As Numbers Sink In, New Reality Confronts A More Somber Trump
WASHINGTON — Five weeks ago, when there were 60 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States, President Trump expressed little alarm. "This is a flu," he said. "This is like a flu." He was still likening it to an ordinary flu as late as Friday.
By Tuesday, however, with more than 187,000 recorded cases in the United States and more Americans having been killed by the virus than by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the president's assessment had rather drastically changed. "It's not the flu," he said.
The grim-faced president who appeared in the White House briefing room for more than two hours on Tuesday evening beside charts showing death projections ofhellacious proportions was coming to grips with a reality he had long refused to accept. At a minimum, the charts predicted that 100,000 to 240,000 Americans would die.
周二晚间，表情严肃的奥巴马在白宫新闻发布厅(White House briefing room)出现了两个多小时，旁边的图表显示，死亡预测的比例之高令人震惊。他正在面对一个长期以来拒绝接受的现实。这些图表至少预测了10万到24万美国人将会死亡。
eg. More such lenient interpretations will ease a hellacious process for employers and workers.如果做出更多类似的解释，这项无比艰巨的工作对用人单位和工薪族来说就能变得容易一些。
A crisis that Mr. Trump had repeatedly asserted was "under control" and hoped would "miraculously" disappear has come to consume his presidency, presenting him with a challenge that he seems only now to be seeing more clearly.
The staggering numbers publicly outlined on Tuesday had forced him over the weekend to reverse his plan to reopen the country by Easter, but they were hardly new or surprising. Experts have been warning of such a possibility for weeks. But more than ever before, Mr. Trump seemed to acknowledge them.
"I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead, we're going to go through a very tough two weeks."
Afterward, he added: "We're going to start seeing some real light at the end of the tunnel. But this is going to be a very painful — very, very painful — two weeks."
Under the best-case scenario presented on Tuesday, Mr. Trump will see more Americans die from the coronavirus in the weeks and months to come than Presidents Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon saw die in the Korean and Vietnam Wars combined.
scenario 英 /səˈnɑːriəʊ/ 美 /səˈnærioʊ/
a nightmare scenario 最坏的可能
eg. The conflict degenerating into civil war is everybody's nightmarescenario.
That is a daunting realization for any president, one that left Mr. Trump now anticipating "the worst thing that the country has probably ever seen."
Mr. Trump said he played down the seriousness of the threat because he chose to be reassuring. "I want to give people hope," he said. "You know, I'm a cheerleader for the country."
He said longtime business associates were advising him not to react aggressively to the virus, presumably out of concern for what it could mean for the economy, which now faces certain recession.
"I've had many friends, business people, people with great actually common sense — they said, "Why don't we ride it out?'" Mr. Trump said without identifying them. "A lot of people have said, a lot of people have thought about it, ride it out, don't do anything, just ride it out and think of it as the flu. But it's not the flu. It's vicious."
The president did not explain on Tuesday why testing was so slow, nor did he explain why he waited to recommend canceling large events, closing businesses and schools and limiting group gatherings until after governors began ordering it themselves. Nor did he explain why he publicly declared that the country could reopen as early as Easter, only to reverse himself days later, if he understood all along how bad the situation could get.
publicly 英 /ˈpʌblɪkli/ 美 /ˈpʌblɪkli/
eg.He later apologized publicly for his remarks.
At the White House briefing on Tuesday, Dr. Fauci was asked whether the death toll could have been kept below the minimum 100,000 now forecast if social distancing guidelines had been put in place earlier. He said it depended on whether the virus had already arrived in the United States and spread further than was known early on.
All of which is why public health experts have said that early widespread testing would have been so critical. “In a perfect world, it would've been nice to know what was going on there," Dr. Fauci told Jim Acosta of CNN, referring to the earliest outbreaks in Asia. “We didn’t, but I believe, Jim, that we acted very, very early in that.”
Mr. Trump asserted that had he not blocked most travelers from China, the United States would have reached closer to the maximum projected death toll of up to 2.2 million. "When you look at it could have been 2.2 million people died and more if we did nothing, if we just did nothing," he said, then he and the country "have done a great job." In effect, he seemed to be setting up the argument that any death toll below that will be a validation of his handling of the crisis.
Whatever the eventual number will be, the pandemic of 2020 seems likely to rank with the deadliest of the past century. The worst came in 1918-20 and killed about 675,000 Americans, accounting for many of the military deaths attributed to World War I. Another pandemic in 1957-58 killed about 116,000 in the United States, and one in 1968 killed about 100,000. The H1N1 virus in 2009, for which Mr. Trump has assailed Mr. Obama's response, killed only 12,000. The ordinary flu has resulted in 12,000 to 61,000 deaths annually since 2010.
Mr. Trump and his administration have stepped up efforts in recent weeks, expanding testing and seeking to work with governors to address shortages of ventilators, masks and other medical equipment. The president has dispatched medical ships and Army engineers to help, moved to force General Motors to manufacture more ventilators and, after flirting with an early reopening, extended social distancing guidelines until the end of April. Governors have both welcomed the help and complained that it is inadequate.
Still, Mr. Trump, rarely a reflective person in public, mused about the human toll of the pandemic more than he did in the early weeks of the crisis apparently because it has hit his own circle. As he has in the past couple of days, he referred to an overwhelmed hospital in his childhood home of Queens and an unidentified friend he said had been hospitalized with the virus.
muse 英 /mjuːz/ 美 /mjuːz/
eg. "As a whole," she muses, "the 'organized church' turns me off."