MC’s visiting professor forced to manage COVID-19 on two fronts

While everyone around the world is dealing with COVID-19, Dr. Niya Liu has had a dual experience with the virus.

Liu, a visiting professor from Hebei Finance University, initially dealt with it in her home country of China. Now, as a visiting professor at Marietta College teaching Economics & Application in China, she is going through it for the second time.

Essentially, China is “two months ahead” of the outbreak in the United States. Liu noted that things are slowly getting back to normal, with people returning to work and schools slowly reopening back home.

“I think it still needs a couple of months to recover to the original level,” she said.

While in the U.S., Liu worried about her family members who remained in China.

Having watched the impact of COVID-19 on her home country and subsequently other parts of the world, Liu hoped the U.S. would be prepared for the pandemic. She said China knew the novel virus was something that needed immediate attention, especially after dealing with SARS in 2003 – something America didn’t experience at remotely the same level.

“Most Chinese people consciously wore face masks when they were going out. The efforts made by all Chinese people lead to great success in fighting the coronavirus,” Liu said. “I [appreciate] all the countries and people who helped China. They donated large quantities of face masks, ventilators, and other medical supplies to China.”

She was concerned for the U.S. as COVID-19 began making its way into the country, adding that initially the government and media likely downplayed the virus by not indicating there would be a breakout. She said that Americans were mostly told to wash their hands and not to worry about it.

“America should have prepared better than China,” Liu said, stating that America had more time to prepare. “However, I am afraid that America is not ready. America is still experiencing [a lack of] medical supplies that China was experiencing in January and February.

“I really feel broken-hearted and depressed about it. I hope everything will go back to normal soon.”

Liu said that differences in government style and culture have contributed to the differences in response. China, for instance, had a very strict two-month lockdown with tracking and testing. The United States lockdowns have been looser and scattered; in China, the response was consistent everywhere. She did praise the government and American businesses for being able to pass a stimulus package as well as produce rapid coronavirus tests to hopefully have mass screening.

“They have done a lot for the nation, which is so impressive,” she said. “Without a strong economy, highly developed science and technology, it would be hard for the nation to overcome so many difficulties.”

Liu was originally set to return home at the end of the spring semester. However, flights to China are currently very expensive and are not even scheduled until the end of May. Furthermore, she noted that traveling for more than 20 hours is still risky with the virus still being spread and no known treatment for the illness associated with it.

“They do see the ‘light at the end of the tunnel,'” Liu said, regarding those in her hometown. “Now, in China, the priority is to prevent imported cases.”


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