Wudan Yan and Ann Babe in Undark:
The World Health Organization and American health officials have praised South Korea for its Covid-19 response. But when it comes to learning from it, many Americans seem less willing to adopt their ally’s practices.
Even as U.S. public health officials scramble to track infections, they have sometimes struggled to win basic cooperation from a public that prizes privacy, let alone implement the kind of widespread tracking seen in South Korea. The barriers to doing so are steep, highlighting stark differences not only between the two countries’ contact tracing infrastructures and public health systems, but also people’s civic trust and sense of public surveillance and social responsibility. Americans’ perceptions in giving up privacy for the public good have shifted before, particularly after the 9/11 attacks. But if the U.S. could overcome such hurdles and adopt South Korea’s containment strategy, would it even be desirable?