For days, we, the American public, have focused intently on the outcome of our presidential race. But the biggest issue facing our nation, a coronavirus pandemic that has claimed 235,000 lives and counting, is still with us, getting worse by the day in ubiquity if not lethality. Viruses don’t take breaks.

On Thursday, the U.S. tallied a record 121,000 new cases. Infections are high or rising in 48 of 50 states and every U.S. territory. Twenty-eight states counted more new cases this week than in any other seven-day period since the pandemic began.

Many countries are struggling to contain new outbreaks, but America’s failure is singularly egregious.

One certain author of that failure is the Trump administration, which cut public health infrastructure, minimized the risk and refused early in the pandemic to coordinate a federal response, an abdication of responsibility that let flourish an ultimately counterproductive hodgepodge of conflicting and confusing state policies.

Perhaps most consequential among his many leadership failures were Donald Trump’s efforts to discredit government scientists and public health officials and his grossly negligent transformation of mask-wearing — a simple public safety practice uniquely effective in slowing the pathogen’s spread — into a partisan issue.

In hundreds of American counties now experiencing the highest virus rates, residents overwhelmingly voted for Trump, an Associated Press analysis shows. What’s most worrisome for the future is the possibility that the devastation Trump has wrought, may last long after he’s left public office.

His reckless laying waste to what faith his supporters may have once had in science and scientists and the public health measures they recommend, which have to be respected if we’re ever to contain the virus, may prove enormously difficult if not impossible to undo.

The 2020 campaign is over. The war between America and the coronavirus continues. America is losing.

— Tribune News Service

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