Apr 21, 2020

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

💻 Please join us Thursday for a live Axios virtual event about bridging the digital divide for teachers and students during the virus crisis, hosted by Axios CEO Jim VandeHei and Axios Cities author Kim Hart.

  • The conversation begins at 12:30 p.m. ET with Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly.
  • Register here.
1 big thing: The ugly side of politics emerges

Hundreds gathered for a "reopen" rally yesterday in Harrisburg, Pa. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Brace yourself for a very predictable next phase of the coronavirus crisis: the deeply partisan, parallel universe reaction to what America should do next.

  • You saw this last night with President Trump announcing via Twitter a ban on legal immigration, an extraordinary move most Republicans will rally around. 
  • You saw this yesterday with three Southern states — Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, all run by Republicans — saying they would open beaches, restaurants and most businesses. 

Why it matters: Republicans and Democrats experienced very different realities with the emergence of the coronavirus, Axios CEO Jim VandeHei points out.

  • Conservatives live in states with fewer cases and consume far more skeptical coverage of the virus threat.
  • Liberals, especially in big cities, experience more death and consume far more ominous coverage. 

Flattening the curve "is now one of the most contentious issues in politics," the N.Y. Times Jeremy Peters writes:

  • "Guns, abortion, voting rights and religious expression ... have emerged as fault lines in the debate over how government is responding to the crisis."

So, like everything in modern America, it appears most dimensions and interpretations of the virus will quickly devolve into Fox vs. MSNBC food fights.

  • What makes this all the more extraordinary is that it's unfolding when most Americans (see next item) see the virus — and returning to work — as a big risk.
Screenshot via CNN

2. Axios-Ipsos poll: Normal now looks too risky
Data: Axios-Ipsos survey. Margin of error: ±3.3 percentage points. Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Big majorities of Americans in both parties say it'd be too risky to return to normal life right now, and would rather wait a few more months, Axios White House editor Margaret Talev writes from the new installment of our Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

  • Why it matters: President Trump has championed the idea that some states should reopen by May 1, but the latest findings from our national poll suggest most Americans aren't ready — and worry it would hurt their health.

The results suggest that the recent protests in Michigan and elsewhere against stay-at-home orders — which have drawn national press coverage — don't reflect the views of most Americans.

  • Democrats feel the risks more acutely, but a clear GOP majority also sees large or moderate risk.
  • Declining trust in the federal government accompanies these sentiments.

Democrats are 20 points more likely than Republicans to oppose an immediate return to "normal":

  • "Republicans are less proximate to it; they're less likely to live in the big urban centers," said Cliff Young, president of Ipsos U.S. Public Affairs. "But it has ... much more to do with where they get their information from."
  • "This is an example of tribalism and two very different narratives about the same facts."

Our weekly survey's sixth installment (1,021 adults, with a margin of error of ±3.3 percentage points) found:

  • The use of masks continues to climb: 64% of people are now wearing one outside the home either sometimes or all of the time, up from 56% a week ago.
  • Around a third have turned to telemedicine: 22% said they'd spoken with a health care provider by phone, and 13% said they'd done so by video chat.

Half of this week's respondents said they're receiving stimulus money from the government.

3. Virus flips grocery habits

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The whole country is eating every meal at home — and that’s triggering widespread shifts in how we eat, Axios' Erica Pandey writes.

  • What's happening: Restaurants are turning into grocery stores and wholesalers and supermarket chains are functioning as grocery deliverers as they adapt to America's new lifestyle.

To help consumers who can't find what they need at picked-over local markets — and to supplement sales — restaurants are selling groceries alongside prepared food.

  • Subway, Panera Bread and Moe's Southwest Grill are among the chains that have started selling bags full of their own ingredients — like fresh produce and bread.
  • Bakeries are getting into the act, selling ingredients needed for home baking — like yeast, butter and sourdough starter — as the frenzy for bread making continues.
  • With many supermarkets sold out of flour, some bakeries are taking 50-pound bags and repackaging them into five-pound bags to sell to retail customers.

Grocery stores are turning into warehouses. The Whole Foods store in Manhattan's Bryant Park temporarily closed to the public this week to focus solely on fulfilling the barrage of grocery delivery orders from Amazon Prime members.

  • "Pandemic shopping" has made delivery windows hard to get through online-only grocers like FreshDirect and Peapod, so brick-and-mortar supermarkets are trying to seize the day.

What to watch: Delivery companies like Amazon and Instacart are staffing up by the tens of thousands as demand keeps surging.

