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Africa x America: A Tale of Two Responses to Coronavirus

Nairobi and Washington, D.C., are 7,500 miles apart. Last week showed that the gulf in their approaches to the pandemic is even wider. Even as President Donald Trump pressured states and local authorities to reopen schools, threatening to cut funding for those that do not, Kenya announced that it would keep physical classrooms closed until at least January 2021. Kenya’s government said it was worried about rising COVID-19 cases — it has 10,300 cases so far. The White House wants schools to reopen as a part of its push to bring the U.S. back to a sense of “normalcy,” even though America has recorded more than 3.3 million cases, and the number is growing each week. But from Scandinavia to South Asia, and Africa to East Asia, a pandemic that has claimed the lives of nearly 600,000 people is also ripping apart a range of typecasts. Ghana’s President Nana-Akufo Addo has quarantined himself despite testing negative, because he was in contact with a person who tested positive — setting an example very different from Trump, who until last weekend, refused to wear a mask and has advocated unproven cures for the virus.