Mar 18, 2020

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

💻 Blockbuster sign-ups for our first virtual event, tomorrow at 9 a.m. ET.

  • Axios will host a live virtual event on the coronavirus and pandemic preparedness, featuring Mark Penn of The Harris Poll, Axios experts Sara Fischer and Caitlin Owens, plus Jim VandeHei and me. Register here.

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Zachary Basu — is 395 words, a 2-minute read.

Situational awareness: The Senate passed the House's coronavirus relief package, which provides free testing, paid sick leave and other aid to people impacted by the crisis.

1 big thing: Main Street carnage

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Amid all the discussion about how the pandemic is roiling Wall Street, its most acute impact is being felt on Main Streets around the country, Axios' Erica Pandey and Courtenay Brown write.

  • The latest: The White House today asked Congress for a $1 trillion coronavirus relief and economic stimulus plan that would include industry-specific bailouts and payments to individual taxpayers. Go deeper.

Between the lines: Across America, it'll be some time before official economic data bears out what plenty are hearing anecdotally. The Economic Policy Institute estimates the crisis will claim 3 million jobs, including many employed by small businesses, by the summer.

  • In one of the earliest signs of layoffs, state labor departments, like in Ohio and Connecticut, say that more people than usual are filing for unemployment benefits.
  • New York's labor department tells Axios its unemployment hotline received 8,758 calls as of noon on Monday — a 70% increase from the 2,542 calls they received at the same time last week.

Even small businesses that are still open because they are considered "essential" are struggling.

  • Small, independent grocers and drug stores are having trouble keeping their shelves stocked, just like the big chains. But unlike their bigger rivals, they don't have huge, long-established global supply chains to tap into to restock quickly.

The National Federation of Independent Business has been fielding nonstop calls from small business owners seeking advice.

Bonus: Pic du jour

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade in D.C. may be canceled, but nature isn't.

  • Peak bloom is expected between Saturday and next Tuesday (March 21–24).
2. Catch up quick
  1. Half of President Trump's $1 trillion rescue package would go to individual Americans — two separate checks of equal amounts, one on April 6 and one on May 18. The dollar amounts would be means-tested — based on income and family size. Details.
  2. Trump tweeted that the U.S. and Canada have reached a "mutual" decision to close their border to "non-essential traffic." Go deeper.
  3. GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler have agreed to close all of their North American factories through at least March 30. Go deeper.
  4. Corporate America is prepping for what could be a very lengthy and severe recession. Go deeper.
  5. Axios has compiled a timeline of the earliest weeks of the coronavirus outbreak in China, highlighting when the cover-up started and ended. Go deeper.
3. 🏞️ 1 park thing

The National Park Service will temporarily suspend entrance fees at all parks that remain open during the coronavirus crisis, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt announced.

  • A number of parks have closed. But a majority of those in which it's possible to adhere to CDC guidance on social distancing remain open.

📖 1 wild read: The N.Y. Times' Charlie Warzel found a group of people who entered the Grand Canyon on Feb. 19 for a 25-day rafting trip with no phones or internet connection. They returned to a changed world. Subscription.

Mike Allen

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