Apr 11, 2020

Axios AM

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  • Today's Smart Brevity™ count: 1,378 words ... a 5-minute read.
1 big thing: Generation V for virus

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The pandemic may be a defining experience for Generation Z (basically 23 and younger) that shapes its outlook for decades to come — disrupting its entry to adulthood and altering its earning potential, trust in institutions and views on family and sex, Stef Kight writes.

  • Why it matters: Demographers see lasting impacts from national crises — the AIDS epidemic, 9/11 and the Great Recession — on the political, economic, health and societal aspects of Americans who came of age at the time.

"COVID-19 is going to be the 9/11 of the Gen Z generation," said Jason Dorsey, president of the Center for Generational Kinetics, a research and strategy firm focused on Gen Z and millennials

  • Cyrus Beschloss, founder of the polling organization College Reaction, told Axios: "It's how this generation will experience the notion of "profound trauma shared by the community."

Some will lose grandparents, parents, siblings and friends.

  • Some may shake hands less or be more aware of coming within six feet of strangers, Corey Seemiller, a Gen Z expert at Wright State University's Department of Leadership Studies in Education and Organization, told Axios.
  • Sex aside, kissing's a riskier act in a respiratory pandemic.
  • Young people's lives could become even more embedded with technology because school has shifted online and there's more remote work.
  • Rites of passage are on hold. Graduations are cancelled. So are proms, team sports, weddings, bar mitzvahs, quinceañeras, college visits, spring breaks, summer vacations and sleepovers.
  • Isolation, fear and uncertainty could exacerbate mental health concerns.

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2. Look for the virus to make rising voters more progressive
Lily Haines celebrates 16th birthday on her apartment balcony in L.A., watching friends drive by with signs and balloons. Photo: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

The pandemic's economic hit to Gen Z (23 or younger) will be severe, Stef Kight continues:

  • Gen Z was looking at graduating into a strong economy and low unemployment. "That's all been turned on its head," Kim Parker, Pew Research Center's director of social trends research, tells Axios.
  • Nearly half of workers ages 16-24 held service jobs such as in bars, restaurants and hotels — many of which have now been shut down or greatly scaled back, per Pew. Young workers with less experience can be the first to be let go.
  • College students are losing internships, summer work and first jobs vital to build networks and careers. In a College Reaction survey, 91% cited concerns about the economy and job market, and more than half worried about their finances.
  • Past generations graduating in a recession saw depressed wages and career growth. Just ask millennials who lived it during the Great Recession.
  • "People gradually catch up, but it can take basically the first decade of their career," said Lisa Kahn, an economics professor at the University of Rochester.

The virus may shape Gen Z's views on the government's role in protecting public health and the economy.

  • They or their parents could lose employer-provided health insurance in the middle of a pandemic.

What's next: That could fuel youths' already strong support for progressive, social safety net policies such as universal basic income and Medicare for All.

  • "Gen Z is now going to be able to say, 'I remember where I was' when they started sending out checks to everybody or when health care suddenly became free in order to get tested," CGK's Dorsey said.

The bottom line: The progressive ideas they've supported are now less hypothetical.

3. Big Tech moves into virus vacuum
How contact tracing works. From a briefing deck by Apple and Google

Tech companies are stepping into the void left by a reluctant or incapable federal government, tech editor Scott Rosenberg writes from the Bay Area:

  • They're enabling contact tracing, wrestling with testing, and ramping up the capacity for government operations like unemployment services.

Why it matters: In the U.S., these giant firms — teeming with creative and restless employees, cushioned by big financial reserves and spurred by the urgency of the moment — have stopped waiting for the government and begun taking their own initiative.

Yesterday afternoon, Apple and Google, rivals who manage the world's two dominant smartphone ecosystems, announced a joint project to enable phone-based contact tracing using their phones' Bluetooth signals.

  • They'll offer programming interfaces and operating-system integrations for iOS and Android — allowing governments here and abroad to provide apps that tell users when they've crossed paths with people who've tested positive.
  • The companies undertook this collaboration without direction from the federal government, but in consultation with governments and health authorities around the world.

