It is impossible to document all the ways COVID-19 has shut down American life. President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency. Trump finally declared a national emergency as the country continued to shut down on Friday. As in his Oval Office address earlier this week, the President again offered only limited answers as millions of Americans struggle to understand why other countries can provide coronavirus testing but the United States cannot. He stood with CEOs, who he called geniuses. Trump thanked Google for building a website. And Walmart. And Labcorp. He congratulated Walmart CEO Doug McMillan on doing a great business during the pandemic. Then he shook hands until one of the assembled executives offered an elbow bump instead. Read the full story. The President said things are going to get better. But at least 21 million American kids have had their schooling affected by the global pandemic. That also means millions of parents and caretakers have to figure out a way to either take off work or get their kids cared for while they work. It also creates another stumbling block for kids who rely on schools for their meals. Trump bragged that his European travel ban is saving lives, even though it hadn’t taken effect yet (that happens at midnight). Local hospitals and health officials warned that a flare-up could lead to a run on hospital beds and ventilators. Trump talked over and over, surrounded by corporate executives, about the public-private partnership. He said 5 million coronavirus test kits will be available in a month. But the disease is spreading now. There are now more than 2,000 US cases. There is literally no flour in my local grocery store. How’s yours? Wasn’t me. When a reporter asked Trump why he disbanded the White House office devoted to pandemic preparation, he said it was a “nasty question” and that he personally wasn’t responsible. Trump compared himself with previous presidents and bragged about the great job he’s doing. To the extent there is leadership coming from the White House, it appears to be happening in spite of the guy who lives there. “There’s nothing we could have done that was better,” he said of restricting access to Chinese travelers back in January. He might think that. But the virus is here and he’s not taking charge. Reporters’ mics cut. When they tried to push him on why he isn’t taking the advice to self-quarantine after being exposed to someone who has tested positive, reporters had their audio cut by the White House. In the Rose Garden, Trump publicly criticized the federal relief package being negotiated by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi nevertheless announced later in the afternoon that a deal had been struck. It will still need to be approved by the Republican-controlled Senate. Bottom-up management. Governors, mayors and even local school district heads have stepped into the leadership void. They’re closer to your daily life and their decisions are having a greater effect on you at the moment. And maybe that’s the way it should be, in a nation of 350 million people. : A “date which will live in infamy” moment Perhaps this declaration and Trump’s appearance with CEOs were meant to make the coronavirus fight appear like a war effort – total mobilization. It feels like total mobilization is warranted. No other crisis in recent US history has affected so much of the population so quickly. But on an occasion that calls for elevated rhetoric – “a date which will live in infamy,” “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” or “the whole world hears you” kind of leadership – Trump has again found a way to congratulate himself rather than face the problem. After the US entered World War II, the entire country pivoted to support that effort. Men volunteered and women went to work in ways they had not before, permanently changing society. After 9/11, Americans donated money, blood and time. One difference now is a general feeling of helplessness to do anything, except to withdraw from social interactions. : Trump in a crisis is just like Trump the rest of the time There’s been a lot of talk today about a story published in The Atlantic – The Trump Presidency is Over. While that headline is over the top, it’s worth reading what the anti-Trump Republican Peter Wehner writes. Wehner documents how the administration delayed and blocked efforts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention early on, among other things. “The President’s disordered personality makes him as ill-equipped to deal with a crisis as any President has ever been,” he writes. “With few exceptions, what Trump has said is not just useless; it is downright injurious.” : What are we doing here? The American system of government has been challenged to deal with a singular President and a divided country that will decide whether he should get another four years in the White House. Stay tuned to this newsletter as we keep watch over the Trump administration, the 2020 presidential campaign and other issues of critical interest.