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- Today's Smart Brevity™ count: 1,696 words ... 6½ minutes.
☕ Good Tuesday morning.
Image from a memo to President Trump
In late January, President Trump's trade adviser Peter Navarro warned his White House colleagues the coronavirus could take more than half a million American lives and cost close to $6 trillion, according to memos obtained by Axios' Jonathan Swan and Margaret Talev.
Navarro's grim estimates are set out in two memos — one dated Jan. 29 and addressed to the National Security Council, the other dated Feb. 23 and addressed to President Trump. The NSC circulated both memos around the White House and multiple agencies.
Why it matters: The memos reveal detailed health and economic calculations meant to grab and hold the president's attention, when there was time to prepare American citizens and officials.
The president quickly restricted travel from China, moved to delay re-entry of American travelers who could be infected and dispatched his team to work with Congress on stimulus funds.
One senior administration official who received Navarro's memos said that at the time, they were skeptical of his motives and thus his warnings: "The January travel memo struck me as an alarmist attempt to bring attention to Peter’s anti-China agenda while presenting an artificially limited range of policy options."
The Feb. 23 memo began: "There is an increasing probability of a full-blown COVID-19 pandemic that could infect as many as 100 million Americans, with a loss of life of as many as 1-2 million souls."
Flashback: "It's going to have a very good ending for us," Trump said of the coronavirus in a speech on Jan. 30.
lllustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Morgues, funeral homes and cemeteries in hot spots across America cannot keep up with the staggering death toll of the coronavirus pandemic, Axios' Erica Pandey writes.
What's happening: Morgues and funeral parlors in cities hit hardest by the pandemic are overwhelmed, with three or four times as many bodies as they're built to hold.
But the supply is running out. Med Alliance Group, an Illinois company that provides refrigerated trailers to serve as overflow morgues during natural disasters and other crises, tells Axios it's been out of stock since early March.
And funerals themselves are rapidly changing. Funeral homes across the U.S. are limiting services to immediate family members, enforcing social distancing, and even holding virtual ceremonies.
Why it matters: As the U.S. braces for infection rates to peak at different times in different cities, Week 4 of our national survey (1,136 adults, with a ±3.1 margin of error) shows how the pandemic is pervading all of society.
Regionally, those most likely to know someone who tested positive are still in the Northeast:
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Coronavirus testing capacity is still lagging far enough behind demand that the U.S. continues to only test the sickest patients — a bad omen for future efforts to return to normal life, Axios' Caitlin Owens writes.
The Trump administration said yesterday that at least 1.79 million tests have been completed.
At the same time, tests are still generally being saved for those who need them the most, namely the sickest patients and health care workers — indicating a shortage.
What's next: To successfully transition from the shutdown, the U.S. needs to be able to complete at least 750,000 tests per week, according to a report by former FDA Commissioners Scott Gottlieb and Mark McClellan, John Hopkins' Caitlin Rivers and Crystal Watson, and Tempus' Lauren Silvas.
The bottom line: It's hard to see the country being able to shut down twice, so the clock is ticking.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Many of the changes to the world order that have been slowly creeping in will now be accelerated, Dion Rabouin writes in Axios Markets.
Why it matters: There will likely be a retrenchment of globalization and international cooperation combined with further cementing of a winner-takes-all climate, in which the biggest and most powerful companies and countries bowl over and eliminate smaller competitors.
Torsten Slok, chief economist at Deutsche Bank Securities, foresees:
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Sunday’s briefing. Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP
Congress and President Trump agree more spending is needed beyond last month's $2.2 trillion coronavirus rescue package:
Speaker Pelosi said another $1 trillion is needed. She wants another round of direct payments to Americans, and more money for companies to keep making payroll, AP reports.
Trump yesterday repeated his support for an infrastructure bill in "the vicinity of $2 trillion."
David Rubenstein — a business titan who has developed a sideline as a captivating interviewer — will be out Sept. 1 with a book that captures five years of learnings from his onstage and on-air conversations.
Rubenstein is co-founder and co-executive chairman of the private equity firm The Carlyle Group, hosts "The David Rubenstein Show" on Bloomberg TV and PBS, and is chairman of the boards of the Kennedy Center and the CFR.
Cover: Center Street
Three weeks before Election Day, Sean Spicer, who now hosts "Spicer & Co." on Newsmax TV, will release his second book, "Leading America: President Trump’s Commitment to People, Patriotism, and Capitalism."
"Leading America" will be published Oct. 13 by Center Street.
"The coronavirus pandemic is turning everyone into a baker. It’s not as easy as it looks on Instagram," write Annie Gasparo and James R. Hagerty in a Wall Street Journal A-hed.
"With social media, posting photos of your bread, commenting on others’ and swapping recipes gives people a connection that they’ve been missing while stuck at home," home baker Amanda Greiwe told the Journal.
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