Virus reality check from US to Australia


Expats living in the locked-down US fear Australians aren't taking the coronavirus seriously enough, with many despairing the laid-back response will lead to disaster.

Packed beaches, open schools and social media posts of meals in packed restaurants and cafes have stunned Aussie expats, most of whom are locked down at home in cities where nothing is open - except for hospitals.

Many in the US expat community of more than 50,000 also said they felt as safe, if not safer being in the US during the crisis, despite the vastly higher infection toll here.

"I feel like I am safer here than back home!" said South Australian Kelly Miller, now living in Maryland.

"I am a teacher and schools are still open (in Australia) … I have a large group of teacher friends (in Australia) who are worried about still having to work. I saw my old softball association still played their GF games yesterday after the governing body only suggested no one played.

"I don't think people are taking it seriously enough!"


New York’s usually busy Times Square is a ghost town amid the COVID-19 shutdown. Picture: AP Photo/John Minchillo
New York’s usually busy Times Square is a ghost town amid the COVID-19 shutdown. Picture: AP Photo/John Minchillo


Katherine Lancman, an expat living in California, said Australia's response was "mind-boggling".

"The Australian response is insane. I find it mind boggling that Australia's rationale for keeping schools open is to care for kids of frontline workers. It goes to show that the reality of what is coming has not set in," she said.

Debbie Morton, now in Jacksonville, Florida, said she was concerned for her family in Melbourne.

"I feel safer here. I was talking to my elderly mother last night in Melbourne and although they have closed the country they are not closing anything else," she said.

"Seems like it is not being taken seriously there. It is hard with everything closed (in the US) and the uncertainty of the future, but I don't think Australia is doing it well."

Louise Elizabeth, a registered nurse now living in Central Texas, said she thought the US was doing a better job.



"I keep in touch with my Australian friends, family and former nursing colleagues and feel the measures we are taking here exceeds those in Australia right now.

"Screening every single staff member and visitor with questions and temperature checks, cancelled elective surgeries, closed schools, dine-in restaurants, bars and gyms. As well as social distancing and no gatherings of more than 10 people.

"The CDC (US Centre for Disease Control), I believe, is handling this much better with education, sharing of information and being proactive rather than reactive. Australia needs a federal agency like the CDC."


Louise Elizabeth.
Louise Elizabeth.


Kelly Miller.
Kelly Miller.


Muswellbrook native Natalie Randall, now living in Virginia, said: "Australia isn't dealing with this very well at all. I feel like they are weeks behind in reacting to this properly."

Jodie Murphy, from Lake Worth, Florida, said Australia's mandatory quarantine period for international arrivals and health regulations would most likely keep her from seeing her dying father, or attending his funeral.

"My father is dying and I am waiting to get that awful phone call," she told News Corp Australia.

"Even if I could get back now, with the two-week self-isolation upon landing and the hospitals in Australia only allowing two pre-screened visitors (the same people), I fear I won't be able to see him nor attend the funeral."

Originally published as Virus reality check from US to Australia