It’s a shame that it apparently took sinking poll numbers for President Donald Trump to finally recognize that COVID-19 is real — at least for a 20-minute spell while reading from a teleprompter at a podium.

For nearly five months, Trump used phrases like “hoax,” “miracle,” “disappear,” “sniffles,” and, “eventually” to deny reality until his advisers and friends apparently finally got through to him. The about-face at a more-somber news conference was a step in the right direction, albeit likely for the wrong reason. It was his endangered political fortunes, not the truths of medicine or science that seemed to sober him up.

But his reassurance that his administration is “in the process of developing a strategy” to deal with COVID-19 rang hollow. That’s like a football team “developing” a game plan at the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.

It’s too bad he cost the nation so much suffering and deaths by his insouciant lack of leadership — or misleadership — since February. He has done more fiddling around than Nero while Rome burned.

Yet, even now, he’s battling with Congress, including his own party members, trying to suppress testing, still under the misbegotten belief that limiting the number of tests will reduce the numbers of afflicted and redound to his political benefit.

Marshall H. Tanick