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⏰ Today's Smart Brevity™ count: 1,081 words ... 4 minutes.
🧀 1 big thing: Grand reopening experiment
A rolling, living experiment — and preview of coming attractions for the rest of the country — has begun in Wisconsin, after a surprise court ruling made the Badger State the first in the nation where businesses can reopen.
President Trumpcalled the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling a win: "The people want to get on with their lives. The place is bustling!"
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, the loser in the court case, warned of “massive confusion” after his stay-at-home order was thrown out Wednesday night.
Some bars filled within hours, picking up their St. Patrick's Day celebrations where they'd left off.
Restaurants, hair salons, barbershops, spas and gyms opened around the state, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
At Hair Extraordiniar By Michael in Menomonee Falls, patrons waited in their cars until it was their turn.
But the party was short-lived in the state's biggest areas — including Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay and more — which pledged to continue the state's "safer at home" rules.
Why it matters: For several years, Wisconsin has been a testing ground for GOP maximalism on labor, gerrymandering and other fronts — especially under the previous governor, Scott Walker (R), Axios' Scott Rosenberg writes.
The state's reopening conflicts reflect national divisions that have only deepened with the pandemic.
The big picture: Lawsuits challenging lockdown measures, in whole or in part, are pending across the country. But they're mostly failing, Axios' Sam Baker reports:
Wisconsin’s high court is the only one to strike down an entire stay-at-home order.
Even lawsuits targeted at narrow, specific parts of states’ orders mostly failed, with some exceptions. Different courts in different jurisdictions have reached different conclusions about restrictions on religious gathering, for example.
And judges have rebuffed some restrictions that targeted abortion providers.
Overwhelmingly, though, the trend is for courts to uphold governors' orders, even highly restrictive ones like Michigan's and California's.
What's next: The Wisconsin governor announced that his administration is working toward a new administrative rule for managing the crisis, a process he had warned could take weeks and might lead nowhere, AP reports.
A notice made clear the new rule will mirror Evers’ earlier recommendations.
🍟 In a sign of reopening complexity, McDonald's issued a 59-page guide for franchisees, urging them to close public soda fountains or deploy a staff member to monitor them, The Wall Street Journal reports (subscription).
4. Picture of the week
In Raleigh, demonstrators with weapons and flags paraded outside a Subway restaurant last weekend as North Carolina began loosening restrictions.
6. Focus group: Why the virus is keeping some Iowans with Trump
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
President Trump has called himself a "wartime president" — and that idea is sticking with some Iowa swing voters who think he should be the one to see this through, Alexi McCammond writes.
These focus group participants say they're less focused on national politics and more plugged in to what's going on in their region, consuming mostly local news and getting information from their governor.
Not a single participant had watched a Joe Biden virtual event or heard anything from him beyond a tweet.
At our (virtual)Engagious/FPG focus group, we heard from eight voters who flipped from Barack Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016.
Two of the voters said they plan to vote for Biden.
Reality check:Polls show more Americans disapprove of Trump's handling of the coronavirus than approve, and more than half of Americans say they're very concerned about the economy right now.
"Roughly 100,000 stores are expected to close over the next five years — more than triple the number that shut during the previous recession — as e-commerce jumps to a quarter of U.S. retail sales from 15% last year, UBS estimates." —The Wall Street Journal
9. Maintaining dignity for the dead
In this weekend'sN.Y. Times Magazine, Maggie Jones, with haunting photography by Philip Montgomery, writes about funeral homes, overwhelmed with bodies, struggling to fulfill their mission to grieving families:
As the Bronx has changed over generations, so have the Farengas’ clients — in addition to Italians, Irish and Puerto Rican families, Nick and Sal work with families who are Albanian, Guyanese, Nigerian, Indian and Vietnamese. The brothers know all about Irish wakes and large Italian funerals but also that Albanians sometimes ship the dead home, to be buried in their ancestral ground. Many Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists hold ceremonies at crematories where they witness the body being placed in the retort, as the cremation furnaces are known.