Scientist Dr. Anthony Fauci and pillow man Mike Lindell both have Donald Trump's ear. Fortunately for all of America, Fauci is the one Trump apparently listens to, and that's what really matters.
While Fauci set Trump straight with his unvarnished science-based counsel and led the president to take actions likely unpopular with his hard-core base, Lindell was allowed to take the presidential podium to claim that Trump was sent by God to save us all.
Rejoice, Trumpers, rejoice!
That's what happened Tuesday evening at the COVID19 briefing in the Rose Garden, when Trump introduced Lindell so he could talk about how his "My Pillow" company is making masks and gowns for hospitals.
But then, Lindell launched into a quickie sermon about Trump's greatness and how he was sent by the Almighty to bring the nation back from the dungeon of despair.
"God gave us grace on Nov. 8, 2016, to change the course we were on," Lindell said, noting the day of Trump's election. "God had been taken out of our schools and lives. A nation had turned its back on God. I encourage you to use this time at home to get back in the word, read our Bibles and spend time with our families."
As Lindell was permitted to stand behind a podium bearing the presidential seal, he said Trump "gave us so much hope," by creating a strong economy -- you know, the one that Trump inherited from President Obama -- that since has cratered because of the coronavirus.
"With our great president, vice president, and this administration and all the great people in this country praying daily, we will get through this and get back to a place that’s stronger and safer than ever," said the pillow-man.
Thank God for Trump? If you are a religious person who thanks God, it should be for Dr. Fauci. Were it not for his fearless presentation of science-based facts to Trump, all of the precautions that were just extended until April 30 likely would have been lifted in time for Easter, possibly with consequences even more catastrophic than they already are.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Fauci explained how he was able to convince Trump to extend the social distancing and other precautionary measures that, in effect, have shut down much of the country and the economy. When presented with Fauci's models that projected upwards of 2 million American deaths if restrictions were not imposed, Trump decided to extend them until at least the end of April.
Was it tough to convince Trump, who previously had said everything would be fine? Fauci was asked by Vanity Fair.
"Well, I just stick very strictly to the science and the evidence base," Fauci replied. "I’m not new to this. I’ve been doing this now for over 30 years, starting with the HIV/AIDS issues with President [Ronald] Reagan, and I have found, and it’s proven time and time again: stick with the science, stay completely out of the politics. I have no ideology. My ideology is health, public health, and science. You do that. You can make it uncomplicated. If you get involved in political rhetoric, then it gets complicated."
Fauci added, "I take the tack that I will say what’s true and whatever happens, happens. As a matter of fact, in fairness to him, the president has listened very carefully to what I’ve said. He’s taken my recommendations almost invariably, and he has never really contradicted things that I have recommended to him. He listens. I mean, there’s a lot out there in the press about conflict between the both of us. There’s absolutely none. There really isn’t."
Let's hope Trump continues to listen to Fauci, and not the likes of the pillow-man, Mike Lindell.
A Bitter Pill
Meanwhile, Professor Emil Verner, of the MIT Sloan School of Management, said his research demonstrates the wisdom of extending those restrictions. His team's analysis of the 1918 Flu Pandemic indicates that while social distancing and quarantines are temporarily painful to the economy, economic activity will increase once the pandemic is over.
In other words, it's bitter, but necessary, medicine.
Comparing the speed and duration of NPIs (non-pharmaceutical interventions like quarantines) across cities, the researchers found that cities that intervened more aggressively performed better economically the year following the pandemic.
Reacting 10 days earlier to the arrival of the pandemic in a city led to an increase in manufacturing employment by around 5 percent after the pandemic. Similarly, implementing NPIs for an additional 50 days increased manufacturing employment by 6.5 percent.
“It’s clear from this data that NPIs work and there is no evidence that they lead to a worse economy," said Verner. "They are the most beneficial way to protect our health and the health of our economy. We can’t go back and act more quickly in the COVID-19 pandemic, but we can apply this information now. Lifting restrictions too early could make the economy worse by leading to a resurgence of the virus in an even more destructive pandemic.”
“This isn’t a choice about saving lives or saving the economy," the professor stressed. "We won’t have a normal economy if we lift restrictions too early.”