Aug 14, 2020

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Happy Friday!

🎬 Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told me in an interview for "Axios on HBO" that he "would be concerned" about a President Biden. Watch a clip.

  • See the full interview Monday at 11 p.m. ET/PT on all HBO platforms. 

🗳️ On Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. ET, join Axios’ Margaret Talev and Kim Hart for our virtual Democratic National Convention coverage, including a conversation with Green Bay Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy. Register here.

1 big thing: New worry about kids' risk from virus

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The coronavirus isn't as deadly for children as it is for adults, but kids still get it and can still get seriously sick from it. The risk is higher for Black and Hispanic children, Axios Vitals author Caitlin Owens reports.

  • Why it matters: In communities with high caseloads, cases among children could explode as schools reopen. And kids in the communities already hit hardest by the pandemic are the most at risk.

The big picture: We don't know much about children and the coronavirus, mainly because the closure of schools and day cares has limited kids' contact with other people, shielding them from the virus more than adults.

In the 20 states that report ages for hospitalizations, plus New York City, between 0.6% and 8.9% of child cases ended up hospitalized, according to a report by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.

  • The AAP report found a 40% increase in child cases during the second half of July — yet another indication that the virus can spread easily among children when given the opportunity.
  • A CDC report released last week found that, although children's hospitalization rate is low, children who are hospitalized are admitted to the ICU at almost the same rate as adults.

Mirroring almost every other pandemic trend, Black and Latino children have had it worse than white children.

  • Hispanic children have been hospitalized eight times more than white children, per the CDC. Black children have been hospitalized five times more.

Thankfully, very few children have died from their infections.

2. How small businesses got screwed

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The story of American business in the pandemic is a tale of two markets: tech firms and online retailers as winners awash in capital alongside collapsing brick-and-mortar and mom-and-pop shops, Axios Markets editor Dion Rabouin writes.

  • Why it matters: The virus has created an environment where losing industries like traditional retail and hospitality — as well as a sizable portion of firms owned by women, immigrants and minorities — are wiped out.
  • This dichotomy of winners and losers could shape the face of American business for decades to come.

What's happening: Banks are tightening lending standards and weeding out some of the neediest borrowers.

  • The Fed's latest survey of senior loan officers finds that banks have raised interest rates and collateral requirements as well as loan covenants and are charging higher premiums for what they see as riskier loans.

What we're hearing: Lenders are applying a "COVID filter" to determine which companies are risky, making decisions largely based on firms' performance from January through June, says Alex Cohen, CEO of Liberty SBF, a commercial real estate lender that works with the SBA to provide firms government funding.

  • "If you’re a prime borrower whose business has done well, survived and thrived, during COVID, your access to capital is significantly better than businesses that have had any disruption whatsoever," he tells Axios.
  • "For businesses like hospitality, health care, restaurants — which have been the hardest hit of any that we cover — access to capital is just extremely difficult if not impossible."

The bottom line: While big companies have borrowed a record $1.9 trillion in corporate debt, including leveraged loans, investment grade and junk bonds thanks to the Fed's unprecedented asset purchases ...

  • More than 80,000 small businesses permanently closed from March 1 to July 25, including about 60,000 local businesses, or firms with fewer than five locations, according to Yelp.
3. Exclusive: Biden ad calls for nationwide mask mandates

Screenshot via YouTube

Joe Biden's campaign today launches an ad calling for "NATIONWIDE MASK MANDATES," after Biden said yesterday that every governor should require outdoor mask use for at least three months, Axios' Hans Nichols reports.

  • Why it matters: With Sen. Kamala Harris in place to amplify the message, the campaign is signaling it will hit President Trump on the pandemic every day.

A campaign official tells Axios the ad, "Ready to Lead," will run in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Arizona and Nevada.

  • "Joe Biden knows we need to listen to medical experts, and take action now," the narrator says. "That starts by expanding testing; calling for mask mandates nationwide, starting immediately; and producing more protective gear here at home."

A second virus-themed ad, "Dignity," targets seniors, with cuts from Biden's big virus speech on June 30, played over scenes of the former vice president comforting older Americans.

  • Both ads, as well as a 60-second spot released yesterday, are part of massive existing buys worth $20 million this week, and $24 million next week.

In a new memo, deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield says Trump has told more than 150 virus lies:

  • "As Vice President Biden has said many times, the American people can face any challenge if you simply tell them the truth."
  • The memo underscores the Biden campaign’s theory of the election: It will come down to the virus and Trump’s response to it.

Between the lines: Bedingfield's memo signals that, if elected, Biden would be prepared to tell Americans things they may not want to hear when it comes to controlling the virus.