4. Pic du jour
Photo: Arizona Game and Fish Department via AP

A bald eagle nests in a saguaro cactus in central Arizona.

  • It's the first time in decades bald eagles have been found nesting in an Arizona saguaro cactus.
5. Trump's late-night vow

At 10:06 p.m., President Trump tweeted that he would "temporarily suspend immigration," a potentially drastic vow that delighted supporters but could ultimately have little practical effect.

  • Last year, Trump has said he was "not kidding around" about closing the border with Mexico.

Reality check: Due to the pandemic, almost all visa processing by the State Department, including immigrant visas, has been suspended for weeks. (AP)

6. Employers are the real deciders on reopening

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Trump administration's guidance for how to phase into normal life leaves a lot of key actions and decisions up to employers and is vague about the criteria for readiness, Axios Vitals author Caitlin Owens writes.

  • Employers are directed, in all phases, to "develop and implement appropriate policies" regarding social distancing, temperature checks, testing, isolating, contact tracing and sanitation.

Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation and an Axios contributor, emailed some thoughts:

  • "The testing fiasco means employers don’t know who can come back to work. What does an employer do if someone gets sick and tests positive, send everyone home?"
  • "Endless small stuff. Distancing rules in the workplace. Sanitizing surfaces. Congregating. How to safely get coffee."
  • "If you phase employees in, the internal politics of who goes first? Who is more essential?"

Share this story.

7. Oil price dives below zero
Expand chart
Data: FactSet. Chart: Axios Visuals

"The historic low price reflects uncertainty about what buyers would even do with a barrel of crude in the near term," the Wall Street Journal reports.

  • "Refineries, storage facilities, pipelines and even ocean tankers have filled up rapidly since billions of people around the world began sheltering in place."
8. Today is Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day
The ceiling of the Hall of Names, bearing names and pictures of Jewish Holocaust victims, at Yad Vashem: The World Holocaust Remembrance Center, in Jerusalem. Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty Images

Israel's aging population of Holocaust survivors finds itself on the country's annual Holocaust Remembrance Day this year much like they were during World War II — alone and in fear of the unknown, AP's Aron Heller writes from Jerusalem.

  • There are about 180,000 Holocaust survivors remaining in Israel, and a similar number elsewhere around the world.

Holocaust Remembrance Day is one of the most solemn dates on the Israeli calendar. Survivors typically attend remembrance ceremonies, share stories with teenagers and participate in memorial marches at former concentration camps in Europe.

  • Today, survivors mostly stayed indoors, in their apartments and nursing homes.
  • Cafes and restaurants, which typically shut down, are already closed.
9. 🏈 Tom Brady ejected from Tampa park

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said a park patrol spotted Tom Brady, the new Buccaneers quarterback with six Super Bowl rings, working out by himself at a downtown park, AP reports.

  • The staffer went over to tell him he had to leave, then realized who the scofflaw was.

Brady recently moved his family into a furnished mansion in Tampa that he's renting from former New York Yankees star Derek Jeter.

10. Sports networks sans sports

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Virtual competitions, reruns of classic games and, most recently, sports documentaries are filling a void for both TV networks and fans during the coronavirus pandemic, Axios' Kendall Baker and Sara Fischer write.

  • Some experiments have worked (CBS' Masters rewind drew 2.2 million viewers), some started off strong but have since lost steam (virtual racing) and others have failed (ESPN's H.O.R.S.E. challenge drew just 686,000 viewers).

ESPN's "The Last Dance," which chronicles Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls' 1998 championship run, averaged a record-breaking 6.1 million viewers on Sunday night, the network said.

  • The previous high for a documentary premiere in the "30 for 30" era was "You Don't Know Bo," which drew 3.6 million viewers on Dec. 8, 2012.

Why it matters: The MJ doc marked the first time in nearly two months that the sports world as a whole sat down to watch something together.

  • The 10-part series will give ESPN a tentpole event to build its programming around, while providing sportswriters and other content creators with fresh source material for the next five weeks.

What to watch:

  • "Jump Shot: The Kenny Sailors Story," which spotlights the inventor of the jump shot and was executive produced by Stephen Curry, was released digitally on Friday.
  • "Bad Cut," FloSports' documentary about the dangers of extreme weight-cutting in combat sports, premieres on Friday.
  • "A Kid From Coney Island," which tells the story of Stephon Marbury and was executive produced by Rich Kleiman and Kevin Durant, was released digitally earlier this month.

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Mike Allen

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