CNN Finally Agrees with Donald Trump on Something

Despite cascading humanitarian and political impacts of that decision, the devastating toll of the virus left Trump little choice — even though some conservative backers have been urging him to ease lockdowns.

A President, who a month ago was predicting a miracle that would just make the virus go away, was presented with cataclysmic figures that 2.2 million Americans could die if he indulged his itch to start reopening the economy in the coming week.

“Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won,” Trump, who last week repeatedly suggested that win was near, said Sunday, extending restrictions due to expire on Monday for another month at least.

Trump’s decision to listen to his advisers will relieve public health officials and emergency physicians countrywide and shows that he is, in extremis, willing to listen to science — in a way that would be a given for most presidents but has not been so for a commander-in-chief who has so often blurred truth.

Trump predicted the death rate in the US — which doubled from Thursday to Sunday — could peak within two weeks but the nation could get “to the bottom of the hill” by June 1.

Even that figure seems characteristically optimistic. “We should be so lucky,” Rhode Island emergency physician Megan Ranney told CNN, pointing out that only even if social distancing were adopted nationwide now, two weeks was probably not sufficient for all of the most critical cases to emerge.

He had been desperate to start some county-by-county opening of the economy in the days to come. But the President’s decision — potentially a turning point in the nation’s fight against the pandemic — appears to have followed concerted lobbying by two top public health officials, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx.

Trump predicted his decision would save hundreds of thousands of lives, in an apparent moving of the political goalposts to account for the fast worsening US pandemic.

“2.2 million people would have died if we didn’t do what we are doing,” the President said.

“If we can hold that number down … to 100,000, it’s a horrible number, maybe even less … we all, all together have done a very good job,” Trump said.

The new April 30 date marks yet another reversal of position on the pandemic by the President, who last week made clear he did not pick the Easter date, April 12, based on data but because it was a “beautiful timeline.” Shrugging off his row back, Trump claimed Sunday that Easter had only been an “aspirational date.”

Almost no one, who closely followed the science, modeling and data — including governors, health experts and commentators thought Trump’s original timeline was smart.

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