Coronavirus claimed its first victims in China, but the illness has now appeared in at least forty-eight countries, with cases soaring in Europe and the Middle East. On Wednesday, in response to criticism about his Administration’s response, President Trump held a press conference addressing the epidemic. His performance—as Brian Stauffer’s cover for next week’s magazine suggests— was not entirely persuasive. “We’re doing really well,” Trump said. That day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it had identified, in California, the first U.S. case that had not been contracted from travel abroad, and stocks continued to tumble worldwide. For more coverage, read:

John Cassidy on coronavirus and Trump:

From a political perspective, the virus presents two threats to the President. If COVID-19 spreads inside the United States, the White House could be held responsible for botching its response to the virus’s outbreak. Democrats are already sharpening their knives. “The Trump Administration has been asleep at the wheel,” Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, said on Monday, on the Senate floor. “President Trump, good morning! There’s a pandemic of coronavirus. Where are you?”

The other threat to Trump is an economic one. If the stumble in the stock market is a one-off event, it won’t have much impact politically. But, if Wall Street goes into an extended slide, or if the broader economy gets hit badly as the virus spreads, it could change the political environment going into the election.

Megan K. Stack on living with coronavirus anxiety in Singapore:

As of this writing, ninety-two people on the island are known to have contracted the COVID-19 virus. First, it was travellers who’d been to the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, but gradually the disease seeped into the community and began to spread. So far, no one in Singapore has died of the disease.

But fear, it turns out, is also a virus. A low-level fright of this little-understood malady has taken hold in the international school where my children spend their days, and in the sprawling condominium complex where we live, along with a mix of Singaporean families and foreigners. This fear has the uncanny power to force out the uncomfortable questions that usually lurk unspoken in the communities it invades. You start out talking about the virus and end up picking apart parenting styles or foreign relations.

And Michael Specter on a possible vaccine:

Scientists are moving with great speed to stop this pandemic. They sequenced the virus in less than two weeks—an essential step in creating diagnostics, drugs, and vaccines, and one that only a few years ago would have taken months. But, even with expedited trials and drug development, it could take a year to create a vaccine. If this virus were to swerve out of control before then, the death rate could soar. In addition to the human toll, the economic damage to China—and, eventually, to the rest of the world—would be enormous. Industrial supply chains throughout the world have already been badly disrupted. Travel to and from China has all but stopped, and xenophobic attacks against Asians are rising. Although New York City has not reported a single confirmed case of COVID-19, business in Chinatown has reportedly fallen by more than fifty per cent since the epidemic began.



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