Published in El Pais, 9 February 2021.
As much as I hate to admit it, Canada and the United States are very similar countries, we both speak English (excluding the French province of Quebec) and our accent is similar enough that it is not uncommon for us to blend in when we visit our respective countries. It is similar enough that Americans do not exactly experience a cultural shock when visiting Canada for vacations (though depending on where they are from, they may find it a bit chilly). Basically, take the US, replace American Football with Ice Hockey and you have got Canada.
Lately there is one extra noticeable difference. The way the two countries have handled the pandemic. Cases continue to rise on both sides of the border but more so in the US. Speaking of Ice hockey, teams in Canada are forced to play each other this year instead of American teams to avoid border crossings, and many American games have been cancelled due to players getting sick while the Canadian teams have yet to have a positive test despite having to follow the same protocols when travelling to games.
So, what is the difference between these two very similar countries? Some of it is out of the US’s control like population density (Canada only has a few cities that could rival those in the US) but a lot of it you could blame on the regulations. Some states have had fewer restrictions (if any) to fight the virus, to give you an example, Florida is one of the hardest hit states and yet there are very few restrictions. One acquaintance on Facebook living in Miami posted a video in a packed night club with no masks in sight. Meanwhile in Canada, provinces are under extreme lockdown, only being allowed to go out to buy groceries, masks are mandatory inside and no visiting other peoples homes.
I am not going to comment on who is doing it right and who is messing up, but I think this could be a unique opportunity to study how similar countries react to a pandemic differently and what the end results could be.