Jun 23, 2020

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 519 words, a 2-minute read.

1 big thing: COVID-19 sweeps the South

Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The summer reprieve from the coronavirus isn't coming, and the outbreak is hitting the Sun Belt the hardest.

Why it matters: Anthony Fauci warned today of a "disturbing surge" driven by community spread in metropolitan areas in Florida, Texas and Arizona.

  • "We were going down from 30,000 [new cases per day] to 25,000 to 20,000, and then we sort of stayed kind of flat, but now we're going up. A couple of days ago there were 30,000 new infections."

Between the lines: This isn't just from expanded testing.

  • In Arizona, the state's positive test rate has soared to 21%, the FT reports. That's a 3x increase from a month ago.
  • In Florida, the state had a 10% positivity rate on Monday, up from 4% at the beginning of the month.
  • In Texas, the city of Houston's positivity rate has tripled to 9%.

Grim comparison: A dean at the Baylor College of Medicine warned that Houston could "become the worst affected city" in America if the trajectory holds, and "maybe rival what we're seeing now in Brazil."

  • Brazil has now joined the U.S. as the second country to register 50,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths.

The big picture: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott even warned that lockdowns — a last resort — could return if the outbreak grows.

  • “If we are unable to contain the spiraling spread of COVID-19, there will be more requirements put on businesses, including even considering have to ratchet back on the expansion of opening businesses in Texas.”
  • Abbott warned that the "spread is so rapid right now, there’s never a reason for you to have to leave your home unless you need to go out."
  • "The safest place for you is at your home.”

The bottom line: Don't plan any European trips.

  • America risks being lumped with Russia and Brazil as countries that failed to control the coronavirus when the EU reopens its borders on July 1, according to the N.Y. Times.
2. Pic du jour
Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Tomika Miller, widow of Rayshard Brooks, arrives for his viewing at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

  • Brooks was killed June 12 by an Atlanta police officer after a struggle during a field sobriety test in a Wendy's restaurant parking lot.
3. Catch up quick
  1. A bipartisan Senate coalition is backing a bill to recognize Juneteenth as a federal holiday. Go deeper.
  2. Career prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky will tell the House Judiciary Committee that Justice Department leadership intervened in the sentencing of former Trump adviser Roger Stone for political purposes. Go deeper.
  3. Amazon is creating a $2 billion venture fund that will stake companies working on climate-friendly technologies. Go deeper.
  4. Twitter flagged a Trump tweet threatening "serious force" against protesters seeking to set up an "autonomous zone" in Washington for violating its rules on abusive behavior. Go deeper.
4. Blackface apologies

More prominent Hollywood celebrities are apologizing for their roles in the use of blackface.

  • Jimmy Kimmel apologized for wearing blackface while imitating Karl Malone.
Jimmy Kimmel statement. Screenshot: Twitter

Tina Fey apologized for "30 Rock" episodes that featured Jane Krakowski and Jon Hamm in blackface. She has asked distributors to stop airing those episodes.

  • “I understand now that ‘intent’ is not a free pass for white people to use these images," she wrote.
Mike Allen