COVID-19 is not at all over and shows every sign of staging a return. We've been through a lot of fear, depression, and losses of income and loved ones. Much can't be changed, but the leadership can, from sloppy governors to President Donald Trump at the top of the heap. Trump seems not just incapable of forming a rational response to a virus but also uninterested in doing so -- and the public seems to know it.
He's thrust a broken-country model on America whereby the ruling family directs the country's resources to its close relatives and assorted hangers-on. Protective barriers to corruption have been junked. It's been astounding to see the president remove five inspectors general including the top Pentagon watchdog assigned to lead the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee -- assigned to oversee the $2 trillion in taxpayer money set aside to revive the economy.
Trump or no Trump, the United States was destined to get badly hit by the coronavirus. It didn't have to become the epicenter, however, of both disease and social dysfunction that followed. It would have taken an extraordinary leader to respond wisely to both the anger unleashed by George Floyd's murder and the opportunistic looting that followed while dealing with a health threat. Our leader doesn't rise to even ordinary.
I'm trying to remain the optimistic sort. Some promising treatments for the often-deadly virus are advancing. A vaccine that would stop it in its tracks is bound to arrive. But the greatest hope right now rests on Nov. 3, when Americans have an opportunity to supplant the president and his ramshackle administration with competence.
For the time being, we are a nation beaten down by a sea of troubles. The deadly pathogen seems intent on making that second round as parts of the country abandon the discipline that curbed the caseloads in the first place.
Sweden tried and failed to beat this thing by leaving businesses and schools largely open: The plan was to let enough people get the virus to build herd immunity. Oh, how we wish Sweden's low-pain experiment would have worked. Now Sweden's per-capita death toll is among the world's highest.
That's not happening in the European Union, which is reopening in a slow and careful manner. And it's not happening here in states that continue to impose rules for mask wearing and social distancing.
But it is happening in Florida, which has offered its population as the Swedish-style control group to see what happens when government mostly ends restrictions on bars and beach crowds. As Florida's number of cases spike to new records, Gov. Ron DeSantis has further vowed not to reassert restrictions. Added to the mix is the state's large elderly population, a group especially threatened by the virus.
Arizona reopened a month ago and has just reported an all-time high number of cases as well as numbers of COVID patients in the ICU. Same story in Texas, which prematurely entered its "third phase" of reopening way back at the beginning of June.
In a show of blatant ignorance, Vice President Mike Pence has blamed some of these rising numbers on an increase in testing. Actually, New York, which does more per-capita testing than any other state, now reports that only 1.1% of tests were positive for COVID on a seven-day average. Texas has a 7.9% positive rate, and in Florida, it is 7%.
Another virus wave is not going to help any economy's bottom line or the well-being of its people. New polls reflect public recognition of that fact. They suggest Americans are about to replace Trump, providing good news at last.
Froma Harrop is a nationally syndicated columnist.