Jul 13, 2020

Axios AM

🇨🇳 Bulletin: China said it would bar entry to Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and State Department religious freedom ambassador Sam Brownback, because of their criticism of the regime's treatment of people of faith.

  • But AP reports no indication they planned to travel to China.

Good Monday morning. Tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. ET, at an Axios virtual event about telemedicine and other technology that's disrupting health care, Caitlin Owens and I will talk with Oscar Health CEO Mario Schlosser and FCC Chair Ajit Pai.

1 big thing: New PPE alarm

 Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Health care workers fear a new shortage of face masks, gowns and other protective equipment, Axios health care business reporter Bob Herman writes.

  • Supplies, already stretched thin, are likely to get even thinner as the coronavirus converges with flu season in the fall.

Health care workers are sounding alarms that they have to reuse masks and other supplies, and are worried their grievances are going unnoticed again.

  • Maria Serda, a respiratory therapist at an HCA Healthcare hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas, said even though cases and hospitalizations are rising in the state, staff are limited to one N95 mask per day, and gowns are being monitored.

The state of play: Many medical providers have said their supplies of masks, face shields, testing supplies and other equipment are "adequate" — which is better than the spring, when some workers had to fashion gowns out of garbage bags.

  • "The supply chain concerns haven't been addressed," said Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association.
  • "Supply is still coming in, but not enough to meet demand," an industry official told a House committee.

It's a lot worse for nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, which are begging for PPE, an American Health Care Association official told Axios.

  • More than 40% of U.S. coronavirus deaths are tied to nursing homes.
  • PPE and disinfectants "simply are not readily available from the usual sources our physicians use," the AMA warned.

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2. Stat du jour
Disney World reopened Saturday. Photo: Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP

"NBC Nightly News" pointed out that if Florida were a country, it would have the world's fourth-highest tally of new COVID-19 cases (a record 15,300) for the 24 hours ending yesterday, after the U.S. (66,281), Brazil (45,048) and India (28,637).

3. Axios interview: Stone will campaign for Trump

Roger Stone appears yesterday outside his home in Fort Lauderdale. Photo: Johnny Louis/Getty Images

Roger Stone told me in a phone interview that he plans to write and speak for President Trump's re-election now that Stone "won't die in a squalid hellhole of corona-19 virus."

  • "I'm asthmatic," said Stone, 67. "Sending me to a prison where I could not be socially distanced ... would, I think, be a death sentence."

Stone said he'll continue to follow one of his "Stone's Rules": "I will do anything necessary to elect my candidate, short of breaking the law."

  • "First, I'm going to write a book about this entire ordeal to, once and for all, put to bed the myth of Russian collusion."

I asked Stone about Peter Baker's New York Times analysis saying that in keeping Stone out of prison, Trump crossed a line that even Richard Nixon "in the depths of Watergate dared not cross. ... Nixon resigned ... without using his pardon pen."

  • Stone replied that the Friday evening commutation — for obstruction, witness tampering and false statements to Congress — shows Trump "has an enormous sense of fairness and justice and mercy."

Stone flatly predicted Trump will win, despite the bleak outlook:

  • "It'll be a very tough fight. He's got three obstacles: voter fraud ... internet censorship, which I have just recently experienced myself; and, of course, the constant falsehoods being pushed by the corporate-owned mainstream media. Those all make it a difficult race."
  • "But he is a great campaigner. He's a great communicator."

When I asked Stone how he can be so sure Trump will win, he said: "I know more about it than anybody else."

  • When I asked what he means, Stone cited his campaign work going back to his hero Nixon in 1968: "Who do you know who's been through more presidential campaigns than me?"

Stone said he "had no assurances" about the commutation before Trump called his cellphone Friday evening: "But I had prayed fervently, ... and I believe the whole matter was in God's hands and that God would provide. And He did."

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  • 🎧 Hear more of my phone conversation with Roger Stone on our morning podcast, "Axios Today" with host Niala Boodhoo.
4. Pic du jour

Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

A three-alarm fire aboard the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard at San Diego Naval Base injured 17 sailors and four civilians and blazed throughout the day, causing massive smoke plumes, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

  • The cause wasn't announced. But the Navy believes the fire began in a lower cargo hold where marine equipment and vehicles are stored.
5. Europe's green pandemic recovery

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Europe, long the most progressive continent when it comes to tackling climate change, is doubling down on this ambition to revive pandemic-ravaged economies, Axios' Amy Harder writes in her "Harder Line" column.

  • Why it matters: The European Union is the world’s third-largest emitting region after the U.S. and China, but it’s not just that. These plans will push global corporate behavior and prod other governments by creating either templates to follow or protectionist battles (or both).

Where it stands: European nations account for three-quarters of green stimulus funding announced as of early June, according to a BloombergNEF report.

  • Other countries are not being nearly as aggressive in this space, despite mounting calls from the UN, IMF and IEA.

What we’re watching: If Joe Biden wins the presidential contest, expect America to start looking a lot more like Europe when it comes to climate ambitions.

6. Mnuchin: Trump's optimism ambassador
Illustration by Bendik Kaltenborn for The New Yorker. Used by permission

At a time when even Republican vot­ers are beginning to question President Trump's competence, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin "acts as his opti­mism ambassador, presenting a relent­lessly sunny view of America’s economic future," The New Yorker's Sheelah Kolhatkar writes in a profile.

  • Why he matters: Mnuchin is "one of the most consequential policymakers in the world. To some degree, he has the power to determine which industries and which companies will survive the crisis, which groups of Americans will get through it with relatively little long­term eco­nomic damage, and how equitable the recovery will be."

Keep reading.

7. Hedge fund wins McClatchy papers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

McClatchy, America's second-largest newspaper chain, announced that Chatham Asset Management, a New Jersey-based hedge fund, will take over the company's assets as a result of its bankruptcy auction, Axios' Sara Fischer writes.

  • McClatchy's bankruptcy restructuring ended 163 years of family control, and handed it over to the company's creditors, led by Chatham.

Why it matters: It's the latest step in the gradual dismantling of an industry that used to be controlled by local families with civic roots and has now largely passed into the hands of bottom-line-focused private equity managers.

  • The chain, based in Sacramento, includes the Miami Herald, Kansas City Star and Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the flagship Sacramento Bee.

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8. 🇮🇷 Dangerous development

"Iran and China have quietly drafted a sweeping economic and security partnership that would clear the way for billions of dollars of Chinese investments in energy and other sectors," the N.Y. Times reports (subscription).

  • Why it matters: This undercuts "the Trump administration’s efforts to isolate the Iranian government because of its nuclear and military ambitions."

"The partnership ... would vastly expand Chinese presence in banking, telecommunications, ports, railways and dozens of other projects."

9. Pro-Trump PAC drops $23 million

Screenshot: America First Action

America First Action, a leading pro-Trump super PAC, will focus on Arizona, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in a $23 million anti-Biden summer ad campaign, Axios' Alayna Treene reports.

  • Why it matters: The ad buy signals which swing states the groups sees as most vulnerable for President Trump. Arizona and Wisconsin weren't included earlier this year in the core battleground strategy.
  • One PAC official tells Axios that North Carolina and Arizona may be the tightest of these, then Pennsylvania, with Wisconsin seen as the most secure.

Between the lines: The ads, to begin July 24 and continue through Labor Day, will serve as a bridge before the Trump campaign's planned $100 million blitzkrieg that will begin in September and run through the election.

10. 1 smile to go: Look up! It's better
Photo: Marcos del Mazo/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Milky Way and Jupiter are seen on a clear summer night, over a lavender field near the village of Brihuega, Spain.

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