With 330 million residents, the United States is the world’s third most populous nation, meaning it provides a vast pool of people who can potentially get Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. And it is a sprawling, cacophonous democracy, where states set their own policies and President Trump has sent mixed messages about the scale of the danger and how to fight it, ensuring there was no coherent, unified response to a grave public health threat. A series of missteps and lost opportunities dogged the nation’s response. Among them: a failure to take the pandemic seriously even as it engulfed China, a deeply flawed effort to provide broad testing for the virus that left the country blind to the extent of the crisis, and a dire shortage of masks and protective gear to protect doctors and nurses on the front lines, as well as ventilators to keep the critically ill alive. “The world will be a different place when the pandemic is over,” the report concludes. It suggests India may become the next global hotspot for virus cases as “it, too, is a vast democracy with deep internal divisions. But its population, 1.3 billion, is far larger, and its people are crowded even more tightly into megacities.”
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