August 7, 2020

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 30: A nurse wearing full PPE takes swabs in the Pacific Epping Shopping Centre where one of the new mobile testing sites is located during COVID 19 on 30 April, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Speed Media/Icon Sportswire)

The US is diving into a dark Covid hole — and there’s no plan to get out

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As the US plunges into an ever deeper coronavirus morass, setting record new infection rates and the death curve begins to rise again, there’s no prospect of the nightmare ending for months.Delusion dominates an administration that perversely claims the United States is the world leader in beating this modern day plague. There are only contradictions, obfuscations and confusion from the federal officials who ought to be charting a national course.The massive integrated testing and tracing effort that could highlight and isolate infection epicenters doesn’t exist.

Attempts to reopen schools in a few weeks are already descending into farce amid conflicting messages from Washington.Amid all of this, the coronavirus task force does not hold daily briefings, and when it does, they are an exercise in dodging difficult questions and self-congratulation.Months into the worst domestic crisis since World War II, there is no sense that a fractured country is pulling together to confront a common enemy. People are still arguing about wearing masks — a tiny infringement of personal freedoms that represents one of the few hopes of easing the contagion.

The one federal official who does seem to have answers, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has been banished to the podcast circuit by President Donald Trump, who was on Fox News Thursday night boasting about acing a cognitive test as the US hit another daily record of infections — over 60,000 — on a day on which more than 900 new deaths were reported.close dialogSign up for CNN’sMEANWHILE IN AMERICA

A daily analysis of US politics for global readers.Sign Me UpNo ThanksBy subscribing, you agree to ourprivacy policy.It’s unimaginable that any other modern President would have handled things this way. Most would have thrown every federal government dollar, resource and expert at it.

But Trump appears to believe his reelection relies on creating an alternative reality in which tens of thousands of Americans — now mostly in states where he is overwhelmingly popular — are not being infected rather than actually beating back the pandemic.View Trump and Biden head-to-head pollingHe keeps insisting falsely that the only reason the US has more cases is because it is doing more testing — raising questions as to whether he truly understands the situation or is being deliberately obtuse.

It’s not as if the 132,000 people who have already died would have lived had they not been tested. Meanwhile, the President jets around the country, including to reeling Florida on Friday, flouting social distancing rules and masking guidelines, leaving a trail of infected Secret Service agents, campaign workers and viral spikes — like in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he held an indoor rally. This weekend, he’s headed to New Hampshire.The President’s claim that 99% of Covid cases are harmless is not only false, it’s an insult to the death and sickness left in the wake of the virus — and the lifelong conditions it may have spawned among survivors.

Belated attempts to halt the virus in southern and western states are being hampered by feuds between Democratic mayors who want mask mandates and Republican governors handcuffed by ideology. Mitigation attempts are way behind anyway, after states like Florida, Texas and Arizona sowed a catastrophic wave of illness by ignoring science and throwing open their economies, bars, restaurants and gyms too fast. The price for that haste is not just new infections; there are new job losses in service industries that reopened a few weeks ago amid rampant outbreaks. More are looming in the airline industry with the return to mass travel possibly years away.

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