[COMMENTARY] Thousands Attend Massive Pool Party in Wuhan

It was Ground Zero for the coronavirus, but now Wuhan is ready to party like it’s 2019 again. A massive pool party took place last weekend in the central Chinese city after the world’s strictest lockdown had finally been lifted. The city hasn’t reported any new cases since mid-May, but torrential rains throughout late June and early July kept people indoors.

The crowded party scene remains unthinkable in many parts of the world still grappling with the deadly virus. More than 21 million people have been infected around the world, with tens of thousands of new cases reported every day in the United States, Brazil, and India.

A similar scene took place over the Memorial Day Weekend in Missouri, when thousands of young adults flocked to a water park in Lake of the Ozarks. That gathering led to a massive outbreak in immediate and outlying areas.

Wuhan went into a then-unprecedented lockdown on January 23rd at a time where the virus had killed 17 people and affected more than 400. It was a week after China confirmed that human-to-human transmission of the virus had taken place, something not previously proven. The city of 11 million, which was entirely cut off from the rest of China, took a drastic approach as thousands of people were tested and placed in quarantine. All large public gatherings were canceled and people were told to avoid gathering.

By March, when the United States was only beginning to implement measures against the spread of the virus, lockdown restrictions were eased in Wuhan. One resident from each household was allowed to leave their home for a maximum of two hours. Shopping malls began re-opening, public transport started to run and people slowly started heading out, though social distancing was still in place and masks had to be worn. Wuhan’s lockdown was officially lifted on April 8, but six new virus cases were recorded on May 12th. The city quickly put in place ambitious plans to test its entire population of 11 million people. The new outbreak was soon brought under control, and by June the night markets – which see street stalls set up along small streets – were allowed to re-open. A month later, life truly started to go back to normal in most parts of China. Cinemas in most places were allowed to re-open, certain parks, libraries, museums were also allowed to open at half capacity and larger gatherings were given permission to take place.

If the United States had followed the Wuhan model, we would also be enjoying this same level of freedom, but without any national mask mandate or stay at home order in place six months into our own pandemic, it’s unlikely anything will change.

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