Some of Trump’s advisers described the president as glum and shell-shocked by his declining popularity. In private conversations, he has struggled to process how his fortunes suddenly changed from believing he was on a glide path to reelection to realizing that he is losing to the likely Democratic nominee, former vice president Joe Biden, in virtually every poll, including his own campaign’s internal surveys, advisers said. He also has been fretting about the possibility that a bad outbreak of the virus this fall could damage his standing in the November election, said the advisers, who along with other aides and allies requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations…

But Trump’s outward projections of assurance and hope masked the more sober acknowledgments of some outside advisers and experts who worry the number of deaths will either stabilize around 2,000 per day or continue to climb over the next month.

“The question is, will people become anesthetized to it? Are they willing to accept that?” said one adviser to the White House coronavirus task force who, like many others interviewed for this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters or offer candid assessments…

Although Trump and his aides have boasted that the number of Americans tested continues to rise — the total was 8.4 million as of Saturday — allies and other public health experts bemoan the slow pace. They argue that the country could have tested far more people and initiated a contact tracing plan had the president and his team focused more strategically on that in recent weeks.