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For the first three years of his administration, U.S. President Donald Trump focused on consolidating power. And yet, as the United States approached its greatest domestic peril in a century, he refused to use that power. Instead, as a deadly new coronavirus was poised to invade the country, the president opted for denial and delay.

But toward the end of March, Trump’s science advisers presented him with evidence from a voluntary 15-day experiment indicating that where social distancing measures were taken seriously, the disease spread less rapidly than in places where such restrictions were not observed.

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