Jeff Lewis Oral History, 2020/04/20


Title (Dublin Core)

Jeff Lewis Oral History, 2020/04/20

Recording Date (Dublin Core)

Creator (Dublin Core)

Contributor (Dublin Core)

Type (Dublin Core)

oral history

Controlled Vocabulary (Dublin Core)


Curator's Tags (Omeka Classic)

Collection (Dublin Core)

Curatorial Notes (Dublin Core)

Date Submitted (Dublin Core)


Date Modified (Dublin Core)


Date Created (Dublin Core)


Interviewer (Bibliographic Ontology)

Nicole Rodrigues

Interviewee (Bibliographic Ontology)

Jeff Lewis

Location (Omeka Classic)

Wuyuan County
Shangria City
Jiangxi Province

Format (Dublin Core)


Language (Dublin Core)


Duration (Omeka Classic)


Transcription (Omeka Classic)

Nicole Rodrigues-
Should be up in your left-hand corner.
Jeff Lewis- Oh, I see it now on your screen. Yeah.
NR- Okay. So, we are recording. This is COVID-19 interview with Jeff Lewis on April 20th, 2020 at 07:00 PM Arizona Time. Jeff can you give me the date and time and where you are?
JL- It is April 21st at 10:04 am, China time and I am in Wuyuan County, Shangroa city, Jiangxi Province, PRC China.
NR- Alright, can you give me your full name and what your job is in China and what you basically do on a day-to-day basis?
JL- Jeffrey Lewis, and currently, I'm an English teacher. I work at the Wuyuan Number 5 Primary School.
NR- Okay. And when was the first time you heard about COVID-19? And what were your initial thoughts about it?
JL- First time I heard about COVID-19 would have been in about mid-January. I was in Vietnam on vacation. And my grandfather actually came out to visit me. And all I heard was that there was a new kind of unknown pneumonia that broke out in the city of Wuhan, and my thoughts originally were that it probably wouldn't be that bad, or, or that if it would be bad if it was just too bad for like older people. And so, I wasn't quite too alarmed but I definitely was like, uh-oh, cause whenever we hear about you know a new virus coming from China, I immediately thought of like the SARS outbreak of 2006. So at first I just kind of was waiting to see how bad it might be. And then as the week's progressed and I heard it was getting worse. I got more and more concerned. And once they start talking about closing borders and travel restrictions, that was when I started to think this could be more serious than I had anticipated, especially because in Vietnam, there were all the public service announcements going out and everybody there was quite startled. And I actually had to quit telling people that I came from China, because if I told then I came from China, they were like, oh no he’s probably sick, even though I had left… Yeah.
NR- Wow. So, how have your thoughts about COVID obviously changed since your first meeting with it?
JL- Yeah, it has. I mean, I didn't fully underestimate it. Like some people, they just kind of blow it off and say oh it's just, you know, nothing at all. I was hoping it was probably not so bad, but I was kind of thinking to myself okay what's gonna happen if this is pretty dangerous. And as time went on, and I heard about the lockdown in Wuhan, I pretty much thought it's gonna be SARS 2.0 so I thought, it'll probably be, it has the potential to be a pandemic and it could be dangerous. But I thought that my safety probably isn't too bad. I was more worried about social ramifications; about job restrictions. I was more worried about work than I was about health, and I still feel that way, although I am a bit more cautious and bit more nervous now. Because it can be dangerous even for young people too
NR- Right. So, speaking of which, how has COVID-19 affected your job? Has it?
JL- It has and it's funny because it, it's been mostly bad but actually some really good things happened because of it. Um, obviously I'm not working right now and that, it's kind of unfortunate. I haven't worked at all, actually this year because last time I showed up for work would have been around Christmas time before we went on our winter break. And so, work was postponed. At first, as was supposed to be just for a couple weeks, then a month and now is still postponed indefinitely. So that's been difficult because not working, therefore not getting paid. On the other hand now, it was actually kind of a blessing because I got a pay raise from my company since I was willing to go back. A significant one. I got to stay in Vietnam for an extra six weeks, so I spent like a total three months in Vietnam and, and the nice thing is that my job here working at a public school is not the same as working out in the centers, so I don't get paid hourly I get paid salary so even though I'm not working, I still receive a monthly stipend, separately. So I actually still have a paycheck coming in. It’s not as much, but it's enough to live on out here. So, in the end it's still been a lot, but if things pick up and go back to normal, I should actually be a few steps ahead than I would have been normally at that time. And since I’m not going, since I’m probably not going back home this summer either, that’s going to cut those expenses as well. So hopefully, I come out ahead of it but I don't know yet.
NR- Wow. So, going back to you were in Vietnam when COVID broke out, and then your company, kind of offered you a incentive to go back to China. Did you ever consider not going back to China, with the COVID outbreak?
