Jul 17, 2020

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

😷 Situational awareness ... Chains requiring masks: Walmart (effective Monday), Target (effective Aug. 1), Best Buy, Kohl's, CVS (effective Monday), Starbucks, Kroger and Publix.

  • Walmart has created the role of Health Ambassador. The specially trained ambassadors, wearing black polos, will be stationed near the entrance "to remind those without a mask of our new requirements."
1 big thing: How Warren quietly shapes Biden

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

As Joe Biden rolls out new policy details and speeches around his major campaign platforms, Sen. Elizabeth Warren's hand is increasingly visible, Axios' Alexi McCammond reports.

  • Warren's progressive brand has rubbed off on Biden rhetorically as well as substantively. "We must reward work as much as we rewarded wealth," Biden he said last week in Pennsylvania.

Why it matters: If Biden wins in November, it's clear that Warren will significantly shape his approach — on domestic policy in particular — whether or not her name's on the ticket.

Her influence helps explain why Warren is still seen as a strong potential V.P. pick in a year when being 71 and white probably works against her.

  • Biden is expected to announce his running mate in early August from an all-female shortlist.

The climate plan Biden touted in a speech this week includes an expedited target date for 100% clean electricity, on a timetable favored by Warren and another former contender, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, as Reuters noted.

  • Several elements of Biden's economic recovery plan released last week were directly influenced by Warren and her team, three people familiar with the discussions told Axios and Biden campaign officials confirmed.

Biden has adopted several stances shaped by Warren and her team:

  • On March 14, Biden endorsed Warren's bankruptcy proposal, which includes a student debt relief portion.
  • About a week later, he tweeted about increasing Social Security checks by $200 per month and forgiving a minimum of $10,000 per person in federal student loans — two of Warren's plans.
  • For his "Build Back Better" economic recovery plan, three sources told Axios that the Biden and Warren teams consulted closely. The procurement investment and a focus on green manufacturing were derived from two of Warren’s plans she unveiled during the primary.

Between the lines: Warren and Biden have been holding regular policy discussions since she dropped out in early March.

  • They've appeared together in joint op-eds, outlining policy proposals for addressing government corruption and providing more oversight.

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2. Work-from-home raises online vulnerability

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

More hacks ahead: That's the warning that this week's wild Twitter heist has for campaigns, companies and public officials, Axios' Margaret Harding McGill writes.

  • Why it matters: With the election less than four months off, the takeover of high-profile Twitter accounts provided a grim reminder of the vulnerability of our communications platforms, government systems and business networks.

The big picture: Four years ago at this time, the Clinton campaign was reeling from a public dump of pilfered Democratic party emails that turned the 2016 election cycle upside down.

  • Partly as a result of that fiasco, potential hacking targets are more aware than ever of the potentially catastrophic consequences of losing control of their online accounts.
  • More people are taking precautions, and fewer are likely to fall for the most obvious threats.

But attackers have learned a lot since 2016, too. And the pandemic's work-from-home era has created fresh vulnerabilities for users who are adapting to new online work arrangements without ready access to onsite support.

  • Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, warned that the hack revealed "a worrisome vulnerability in this media environment — exploitable not just for scams, but for more impactful efforts to cause confusion, havoc, and political mischief."
  • Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) wants Twitter to encrypt direct messages. (A number of his colleagues want to make strong encryption illegal.)

The bottom line: The attackers' apparent goal of fleecing gullible users of bitcoin was modest compared to mayhem they could have pursued — manipulating markets, triggering international crises, or falsifying voting information.

3. Doctors get edge against coronavirus

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

There's still a lot doctors and scientists don't know about the coronavirus, but they tell Axios' Caitlin Owens they've come a long way since February and March, when they were essentially flying blind.

  • Doctors have learned that flipping patients onto their stomachs instead of their backs can help increase airflow to the lungs.
  • Providers now prefer high-flow oxygen over ventilators, despite the early focus on ventilator supply.

Researchers have also discovered new utility in old drugs:

  • Dexamethasone, a cheap steroid used to treat inflammation, has been found to reduce deaths by one-third among patients on ventilators and one-fifth among those on oxygen.
  • Preliminary data has shown that remdesivir, an antiviral, probably doesn't save seriously ill patients' lives, but can help others get out of the hospital a few days earlier. "Anyone who has evidence of lung injury or needing oxygen, we give it," said Armond Esmaili, a hospitalist at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center.
  • Doctors have also learned to put all COVID patients on drugs to prevent blood clots, Esmaili said.

