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Dr. Fauci emerges as truth teller for the left and right during coronavirus crisis

Data: Newswhip; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

If you feel like you're suddenly spending a surprising amount of your days thinking and talking about Anthony Fauci, you're not alone. He's become the third-most talked about person online, according to data from NewsWhip provided to Axios.

Why it matters: Fauci, the director of the National Institutes of Health office that deals with infectious diseases, has quickly become a household name, and one of the few household names with (mostly) bipartisan credibility.


By the numbers: A Fox News poll last week shows Fauci has a 77% approval rating — well above any figure in the U.S. government.

What they're saying: Of the top 40 stories about Fauci by interactions (likes, comments, shares) on social media, none had negative sentiment, and several were positively glowing. Those stories included:

Between the lines: Fauci has been able to strike a rare balance that has mostly avoided alienating either side of the political aisle during the coronavirus crisis.

Yes, but: The internet is still the internet. Fauci recently received a security detail, in response to "threats as well as unwelcome communications from fervent admirers," per the Washington Post.

The bottom line: In these polarized times, few people are trusted across the political spectrum — particularly when they’re standing behind a podium at the White House. Fauci has proven to be the exception.

Fri, 03 Apr 2020 09:00:32 +0000


The push to multiply limited medical supplies

Health care workers and the federal government are scrambling to stretch limited supplies of medical equipment.

Why it matters: We can’t manufacture enough medical masks or ventilators in time to meet the enormous surge in demand that's expected to hit in mid-April. The next-best thing is trying to make what we have last as long as possible.


As it became clear that medical supply shortages would be a problem, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released strategies for stretching mask supplies, which included reusing masks or, in truly desperate times, using bandanas and scarves as substitutes.

What's next: States, hospitals and the federal government are trying to make existing supplies last while they desperately try to find more equipment.

On the ground, the effort is even more intense.

Yes, but: All of this may be too late.

Fri, 03 Apr 2020 09:00:01 +0000


Coronavirus dashboard: Catch up fast

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,014,673 — Total deaths: 52,973 — Total recoveries: 210,335Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 244,678 — Total deaths: 5,911 — Total recoveries: 9,058Map.
  3. 2020 updates: The Democratic National Committee said its July convention will be postponed until August because of the coronavirus. A federal judge declined to delay Wisconsin's April 7 primary election.
  4. Jobs latest: Coronavirus unemployment numbers are like a natural disaster hitting every state.
  5. Public health latest: Anthony Fauci called for all states across the U.S. to issue stay-at-home orders. The FDA will allow blood donations from gay men after 3-month waiting period, citing "urgent need."
  6. Business latest: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said oil companies are eligible for aid from new lending programs the Federal Reserve is setting up, but not direct loans from his department.
  7. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Navy removes captain of aircraft carrier who sounded alarm about coronavirus.
  8. 1 future thing: In developing countries, consequences of COVID-19 could be deeper and far more difficult to recover from.
  9. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Fri, 03 Apr 2020 02:04:26 +0000


Mark Meadows considers new White House press secretary

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has privately discussed bringing on Pentagon spokesperson Alyssa Farah or Trump campaign spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany as a new White House press secretary, two sources familiar with the talks tell Axios.

Why it matters: Meadows' start on Tuesday as Trump's new chief presents a chance to overhaul a press shop that's kept a low profile since President Trump ended the tradition of daily press secretary briefings.


What we're hearing: Meadows met with Farah in recent days and has discussed the possibility of the job directly with her.

The backstory:

Fri, 03 Apr 2020 02:02:23 +0000


CNN: Fauci advises all states issue stay-at-home orders

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci recommended on Thursday that all states across the U.S. implement stay-at-home orders, at a CNN town hall.

Why it matters: The recommendation stands in contrast to President Trump's calls for "flexibility." Nearly 4o states have issued stay-at-home orders to promote social distancing as a way to combat the novel coronavirus — but the orders vary in strictness and duration.


What he's saying: "I don't understand why that's not happening," Fauci said, per CNN, of a nationwide stay-at-home order. "As you said, the tension between federally mandated versus states rights to do what they want is something I don't want to get into. But if you look at what is going on in this country, I do not understand why we are not doing that. We really should be."

Background: The Trump administration has directed Americans to "work or engage in schooling from home whenever possible" for roughly a month, to "avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips, and social visits," and to "avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people."

