Feb 26, 2020

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 486 words, a 2-minute read.

1 big thing: Trump's slow-burn crisis

Photo: Money Sharma/AFP/Getty Images

At 6:30 p.m. from the White House press room, President Trump will publicly make himself the face of America's response to the coronavirus crisis.

  • Why it matters: This is exactly the situation where a president needs the credibility to truthfully explain a tough situation to the public.

Back in the Ebola crisis of 2014, Trump did the opposite:

  • Aug. 2014: "The U.S. cannot allow EBOLA infected people back. People that go to far away places to help out are great-but must suffer the consequences!"
  • Oct. 2014: "Ebola is much easier to transmit than the CDC and government representatives are admitting. Spreading all over Africa-and fast. Stop flights."

Reality check: The total U.S. Ebola fatality count was two, and not a single American died from contracting it in the U.S.

Now in 2020, Trump is expected to hold tonight's briefing with HHS Secretary Alex Azar, who is running point on the U.S. coronavirus response.

  • Azar to Congress earlier today: "The president and I spoke this morning when he returned from India. The president said, 'I want to keep being radically transparent, when you come over to brief me this evening, let’s sit and invite the press in.'"

The big picture: Barring a miracle, coronavirus will spread within our own borders.

  • Europe has cases in Austria, Croatia, Greece and Switzerland — all from people returning from Italy, not China.
  • Latin America is now on the board, via a Brazilian patient who returned from Italy.
  • In Asia, South Korea, Japan and Iran have also become epicenters, with total cases rapidly climbing.

Between the lines: Europe isn't rushing to close borders, and the U.S. is still allowing flights from Italy, South Korea and Japan.

  • In other words, it will probably take confirmed cases from those countries before flights are grounded.

What's next: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wants $8.5 billion to combat the coronavirus. The Trump administration's request is $2.5 billion, including repurposing existing funds.

Go deeper: Axios' latest coronavirus coverage

Bonus: Pic du jour

Photo: Vatican Pool/Getty Images

Pope Francis' suggestion for Catholics on Ash Wednesday: Give up online trolling for Lent.

  • "The pope made his appeal to tone things down while speaking to tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square for his general audience on Ash Wednesday," Reuters reports.
  • "We live in an atmosphere polluted by too much verbal violence, too many offensive and harmful words. ... Today, people insult each other as if they were saying 'Good Day.'"
2. What you missed
  1. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn endorsed Joe Biden, three days before South Carolina's primary. Go deeper.
  2. Maria Sharapova announced her retirement from tennis in an essay in Vanity Fair, closing out a career that featured 5 Grand Slam titles
  3. The House voted 410-4 to designate lynching as a federal hate crime. Go deeper.
3: 1 ⚽️ thing

Inter Miami CF co-owners Jorge Mas (left) and David Beckham (right) with MLS commissioner Don Garber. Photo: Richard Drew/AP

Bold predictions: The owner of the Los Angeles FC predicts Major League Soccer will surpass Major League Baseball within 10 years, AP reports.

  • “We definitely have the demographics in our favor, both in terms of youth and diversity," Larry Berg said.
  • "So I think we’ll pass baseball and hockey and be the No. 3 sport in the U.S. behind football and basketball."
Mike Allen