Feb 7, 2018

The costs of gutting the drug control policy office

President Trump holding up a signed memorandum on combatting the opioid crisis last year. Photo: Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images

The West Wing has thoroughly marginalized the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Politico reported yesterday, pushing aside seasoned policy staff while presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway relies on political aides to craft the White House’s response to the opioid crisis.

Why it matters: ONDCP is a part of the administration, similar to the White House budget office, and would normally be running point on issues like opioids. The opioid crisis is ravaging American communities at a shocking rate. It has gone on so long, and gotten so severe, that it clearly needs a public-policy response.

That means there’s also a political risk to the West Wing’s strategy here, especially if, as expected, its budget proposal calls for steep cuts to ONDCP.

  • Several of the most vulnerable 2018 Democrats come from states that have been hit especially hard by the opioid epidemic: Joe Manchin in West Virginia, Claire McCaskill in Missouri, Sherrod Brown in Ohio, etc.
  • Those are also all Trump states, and those Democrats are trying to strike a delicate balance: turning out the Democratic base without turning off their larger blocs of Trump-leaning constituents.
  • If you were one of those Democrats, striking that balance would be a lot easier once you could credibly beat up on the White House for sidelining and trying to de-fund the office of drug control policy while your state is in the depths of an addiction crisis.

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U.S. coronavirus updates: Chicago jail is largest-known source of coronavirus

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

Chicago's Cook County jail is the largest-known source of coronavirus infections in the U.S., the New York Times reports. The White House has identified Chicago's metro area as a risk for exponential growth of the virus.

Why it matters: Public health officials have warned this would be a particularly deadly week for America, even as New York began to see declining trends of hospitalizations and ICU admissions.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 47 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 1,504,971 — Total deaths: 87,984 — Total recoveries: 318,068Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 424,945 — Total deaths: 14,529 — Total recoveries: 23,292Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Top Trump administration officials had been developing a plan to give cloth masks to huge numbers of Americans, but the idea lost traction amid heavy internal skepticism.
  4. States latest: Chicago's Cook County jail is largest-known source of coronavirus in U.S.
  5. Business update: One-third of U.S. jobs are at risk of disappearing, mostly affecting low-income workers.
  6. World update: WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged countries to put politics aside "if you don’t want to have many more body bags.”
  7. Environment update: COVID-19 is underscoring the connection between air pollution and dire outcomes from respiratory diseases.
  8. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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The pandemic and pollution

New York City's skyline on a smoggy day in May 2019. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

COVID-19 is underscoring the connection between air pollution and dire outcomes from respiratory diseases.

Why it matters: Old-fashioned air pollution is almost certainly the single biggest environmental health threat, contributing to the deaths of some 7 million people a year according to the WHO, making it comparable to deaths from smoking.

Go deeperArrow3 hours ago - Health