JL- I did think about that. I was thinking to myself , if it got really bad, if it got really dangerous, I probably won’t go back. And I actually came really close to that point but what changed my mind was, see looking at it in hindsight, it's interesting because, first I was supposed to come back just two weeks late, but then my plane tickets were cancelled. So I bought another plane ticket. And then the company said don't come back, it's not safe. And then after a few more weeks, they're like oh you can come back. But I had to be quarantined in Shanghai. What made me ultimately come back is eventually the pandemic got widespread across the world. And I knew that no matter where I go, I'm not going to be able to avoid. But also, I came back because of where I'm at in China. I'm really fortunate because I live in a really small town that nobody's heard of. It’s off the beaten path. And there's actually never been an outbreak here. It's been less than, to my knowledge, it’s been less than five cases. And I have friends who work in the hospital there, so they've been my, my source of information because a lot of information gets covered up here. So, if I had to go back to like a city like Wuhan, or if I have to go back to Beijing or Shanghai, or Hong Kong… since the countryside, I thought okay, if I just get to the border and get back to where I live, I'll just stay in my apartment like I'm doing now and just wait for the whole thing to blow over. And I'm pretty fortunate because my town is pretty unaffected over here, nothing's really changed that much. It’s pretty nice here.
NR- So outside of it affecting obviously you going back to school, do you see this COVID 19 affecting the economy of your area? I know you're saying people are not getting sick, but is it affecting the community in any way?
JL- Definitely. It's been absolutely devastating for the community here because the Chinese New Year, which is just after Christmas time for us, is their busiest season. Everybody travels back to their families, and a lot of tourists come to town, as a matter of fact, Wuyuan, I live, is a popular tourist attraction for other Chinese people, cause it's nice. It was awarded China’s most beautiful city in 2017. It’s very, kind of like, the old China here, so people like to come here and get married and stuff like that. They have their spring festival. And normally during that time there's a lot of people who come here and they buy all sorts of stuff in the shops and the restaurants, get busy. It's their busiest season, and they prepare for all year. And they were told last minute, the whole thing is cancelled. So basically, a lot of people miss out on their busy season. And then with the travel restrictions, the normal commerce was reduced drastically as well. So, I've seen a few places that have closed down. It looks like people are still getting by here because Chinese have this culture of saving a lot of money. But it's been absolutely devastating. And a lot of people have lost money and my friends are all talking about it too. Like, I'm lucky, because my, my Chinese colleagues who work at the school with me, they haven't been receiving any pay, or any stipend. Only the foreign teachers have, so most of my friends here, they haven't been paid at all in 2020. So they're living off of savings for over four months now. So, that’s pretty rough for them.
NR- So, did you have any trouble getting back to your city in China?
JL- Oh man. Yeah, it was, it was really interesting. I had a lot of trouble getting back. So, the first hurdle to get over was the Vietnam issue with travel ban in China. So they wouldn't let me fly there and if they saw my itinerary that I was going to go there, they won’t let me to go. I had to buy six plane tickets to get back. And normally, a round trips like that I paid for originally to go to Vietnam and back to China, round trip, would be about $155. It’s a bargain. But just to get back on the one trip, I had to spend almost $300. So, it's twice as much as for one trip. And I had to fly to another country first, and then come back to China from there. So, I first was gonna to go to Thailand. And then my plan B was to go to Cambodia, and stay in Cambodia, and I had to fully check out too, so I had to get a visa and everything. And then my plan C, which is the one I followed through with, was to fly to Taiwan, and then from Taiwan to Shanghai. And it was really difficult, because my company, oh boy, it’s complicated. My company had to tell me that I can't tell the custom’s officer that I'm coming back to work, but that I'm coming back because it’s safer here. You know, like you have to work things a certain way to get back in because they didn't want to be responsible for me if something happened. And so, I had to kind of make it look like I'm just coming back on my own freewill. Definitely not advised by my company to come back.
NR- Oh my.