Go deeper... U.S. coronavirus updates: Unemployment filings break record, death toll nears 6,000

Fri, 03 Apr 2020 01:07:56 +0000


World coronavirus updates: Confirmed cases top 1 million

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

Novel coronavirus infections have surpassed the 1 million mark after "near exponential growth" that's reached "almost every country," World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Thursday.

The big picture: Policy responses to the global coronavirus crisis have been every-country-for-itself and — in the case of the U.S. and China — tinged with geopolitics. But, the scientific work underway to understand the virus and develop a vaccine has been globalized on an unprecedented scale.


The latest: The global death toll exceeded 50,000 on Thursday, per Johns Hopkins data. "The number of deaths has more than doubled in the past week," Tedros said during a WHO briefing. Italy has the highest reported count of 14,000 deaths.

Economic impact: The virus has caused a "global shock" and significant economic pain "seems unavoidable in all countries," the World Bank said in an update for East Asia and the Pacific on Monday.

Coronavirus symptoms: Fever, cough, shortness of breath.

Editors note: This article will be updated regularly with breaking news.

Go deeper... The coronavirus: What you can do

Fri, 03 Apr 2020 00:40:53 +0000


U.S. coronavirus updates: Unemployment filings break record

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Over the past two weeks, 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment, with millions to come. The jobless hits right now are like a natural disaster striking every state at the same time.

The state of play: Payments to Americans from the $2.2 trillion stimulus package will be distributed in mid-April, but those without IRS direct deposit accounts may not receive checks until August, according to a House Ways and Means Committee memo first reported by CNN and confirmed by Axios.


By the numbers: The coronavirus has now killed more than 5,900 people in the U.S. Over 243,000 people are now infected, while just over 9,000 have recovered.

What's happening: Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recommended that all states across the U.S. implement stay-at-home orders.

The big picture: COVID-19 is expected to peak in the U.S. in two weeks, but many states like Virginia and Maryland will see their individual peaks well after that. Nearly 40 state governors and the District to Columbia have ordered residents to stay home to limit COVID-19 community spread.

Between the lines: U.S. testing capacity has increased as more commercial labs pledge to up production. More available tests mean more coronavirus cases will be reported.

What to watch: In a major pivot in tone, Trump said Tuesday it's "going to be a very painful two weeks," with projections indicating the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans — even with social distancing guidelines in place.

Go deeper: How Asian countries are beating back the coronavirus

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout. Check back for the latest.

Fri, 03 Apr 2020 00:35:54 +0000


Biden's team is working out details for a call with Trump

Joe Biden said during a virtual fundraiser on Thursday night that his staff is working with President Trump and his team to set up a call about the coronavirus and how he can help.

The state of play: "Yesterday, the Trump administration suggested I should call the president to offer my help," Biden said, chuckling. "Well, I’m happy to hear he’ll take my call; my team's working with him to set it up."


Why it matters: A call would mark a surprising shift in behavior between the two men, who have otherwise been critical of one another on personal and political matters.

President Trump said Wednesday he would "absolutely" take a call with Biden.

Thu, 02 Apr 2020 23:40:39 +0000


The month coronavirus shook the world

It’s already hard to envision the world we lived in one month ago.

Flashback: A WHO report from March 1 shows a total of 7,169 coronavirus cases outside of China, with just seven countries having recorded even a single fatality and the total death toll under 3,000, including China.


Flash forward: The global case-count has now topped 1 million.

April is going to be far worse.

What to watch: Citizens of hard-hit countries have been offered little clarity as to when they'll be able to return to something approximating the lives they led one month ago.

The bottom line: Our way of life changed in fundamental ways in less than a month. The return to "normal" will likely take far longer.

Go deeper: Coronavirus is being used to suppress press freedoms globally

Thu, 02 Apr 2020 23:16:21 +0000


Coronavirus could hit developing countries hardest

The coronavirus is spreading most widely in countries that should be among the best equipped to handle it. There's no reason to expect that to remain the case.

Where things stand: 88% of new coronavirus cases confirmed on Wednesday came within the OECD club of wealthy nations, which together account for just 17% of the world's population. While that data is based on uneven and inadequate testing, Europe and North America are clearly in the eye of the storm.


What they're saying:

The big picture: In many poor countries that are now imposing lockdowns, millions live in cramped conditions without regular access to running water — and many simply can't afford to stay home. The effectiveness of those policies is thus uncertain, and the economic pain is severe.

The bottom line: This virus has brought unprecedented challenges to the Western world. But in the developing world, the consequences could be deeper still and far more difficult to recover from.

