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Demonstrators participate in a car caravan protest calling for public school classes to be held remotely in Chicago. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

As the virus surges and mass public gatherings become more perilous, our cars have become the new vehicles of political expression.

Driving the news: Automobiles plastered with images of and makeshift memorials to COVID-19 victims who died in poverty will caravan through at least 22 state capitals next week — the latest example of Americans trading in their walking shoes for a pandemic-friendly way to make their voices heard.

  • The Rev. William J. Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, is organizing the Nov. 23 "Caravans of Mourning" event. His previous events have been modeled after MLK's 1968 Poor People's March.
  • The group originally planned a series of civil disobedience actions to bring attention to poverty from Appalachia to the Mississippi Delta.
  • Rather than cancel the demonstrations, Barber said, organizers decided to embrace social distancing to continue the fight.

Between the lines: In some cases, there's no substitute for an in-person gathering. Poor People's Campaign spokesperson said a contingency in Washington will get out of their cars for a social distancing vigil outside the National City Christian Church.

The big picture: Cars' utility amid the pandemic became apparent to individual households and communities before political movements embraced it.

Since then, caravans descending on cities in support of President Trump have garnered outsized attention, tying up traffic and clashing with opponents from Portland to New York to Washington.

  • These demonstrators — including many who get out of their cars upon arrival — have won the president's affection on Twitter.
  • Eschewing mass rally crowds out of a desire to protect public health, President-elect Joe Biden instead gathered his own supporters for drive-in style events, counting on the space separating the cars, and the limited number of seats inside each vehicle, to protect people from one another.

The bottom line: COVID-19 has transformed virtually every aspect of social engagement. In this moment, caravans are keeping protests, as well as celebrations, alive.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Nov 17, 2020 - Economy & Business

Corporate heavyweights ramp up electric vehicle lobbying push

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A new coalition is launching — with Tesla, Uber, power giants like Southern Company, and others — that will push for electric models to account for 100% of new U.S. vehicle sales by 2030.

Why it matters: While electric vehicles are a growing technology, new corporate lobbying efforts — especially by powerful companies — could help spur faster growth in what remains a largely niche market.

Biden plans to ask public to wear masks for first 100 days in office

Joe Biden. Photo: Mark Makela/Gettu Images

President-elect Joe Biden told CNN on Thursday that he plans to ask the American public to wear face masks for the first 100 days of his presidency.

The big picture: Biden also stated he has asked NIAID director Anthony Fauci to stay on in his current role, serve as a chief medical adviser and be part of his COVID-19 response team when he takes office early next year.

What COVID-19 vaccine trials still need to do

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

COVID-19 vaccines are being developed at record speed, but some experts fear the accelerated regulatory process could interfere with ongoing research about the vaccines.

Why it matters: Even after the first COVID-19 vaccines are deployed, scientific questions will remain about how they are working and how to improve them.