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I’m European, and today’s headlines disheartened me. With an average of more than 100,000 new infections per day over the past week, Europe now accounts for about one-third of new cases reported worldwide, the New York Times reports. That means the “Old World” has overtaken the U.S. in new cases of Covid-19. A surprise? Not really, unfortunately.

While Europe actually had the virus under control for a while, the mistakes that lead to the situation on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean are reminiscent of what went wrong in the U.S, and particularly in certain U.S. states: In several European countries, lockdowns were lifted early and abruptly, and people thought they could return to their normal lives (normal as in clubbing without masks, you know?). The big difference is that things are not as politicized over there, so this went on and on and on, and nobody really said anything.

“I am watching with great concern the renewed increase in infection numbers in almost every part of Europe”, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said on Tuesday. “We mustn’t throw away what we achieved via restrictions over the past months.” Now, new lockdowns are imminent, and it didn’t have to be that way. (doesn’t that sound like something we would say in the U.S.?)

Maybe it’s time to stop idealizing Europe and just focus on the science. Because science is universal and doesn’t care about governments, leaders, or political parties. What works here, will work over there, too. And the other way round. Wear a mask. Don’t socialize indoors. Wash your hands. Get tested.

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Senior Editor, Elemental

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