Apr 29, 2018

Scoop: Elaine Chao the enforcer

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

When he needs to send a message to his foes, Mitch McConnell is the master of subtlety.

What I'm hearing: At the Republican Study Committee meeting this past week, RSC Chairman Mark Walker told members the following story, according to a source in the room and another source briefed on the conversation.

  • On April 17, Walker put out a press release attacking McConnell for opposing the White House’s plan to reverse some of the spending from the latest government funding bill. The release said McConnell cared more about his “backroom deal with Democrats” than about fiscal conservatism.
  • Three days later, Walker had a fundraiser with Mike Pence in North Carolina. Pence and Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao flew down to join him.
  • On the tarmac, Chao said to Walker: "Do you know who I am married to?" Walker replied that yes, of course he knew. Then Chao said: "He wanted you to know that he reads everything you put out."
  • Walker gulped and said, “Understood.” And that was that.  

A Chao spokeswoman said: "We have nothing to add."

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 1,513,358 — Total deaths: 88,415 — Total recoveries: 329,329Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 430,376 — Total deaths: 14,739 — Total recoveries: 23,707Map.
  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: New York has reported more cases than the most-affected countries in Europe. Chicago's Cook County jail is largest-known source of coronavirus in U.S.
  5. Business: One-third of U.S. jobs are at risk of disappearing, mostly affecting low-income workers.
  6. World: 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: COVID-19 is underscoring the connection between air pollution and dire outcomes from respiratory diseases.
  8. Tech: A new report recommends stimulus spending to help close the digital divide revealed by social distancing.
  9. 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.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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U.S. coronavirus updates: New York tops previous day's record death toll

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

New York's death toll surged to its highest one-day total on Wednesday — beating the previous day's record. 779 people died in the state in 24 hours. The state has reported more cases than the most-affected countries in Europe.

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 43 mins ago - Health

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 deeperArrow4 hours ago - Health