As the number of coronavirus cases in the United States grows, the Washington Post reported last week that international health experts "are watching with a growing sense of alarm and disbelief," as American officials express indifference to scientific warnings.
Siouxsie Wiles, an infectious-diseases specialist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, said, "It really does feel like the U.S. has given up."
During a brief Q&A with reporters last month, Donald Trump boasted not only about his administration's response to the pandemic, but also about what he sees as international admiration for the White House's efforts. "I'll tell you, the whole world is excited watching us because we're leading the world," the president said with a straight face. At another event, the Republican added that "many" heads of state from around the world view the United States "as the world leader" on combating COVID-19, and "they're following us."
It was among the most demonstrably ridiculous boasts Trump has made about the crisis since it began. Much of the world has been shocked by the United States' ineptitude in recent months, with the New York Times reporting in April that the pandemic is "shaking fundamental assumptions about American exceptionalism."
Making matters worse, foreign countries aren't just marveling at U.S. failures, they're reassessing whether Americans might pose public-health risks in their countries. The Times reported overnight:
European Union countries rushing to revive their economies and reopen their borders after months of coronavirus restrictions are prepared to block Americans from entering because the United States has failed to control the scourge, according to draft lists of acceptable travelers reviewed by The New York Times. That prospect, which would lump American visitors in with Russians and Brazilians as unwelcome, is a stinging blow to American prestige in the world and a repudiation of President Trump's handling of the virus in the United States.
As Rachel added on the show last night, "We are so disastrously, poorly run right now as a country that we are an international catastrophe that the rest of the world has to protect itself from. Our bodies as Americans represent a threat to the rest of the world because of the way that our government, our leadership has allowed this virus to run rampant through our bodies as the American population. And so we now are an infectious vector risk to the rest of the world."
I continue to wish Trump's fantasy about the world eagerly following the United States' lead were rooted in reality. Alas, as is too often the case, the confused president has it backwards.