Jan 14, 2021

Axios PM

Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 433 words, a 2-minute read.

Situational awareness: President-elect Biden is set to unveil his nearly $2 trillion stimulus plan tonight. Go deeper.

1 big thing: SoCal on the brink

A COVID-19 ICU at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in the Willowbrook neighborhood of Los Angeles. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Southern California's COVID outbreak is in a terrible place, and hospitals haven't even been hit with a wave of potential infections from Christmas and New Year's.

The big picture: Hospitalizations have stabilized, but public health officials say that's just from infections linked to Thanksgiving, the L.A. Times reports.

  • More than 1/3 of the 10 million people in Los Angeles County are believed to have been infected with COVID.
  • Authorities are urging essential workers and people who run errands to wear masks when they're at home.
  • Officials hope the return of stay-at-home orders late last year will stem the tide.

Many mortuaries have had to turn away grieving families because they're at capacity, the owner of Los Angeles Funeral Service told ABC News.

  • The L.A. County coroner has been holding some bodies to free up mortuary capacity. Orange County brought in refrigerated trucks.

Between the lines: The advice of "stay home" doesn't work for essential workers and people who can't work from their couches.

  • "Los Angeles has small family housing with lots of people in them. It’s hard to be a gardener working from home," epidemiologist George Rutherford told NBC News.

The bottom line: Even a good-case scenario for Christmas and New Year's infections would leave hospitals in dire straits for the next month, said Christina Ghaly, the L.A. County director of health services.

Go deeper: America is tuning out coronavirus at its peak destruction

2. Nationwide map: COVID deaths per capita
Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The five hardest-hit states as of yesterday:

  1. New Jersey — 227 people dead per 100K residents
  2. Massachusetts — 196
  3. Rhode Island — 188
  4. South Dakota — 186
  5. Connecticut — 182

Go deeper: See the state by state results on an interactive graphic

3. Catch up quick
Workers put up "Biden-Harris" branded bunting on a press riser along the inaugural parade route. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  1. U.S.-based venture capital hit an all-time record in 2020, beating the prior high set back in the dot-com craze of 2000. Go deeper.
  2. 2020 was the second-hottest year on record, trailing only 2016, said U.S. scientists. Go deeper.
  3. Interest rates will stay near zero for the foreseeable future, Fed chair Jerome Powell said. Go deeper.
  4. 🎧 Axios Re:Cap digs into the vaccine pipeline with Derek Lowe, a medicinal chemist and biotech blogger. Listen here.
4. 1 smile to go: Mannequin Skywalker

The New Shepard takes flight. Photo: Blue Origin

A dummy named Mannequin Skywalker landed safely in Texas today as part of a test run for Blue Origin's New Shepard space system that will take customers to suborbital space, Axios space editor Miriam Kramer reports.

  • Today's flight lasted 10 minutes and reached 66 miles above West Texas, AP reports.
  • The capsule featured the latest crew upgrades: microphones and push-to-talk buttons for the six seats, wall panels to muffle engine noise, a safety-alert system, and temperature and humidity controls to keep passengers comfortable and the big windows free of fog.