On Tuesday, two men spoke publicly about the state of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.
One was President Donald Trump. The other was Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases. And the pictures they painted of the virus -- and how the country is dealing with it -- were wildly at odds.
Thanks to CNN's Ryan Struyk, we can compare what they said -- side by side. (Trump was speaking at an event focused on reopening schools in the fall. Fauci participated in a livestream press conference with Alabama Democratic Sen. Doug Jones.)
On the pandemic
Trump: "Well, I think we are in a good place."
Fauci: "We're facing a serious problem now."
On coronavirus testing
Trump: "We're almost up to 40 million in testing, which is unheard of."
Fauci: "This is the thing that is a little bit concerning: You say, well, we now have 37 million tests ... There are still lapses there where the dots are not being connected."
On the mortality rate
Trump: "If you look at the chart of deaths, deaths are way down."
Fauci: "It's a false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death."
Pretty different right?
So, who should we believe? The doctor widely recognized as the leading expert in infectious diseases who has been in this role since the 1980s and worked for six presidents, both Republicans and Democrats? Or the President who has made a career of hyperbole, exaggerations and untruth -- both in and out of office?
Tough call! Let's go to some facts!
Fact #1: The US reported 60,021 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That's the highest single-day total since the virus began in America.
Fact #3: A slew of research suggests that even if you don't die from Covid-19, the virus can have long-lasting -- and perhaps permanent -- impacts on your health.
Trump, faced with these facts, opted to attack Fauci's judgment.
"I disagree with him," Trump told Gray Television's Greta Van Susteren on Tuesday. "Dr. Fauci said don't wear masks and now he says wear them. And he said numerous things. Don't close off China. Don't ban China. I did it anyway. I didn't listen to my experts and I banned China. We would have been in much worse shape."
Look, this shouldn't be a close contest. Fauci has science and facts on his side -- not to mention the fact that he has no obvious underlying agenda to cast the pandemic as worse than it actually is. Trump, on the other hand, is neither a doctor nor an infectious disease expert and has massive political motivation to suggest that this is all getting better -- and fast. (Trump's poll numbers have tumbled badly nationally and in swing states as the public has soured on how he and his administration have dealt with the pandemic.)
That we as a country can't agree that, on this matter at least, Fauci is clearly the voice we should be listening to speaks to how far down the partisan rabbit hole we are. And how the politicization of the virus -- from its severity to the best treatments for it to whether or not to wear a mask -- has cost lives, and will cost more.
A pandemic doesn't care whether you are a Democrat or a Republican. Or a Trump supporter. Or whether you live in Arizona or New York City. The only way we can effectively deal with it then is to have a clear-eyed view of facts and science -- and stick to them.
Which means listening to Fauci more and Trump much, much less.