Part One:  With the 2020 presidential primary season underway in the United States, how might the pandemic affect the presidential election later in the year and the longer trajectory of American politics? Dr. Julian Zelizer, a professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University and CNN contributor, discusses the politics of COVID-19 during a presidential election year in the United States. Dr. Zelizer evaluates the Trump administration’s pandemic response and its possible political ramifications. He also discusses the still unsettled Democratic primary and the challenges the virus poses to campaigning, messaging, and voting. Talking from a historical perspective Dr. Zelizer discusses how the pandemic may change the presidency and what effect, if any, COVID-19 may have on partisan polarization. For further reading: “How to protect the 2020 elections from the coronavirus crisis” Burning Down the House: Newt Gingrich, The Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party Part Two: What accounts for the starkly different pictures of the pandemic in various nations and what can we learn from the example of South Korea? How was South Korea able to respond and, as of April 2, 2021, report only 174 deaths due to COVID-19? Dr. Seung-sik Hwang, a professor of epidemiology at Seoul National University, and Dr. Chihyung Jeon, an associate professor and department head at the Graduate School of Science and Technology Policy at the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), both discuss South Korea’s comparative success in responding to COVID-19 and the lessons it offers the United States. Together they discuss the success of the testing and contract tracing regime in South Korea, particularly around the case of “Patient 31” in the city of Daegu. Also discussed is how the experience of the Sewol Ferry disaster in 2014 and  MERS Outbreak in 2015 in South Korea affected the government’s response to COVID-19. Ultimately Dr. Hwang emphasizes the importance of testing and contract tracing for preserving the healthcare system in a given country. Dr. Jeon also explains the inseparability of science and politics and the need to think about their relationship wisely during a crisis. For further reading: “What We Can Learn from the Korean Response to COVID-19” “How a South Korean church helped fuel the spread of the coronavirus”


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