Jul 9, 2020

Axios AM

Good Thursday morning.

⚡ Joy Reid, 51, today was named host of MSNBC's 7 p.m. ET hour, making her one of the nation's leading Black anchors. "The ReidOut" succeeds "Hardball." (N.Y. Times)

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1 big thing: Trump's reopening gamble

Illustration: AĂŻda Amer/Axios

The Trump administration's full-steam-ahead push to fully reopen schools this fall is on a collision course with America's skyrocketing caseload and its decades-long neglect of public education, Axios' Caitlin Owens and Marisa Fernandez write.

  • In a worst-case scenario, schools could become one of the most effective ways the virus travels from family to family.

Why it matters: Getting kids back to school is of paramount importance for children and families, especially low-income ones. But the administration isn’t doing much to make this safer or more feasible.

  • "They’re sort of asking schools to do the undoable," said Anita Cicero, deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, which focuses on epidemics and disasters.

The big picture: How to handle schools and daycare centers amid the pandemic is one of the most vexing questions around the world.

  • Keeping kids at home risks learning setbacks, and prevents them from getting services like food or special needs assistance. It also removes some 40 hours of weekly child care that working parents rely on.

Implementing strong safety measures will require resources that many school districts don’t have, especially as the coronavirus economy depletes tax revenues.

  • The cost of stringent sanitation, personal protective equipment and new personnel would be astronomical.
  • "We want children to be back in schools," said Will Hite, superintendent of Philadelphia’s school district. But the cost of additional cleaning and sanitizing alone could be an extra $60 million to $80 million.

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2. Virus squeezes the "sandwich generation"

As the virus disrupts life for the youngest and oldest Americans, the generations in the middle are buckling under the strain of having to take care of both, Axios' Kim Hart writes.

  • Why it matters: People who make up the so-called sandwich generation — typically in their 30s, 40s and 50s — are in their prime working years.
  • The increasing family and financial pressures on these workers means complications for employers, too.

The pandemic has forced this generation to make near-constant, stressful decisions about how to safely care for their own young children, while also trying to reduce health risks for elderly parents and grandparents.

  • Grandparents are often back-up child care. But many parents are wary of asking grandparents to watch children, and possibly expose them to germs.

The big question: How flexible employers are willing or able to be.

  • Francine Blau, Cornell University professor of economics and industrial and labor relations, said some workers may have to quit their jobs, or look for one that has more flexibility to work from home or during off-hours.
  • "Just like child care, women do a disproportionate amount of parent care of older family members," Blau said. "This puts more stress on women. ... I am concerned some will fall out of the labor force."

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3. Our famous map: Cases rise in 33 states
Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments. Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise, Naema Ahmed, Danielle Alberti/Axios

The pandemic keeps getting worse, all across the country.

  • Thirty-three states saw their caseloads increase this week, continuing a scary nationwide trend that’s been getting worse since mid-June, Axios' Sam Baker and Andrew Witherspoon report.

Why it matters: The U.S. is right back in the situation we were afraid of earlier this year, with a rapidly spreading outbreak, strained hospitals, and projections of more than 200,000 deaths by the end of the year.

What we’re watching: New coronavirus cases surged over the past week in places that were already heading quickly in the wrong direction.

  • That includes Arizona (a 23% jump over the past week), California (38%), Florida (25%) and Texas (28%). All of those states have experienced dramatic increases for several weeks in a row, and those cases are now threatening to overwhelm some local hospitals.
  • Deaths are beginning to tick up in these hotspots.

If you read only one sentence: These worsening conditions across the board make clear that these numbers aren't a product of increased testing, but rather a worsening outbreak.

  • Nationwide, testing increased by 7% over the past week. Cases rose by 24%.

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4. Officer to George Floyd: "It takes a heck of a lot of oxygen to talk"

In Minneapolis, artist Eric Rieger (HOTTEA), works on a portrait of George Floyd made of hundreds of individually painted magnets. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Bodycam transcripts made public yesterday show that as George Floyd told Minneapolis police officers he couldn't breathe more than 20 times, the officer with his knee against Floyd's neck dismissed the pleas, AP's Amy Forliti writes:

  • "Then stop talking, stop yelling. It takes a heck of a lot of oxygen to talk," said Derek Chauvin, the white officer.
  • "You're going to kill me, man," Floyd said. "They'll kill me. They'll kill me. I can't breathe. I can't breathe."

The transcripts show Floyd appearing cooperative at times but becoming agitated as he begged not to be put in a squad car, saying repeatedly he was claustrophobic.

  • "Oh man, God don't leave me man, please man, please man," he begged, later adding: "I'll do anything y'all tell me to, man."

