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President Trump shows off a COVID-19 test kit by Abbott in the Rose Garden yesterday. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Scenes out of New York, including bleak hospital images played on Fox News, struck a nerve with President Trump and caused him to drop his aspiration of reopening America by Easter, senior administration officials tell Axios.

Between the lines: By the time the president's medical advisers showed him modeling on Sunday of predicted deaths, emotional and economic factors had been bearing on him for days.

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also played a key role, according to two sources familiar with the conversations.
  • Mnuchin told Trump the Fed's actions and the $2.2 trillion congressional rescue bill would sufficiently cushion the short-term blow once the money gets into people's hands.
  • Mnuchin's message, according to one of those sources: "If you’re going to put more than $5 trillion out in a quarter, you’re going to make up for enough of that activity."

The distancing extension became, in Trump's mind, less risky than rolling back the guidance, even though he remained fixated on the economy and the stock market, according to another source who spoke with Trump.

  • The source said Trump had already signaled to the market that he's willing to spend whatever it takes to keep the economy afloat. And he's already signaled strongly that he doesn’t like the idea of an extended shutdown.
  • "Better to overextend now and reopen sooner than people expect," the source said. "The fact he’s already signaled he doesn’t like it and [the stimulus] act passed seems enough for the market."

Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, his top medical advisers on the virus, made presentations in the Oval Office on Sunday.

  • Birx showed a few slides and shared with Trump the modeling of predicted deaths that he disclosed shortly thereafter in his Rose Garden press conference.
  • That meeting was set up as the official "decisional" meeting, aides said. And the stats left a dramatic impression on Trump.
  • But the New York scenes on TV had personalized the situation. And Mnuchin's input had convinced him the safer course was to give the shutdown more time.
  • So Trump's mind was already made up. It was a very short meeting.

Go deeper

14 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

16 hours ago - Health

AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.

Updated 19 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.