JL- Yeah, and then I couldn't fly back to Nanchang. Nanchang is the nearest International Airport, but it was completely closed down. So, I had to fly back to Shanghai, and then be quarantined for two weeks. And the first time I was going to fly back, I was about an hour away to getting on my plane and then my boss calls me and says don't come, don’t come. It's not safe. So I didn't. And then the second time, when I actually did come back, I was going through customs in Vietnam and as soon as they stamp my passport, like I'm checked out and they give it to me, my boss calls me is like, Oh, you shouldn't come back, you should wait longer. And I told her, I already checked out. And Vietnam also issued a freeze on all visas. So, once I was checked out, there was no going back. And it was a very scary feeling because I was really safe in Vietnam and I thought, I'm safe here. Everything's fine. And I'm about to go back into China, while everybody's trying to get out. And it was kind of a nerve-wracking feeling. So, for a few hours, while I was flying to Taiwan to Shanghai, I didn't know where I was gonna stay. I didn't know if they're gonna let me into the country, or what they were going to do, and it made me really nervous. Obviously, things worked out. They sent me to a to a quarantine hotel in Shanghai, and I stayed in there for two weeks. My company paid for it all. And it was actually a very nice hotel. So, even though I was kind of upset with the circumstances, once I saw what was going on around the world, I thought I was actually quite fortunate to be staying there. Yeah, it was it was a real pain. And when I landed in Shanghai, it took us six hours to get off the plane, because they got us off one at a time. Screened us. And when I get to the airport, it’s full of staff wearing like biohazard suits, and they’re checking our temperature with a little like thermometer. Little thermometer gun thingy. And it was a very, very uncomfortable feeling. Everybody treated me well. Everybody was being very fair. But everybody was really, really on edge. It was very, it was kind of a very scary thing, and I don't want to get sick either and I'm in an international airport in China and I'm like, what could possibly go wrong?
NR- It’s fine. Don’t worry about it.
JL- Yeah, right. Yeah.
NR- So how did you eventually make it from Shanghai back to your town?
JL- So normally, under normal circumstances, we would take the train. China has a really good train system. Normally, it's about a two-hour, high speed rail. But my company told us, we should not travel by train, because they're worried about exposure. So they sent us a private driver. And we drove from Shanghai to Wuyuan, which doesn't sound like a big deal but it's important to know that in China, they have a really good public transit system, but the highway system is old and in kind of, you know, rickety, so I didn't know what to expect but also, there were a lot of towns that had locked down, or places where they were putting barricades up on the highways now. I was worried about going through the roads and then maybe somebody stopping us, and then seeing two foreigners in the car, and being like, oh no way we're not letting these guys through. So we're really worried about that. And ultimately, everything was fine. The drive back was actually very easy, and there was no traffic on the road. So we got back in about a third of the time in normally would take. And when I got back to Wuyuan, we had to be quarantined again because the Jiangxi government, which is like a state government, had their own requirements on top of what the central government issued, and they said, basically we don't care that you’ve been quarantined for two weeks, we're going to quarantine you again. So, which, which it didn't bother me too much because I thought, well, at least they're following through with it, you know, to try and curb the spread, because it's been pretty good here. And Hubei province is right next door. So, I'm only six hours away from Wuhan. Oh, yeah. So, so, um, I got here and it's kind of a long story ,but it's worth, it's worth mentioning. I live, originally my apartment was actually on the school campus where I work. And we had a problem that, since there was the outbreak, the school campus was completely closed off. They sterilized it, which meant that I couldn't go back to my apartment. Especially to be quarantined cause I was considered high risk. So at first they said it would be okay. So I go back to my apartment and then in the middle of the night I get the phone call that’s saying you can't stay here. We have to move you somewhere else, like right away. Pack all your things and get ready to go. And by the way, don't tell anybody. Because if the police see you, they're going to send you to a quarantine facility in Shangroa, which is like a another city over. So I'm like, oh god, I'm really nervous now. And so the next morning I woke up and basically within one hour I had collected everything that I own, and threw it into the back of this little, like, pick-up truck. But it's more like a, you know, it's like some old beat up little like, scooter, like a motorbike with a bed hooked up to it. And I threw everything onto this, and I was hanging onto the side of it, keeping my head low because you stand out like a sore thumb here. There, there was only 11 foreigners in this town. Now, there's only three of us. And they dip me over to my new apartment, which is the one I actually wanted. And then got me settled in right away. And they got me everything I needed. We bought groceries and stuff. And then they told me they were gonna seal my door shut, that I couldn't even open the door. And I was nervous about this, cause I was like, how am I going to get supplies? How am I going to get food? And we got that figured out, cause I had a window that people could bring me things through. But all this happened though within like a two-hour period. And it was really, really nerve wracking. And, but on the positive side, I got this new apartment that I really liked. And it's the one that I wanted and I get to stay here. So that's why it's kind of like this has all been really bad but there's little silver linings to this gray cloud. And I was basically locked in here for about two weeks. And so in total, it was like 30 days of quarantine.

