May 3, 2020

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

✒️ Hello, Sunday! Today is World Press Freedom Day.

🗳️ Election Day is six months from today ... Nov. 3.

🇷🇺 Situational awareness: Russia’s National Guard deploys helicopters, drones in Moscow to monitor compliance with lockdown measures during holidays this week. AP

🔬 You're invited! Tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. ET, I'm hosting a 30-minute virtual event on the future of cures with health care business reporter Bob Herman. Register here

  • We'd added a guest: Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
1 big thing: Front-line coronavirus leaders

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

When the history of the coronavirus pandemic is written, it'll be remembered as a time when the strongest leadership had to come from the ground up, managing editor David Nather writes.

  • Why they matter: Governors, mayors and other local officials have gotten the best reviews — for acting swiftly to head off worse outcomes, or simply for letting science guide responses under intense political pressure.
  • Andy Slavitt, a former Medicare chief in the Obama administration, said: "The commonality is: Did you have a great health commissioner and scientists, and did you listen to them?"

Here's a sampling, not an exhaustive list:

Governors:

  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D): He admitted to Jonathan Swan on "Axios on HBO" that he wishes he had sounded the alarm sooner. But he still tops the lists for the public health experts we talked to for this piece, because he has led a turnaround and is well regarded for his fact-filled briefings.
  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R): The moderate Republican moved ahead of other states to shut down schools and impose other restrictions, and emphasized the need to listen to medical experts.
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D): He acted quickly enough to prevent the surge that New York saw, though health advocates have recently become more critical of his approach.
  • Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R): He has earned respect for his efforts to expand testing, including universal testing at nursing homes. He even secured 500,000 test kits from South Korea.
  • Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D): She was the first governor to close schools for the year, and stuck to it despite drawing sharp criticism from Republican lawmakers who said she was overstating the danger.
  • Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R): He led one of the first state efforts to create an aggressive contact tracing program.

Local officials:

  • Sara Cody, Santa Clara County public health officer: She’s the medical official who arranged the seven-county lockdown that helped the Bay Area get ahead of a potentially devastating surge.
  • Paul TenHaken, Sioux Falls mayor (R): He has balanced South Dakota’s resistance to mandatory restrictions with the public health needs of his city, where a Smithfield pork processing plant became a hot spot.
  • Jenny Durkan, Seattle mayor (D): Axios' Kim Hart notes that she was the first mayor in the eye of the storm, and navigated it with transparent communication.
  • G.T. Bynum, Tulsa mayor (R): He said he's prepared to declare any business that violates state guidelines "a health nuisance and shut it down entirely."
  • Lori Lightfoot, Chicago mayor (D): She wins praise for focusing on the outbreak at the county jail and hammering the stay-at-home message.
  • Francis Suarez, Miami mayor (R): "If you’re coming for spring break, go home." (He spent 18 days in quarantine during his own battle with the virus.)
  • Michelle De La Isla, Topeka mayor (D): She has focused on addressing the needs of vulnerable people.

Share this list.

  • 📬 Who should we add? Just reply to this email or drop me a line: mike@axios.com.
2. Oracle of Omaha: "Huge debt" to Dr. Fauci
Screenshot from Yahoo Finance

In a captivating tour de force that livestreamed for more than four hours yesterday evening, Warren Buffett opened his virtual Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting with a salute to Dr. Anthony Fauci:

Personally I feel extraordinarily good about being able to listen to Dr. Fauci, whom I'd never heard of a year ago. I think we're very, very fortunate as a country to have somebody [who] at 79 years of age, appears be able to work 24 hours a day and keep a good humor about him and communicate in a very, very straightforward manner about fairly complex subjects — and tell you when he knows something and when he doesn't know something. ...
I do feel I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Dr. Fauci for educating and informing me — actually along with my friend Bill Gates, too — and I know I get it from a straight-shooter when I get it from either one of those.

Video.

