May 23, 2020

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

🇺🇸 Wishing you and yours a Memorial Day weekend of peace — made possible by the more than 1 million members of the military who made the ultimate sacrifice for America.

  • Many concerts and fireworks shows are canceled, and many parks and pools remain closed.

But America is reopening: Interstate 95 was jammed yesterday afternoon on the road from D.C. to Myrtle Beach. S.C.

  • Weekend rentals at South Carolina beaches were pricey or non-existent.

🛍️ You're invited ... Axios will host a live virtual event on the future of small business on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. with Axios business editor Dan Primack and markets reporter Courtenay Brown. Register here.

  • And watch your inbox this afternoon for a Deep Dive on small business.
1 big thing: Biden's strength with seniors

Photo via Reuters

Women are driving President Trump's declining support among 65+ voters since the virus took hold, Alexi McCammond and Margaret Talev write.

  • Why it matters: The 65+ vote helped put Trump over the top in 2016. Those voters made up more than a fourth of the electorate and went for Trump over Hillary Clinton, 53% to 44%, the Pew Research Center found.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday shows Biden, 77, leading Trump, 73, by 22 points among female voters 65+.

  • Trump leads Biden by 11 points among older men. That's what gets Biden to a 10-point overall lead among seniors.

A Monmouth University poll out last week shows another strength Biden has compared with Clinton when she faced Trump: He's winning voters who don't like either of the major party nominees by more than 40 percentage points.

  • In 2016, Clinton lost them to Trump by 17 percentage points.

Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said: "Just like anyone else, senior citizens see President Trump leading the nation during the coronavirus response."

What's next: AARP will conduct battleground polling later this year to understand what's motivating seniors, the group's Nancy LeaMond said.

  • The coronavirus has elevated members' concerns about nursing home safety and demands for more transparency and protections for patients as well as tax relief for family caregivers.
  • Share this story.

If you missed Axios PM ... Joe Biden says he "should not have been so cavalier" after he told Charlamagne Tha God on "The Breakfast Club": "If you’ve got a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or for Trump, then you ain’t black."

  • “I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy,” Biden said later.

Charlamagne Tha God said on CNN: "A black woman running mate is necessary, especially after today.”

2. Some countries are hardly testing for COVID-19
Data: International Rescue Committee. Chart: Axios Visuals

Coronavirus testing is barely scratching the surface in much of the developing world, Axios World Editor Dave Lawler writes.

  • Americans are more than 200 times as likely to have been tested as people in countries like Nigeria and Somalia, according to data compiled by the International Rescue Committee.
  • "You've seen how difficult it was to get testing going here, so imagine what it's like in a country that's much poorer with much weaker state infrastructure and much weaker science infrastructure," David Miliband, the IRC's CEO, tells Axios in an interview.

Why it matters: The lack of tests in many poorer countries can be attributed to political dysfunction, poor infrastructure and shortages of testing kits and lab capacity.

3. Pandemic milestone: Hertz files for bankruptcy
This Hertz in Paramus, N.J., closed for the pandemic. Photo: Ted Shaffrey/AP

Hertz — which was heavily indebted, but with its stock at a two-year high before the pandemic — filed for bankruptcy last night after global travel halted.

Dan Primack points out that most of the pandemic-era bankruptcies — J. Crew, Nieman Marcus, J.C. Penney and Pier 1 — were for companies that were already on the brink, and the pandemic pushed them over.

  • Hertz generates a huge percentage of its revenue from rentals at airports, where traveler traffic has fallen dramatically.

👀 318,000 people went through TSA checkpoints on Thursday, heading into Memorial Day weekend.

  • Last year, that number was nearly 2.7 million.

What to watch: Creditors could push for Hertz to liquidate part of its fleet, resulting in falling prices for used cars.

Remember: Bankruptcy doesn’t necessarily mean the companies disappear. Pier 1 is liquidating, but the others could stick around.

4. Pictures of America, Memorial Day weekend 2020
Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP

Above: A member of the Army's 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, The Old Guard, wears a face mask as he places flags in front of each headstone for "Flags-In" at Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday.

  • "ANC is currently closed to the public ... open only to family pass holders during the Memorial Day weekend. You must be in possession of a both a face covering and a valid family pass to enter. Access is for gravesite visitation only, no touring."

Below: American flags fly at half-staff at the Washington Monument yesterday.

  • President Trump ordered U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff for a three-day period in remembrance of Americans who have lost their lives due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Photo: Patrick Semansky
Photo/Kathy Willens/AP

Above: Stephen Wilmer of Lindenhurst, N.Y., tries to get a kite aloft for his daughter, Emma, in a light breeze at Jones Beach on Long Island.

Below: Spotted yesterday in Boonton, N.J.

Photo: Mary Altaffer/AP
5. Ramadan ends at sunset
A worker sprays disinfectant inside the Banya Bashi mosque in Sofia, capital of Bulgaria. Photo: Nikolay Doychinov/AFP via Getty Images

For Muslims worldwide, Eid-al Fitr celebrations, beginning this evening, mark the end of fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.

  • What's changed: Muslims typically pray shoulder to shoulder, but now some mosques are implementing social distancing guidelines, Axios' Rashaan Ayesh notes.

In a dispatch from Africa, Reuters' Loucoumane Coulibaly describes the pandemic's effect:

Bakari Diakité normally celebrates the end of Ramadan by visiting the local mosque and hosting a large family gathering. This year, with COVID-19 still spreading in Ivory Coast’s commercial capital Abidjan, he has scaled back festivities.
Instead of heading to the mosque this morning, he prayed on a terrace at home with the few family members he lives with. Their lunch of rice and couscous with bissap juice was more modest than the plates of meats they would normally enjoy with a group of some 30 family and friends.

See more pictures.

6. Patrick Ewing tests positive
Patrick Ewing in January. Photo/Matt Slocum/AP

Patrick Ewing, 57, Georgetown men’s basketball coach and NBA legend, tested positive for the coronavirus and is being treated at an unnamed D.C.-area hospital, the university announced.

  • Ewing tweeted: "I want to share that I have tested positive for COVID-19. This virus is serious and should not be taken lightly. I want to encourage everyone to stay safe and take care of yourselves and your loved ones."

"The D.C. metro area has been one of the hardest-hit parts of the country," the WashPost notes.

  • "The coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, Deborah Birx, said Friday that the region leads the country in the percentage of positive tests and has not seen the decline that other cities have reported."

P.S. Another prominent D.C. patient:

7. Time capsule
Photo: Mark Sherman/AP from Library of Congress archive

Previewing the Supreme Court's arguments-by-phone in time of virus, AP Supreme Court reporters Mark Sherman and Jessica Gresco surfaced this 1993 letter from Justice Anthony Kennedy, now retired, marveling over a new device in his home — and inviting two colleagues who lived nearby to come use it.

8. 1 smile to go: Hitchin' a ride
Photo: Frederick Florin/AFP via Getty Images

A swan swims with cygnets on the Ill River in Strasbourg, eastern France.

Mike Allen

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