By Donald G. McNeil Jr., a science reporter covering epidemics and diseases of the world’s poor. He joined The New York Times in 1976, and has reported from 60 countries. His article is republished here with permission as part of our licensing program. We welcome your comments below.

On March 16, back when White House news conferences were still deemed safe to attend, President Trump stood before reporters and announced that drastic nationwide restrictions — in schools, work places, our social lives . . .

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