Amazon is planning to build its own virus testing facility to screen its workers, The Washington Post reported.

  • As millions of newly unemployed workers flooded state websites, Google helped provide New York with a new portal to manage the surge.

Our thought bubble: The pandemic response is breaking from the normal pattern in which government calls for action, specifies needs, and sets standards and priorities while companies apply expertise and deliver results.

  • This time around, in the absence of clear signals and coordination from Washington, the tech giants are forging their own paths.

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4. This is the line for a food bank
Photo: William Luther/San Antonio Express-News via Newseum

This is the bread line of our era. This parking lot was full by 6 a.m.

  • 10,000 vehicles lined up neatly on Thursday in this flea-market parking lot to get groceries from the San Antonio Food Bank — frozen peaches, bags of split peas, beans, fresh produce, canned goods, gallon-jugs of milk.

Food Bank president and CEO Eric Cooper said his organization is planning two more giveaways next week, but he told the San Antonio Express News he may need help from "the National Guard or somebody."

  • "[T]here were those who showed up and said, 'I heard this was happening. I didn’t know I had to register, but I need food. I am a hotel worker and I was laid off.' Those are the stories we heard from a lot of people who showed up."

Give online to the San Antonio Food Bank.

5. Dr. Fauci's prescription for dealing with presidents
In 2014, Anthony Fauci hugs Nina Pham, a nurse who was infected with Ebola by treating a patient. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The New Yorker's Michael Specter, who has known Anthony Fauci since the HIV/AIDS epidemic exploded in the mid-'80s, delivers a 9,300-word profile, "How Anthony Fauci Became America’s Doctor":

He once explained to me that he has developed a method for dealing with political leaders in times of crisis: "I go to my favorite book of philosophy, 'The Godfather,' and say, 'It’s nothing personal, it’s strictly business.'" He continued, "You just have a job to do. Even when somebody’s acting ridiculous, you can’t chide them for it. You’ve got to deal with them. Because if you don’t deal with them, then you’re out of the picture." ...
He learned the value of candor early. "Some wise person who used to be in the White House, in the Nixon Administration, told me a very interesting dictum to live by," he told me in 2016 ... "He said, 'When you go into the White House, you should be prepared that that is the last time you will ever go in. Because if you go in saying, I’m going to tell somebody something they want to hear, then you’ve shot yourself in the foot.' Now everybody knows I’m going to tell them exactly what’s the truth." ...
When dealing with politicians, he told me, he relies on the pseudo-Latin expression Illegitimi non carborundum: Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

Treat yourself.

6. Crime drops around the world
Dallas school district officers Mylon Taylor and Gary Pierre push a car that ran out of gas while waiting in line for a weekly school meal pick-up. Photo: LM Otero/AP

Chicago drug arrests are down 42% in the weeks since the city shut down — a trend playing out globally as cities report stunning crime drops, AP writes:

  • Even among regions that have the highest levels of violence outside a war zone, fewer people are being killed and fewer robberies are taking place.
  • Still, law enforcement officials worry about a surge of unreported domestic violence, and what happens when restrictions lift — or go on too long.

Uh-oh! Chicago did see a spike in gun violence this week, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, which reported 60 shootings — 19 fatal — between Sunday and Thursday.

7. POTUS on reopening America
President Trump arrives at last Saturday's briefing. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Bloomberg via Getty Images
There's no happy talk, Jim [Acosta]. This is the real deal. And I've got to make the biggest decision of my life. And I've only started thinking about that. I mean, you know, I've made a lot of big decisions over my life. You understand that. This is, by far, the biggest decision of my life, because I have to say, 'OK, let's go. This is what we’re going to do.' ...
So it's a very big decision. As I say, it's the biggest decision I'll ever make.
— President Trump at yesterday's briefing
8. 1 smile to go
Photo: Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters

A bespectacled bear eats fruit in a cage at Santa Cruz Zoo in San Antonio del Tequendama, Colombia.

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