The Atlantic Politics Daily: Many Chinese Americans Saw This Coming

Their loved ones in China just endured the pandemic’s isolation, overwhelmed hospitals, and deaths. Plus: An unhealthy military, struggling to fight COVID-19.

It’s Friday, April 3. In today’s newsletter: How many Chinese Americans are now living through their second pandemic. Plus: An unhealthy military, struggling to fight COVID-19.


In January, Mei Mei, a real-estate agent in California, shipped N95 masks to her parents in China. When the outbreak started getting worse in the U.S., they considered sending the same masks back to her. (ERIN BRETHAUER)

As coronavirus cases fall in China and soar in the U.S., many Chinese Americans are experiencing a disconcerting case of déjà vu. The social isolation, overwhelmed hospitals, equipment shortages and deaths all feel eerily familiar, after what those with loved ones in China experienced as the disease first peaked in Wuhan.

First-generation immigrants in particular recognized the virus as a serious threat before much of the rest of America. Many other Chinese Americans still have close ties to China, and went from sending N95 masks to their loved ones in China to receiving them from the same family and friends they once considered at a higher risk.

Mei Mei, a real-estate agent in California, has been coordinating donations of masks, face shields, goggles, and other PPE to send to local hospitals. “A lot of the donations I received, they were all still in the original package shipping by their family [from China],” she told my colleague Sarah Zhang.

“You tell people around you, but they didn’t really want to believe that,” Yahua Yu, a Seattle neurologist who attended medical school in Wuhan, told Sarah. “Then you start saying, ‘You will see. You will see.’”

—Kaila Philo


+ The U.S. armed forces are devoted to keeping the American public safe. But the pandemic has military personnel questioning whether they can promise as much for themselves, Kathy Gilsinan reports.

+ Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has used the pandemic to seize absolute power in Hungary indefinitely. Now is the time for widespread scrutiny of the powers that be, Anne Applebaum argues.

+ Americans with disabilities fear that life-saving treatment could be withheld from them should they fall ill with COVID-19, Elaine Godfrey reports.

+ As unemployment skyrockets, President Trump’s reelection chances plummet, Annie Lowrey argues.

You can keep up with The Atlantic’s most crucial coronavirus coverage here.


Today’s newsletter was written by Kaila Philo, a Politics fellow. It was edited by Shan Wang, who oversees newsletters.

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