Apr 1, 2020

Axios AM

đŸŽ€ You're invited! Axios will host a live virtual event Friday at 12:30 p.m. ET, with virus perspectives from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and Edelman U.S. CEO Richard Edelman on his Trust Barometer.

đŸ€ŠđŸ»â€â™‚ïž Welcome to April and, for those with kids at home, this is your April Fools' warning.

🎈 Google, which has a tradition of April Fools' hijinks (like announcing a non-existent Google Play for Pets), will "take the year off from that tradition out of respect for all those fighting the Covid-19 pandemic."

  • Google said in an internal email reported by Business Insider: "Our highest goal right now is to be helpful to people, so let’s save the jokes for next April, which will undoubtedly be a whole lot brighter than this one."
1 big thing: Rich sheltered, poor shafted
Data: Axios/Ipsos survey. Margin of error ±2.8 points for full sample. Margin for subgroups ranges from ±5 to ±9 points. Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

The coronavirus is spreading a dangerous strain of inequality, Axios White House and politics editor Margaret Talev writes.

  • Better-off Americans are still getting paid and are free to work from home, while the poor are either forced to risk going out to work or lose their jobs.

Driving the news: That sobering reality emerges from Week 3 of our Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index. (1,355 adults were polled online Friday through Monday, with a margin of error of ±2.8 points.)

  • The survey finds Americans with less education and lower incomes are far more likely either to have to keep showing up at their workplaces — putting themselves at greater daily risk of infection.
  • And they're more likely to have seen their work dry up.

Just 3% of the lowest status group said they're working remotely or from home.

  • That rose significantly with income.

Why it matters: "It's a tale of two Americas," said Cliff Young, president of Ipsos U.S. Public Affairs.

  • "The rich and affluent have gone virtual. They’ve maintained their jobs through the virtual world. The working and the poor are more exposed."

Between the lines: Ironically, those with the most resources and least exposure are significantly more likely to say their emotional health is taking a hit.

  • 45%+ of respondents in the poll's upper two socioeconomic bands (out of five) said their emotional well-being declined.
  • That was true for just 34% of the two lower groups, and 36% of the middle.

Share this story; see more results and full methodology.

2. Trump's new dark, dire outlook
Photo: Chris Kleponis/Polaris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Never has President Trump looked and sounded so somber and downbeat as he did at dinnertime yesterday as walked America through the "very, very painful" days of death ahead. 

  • Why it matters ... It was a moment the history books won’t forget: Trump, who a week ago was talking about an Easter-time return to work, warned in grim detail of the potential for 100,000 to 240,000 deaths.
  • Gone was the wishful thinking and market-soothing spin. It was a raw, reality-based reminder the worst is soon to come. 

"I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead," Trump said before introducing his medical experts at the 2 hour, 12 minute briefing.

  • "We’re going to go through a very tough two weeks. And then hopefully, as the experts are predicting — as I think a lot of us are predicting, after having studied it so hard — you’re going to start seeing some real light at the end of the tunnel."
  • "But this is going to be a very painful — very, very painful two weeks."

Between the lines: Trump, without digressions to points conservative skeptics have been pushing on him, handed the podium to his top medical advisers — Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx — and stood in front of their grim graphics.

  • The data projects that the virus could kill 100,000 to 240,000 Americans — even with current social-distancing guidelines .
  • Birx, the White House coronavirus coordinator, said estimates showed between 1.5 million to 2.5 million Americans could have died from the virus "without mitigation."
  • More than 3,900 people with the virus have died in the U.S., "a figure that has more than tripled since Thursday morning," per the N.Y. Times.

Turning to his personal perspective, Trump said: "When you look and see at night [on TV] the kind of death that’s been caused by this invisible enemy, it's incredible. I was watching last night, Gov. [Phil] Murphy of New Jersey say '29 people died today,' meaning yesterday, and others [New York] talking about numbers far greater."

