COVID-19 lockdown, New York City, April 2020
The World Trade Center transportation hub during COVID-19 lockdown, New York City, April 2020
Oskar Landi / Anzenberger / Redux

In our essay “Chronicle of a Pandemic Foretold,” for the July/August issue of Foreign Affairs, we described the struggle against COVID-19 in terms of a baseball game and estimated that the United States was in about the third inning of a nine-inning contest. At this point, however, it may be more helpful to shift to an altogether different analogy. The unfolding story of the pandemic is a three-act play, in which the country is now midway through the second act.

The first act saw the disease spread from China to the rest of the world and to a woefully

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