Go deeper: Debt crisis awaits in emerging markets

Thu, 02 Apr 2020 23:11:59 +0000


The Humanity First push for a coronavirus vaccine

Policy responses to the global coronavirus crisis have been every-country-for-itself and — in the case of the U.S. and China — tinged with geopolitics.

The flipside: The scientific work underway to understand the virus and develop a vaccine has been globalized on an unprecedented scale.


Zoom in: Trump has boasted that in the race toward a vaccine, “America will get it done!”

The good news: The global scientific community has perhaps never been so singularly devoted to one issue, and borders have not been a major barrier to that work.

But, but, but: Nationalism and geopolitics could still come into play in the eventual distribution of a vaccine, Axios’ Alison Snyder notes.

Thu, 02 Apr 2020 23:04:37 +0000


Trump attacks Schumer for impeachment in letter about coronavirus crisis

President Trump accused Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of being "missing in action" during the coronavirus crisis, writing in a scathing letter on Thursday that Schumer's focus on the "ridiculous impeachment hoax" resulted in New York being ill-prepared for the pandemic.

Why it matters: It's a blistering response to Schumer urging Trump to assign a senior military officer to enforce the Defense Production Act to produce more medical supplies.


The big picture: The president formally authorized the use of the Defense Production Act to ramp up domestic ventilator production on Thursday, and said he had appointed White House trade adviser Peter Navarro to enforce the act last week.

What they're saying:

The bottom line: The letter, which appears on White House letterhead, reads much like a Trump tweet would. The president finishes by writing: "I’ve known you for many years, but I never knew how bad a Senator you are for the state of New York, until I became President.

Read the letter.

Go deeper: Fixing America's broken coronavirus supply chain

Thu, 02 Apr 2020 22:49:55 +0000


Judge declines to delay Wisconsin April 7 primary, extends absentee deadline

A federal judge on Thursday declined to delay Wisconsin's April 7 primary election, saying he doesn't have the authority to do so.

Why it matters: Wisconsin is the only state scheduled to vote next Tuesday that has not yet delayed its primary.


Details: District Court Judge William Conley denied an emergency request by state Democrats to postpone the election, saying the state legislature and governor should do so. Conley accused the state of "endangering the population" by moving forward with the contest.

Yes, but: Conley also required officials to count all absentee ballots received by April 13 and extended the deadline for voters to request absentee ballots to 5pm this Friday. He also removed a requirement for absentee voters to have their ballot signed by a witness.

Worth noting: The Democratic National Convention, which was set to be hosted in July in Milwaukee, was postponed earlier on Thursday until August.

Go deeper: All the states that have delayed primaries

Thu, 02 Apr 2020 21:15:05 +0000


Navy removes captain of aircraft carrier who sounded alarm about coronavirus

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly relieved the captain of nuclear aircraft carrier the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt after he sent a letter to officials pleading for help when members of his crew contracted the coronavirus.

The big picture: Capt. Brett Crozier's four-page letter was leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this week, quickly garnering national attention after Crozier pleaded for more resources and space to quarantine crew members offshore.


Modly said at a press conference that Crozier went outside the chain of command and "at no time relayed" the levels of alarm that he wrote in his letter:

Background: By Wednesday, nearly 100 of the nearly 5,000 crew members had tested positive for the coronavirus.

What they're saying: House Armed Services Committee Leadership released a statement Thursday, saying the decision to relieve Crozier of his command was "an overreaction."

"The COVID pandemic presents a set of new challenges and there is much we still do not know. Captain Crozier was justifiably concerned about the health and safety of his crew, but he did not handle the immense pressure appropriately. However, relieving him of his command is an overreaction."

This story is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Thu, 02 Apr 2020 21:06:58 +0000


The coronavirus unemployment numbers are like a natural disaster hitting every state

Data: U.S. Department of Labor; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Over the past two weeks, 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment, with millions more to come.

Why it matters: The jobless hits right now are like a natural disaster hitting every state at the same time.


Hurricane Katrina killed more than 1,800 people and cost an estimated $161 billion in current dollars, making it the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history, Axios' Bryan Walsh reports.

The big picture: In America, losing your job isn't just losing a paycheck — for many, it also means losing your health insurance.

The bottom line: The crush of applications is so bad that some states aren't able to keep up.

Thu, 02 Apr 2020 20:57:55 +0000


Americans without IRS direct deposit may not receive stimulus checks for months

Coronavirus stimulus payments will begin to be distributed in mid-April, but Americans without direct deposit accounts set up with the IRS may not receive checks until August, according to a House Ways and Means Committee memo first reported by CNN and confirmed by Axios.

