Two Lessons from Costa Rica’s Fight with COVID-19

It’s been a few weeks since I last published a blog post. Truthfully, I have been on vacation and enjoying some time off. I had a chance to visit Costa Rica for a week, and it was fantastic. It was my first flight in almost two years, and it felt great to be back on the air. Traveling under the COVID-19 regulations isn’t easy, but that should become easier over time.

My biggest surprise in Costa Rica was how seriously everyone was managing COVID-19. I saw more people wearing masks in San Jose than I see in Vancouver. Everyone wore masks, even when walking outside. I had many conversations with locals about it and was able to discern two reasons behind their success.

Costa Rica isn’t perfect though their COVID-19 stats are impressive for the region. They are currently sitting at 60% for first doses and 25% for second doses. In addition, they had one of the lowest death rates in Latin America and are starting to open up for tourism. 

I think their success came down to two reasons: cultural beliefs and an excellent medical system.

1. Cultural Beliefs

Everyone I talked to in Costa Rica told me they had to do their part to help the country open up. This means getting vaccinated, wearing masks, and taking other precautions. There was a strong belief that “we are in this together”. Tourism is an important part of the Costa Rican economy, but tourists won’t come unless the virus is under control. 

Every tourist attraction that I visited had strict COVID-19 protocols, and the country is doing a good job of trying to open resorts and restaurants. Unfortunately, things aren’t perfect as their economy shut down for most of 2020. However, Costa Rica is in a good spot to ramp tourism back up in early 2022.

2. Excellent Medical System

The second reason is the excellent Costa Rican medical system. The article in the New Yorker does a good job of outlining how this system is designed and why it works. In short, everyone has access to health professionals who treat diseases and work on preventing them. The system has also created cultural beliefs around health and what it means to keep yourself healthy.

All in all, it was a fascinating experience. As the locals always say, Pura Vida!

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