The response to the coronavirus pandemic in the United States and other countries has been hobbled by a host of factors, many involving political and regulatory officials. Resistance to social distancing measures, testing debacles, and longtime failures to prepare for the possibility of a pandemic all played a role. But a subtler, less-recognized factor contributed to the wasting of precious weeks in January and February, when preparations to try to stop the virus should have kicked immediately into high gear. Magical thinking — you could call it denial — hampered the ability of even some of the most seasoned infectious diseases experts to recognize the full threat of what was bearing down on the world.

 

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