Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

American students are facing a shortage of laptops, particularly low-cost Chromebooks popular in K-8 schools, at the same time that many districts are choosing full-remote or hybrid reopening models.

Why it matters: No device = no education.

Supply and demand: U.S. laptop sales began surging in March, as the pandemic caused both kids and adults to work from home. This came on the heels of manufacturing and distribution slowdowns in China, due to both the annual New Year's holiday closures and then virus-related disruptions.

  • "Sales have been up 20%-40% every single week," said Stephen Baker, a consumer tech analyst with The NPD Group. "Some of the education channel sales got pulled forward into March and April, but there's been no overall slowdown."
  • "Not even close." That was the response from Gregg Prendergast, Acer America president, when asked if there will be enough Chromebooks to satisfy remote learning needs at the time of reopening. He adds that demand is "historic," and that just last week Acer received requests for hundreds of thousands of new devices from government officials in both California and Nevada.
  • Best Buy's website shows 28 models of Chromebooks priced under $400. As of Friday morning, 24 of those models were sold out.

Supply chain shortages aren't just on finished products, but also on internal components like screens, batteries, chassis, and processors. And then there are shipping and port delays, which Prendergast says has caused his company to begin using air freight in some circumstances. He says can save up to three weeks, in part due to a quicker U.S. Customs process.

  • Many schools in the spring relied on existing device supplies, loaning out older devices. That resulted in much more wear-and-tear, thus accelerating the upgrade/replacement cycle.

Next level: Broadband access remains an educational barrier for many students, even if their school districts managed to source enough and distribute devices.

The bottom line: The device crunch won't subside any time soon, even if schools and parents can afford to foot the bill.

Go deeper... Podcast: Not enough laptops

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The childless vaccine

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

It'll likely be a long time before children are vaccinated against COVID-19, even though vaccinating kids could eventually play an integral role in reducing the virus' spread.

The big picture: None of the leading contenders in the U.S. are being tested for their effectiveness in children. Even once one of them gains authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, there will only be a limited number of available doses.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
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Why kids get less severe coronavirus infections

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

A new study suggests that the reason why children get less severe coronavirus infections than adults is because they have a different immune response, NYT reports.

What they're saying: "The bottom line is, yes, children do respond differently immunologically to this virus, and it seems to be protecting the kids," Betsy Herold, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Albert Einstein College of Medicine who led the study, told the Times.

Updated Sep 27, 2020 - Health

3 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week

Data: Compiled by Axios; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Utah, North Carolina and Wyoming set new highs last week for coronavirus infections recorded in a single day, according to the COVID Tracking Project (CTP) and state health departments. Utah and Wyoming surpassed records set the previous week.

Why it matters: Record case highs have usually meant that more hospitalizations and other serious outcomes are on the way, CTP's latest weekly update notes.