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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

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
41 mins ago - Economy & Business

How the tech stock selloff is hurting average Americans

Expand chart
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Investors holding the ultra-popular Nasdaq 100 and S&P 500 index funds have been hard hit over the last two weeks as tech shares have been roiled by rising U.S. Treasury yields.

Why it matters: Even though the economy is growing and many U.S. stocks are performing well, most investors are seeing their wealth decline because major indexes no longer reflect the overall economy or even a broad swath of public companies — they reflect the performance of a few of the country's biggest companies.

1 hour ago - World

UN rights chief: At least 54 killed, 1,700 detained since Myanmar coup

A Feb. 7 protest in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo: Getty Images/Getty Images

Police and military officers in Myanmar have killed at least 54 people during anti-coup protests, while "arbitrarily" detaining over 1,700 people, United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said Thursday.

Why it matters: Protesters have demonstrating across Myanmar for nearly a month, demanding the restoration of democracy after the country's military leaders overthrew its democratically elected government on Feb. 1.

2 hours ago - Health

The danger of a fourth wave

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Note: Anomalous Arkansas case data from Feb. 28 was not included in the calculated change; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. may be on the verge of another surge in coronavirus cases, despite weeks of good news.

The big picture: Nationwide, progress against the virus has stalled. And some states are ditching their most important public safety measures even as their outbreaks are getting worse.