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EU diplomats say they barely considered letting US residents in for Europe’s reopening: The country ‘was never going to make it’

Ashley Collman

European Union officials eliminated the US early while deciding which countries to allow in for the bloc’s initial reopening this week, NBC News reported Thursday, citing three diplomats.

The diplomats, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, said the decision over which countries to reopen to was strictly based on epidemiological data.

So the US, which is grappling with the most coronavirus cases in the world, was never going to make the cut, they said.

“The US was never going to make it,” one of the diplomats told NBC News. “Just look at their coronavirus situation.”

A doctor walking by a sign on a boarded-up shop in the Haight Ashbury area of San Francisco on March 17. 
Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

The diplomats said the cuts were made by eliminating countries in multiple rounds, rather than evaluating on a country-by-country basis.

To pass the first round, countries’ rates of new coronavirus cases had to be the same as or lower than the EU’s average over a two-week period.

At the time, the EU rate was 15 cases per 100,000 residents. The US rate was almost 10 times as high: 145 cases per 100,000.

For this reason, the US didn’t even make it to round two, in which countries were evaluated on whether their infection rate was increasing or decreasing and on how reliable their government was at tackling the virus.

This looked at, for example, the accuracy of a country’s coronavirus reporting and availability of testing.

President Donald Trump at Lehigh Valley International Airport in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on May 14. 
Evan Vucci/AP

Fifteen countries made the list allowing residents to travel to the EU’s member states starting Thursday.

Among the countries that made the list are China, where the pandemic started, and the US’s northern neighbor, Canada.

The decision not to open the EU to travelers from the US will no doubt have an impact on Europe’s tourism industry, but the diplomats said they never took that into consideration.

“If we started talking about making exceptions for countries that provide a lot of tourism, even if they have a lot of coronavirus cases, that would not be the right approach,” one EU diplomat told NBC News.

A poll conducted in late April and early May found that majorities of people in numerous European countries including Germany, France, Spain, Denmark, and Portugal had lost trust in the US because of its response to the pandemic.

European health experts have also been stunned by the US’s slow response to its outbreak, as Business Insider’s Tom Porter reported.

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By Brandon Mecella

I am a Philadelphian, a poet (the greatest alive, of course), and I'm loving what is on T.V.