The Atlantic Daily: America’s Watch-and-Wait COVID Strategy Is Getting Its First Test

Coronavirus cases are rising in other parts of the world. Is the United States next?

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People stand in line at a COVID-rapid-testing tent.
Mark Peterson / Redux

The United States is in a pandemic lull. But it may not be for long: “Several states’ wastewater-surveillance sites are witnessing a rise in viral particles, which, in previous waves, has preceded increases in documented infections by several days,” Katherine J. Wu reports. “The other COVID shoe seems poised to drop in the U.S. at some point, perhaps quite soon.” And if—or when—it does, America’s new approach to the pandemic will undergo a stress test.

Our writers consider three key questions of the moment.

  1. Will the new wave hit the U.S. next? For two years, Europe has been a bellwether for American outbreaks. Rachel Gutman talked to experts about why things might be different this time around.

  2. Is the U.S. prepared for it? Ed Yong writes that the country has entered the neglect phase of yet another “panic-neglect cycle.”

  3. Do Americans really want to return to normal? Public-opinion polls about what citizens think we should do to combat the pandemic are returning contradictory results “because the issues involved are complex,” Natalie Jackson, the director of research at Public Religion Research Institute, writes.

People examine the damage after the shelling of a shopping center in Kyiv on March 21, 2022.
Efrem Lukatsky / AP

What to read for the latest on Russia’s war on Ukraine:

Find all of our coverage here.

The rest of the news in three sentences:

(1) The United States formally declared that Russia has committed war crimes in the course of invading Ukraine.

(2) Madeleine Albright, the first woman to serve as U.S. secretary of state, died at 84.

(3) The Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson said that, if confirmed, she would recuse herself from a Harvard admissions case.

Today’s dispatches:

In this week’s edition of Wait, What?, Molly Jong-Fast runs down the frightening new wave of anti-abortion bills.

Tonight’s Atlantic-approved activity:

Indulge in a novel that has romance, but isn’t a romance novel: Tiphanie Yanique’s Monster in the Middle blends “recent history with a touch of magical realism,” the writer Carole V. Bell explains.

A break from the news:

The college-admissions process is completely broken.


Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox.