President Trump, in only his second address to the nation from the Oval Office, tried to convey a sense of calm and confidence in his remarks Wednesday night about the coronavirus. But the president seemed strangely off kilter, stumbling over his words a couple of times and coming across as almost too serene at a time when the impact of the disease continues to grow at a rapid pace.

The best guess is that he was disappointed that he had to speak in the first place. Trump for the past couple of weeks has predicted the virus would be no big deal, but the medical experts who said otherwise have been proven correct as the number of infections and deaths rise.

More jarring is the growing response to the virus: Political campaign rallies cancelled, college basketball tournaments cancelled, the NBA season suspended, college students being told their schools are switching to online classes. On Thursday the governors of Ohio and Maryland ordered all schools in the state to close for three weeks, and it is easy to predict that other states will make the same decision.

Steering the public through this scare will be the biggest challenge of Trump’s presidency. His usual strategy against an opponent is to dish out insults, whether through commentary or social media. So far, the coronavirus is not listening.

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