ROME – With the number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the US reaching 5 million on Sunday, the highest of any country, the failure of the world’s most powerful nation to stop the calamity has startling and alarming in Europe.
Perhaps nowhere but in the United States, the US viral response is viewed with more horror than in Italy, where there is no epidemic in Europe. The Italians were unprepared for the outbreak in February, and the country remains one of the countries with the highest official death rate in the world at 35,000.
But after 10 weeks of stringent nationwide embargoes, vigilant surveillance of new pockets and a shared acceptance of masked and social exclusion missions, Italy has become a role model for virus containment.
“Are they not concerned with their health?”; Masked Patrizia Antonini asked about people in the United States as she walked with friends along the shores of Lake Bracciano, north of Rome. “They need to take our precautions. … They need a real key. ”
Much of the skepticism in Europe stems from the fact that the United States benefits from the time, European experience and medical know-how to treat viruses that the continent itself did not have when patients with COVID-19 were early. First began to enter the intensive care unit.
However, more than four months after the continuous outburst, the US hit the 5 million mark, according to running data kept by Johns Hopkins University. Health officials believe the actual number is probably 10 times higher, or close to 50 million, due to testing limitations and the fact that up to 40% of all infected people have no symptoms. .
“We Italians have always seen the US as a model,” said Massimo Franco, columnist at Corriere della Sera. “But with this virus, we have discovered a very fragile country, with a bad infrastructure and a non-existent public health system.”
Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza did not shy away from criticizing the US, officially condemning Washington’s “wrong” decision to withhold funding from the World Health Organization and expressed surprise at the viral response. of President Donald Trump.
After Trump finally wore a mask last month, Speranza told TV channel La7: “I am not surprised at Trump’s behavior now; I was really surprised at his behavior before. “
With the world’s highest death toll in the US at more than 160,000, the country’s politicized resistance to the mask and its growing sum, European nations have banned American tourists and visitors alike. from other countries with an increase in the freedom of movement within the bloc.
France and Germany are currently running on-arrival trials for visitors from “at-risk” countries, including the United States.
“I am very aware that this affects personal liberty, but I believe this is a legitimate intervention,” German Health Minister Jens Spahn said last week.
There are also mistakes in Europe, from delayed door locking to inadequate protection for the elderly in nursing homes and the severe lack of protective equipment and tests for medical personnel.
The virus is still raging in several Balkan countries, and thousands of unmasked protesters demanded an end to the virus restrictions in Berlin earlier this month. Spain, France, and Germany that have been hit hard have seen infections flare up again, with new cases rising to 1,000 a day, and Italian cases rising by more than 500 on Friday. The UK is still witnessing around 3,700 new infections every day and some scientists say the country’s favorite pubs may have to reopen if schools reopen in September. without causing a new wave.
All of Europe has seen more than 207,000 confirmed viral deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.
In the US, new cases are growing by about 54,000 a day – an incredibly high number even taking into account the country’s larger population. And while that number is down from a peak of more than 70,000 last month, cases are rising in nearly 20 states, and deaths are rising in most states.
By contrast, at least now Europe appears to have virus under control.
Scott Lucas, professor of international studies at the University of Birmingham, UK, said: “If medical professionals were allowed to operate in the US, then you would have been too late to grasp the problem. in March. “But of course, health and public health professionals are not allowed to go unchecked,” he said, referring to Trump’s frequent slashing of his experts.
When the virus first appeared in the United States, Trump and his supporters were quick to dismiss it as a “hoax” or a virus that quickly faded away when warmer weather arrived. At one point, Trump proposed that UV irradiation or disinfectant injection would kill the virus. (He later said that he became difficult).
Trump’s frequent complaints about Dr. Anthony Fauci have routinely made headlines in Europe, where the American Infectious Diseases specialist is a respected figure. Italy’s top COVID-19 hospital offered Fauci a job if Trump fired him.
Trump defended the US response, blamed China, where the virus was first discovered, on US problems, and said that the US numbers were so high for too many trials. Trump’s supporters and the Americans refused to wear the mask against all medical advice of that line.
“There’s no reason to fear any disease out there,” said Julia Ferjo, a mother of three in Alpine, Texas, who is “furiously” against wearing a mask. Ferjo, 35, teaches fitness classes in a large gym with open doors. She does not allow participants to wear masks.
“When you breathe like that, I will pass out,” she said. “I don’t want people to drop themselves like flies.”
And health officials watched with alarm as thousands of cyclists gathered on Friday in the small town of Sturgis in South Dakota for a 10-day annual motorcycle rally. The state has no regulations on masks, and many cyclists have turned to measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
Dr. David Ho, director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center at Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center, who is leading a group seeking treatments for COVID-19, has criticized the behavior as well. like the country’s virus treatment.
“There is no national strategy, no national leadership, and no urging the public to act unanimously and take measures,” he said. “That’s what it takes, and we have completely abandoned that as a nation.”
When he joined Zoom calls with peers from all over the world, “people couldn’t believe what they were seeing in America and they couldn’t believe the words of the leader,” he to speak.
Even the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, took the unusual step of criticizing the United States by urging Washington to reconsider its decision to sever ties with WHO. She also made discreet criticism of US efforts to buy stockpiles of any vaccines that could prove effective, pledging that the EU would work to provide access to everyone. “no matter where they live.”
Many Europeans take pride in their national health care system not only testing but also free treatment for COVID-19, unlike the US system where the viral crisis only exacerbates additional income and racial inequality in health care.
Italian author Massimo Gaggi has brutally wrote in his new book “Crack America” to strip off a nation’s gap that has slipped for years.
Gaggi said he started writing the book last year and thought the title would serve as a provocative warning. Then the virus attacked.
“By March, the headline is no longer a provocation,” he said. “It was clear.”
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