Update (18000ET): There's been some pretty stiff competition, but Tuesday night's press conference was an entertaining one. For the second night in a row, President Trump clearly expressed his support for continuing with the mitigation efforts, and acted as if he had never veered off-course by embracing his "sacrifice grandma to save the economy" rhetoric, which would have surely helped torpedo his campaign given long enough.
Perhaps feeling chastened by the stock market's worst start to a year in history, Trump, acting as if he had never even considered the possibility of reopening the economy by Easter, warned Americans that they needed to get ready for a "painful two weeks" as he said the guidelines would likely be extended. It's likely that they'll be in effect until the end of April, which would really be four weeks. Trump corrected himself later on, offering variations including 'three weeks' and 'four weeks' at different times during the press conference.
Earlier, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo complained that "I’m tired of being behind this virus. We’ve been behind this virus from day one," the governor said in Albany. "We underestimated this virus. It’s more powerful, it’s more dangerous than we expected."
Discussing Elmhurst Hospital, a hospital that Trump "knows very well" thanks to his childhood growing up in Queens, Trump remarked that it looked like a "war zone" as officials prepared for the outbreak.
"When you look at night the kind of death that has been caused by this invisible enemy, it’s incredible," Trump said. "You’re going to start seeing some light at the end of the tunnel, but this is going to be a very painful, very, very painful two weeks."
Even for Trump, the president's unwillingness to acknowledge his recent support of making sure the "cure wasn't worse than the disease" was pretty brazen. "This is not the flu," Trump said while rambling after a reporter's question. He said some executives with "great common sense" suggested that the US just "ride it out" and forget the mitigation efforts. But "this is not to be ridden out," Trump said.
Who were those 'executives', we wonder?
Pence is droning on, and Dr. Fauci delivered some good lines, but Tuesday's press conference really belonged to Dr. Birx, who illustrated the problem at hand - and the goal of the population's collective action - in a series of charts.
If the American people do their part, we can keep mortality down to 100k-240k, Birx said.
In the first, she illustrated the pattern of new cases reported in the hotspots...
...Then she showed all the states...
,..and then, she showed how Italy's quarantine had finally helped slow the pace of the spread.
Pence finished his comments by saying he was about to visit a supermarket and a food wholesaler, and promised that food and essential products would continue finding their way to American supermarkets, even as millions of Americans find that most supermarkets near them have been completely out of toilet paper.
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Another day, another press conference, after markets took a digger into the close following an optimistic start to the session.