Europeans Say COVID-19 Revealed America as 'Fragile,' Inconsiderate

Many Europeans are asking if Americans even care about their people's own health, as they have watched in astonishment at the world's most powerful country faltering in its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Italians, Germans and residents of other European nations who were hit the hardest by the coronavirus outbreak in February said they are disappointed, saddened and even frightened by the United States' COVID-19 response. Public health experts and everyday residents said they "always saw America as a model" for the world, but the pandemic has exposed a country with horrendous infrastructure and no coherent public health system.

Several European doctors agreed with their U.S. counterparts in saying Americans' individualist spirit has backfired and led the country to the top of both infection and death toll lists.

Americans are now at the top of the list of "at risk" travelers to Europe after countries like Italy — which placed themselves in a strict 10-week lockdown — have emerged from the pandemic while Americans continue infighting and rising above 160,000 dead from COVID-19.

"Don't they care about their health?" a mask-clad Patrizia Antonini asked the Associated Press about Americans as she walked with friends along Lake Bracciano, north of Rome. "They need to take our precautions ... They need a real lockdown."

"We Italians always saw America as a model," said Massimo Franco, columnist with daily Corriere della Sera newspaper. "But with this virus we've discovered a country that is very fragile, with bad infrastructure and a public health system that is nonexistent."

Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza, one of the country's top public health officials, outright condemned President Donald Trump and Washington lawmakers' response to the virus as "wrong." Italy now sees about 150 to 300 new cases nationwide each day, down from the 6,500 daily the country recorded on March 21. In the U.S., there are about 54,000 new cases a day — which is a higher number proportionally when its larger population is factored into consideration.

As of Sunday, the U.S. now has a world-record 5 million confirmed coronavirus infections amid a politicized debate over face masks and health precautions, which has incredulous Europeans questioning the country's leadership on the international stage.

"Had the medical professionals been allowed to operate in the States, you would have belatedly gotten to a point of getting to grips with this back in March," said Scott Lucas, professor at the University of Birmingham in England. "But of course, the medical and public health professionals were not allowed to proceed unchecked," referencing Trump's undercutting of his administration's own public health experts.

Doctors throughout Italy, where the virus killed more than 35,000 people and ravaged towns between late February and April, say the country's strict nationwide lockdown was a major factor in beating back its spread. Additionally, Italian government officials on both the national and local levels worked primarily in lockstep as they conducted widespread testing, robust contact tracing and a slow process of reopening.

"If you are in Florida and you hear your governor saying something, and then the governor in New York is saying the opposite, it's really difficult. In Italy, it was just one voice," said Dr. Roberto Cosentini, head of an emergency medicine unit at the Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital in Bergamo, Italy, as reported by NBC News.

Newsweek reached out to the Italian and German embassies in Washington for any additional remarks as well as the White House Sunday morning.

italy european coronavirus response americans
Many Europeans are asking if Americans even care about their people's own health as they have watched in astonishment at the world's most powerful country faltering in its response to the coronavirus pandemic. STEFANO GUIDI / Contributor/Getty Images
Europeans Say COVID-19 Revealed America as 'Fragile,' Inconsiderate | World