3. If you read only 1 thing: "The Greenwich Rebellion"
Photo illustration by Paul Sahre/The New Yorker

The New Yorker's Evan Osnos, one of our time's walk-off reporter/writers, vivisects his hometown for "How Greenwich Republicans Learned to Love Trump":

From afar, it is easy to misread the politics of the place: like much of America’s coasts, the Gold Coast has swung left, culturally and politically, since the days of Prescott Bush. ... But that portrait — of liberal cosmopolitans appalled by Trump — obscures a potent element of American politics: the executive class of the Republican Party. ...
Understanding how he retains the overwhelming support of Republicans requires an accounting of not only what he promised Americans at the bottom but also what he provides Americans at the top.
The story of Trump’s rise is often told as a hostile takeover. In truth, it is something closer to a joint venture, in which members of America’s élite accepted the terms of Trumpism as the price of power. Long before anyone imagined that Trump might become President, a generation of unwitting patrons paved the way for him. From Greenwich and places like it, they launched a set of financial, philanthropic, and political projects that have changed American ideas about government, taxes, and the legitimacy of the liberal state.

Jim Campbell, an early out-of-the-closet Trump supporter in town, recalls thinking: "He says everything I think."

  • Treat yourself, including Evan's account of growing up on Round Hill Road, where so many neighbors were ensnared in financial shenanigans "that a local blogger nicknamed our street "Rogues Hill Road.'"
4. Pictures of America
Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Above: The Ferry family of Chantilly, Va., were in the middle of taking a family photo near the Marine Corps War Memorial yesterday when they were surprised by a second flyover by the Navy Blue Angels and Air Force Thunderbirds, in a salute to frontline COVID-19 responders.

Below: Amateur middleweight boxer Kevens Desroches stays in shape through backyard sparring with trainer Matt Happaney in Mineola, Long Island.

Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images
Photo: Nam Y. Huh/AP

Above: Protesters rally against the Illinois stay-at-home order, outside the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago on Friday.

Below: Kilroy's Haircutters in Brunswick, Maine, where Gov. Janet Mills allowed barber shops and some other businesses to reopen Friday under strict guidelines.

Photo: Robert F. Bukaty/AP
5. 📊 Poll question of the day
Recent RNC polling showed that voters in ... 17 swing states — a list that includes Arizona, Florida and North Carolina — see the two men as essentially equal when it comes to being "weak or confused," 45 percent saw Biden as more weak and confused, while 44 percent saw Trump that way.
— "Trump campaign divided over how to attack Biden amid worries over troubling poll numbers," by the Washington Post's Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey

Keep reading.

6. 🗞️ Time capsule

"The new virus is a swift executioner," the Washington Post reports in this snapshot of our times, which takes up three inside pages of the paper.

In the war in Vietnam, 58,209 Americans were killed between 1960 and 1975. In the battle against the novel coronavirus, 58,760 Americans died in April alone. Both crises leeched into existing fissures, exacerbating political and social divisions. But the war analogy goes only so far; in this conflict, we have no big guns, no ready defense. All we can do at this stage is hide and try to manage the damage.

Keep reading.

7. Inside Trump's Lincoln Memorial moment
The Navy Blue Angels and Air Force Thunderbirds fly over the Lincoln Memorial yesterday. Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images

Fox News Channel gives Axios readers this look behind tonight's virtual town hall with President Trump, "America Together: Returning to Work" — 7 to 9 p.m. ET from the Lincoln Memorial, with Trump answering viewer questions from 7:15 to 8:45:

  • President Trump and the co-moderators, Martha MacCallum and Bret Baier, will be socially distanced, with a virtual audience.
  • Fox says 1,000+ viewer submissions have come in by email, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Martha MacCallum, anchor and executive editor of "The Story" (7 p.m. weeknights) said:

  • "We will hear from Americans across the country, who want answers about their businesses, their jobs, and what the future holds. From medicine and vaccines, to our relationship with China, COVID-19 has forced big questions."

Bret Baier — chief political anchor, and anchor and executive editor of "Special Report" (6 p.m. weeknights) — said:

  • "Our last town hall with President Trump [in March] in Scranton, Pa., had solid audience questions ... If we can again cut through the noise and get to substance with tough but fair questions, we will be successful again."
8. 1 smile to go: Meals on wings
Photo: Michael Kopack Jr. via AP

This brown-headed nuthatch bird was spotted last Sunday by Michael Kopack Jr., who put up a birdhouse at his home in Angier, N.C., and is watching a pair of bluebirds hatch their eggs.

  • "The birds don’t know that there’s a pandemic," Kopack told AP's Gillian Flaccus. "They’re migrating, building nests and laying eggs, just like they always have."
  • "It kind of takes us back to a magical time six or eight weeks ago when there was no pandemic,” he said. “It lets me decompress and get away from everything that's going on in the world, at least for a little while.”

Go deeper: Bird-watching soars as Americans head outdoors.

Mike Allen

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