Feb 24, 2021

Axios PM

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 494 words, a 2-minute read.

💉 The FDA says Johnson & Johnson's one-shot coronavirus vaccine is safe and effective. (Go deeper)

  • The White House said J&J will have 3 million to 4 million doses ready for distribution next week.
1 big thing: Black churches become vaccine hub

A woman arrives at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic outside the Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church in southeast D.C. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Black pastors have a new job on their plates during COVID-19: encouraging skeptical congregants to get vaccinated.

Why it matters: “There’s distrust in our community. We can’t ignore that,” Rev. James Coleman of D.C.'s All Nations Baptist told AP.

  • “The church, and particularly the Black church, is essential. ... That’s what pastors do.”
  • The Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church in southeast D.C. has been designated a “faith-based vaccination partner,” with a portable vaccination trailer set up in the church’s parking lot twice a week, AP notes.

The big picture: Many Black seniors vividly remember medical exploitation horrors such as the Tuskegee syphilis study.

  • Peer-to-peer exchanges matter: “[T]hey're hearing from congregants ... who can speak to them about what they know and what they believe about the science and research and the value of taking a vaccine shot,’’ UAB School of Medicine Dean Selwyn Vickers told USA Today.

Between the lines: Black seniors also struggle with online registration systems and sitting on hold only to be informed that all appointments had been filled.

The bottom line: “In the spirit of love, keep at it until you get your vaccination," Rev. Wallace Charles Smith told his congregation in D.C.

2. Memes > deepfakes
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Move aside, deepfakes: Memes have proven to be a more effective tool in spreading misinformation because they're easier to produce and harder to moderate using artificial intelligence, Axios' Sara Fischer and Alison Snyder report.

How they fool AI:

  • The form, size and placement of letters can be varied, and a scene can be put inside a letter and another in the background.
  • AI doesn't have common sense, and it lacks cultural context.

Go deeper.

3. Catch up quick
  1. United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby tells Joann Muller at an Axios Virtual Event that people will feel safe traveling again by this time next year. Go deeper.
  2. Your kids know this name: Dispo, a retro photo-sharing app co-founded by YouTube star David Dobrik, recently raised $20 million in Series A funding. Go deeper.
  3. The Biden administration will send 25 million masks to reach some Americans most vulnerable to COVID-19. Go deeper.
  4. Bruce Springsteen pleaded guilty to drinking in a federal park but "had two other charges of drunken and reckless driving charges dropped because his blood alcohol content was found to be well below the legal limit." — NJ.com
  5. 🎧 Axios Re:Cap: Corporate America pressures Congress to act on stimulus. Listen here.
4. 1 smile to go: Pandemic-era sports

Playing pickleball on the street in Charlotte, N.C., during the pandemic. Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Pickleball is going increasingly mainstream during COVID-19 as an outdoor sport that allows for some social distancing, reports Axios Cities editor Jennifer Kingson.

  • The cross between tennis, badminton and Ping-Pong is played on what looks like a miniature tennis court.

The big picture: While the Sun Belt states are the biggest pickleball hotbeds, demand for public courts is exploding everywhere.

  • "If you ever slung any sort of a racquet before, you can become competent in an hour," says Stu Upson, CEO of USA Pickleball.

Go deeper: Here's a primer from Axios sports reporter Jeff Tracy.