Why it matters: The IRS estimates that only about 70 million of the roughly 150 million Americans eligible for the payments have direct deposit information on file, according to CNN.


Details: The IRS will begin depositing payments to 60 million Americans in mid-April, according to the memo. But paper checks won't start being mailed until the week of May 4, and they'll go out at a rate of 5 million checks per week.

The timelines are based on "extensive conversations with the IRS and the Department of Treasury," according to the memo. But they could change as discussions continue between the Trump administration and Congress.

Thu, 02 Apr 2020 20:34:15 +0000


FDA allows blood donations from gay men after 3-month waiting period, citing "urgent need"

Gay men, bisexual men and their female partners can now donate blood after a three-month waiting period, instead of the previously required 12-month span, the Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday.

What's happening: The Red Cross says the novel coronavirus pandemic has caused "a severe blood shortage," as more states issue stay-at-home orders and cities enter lockdowns to fight the spread of COVID-19.


Details: The new policy is effective immediately, per the agency's guidance, and is "expected to remain in place after the COVID-19 pandemic ends," the FDA said.

Of note: People who have traveled to malaria-endemic countries can now donate blood after a three-month waiting period under the new policy, as well as those with recent tattoos and piercings.

Go deeper: U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll tops 5,000

Thu, 02 Apr 2020 19:26:02 +0000


Trump campaign demands Sessions stop campaigning on ties to president

The Trump campaign sent a letter to former Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday demanding that he stop touting his support of the president during his run for his old Senate seat in Alabama, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: Trump has had a rift with Sessions dating back to the former attorney general's recusal from the Russia investigation — a decision the president relentlessly attacked him for publicly. Trump has endorsed Sessions' opponent, former college football coach Tommy Tuberville, in the GOP primary runoff election.


Details: “The Trump campaign has learned that your U.S. Senate campaign is circulating mailers like the one I have enclosed, in which you misleadingly promote your connections to and ‘support’ of President Trump,” Trump campaign chief operating officer Michael Glassner wrote in the letter.

What they're saying: Sessions campaign spokesperson Gail Gitcho told the Times the fundraising letter Glassner is referring to was sent before Trump endorsed Tuberville. Gitcho added that "Alabamans don’t like to be told what to do.”

What's next: Alabama's primary runoff, which was originally scheduled for March 31, was rescheduled to July 14 due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Thu, 02 Apr 2020 19:09:17 +0000


How pandemics are worse than wars

What happens after a war? Two weeks ago, that question may have resulted in cautiously optimistic answers about America's ability to bounce back from its current crisis. Now, things aren't so clear.

Why it matters: Wars are — generally — over when they're over; then the post-war rebuilding can begin. Pandemics don't work that way; their effects reverberate for decades.


What's happening: Billions of people around the world are living in fear of a lethal and invisible enemy. They're sequestering themselves inside their homes and avoiding human contact not just because they are being told to do so by their governments, but because they have internalized the need to do so out of simple self-preservation.

Between the lines: "Getting righteous about other people’s inadequate social distancing is how we manage our fear," Leslie Jamison writes in the NYRB. That, too, is visible in New Zealand, as well as all over Twitter.

The big picture: Americans who lived through the Great Depression were scarred for life by the experience, and they exhibited a level of caution and frugality that only their boomer children would eventually overcome.

The bottom line: It's easier to switch an economy off than to switch it on.

Thu, 02 Apr 2020 18:49:26 +0000


House GOP leader: Startups will be eligible for small business loans in coronavirus stimulus

Venture capital-backed startups will become eligible for $350 billion in small business loans guaranteed by the federal government, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told the Axios Pro Rata Podcast on Thursday: "I just got off the phone with Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and this is going to be solved."


In context: The Paycheck Protection Program, which provides forgivable loans of up to $10 million for companies with fewer than 500 employees, was included in the $2 trillion stimulus plan passed last week. But it also maintained something called the "affiliation rule" for most applicants, which likely excluded many small businesses that count venture capitalists among their shareholders.

Between the lines: This does leave out possibly thousands of private equity-owned small businesses. McCarthy says there could be future efforts, or maybe even a subsequent piece of legislation, to address such companies, but for now he and Mnuchin agreed that "control" is the simplest and fairest way to determine eligibility.

Go deeper: Bipartisan push could save private equity-owned small businesses

Thu, 02 Apr 2020 17:49:42 +0000


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