University of Washington medical researchers now project that by the first day of October, 200,000 Americans will have died from COVID-19, given the current rate of infections across the country. Nevertheless, Vice President Mike Pence, the nominal head of the Trump administration’s very nominal coronavirus-response effort, says concern about the mounting infections and deaths is “overblown.”

For his part, President Donald Trump is looking forward to an upcoming 19,000-person political rally where participants will not be required to wear masks or socially distance themselves, despite the fact that the host city, Tulsa, Oklahoma, has seen a serious rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in recent days.

The Trump White House, Republican congressional leaders and most GOP governors have consistently painted the rosiest possible picture of the national health crisis and have made getting the economy back on track their top priority, even as the death toll has passed 100,000, including about 50,000 people who have died in nursing homes. Even though numbers of infections have now shot up in many red states, the Republicans insist that is not evidence of a second wave of the virus.

That is actually true – because the first wave has not stopped spreading.

Compare the American experience with continental Europe. Not that long ago, Italy and Spain had terrifying rates of infections. France and Germany were not in great shape either. Now, Europeans have gotten their numbers down to a very manageable level, their societies are reopening and their economies are getting back on track. European governments put together rational plans to fight the pandemic, and they seem to have worked.

In the United States, there has been no coherent national plan and, as a result, there will be tens of thousands of additional deaths, and the economy will continue to teeter on the brink of uncertainty. When the perennially dysfunctional Italian government performs better than the U.S. administration, one has to wonder just when we will make American great again.

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