Jul 31, 2020

Axios PM

Good Friday afternoon — and, if you're celebrating, Eid Mubarak! Today's PM, edited by Shane Savitsky, is 430 words — a 2-minute read.

🎂 Want to feel old? Today is Harry Potter's 40th birthday. "The Middle-Aged Man Who Lived" just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?

1 big thing: Coronavirus complacency

Police attempt to shut down a crowded beach in Edinburgh, Scotland, today. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images

Coronavirus is surging around the globe, with governments blaming growing complacency among citizens — even as they send mixed messages with attempted economic reopenings.

Driving the news: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson paused England's reopening today and expanded the mandatory use of face masks. His government also reimposed stringent lockdowns across some northern cities.

  • Johnson said it was "time to squeeze the brake pedal" and delay opening venues like casinos and bowling alleys — less than one month after reopening pubs and restaurants.

Why it matters, via Chris Whitty, England's chief medical officer: "We have probably reached the limits of what we can do in terms of opening up as a society. ... The idea that we can open up everything is clearly wrong. Choices will need to be made."

The same situation is playing out worldwide, Axios World editor David Lawler catalogues:

  • Vietnam, which had eliminated community transmission for 99 days, saw its first deaths today.
  • Japan is facing many more cases now than during its first wave, even as it promotes domestic travel to boost the economy.
  • Australia recorded 13 deaths on Thursday, its highest daily death toll so far.
  • Spain and Belgium, which both just emerged from strict lockdowns, are recording case levels not seen since May.
  • Catalonia is back under curfew, with nearly 7,000 cases recorded there just last week.

The bottom line: If things sound bad elsewhere, the U.S. still has the world's largest reported outbreak by far — with only Brazil and India anywhere near its daily case totals.

2. Time capsule

Anthony Fauci, CDC Director Robert Redfield and national testing czar Adm. Brett Giroir all testified today before the House's select committee on the coronavirus crisis — surrounded by cable news graphics for the ages.

  • Video: Fauci responds to a tweet from President Trump on testing, sent during the hearing.
Screenshot via CNN
Screenshot via Fox News
Screenshot via MSNBC
3. Catch up quick
  1. We're not near a coronavirus stimulus deal. Both Speaker Nancy Pelosi and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows sent dismal signals during dueling press conferences. What they said.
  2. Hong Kong postponed its legislative elections for a year, citing coronavirus concerns, but the decision worried the pro-democracy movement. Details.
  3. The U.S. slapped significant sanctions on a paramilitary organization in Xinjiang, which could prompt a major retaliation from China. Why it matters.
  4. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican, told the "Axios: ReCap" podcast that he's confident in November's electoral process but cautioned it could take weeks to know final results from his state. Listen.
4. 1 bubbly thing

Champagne bottles piled in the cave of the Vranken-Pommery Monopole in Reims, France. Photo: Francois Mori/AP

People aren't partying amid the coronavirus pandemic, and it's hammering the champagne industry, AP's Thomas Adamson writes.

  • Producers in France say they’ve lost an estimated 1.7 billion euros ($2 billion) in sales this year — worse than during the Great Depression.
  • They expect about 100 million bottles to be languishing unsold in their cellars by the end of 2020.

One producer called it "an insult to nature" that the Champagne region's famous grapes might be destined to produce alcohol for hand sanitizer, as has happened in other wine-making areas around France.