IN A week in which the United States exceeded 50,000 new coronavirus cases on multiple days, more than double the rate of just a few weeks ago, there are important messages that President Trump could have sent from the White House podium on Thursday. He could have insisted that all Americans wear face masks in public, or urged them to steer clear of crowded July 4 celebrations. He could have pledged a renewed federal effort to expand the still-troubled program of diagnostic testing, a prerequisite for a return to normalcy. He could have given governors support for the need to impose new restrictions to contain the virus.

He did none of these things.

Instead, Mr. Trump remains in blissful denial as crisis ripples through the Sun Belt, threatening to create chaos and distress nationwide for months to come. On Wednesday, he said of the pandemic, “I think at some point that’s going to sort of just disappear, I hope.” On Thursday, in a brief appearance before reporters, without wearing a face mask and refusing to take questions, he said, “We have some areas where we are putting out the flames, or the fires, and that’s working out well.” He went on to assert that the United States, like Europe and China, is “getting it under control.” Some areas are suffering a “flare up,” he acknowledged, “and we are putting out the fires” with a strategy to “vanquish and kill the virus.”

The reality is that the virus is not under control; it is in control. Record-shattering numbers of new cases were reported Wednesday in six states: California, Georgia, Texas, North Carolina, Arizona and Alaska. New daily cases are increasing in 41 states compared to two weeks ago. Outbreaks and superspreader events are erupting, such as clusters from Myrtle Beach, S.C. In five months, the pandemic has killed nearly 19 times as many Americans as have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Trump — whose early reaction to the pandemic was to wish it away, who failed to muster the logistical support to confront it and who then decided to walk away by leaving the response largely to the states — this week continued to engage in magical thinking, referring to the raging pandemic as “certain hot spots.” In fact, states that opened up prematurely in May are paying the price now, and Mr. Trump bears responsibility for encouraging governors to loosen the restrictions too early. It was a bad miscalculation.

Now, governors are rapidly trying to backpedal, abruptly closing bars and restaurants, but it is exceedingly difficult to shift from reopening to closure again. Mr. Trump on Thursday elided this difficulty, saying the reopening decision is “largely up to them.” He was characteristically only concerned with praising himself. “We’ve done a historic thing,” he said, adding that he saved “millions of lives” and now is opening up the country “far faster than anybody thought even possible and more successfully.”

This is historic delusion, and it has consequences in human lives.

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