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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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On Friday September 18, Axios' Margaret Talev hosted a conversation on the 2020 election, exploring the Trump and Biden administrations' positions on everything from health care to economics to the coronavirus response, featuring Rep. Ro Khanna and Rep. Susan Brooks.

Rep. Khanna discussed how the government response to coronavirus has affected Americans' attitudes towards health care, and the possible ramifications on the 2020 election.

  • How COVID-19 has shifted Americans' perspectives on the health care system: "Even middle class, upper middle class professionals who have lost their jobs or are without health insurance are now seeing how costly and how cruel the private insurance system can be."
  • On the long-term policy impact of the coronavirus response: "Because there is a greater shared understanding about the vulnerability of people who lose their jobs, the vulnerability of people who don't have health care — I think that's created the groundswell for support for Medicare for All."

Rep. Brooks discussed how coronavirus exposed the limitations of the national stockpile and need for reinvestment in the Paycheck Protection Program.

  • On the strategic national stockpile: "What we've learned with the strategic national stockpile is that we're really not adequately supplied for a very long incident or episode of a pandemic...Besides the fact that Congress had been beefing up the appropriations for preparedness, it certainly was not enough."
  • On strengthening the economy: "We need to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program to keep people employed. We had the lowest unemployment before this pandemic hit — 3.6% I believe — and then we soared into unprecedented numbers...We've got to do what we can to get people back into that workforce."

Axios co-founder and CEO Jim VandeHei hosted a View from the Top segment with filmmaker of FRONTLINE's The Choice 2020: Trump vs. Biden Michael Kirk, who discussed making a documentary during the pandemic and the impact of pivotal life experiences on both presidential candidates.

  • On the structure of the documentary: "[It's] eight different crisis moments in the lives of these two guys, and we try to reveal something surprising about what they gathered along the way...What is the man carrying with him, as part of his life methodology, as a result of these moments?"

Thank you PBS and FRONTLINE for sponsoring this event. The Choice 2020: Trump vs. Biden airs Tuesday, September 22 on PBS.

Go deeper

Updated Dec 15, 2020 - Axios Events

Watch: Fitness and fighting infections

On Tuesday, December 16 Axios' Kendall Baker hosted a conversation on how the pandemic-enforced lockdown has affected fitness and mental health, featuring former Surgeon General Richard Carmona and Long Beach, Calif. Mayor Robert Garcia.

Richard Carmona advocated for gyms that follow strict coronavirus mitigation strategies to be allowed to stay open, and discussed the importance of physical fitness on mental wellbeing.

  • On keeping gyms open: "I think when those best public health practices can be applied, we should consider letting those facilities stay open when possible based on epidemiologic data. People need that social connection...mental health and physical health are connected inextricably."
  • On the connection between physical and mental health: "We should do everything we can to stay connected and continue moving. It helps our immune system as well as our mind and our body, and helps to offset mental health problems like depression."

Mayor Robert Garcia unpacked the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and small business closures on the fitness industry, and highlighted Long Beach, California's $5 million fund for gyms and other personal care businesses.

  • On the financial impact on gyms: "This is an industry that's been hit very, very hard...[the fund] will go directly to these gyms so they can bridge those months they've been closed on the rent, or have some dollars to back up get started. It's critical that we support them."

Axios CEO and co-founder Jim VandeHei hosted a View from the Top segment with Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau, who discussed the challenge of gyms being classified with other hospitality industry venues like clubs and bars during lockdowns and the importance of fitness as a part of public health.

  • "I think, unfortunately, we're lumped in with bars and restaurants and even movie theaters. We really need to get ourselves out of that arena and make sure they look at us as really part of wellness, mental health, and physical health as well. But it's been a struggle. But I think the data we're starting to produce now, showing them how we operate—they've really started to listen."

Thank you Planet Fitness for sponsoring this event.

Updated Dec 16, 2020 - Axios Events

Watch: Supply chain of social good

On Wednesday, December 17 Axios' Felix Salmon hosted a conversation on how businesses are making a difference during the pandemic, featuring Cuyana CEO Karla Gallardo, Edgewell Personal Care CEO Rod Little and Fanatics founder Michael Rubin.

Michael Rubin unpacked how Fanatics pivoted from manufacturing sports apparel to face masks and the social responsibility of the private sector during the pandemic.

  • On the decision to produce masks: "I called the Commissioner of [the Major Baseball League] Rob Manfred and said we should shut down the production of Major League Baseball jerseys and instead make masks...From the second I had the idea to when we were making masks was six days."
  • How the private sector can support the public sector's efforts in the pandemic: "I have a strong belief that as a successful business leader in the private sector, you have a responsibility to make a difference...government alone cannot do what needs to be done."

Karla Gallardo discussed Cuyana's work with their supply chain partners to repurpose materials and to strategically stagger production to keep everyone in business.

  • On their pivoting strategy: "We repurposed materials towards products that we knew would be more in demand. We moved new styles to the later parts of the year or to 2021...We worked with our suppliers together to figure out situations in which both of us could make it through [the pandemic]."

Rod Little unpacked Edgewell Personal Care's focus on employees and highlighted the critical nature of their pandemic leave program, which guaranteed two weeks of paid leave and twelve weeks of 70% paid leave.

  • On the implementation of the paid leave policy: "The most important decision we made early was to institute a new pandemic leave policy...We ended up having 40% of our population in the early days of [the pandemic] either feeling unwell or needing a quarantine because they thought they'd been exposed or needed to sort out childcare. And we paid them for two weeks to go do that."

Axios VP of Client Partnerships Jon Otto hosted a View from the Top segment with General Motors' Global Manufacturing EVP Gerald Johnson who discussed how General Motors began producing ventilators at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • On acting swiftly at the beginning of the pandemic: "It led us to be able to produce our first ventilator 30 days after [deciding to manufacture them]...Ultimately, the majority of our production ended up filling the country's bank of ventilators to support the effort of the pandemic. "

Thank you General Motors for sponsoring this event.

49 mins ago - World

Jimmy Lai among Hong Kong pro-democracy leaders sentenced to prison

Students standing under a banner during a flag raising ceremony on the first annual National Security Education Day in Hong Kong. Photo: Vernon Yuen/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A Hong Kong court sentenced a group of the city's most prominent pro-democracy activists to up to 18 months in prison Friday for organizing a massive unauthorized protest in August 2019 that drew an estimated 1.7 million people, AP reports.

Why it matters: Critics say the sentences send the message that even peaceful pro-democracy activism will be severely punished. They mark a continuation of Beijing's overhaul of Hong Kong's political structure, designed to crack down opposition to the Chinese Communist Party.

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