  • Biden acknowledged yesterday that masks are "uncomfortable," before adding that a mandate would get "our kids back to school sooner and safer."

The other side: Trump appears to welcome a mask smackdown, instantly pouncing on Biden's call for governors to require Americans to wear masks "when they're outside for the next three months, at a minimum."

  • At a White House briefing, Trump called it a "sweeping new mandate to law-abiding citizens."

Share this story.

4. Pics du jour: Nation's first football game
The Davis Darts' Caden Blackner and Ephraim Fiso take down the Herriman Mustangs' Ephraim Fiso. Photo: Chris Gardner/Getty Images

With masked coaches, refs and fans, America's first mid-pandemic high school football game was played yesterday at Mustang Stadium in Herriman, Utah.

  • The Davis Darts beat the Herriman Mustangs, 24-20, per the Salt Lake Tribune.
  • "Game Tonight: SOLD OUT," said a hand-lettered sign out front.

Utah is the first of at least 35 states to try to play prep football this fall, according to MaxPreps.

  • 14 states and D.C. are pushing the season into 2021.
Mustangs' student section. Photo: Chris Gardner/Getty Images
Photo: Chris Gardner/Getty Images
5. Behind the scenes: How the Israel-UAE deal came together
President Trump announces the deal with (from left) Brian Hook, Avi Berkowitz, Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Jared Kushner, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

The breakthrough in talks among the U.S., Israel and UAE on yesterday's normalization deal began in June, with an op-ed in the Israeli press in which UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba stressed that Israel had to choose between normalization and annexation, Barak Ravid reports for Axios from Tel Aviv.

  • At the end of June, Al Otaiba approached Jared Kushner and White House envoy Avi Berkowitz with a proposal: The UAE would agree to normalization with Israel in return for an Israeli announcement that West Bank annexation was off the table.
  • Kushner liked the proposal, and Berkowitz began attempting to lay the groundwork.

The White House had its own reservations about annexation, which Berkowitz discussed with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in meetings over three days in late June.

  • Momentum grew. Kushner spoke on the phone several times with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed (MBZ), the UAE's de facto ruler.
  • He and Berkowitz had at least two dozen meetings with Israel's ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, and Al Otaiba.

Several days ago, an agreement was reached in principle but was kept secret.

  • The deal was finalized on Wednesday in a conference call among President Trump, Netanyahu and MBZ.

What's next: Trump said he'll host Netanyahu and MBZ at the White House for a signing ceremony in about three weeks.

Go deeper: Palestinian president fumes.

🗞️ How it's playing ...

The New York Times
6. Axios-Survey Monkey poll: Gulf in voting plans for Rs, Ds
Data: SurveyMonkey poll of 2,847 U.S. adults, Aug. 11–12 (±3% margin of error). Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

An Axios-SurveyMonkey poll finds that 80% of conservative Republicans plan to vote in person, compared with just 33% of liberal Democrats, Axios White House editor Margaret Talev writes.

  • Seven in 10 Republicans surveyed say mail-in voting is less likely to produce fair and accurate results, while Democrats say on balance they believe it will make the results slightly more fair and accurate.

Why it matters: As President Trump seeks to delegitimize absentee voting and politicize the Postal Service, the findings in this national survey document the potential for wide mistrust.

  • SurveyMonkey chief research officer Jon Cohen says: "For Republicans, the lack of trust in the system has shot up."

📊 Go deeper: Harris lifts Biden.

7. True virus toll has already passed 200,000

The N.Y. Times reports that at least 200,000 more people in the U.S. "have died than usual since March," according to its own analysis of CDC data.

8. Voting @ Dodger Stadium
Photo: Mark J. Terrill/AP

Dodger Stadium will become a voting center in November, with more teams expected to make dormant arenas and stadiums available soon, AP reports.

  • Any registered voter in Los Angeles County will be able to visit the stadium over a five-day period. Parking will be free.

The stadium site is part of a campaign by More Than A Vote, a nonprofit coalition of Black artists and athletes, including LeBron James, Patrick Mahomes and Sloane Stephens.

9. Tomorrow is 75th anniversary of V-J Day
Colorized photo: Anju Niwata and Hidenori Watanave, via AP

Tomorrow is the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, then known as Victory Over Japan Day.

  • To spark lost memories, Anju Niwata, 18, and her professor, Hidenori Watanave, used AI to colorize historic photos, AP reports from Tokyo.
Photos: U.S. Coast Guard/Navy Radiophoto, Anju Niwata and Hidenori Watanave, via AP

See more colorized pics.

10. 1 smile to go: Hitchhiking seal
Photo: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

Most seals are elusive. But in Weymouth, England, a seal called Sammy approaches people on the beach, and catches the occasional ride on a paddle board.

Mike Allen

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