NR- And what exactly have you done, day to day to keep yourself occupied during that this month long quarantine you've been through?
JL- Oh, I’ve been staying productive, actually. I've been practicing my Chinese. Learning a lot of Chinese and learning how to write it. I've come a long way. I speak more Chinese than they ever thought that I could. And, so I'm really happy with that. Been playing some video games, of course, and watching a lot of movies. But it's been challenging because here in China, everything is censored. There is no Facebook. There's no Google. No YouTube. And the only way you can access it is through VPN, but like what I'm doing right now, but it doesn't always work. Sometimes, it’s really slow. So it was frustrating at times, because it's hard enough to be quarantined, you know with good quality internet. But then to be quarantined and not even be able to go to YouTube, you know, is really frustrating. But I just would study and read and watch movies, you know. Basically, just a lot of that to keep myself occupied. Luckily I'm really, I do really well by myself, doesn't bother me too much. So, I don't know how my other friends would have handled it, but it wasn't too bad for me. But it was a little challenging sometimes. Got a little claustrophobic.
NR- So how are you able to associate or communicate with your family and friends during all of this?
JL- That is actually a really tough thing to do, and it's difficult. So there's a service that everybody uses here called WeChat. And WeChat is basically the Facebook of China. but WeChat also totally controlled by the government. Everything is monitored. Everything is censored. And it's a very strange system. So, WeChat is the only service, well, one of the only services you can use that allows you to communicate, beyond the borders. My family though when they downloaded WeChat, they were all blocked, instantly. I don't know why to this day. It’s very strange. Cause I don’t know why they didn’t block me, but they blocked them. So, before I came to Vietnam, I had no way to communicate with them except for when I can get my VPN up and going. And that's actually pretty hard because basically there is no way for me to just communicate with them. But after Vietnam, I found another app called Hello Talk, which is a language learning app, but you can also send messages on it. So I had my mom download it, and she can send me messages and phone calls on it now. It's really buggy, it doesn't work half the time, but uh, but at least it is an option besides the VPN. But I would say, actually, I like it here but the hardest thing about being in China is the fact that I'm cut off from the world, and they can block the VPNs anytime. The VPNs I use to connect the internet... They’re illegal. But it's also that everybody has one now, and they know it. and they purposefully don't shut them down because if they do, it would it would destroy the business, and it would make it impossible for foreigners to live here because, you know, I have to log onto my bank accounts. I have to log onto my email address. It’s not just about YouTube and Facebook. So, so they purposefully let, they kind of turn a blind eye and let people use it. But if they could, if they wanted to, they could shut it all down. And that kind of makes me a little bit nervous from time to time.
NR- Sure. So, would you say that's the biggest challenge that you face during COVID-19 is still communication?
JL- Definitely the, I would say, the hardest part is being cut off and not being able to communicate. Not having reliable internet. You never know if it's gonna work or not. I would really say that's like 80% the difficulty. Cause, other than that, other than that, everything here is, you know, not actually as different as you might think. But, uh, yeah, it’s really difficult with the internet.
NR- So, the community that you're living in. You said that there's minimal spread of the virus although the economy is affected. So, is your, has your community done the self-isolating, and been quarantining and doing their best to flatten the curve, as they say? Are you seeing that, people's response?
JL- Yeah, definitely. I was talking to some of my friends while I was in Vietnam, my Chinese friends here. And they went on complete lockdown. I don't know exactly which day or how, like they implemented it, but I do know that everybody stayed at home. Since this happened during the New Year, a lot of people had actually left town and gone back to the smaller villages to stay with their families. And that is actually where they stayed. They never came back for a while. And, yeah. Everybody stayed at home. Nobody went out. They would have, one person, once or twice a week, go to the store and buy groceries. The place was completely on lockdown. When I first got here actually, from my quarantine, I noticed that the whole town was, you know, pretty shut down. Yeah, it was completely locked down for, and they stayed in, they were staying indoors for like, almost two months. Like nobody was going outside. And when you think about it, these Chinese families, they live close quarters with each other. I don't know how they do it. But um, on one hand, it's kind of a grim thought. But on the other hand, it actually makes me feel a little bit safer here, because China, you know, it’s difficult. A lot of laws are not followed in China. A lot of rules and regulations, they’re kind of just, kind of go right over them, you know. It's a very, it's, for being a Communist country, it's actually very laissez faire over here, like a lot. And so you never know what to believe, or who's actually doing their job the right way. But, but as far as hearing Jiangxi, in like the province that I'm in, it does appear that they're actually sticking to the guidelines pretty well, doing their best to stop the spread. So, that's why I feel a little bit better about being where I'm at in China as opposed to some other area, where they don’t really enforce… (inaudible)
