May 25, 2020

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

🇺🇸 On this Memorial Day unlike any other, thank you to the brave, hardworking Americans before us who served and paid the ultimate price for our liberty.

  • Please take a second to read item 4 below, about two Boston brothers, ages 19 and 23.

🎬 Tonight on "Axios on HBO" (11 p.m. ET/PT):

  • Alexi McCammond talks with Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer about her relationship with President Trump. See a clip.
  • Margaret Talev asks Brown University President Christina Paxson how colleges can reopen this fall.
  • And I interview Palantir CEO Alex Karp (from his barn in New Hampshire!) about what it means to take big data contracts from the U.S. government. See a clip.
1 big thing: Summer cliffhanger

 Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as summer's start — but today is looking more like a reminder of lost plans, Axios managing editor David Nather writes.

  • Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down all spring, just wait until everyone realizes that many favorite summer activities will be off-limits.

For starters, Memorial Day ceremonies throughout the country are being canceled. That includes the National Memorial Day Parade in D.C. — which is being replaced by a pre-recorded TV special.

July 4th celebrations have already been canceled in some cities:

  • While fireworks shows may still happen in some places, watching them with friends on lawns, beaches and rooftops will likely be discouraged.

And that’s just the beginning.

  • Vacations and travel are likely to be way down — at least for a while. Tour companies are cancelling guided tours around the world, and, for the first time in two decades, AAA didn't even make a travel forecast for this Memorial Day.
  • Summer camps are shutting down, unable to make social distancing work. The closures are threatening camps' survival and depriving kids of the summer adventures they look forward to all year — and leaving stressed-out parents without a break.
  • Some school districts, out of concern for students struggling with online education, have announced that anyone who doesn’t get a passing grade this spring will get an "incomplete." But that means makeup work over the summer.
  • Neighborhood pools aren't opening.

Bright spots: Drive-in movies are enjoying a revival, Bloomberg reports.

  • AAA reports that online travel bookings have been rising "modestly" since mid-April.
  • TravelPass, an online travel agency, is beginning to see an uptick in hotel reservations — but mostly for people staying within their own state, Axios' Joann Muller reports.
  • And gas is cheap: The national gas price average was $1.87 at the start of the Memorial Day work week, per AAA — the lowest since 2003.

The bottom line: Where are we on that vaccine?

2. Holiday breakout
The beach in Pensacola Beach, Fla., on Saturday. Photo: David Grunfeld/The (New Orleans) Advocate via AP

Tens of thousands of Americans headed to beaches and parks this Memorial Day weekend, relieved to shake off some pandemic restrictions, AP reports:

  • In the Tampa area along Florida’s Gulf Coast, the crowds were so big that authorities closed parking lots to stem the flood.
  • In Missouri, people packed bars and restaurants at the Lake of the Ozarks.
  • Officials in California said most people were covering their faces and keeping their distance as they ventured out. Many Southern California beaches were open only for swimming, running and other activities, not sunbathing.
  • At Orchard Beach in the Bronx, kids played with toys and people sat in folding chairs, wrapped up in sweaters and masks.
Dolores Park in San Francisco yesterday. Photo: Jeff Chiu/AP

⚠️ Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus coordinator, said on "Fox News Sunday" that we now have "excellent scientific evidence of how far droplets go ... just simply talking to one another. ... [I]t's important that we have to have masks on if we are less than six feet."

  • "We want you to be outside," Birx added. "We know being outside does help. We know sun does help in killing the virus."
3. Data du jour: Virus toll heaviest in blue states
Expand chart
Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins. Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

"Democrats are far more likely to live in counties where the virus has ravaged the community, while Republicans are more likely to live in counties that have been relatively unscathed by the illness, though they are paying an economic price," the N.Y. Times reports.

  • "Counties won by President Trump in 2016 have reported just 27 percent of the virus infections and 21 percent of the deaths — even though 45 percent of Americans live in these communities."

Why it matters: "The very real difference in death rates has helped fuel deep disagreement over the dangers of the pandemic."

What's next: "[O]utbreaks in conservative rural counties are rising, but not on a scale that would close the gap in the virus' impact on red and blue counties."

