Mar 24, 2020

Axios AM

1 big thing: Sudden, massive shifts in how we work, shop, socialize
Data: Axios-Ipsos surveys of 1,092 U.S. adults, March 13-16, and 998 adults, March 20-23. Margins of error: ±3.2 and ±3.3 percentage points. Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

We just lived through the week that America changed: The second installment of our weekly Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index shows sudden, massive shifts in how we work, shop, socialize and care for ourselves and our families.

  • "We’ve never seen this widespread, systemic, forced behavioral change — never in American history — this quickly," said Cliff Young, president of Ipsos U.S. Public Affairs.

Partisan divisions about the seriousness of the coronavirus have collapsed, writes Margaret Talev, Axios White House and politics editor.

  • 9 in 10 Americans now fear the virus, with half worried about their jobs and their ability to pay the bills.
  • A 21-point gap last week between Democrats and Republicans has narrowed to 11, with 95% of Democrats and 84% of Republicans now saying they are concerned.

The Smart Brevity on the poll: Everything's worse.

  • Roughly twice as many Americans say they're out of work compared to last week's survey.

People trust their employers (68%) far more than they trust the federal government (53%) to look out for their best interests.

  • Trust in news sources, government and health organizations rose slightly over the past week.

Between the lines: One area where the numbers haven't really moved yet is known exposure, though that may be shaped by lack of available testing.

  • Just 1% said they'd been tested for the virus. 8% said they'd tried but were turned away.
  • 5% said they know someone who's tested positive.

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2. Inside the West Wing: Trump's back-to-work plan
The White House Correspondents' Association yesterday reduced for the second time the number of briefing-room seats that can be occupied. Photo: Alex Brandon/AP

President Trump, egged on by a growing number of advisers and business leaders, believes the economy will crater absent a strong signal, and wants to stagger the reopening of work nationwide, sources tell Axios' Jonathan Swan.

  • The sources, who have spoken to Trump, say that "horrific," "truly scary" economic consequences were described to the president.

Trump said he plans to leave many of the details up to governors.

  • "We have to get this going," Trump said during a dinnertime briefing that lasted nearly two hours.
  • "[T]he faster we get it going, the more likely it is that those stores, little businesses, big businesses, medium-sized businesses open up."
  • "And we'll get [the economy] going very fast. ... As soon as we say 'let's go' — and it's gonna be pretty soon. ... It's gonna be sooner than people would think."

What's next: Nothing has been decided yet. But Trump has been persuaded, in line with his instincts, that the economy can’t sustain this shutdown for much longer.

  • The administration is discussing different tiers to ease Americans back into normal life after the 15-day period that ends next Monday.
  • People with underlying health issues or in the highest risk age range will likely be asked to stick with isolation.
  • But others could be encouraged to get back into a more normal routine.

Between the lines: Remember that Trump has no public health professionals in his circle of informal advisers. Those are not his go-to calls when he's in the residence late at night. They’re all business or media folks.

  • The president wants an end date to give businesses, markets and consumers — hence his fixation on the 15-day deadline.

Reality check, via Axios health care reporter Caitlin Owens: For now, the only way to avoid large numbers of deaths is to keep people away from each other to stop the virus' spread.

  • And as long as the coronavirus is spreading, it’s likely to hurt the economy.
  • Keep reading: "Trump's huge coronavirus gamble."

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How it's playing ...

Courtesy The Boston Globe
3. America's new favorite pastime
Data: Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

News consumption has skyrocketed in the U.S. over the past few weeks due to the coronavirus, according to TV ratings, web traffic, app downloads and social media interactions.

  • Why it matters, from Axios' Sara Fischer and Neal Rothschild: Without live sports and with Hollywood production on pause, consumers are confined to the only type of new professional-grade content that's still being produced daily: news.

According to a new survey from TV analysis company Magid, 51% are increasing their consumption of news amid the coronavirus outbreak, with 49% checking on the news multiple times a day.

