President Donald Trump’s has adopted a new line on the coronavirus: “We’re rounding the turn.” Trump has deployed this rosy the-finish-line-is-in-sight status report on the stump and in Thursday night’s presidential debate. “We’re rounding the turn,” Trump said during the debate. “We’re rounding the corner. It’s going away.” Very little Trump says about the pandemic is based in reality: He has repeatedly peddled unproven treatments as miracle cures, he’s downplayed the numbers, and there was the light and bleach fiasco that we won’t even go into again, and on and on. So characterizing the country as “rounding the corner” is, somehow, one of the less explicitly absurd things this president has said about a disease that has wrought havoc on American life. It’s obviously false, even dangerously so, but feels more normal somehow, like a politician fudging rather than a lunatic suggesting you drink motor oil to get rid of your cold.
But there is some poetic justice in the fact that as Trump made his final appeal to voters, trying to convince them that we’re almost out of the woods, on that very same day the U.S., by one count, recorded the highest number of new coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. More than 77,000 Americans contracted the coronavirus on Thursday, according to a NBC News tally, as the man in charge of the nation’s response declared on national television that “it’s going away.” The New York Times tally put the day’s total slightly lower—at just over 75,000 cases—which even still would amount to the second highest daily total since the pandemic began. The Wall Street Journal reports the number of new cases Thursday at more than 71,500, the most since the highs of mid-July. The numbers within those totals are similarly worrisome: eight states had record highs Thursday and 13 states—a full quarter of the country—recorded their highest rolling seven-day totals so far.
Maybe, of all things, we’re finally “rounding the turn” on the Trump presidency.