Feb 19, 2021

Axios PM

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 359 words, a 1.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Water crisis expands beyond Texas
Icicles hang off the State Highway 195 sign yesterday in Killeen, Texas. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Broken pumps, burst pipes and chemical shortages have left millions without potable water after this week's devastating winter storm.

The big picture: Millions of people across the South have been told to boil water, with thawing temperatures expected to reveal the extent of the damage to infrastructure.

  • Texas: 7 million people — because low water pressure could have allowed bacteria to seep into the system, AP reports.
  • Tennessee: 260,000 homes and businesses in the Memphis area — because of water main ruptures and problems at pumping stations.
  • Mississippi: Most of Jackson’s 161,000 residents — because the city ran out of chemicals due to resupply issues.

Between the lines: Water mains will need repair and homes have frozen pipes that will fail as they warm up. Municipal systems will take time to recover.

What's next: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (D) said he expects residents will have drinkable tap water again next week.

Water flows from a burst water pipe in Austin. Photo: Thomas Ryan Allison/Bloomberg via Getty Images
2. Inside Biden's call sheet
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The Biden administration's top officials have together called officials from at least 43 countries, reports Axios World editor Dave Lawler.

3. Catch up quick
  1. New data: Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine may be more effective after just one shot than researchers had previously realized. Go deeper.
  2. No more "America First": President Biden committed the U.S. to "working in lockstep with our allies and partners" to protect democracy and promote prosperity. Go deeper.
  3. New York real estate bust: "Rents in Manhattan and Brooklyn had the steepest year-over-year drop on record in January. ... Home prices in January also showed major declines." — Bloomberg (subscription)
  4. The weather this week delayed the delivery of 6 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, but the logistical hurdles are expected to be resolved by next week. Go deeper.
  5. 🎧 Axios Re:Cap featured Eventbrite co-founder and CEO Julia Hartz on how her company has responded to people using it to schedule COVID vaccine appointments. Listen here.
4. 1 smile to go: Fans at March Madness
A photo from the 2019 Final Four between Virginia and Auburn. Photo: Brett Wilhelm/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Hottest tickets in town: March Madness will allow attendance at 25% capacity when the men's tournament tips off in the Indianapolis area, the NCAA announced today.

  • "That capacity figure includes essential workers, family members of each team, coaches and staff and all participants of the event," USA Today reports.
  • Masks and social distancing will be required.