May 15, 2020

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 450 words, a 2-minute read.

  • I hope you and your loved ones can enjoy a safe and restful weekend.
1 big thing: America at half-occupancy

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

It's not just restaurants and bars: The reopening of America will be centered around reducing our pre-virus conceptions of how many people can congregate together indoors.

The big picture: Social distancing and spacing is strongly encouraged by the CDC in its new guidelines for reopening various parts of American life.

  • It leaves the "how" more up to local government, but you can easily imagine the scale of this challenge.

The 6 sectors:

  1. Workplaces: Even keeping at-risk staffers at home will require creative planning to allow social distancing.
  2. Restaurants and bars: The service sector was built around thin margins, and many businesses will fail if they can't run at full occupancy.
  3. Child care: America already lacks availability for affordable daycare. That won't get cheaper if providers have to tighten capacity.
  4. Schools: Those that do open in the fall will need lots more space — or creative scheduling. Richer districts might be able to figure it out. Poorer districts — especially while states are bleeding funding — might be on their own.
  5. Youth programs and camps: Parents were already sweating summer plans. Now the guidance tells camps to spread out and distance. This won't be easy for the barracks-style housing for campers.
  6. Mass transit: New Yorkers and Washingtonians know that it's way easier to suggest distancing on trains — not to mention the platforms — than to handle it during rush hour.

Between the lines: The virus is also unleashing a supply chain issue for taking care of kids— much like restaurant closures messed with the food supply.

  • Social distancing for schools could easily mean that some kids stay home on certain days — leaving the parents scrambling for care.
  • The virus will also leave many former providers unwilling or unable to work because of health concerns.
  • Finally, parents with concerns about putting their kids in either school or day care will face agonizing choices this fall.

The bottom line: This doesn't need to be our reality forever, but until this virus is fully under control, get used to this new normal.

Bonus: Pic du jour

Photo: Michael Sohn/AP

A boy feeds sparrows in front of a bakery at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

2. Catch up quick
  1. Public health: Daily coronavirus risks are akin to "sustained trauma," former Medicaid official says.
  2. Business: April retail sales drop a record 16.4% — Paycheck Protection Program borrowers get more flexibility.
  3. Media: Vice Media and The Economist Group announce layoffs.
  4. Tech: Facebook buys Giphy — Many tech workers won't be going back to the office — Airbnb and Lyft make key hires amid coronavirus pandemic.
3. 1 helpful thing

A thank-you note on the windshield of a milk truck in Sawbridgeworth, England. Photo: Hannah McKay/Reuters

The return of the milkman: "The glass bottles are gone. The cream-topped milk of yore has been replaced by oat milk, almond milk and even a Snickers-flavored drink. But the milkman is back, summoned by customers eager for home delivery in a world changed by pandemic." [WSJ]

  • The big picture: "Everyone is home now—even if they are working—and they want their milk."
  • “I never in a million years would have thought home delivery would come back like this,” said Doug Wade Jr., president of Wade’s Dairy.
Mike Allen