first COVID-19 cases were reported. Olivier, a French expat who now lives in California with his wife, while their daughter lives in Los Angeles, says that “It's just dramatic. We have, to date, more than 140,000 dead and 1/3 of Americans infected. California was the first of the 50 US states to implement the lockdown, which was lifted gradually in May but, we're going into lockdown once again. There are new restrictions on bars, restaurants, hairdressers, etc., depending on the evolution of the crisis”. According to Maé, who lives in Hawaii, “We feel like we are in a developing country whose government is denigrating science (when they say: "Science cannot decide whether we can reopen schools"), a country which grants a lot of fundings to companies but does not provide enough COVID-19 tests and contact tracing to ensure the population's health”.

Christelle, who lives in Tennessee, adds that “I am outraged at the way the world's leading power has handled the crisis and has become a laughing stock worldwide. For the past month, the death toll has increased again in the USA. The problem is that each state, county, and city, decides on its own measures. Finally, most of the people here are crying out for government and media conspiracy when in fact many have nothing to do with it and are having a normal life ”. Like Olivier and Maé, she is also annoyed by the lack of firm measures at the federal level. “Some places are locked down, then unlocked, and locked down once again, and it goes on, here and there. This absolutely looks like a joke. The death toll is very likely to increase by the end of the year".

An expat in Los Angeles side, Lisa believes that the media is influencing people to a large extent. “My parents think that we will die if we go out. My friends are afraid to touch doorknobs. When you look at the death toll, the number is decreasing. I have been 'quarantined' for about 4 and a half months, but personally, I've had enough of the whole world criticising the USA while elsewhere everyone is having barbecues, pool parties, etc., or are dining out peacefully". However, Lisa avoids going out when it's not necessary and keeps on washing her hands regularly.

Christelle admits that she would have felt safer in France, which had a firmer approach to the crisis. "No matter how much I work from home and avoid public places, I think there are chances that I will get infected someday while we all wait for a vaccine. However, I won't go back to France for now as I have my whole life here. " David, an expat in Los Angeles, adds that: "If I were single, I would have thought about going back". He says that although it is mandatory to wear a mask in California, most people don't, knowing that the penalties aren't so serious. “The beaches are open near where I live, and things have gone back to normal: people are cycling and running without really respecting regulations. Most of them don't wear masks, but the lifeguards say nothing. Each city takes its own decisions. For example, the local police at Redondo Beach refused to fine people on the weekend of July 4 for not wearing a mask. I hope things have evolved since then".

In Hawaii, according to Maé, the soldiers who feel safe there and therefore don't wear masks, and those aged 20-29 think that they are not at risk, so they are not taking any precautions, like elsewhere in the country. “In Nashville, where I live, there is a face mask mandate, but in reality, locals are not paying attention to it. Last week when I went to the doctor, no one was wearing a mask except me, not even the doctor and the nurses. It is unbelievable! », says Christelle.

Meanwhile, in Virginia, according to Jose, local authorities are ensuring that people are wearing a mask in public places and in certain businesses. "There was an intense communication campaign via all media channels, not to mention the free and rotating COVID-19 tests in different districts of the county."

Regarding their everyday life since the start of the crisis, all of them admit that they only go out when it's necessary although hand sanitising and the wearing of masks has become the new norm. “Since March, my wife and I hardly ever go out, except to the supermarket for the stuff that we cannot shop online", says Olivier. Jose also makes sure that his children take all the necessary precautions. "We go out for a walk around the neighbourhood and for shopping and visit our relatives from time to time while taking all required precautions".

Christelle, who will be working from home until the end of the year probably, only goes out on weekends to outdoor places like State Parks. “I don't touch anything, and whenever I have to, I sanitise my hands until I can wash them. Obviously, I put on my mask as soon as I leave home ”. Regarding the wearing of masks, Sylvain, an expat in Florida, points out that “When you wear a mask here, it feels like you're voting against Trump, so you have to be careful! ".

Brazil in despair

In Brazil, the situation is getting worse, especially as local authorities took long before implementing safety measures. Moreover, President Bolsonaro was against lockdown since the start of the pandemic, accusing the media of being the cause of panic and paranoia. According to John, an American expat in Brazil, things are very likely to get worse, with the death of many more innocent people. "It is so painful to see so many people dying and not have enough money to buy rice and beans for their children." He also believes that COVID-19 screening tests should be more accessible and that contact tracing should become a priority. Asked how he is protecting himself, he says that he wears a mask and gloves whenever he goes shopping or to buy medicine. " I always use the gel when it's available. Also, I go out as little as possible, to avoid exposure, and have my lunch delivered. When I walk down the street and see someone without a mask, I cross to the other side of the road and or top and get out of the way or turn my back."

1 Comment
6 days ago

I believe it's sad when people take any opportunity to criticize our country here in the USA. First off, our goverment is designed to handle problems at the local level and then proceed up the chain. It's called states rights. Each individual state is to manage the affairs of the people and that's what is going now. Our founding fathers knew the problems of a power hungry centralized goverment which is what you have in many other countries around the world. If you don't like our form of goverment nobody is making you live here. I agree we are not perfect and we all have problems but we typically lead the world in repairing problems and then we proceed to bail everyone else out as we are a generous nation. Many of us have served in the military and fought for these rights. I personally think you shouldn't shut down the largest economies of the world over a sickness that is similar to the flu. Now that we understand the effects of this virus we know that everything doesn't need to be in lockdown. Only locations that have severe outbreaks should be on lockdown. This is a virus and eventually everyone will be exposed unless a virus is developed. That's why they are trying to slow the peoples exposure to this virus so that our healthcare system can handle the number of cases. That's my rant and I'm sticking to it.