Apr 2, 2020

Axios PM

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 481 words, a 2-minute read.

1 big thing: Today in perspective
Data: U.S. Department of Labor; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Over the past two weeks, 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment, with millions more to come.

  • Why it matters: The jobless hits right now are like a natural disaster hitting every state at the same time.

Hurricane Katrina killed more than 1,800 people and cost an estimated $161 billion in current dollars, making it the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history, Axios' Bryan Walsh reports.

  • But those affected could find safety and aid outside the disaster area, and America's economy barely experienced a blip.

The big picture: In America, losing your job isn't just losing a paycheck — for many, it also means losing your health insurance.

  • About 3.5 million Americans have likely lost their health insurance because of job loss in the last two weeks, Axios' Bob Herman reported, citing the Economic Policy Institute.
  • Medicaid will serve as the major backstop, but its ballooning usage will strain state budgets. It also won't be a primary option for residents of the 14 states that didn't expand the program under the Affordable Care Act, and those people instead will hope to qualify for low-cost ACA plans, Bob notes.

The bottom line: The crush of applications is so bad that some states aren't able to keep up.

  • Florida's "unemployment website is essentially broken, dogged by longstanding glitches and a crush of people thrown out of work because of the coronavirus," the Tampa Bay Times reports.
  • "[T]he office received 1.5 million calls in the last week, with a third of them coming from Floridians looking to reset their PIN numbers. The PINs are required to log in to the site."
  • The program's director apologized today and said the department will revert to paper applications.
Bonus: Pic du jour

Photo: Mark Thiessen/AP

Spotted at the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development office in Anchorage.

2. Catch up quick
  1. U.S. latest: Gay men, bisexual men and their female partners can now donate blood after a three-month waiting period, instead of the previously required 12-month span.
  2. In Congress: Speaker Pelosi announces a new committee on coronavirus.
  3. 2020 update: The DNC said July's convention will be postponed until August.
  4. States' latest: Nearly 40 states have issued stay-at-home orders.
  5. 🎧 Podcast: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said venture capital-backed startups will be eligible for coronavirus stimulus loans.
3. 1 helpful thing
Screenshot via AppleTV

Oprah Winfrey today kicked off America's Food Fund, aimed at reducing hunger during the pandemic, with a conversation with chef José Andrés and Feeding America CEO Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, on a free episode of her AppleTV show, "Oprah Talks."

  • Andrés, the founder of World Central Kitchen, told Oprah via FaceTime after delivering food under a bridge: "As our nurses and doctors are fighting the war in the hospitals, ... we are behind the lines providing support."

Leonardo DiCaprio is a founder of the fund with Laurene Powell Jobs (an investor in Axios), Apple and the Ford Foundation.

  • The fund, which opened with $12 million, will help low-income families, the elderly, individuals facing job disruptions and children who rely on school lunch programs.

🎥 See a 49-second clip. ... See the free episode of "Oprah Talks."