In late February 2020, we could see the COVID-19 tsunami coming, but it hadn’t yet hit U.S. shores with full force. Like any father, I wanted to make sure my family was safe. Since all three of my sons were living away from home, we started trading emails about the latest research and recommendations. President Trump’s chaotic management style was one concern: Would state, local, and federal governments be able to focus on fighting the pandemic in an atmosphere of political drama? I tried to reassure everyone: “Despite alarmist stories to the contrary, we have really good public-health officials and infrastructure in the U.S.,” I wrote in a family email on March 2, 2020. “They’ll do their jobs regardless of who is president.”
Oh, was I wrong.