But the nearly 70,000 Americans who have already died are not the only victims of the worst public health threat in 100 years.
Thirty million Americans were thrown out of work by lockdowns — and their plight suggests that whatever the science dictates, there is no economic case for keeping businesses closed.
There is no doubt that Trump and state and local leaders are facing terrible choices after weeks of social isolation and economic damage.
But Trump has declined to initiate a national conversation about the hideous compromises ahead.
The callous undercurrent of Monday’s data is that with no vaccine in sight, the country faces an awful choice about the relative pain in disease and economic blight it is ready to endure.
One political figure who is breaching these issues is former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — though in retirement the Republican friend of Trump is spared the fateful decisions that serving politicians face.
“Of course, everybody wants to save every life they can — but the question is, towards what end, ultimately?” Christie told CNN’s Dana Bash on The Daily DC Podcast.
“We’ve got to let some of these folks get back to work, because if we don’t, we’re going to destroy the American way of life in these families — and it will be years and years before we can recover.”
Trump, however, prefers, as always, to dwell in the universe that is most conducive to his political hopes. He stepped up attacks on China for covering up a crisis he predicted would never be a problem for the US despite available evidence. He effectively accused the intelligence agencies and his own subordinates of not briefing him on the virus until late January. Even if that is true — and well sourced reports suggest it is not — there was ample news coverage about a possible new pandemic.
In a Fox News town hall on Sunday, the President, who has consistently said he sees “light at the end of the tunnel,” chided some states for not opening quickly enough and misrepresented the current national picture of the pandemic.
“There’s not too many states that I know of that are going up. Almost everybody is headed in the right direction,” the President said, adding, “I like the states opening. They will be opening. They’re going to open safely and quickly.”
Last week, on Fox News, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner insisted that the “data’s on our side and President Trump has created a pathway to safely reopen our country.”
But the fresh data on Monday revealed the price of opening and undercut the administration narrative that but for a few unfortunate hotspots the rest of the nation is safe.