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Happy Friday! Today's Smart Brevity™ count: 1,284 words ... 5 minutes.

  • 🍿 This week on "Axios on HBO": See a teaser clip of HUD Secretary Ben Carson talking with Jonathan Swan.
  • Plus Billie Jean King and other top women athletes on leveling the playing field. Watch Sunday at 6 p.m. ET/PT.
1 big thing: Where the glass ceiling is breaking
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Data: Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics. Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Situational awareness: Sunday is 🌐 International Women's Day 👭 (March 8).

  • Today, Axios kicks off a series examining women's progress and obstacles across various industries.
  • We'd love to hear from our female readers about what you think of our coverage and how we can do a better job to cover topics that interest you. Take a survey here.

Women running for national and state office may be on track to break the record-setting runs and gains of 2018, as Republicans try to catch up with their Democratic counterparts, Axios' Margaret Talev and Naomi Shavin write.

  • Why it matters: It's worth remembering that the struggle to reach the White House masks a lot of real progress at lower levels.

The big picture: Congress notched its highest number of women after the 2018 midterms, and there's a push to go higher.

  • Senate races: 17 female candidates already have filed and 45 more are likely, for a potential total of 62, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. That would surpass the previous record of 53 in 2018.
  • House races: 584 women are running or likely to run, compared with 437 two years earlier, per the center.
  • That includes 217 Republican female candidates for the House this year — a sharp increase from 2018, when there were just 96. Democrats have increased their numbers a bit, too.

But it's not just Congress. There's also progress in the state legislatures:

  • Nevada's legislature made history last year when women captured a bare majority of the seats in both chambers.
  • New Hampshire and Colorado have hit majority milestones for individual chambers.

Reality check: The door's been flung open for women seeking the presidency, yet with Elizabeth Warren's withdrawal from the race, we're on course for a general election that pits a white man in his 70s against a white man in his 70s.

  • A record-breaking six women (including two of color) were among the crowded 2020 Democratic field.
  • Now, only Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii remains.

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2. Alarmism flies on social media
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Data: NewsWhip. Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Many of the coronavirus stories getting shared the most on social media are packaged to drive fear rather than build understanding about the illness, Axios' Neal Rothschild and Sara Fischer write from NewsWhip data.

  • Why it matters: Social media greases and amplifies dramatic headlines, while more functional or nuanced information gets squashed.

One of the biggest dangers during this outbreak is the misinformation that has been spreading about the virus.

Other top pieces used selective information and quotes, like exaggerated death toll predictions and descriptions of Wuhan, China, as a "zombieland."

  • Of the top 50 stories about coronavirus since it entered the news this year, more have come from the Daily Mail (eight) than any other publisher.
  • Second is the New York Post (three).

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3. Coronavirus rattles travelers — and airlines

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Not since the aftermath of 9/11 has there been such a fear of flying, writes Joann Muller, who covers the future of transportation for Axios.

  • Why it matters: The coronavirus has the airline industry bracing for the worst downturn since the Great Recession.
  • Although the government says it's safe to fly domestically, the drumbeat of news about COVID-19 has cautious employers stifling business travel and worried families rethinking their summer vacation plans.

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said yesterday the sudden drop in domestic air travel "has a 9/11-like feel."

  • "We could discount prices tomorrow and it wouldn’t do any good," said Kelly.

What's happening: Travel agents are being inundated with calls and emails from panicked clients canceling trips and seeking refunds.

  • "Travel agents have to become psychiatrists, OK? We have to become therapists for all these people who call in," Tammy Levent, CEO of Elite Travel, told NPR.
  • Even those who bought travel insurance aren't necessarily protected because many policies explicitly exclude epidemics or "known events."

United Airlines cut international flights by 20% and domestic flights by 10%.

Reality check: The public's fear of flying may be overblown, fanned by a wave of cancellations of big trade shows, conferences and events.

  • Because of the way air circulates and is filtered on airplanes, most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on them, according to the CDC.
  • Vice President Pence reiterated it is safe to fly on domestic and international routes except from areas covered by U.S. travel advisories related to coronavirus (China, Iran, South Korea, Italy and Japan).

