Moscow and New York are the two respective cores of infection in Russia and the US, respectively. And the approach of the local authorities and their rhetoric towards the citizens are quite polar.
In Moscow, in the week ending on March 29th, police claimed to have caught and fined 200 people who violated quarantine and self-isolation using facial recognition and a 170,000-camera system.
According to Russian media reports, some of the alleged violators who were fined had been outside for less than half a minute before they were picked up by a camera.
“We want there to be even more cameras so that that there is no dark corner or side street left,” Oleg Baranov, Moscow’s police chief, said in a recent briefing, adding that the service is currently working to install an additional 9,000 cameras.
Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin described in his official blog how municipal authorities tracked a Chinese woman who flew to the city from Beijing back in February.
While a test eventually came back negative, Sobyanin said the authorities located the taxi driver who took the woman home from the airport, a friend she met outside her apartment block in violation of the quarantine, and collected data on all 600 people living in her building.
Separately, geolocation is being used to locate COVID-19 carriers.
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin earlier this week ordered Russia’s Ministry of Communications to roll out a tracking system based on “the geolocation data from the mobile providers for a specific person” by April 5th.
Furthermore, Coronavirus quarantined Russians will be required to independently fill out a well-being journal and confirm their stay at home, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said.
“With the help of telecom operators, the arrival of a new citizen in quarantine will be monitored, and in case of non-compliance with the conditions of self-isolation, the operators will transmit relevant information, including to the Ministry of Internal Affairs,” he said.
Still, however, imposing universal self-isolation in Moscow caused controversy between Mishustin and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin.
As Russian outlets report, Sobyanin insisted from the very beginning that strict quarantine was introduced in the city. Without a government decision on an emergency, he was not entitled to take such measures. Moscow authorities led by Sobyanin, apparently, decided to quarantine Moscow independently. Without a state of emergency being proclaimed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, which would legally allow to waive citizens’ right of freedom of movement, this was a direct violation of the Russian Constitution.
However, an hour after the announcement of the introduction of a “self-isolation regime”, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin considered this measure justified.
Citizens aren’t allowed to go further than 100 meters from their homes, and there’s fines and penalties for those not adhering to the measures.
And these measures are carried out with a very limited infection of COVID-19. The information released regarding fatalities, number of cases and the over-all situation in Moscow is quite bare, and the information releases are quite formal in nature.
Furthermore, the style of reporting by Moscow authorities also raises questions. Some reports publicly blame and shame locals for their alleged violations of the lockdown regime.
Some Russian sources claim that the current COVID-19 hysteria in Moscow is intentionally fueled by local authorities that seek to use it to achieve own political and security goals. For example, to impose a surveillance system, consolidate their influence and political position in the region. Sobyanin is a part of the so-called ‘liberal’ part of the Russian elite affilated with the West. There is no secret that these circles are not very popular in modern Russia. So, they may seek to compensate their setbacks with a political and administrative offensive in Russia’s capital region.
Modern “liberalism” (often called “neo-liberalism”) is the ideology of serving to global financial monopolies and market speculators in general. The goal of such “liberals” is to increase their personal level of consumption with the minimal possible intellectual and physical work, using the margin simplification of modern communications and IT technologies, for satisfying their selfish, mainly bodily, desires covering them under the guise of post-modern sophistry. Thus, they swallow public resources undermining the steadily development of the humanity.
In comparison, in New York, a new field hospital in New York’s Central Park opened and will treat coronavirus patients. The temporary hospital will be located in Central Park’s East Meadow in front of Mount Sinai Hospital, according to a spokesperson for the Mount Sinai Health System.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo blasted those ignoring strict social distancing orders to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, a day after crowds gathered to catch a glimpse of the USNS Comfort docking in New York Harbor.
“You want to go out and act stupid for yourself that’s one thing. But your stupid actions don’t just affect you. You come home and can infect someone else and even cause death for them,” Cuomo said during his daily briefing.
New York also appears to be lacking tests, despite being the most afflicted area in the US.
Regardless, most of the measures in New York appear to be more in line with recommendations, rather than strict regulations that must be followed or there would be repercussions.
Still, however, non-essential businesses have been ordered to close or end all in-person functions in New York.
In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s rules were ordered to start on March 22nd.Similarly, the order requires non-essential business workers to stay home. Essential workforce includes healthcare workers, transit employees, childcare providers, food delivery workers. Non-compliance by businesses may result in fines or summonses.
New York’s governor has not released any details about delaying the primary set for April 28th, but The New York Times reports election officials are discussing options related to pushing it back to June 23rd.
In New York city itself, the mayor on March 16th signed an executive order closing all nightclubs, movie theaters, small theater houses and concert venues.
Cuomo announced March 20 that, effective immediately, non-essential gatherings of any size are banned, public transit should only be taken when absolutely necessary; strict social distancing — maintaining at least a 6-foot distance from others in public — must be obeyed.
There are no legal consequences for individuals but crowds violating the new orders will be broken up.
Starting the week of March 22, all events and team sports in NYC Parks will be canceled, with Mayor de Blasio saying the ban will last “for weeks, probably months.”
People are still allowed in parks, but any events involving large groups will not be allowed.
Playgrounds across the city will remain open for now, but the mayor said they could be closed if parents don’t have their kids practicing social distancing and staying six feet away from other children they don’t live with.
From Riverside & @CentralParkNYC to Madison & Prospect Parks, New Yorkers are ensuring they practice #SocialDistancing. We can only #FlattenTheCurve together. If you’re in a public area, please stay six feet apart. pic.twitter.com/FfpAXCjHxB
— Chief Terence Monahan (@NYPDChiefofDept) March 24, 2020
The time will reveal which strategy is better and what goals local authorities pursue by acting thise way. However, the fact of the matter is that Moscow began implementing the measures at 1,000 cases, while New York began undertaking serious actions when the cases were already in the tens of thousands.
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