It’s Friday, March 13. In today’s newsletter: Why the U.S. is so behind on COVID-19 testing. Plus: The white-collar work-from-home reckoning, hastened by the viral outbreak.
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(EMANUELE CREMASCHI / GETTY / KATIE MARTIN / THE ATLANTIC)
The federal government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak has been far from textbook.
Just over 14,000 Americans have been tested for COVID-19 as of today, according to a running tally my colleagues are tracking with the help of other data journalists, which is in some cases an order of magnitude behind how other countries, such as South Korea, are testing for the virus. Olga Khazan reports on several key reasons for the U.S.’s delays in such a key aspect of treating, containing, and understanding the disease (bureaucracy is one reason; delays in getting virus samples is another).
And as the markets plummet, Congress is also still mulling over what exactly to do about fears of a deep recession setting in. The congressional scholar Norm Ornstein argues that Congress is woefully underprepared for what could happen next:
There is no plan in place for Congress to hold remote meetings or otherwise conduct its business if it becomes impossible for its members to meet together, face to face in the Capitol or at another site in the District of Columbia. And that needs to change, right now.
Ben Rhodes, a top adviser to Barack Obama who helped guide the then-president through the Ebola outbreak in 2014, argues that Trump set himself up to fail:
By constantly trying to get himself through the news cycle, Trump has done irreparable damage to the long-term objective of ensuring that he’s a credible voice on the COVID-19 crisis. Time and again, he’s minimized the danger while talking up his own response.
With the consequences of the virus growing more grave by the day, what does the coronavirus mean for Trump’s reelection chances? Peter Wehner writes:
The coronavirus is quite likely to be the Trump presidency’s inflection point, when everything changed, when the bluster and ignorance and shallowness of America’s 45th president became undeniable, an empirical reality, as indisputable as the laws of science or a mathematical equation.