Apr 27, 2020

Axios AM

🎬 Tonight, "Axios on HBO" returns at a new time — Mondays @ 11 p.m. ET/PT.

  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tells Jonathan Swan how the virus response could have been different. See a clip.
  • Jim VandeHei talks with Walmart CEO Doug McMillon about how stores are changing. See a clip.
  • Ina Fried interviews Joe Walston, who heads the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Global Program, about wet markets and how to prevent the next pandemic. Plus, New York chef Dan Barber and Felix Salmon explore the future of food.

🎤 Tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. ET, please join an Axios live virtual event on education. Kim Hart and Jim VandeHei beam in Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda and Common Sense Media CEO Jim Steyer. 

1 big thing: Virus searches grow more urgent
Expand chart
Data: Google. Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

An in-depth analysis of Google searches since January shows Americans' questions became increasingly urgent as they moved from "What is coronavirus?" to "What is Zoom?" to how to apply for unemployment, Axios' Stef Kight reports.

  • "How to make a face mask with fabric," on April 8, was the most widely-asked coronavirus search in any single day — appearing as a top search in 48 states.

The project by Google Trends, Schema and Axios drew on more than 51,000 of the top-searched Google "what is," "what are" and "how to" queries across the U.S. from Jan. 20. through April 24. More than 22,000 were coronavirus-related.

  • Coronavirus-related Google searches have surged since January, with Feb. 26 the turning point at which "coronavirus" began to surpass the three typical top Google searches nationally — "Facebook," "YouTube" and "Amazon" — according to Google Trends data.

Between the lines: The search trends signal how widely people are heeding (or at least hearing) the advice from public health officials, who early on urged Americans to wash their hands, and more recently to wear masks in public.

With the first report of a confirmed U.S. coronavirus-related death on Feb. 29, queries took on a new sense of immediacy. People sought more information about specific symptoms. They searched, "What is a dry cough?" and "What is considered a fever?"

  • After LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics launched coronavirus tests for commercial use on March 5, searches for "How to get tested" for coronavirus started to surge in a handful of states, then spread to others.
  • "What is a national emergency?" Americans began searching in the days after President Trump proclaimed one on March 13.
  • "How to make hand sanitizer" became a top search in 46 states.
  • "What is martial law?" became a top search in 43 states on March 22.

Searches about working and socializing from home began to rise in late March, with questions like, "How to group Facetime?" and "What is remote learning?"

  • As the economy reeled, and the White House and Congress focused on relief for individuals and businesses, top searches in states turned to: "What is a bear market?" "What is a recession?" "What is a payroll tax cut?"

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2. Testing still sluggish
Data: The COVID Tracking Project. Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

While the number of daily coronavirus tests is going up again, it's still not nearly enough for the country to safely reopen, Axios' Caitlin Owens writes.

  • Why it matters: If we don't know who has the virus, we can't stop it from spreading without resorting to stringent social distancing measures.

Between the lines: Testing has been hampered by shortages of supplies like swabs and test kits. There has also been a lack of coordination between labs with excess testing capacity and communities struggling to meet testing demand.

3. Oil is down, not out

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The reports of the death of the oil industry are, to quote Mark Twain, greatly exaggerated as the coronavirus crisis continues, writes Axios' Amy Harder in her "Harder Line" column.

  • Where it stands: Both history and experts suggest that absent explicit actions by governments, the long-term outlook for the oil industry is at least neutral, and even possibly positive.

The state of play: After the virus has passed, governments will likely have deepening recessions to worry about, putting environmental concerns on the back burner.

  • And economic recoveries usually track closely with increased oil demand.

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4. Pic du jour
Photo: Peter Dejong/AP

In the Netherlands, Pitrik van der Lubbe waves from a crane outside a nursing home to his 88-year-old father Henk, whom he hadn't seen in a month.

5. First look: Small businesses say models will change forever
Courtesy Goldman Sachs

A Goldman Sachs survey of 1,790 participants (54% women) in the firm's 10,000 Small Businesses program, conducted by Babson College and David Binder Research, found that 91% have applied for PPP loans and 71% are still waiting.

