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Commentary: I’ve learned lessons in China that Newport-Mesa can apply to the COVID fight

A family wears protective plastic covers and masks as they walk after checking in to a flight at Beijing Capital Airport.
A family wears protective plastic covers and masks as they walk after checking in to a flight at Beijing Capital Airport in Beijing.
(Getty Images)

Here in China, the novel coronavirus has run its course, and the situation is now well-contained.

Except for getting temperatures checked with an electronic scanner every time someone enters or exits a building, school or business, life routines have returned to normal.

I have seen what has worked and failed. About eight months ago, I wrote how coordination across agencies could mitigate the coronavirus spread across Newport-Mesa [latimes.com/socal/daily-pilot/opinion/story/2020-02-13/mailbag-coordination-across-agencies-will-help-lessen-likelihood-of-disease-outbreaks-in-o-c]. Now, I write about how our local community of Newport-Mesa can contain the virus and hopefully move back to life as normal.

The most important thing anyone can do is to stay at home as much as possible. While no one in China liked staying in their apartment complex — it was boring, we all put on a little weight — a month of total lockdown and several months of heavy restriction ensured that the highly contagious coronavirus would not spread outside families that were already infected.

China adapted. Many schools and businesses went online. I founded my own online teaching company and taught a university course.

Second, for those who have a passion for civil liberties, I would ask them to find safer and more effective ways than protesting outside without a mask. Even in Chinese national news, we saw the video clips of arrests at Mother’s Market in Costa Mesa and people licking mall windows in Huntington Beach.

Newport-Mesa has many beautiful and exciting things, rather than this extreme behavior. Had these protesters written many letters to key civic leaders, created websites or written opinion articles in newspapers, their efforts might have seemed more persuasive and reasonable.

Third, let us all try to band together to support local relief agencies. Although our income has been meager during this time, we can set an example in helping those who have almost nothing and cannot easily get employment.

I anxiously spent my last few dollars using express mail to send masks and protective equipment to clinics in the UK and paying the medical bills for some of my mentees in Africa.

Yet I knew I had made the right choice when I saw people genuinely cry tears of joy when they see people helping them, believing it to be a godsend, whether in religious places like Nigeria or Scotland or non-religious places like China.

I support our local religious organizations and community colleges, such as Orange Coast College and Coastline College, for setting up comprehensive food pantries, medical clinics with general care, emergency and psychiatric care. For the homeless or near-homeless, these efforts may be lifesaving in this time of crisis.

Fourth, instead of forcing schools open, I recommend people take this time to try to become healthier at home. Among some of my mentees are current or former prisoners.

From what I have seen, they can get impressive results from putting forth great effort, focus and dedication with different exercise routines, using minimum space, often without equipment.

Lastly, I recommend anyone use this time further their education, preferably with community college classes. As both a perpetual college student and a university-level teacher, I can say community colleges, such as Coastline, have performed even better than my Ivy League university or top-ranked public schools like UCLA during this crisis.

The writer is a former Newport Beach resident who now teaches and lives in Beijing.

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