As death toll passes 60,000, Trump’s team searches for an exit strategy (Politico)

The coronavirus continues to exceed benchmarks set by the president, with no clarity about the risks ahead.

For much of the nation’s 100 days at war with the coronavirus, Donald Trump has been a commander in chief in search of an exit strategy.

The president has suggested the virus will simply disappear, touted unproven treatments as miracle cures, and fantasized about a future of economic resurgence and rapid return to normalcy.

Yet as the White House shifts its focus away from the public health response and toward rebuilding an economy ravaged by the pandemic, there remains little clear sense — even within his own administration — of how close the U.S. is to victory, and what “winning” the war even looks like.

Successive benchmarks set by Trump that rested on containing the virus’ early cases, slowing the disease’s spread and establishing a national pandemic defense have fallen by the wayside.

And this week, Trump’s predictions that the U.S. may see just 60,000 coronavirus deaths were belied by the brutal reality of the data.

“We’re on the other side of the medical aspect of this, and I think we’ve achieved all the different milestones that are needed, so the federal government rose to the challenge and this is a great success story,” White House senior adviser Jared Kushner told “Fox & Friends” on Wednesday, as the death toll approached 61,000. “And I think that that’s what really needs to be told.”

The situation on the ground is more stark, according to interviews with public health experts, current and former administration officials and Trump allies. Thousands more Americans are dying from the coronavirus each day. A new wave of outbreaks is likely in the fall. Doctors are struggling to answer basic questions about the virus’ behavior. And despite a worldwide race for a vaccine, even the most optimistic scenarios envision months of waiting…

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