  • "I spoke to some of my friends — they can't believe what they're seeing."
  • Referring to scenes he had seen on TV that morning of doctors and nurses going into the hospital where he grew up in Elmhurst, Queens, Trump said: "It's like military people going into battle, going into war."

How it's playing ...

3. Virus spawns new labor movement

Illustration: AĂŻda Amer/Axios

The pandemic is spawning a new labor movement, after union membership fell to a record low last year, Axios' Joann Muller writes from Detroit.

  • Workers are increasingly banding together to put pressure on employers and raise public awareness about health and safety issues they're facing on the job.

Why it matters: The new labor movement is amplified by the power of social media, and fueled by concerns that workers deemed essential during the crisis are putting their lives at risk to ensure the well-being of others.

Driving the news: Instacart shoppers called for a strikes, and some Whole Foods employees used an online petition to demand hazard pay.

  • Unionized nurses, flight attendants and auto workers have all leveraged their collective voices in recent weeks to try to influence policy and corporate decision-making during the crisis.
  • The United Auto Workers — which has had at least nine of its members succumb to the disease in the past week — pressured Detroit carmakers to close their factories on March 18 until social-distancing protocols could be established.
  • Nurses in New York, Georgia, Illinois and California staged protests this week calling for more personal protective equipment like masks, gloves and gowns.
  • The Association of Flight Attendants union successfully made its case to Congress to assist aviation employees in the $2 trillion stimulus bill. Even with drastically decreased air traffic, the workers will still get paid.

Between the lines: Social media is proving to be a new avenue for workers to organize.

  • "We could be on the cusp of a whole new wave of worker actions, and organizing, though not necessarily through traditional unions," MIT professor Thomas Kochan tells Axios.
  • "Yesterday’s break room is today’s Slack chat," agrees AFL-CIO spokesman Tim Schlittner. "It's an incredible tool in bringing people together and can serve a really important role in growing the labor movement."

But noisy protests don't necessarily result in lasting change, notes Kochan.

  • "The upside of these actions is they get the attention of the public. The downside is they don’t build sustainable, ongoing organizations like unions."

What to watch: After urging Detroit automakers to shut down, UAW members are now volunteering to produce medical supplies as GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler respond to Trump's demand for their help.

4. Pictures of America
Photo: Wade Howell/Twitter via Reuters

Above: The Empire State Building is lit in red to honor emergency workers.

Below: Texas Tavern in Roanoke, Va., is now open only for takeout.

Photo: Heather Rousseau/The Roanoke Times via AP
5. 📚 The sweep of history

The author Paul Theroux writes in an essay for New York Times Opinion:

This peculiarity that we are now experiencing, the nearest thing to a world war, is the key theme in many of Shakespeare’s plays and Jacobean dramas, of old ballads, apocalyptic paintings and morality tales.
It is the essence of tragedy and an occasion for license or retribution.
As Hamlet says to his father’s ghost, "Time is out of joint."
6. "This could be a hell of a bad two weeks"

Because Axios readers relish data, and for history, here are the charts that President Trump presented yesterday, and that he said influenced his decision to extend nationwide social-distancing guidelines to April 30:

Graphics: The White House
7. 🧼 Today is Census Day

This is the official kickoff, and the Census Bureau says its self-reporting numbers are on track despite the virus, Axios Cities author Kim Hart reports.

  • April 1 is the reference date for responses — you should include everyone living in your household on this day when filling out the form.
  • As of yesterday, about 50 million households — a national response rate of 34.7% — have responded, Michael Cook, chief of the Census Bureau's Public Information Office, told Axios.

The bureau has not been able to visit college campuses, and many students have returned home or are staying with friends — causing confusion about which address to report.

  • Cook says students should use the address where they usually live during classes.

Census info.

8. 1 good thing: "Choral distancing"
Photos: Jens Meyer/AP

A flutist plays "By loving forces silently surrounded," by Dietrich Bonhoeffer on her balcony in Erfurt, Germany.

  • Silvius von Kessel — organist, choirmaster and composer of Erfurt Cathedral — conducted residents on their balconies and in their windows.

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