Jul 20, 2020

Axios PM

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 500 words, a 2-minute read.

Situational awareness: Anthony Fauci will throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the Washington Nationals on Opening Day. Go deeper.

1 big thing: The confrontations are here

Memorial Hospital Miramar in Miramar, Florida. Photo: Johnny Louis/Getty Images

Florida is shaping up as America's bellwether on reopening schools, with teachers unions suing the state today.

Why it matters: The state is a coronavirus hot spot, home to five of America's 10 biggest school districts and governed by an ally of President Trump.

  • Today's lawsuit by the Florida Education Association could be the first of its kind, the N.Y. Times reports.
  • The union accused Gov. Ron DeSantis "of violating a Florida law requiring that schools be 'safe' and 'secure'" and asked for districts and local officials to have control over reopenings, the Times reports.
  • “Gov. DeSantis needs a reality check, and we are attempting to provide one,” the union's president said in a statement.

The big picture: Schools open next month, and parents in most districts are facing the difficult limbo of playing full-time provider and full-time teacher to their families for an uncertain duration.

  • That's for the parents who can work from home — many others don't have that ability.

Between the lines: The same union also said today that 1.4 million public school jobs are at risk without more stimulus.

  • The AFT's report identifies a $93.5 billion funding gap in PreK-12 education and $45 billion in shortfalls in higher education funding, Axios' Fadel Allassan notes.
  • Another $116.5 billion would be needed for equipment to prevent virus spread.

The bottom line: The next 30 days could be one of the most contentious periods in public education in decades.

2. Pics du jour
Photo: Getty Images

Above: Residents watch a movie in a cinema in Wuhan, China, where movie theaters reopened today.

Below: President Trump tweeted a picture of himself wearing a mask, saying it's an act of patriotism to cover up when social distancing isn't an option.

3. Catch up quick
  1. What could be the most promising coronavirus vaccine candidate currently in development appears to be safe and produces an immune response, according to preliminary findings published in The Lancet. Go deeper.
  2. The Democratic Party of Georgia selected its chairperson, state Sen. Nikema Williams, to replace the late Rep. John Lewis on the ballot. Go deeper.
  3. Polar bears under siege: The loss of sea ice due to climate change is predicted to threaten the survival of polar bear populations across the Arctic by the end of the century, new research shows. Go deeper.
  4. Southern supermarket chain Winn-Dixie will not require face masks in its roughly 500 stores, saying it doesn't want to "put [its] associates in a position to navigate interpersonal conflict." Go deeper.
  5. 🎧 "Axios Re:Cap" focuses on the effort to save America's independent restaurants. Guests include Ivy Mix, a renowned bartender and co-owner of Leyenda in Brooklyn, and Steven Soderbergh, the Oscar-winning film director who owns spirit brand Singani 63. Listen here.
4. 1 "Fury" thing
Italian coastguard divers work to free a sperm whale. Courtesy of Carmelo Isgro'/MuMa Museo del Mare di Milazzo via Reuters

"The Italian coastguard has been working for days to free a massive sperm whale caught in an abandoned fishing net in open sea off the Sicilian Aeolian Islands," Reuters reports.

  • "The whale was spotted on Saturday struggling to get free of a net usually used for fishing illegally for swordfish."
  • "Due to its energetic efforts to free itself, the whale had been given the name 'Fury.'"