Mar 13, 2020

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 480 words, a 2-minute read.

Situational awareness: Bill Gates is stepping down from the board of Microsoft.

1 big thing: Finally, some action

President Trump listens as Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, speaks in the Rose Garden. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

After several months of delays, the federal government is treating coronavirus like a dire threat.

  • Why it matters: President Trump's Rose Garden speech today is what he could have said in the Oval Office on Wednesday, and markets loved it, with the Dow closing up nearly 10%.

Trump declared a national state of emergency, freeing up as much as $50 billion in funds for municipalities and states to fight the outbreak.

  • Google is building a website that will allow Americans to fill out a screening questionnaire to determine if a COVID-19 test is needed and where nearby "drive-thru" testing centers are located.
  • HHS Secretary Alex Azar will have new authority to enable increased use of telehealth services and decrease restrictions on how many doctors and nurses can be staffed in hospitals to combat the outbreak.

The big picture: The U.S. is woefully behind on testing and has shortages of emergency health infrastructure like respirators, masks and materials for testing.

  • After weeks of claiming anyone who wants a test could get one, Trump urged people in the other direction.
  • "Again, we don't want everybody taking this test. That's totally unnecessary."
  • "I don't take responsibility at all," Trump said, when asked if he took responsibility for the United States' lag in testing for the coronavirus outbreak.
  • "We've ordered a large number of respirators just in case," Trump noted.

Between the lines: Trump said he hasn't been tested, despite coming into contact with multiple people who are confirmed cases.

  • The president said he will "most likely" be tested "fairly soon."

The bottom line: The economic crisis will not abate until we fix the public health crisis.

Go deeper: Highlights from the Rose Garden

Bonus: Pics du jour
Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Above: Shelves normally stocked with hand wipes, hand sanitizer and toilet paper sit empty at an Arlington Target as people stockpile supplies.

Below: The Rotunda at the U.S. Capitol is empty. The U.S. Capitol Visitor Center has suspended all public tours until the end of March.

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images
2. Catch up quick
  1. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said he had tested negative for coronavirus. Bolsonaro met with President Trump on Saturday. Go deeper.
  2. Louisiana postponed its Democratic presidential primary due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. Go deeper.
  3. A sweeping coronavirus relief package is set to pass the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, but she did not mention any deals with Republicans or the White House. Go deeper.
  4. Delta Airlines will reduce its flight capacity by 40% for the next four months due to the coronavirus outbreak, a dramatic increase from its original 15% reduction. Go deeper.
  5. A prolonged sports outage could lead to an acceleration in cord-cutting, while also wreaking havoc on the advertising industry. Go deeper.
3. 1 solitary thing

Host Stephen Colbert greeting the audience during a taping of "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" in New York back in February. Photo: Scott Kowalchyk/CBS via AP

Live television audiences are temporarily a thing of the past, and it's quite an adjustment, the AP reports.

  • “Everyone is spread apart at the CDC-recommended distance,” said Pete Buttigieg, who guest-hosted for Jimmy Kimmel last night on ABC.

On “The View,” staff members tried vainly to replicate the noise that would normally come from a full crowd of tourists.

  • “You’re a great audience today,” Whoopi Goldberg said.
  • “All three of you,” replied Joy Behar.
Mike Allen