US President Donald Trump and his allies on Capitol Hill are still fighting the pandemic they wish existed, rather than a virus that unfolds at its own pace and is oblivious to their artificial political and economic timetables.

Despite his supposed turn to taking the coronavirus more seriously, Trump on Monday warned some governors should be quicker in opening up their states, ignoring the fact his previous advice on such lines helped spark a surge in cases in the sunbelt.

New stimulus bill: The Senate Republican Party meanwhile split over a new $1 trillion stimulus bill, with some conservatives warning that maintaining federal unemployment benefits at current rates would deter a return to work as the virus rages and delay the restoration of economy.

Still, the impasse predated exceedingly difficult negotiations with Democrats and will inevitably degenerate into a hyper-partisan struggle given the stakes of the approaching election. But any delay could could see millions of Americans who lost jobs in lockdowns deprived of most of a $600 a week federal government lifeline — that has already paid out for the last time at previous levels.

It also emerged Monday that Trump’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien, who works in the President’s mask-free West Wing, tested positive for the coronavirus, in a sign of how flaunting basic precautions leaves no one safe from infection even if such steps are politically unpalatable.

Crisis continues: The machinations in Washington unfolded against a backdrop of a crisis that is nowhere near fading despite Trump’s upbeat rhetoric. While there are signs the latest explosion of sickness in southern and western states may be cresting, the situation remains dire. By late Monday night, the daily toll stood at 53,972 new infections and 581 reported deaths.