We’ve already heard from a journalist who claimed she’d spent a week looking for a flight to Italy because she’d rather be there during the coronavirus outbreak than in the United States. Now an associate professor of music who was under quarantine writes that he felt much safer quarantined in Shanghai than he does now that he and his family are back in America.

For what it’s worth, NBC News’ THINK filed this piece under “self-explanatory.”

Tony Perman writes:

I’ve now lived through a coronavirus quarantine in the two countries, and the differences are stark well beyond their airports. In China, the obligation to isolate felt shared and the public changed their habits almost immediately. Sterilization, cleanliness and social distancing were prioritized by everyone at all times. Rightly or wrongly, the Chinese state’s heavy-handed approach seemed to work.

In contrast, individual liberty is the engine that drives American exceptionalism. There are certainly valid questions about how much of it to sacrifice in the name of the public good, but our laissez-faire attitude, prioritization of personal freedom and utter lack of government leadership have left Americans confused and exposed.

Particularly troubling has been the extent to which it has felt like high-risk residents such as ourselves have had to shoulder the burden for stopping the spread of the disease by being the only ones to go into isolation. There are lessons to be learned from the Chinese people if not its leadership, including that everybody must accept their own responsibility, vulnerability and complicity — sacrificing “rights” for the collective good — or many of us will die.

So some people would rather weather the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy and China. Why don’t they?

See, when you have a country that’s prepared at any minute to crush citizens’ individual rights, you have a country that’s ready to limit personal freedoms in the event of an epidemic.

So what is going on at NBC News?

For what it’s worth, the COVID-19 death toll has reached 4,600, with more than 3,000 deaths in mainland China. The U.S. death toll is under 50. But China’s doing a bang-up job of containing it.

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