It’s the piece of advice long-timers offer nearly every new arrival to President Donald Trump’s ranks: bring visual aids. Luckily for Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, charts are their thing.
Summoned to the Oval Office last weekend to state their case for keeping the country closed, Fauci and Birx arrived armed with tangled multicolored lines, stippled mountains of various heights and one ominous inky blue bell curve showing American deaths from coronavirus rising to 2.2 million if social distancing efforts were abandoned.
The graphics were weaponry in a pitched battle with some of Trump’s economic advisers — and at times with Trump himself — who argued continued restrictions against large gatherings were ravaging the American economy.
Evidence of that was delivered Thursday when the federal government announced jobless claims skyrocketed to 6.6 million last week.
Still, the charts — printed in color and blown up for effect — seemed to work, even as some of Trump’s advisers now question their accuracy. Trump announced hours later he was extending his coronavirus guidelines another 30 days, despite a strong inclination to open the nation for business.
As the pandemic rages and Trump’s response comes under withering scrutiny, Fauci and Birx — the two top medical experts on the White House coronavirus task force — have emerged as central figures advising Trump and fixations for a nation grappling with a generation-defining crisis.