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Situational awareness: The World Health Organization just declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. Go deeper
Today's edition is 1,693 words, a 6-minute read.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The spread of the coronavirus has triggered emergency responses from cities of all sizes, as officials grapple with everything from how to pay sick workers and run city operations remotely to whether to cancel major events and close schools.
Why it matters: Local authorities are on the front lines of the heightened anxieties and crippling demands as COVID-19 infiltrates more communities.
What's happening: Mayors are texting and calling each other regularly to share updates and strategies, said Bryan Barnett, mayor of Rochester Hills, Michigan, and president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. One of the hottest topics of conversation right now is communicating with the public.
Here are the top concerns city officials are grappling with.
Remote work: Officials are scrambling to migrate documents to the cloud, get city staff set up with laptops, and figure out how to take care of city business — fixing potholes and processing parking tickets — if workers can't come into the office.
Sick leave: Cities without sick-leave policies have to determine how and whether to pay city staff who get sick or have to self-quarantine.
Schools: Closing schools can have a jarring ripple effect throughout communities, and not all are equipped to teach students outside the classroom.
Events: Canceling festivals and events has devastating economic repercussions. Austin is trying to offset the loss of $360 million brought annually by South by Southwest, for example. Boston canceled its St. Patrick's Day parade.
First responders: Once emergency medical teams are exposed to sick patients, they have to self-isolate. As first responders go into quarantine for extended periods, there is a rapidly dwindling pool of workers to call on.
Small businesses: Main street and mom-and-pop businesses are hurting the most as foot traffic slows and residents stay home. Small-business decline will have a lasting impact on towns' economies and families' financial futures.
Voting precincts: Senior centers and nursing homes are pulling out of serving as precincts for primary voting, leaving cities to scramble for other locations and communicate the changes to voters on short notice.
Where it stands: The Trump administration has been primarily communicating through state governors, and cities want more direct communication even if they aren't yet dealing with major outbreaks.
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios
As cases of the novel coronavirus spread, millions of workers' lack of paid sick leave is becoming a serious concern for local officials and employers — and now an increasingly urgent agenda item in Washington, too.
Driving the news: President Trump said Monday that he would pursue some form of relief for hourly workers, but left a meeting with congressional Republicans yesterday without any specific plan.
By the numbers: About 73% of all private-sector workers have paid sick leave from their employers, and about 88% of professional workers have paid sick leave, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
23 of the 40 largest U.S. cities require employers to offer at least some paid leave, according to CityHealth, an initiative of the de Beaumont Foundation and Kaiser Permanente.
Yes, but: Nearly two dozen states, including Florida, Alabama, Maryland, Tennessee and New Jersey, have passed laws preventing municipalities from adopting their own paid sick leave laws, per Pew. That's a frustration for many mayors.
As confirmed cases of COVID-19 topped 119,000 globally and rose to 1,039 in the U.S., data shows that the public's fears are beginning to grow, too, Axios' Dion Rabouin reports.
Elon Musk. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he's "scouting" central U.S. locations for a factory that would build the upcoming Cybertruck, as well as the Model Y crossover, for sale on the East Coast, Axios' Ben Geman and Joann Muller report.
Why it matters: The announcements via Twitter Tuesday night add some clarity about expansion plans for the Silicon Valley electric automaker, which has recently found itself on better financial ground ahead of key product launches.
What we're hearing: A source familiar with the planning says Nashville, Tennessee, is one of the locations under consideration for the new factory.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Starting March 12, you may receive an invitation to respond online to the 2020 Census. Households in areas that are less likely to respond online will receive paper questionnaires as well. Reminders will be sent the following week.
The bottom line: Yes, this is the first "online" census, but every household will have the option of responding online, by mail or by phone.
The counties in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania that flipped from blue to red in 2016 all have something in common: They're heavily reliant on manufacturing and are still struggling amid industrial decline.
The latest: Joe Biden won Michigan's Democratic primary on Tuesday, the first 2020 contest in a "Blue Wall" state.
Flashback: In 2016, President Trump won by less than 80,000 votes in Blue Wall states Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
By the numbers: In 2000, about 25% of workers in the counties that flipped from safe Democratic zones to the GOP in 2016 worked in manufacturing, double the number in safe blue counties and the country overall, according to a new Third Way analysis.
A closed Colosseum monument in Rome, Italy, March 10. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP via Getty Images
Seattle small businesses pinched as virus keeps workers home (AP)
Startups pitch tech hubs far from Silicon Valley (WSJ)
Vocational schools become latest front in the battle for educational equality (Boston Globe)
Silicon Valley's two-tiered system for white-collar workers is under pressure as coronavirus spreads (Washington Post)
Dressing for the surveillance age (New Yorker)
Millennials find new hope in the heartland (Heartland Forward)
Out of the 50 largest U.S. cities, only 15 have female mayors.
The big picture: Women are running for office at every level of government. Although Elizabeth Warren's withdrawal effectively ended the chance of electing a woman to the presidency this year, female candidates are making headway elsewhere.
Yes, but: Men still far outnumber women as mayors.
What to watch: Female mayors, while still in the minority, are among the most recognizable names in municipal politics.