May 20, 2020

Axios PM

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 358 words, a 1.5-minute read.

Situational awareness: Supreme Court puts a hold on the release of secret Mueller grand jury testimony to the House of Representatives.

1 big thing: 🎓 in person

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Not every graduation in America is going virtual this year.

  • In Alabama's Birmingham suburbs, some 1,950 graduates and guests could attend tonight's ceremony at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium (famous from MTV's "Two-A-Days"), AP reports. Another 3,450 could be on hand tomorrow.

Why it matters: Health officials fear large gatherings could result in coronavirus spread, especially since many people are contagious before experiencing symptoms.

  • Much of the U.S. is on week three of loosened coronavirus restrictions, which experts initially assumed would cause outbreaks to surge, but new case counts are falling in the U.S.
  • All 50 states have now loosened their restrictions to some degree, the N.Y. Times notes.
  • Alabama's case count rose in early May, and it's held steady over the past week.

Between the lines: Health officials keep warning against large gatherings, but the ceremonies are outdoors with fewer guests and more space, plus face masks are provided.

  • In two nearby cities that also held outdoor ceremonies, the AP notes, few of the attendees wore protective face masks, and seniors hugged and gathered in tight groups of friends for pictures.

The big picture: Texas is charting a similar path after Gov. Greg Abbott said outdoor graduations are permissible starting May 29.

  • In San Antonio, some students get two guests and a single parking space for their outdoor ceremonies in June, per The Rivard Report, a local news nonprofit.
  • The city's Northside district is having “contactless” ceremonies featuring students walking individually across a stage. The schools will edit the walks into a single video, per the San Antonio News-Express.

The bottom line: These graduations are good examples of the temptations Americans will face — and the lengths they'll go to preserve some sense of normal — until a vaccine is widely available.

Map du jour
Data: Census Household Pulse Survey; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios
2. Catch up quick
  1. Congress: HHS watchdog targeted by Trump to testify about coronavirus supply shortages.
  2. Elections: Trump threatens funding for Nevada and Michigan over mail-in voting expansion — Coronavirus spikes vote-by-mail counts in Virginia municipal elections.
  3. Public health: FEMA has been another lifeline for health care providers.
  4. Tech: Apple, Google release their coronavirus exposure notification technology.
3. 1 hopeful thing

In hard-hit Italy, a visitor views a room at the Galleria Borghese museum in Rome. Italy's lockdown is easing after over two months.

Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images