Xi Jinping vists a community health center in Beijing on Feb. 10. Photo: Ju Peng/Xinhua via Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping said that he first gave orders to tackle the coronavirus crisis on Jan. 7 in a speech released by state media on Saturday, the New York Times reports. He did not disclose details of those orders in the speech.

Why it matters: The newly published address, which Xi gave on Feb. 3, confirms "for the first time that he was aware of the virus while officials at its epicenter were openly downplaying its dangers," per the Times.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian: The decision to release this information indicates that one of Xi's priorities now is assuring the Chinese public that China's top leaders — not local officials — have long been firmly at the helm of the government's response.

  • Popular anger at local officials for early attempts to suppress knowledge of the coronavirus has surged nationally, and led to widespread distrust of government action to combat the epidemic.
  • By taking personal responsibility for the coronavirus response, even from its early days, Xi is risking further backlash if the epidemic worsens.

Catch up quick: The Chinese government "delayed a concerted public health offensive" for the coronavirus by silencing doctors for raising red flags in the first seven weeks after symptoms appeared in December, the Times previously reported.

  • Officials in Wuhan — the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak — were "giving open assurances that there was no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission" in early January, per the Times.
  • Li Wenliang, the doctor who sounded the alarm on the coronavirus outbreak, was mourned last week in vigils in Hong Kong and Wuhan that seemed to "shake loose pent-up anger and frustration" at the government's handling of the crisis, per the Times' Li Yuan.

Go deeper: The coronavirus threat to China's grand plans

Go deeper

Updated 39 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 13,258,016 — Total deaths: 576,752 — Total recoveries — 7,366,845Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 3,416,222 — Total deaths: 136,319 — Total recoveries: 1,049,098 — Total tested: 41,764,557Map.
  3. Politics: Biden welcomes Trump wearing mask in public but warns "it’s not enough"
  4. Public health: Four former CDC heads say Trump's undermining of agency puts lives at risk — CDC director: U.S. could get coronavirus "under control" in 4–8 weeks if all wear masks.

Bank CEOs brace for worsening economic scenario

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. Photo: J. Lawler Duggan/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Wells Fargo swung to its first loss since the financial crisis — while JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup reported significantly lower profits from a year earlier — as the banks set aside billions of dollars more in the second quarter for loans that may go bad.

Why it matters: The cumulative $28 billion in loan loss provisions that banks have so far announced they’re reserving serves as a signal they’re preparing for a colossal wave of loan defaults as the economy slogs through a coronavirus-driven downturn.

3 hours ago - Health

Moderna's vaccine spurred immune system response to coronavirus

Moderna's stock rose 16% after hours on this news. Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Healthy volunteers who took Moderna's coronavirus vaccine candidate appeared to generate an immune system response to the virus, and there were "no trial-limiting safety concerns," according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Why it matters: The phase one trial is still small and does not definitively determine how effective the vaccine is. But Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, which is running the trial, told the Wall Street Journal that these data make it "pretty clear that this vaccine is capable of inducing quite good [levels] of neutralizing antibodies."