How Jordan’s COVID-19 lockdown compares to U.S. response

Jordan closes grocery stores, bans driving
Posted at 8:34 PM, Mar 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-25 20:34:15-04

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There’s no mistaking it -- American life during the coronavirus pandemic looks different.

More than 50% of the country's population is currently under orders to stay home -- including people living in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky -- due to coronavirus.

Since California first ordered citizens to stay inside and limit contact with others to curb the spread of the virus, 17 other states have followed suit. Businesses deemed non-essential have closed, forcing hundreds of thousands out of work. More people are practicing social distancing, emptying grocery store shelves and quarantining in their homes.

While these changes seem drastic to us, another country more than 6,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean is enforcing one of the world's strictest lockdowns.

Jordan, the 11th-most populous country in the Middle East, is known for having one of the most well-developed health sectors in the region.

There, grocery stores and even pharmacies are closed during the nationwide lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus, according to reporting from NPR. Walking outside and driving have also been banned, as well as allowing pets outdoors.

In fact, Jordanian authorities have arrested 1,600 people and impounded 600 vehicles for noncompliance, according to NPR.

The global pandemic had sparked fears that refugees from Syria could quickly overload Jordan’s healthcare system, so travelers entering the country were placed in a mandatory 14-day quarantine; about 5,000 people were isolated in hotels.

Now, incoming and outgoing flights from the country have stopped, and Jordan has commandeered public transportation to delivery groceries, medicine and other essential items to neighborhoods.

Jordanian authorities also considered distributing cigarettes as an essential item, as the country has one of the highest smoking rates in the world.

As of Wednesday, there are roughly 410,000 positive cases of COVID-19 worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Jordan, with a population just under 10 million, has seen about 179 cases.

To compare, the U.S. has seen roughly 54,000 positive cases as of Wednesday, out of a population of 329 million.