When the European Union reopens its borders on July 1, after months of restrictions on coronavirus, travelers from China, Uganda, Cuba, and Vietnam are invited.
But probably not the ones from the United States.
New York Times Tuesday Report showed that the EU is considering two potential lists of eligible travelers based on how foreign countries are doing in the fight against COVID-19 – and none of these lists include the United States.
This small one – “a fierce blow to American prestige in the world and the refusal of the President of the United States to trump the virus in the United States,” as the Times put it — not only emphasizes how much worse the outbreak in the US in recent days has become. It also emphasizes how much it’s better The EU is currently doing more than the United States.
And that raises the question of why.
“American exclusivity should not have meant that,” Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recently tweeted,
When it comes to COVID-19, comparing countries is a fraught and often misleading exercise. The United States is a completely different entity than, say, Denmark or South Korea, with a much larger, more diverse population, a very high level of political polarization, and a cumbersome federalist system of government. And these differences can explain a lot about the differences between coronaviruses.
But the EU as a whole is more suitable for the United States, its population is comparable: 328 million here, 446 million there. He is at least as “diverse” as the United States, with a profound breakdown in nationality and ethnicity. Politically, the EU is not at all homogeneous. And its governance system, a federation of self-governing member states, is similar. For the US, the EU may be the only COVID-19 comparison that makes sense.
But the Americans don’t match – even close.
The early stages of outbreaks in the EU and the US were strikingly similar. In early March, no cases were reported in many places. But soon a sharp jump began in Europe: on March 7, about 1800 cases were recorded, on March 14 – about 7,000, and on March 21 – about 20,000.
America is a couple of days behind. Then, around March 18, our curve began to grow at exactly the same angle.
By the end of March, about 30,000 new cases of COVID-19 per day were reported in the EU. The US, however, was still moving up. A few days later, on April 3, America finally went around Europe for the first time in a daily case count.
And then the two curves ceased to resemble each other.
For the rest of the month, seven-day moving average of new daily cases in the EU – a key indicator that balances daily fluctuations – fell every day from a maximum of more than 28,000 on April 1 to about 11,000 on April 30. After that, it also continued to fall below 4000 in early June. It has remained there ever since.
America was a completely different story. In April, the US curve appeared to have reached a plateau of about 30,000, even though the EU had reduced its average daily incidence by about a third. Then, in May, America seemed to finally make some progress, reducing its seven-day average to about 20,000 by the end of the month — an improvement, although at that time it was still about five times the EU average.
June when the problems started. After all 50 states were reopened to one degree or another, and as a result, residents began to weaken social distance, the average seven-day number of new daily cases in America began to grow again – at first modestly, and then faster and faster than 32 percent only for the last week.
As of June 23, this seven-day average is 29,898 cases per day, the highest level in America since May 2. The angle of the US curve is now the same as at the end of March, indicating rapid exponential distribution. If this continues, America will overcome its previous peak in a matter of days.
So why are we seeing another surge in the US, not the EU?
First things first: this is not the so-called “second wave.” Mostly, infections in the US are significantly reduced hit hardest this spring (New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, Connecticut, Maryland) and grew up in states that never peaked for the first time (Arizona, Texas, Florida, South Carolina, Oregon). The virus does not return. it moves around. This is true even within states. For example, in Louisiana, cases of the disease occur again, but New Orleans, once a popular national region, no longer the main driver of this distribution, The same goes for Washington state, where in the countryside of Yakima County, in the south-central part of the state, responsible for the latest outbreak of infections – not Seattle.
Also worth noting: an increase in testing in the United States probably made up part of our nationwide “plateau” in April and May; today it can also contribute to an increase in the number of cases in certain places, such as Ohio and CaliforniaBut overall, the US is still spending fewer tests in the positive case than the largest, most affected European countries, and ours coefficient of positivity (5.2 percent) are much higher than theirs (2.0 percent or less) and climbing. Hospitalizations here too. Rt – epidemiological statistics, which represents the possibility of transmission or the number of people whom the patient infects at a certain point in the epidemic – is currently estimated as above 1.0 in 29 statescompared to six states two months ago. Rt below 1.0 means that each person infects on average less than one person; Rt above 1.0 means that the flash is growing. In other words, testing does not explain why the number of reported cases of infection is growing in the United States and not in the EU.
Two other factors probably have much more in common with this. First, how effective was blocking. There is no universal model for locking, as The completely different measures implemented in the EU demonstrateFor example, Finland was never closed at all, as authorities recommended, but did not prohibit, inconsequential trips, while shops remained open. The inhabitants of Spain and Italy, however, were hardly allowed to leave the house for more than a month; Great Britain was blocked for 83 days. Nevertheless, there was a common thread: to make sure that the virus was suppressed to a level low enough so that containment was theoretically possible after the resumption of normal activities. This meant different things, say, in Germany and Denmark, but the goal was basically the same.
Some of the most affected US states have followed this approach. But most did not. In fact, according to May 14 BBC reportonly a few states complied with the White House’s own re-opening recommendations — a “downward trajectory” of reported cases or a decrease in the proportion of positive tests over a 14-day period — until the blockage ceased. As a result, the virus was still too widespread – still too widespread – to contain it. According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s chief infectious disease specialist, while some areas “jump over these various checkpoints and open prematurely, unable to respond effectively and efficiently,” the country might “start to see small spikes that could turn into outbreaks. ” Unfortunately, Fauci’s prediction comes true.
The second factor is how people behave when the lock ends. Again, personal precautions are not consistent across Europe. In Denmark, for example, almost no one wears a face covering; in Spain, Germany and Italy masks are mostly required. But these differences, which reflect different regional risk levels, make sense when the virus is still suppressed to a manageable level and where governments closely monitor new clusters of cases and rapid recovery of localized blockages with increasing levels of infection.
This, however, is not the case in places like Florida, Texas, and Arizona, where governors resisted calls to make masks mandatory and insisted that the lock be permanently closed. According to a recent study in Health issuesA mandate mask in 15 states may have prevented up to 450,000 cases of COVID-19 in the United States, and new modeling Researchers from the UK suggest that effective public health efforts to track new infections and track and isolate contact with people infected can also reduce the risk of infection in the population by more than half.
However, in the US, views on wearing a mask and social distance have become incredibly polarized. new gallup polls that only about 30 percent of Republicans would now advise others to stay home for as long as possible (compared to more than 80 percent in March), and less than half of Republicans said they had practiced social distance in the last 24 hours (compared to about 90 percent in March). Among Democrats, both numbers still fluctuate around 90 percent. Given how few state governments are doing mitigation and deterrence measures and how weak certain segments of the population, especially young people, have become, it is not surprising that the number of such cases is increasing. Few other countries have followed a similar curve, but those that have – such as Iran – They also report widespread skepticism about science, mistrust of the government, premature blocking rollbacks, and low compliance with public health guidelines.
The point is not that the lock should have lasted forever. In the end, it ended in Europe, and so far the cases there have not gone wild. The fact is that blocking should last as long as necessary to limit the amount of virus circulating in the population; the reopening had to be adapted to local conditions; and personal precautions should be encouraged, not politicized.
If this happened, the United States could be more like the EU. And the Americans could plan their trips to Paris or Barcelona.
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