NR- So, you have a caught COVID-19, right.
JL- Not to my knowledge, and the reason I say that is because, and this is just really a hypothetical thing. Back in November, I had come down with a really bad case of a respiratory infection, And, but it's also totally normal that when a foreigner comes across the world, they get sick because we’re not used to the strains. I work with kids. And I got sick like four times, you know, and it was all minor stuff. But in November, I did get this strange respiratory sickness, and it really wasn't that bad but I had totally lost my voice, had some shortness of breath and whatnot. And I sometimes wonder, it might have been COVID-19. Now, I'm pretty sure that it wasn't and the reason I think that is because it didn't appear that anybody else got that sick with anything. Plus, I use my voice a lot so it makes sense that I lost my voice. So, I'm like, 80% sure it was probably something else but sometimes I wonder, you know, sometimes I wonder if that's how I got to the airport, no problem, you know.
NR- You never know.
JL- So initially I would say I never got it but sometimes I wonder if maybe I had an early version of it in November. Because you know, it's hard to tell a when it exactly started, you know.
NR- Sure. Do you know anybody who has been positively diagnosed with COVID-19?
JL- Surprisingly, no. Here and in the US, I actually don't know anybody who has it, and I asked my friends if any of their family had it, you know, any of their grandmas or anything. and they all said no. The only instance of it that I know about, is I have a friend who works at the hospital and I was talking to her about what's going on. And she said that there were three patients in the hospital with it. And that's about as close as I've gotten to my knowledge.
NR- So, in what ways do you think COVID, do you see COVID-19 affecting mental health, around you?
JL- Actually, yes, I do. Because, being being in quarantine, being in lockdown has some impact on your mental health, and I witnessed that firsthand. I actually underestimated it. I, I obviously went through my quarnatine just fine. And it didn't, and it wasn't so bad, but I did notice I was a little different afterward, like when my friend came to let me out of my apartment and she was talking to me, I was just kind of like looking at her for a minute like, oh, words, you know, and I couldn't remember how to like talk to her. I mean, not like I couldn’t remember, I just didn't know what to say to her because I hadn’t seen another face in so long, you know. And I've noticed that a lot of my friends are just ,all my friends actually, they’re just the quieter. They're not as social. Everybody’s very worried, sand concerned, especially got money. But did, you know when I left Wuyuan, it was just a very nice, you know, kind of bustling little town, and now like everything's still working just fine. But, you know, it's kind of a, kind of a gloom in the atmosphere, and everybody is much more reserved now. And when I came back, everybody was very worried about me, and very scared of me, actually. It’s only been recently that they started to calm down a bit because, it's a small town. People know that I've been quarantined now but when I came back, it was like in the movies, you know. They like close the windows when the foreigner comes in, you know. I mean it wasn't, it wasn't that bad, but it kind of was actually. There was no virus here, and they know I’m American, so they thought maybe I went to America then came back here. So everybody was really worried about me when I got here, and the state government didn't even want me to be here, but they were like, well we have to let you in though. But they were like, you stay in your apartment, you know?
NR- Wow. So, how do you feel, like you said that you are actually locked in your apartment; from the outside. Was that the community, like the municipal leaders, the government that said to do that?
JL- Yes, that was a province government of Jiangxi. Like, basically the state government. So, the central government of China, they required that I undergo a two-week quarantine. Doesn't matter where I do it, as long as it’s at a certified facility. And I did that. but then when I came back to Jiangxi, they had their own regulations saying, well you have to adhere to ours now. And basically, you can either be quarantined in your apartment for two weeks, or you can be sent to a quarantine facility in Shangroa. Obviously, I didn't want to do the second one because I didn't want, Shangroa is kinda a…eh place. So, um ,so yeah, they have their own separate set of rules here and the local police were the ones to enforce it. And it is. I should, I should also say real quick though, because I know China, you know, ooh, China… but um, they were all very friendly about it. They were asking me if I needed anything. They were always polite. They came to my door and kind of helped me figure out a way to get things into my apartment. So nobody was ever like forceful, which, which I was happy to ever feel like I was in danger at all. I was just nervous about what might happen, you know
