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The EU plans to ban US travelers indefinitely after haphazard COVID-19 response

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A draft list of banned countries also includes Brazil and Russia

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

The European Union plans to ban travel from the US when it reopens its borders on July 1st because of the Trump administration’s poor handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report from The New York Times. Under current plans, the US would join Brazil and Russia on the list of forbidden countries, as all three countries have had comparably poor responses to the virus since the worldwide outbreak at the beginning of the year. Travel from China, as well as some developing countries, will be allowed, the report states.

The EU is still finalizing the list, the NYT reports, and it expects to submit it to the 27 bloc members next week ahead of the July 1st reopening deadline. Members are being strongly encouraged to adopt it or else the EU may consider reinstating stricter borders within the bloc to prevent travelers from countries on the list from entering into one country with looser restrictions and crossing the border into another.

The US, with nearly 2.4 million confirmed cases and more than 123,000 deaths, has for some time now been the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, while Brazil is second with more than 1.1 million cases and more than 51,000 deaths. Russia’s containment appears better than the US, with under 10,000 reported deaths and a little over half a million confirmed cases.

All three countries are deemed unsafe according to a set of epidemiological criteria the EU has been using to analyze countries. The primary metric is a measure of the average number of new cases per 100,000 people over the last 14 days. The EU bloc has an average of 14. The US score is 107, while Brazil’s is 180 and Russia’s is 80, the NYT reports.

Trump, like Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, fumbled the early response to the virus, downplaying the severity and refusing to enact public health and safety measures that could have contained the virus early on. Trump’s most significant response was to ban travel from China in January and from the EU in March, but the virus has continued to spread through the US due to poor government coordination, planning, and messaging at the federal and state levels.

While rates of new cases have fallen elsewhere, including the EU, the rate of new cases in the US is alarmingly flat. In parts of the country that are beginning to reopen, the numbers are starting to surge, suggesting a thorough failure to contain the virus. In the past few days, Trump has also begun erroneously claiming the US testing rate is too high, which he says results in an inflated number of new confirmed cases of COVID-19 despite the obvious reality that positive test results paint about the state of the virus and its spread among US populations.