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China's coronavirus measures likely won't work for the U.S. Here's why

China is very different from the U.S. The country is able to tightly control physical and digital access to places.

NEW ORLEANS — While Louisiana is looking at a long road ahead to curb the spread of coronavirus, former WWL-TV reporter Jonathan Betz has already lived through the pandemic; he now works as a national news anchor in Beijing. 

Betz spoke with Eyewitness News investigative reporter Katie Moore about the outbreak there, and why some of those measures may not be useable in the United States. 

First, the good news: Betz said China is a model for how social distancing and self-quarantining could slow the spread. 

"One thing that's changed for good is a lot of things are reopening," he said. "Some restaurants are coming online, some gyms, even some bars."

But Betz said travel restrictions around the world's most populated country have tightened. 

"China is very, very worried, and I think this is something the United States is going to be concerned with later, China is concerned about the virus coming back to China," Betz said.

But China is very different from the U.S. The country is able to tightly control physical and digital access to places. 

"They required us to install software on our phones that tracks our movements to make sure that we have not left Beijing. It gives us a green checkmark. We have to show that everywhere we go. Otherwise, we would not be allowed inside bars, restaurants, Starbucks, that sort of thing," Betz said. "I tell my friends back home that China got this under control but using severe restrictions that probably wouldn't work in the United States." 

Stay at home orders like what Louisiana is using are far more lenient than the lockdowns in China, he said. Cities the size of Los Angeles were restricted to the point where people could not leave their homes for any reason, and food was brought by community volunteers.

That level of quarantine went on for months, Betz said. 

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