What we’re watching: These advances in treatment protocols will only go so far, especially if hospitals in states like Florida, Arizona and Texas become too full to put them into practice.

  • In states with rising cases, "I think you’re going to see mortality rates increase there because of that phenomenon of hospitals being unable to deliver optimal care, because they don’t have the staffing," said James Lawler, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
  • "You don’t want your ICU nurse to have to take care of five or six patients at the same time," he said.

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4. Pics du jour
Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany flips through the topics in her binder during yesterday's briefing.

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A worker disinfects seats in the White House briefing room.

5. Jobs market poised to reverse gains
Data: Department of Labor. Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Nearly four months after the coronavirus pandemic began to rock the economy, the number of people filing claims for unemployment insurance because of COVID-19-related job losses is increasing, Dion Rabouin writes in Axios Markets.

  • Why it matters: The increases in pandemic-specific unemployment claims started well before the recent surge in infections. That suggests the job losses were the result of firms laying off workers because of lost business, rather than government-mandated closures or caution due to the virus.

Applicants for the newly created Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program have risen consistently since the week ending April 11 when the government first started reporting claims figures.

  • It is now hovering at around 1 million new claims a week, while the number of continued claims, or people approved for and receiving aid under the program, rose to 14.3 million for the week ending July 4.
  • Pandemic Unemployment Emergency Compensation — a separate program that provides additional benefits to individuals who previously collected state or federal unemployment compensation but exhausted those benefits — is rising toward 1 million weekly claims.

The big picture: Jobless claims are still more than double the worst weeks in U.S. history.

  • The previous record high was 695,000, set in 1982.
  • The U.S. has now seen 17 straight weeks of claims totaling over 1 million.

⛏️ Go deeper: A JPMorgan Chase Institute report finds that large cuts in consumer spending will result if Congress doesn't extend the $600-a-week unemployment supplement.

6. Time capsule: Mask madness
Photo: Rick Egan/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP

Commissioners in Utah County abruptly adjourned a meeting in Provo because citizens — who were demanding a mask exemption for local schools — refused to follow social-distancing guidelines, AP reports.

  • Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) said: "People get caught up in almost a mob mentality."
7. Life lessons: A great model for all of us
Via Twitter

Hat tip:

Via Twitter
8. 15 women describe Redskins harassment

Emily Applegate, a former Redskins marketing coordinator, says she was routinely harassed by two team executives. Photo: Celeste Sloman for The Washington Post via Getty Images

15 former female employees of the Washington Redskins told The Washington Post's Will Hobson and Liz Clarke that the organization had a culture of "relentless sexual harassment and verbal abuse that was ignored — and, in some cases, condoned — by top team executives."

  • While the women "did not accuse [team owner Dan Snyder] of acting improperly with women, they blamed him for an understaffed human resources department and what they viewed as a sophomoric culture of verbal abuse among top executives that they believed played a role in how those executives treated their employees."

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9. End of the jumbo

A British Airways Boeing 747-400 taxis in San Francisco in 2015. Photo: Louis Nastro/Reuters

British Airways, the world’s largest operator of Boeing 747s, will retire its entire jumbo jet fleet after the pandemic sent air travel into freefall, Reuters reports.

  • For over 50 years, Boeing's "Queen of the Skies" was the world’s most recognizable jetliner, with its humped fuselage and four engines.
  • BA was planning to retire the aircraft in 2024. But with forecasts that business travel will take years to recover, the airline said it's unlikely that its 747s will ever operate commercially again.
10. 1 smile to go: The closest you've ever seen the sun
Photo: European Space Agency via AP

A European and NASA spacecraft has snapped the closest pictures ever taken of the sun, revealing countless little "campfires" flaring amid vibrant swirls of yellow and dark smoky gray, AP reports.

  • The Solar Orbiter launched from Cape Canaveral in February.

The orbiter was about 48 million miles from the sun — about halfway between Earth and the sun — when it took the stunning high-res pictures last month.

Photo: European Space Agency via AP
Mike Allen

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