Mar 4, 2019

Trump’s "A Plus treatment" highlights political approach to disaster relief

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump is promising the tornado-stricken state of Alabama that FEMA is on the way, while Puerto Rico's governor is fighting to make sure the administration doesn't divert its aid money to building a border wall.

Driving the news: Trump today on Alabama: "FEMA has been told directly by me to give the A Plus treatment to the Great State of Alabama and the wonderful people who have been so devastated by the Tornadoes."

  • The latest: 23 are dead, and the worst tornado was an EF-4 with a damage path nearly 1 mile wide, the National Weather Service reported today. Dozens are still missing, AP reports.
  • More from the AP: National Weather Service meteorologist Chris Darden "said the 'monster tornado' was the single deadliest twister in the U.S. since May 2013, when an EF-5 killed 24 people in Moore, Oklahoma."

Why it matters: The president's responses to natural disasters have been criticized for varying based on his relationship with each state's political leaders.

  • In Puerto Rico, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló told Axios' Andrew Freedman in late February, after failing to secure a meeting with Trump during a visit to Washington, that his state is fighting to prevent recovery funds from being taken away. "Puerto Rico has always been treated differently, and by differently I mean in an inferior fashion."
  • Flashback: Axios' Jonathan Swan reported in November that Trump didn't want to give Puerto Rico any more federal recovery money, claiming without evidence that the island’s government was using federal disaster relief money to pay off debt.
  • In California, Trump has repeatedly expressed sympathy for fire-affected residents while also threatening FEMA funds unless the state government acts in his favor. He has railed against the state's forestry practices, blaming poor forest management for record and deadly wildfires, thereby ignoring the roles played by climate change and development.

The bottom line: In a future where natural disasters could be more frequent and more intense because of climate change, the politics of natural disasters will just get hotter.

Go deeper

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll passes 9,500

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

Recorded deaths from the novel coronavirus surpassed 9,500 in the U.S. Sunday evening, per Johns Hopkins data. The death toll in the U.S. has risen over 1,000 every day since April 1.

Why it matters: U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on Sunday this upcoming week will be "the hardest and saddest week of most Americans' lives" — calling it our "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment."

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 1,270,069 — Total deaths: 69,309 — Total recoveries: 259,810Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 335,524 — Total deaths: 9,562 — Total recoveries: 17,266Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Surgeon general says this week will be "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment." The USDA confirms that a Bronx zoo tiger tested positive for coronavirus.
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. Biden says DNC may have to hold virtual convention.
  5. States updates: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state is "literally going day-to-day" with supplies.
  6. World update: Queen Elizabeth II urges the British people to confront pandemic with "self-discipline" and "resolve" in rare televised address.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Scoop: Inside the epic White House fight over hydroxychloroquine

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The White House coronavirus task force had its biggest fight yet on Saturday, pitting economic adviser Peter Navarro against infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci. At issue: How enthusiastically should the White House tout the prospects of an antimalarial drug to fight COVID-19?

Behind the scenes: This drama erupted into an epic Situation Room showdown. Trump's coronavirus task force gathered in the White House Situation Room on Saturday at about 1:30pm, according to four sources familiar with the conversation. Vice President Mike Pence sat at the head of the table.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health