Republic, Missouri native shares experience living in Taiwan, which is essentially COVID-free

Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — While the fight against COVID-19 rolls on in the United States, the country of Taiwan has gone months without a positive case of community spread from COVID-19.

Jake Hannah, a Republic High School graduate, has lived in Taiwan for about two and half years.

After earning his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, he went to Taiwan to finish his Masters in global studies. Hannah says liked it so much he has no plans to leave – especially since the country hasn’t had a positive COVID test since April 12. That’s 234 days.

Because of the lack of community spread, Hannah said most of 2020 has been pretty normal.

“Last weekend I went to a festival,” said Hannah. “No social distancing. And then the weekend before that I went to a surfing tournament on the east coast. Totally normal. Living here you forget that the virus is a thing I think. It hasn’t been a thing for like half a year now.”

Hannah said for the last few months he could go to concerts, baseball games and other large gatherings. He attributes it to the way the government handled it in the beginning.

Taiwan’s government mandated nationwide masking, banned people from traveling into the country from high risk areas, and placed strict fines for breaking quarantine.

But keeping up with American news and talking to family members back home made him realize the U.S. seemed like a completely different world.

“It’s completely strange,” said Hannah. “In Taiwan, we’re taking it way more seriously than the U.S. has, and we haven’t had a local case in 200 days. It’s really hard for me to explain it to the Taiwanese why there is an issue over wearing masks. Here it’s normal. If you have the flu, you wear a mask.”

Now, news of a vaccine has provided a beacon of hope in the United States. Hannah hopes it doesn’t make people complacent, and he worries about people like his grandmother, who is in a retirement home.

“I know that there’s some fatigue for the people in the US about handling the virus, wearing masks, and social distancing,” said Hannah. “They’re tired, and it’s been going on over half a year, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop, and now you have talks of a vaccine. I’m concerned that people are going to become even more relaxed and impact the people that I care about.”

Taiwan just implemented another masking mandate for public places as a precaution as the country heads into flu season.

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