Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: 7 notes on the leader New Zealanders feel good about following

Jacinda Ardern, the 39-year-old prime minister of New Zealand, has attracted a great deal of international attention for her leadership style and results in the face of COVID-19. 

As of May 5, New Zealand has had 1,486 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 20 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The population of New Zealand is 4.8 million. 

These figures are the ongoing result of a collective effort, but one nonetheless led and championed by Ms. Ardern. Here are seven things to know about the prime minister’s response to the pandemic: 

1. Her motto is, "Go hard and go early." On March 21, when New Zealand had 52 confirmed cases of COVID-19, Ms. Ardern delivered an eight-minute televised statement announcing a four-level alert and lockdown system. Based on fire risk systems already in use in New Zealand, the model set clear guidelines for how the government would escalate its response and what citizens would be asked to do as infection rates increased, according to Harvard Business Review. 

2. A bold approach — with results. As another testament to Ms. Ardern's motto, New Zealand set out not only to flatten the curve but eliminate the coronavirus altogether. On May 4, the nation recorded its first day with no new cases of COVID-19 since March 16. The milestone came one week after Ms. Ardern reported "no widespread undetected community transmission in New Zealand," according to The Hill. 

3. She has earned trust and approval. In early April, 88 percent of New Zealanders trusted the government to make the right decisions about addressing COVID-19, and 84 percent approved of the government's response to the pandemic, according to a poll by market-research firm Colmar Brunton cited by The Atlantic. In each case, those figures were higher than what the poll reflected for the world's seven largest advanced economies. 

4. Aggressive in testing, too. Ms. Ardern reported April 28 that New Zealand has capacity to process up to 8,000 tests per day, according to CNBC. This is one of the highest testing rates per capita in the world.

5. Clear but compassionate. Ms. Ardern has drawn observations for her ability to balance seemingly opposite tones and demeanors. "Her leadership style is one of empathy in a crisis that tempts people to fend for themselves," Uri Friedman wrote for The Atlantic. "Her messages are clear, consistent, and somehow simultaneously sobering and soothing. And her approach isn't just resonating with her people on an emotional level. It is also working remarkably well."

6. A sign of solidarity. Ms. Ardern and other top government officials took a 20 percent pay cut for six months. She noted that the pay cuts wouldn't shift the government's overall fiscal position, but said the move was about leadership, according to CBS News. "We feel, acutely, the struggle that many New Zealanders are facing," said Mr. Ardern. "And so too do the people that I work with on a daily basis."

7. Solidarity supplementing financial support. New Zealand also implemented an economic relief package of more than $23 billion. It includes a wage subsidy that has paid out over $9 million to over 1.5 million New Zealanders, according to CBS News. 

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