Sydney’s famous beach district has the most coronavirus cases in the country

As America became the epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump downplayed the escalating national crisis.

His comments at Thursday’s afternoon briefing underscored the growing duality of the fight: While the President is telling a tale of great successes, front-line health care workers are facing grim scenes in hospitals in a growing number of hot spots.

All the evidence of the virus’s advance suggests the situation is getting worse and that normal life could be weeks or months away. Once, Trump minimized the looming impact of the crisis. Now his assessments conflict with the reality of its deadly march.

Massive jump in cases: A week ago, there were a total of 8,800 confirmed infections in the United States and 149 deaths. On Thursday, that figure reached more than 82,000 with nearly 1,200 deaths.

Were those figures the result of a hurricane or a terrorist attack, their human toll would be more obvious, and it would be more difficult for the President to spin the situation. But as people die unseen in hospital wards and emergency rooms, the emotional impact of the accelerating tragedy is less obvious than it would be during a natural disaster.

Trump’s contradicting message: On Thursday, a day that saw more reported deaths from Covid-19 than ever before in the United States — Trump bizarrely turned the focus to what he said was a far lower mortality rate than he had expected.

And despite the clearly widening spread of the pandemic, Trump intensified a push to reopen the economy, saying he would issue a relaxation of some social distancing guidelines next week.

Any president and any administration would have been battered by combating a virulent “invisible enemy,” as Trump calls it. But it’s unlikely any other modern administration would spend so much time praising its own performance — even as the crisis magnifies by the day.

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