Dec 27, 2019

Axios PM

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 411 words, a 2 minute read.

1 big thing: America's dangerous backslide

Photo: George Frey/Getty Images

After a century of progress against infectious diseases in America, experts now warn of a “very worrisome trend."

Why it matters: Infectious diseases kill far fewer today than a century ago, the AP notes, but the numbers are moving in the wrong direction.

  • Measles hit their highest U.S. rate in 27 years, concentrated among Orthodox Jews.
  • Hepatitis A is up more than 10x from 2017, sparked by an outbreak among the homeless and drug users.
  • And eastern equine encephalitis killed 15 of the 38 people diagnosed this year. The 38 cases is double the previous rate.

The big picture: America remains very fortunate compared to our fellow global citizens.

  • Measles killed 142,300 people worldwide in 2018, compared to zero in the U.S. in 2019.

Between the lines: America's measles elimination status isn't as important as "the fact that we remain highly vulnerable," Baylor pediatrics professor Peter Hotez told Axios' Eileen Drage O'Reilly earlier this year.

  • There are "at least 100 geographic pockets in the U.S. where a high percentage of kids are not being vaccinated, together with measles cases now regularly imported from Europe where measles is even more widespread," Hotez said.

The bottom line: Backsliding is bad, particularly when it's largely the result of human choices, rather than mother nature's ingenuity.

Bonus: Pic du jour

Photo: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

North Carolina receiver Dazz Newsome catches a touchdown in the first half against Temple in the Military Bowl in Annapolis, Maryland.

P.S. The college football playoff starts tomorrow:

  • LSU vs Oklahoma kicks off at 4pm EST.
  • Clemson vs Ohio State is at 8pm EST.
2. What you missed
  1. The FDA officially raised the age to buy tobacco in the U.S. from 18 to 21. Go deeper.
  2. Spotify will suspend political ads in early 2020 for its nearly 130 million ad-supported listeners. Go deeper.
  3. The world's 500 richest people added $1.2 trillion to their collective net worth in 2019, boosting their holdings by 25% to $5.9 trillion. Go deeper.
  4. Elizabeth Warren's campaign sounded an alarm to its supporters, saying in an email that it has only raised $17 million so far in the fourth quarter. Go deeper.
  5. Switzerland's president says Facebook's cryptocurrency Libra has "failed" in its current form "because central banks will not accept the basket of currencies underpinning it." Go deeper.
3. 1 fun thing
Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers in "A Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood,” now playing. Photo: Lacey Terrell/Sony-Tristar Pictures via AP

Tom Hanks, American movie star, is now Tom Hanks, honorary Greek.

  • Greece’s President Prokopis Pavlopoulos has signed an honorary naturalization order, the AP reports.
  • Hanks, 63, frequently spends his summer vacation on the Greek island of Antiparos and his wife, actress and producer Rita Wilson, is of Greek and Bulgarian ancestry.

Between the lines: Under Greek law, honorary naturalization may be granted to people “who have provided exceptional services to the country or whose naturalization serves the public interest.”