Jun 8, 2020

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 499 words, a 2-minute read.

⚡️ Situational awareness: The S&P 500 has now erased its 2020 losses, closing today above where it was at the end of 2019. It's up 44% since the bottom fell out in March.

1 big thing: Surprise contact tracing news

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Today's curveball comes from the World Health Organization, which said it's "very rare" for the coronavirus to spread through asymptomatic carriers.

Why it matters: Earlier evidence suggested person-to-person transmission among asymptomatics could spark runaway outbreaks, reports Axios' Marisa Fernandez.

  • Young people and healthy people who did not experience symptoms were also suspected to be potential carriers to more vulnerable populations.

The big picture: The WHO is now relying on data obtained through contact tracing, said Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the emerging diseases and zoonosis unit.

  • “We have a number of reports from countries who are doing very detailed contact tracing. They’re following asymptomatic cases. They’re following contacts. And they’re not finding secondary transmission onward. It’s very rare."
  • In the press conference today, Van Kerkhove said there are fewer asymptomatic patients than previously thought.
  • "[I]f you actually go back and say how many of them are truly asymptomatic, we find out that many have really mild disease, very mild disease, they’re not quote unquote COVID symptoms, meaning they may not have developed fever yet."
  • She later called attention to WHO guidance on face masks released Friday, which included a section on asymptomatic spread. (Page 2 of the download).

Between the lines: Don't treat these statements as a "get out of social distancing" free card.

  • Infected people can be contagious well before experiencing symptoms.
  • "Some modeling studies suggest 40–60% of spread is from people when they didn’t have symptoms," tweeted Ashish Jha, incoming dean at the Brown School of Public Health.
  • Singapore's coronavirus task force also said today that it believes half of the country's new COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic based on testing data, Reuters reports.

The bottom line: These statements are a reminder of just how little we understand about this virus.

2. George Floyd visitation
Photo: David J. Phillip, Pool/AP

Mourners pass by the casket of George Floyd during a public visitation at the Fountain of Praise church in Houston.

3. Catch up quick
  1. Joe Biden doesn't support defunding police, his campaign said today, but he is pushing for police reform and more spending on community, school, health and social programs. Go deeper.
  2. Top Democrats sent President Trump a letter today asking him to reopen Lafayette Square to the public. Go deeper.
  3. The U.S. economy peaked in February before sliding into a recession as the coronavirus pandemic hit, according to the group that’s considered the official determiners of when recessions begin and end.
  4. The Justice Department has formally requested an interview with Prince Andrew as part of its criminal investigation into the alleged sex trafficking ring operated by Jeffrey Epstein. Go deeper.
  5. BP plans to cut its global workforce by 10,000 jobs, or 14%, with most of the reduction occurring by year's end, the company announced this morning.
4. Coming this week

From left: Isiah Whitlock Jr., Norm Lewis, Clarke Peters, Delroy Lindo and Jonathan Majors in a scene from the Spike Lee film "Da 5 Bloods." Photo: David Lee/Netflix via AP

Three offerings this week, via AP:

  1. “Da 5 Bloods”: The Spike Lee joint debuts Friday on Netflix. Four veterans travel back to Vietnam to try to find the remains of their squad leader.
  2. Celebrating Pride: On Friday starting at 8 p.m., film critic Alonso Duralde will be on TCM discussing three formative films. And on Sunday, the Criterion Channel drops the second installment of its Queersighted series.
  3. “Artemis Fowl”: Coming Friday on Disney Plus. A young Irish genius discovers a magical world in a quest to save his father from a pack of fairies.

Go deeper: More TV and music offerings

Mike Allen