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In January, the United States watched as the new coronavirus blazed through China and reached American shores.

n February, hindered by an unexpected failure to roll out diagnostic tests and an administration that had denuded itself of scientific expertise, the nation sat largely idle while the pandemic spread within its borders.

In March, as the virus launched several simultaneous assaults on a perilously stretched-thin health-care system, America finally sputtered into action, frantically closing offices, schools, and public spaces in a bid to cut off chains of transmission.

Now, in April, as viral fevers surge through American hospitals and cabin fever grows in American homes, the U.S. has cemented itself as the new center of the pandemic—the country that should have been more prepared than any other, but that now has the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the world.

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