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🚗 Sign up for Joann Muller's weekly newsletter, Axios Navigate.

4. Why Elizabeth Warren matters

Sen. Elizabeth Warren was joined by her husband, Bruce Mann, as she announced her withdrawal outside her home in Cambridge, Mass. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Elizabeth Warren, her voice shaking as she announced the end of her presidential campaign:

  • "One of the hardest parts of this is all those little girls who are going to have to wait four more years." (N.Y. Times Quote of the Day)

Valerie Jarrett, a top adviser to President Obama and a friend of Warren's, to the WashPost:

  • "Women will not be perceived by some as electable until we’re elected."
  • "I often say progress always seems impossible until it’s inevitable. There was certainly a time when our country might have thought that an African American man was not electable. And what happened? We just kept trying."
5. 💰 Lowest mortgage rate in 50 years

The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit a record low of 3.29% this week — the lowest since mortgage buyer Freddie Mac started tracking the rate in 1971.

  • What's happening: The decline is being driven by investors shifting money out of the stock market and into the safety of U.S. Treasuries as the coronavirus outbreak has deepened. (AP)
6. Global governments left flat-footed
Courtesy The Economist

Governments can slow the ferocious coronavirus pace (left to itself, can double every five to six days), "but bureaucratic time is not the same as virus time," The Economist writes in its lead editorial.

  • "[O]ur analysis, based on patterns of travel to and from China, suggests that many countries which have spotted tens of cases have hundreds more circulating undetected."
  • Increased attention by America may "unearth a runaway epidemic."

Keep reading.

7. Jamie Dimon recovering

Sonya Mays, who runs a nonprofit housing development company in Detroit, appeared with Jamie Dimon on "60 Minutes" in November. Photo: CBS News

JPMorgan Chase chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon, 63, underwent emergency heart surgery yesterday, the bank announced:

  • "The good news is that it was caught early and the surgery was successful. He is awake, alert and recovering well."
  • Dimon is among the world's most visible CEOs, and was a constant presence in Washington's corridors of power as chairman of the Business Roundtable, a job he handed off to Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon last year.

The Wall Street Journal: "When asked about his plans earlier this year, he said he expected to retire in five years. It is the same answer he has given for at least six years."

8. 🎬 Inside a Trump rally

Trump rally in Manchester, N.H., last month. Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump's campaign has weaponized his constant rallies to hoover up data and cash in on a base-first strategy, Axios' Jonathan Swan writes:

  • Data pitches are beamed from Trump surrogates on the screens outside the venues, with a well-rehearsed warm-up speech by campaign manager Brad Parscale and omnipresent MAGA merchandise stalls inside.

For an eye-opening peek at the Trump cultural phenomenon, watch this 49-second clip from "Axios on HBO."

9. First look: Saluting Marie Yovanovitch

Marie Yovanovitch testifies on Nov. 15. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Hamilton Lugar School at Indiana University today will salute the public servants of the foreign service when it presents its first Richard Lugar Award to Marie Yovanovitch, career diplomat and former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

  • Tickets for a discussion with Yovanovitch, a first-generation immigrant, were gone within seven hours, and the event was moved to a larger venue.

The tribute video includes a clip of Fox News' Chris Wallace during impeachment coverage: "If you were not moved by the testimony of Marie Yovanovitch today, you don't have a pulse."

10. 1 shop thing: Coronavirus pop-up

Adilisha Patrom. Photo: Nathan Ellgren/AP

As D.C. stores sell out of masks and hand sanitizer, Adilisha Patrom, owner of a co-working and event space next to Gallaudet University, saw an opportunity and jumped on it, AP's Ashraf Khalil writes.

  • Patrom, 29, a Florida native who came to Washington to attend Howard University, puts together prevention kits with masks, surgical gloves and hand sanitizer, which sell for $20 to $30.

P.S. Starbucks announced: "We are pausing the use of personal cups."

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