The Fourth of July is traditionally a day when America celebrates its fortunes and the rest of the world salutes admiringly. Patriotism and pride are still in plentiful supply but there is an undeniable level of fear and polarisation that makes this an Independence Day like no other.
This week, the US exceeded 50,000 new coronavirus cases on multiple days, more than double the rate of just a few weeks ago.
As anxious Americans looked to their president for leadership, Donald Trump turned the White House podium into a political pulpit. Even an issue like wearing face masks in public has become partisan.
Midweek, as the bad news emerged the pandemic was reasserting its deadly hold on several states, Mr Trump said: "I think at some point that's going to sort of just disappear, I hope."
A day later he pointedly appeared before reporters, without a face mask, and said, "We have some areas where we are putting out the flames, or the fires, and that's working out well." He went on to assert that the United States, like Europe and China, was "getting it under control".
But as many worried US medical commentators have noted, the virus is not under control; it is in control. Record-shattering numbers of new cases were reported in six states: California, Georgia, Texas, North Carolina, Arizona and Alaska.
It is in the interests of all that the world's most stable democracy regains a sense of equilibrium and finds a way to address its political, structural and societal weaknesses.
Mr Trump has undeniably made the pandemic worse in many ways. Critics say he showed far more concern for the health of the numbers on Wall Street than for the health of workers. He allowed the wearing of a mask to become a matter of political persuasion. In an Orlando suburb, protesters chanted, "My body, my choice", after county officials mandated face coverings.
Early in the pandemic, people received invoices for thousands of dollars on seeking a Covid-19 test. It is feared the complete inability of the world superpower to suppress a disease that most other countries managed to contain will have real economic costs.
As one US columnist put it: "When writers speak of American decline, they're usually talking about international power - the rise of China and the waning of US hegemony."
But for most Americans such concerns are now remote. The struggles in their daily lives are more immediate. In five months, the pandemic has killed nearly 19 times as many Americans as have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet much of the population have had to get used to avoiding hospitals because of the bills they might face.
Perhaps the dream of the Founding Fathers was always a little over the rainbow, but it was a vision nonetheless. And its traces are becoming ever more faint in Mr Trump's bid to make America great again.