  • App downloads for every type of news outlet — digital, radio and television/video — are up, according to new data from Apptopia.
  • Cable news networks have seen viewership surge more than 50% since the beginning of the year, according to an analysis by television measurement company Alphonso. 
  • Broadcast newscasts are also seeing ratings bumps, with some networks adding news coverage to replace reality TV and entertainment content.

Between the lines: In what is normally a scattered and decentralized media and entertainment landscape, the nation's interest is now concentrated around the same information and the same developments in the news.

  • Having the same shared priorities allows news to be shared much wider than in normal times.

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4. Data du jour: Coronavirus closes schools worldwide
Data: UNESCO. Graphic: Reuters
5. Virus basics: Smell, taste may be first sign
Spotted in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo: Sakchai Lalit/AP

Loss of smell or taste might be an early sign of infection with the pandemic virus, medical experts who cite reports from several countries tell AP science writer Malcolm Ritter.

  • Why it matters: That might serve as a useful screening tool — a way to spot infected people without other symptoms like fever, coughing and shortness of breath.

Now, there's evidence from South Korea, China and Italy for loss or impairment of smell in infected people.

  • In South Korea, some 30% of people who tested positive for the virus have cited loss of smell as their major complaint in otherwise mild cases.

The sense of smell returns within a couple weeks.

6. For many, the toll is emotional
Data: Axios-Ipsos surveys of 1,092 U.S. adults, March 13-16, and 998 adults, March 20-23. Margins of error: ±3.2 and ±3.3 percentage points. Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The response to the coronavirus outbreak is increasingly taxing Americans' mental and emotional health, health care editor Sam Baker writes from the second installment of our Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

  • By the numbers: Last week, just 29% of the people we surveyed said their emotional well-being had gotten worse lately. This week, that's up to 43% — compared with a much more modest increase in the number of people who said their physical health has deteriorated.
  • Between the lines: This change was particularly evident among people who said they've had to start working from home.

🍽️ 25% said they've gone out to eat in the past week, down from 56%.

7. Tech firms crunch coronavirus data to track disease spread

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Tech companies are using AI and other tools to comb through coronavirus data to track cases and find transmission hotspots, Axios' Margaret Harding McGill writes.

  • Why it matters: Finding patterns could help make sense of where and how the virus is spreading in the U.S., and could aid in allocating the country's limited testing and treatment capabilities.

Google subsidiary Kaggle, an online community of data scientists, opened a competition last week to use data to forecast the number of cases and fatalities that will be confirmed between March 25 and April 22 in a number of regions.

8. 1 boom industry
Speaker Pelosi speaks at the Capitol yesterday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Federal lobbying is one of the few boom industries right now.

  • Even some companies that have never lobbied before are jockeying to get federal funding and approval for pet projects, and a piece of the federal stimulus, Axios health care business reporter Bob Herman writes.

Local arts alliances, disinfectant technology companies, individual doctors and school food prep companies are among the newcomers.

  • The mass cancellation of sports leagues and events prompted online gambling companies DraftKings and FanDuel to hire new federal lobbyists.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks outside the Senate chamber yesterday. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP
9. Boris: "You must stay at home"
Courtesy The Daily Telegraph

Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared a "moment of national emergency" as he imposed a near full lockdown of Britain last night, per The Times of London.

  • "Police will enforce new quarantine rules under which people will be allowed to leave their home only for essential supplies, one form of daily exercise, medical care or 'absolutely necessary' work."
10. 1 smile to go: Keeping your kids busy

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Media outlets and e-learning companies are opening up access to free kids' content, tools and resources to parents who are struggling to entertain their kids at home while also working remotely, Axios' Sara Fischer and Kim Hart write.

  • Time Inc. says that for the first time, it'll provide parents at home with a free version of "TIME for Kids," its 25-year-old school-based publication. The package includes the entire TIME for Kids digital library.
  • Amazon Prime Video will offer family titles from its library and its subsidiary IMDb's free-ad supported library.
  • Nickelodeon has launched a new website with free content and educational coronavirus resources, like videos of SpongeBob SquarePants teaching children how to wash their hands.

P.S. ... Total day viewing of many of the largest children's TV networks, like The Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, Boomerang and Nickelodeon, have experienced massive upswings, per Digiday.

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