May 5, 2020

Axios PM

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 445 words, a 2-minute read.

Situational awareness: A former federal health official filed a whistleblower complaint today alleging that the Department of Health and Human Services failed to take early action to mitigate the coronavirus threat. Read the complaint.

1 big thing: Test, trace and stop

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

First it was testing and PPE, then ventilators: The next big coronavirus hurdle for the U.S. is contact tracing.

Why it matters: This is a must-have for reopening while limiting the death toll.

The big picture: Contact tracing is a simple concept. Most countries use a combination of cellphone apps and human contact tracers to track down everyone who came into contact with an infected patient.

  • Those people are then tested and isolated if positive.
  • If you act quickly enough, outbreaks can be contained before becoming hotspots.

Humans are slow and do the process manually, much like a journalist reporting out a story.

  • Apps are fast, using Bluetooth signals to rapidly tell you who you came into contact with. But they come with major privacy and effectiveness concerns.
  • Apple and Google have pushed for public health agencies to adopt their privacy-oriented model, the AP reports. The tech firms are offering an app-building interface they say will work smoothly on billions of phones when the software rolls out sometime this month.

Between the lines: The U.S. has made big strides on testing, but we still don't have the scale needed to pull this off.

  • NPR found that states plan to hire more than 36,000 contact tracing staffers in the short-term.
  • But Johns Hopkins estimates the number needed exceeds 100,000.

The bottom line: Contact tracing won't realistically slow the current out-of-control outbreaks in the U.S, but if we get the people, tech and funding fixed fast, it could help alleviate some of the pain from wave two.

Bonus: Pics du jour
Photo: Susan Walsh/AP

Above: President Trump talks with members of the traveling press before departing Andrews Air Force Base en route to Honeywell's mask-making operation in Phoenix, Arizona.

Below: A TV cameraman walks through the spectators' seats, which are covered with pictures of fans, before the start of a regular-season baseball game in Incheon, South Korea, where the season starts today (without live fans).

Photo: Lee Jin-man/AP
2. Catch up quick
  1. Trump administration: Mike Pence says the White House is considering disbanding the coronavirus task force.
  2. World: U.K. reports highest coronavirus death toll in Europe.
  3. Business: Airbnb cuts 25% of workforce — Commercializing space takes a step back.
  4. States: New York announces 1,700 previously unreported coronavirus deaths in nursing homes.
  5. 🎓 Commencement: Barack and Michelle Obama to take part in virtual commencement ceremonies for class of 2020.
3. 1 helpful thing
Harbor, a Labrador retriever pup, takes a nap during a news conference at the American Kennel Club headquarters in New York. Photo: Mary Altaffer, AP/File

The American Kennel Club's top 10 dog breeds list is a good excuse to put some pup pics in Axios PM:

  1. Labrador retrievers
  2. German shepherds
  3. Golden retrievers
  4. French bulldogs
  5. Bulldogs
  6. Poodles
  7. Beagles
  8. Rottweilers
  9. German shorthaired pointers
  10. Pembroke Welsh corgis
Sutter Brown, the late corgi of California Gov. Jerry Brown. Photo: Rich Pedroncelli/AP