Courtesy Goldman Sachs
6. 🎓 Brown's president: Colleges must open this fall

Students lounge in the sun at Brown in 2019. Photo: Lane Turner/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Christina Paxson, the president of Brown University, argues in a New York Times op-ed (subscription) that reopening college campuses this fall "should be a national priority":

The basic business model for most colleges and universities is simple — tuition comes due twice a year at the beginning of each semester. Most colleges and universities are tuition dependent. Remaining closed in the fall means losing as much as half of our revenue. ...
Institutions should develop public health plans now that build on three basic elements of controlling the spread of infection: test, trace and separate.
7. EU report on China brings controversy

Controversy over revisions made to a public report from the European Union under pressure from China is pitting EU staff against each other and against media outlets that have covered the issue, Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian reports.

What happened: The European External Action Service (EEAS), which acts as the EU's foreign ministry, houses a task force that publishes regular updates about disinformation targeting the EU.

  • Politico reported early last week that EEAS would soon be publishing a report about Chinese and Russian disinformation about the coronavirus.
  • But the report didn't appear for several days. When the public version of the report was finally released on April 24, its criticism of China had been slightly softened and several lines removed, when compared with the version Politico had previously seen.
  • Leaked emails revealed Beijing had objected to the report and warned it would harm the EU-China relationship.

Why it matters: The furor over the report demonstrates how behind-the-scenes pressure from an authoritarian government can sow division within democratic societies.

8. Worthy read: Why Seattle did better than New York

Illustration: The New Yorker

Charles Duhigg tweets that he spent a month reporting why New York and Seattle have fared so differently in the pandemic. His piece for The New Yorker concludes that Seattle's response mirrored longtime guidelines of a CDC program known as the Epidemic Intelligence Service. New York's didn't:

The initial coronavirus outbreaks in New York City emerged at roughly the same time as those in Seattle. ... By the second week of April, Washington State had roughly one recorded fatality per fourteen thousand residents. New York’s rate of death was nearly six times higher. ...
[T]he cities’ leaders acted and communicated very differently in the early stages of the pandemic. Seattle’s leaders moved fast to persuade people to stay home and follow the scientists’ advice; New York’s leaders, despite having a highly esteemed public-health department, moved more slowly, offered more muddied messages, and let politicians’ voices dominate.

Keep reading.

9. 🏈 Virtual draft sets record

Alabama outside linebacker Terrell Lewis is drafted by the L.A. Rams in the third round. Photo: NFL via Getty Images

The virtual NFL draft, hosted by Commissioner Roger Goodell from his mancave in Westchester County, averaged a record 8.4 million viewers over all three days on ABC, ESPN and NFL Network, beating last year's record 6.2 million, AP's Joe Reedy reports.

  • Coaches and general managers welcomed their children and spouses into camera range, and draft picks got to watch from home comfortably instead of waiting in a green room.
  • Even stodgy Patriots coach Bill Belichick gave his dog, an Alaskan Klee Kai named Nike, airtime.
Rece Davis and Jesse Palmer on-set in Bristol, Conn. Photo: Allen Kee/ESPN Images via AP
10. 1 smile to go: Isolation proms

Photo: Baton Rouge Youth Coalition via AP

In party dresses or come as you are, with colored lights flashing in their bedrooms and teachers-turned-DJs spinning, high schoolers have turned to virtual proms to salvage at least one slice of fun and tradition for the Class of 2020, AP's Leanne Italie writes.

  • "Get Out" actress Allison Williams was a guest DJ for Zoom partygoers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and "Jack Ryan" star John Krasinski was joined by Billie Eilish when he threw a prom live on YouTube.

The theme was "Royaltee," an acknowledgement that while some kids had already bought their dresses before lockdown, others never got the chance and were welcome in T-shirts.

  • Williams sparkled in a strapless copper sequin dress, joking that she couldn't get up and dance because "there are sweatpants happening."

💃 "One dance with dad?" Dads have taken their dressed-up daughters for living room spins for a dance or two. Video.

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