It comes as no surprise that parts of the EU were able to quickly address the pandemic and are now beginning to reopen from lengthy lockdowns. After all, Europe has been a center for scientific study and advancement for years. What is surprising, however, is how badly the United States managed its own response to the pandemic. A country that many thought would have been prepared to handle a pandemic is still struggling to even get new cases under control, let alone safely reopen.
This situation has caused a bizarre move: For the first time in history, American travelers are banned from entering Europe. Moreover, Americans aren’t able to travel to many places at all right now: their surging COVID cases would make it a dangerous proposition. So, why did the EU fare so much better than the US? Let’s take a look.
In general, European countries like Spain, France, and Germany are known for trusting in their experts. When a top doctor or scientist recommends a course of action, European nations are quick to adopt that course of action. Many of them would ask “of course, why wouldn’t you?”
One need look no further than to the United States to see examples of why someone would disregard good science. In the US, the virus was made into a political opponent rather than a public health crisis. Members of the current controlling party, the Republicans, were slow to treat the pandemic as something serious. Instead, many arguments about “personal freedom” were used to resist calls for lockdowns or wearing masks.
In the US, there is a long-running streak of anti-intellectualism. This attitude is prevalent in many American citizens and politicians, causing them to dismiss the advice of experts. Instead, they often rely on their instincts, believing that they can simply ignore warning they don’t want to hear. This is what informed the US on reopening its economy too rapidly in late May and early June, causing their case numbers to shoot back up.
This spike in cases would have been met with another wave of lockdowns in most European nations. Instead, in the US, talks of another shutdown were shouted down, largely by those who felt the virus was being blown out of proportion.
Now, the pandemic is has been raging for months in the US, and the country is still struggling to contain the virus. New cases are out of control, and the once-steady US now looks like a country much poorer and much less powerful than it actually is.