As the encounter began, "a confused Floyd apologized to the officers, whom he called 'sir' and 'Mr. Officer,'" the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

  • "Mom, I love you. I love you," Floyd said. "Tell my kids I love them. I'm dead."
5. Democratic chorus to push Biden recovery plan

Biden supporters outside their home in Joplin, Missouri, on July 2. Photo: Terra Fondriest for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Six of Joe Biden's former 2020 rivals are barnstorming the airwaves and virtual campaign trail in crucial states this week to pitch a new economic recovery plan he released today, "Build Back Better," Axios' Alexi McCammond reports.

  • Why it matters: Biden outperforms President Trump on every issue except for the economy, according to a Pew Research poll of 4,000 adults last month.

Biden is anchoring the economic recovery tour in person, with remarks this afternoon in Dunmore, Pa.

  • The plan proposes investing at least $700 billion to create 5 million U.S. jobs, and tightening "Buy American" laws.

Many of the supporting Democrats aren't under consideration to be Biden's V.P. But the campaign is trying to bring all parts of the Democratic coalition together for the final four months of the election.

  • Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris are scheduled to talk about the plan on MSNBC and CNN today.
  • Mayors Pete Buttigieg and Keisha Lance Bottoms, and Sens. Chris Coons and Tammy Duckworth, will appear across MSNBC and CNBC.
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar will host a virtual roundtable with Arizona voters; Buttigieg is doing the same in New Hampshire; and Beto O'Rourke will join a press call with Texans.

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6. Scranton matters again
Hillary Clinton visits Joe Biden's childhood home in Scranton in 2016. Photo: Charles Mostoller/Reuters

The hometown of Joe Biden and "The Office" is polishing its perennial status as a guidepost for the nation's political mood, Axios AM editor (and Scranton native) Shane Savitsky writes.

  • Biden returns to Scranton, Pa., today with a stop just outside the city limits at a metalworking plant, where he'll unveil his economic recovery plan.
  • President Trump joined a Fox News town hall in Scranton in March.

Why it matters: Scranton, with its mining and railroad roots, is a microcosm of demographic trends and political anxieties that propelled Trump's 2016 election.

  • Trump won Pennsylvania by less than one percentage point in 2016, but Biden now leads Trump in RealClearPolitics poll averages.

Between the lines: The national press has long had a fascination with Scranton's presidential implications. It helps that it's just a few hours' drive from the corridors of power in Washington and New York.

  • In. 2008, RealClearPolitics called it "the new Peoria ... the psychic heartland."

Keep reading.

7. Cover du jour
Courtesy TIME
8. Casual Friday, virus sink Brooks Brothers
The first Brooks Brothers riot, over the Union army draft, in 1863. Woodcut: Bettman Archive via Getty Images

Brooks Brothers, founded in 1818, "dressed the American business class in pinstripes for more than 200 years and survived two world wars," but was no match for the pandemic, The Wall Street Journal reports (subscription).

  • "The closely held company, which is owned by Italian businessman Claudio Del Vecchio, filed for bankruptcy protection in Wilmington, Del."
  • "One of the few brands to make clothes domestically, it plans to halt manufacturing at its three U.S. factories on Aug. 15 and will use the bankruptcy process to search for a new owner."

In 1896, according to Brooks Brothers' official history:

At a polo match in England, John E. Brooks, grandson of the founder, noticed something peculiar about the players’ collars: they were buttoned down so as to prevent their flapping in the wind.
John brought his discovery back to Brooks Brothers, and thus was born the Button-Down shirt, a Brooks classic and what some have called "the most imitated item in fashion history."
9. Virus hits home: Two churches lose 134 members

Parishioners attend Spanish-language Mass at Saint Bartholomew Roman Catholic Church in Queens on Monday. Photo: John Minchillo/AP

The two New York churches have mostly Hispanic congregations, AP reports:

  • Saint Bartholomew Roman Catholic Church in Queens, which lost at least 74 parishioners, this week hosted its first large-scale in-person services since mid-March.
  • At Saint Peter's Lutheran Church in Manhattan — with a death toll of at least 60, almost all of whom attended services in Spanish — the pastors say it's too risky to open any time soon.

Keep reading.

10. âš˝ Microphones in the turf: Covering fanless games
Members of the Columbus Crew march on the field before last night's MLS match against Orlando City in Kissimmee, Fla. Photo: John Raoux/AP

The seats were empty, but fans watching on ESPN got fancy new sounds and visuals — including drones, super-slow-mo replays from cameras behind the goals, and microphones buried in the turf, Bloomberg's Chris Palmeri writes:

  • Why it matters: Major League Soccer's return last night in Kissimmee, Fla., was a proving ground for tech ESPN will use for other pandemic-era sports.

The cost of producing games this way is more than double the normal, Amy Rosenfeld, ESPN’s vice president of production, told Bloomberg.

  • "That includes ... as many as four times the number of microphones."
  • "The network ruled out putting mics on players and referees because it wanted to minimize contact" with its crew.

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