The truth is that for all our mistakes, we are not handling the epidemic in markedly worse fashion than other developed countries. The U.K., France, Italy and Spain all seem to have higher mortality rates. The U.S. population has adapted quickly to radically changed circumstances, albeit of course not perfectly or uniformly.

Even federal, state and local governments, deeply flawed as they are, deserve some credit. After early stumbles made lockdowns an unfortunate necessity, one sector of American life after another accepted that logic in short order. Washington overcame partisan divisions to pass two large rescue packages. One can quibble with their provisions, but the main components, including a large increase in unemployment benefits and forgivable loans for small businesses, are the right ones. The Federal Reserve cut interest rates and expanded lending facilities, moving, like Congress, faster than it had during the financial crisis of a dozen years ago. Scores of federal and state regulations that impeded the response have been waived. A political system that often seems sclerotic has moved pretty rapidly under difficult circumstances.

The best hope for a breakthrough that vanquishes the coronavirus, such as a vaccine, comes from the U.S. biopharmaceutical industry. A lot of American money and brains, aided by a supportive American public-policy environment, are in a very real sense working for the betterment of the world right now.