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How The US Really Stacks Up Against The Countries That Allegedly Handled COVID Better

How The US Really Stacks Up Against The Countries That Allegedly Handled COVID Better


For months, critics have claimed that other countries worldwide have handled the COVID pandemic better than President Donald Trump — but does the data really reflect that?

Experts and medical professionals all over the world have been scrambling to understand and contain the novel coronavirus since it first emerged as a public health threat in Wuhan, China, late last year. As they have studied the virus and its spread, governments have implemented public health mitigation measures in an effort to apply what the experts have learned.

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Until mid-January, the Chinese government and the World Health Organization (WHO) claimed that the virus was not transmissible from human to human. But by the end of the month, cases had emerged in other countries, including the United States, and not all of them could be tied to travel.

“Our economic shutdown…wasn’t as broad as some of the other countries’, so there was more opportunity for the virus to spread,” said Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the John Hopkins Center for Health Security.

By mid-June, Italy was reopening and cases in the United States were increasing dramatically. Most states had shut down their economies except for “essential” workers and many had also implemented mask mandates.

Ashish Jha, head of Harvard’s Global Health Institute, criticized the “piecemeal, politicized approach” to containing COVID — especially compared to the European Union.

“I think there are going to be states in our country that can replicate Italy,” Jha said. “But I would rather spend this summer in Rome with my family than in Phoenix.”

Jeremy Konyndyk of the Center for Global Development made some of the same criticisms, saying that Italy and Spain had been successful in bringing their infection rates down while the United States was still struggling to do so.

Even Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Deborah Birx said in August that she wished the early lockdowns in the United States had mirrored those in Europe. “I wish that when we went into lockdown (in March), we looked like Italy. When Italy locked down, I mean, people weren’t allowed out of their houses (without a pass). Americans don’t react well to that kind of prohibition,” she said.

According to the European Council on Foreign Relations, public opinion of the United States plummeted due to the pandemic response — even more so than the public opinion of China. As of Nov. 2, statistics indicate the United States is leading the world in documented COVID-19 cases.

But as a second wave of coronavirus infections threatens to span the globe again, the latest data suggests that Europe did not have as firm a handle on the pandemic as some initially believed.

Multiple European nations — including those that were hardest hit during the pandemic’s first wave — are facing massive spikes in infection.

And despite the drastic lockdowns that were implemented in some of those countries, some are saying that the second wave is shaping up to be worse than the first. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that asymptomatic medical staffers in Belgium are being asked to continue working even though they have tested positive for COVID.

According to data compiled by the Oxford Martin School, the research and policy unit at the University of Oxford, COVID infection rates in Europe are once again dramatically outpacing the United States — despite their stricter initial lockdowns.

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The daily positivity rate in the United States, which peaked at just over 20% in early April, has a current seven-day rolling average of 7.3%. By comparison, Spain peaked at nearly 28% in late April — and is currently at 11.4%. Italy is currently at 10.2% after a late March peak of just over 25% — and six months of positivity rates that were consistently below 5%. Belgium, Poland, and the Czech Republic — 21.3%, 21.4%, and 30.9% respectively — are also showing dramatic surges in news cases.

New lockdown measures in Italy — the most restrictive measures since the initial lockdowns in March – have reportedly sparked protests and violence.

France and Spain have also announced new lockdown measures.

Several states have also increased restrictions as case numbers rise.

The most recent data also shows the United States testing and contact tracing at a similar rate to European nations — and making testing more widely available to anyone who requests one, regardless of whether or not they are showing symptoms.

The only remaining question, according to some critics, is whether the United States has already managed a second wave or will face another in Europe’s wake.

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