When the full record of the coronavirus in America is written, historians may argue that President Trump’s biggest mistake was not what he failed to do in early 2020, when the right strategy for combating the virus was widely debated, unproven and hard. No, they will point to what Trump failed to do in June 2020, when the right strategy was clear, proven and relatively easy.
No doubt, this virus is inscrutable. It pops up, it disappears, it reappears, some people are symptomatic, some asymptomatic, some seem to have natural immunities to it that we don’t understand, and once it infects people it hits in radically different ways: It comes in the equivalents of decaf, regular and double macchiato — and you never know if you’re going to get the mild or the extra-strength version.
But there is so much that we do know now that could make this post-lockdown phase so much less dangerous and so much more economically viable than it is.
We know that countries where everyone wears a mask outside the home sharply reduce the spread and that people who practice strict social distancing infect fewer people and are infected less often. And we know that people who avoid “superspreading” events — large, prolonged social gatherings, religious services and crammed nightclubs and workplaces, where one highly contagious person can quickly spew the virus to many others — are less likely to get infected.