As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to spiral out of control in the United States, other countries are taking notice. That list includes Canada, whose prime minister, Justin Trudeau, pointed out the failures of the U.S. Coronavirus response during a press conference this week. Although the U.S. population is ten times the size of the population of Canada, the Coronavirus death toll in the United States has been about 15 times the size of the death toll in Canada. The U.S. has reported over 131,000 deaths, while Canada has reported over 8,700, as of Wednesday.
At a briefing, Trudeau commented:
‘We were able to control the virus better than many of our allies, particularly including our neighbor.’
The problems with the U.S. response to the Coronavirus have had some significant real-world effects on the country’s relationship with neighbors, including Canada. Non-essential travel between Canada and the United States has been shut down since March, and according to Reuters, the nations “are discussing whether to extend the ban when it expires on July 21.” (U.S. travelers, it’s worth noting, are also currently mostly barred from the European Union, which has also been more successful at getting the Coronavirus under control than the United States.)
Although the situation is definitely not contained within the United States, in Canada, deputy chief public health officer Howard Njoo confirmed Trudeau’s assessment that the situation was not quite as devastating. As Reuters explains, he “said the outbreak was largely under control, while stressing measures such as contact tracing and quarantine would still be essential.” He added:
‘If we relax too much or too soon, the epidemic will most likely rebound, with explosive growth as a distinct possibility.’
Much of the latest wave of Coronavirus in the United States has emerged after economic reopening measures were implemented around the country. As some areas struggled with subsequent surges in cases, some sectors of the economy shut back down again. Bars in Texas and Florida were among the first establishments to be partially re-closed. Both states have suffered big jumps in Coronavirus cases.
Canada’s assessment of the situation in the United States stands in stark contrast to some recent comments from White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. At a Monday press conference, she said:
‘I think the world is looking at us as a leader in Covid-19. Because the chart I showed you where you have the mortality rate in Italy and UK up here and across Europe, and you have the United States at a low case mortality rate, it’s because of the extraordinary work that we’ve done on therapeutics, and getting PPE and leading on ventilators.’
Obviously, as Trudeau indicated, the world isn’t quite looking at the U.S. as some kind of beacon of a great Coronavirus response. Over 130,000 Americans are dead. The federal government could have taken any one of a number of measures to help avert that outcome, but they did not. They could have issued earlier guidelines mandating that Americans stay at home, and they could have secured earlier supplies of personal protective equipment for health care workers, which would have helped keep them from catching and spreading the disease, among other possibilities.