Good Sunday morning, and hope you're finding peace in a worried world.
🎥 Tonight on a virtual edition of "Axios on HBO" (6 p.m. ET/PT) ... Jonathan Swan interviews China's ambassador to the U.S., Cui Tiankai ... Ina Fried visits with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella ... Dion Rabouin talks to Carnival CEO Arnold Donald ... I pepper Ted Cruz in self-quarantine ... and Margaret Talev sits down with Justice Stephen Breyer.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
As worried shoppers buy in bulk, stress is mounting for retailers, warehouses and farms — which need more labor at the very time people are being told to stay at home, Erica Pandey and Joann Muller write.
Farms are anticipating labor shortages as the State Department delays the processing of H-2A visa workers from Mexico.
And as the virus continues to spread, these workers are often in high-risk scenarios, working in close quarters for long hours.
There are some efforts underway to assist food workers, but not enough, experts tell us.
Atul Gawande, a staff writer for The New Yorker who continues to work as a general and endocrine surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, is out with a hopeful piece about lessons that Singapore’s and Hong Kong’s success is teaching us about the pandemic:
Here are their key tactics, drawn from official documents and discussions I’ve had with health-care leaders in each place. All health-care workers are expected to wear regular surgical masks for all patient interactions, to use gloves and proper hand hygiene, and to disinfect all surfaces in between patient consults. Patients with suspicious symptoms ... are separated from the rest of the patient population, and treated — wherever possible — in separate respiratory wards and clinics ...
What’s equally interesting is what they don’t do. The use of N95 masks, face-protectors, goggles, and gowns are reserved for procedures where respiratory secretions can be aerosolized (for example, intubating a patient for anesthesia) and for known or suspected cases of covid-19. Their quarantine policies are more nuanced, too. ...
Dr. Gawande continues that the "fact that these measures have succeeded in flattening the covid-19 curve carries some hopeful implications" for the U.S.:
One is that this coronavirus, even though it appears to be more contagious than the flu, can still be managed by the standard public-health playbook: social distancing, basic hand hygiene and cleaning, targeted isolation and quarantine of the ill and those with high-risk exposure, a surge in health-care capacity (supplies, testing, personnel, wards), and coördinated, unified public communications with clear, transparent, up-to-date guidelines and data.
Our government officials have been unforgivably slow to get these in place. We’ve been playing from behind. But we now seem to be moving in the right direction, and the experience in Asia suggests that extraordinary precautions don’t seem to be required to stop it.
Those of us who must go out into the world and have contact with people don’t have to panic if we find out that someone with the coronavirus has been in the same room or stood closer than we wanted for a moment. Transmission seems to occur primarily through sustained exposure in the absence of basic protection or through the lack of hand hygiene after contact with secretions.
An illuminating piece in the South China Morning Post, the English-language paper in Hong Kong, reports that classified Chinese government data suggests one-third of coronavirus cases there were asymptomatic "silent carriers."
Why it matters: "The approach taken by China and South Korea of testing anyone who has had close contact with a patient — regardless of whether the person has symptoms — may explain why the two Asian countries seem to have checked the spread of the virus."
Above: A couple kiss at the Barcelona airport, Spain.
Below: The White House press room, with new seat assignments to enforce social distancing.
Above: The "Fearless Girl" statue outside the New York Stock Exchange.
Below: An elevator at a shopping mall in Surabaya, Indonesia, enforces social distancing.
1 in 4 Americans are under stay-at-home orders: "New Jersey’s governor followed four other states — California, New York, Illinois and Connecticut — that have imposed unprecedented restrictions to slow the spread of infections, which have risen exponentially." (Reuters)
Vice President Pence and Karen Pence tested negative.
🇰🇵 Kim Jong-un's sister claims that President Trump sent a personal letter to the North Korean leader offering to help the country combat the coronavirus outbreak.
Sign up for Dion Rabouin's daily newsletter, Axios Markets, where this first appeared.
"Through the years, you've never let me down," Kenny Rogers sang in 1981, The (Nashville) Tennessean writes in "Story Behind the Song" (subscription).
See Dolly Parton's tearful tribute: "God bless you, Kenny. Fly high!"
Israeli mother Shiri Koenigsberg Levy, 41, has gone viral with her take on having four kids at home all day, per the N.Y. Post:
Levy says her youngest son’s teacher sent over a musical score:
Hear the rant (in Hebrew).
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