Feb 22, 2021

Axios PM

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 493 words, a 2-minute read.

1 big thing: WWI, WWII and Vietnam combined
Data: CSSE Johns Hopkins University; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

More people have now died from COVID-19 in the U.S. — 500,000 — than American troops were killed in action for WWI, WWII and Vietnam combined, reports Axios' Orion Rummler.

The big picture: Many of our co-workers, friends and family have just experienced the worst year of their lives.

  • "Each death has left an empty space in communities across America: a bar stool where a regular used to sit, one side of a bed unslept in, a home kitchen without its cook," the New York Times' Julie Bosman writes.

Case counts are falling as the weather warms.

  • The FDA meets Friday to evaluate the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and an emergency use authorization could help accelerate the vaccination pace.
  • Hospitals are getting a crucial respite, and many hospital staffers are now fully vaccinated.

The bottom line: Flags will be lowered to half-staff on federal properties for five days, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters today.

2. Reading the tea leaves on 777 video
Photo: Chad Schnell via AP

The grounding of only some Boeing 777s suggests investigators don't think they're dealing with a plane issue but an engine one, reports Axios' Glen Johnson, who formerly served as the AP's national transportation writer.

  • The FAA responded to this weekend's video of a shattered, flaming aircraft engine by grounding all 777s with Pratt & Whitney 4000 engines.
  • Three planes powered by the same PW 4000 engines have suffered similar "uncontained" failures during the past three years.

The United Airlines 777 was able to return safely to Denver despite its damage.

  • Planes with two engines are designed to fly safely with just one operating.
  • The rudders that run up their tails are sized so the plane can fly straight even when it's being powered on just one side.
  • Hydraulic and electrical systems are backed up and spaced to avoid losing total control if spraying debris disables any individual control.
3. Catch up quick
Merrick Garland during a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing. Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters
  1. Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland said domestic terrorism makes this "a more dangerous period" than after the Oklahoma City bombing. Highlights.
  2. The Supreme Court cleared the way for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance to enforce a subpoena for eight years of former President Trump's personal and financial tax returns. Go deeper.
  3. The FDA says modified vaccines for COVID variants would not require large clinical trials. Go deeper.
  4. 🎧 Obamas and The Boss team up: Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company announced a new show with Bruce Springsteen exclusively for Spotify called "Renegades: Born in the USA." Go deeper.
4.⚾️ 1 smile to go: Spring training is hot ticket
Alex Verdugo #99 of the Boston Red Sox arrives for a workout today in Fort Myers, Florida. Photo: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Baseball is coming and MLB spring training tickets are selling out fast, the AP reports.

  • The Arizona Diamondbacks sold out their entire limited allotment in 24 hours, and the Colorado Rockies also sold out.
  • Social distancing will be enforced.

Why it matters: Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said seeing fans is another reminder that baseball might be a little more “normal” in 2021.

  • The 2020 postseason had limited attendance, and no fans were allowed during the shortened regular season.
The 2021 MLB spring training logo on a hat during a spring training team workout yesterday at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida. Photo: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images