LIKE many folk living in dual nationality households, my American husband and I follow two news cycles. And as worrying as updates in the UK have become over these last few days, we are also accustomed to the certainty that news from the US will be even more distressing.

How could it not be with Donald Trump leading the coronavirus response? This is, after all, the man who only a few short weeks ago was playing the virus down variously as a hoax invented by his political enemies, a problem his government had “closed down” and something that would “ a miracle”.

This is also a man who stands on a platform of hating science and experts, and whose utterances are weighed down by re-election. Over the last couple of days he talked of getting people back to work after Easter - a “beautiful timeline” - at the same time as threatening to put New York, currently the worst affected state, into complete quarantine.

Don’t get me wrong, I was relieved when the $2 trillion government support package his administration drew up was finally signed off. But based on what family and friends are telling us on daily calls, it’s going to take more than a one-off $1,200 cheque for low and middle earners for this to be anything other than a catastrophe for the world’s richest country.

The coronavirus trajectory is looking particularly ominous in the US, with its case rate the highest in the world (even without adequate levels of testing) and a death rate that is already on course to outpace Italy.

No country can escape the devastating effects of this virus, of course, no health service is not at risk of being overwhelmed. But as anyone who has spent significant time there will know and understand, the US is a nation spectacularly ill-suited to a pandemic of this nature and magnitude. Even without the addition of Donald Trump.

Indeed, the virus is already exposing many of US society’s in-built weaknesses. Most fundamentally, the non-universal healthcare system that means millions of Americans have no way to pay for treatment should they become ill. Even those who do have medical insurance could find themselves with huge, life-ruining bills, depending on their medical history and policy exclusions. At a time like this, a complex, profit-driven system which links healthcare with employment status is particularly likely to fail.

The notoriously ungenerous welfare system only compounds this. Many people will feel compelled to keep working rather than following instructions to stay at home. The additions to unemployment benefit announced in the support package are unlikely to provide much reassurance for those in this situation.

Demographics is also key. Much of the interior of this vast country, including many of the southern states and rural areas, are poor and poorly resourced to a level that would astound many Europeans. If they are short of ventilators and hospital beds in New York, I dread to think what it will be like in rural Arkansas and Mississippi, where higher proportions of the population are elderly, infirm, unemployed and uninsured.

But, as Mr Trump’s popularity in some of these places affirms, there are other fundamental issues at play. Many Americans distrust the very idea of the state, and their in-built individualism may make them balk at the idea of having freedoms curtailed. They have no experience of the state having this much direct control over their lives, no experience in living memory of sacrificing personal freedoms, as Europeans did during the Second World War. I note with concern that in some parts of the US there has been a rush on guns as well as toilet paper.

This is also the most divided of nations, along political, geographical, economic and religious lines, which plays into a narrative of suspicion and rage. Only two weeks ago, while visiting the southern states, I spoke to people who believed coronavirus had been created by China in retaliation for US trade tariffs. Others talked of it being a plague sent by God to punish sinners.

Even a well-run administration would have been up against it. As it stands, Mr Trump’s response, strewn with delay, contrary messages and personal insults, may already have cost lives.

Despite the worry I feel for my American family, I want to end on a positive. I have no doubt the ingenuity, tenaciousness and "can do" attitude of people there, that other strand of the individualism mentioned earlier, will play an important role in how the world tackles this crisis in the months ahead. On this front, I hope America continues to be the home of the brave.