Reprinted with permission from Alternet
One need only review Johns Hopkins University data to see how destructive the coronavirus pandemic was earlier this year in Europe, where the death counts on Tuesday afternoon ranged from 34,675 in Italy to 28,325 in Spain to 29,666 in France. But as staggering as those numbers are, the U.S. is now worse off: according to Hopkins, more than 120,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. — a larger death toll than Italy, Spain and France combined. And the New York Times' Matina Stevis-Gridneff is reporting that the European Union is considering a ban on travel from the U.S. this summer because it "has failed to control the scourge."
The Times reviewed the EU's "draft lists of acceptable travelers" from other parts of the world — and it is possible that the EU will "lump American visitors in with Russians and Brazilians as unwelcome."
Brazil, according to Johns Hopkins figures, now has the second highest coronavirus death count in the world: more than 51,200.
"European nations are currently haggling over two potential lists of acceptable visitors based on how countries are faring with the coronavirus pandemic," Stevis-Gridneff explains. "Both include China, as well as developing nations like Uganda, Cuba and Vietnam. Travelers from the United States and the rest of the world have been excluded from visiting the European Union — with few exceptions, mostly for repatriations or 'essential travel' —- since mid-March. But a final decision on reopening the borders is expected early next week before the bloc reopens on July 1."
Stevis-Gridneff notes that back in March — when the coronavirus death toll was soaring in parts of Europe — President Donald Trump banned travel to the U.S. from most European countries. Initially, Trump excluded the U.K. from the ban, although he later changed his mind.
Keeping Americans from visiting Europe this summer is not something that the EU takes lightly. From Barcelona to Rome to Munich, U.S. tourists spend a lot of money in Europe. But EU leaders, according to Stevis-Gridneff, are troubled by the United States becoming the world's coronavirus hotspot and fear that reopening its borders to travel from the U.S. travel could be dangerous.
"Prohibiting American travelers from entering the European Union would have significant economic, cultural and geopolitical ramifications," Stevis-Gridneff explains. "Millions of American tourists visit Europe every summer. Business travel is common, given the huge economic ties between the United States and the EU."
According to Stevis-Gridneff, the draft lists of who the EU might or might not exclude this summer "were shared with the Times by an official involved in the talks and confirmed by another official involved in the talks. Two additional European Union officials confirmed the content of the lists as well the details of the negotiations to shape and finalize them. All of the officials gave the information on condition of anonymity because the issue is politically delicate."