4. A day to ask: Who were they?

Nancy Graham wears a face mask as she visits San Francisco National Cemetery in the Presidio yesterday. Photo: Jeff Chiu/AP

Mike Barnicle wrote in his Boston Globe column in 1998 about visiting a memorial to two young brothers, 19 and 23, who gave their lives in 1944, a year before World War II ended — one in the Marines, his younger brother in the Navy:

Shut your eyes and you can see them still — and you can sense the society that mourned them after they lost their lives in battles that helped deliver the gift of liberty we open each morning.
They returned to a place where self-pity was a stranger, where neighbors knew each other, where people actually volunteered for duty and willingly went without staples like sugar or gas because the cause was greater than any individual need ...

Barnicle found the backstory about these two brave brothers, buried side-by-side in Boston:

Thomas and Helen Keenan had 10 children, seven boys and three girls. The father was a Boston firefighter. The family lived in West Roxbury. After Pearl Harbor, the oldest, Tom Jr., joined the Marine Corps. A few months later, his brother Gerald enlisted in the Navy after Roslindale High.
"Thomas died in the battle for Tinian Island," his brother Joe, 71, recalled ... "He died July 14, 1944. A priest came to the house with the fellow from Western Union. That’s how we were told: a telegram."
"Two weeks later, Gerald died when [Japanese] torpedoed his ship, the Canberra. Funny thing is, I helped build that boat at the Charlestown Navy Yard. It was a very difficult time. My parents never got over it."

Keep reading.

5. Breaking: Trump threatens to pull out of Charlotte

President Trump drives a golf cart yesterday at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va. Photo: Tom Brenner/Reuters

President Trump threatened in a series of tweets this morning to move the Republican National Convention (Aug. 24-27) from Charlotte if North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper doesn't allow the event to be held at full capacity:

  • "Unfortunately, Democrat Governor, @RoyCooperNC is still in Shutdown mood & unable to guarantee that by August we will be allowed ... full attendance in the Arena."
  • "They must be immediately given an answer by the Governor as to whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied."
  • "If not, we will be reluctantly forced ... to find, with all of the jobs and economic development it brings, another Republican National Convention site."

Share this story.

6. Trump's shore blitz

Screenshot via Fox News

The Trump campaign is deploying aerial advertising at eight beaches along the East and Gulf coasts during peak times throughout the holiday weekend.

7. 🎧 What we're listening to

President Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address in 1863. Art: Universal History Archive/Getty Images

Transition Lab, a new podcast hosted by David Marchick, director of the Partnership for Public Service's Center for Presidential Transition, has recorded episodes about the transitions of Presidents Carter, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush, Obama and Trump.

  • Guests include Josh Bolten, Denis McDonough, Andy Card, Mack McLarty and Stephanie Cutter.

Filmmaker Ken Burns and historian Geoffrey Ward, who have collaborated since 1984 on documentaries that include "The Civil War" and "The Roosevelts," shared stories about leadership in crisis:

  • Burns: "This [pandemic] crisis is on the level of the Second World War, but particularly the Depression and the Civil War. As Lincoln predicted, the danger didn't come from without, but from within, and now that's literally medically, epidemiologically true, but also politically and socially true as well. So this is as great a crisis as we've had."
  • "We have the opportunity here to press a kind of reset button about our values."

Burns said that both Lincoln and FDR "made huge and glaring mistakes, but a sign of their leadership was their willingness to accept those mistakes, to acknowledge them publicly, to take the blame, to have the buck stop with them and to move on and try something else."

  • "The greatest measure of leadership is: Are you part of the solution or are you part of the problem?"

Listen in.

8. 1 smile to go: Graduation, 2020-style

Photos (clockwise from upper left): John Locher/AP (3), Ross D. Franklin/AP

Top row: Graduates flip their tassels during a drive-thru graduation for Faith Lutheran High School at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Why it matters: Schools pressing ahead with in-person graduations are getting creative, AP reports.

  • At Kennett High School in North Conway, N.H., the 174 seniors will be allowed to each have four guests join them June 13 for a 10-minute chairlift ride to the summit of the Cranmore Mountain ski resort, where they will get their diplomas and take pictures.
  • In western Maine, rural Oxford Hills High School in South Paris will use a twin-screen drive-in movie theater in Bridgton for graduation on June 21.

Bottom left: Ben Rodriguez, the principal at Buckeye Union High School in Arizona, waves during the Parade of Graduates on the race track at Phoenix Raceway in Avondale, Ariz.

Mike Allen

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