As the European Union prepares to reopen its external borders from 1 July, it is considering banning Americans from its territory because of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is still very active in the United States, according to the New York Times of 23 June.
It must be said that the United States has the worst record in the world in absolute terms, with more than 120,000 deaths and more than 2.3 million cases detected. Back to a Trump style crisis management.
The New York Times cites two lists of countries whose nationals would be allowed to travel to Europe and which are being negotiated within the EU. The Americans are currently excluded from both lists, according to the daily. « A blow to the reputation of Americans around the world and a rejection of the way President Trump handled the virus in the United States.« ...analyzes the log.
Trump's America seems to be struggling to recover from this outbreak. When it took the world by surprise, many countries avoided disaster by implementing rapid and unified responses. South Korea implemented large-scale testing to trace and alert contacts of those exposed. Taiwan began isolating each infected patient and launched digital campaigns to disseminate safety information. The response from the United States, on the other hand, has been terribly slow.
More than five months after the first case was reported, the average number of new cases per day is approaching the levels observed at the peak of the epidemic in April. The United States reported more than 32,000 new cases daily on Saturday, its highest number since May 1. On Sunday, the seven-day national average of new cases was 24 % higher than the previous week. At least 23 states are seeing an increase in the number of daily cases of coronavirus. In Florida, for example, the seven-day national average of new infections increased by nearly 87 % over the previous week.
Despite this worrying trend, the White House Coronavirus Task Force has not held a daily press briefing for nearly two months.
On June 16, Anthony Fauci, the country's leading expert on infectious diseases, said said that he hadn't spoken to President Donald Trump in two weeks. On the same day, Vice President Mike Pence wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the United States " were winning the battle "against the coronavirus. Fears of a second wave of infections, he added, were " exaggerated" . On Friday, President Trump said in the Wall Street Journal that the United States was nearing the end of the pandemic.
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In reality, the flaws in the American response are snowballing as cases threaten to get out of hand again.
A botched initial response
The initial U.S. response to the pandemic was hampered by delays in testing, restrictive testing criteria, lack of screening at airports and a shortage of medical supplies. State laboratories were not able to begin testing for coronavirus until late February and early March - more than a month after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed their coronavirus test. During this period, private laboratories were paralyzed by FDA (Food and Drug Administration) regulations that prevented them from developing their own diagnostic tests.
Strict testing guidelines, implemented in part because of a shortage of available tests, have undermined the ability of health officials to find, isolate and trace infected patients.
In March, States also began to report shortages of medical equipment, including respirators and masks. In February, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services requested 2 billion dollars for additional medical equipment, but the White House only agreed to fund $500,000.
On top of that, airport controls have not been able to prevent a large proportion of infected travelers from entering the country. A May report by the House Oversight and Reform Committee revealed that the Department of Homeland Security had conducted temperatures checks between January and March on just 10% of passengers arriving at U.S. airports from countries with travel restrictions.
Together, these factors have allowed the epidemic to spread.
The advice of the authorities has also been regularly marred by inconsistencies. In January, President Trump insisted that the epidemic was " completely under control". The following month, he certified that the virus would " disappear "by April.
The CDC, the agency responsible for public health, has also dithered on its recommendations regarding the wearing of masks. After saying for three months that the masks were not necessary, the agency backed down on April 3. States took a piecemeal approach, with some requiring masks and others not recommending them at all.
Instead of strong leadership and direction from federal health authorities, there was a tangle of recommendations from different states that were not necessarily guided by principles, but rather by opportunism and fear.
Certainly the Americans have caught up on their testing. They have increased considerably over the last month. As of June 23, the United States had administered more than 27 million diagnostic tests, more than any other country. However, it still lags behind several nations, including Singapore and Russia, in terms of tests per capita.
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President Trump attributed the high number of cases - more than 2.3 million infections - to this increased screening capacity. « When you do tests at this point, you're gonna find more people, you're gonna find more cases.« thundered Mr. Trump at an election rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday. He added that he had asked his staff to " slow down the tests, please.« . It's true that when you're called Ubu-Trump, the best way to bring the fever down is to break the thermometer.
Public health experts say that the recent increase in the number of cases cannot be explained by the increase in testing alone. « The reason we're seeing an increase in cases here in Houston is because of the decisions that our Governor has taken to open up the economy quite aggressively" said Cedric Dark, an emergency room in Houston, to Business Insider.
The White House guidelines did suggest that states should see either a two-week reduction in the number of cases or a two-week reduction in their share of positive coronavirus tests before deconfining. But 18 of the 30 states that began reopening on May 7 saw a further increase in the number of new cases daily, according to the data of The New York Times. Nine of the 30 states had not seen the recommended decrease in their share of positive tests. Six deconfirmed without meeting any of the criteria: Utah, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri.
According to the latest Harvard CAPS/Harris poll published by The Hill, former U.S. Vice President and Democratic White House candidate Joe Biden doubled his lead over President Trump to 12 points as voters expressed disapproval of the Trump administration's calamitous handling of the coronavirus crisis ahead of racial tensions and the economy.
Sources: AFP, Business Insider, New York Times