NR- Sure.
JL- But yeah, I worked with local cords who enforced the second apartment quarantine.
NR- So, do you have any thoughts on how the local, state, federal province, municipal governments of China have handled the COVID-19 outbreak?
JL- Yeah, and it's kind of a mess, because the way things work here is, it kind of echoes in the private sector too, is that everything is very top to bottom. So it's like, like for instance like Hubei Province, where the outbreak happened. So, and this is what they don't want us to talk about here, you know. So, in Hubei province, when the outbreak first occurred, they tried to cover it up. And the reason they covered it up is because that's what the people above them told them to do, because the people above them told them to cover it up as well. And once they couldn't cover it up anymore and now they had to admit to the world, yes we have an outbreak that’s out of control, they blame the local government, because they were the first line. They were the first team. So, everybody in the local government gets sacked, and then they get replaced, because they covered it up. But they did what they were told to cover it up, you know, and that's just kind of how things work over here all the time. So, I think in Jiangxi, one of the reasons why they're enforcing the rules so heavily is because they don't want to have the same fate as the officials in Hubei Province. They're gonna, say look… (inaudible)… we're going to really go the extra mile because we saw what happened in Hubei Province. Everybody there got sacked. And that's just how things always are here. Everything's always done very last minute. You never know exactly who's giving the orders. And I never find out, like when I get information, I never find out from the authorities. I can’t, like hear from the authorities what’s going to happen to me. They tell the people under me, who then trickles the information back to me. Like, when I went back to school. My boss had me state that they didn't ask me to come back. That way the school can't be held responsible. And then when they brought me there, my assistant didn't tell the principal that I was coming back, because she didn't want to be held responsible. So then I show up at the school and they're like, we didn't know you were coming back. And then basically all the work goes around. And then, my being there had to force them to make a decision to move me somewhere else. So that kind of last minute push and shove is how things always go here, or just like how my, my boss told me not to come back as soon as I got on the plane. It feels like she probably did that on purpose. I don't even take in personally, the way things are done here. It’s very, it's very strange. Very, very strange.
NR- Wow. So, where are you getting your primary source of news on this pandemic?
JL- Oh, when I get the internet going, all the same media outlets that we watch back home. I like the BBC a lot. Forbes. New York Times. MSNBC. CBS, you know. And the, and the government as well. I have a, I'm on their alert list, so I get emails from the embassy in Shanghai, the US Embassy. They get official information. And yeah, that’s basically where I get it from. I don't go to any Chinese sources, because, A- I don't trust them, but B- they're all in Chinese. So, it's taking a long, long time to reason and you kind of have to take it with a tablespoon of salt.
NR-Yeah. So, what do you think are important issues that you're seeing in the media that are or not being covered?
JL- In China or in the US?
NR- Just in general.
JL- … That are not being covered. Oh, boy. How would I answer that? You know, I don’t… I feel like it’s still too early for me to say, because this outbreak has been so confusing. At first, I admit I kind of thought the media like, I always feel like they’re kind of fear mongering, you know what I mean? Like, as soon as we heard about the new outbreak of pneumonia, it's like cases surging across the world. Be afraid. And so I thought, you know they're just, they're doing what the media does. But then after a while, it was clear this is serious. You have to take it seriously. And I think that's kind of a hard thing with the media is that I always feel like everything's always like a 10 with them, you know, and so I never know exactly when to take things seriously. Like the boy who cried wolf, you know? And basically, I don’t know. I feel like, we need to understand better the methods that our government in the US and the Chinese government, what methods they're using to record numbers about who's infected, who's died, who's at risk. Because even still now the numbers are all over the place. Like, you know is it dangerous for old people? Is it dangerous for everybody? Is it super, super contagious, or is this not as contagious as we think? Does it thrive in warm climates, you know? All these answers, like all these questions, I still don't have answers to. So, I kind of gave up trying to figure it out, I just stayed in my apartment. It’s very confusing, the whole thing.
