Aug 4, 2020

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 470 words, a 2-minute read.

  • 🍿Watch Jonathan Swan's full "Axios on HBO" interview with President Trump. Video.

Situational awareness: A major explosion has slammed central Beirut, Lebanon, damaging buildings as far as several miles away and injuring scores of people.

  • The cause of the explosion is unknown. Lebanon's health minister said in televised remarks that at least 50 people have been killed and over 3,000 injured.
1 big thing: Local governments go to war over schools

A protester during a demonstration in NYC. Photo: Ron Adar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The next big coronavirus battleground will be over who has the final say on whether schools can stay open.

Why it matters: This involves the safety of young children and their parents, not to mention older educators and staff, and comes at the same time as many of the parents are out of work.

In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan has overruled wealthy Montgomery County's decision to force private schools to join public schools in going virtual-only until October.

  • “Private and parochial schools deserve the same opportunity and flexibility to make reopening decisions based on public health guidelines,” he said in a statement yesterday.
  • “The blanket closure mandate imposed by Montgomery County was overly broad and inconsistent with the powers intended to be delegated to the county health officer.”

The big picture: Different levels of government have been at odds since March over business closures, mandatory quarantines, mask mandates and more.

  • There will be outbreaks at schools that meet for classes, as has happened in other countries, and the coming weeks will be crucial as officials determine their comfort level for keeping classrooms open despite fresh infections.
  • This is particularly hard when city, county and state officials are fighting.

Between the lines: This is also playing out during a wave of evictions, destabilizing homes at the worst possible time.

The bottom line: The coronavirus has hit America unequally on many fronts, and schools will be no different.

  • But for many of the millions of American parents staring at a fall of full-time parenting, teaching and work, the prospect of all this — plus no ability to plan long-term — could be the most daunting challenge of their lives.
2. Chart du jour
Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Go deeper.

3. Catch up quick
  1. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) condemned President Trump's comments on Rep. John Lewis' legacy, telling CNN: "He's delusional. He's a narcissist and he is delusional." Video.
  2. Tropical Storm Isaias is "racing" across eastern Pennsylvania into southeastern New York and stirring tornadoes and heavy rainfall in its path. Go deeper.
  3. New York City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot resigned, citing "deep disappointment" that Mayor Bill de Blasio did not use the full extent of available disease control expertise to handle the pandemic. Go deeper.
  4. The CDC is warning of an expected uptick in a rare polio-like illness that can disable and sometimes kill children. Go deeper.
  5. 59% of Americans support a mandatory, nationwide order to shelter at home for two weeks to slow the spread of the coronavirus, per a new NPR/Ipsos poll.
4. 1 buzzy thing
Screenshot: HBO

Coming tonight: "The Swamp," a new HBO documentary that follows conservative House Republicans Matt Gaetz, Thomas Massie and Ken Buck.

  • The big picture: The bombastic Gaetz, who wore a gas mask on the House floor during the early days of COVID-19, is the star of this show.
  • The Hollywood Reporter's review: "It's Gaetz's status as a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a mid-priced suit that clearly transfixes the filmmakers, who are constantly trying to trip him up with not-especially-challenging questions like, 'If Donald Trump employs more lobbyists than any past president, has he really drained any swamp?'"

Preview of Gaetz talking about AOC.

Mike Allen