NR- So you can opt to answer this question or not answer this question, but how do you personally feel about China, the way China’s been represented in American media, in the middle of all this?
JL- Yeah. I do think that there is a, there's a degree of accountability to hold against the … (inaudible)… for covering, covering it up. They covered it up. And that results in people getting hurt. And we could have done more ahead of time have we known, had more sound information about it. So, I think that there is some consequences to bear for them there. That, that I think is a fair, is a fair argument. But I think my concern though with what I see back home and the media… I think people forget that China is such a huge country. So, and when they talk about China, it's like what part of China are you talking about, you know? Because a lot of China is unaffected or minimally affected. And, and also there are, there are some areas where they're better about this than others. Like where I live, it’s a, it’s a nice area. It’s middle class. And, and they and they, they're following all the rules very well here. Like all the restaurants are completely sterilized now. They're like you walk in, just smell all the sanitizer. Everybody checks your temperature before you walk in place. The tools have all been sterilized, like I've seen that firsthand. So, so here in my area, I’m like they’re like well they're actually doing a pretty good job. Doing the best they can. But on a national level, the most important thing is, what is perceived as the information that's more important than reality, and that's very concerning. So, so I feel like the, it is fair to, to blame the government fo,r for mishandling it, but at the same time, I just hope that people when they look at this, just can remember, just like how huge the country is. And there’s a lot of smaller local governments, and people who are trying to do their best to handle this the right way. So, I do get worried about like the racism towards like Chinese people, a lot of times. I’ve seen a lot of that. And it bothered me because I have so many Chinese friends here now and I just, I just couldn't imagine… (inaudible)… to them, you know? But at the same time, you know their, their central government here is so inherently corrupt. You know, it’s just, it’s just ridiculous. I feel like, I feel like… let me rephrase this. The local governments should be praised for their way of handling it in spite of the way the central government tells them to handle it, because the central government, they just try to cover up everything. In the real work, the real burden of trying to manage a crisis is handed down to the local government, you know?
NR- Wow. So, to wrap this up, knowing what you know now, having been in the middle of it in the country where, you know, they say it's coming out of, what do you think that individuals, communities and obviously governments need to keep in mind sort of future?
JL- I would… I think that this outbreak… I know that this outbreak is gonna change the future. I think it's really important, and I’ve thought this before, that we take illnesses seriously. Because, I know that like back home in the US, when I worked in a job, if I got sick, I wasn't gonna call out a work. It wasn't, it wasn't just about losing money. It had long term consequences. If I said to my manager, I can't come in this week, they'll say okay fine, we're going to cut your hours, indefinitely. So even when you're better again, I might, it’ll take me weeks if not months to get back to where I was before. And so, calling out was really a last resort. I mean, first off, it was the money concern but the second off there, was this long-term consequence. I always felt like kind of being shamed when you’re sick. So, I don't know what the answer is. But I do know that we need to be able to take this more seriously. When people are sick, allow them to stay at home, to where they don't have to continue going to work, and kind of pretend they're not sick. Or like school, you know we go to school when we’re because you don't want to miss that deadline. So, one thing I'd like to see is just to find some way to make it more feasible for people to take care of themselves when they need to, even though it's not economical for them or for the company. And then the other thing I would like to see is more transparency in our government institutions, both here in China and the US, on crisis management and on information management. Because I feel like in the US, from what I see, it looks like we dropped the ball on a few things as well too. You know, we need to make sure that the hospitals can have the adequate supplies. They're not competing with each other, you know, to try and get supplies, you know. I really also would like to see us have more accessible health care as well because I know that in the US, if I were to come down sickness, I would avoid going to the hospital until it was life or death because of cost and worried about what it would cost me. That is something. Those are the things I'd like to see change in the future.
NR- Awesome. That is all I have for you.
JL- Alright.
NR- Thank you so much. Hold on, I'm going to…

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