Jul 28, 2020

Axios Vitals

By Caitlin Owens
Caitlin Owens

Good morning.

Today's word count is 1,034, or a 4-minute read.

1 big thing: The collision of hurricane season and the coronavirus

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The coronavirus continues to rage in the states most vulnerable to what is already an active hurricane season.

Driving the news: Hurricane Hanna hit the Texas coast last weekend, testing the response effort in a state that hasn't been able to get its outbreak under control.

Why it matters: Encouraging people to travel to other cities or states to stay with family, or housing them in crowded gymnasiums and convention centers, isn't exactly in line with pandemic mitigation practices.

  • And in states frequently slammed by hurricanes — like Texas, Florida and Louisiana — coronavirus cases are skyrocketing.
  • Many people who need shelters are likely to also be more vulnerable to severe infections.
  • "The last thing you want to do is take people from a dangerous situation involving a hurricane and move them into a dangerous situation involving COVID," Emily Landon, an infectious diseases specialist at University of Chicago Medicine, told NPR.

Fortunately, not many people sought shelter in Corpus Christi, where the Category 1 storm made landfall Saturday afternoon.

  • "Having two events tied together, it is just a huge challenge," Annette Rodriguez, the Nueces County public health director, told NYT. "It was definitely a good trial run."

What's next: The American Red Cross, under the supervision of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, manages many hurricane shelters, and intends to abide by social distancing standards.

  • But that could cut shelter capacity by as much as 60%, NPR reports.
  • FEMA has encouraged emergency managers to consider housing people in empty hotels as an alternative, but many emergency managers aren't sure how to do this, per NPR.

Go deeper: FEMA braces for COVID-infected hurricane season

2. The rise of coronavirus social bubbles
Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note: 1,076 U.S. adults were surveyed with ±3.1% margin of error; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Nearly half of Americans say they've established social "bubbles" of people they can trust to follow the rules for minimizing the risk of spreading the coronavirus, according to the latest installment of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Between the lines: The trend isn't particularly partisan. It is most common in the suburbs and among women, older adults and people with college educations, Axios' David Nather writes.

Why it matters: This week's poll findings suggest that Americans are grappling with the reality that the virus isn't going away anytime soon — and they're trying to find ways to maintain some social contact without putting themselves at risk.

  • This is happening as 46% of Americans say they know someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus. To put that in perspective, only 4% of Americans knew someone who had tested positive when this survey began in mid-March.
  • And 18% say they know someone who has died from it — the highest share since Ipsos began asking the question in late April.

More than one out of four Americans (26%) said they would consider it a large risk to take the first generation of a coronavirus vaccine as soon as it's available.

  • By contrast, 35% said the first vaccine would be a moderate risk, while 29% said it would be a small risk.

Yes, but: It's too early to read anything into these results about how people will react when a real vaccine is available.

Go deeper.

3. The latest in the U.S.
Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Republican leaders on Monday rolled out a roughly $1 trillion proposal for the next round of coronavirus relief funding, which has the White House's seal of approval.

The Democratic National Committee announced Monday that attendees for its August convention in Milwaukee must agree to daily coronavirus testing and protective self-isolation measures.

National security adviser Robert O'Brien tested positive for the coronavirus, Bloomberg first reported.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued a proclamation on Monday extending the early voting period for Texans casting ballots in the 2020 election and allowing more time for mail-in ballots to be delivered prior to Election Day.

Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain is still in the hospital undergoing oxygen treatment more than three weeks after first being hospitalized with the coronavirus on July 2, according to an update from his Twitter account on Monday.

Coronavirus cases in youths have greatly increased in Florida, with total infections up 34% and hospitalizations up 23% between July 16 and 24, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Google will keep its employees out of its offices and working from home through at least next July, the tech giant confirmed on Monday.

The Miami Marlins' home opener on Monday night against the Baltimore Orioles was canceled after eight more players and two coaches tested positive for the coronavirus, ESPN reports.

4. Brutal pandemic reality sets in: It's here to stay
Data: Kenkst CNC; Note: ±3.3% margin or error; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

In early April, most Americans — and nearly as many Germans and Swedes — thought the coronavirus pandemic would be behind them by the time summer was out, Axios' Dave Lawler writes.

Why it matters: Like swimming against the tide, the longer countries are stuck in the pandemic, the farther it seems to stretch out in front of them.

Consider this: 42% of Germans once expected the effects of the pandemic to end this summer.

  • Now, 66% expect it to carry on through next summer — one year from now — according to polling from strategic consulting firm Kekst CNC, shared with Axios.
  • Brits have long been most prepared for the long haul. 53% expect the country to be grappling with the pandemic two years from now, compared to 35% in Japan.
  • That view is less common in France (28%), Germany (21%), Sweden (24%) and the U.S. (25%).

Concerns about the pandemic's impacts on household finances and job security have fallen significantly since the spring, particularly in the U.S., indicating government rescue packages have had their intended effects.

Go deeper: Approval soars for Merkel, slumps for Trump and Abe

5. Moderna's stock on the rise
Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Axios Visuals

Moderna's stock soared 9% on Monday following a new federal grant and the official start of a late-stage trial for the company's coronavirus vaccine, Axios' Bob Herman reports.

The bottom line: Moderna now has received almost $1 billion in taxpayer funds to help develop a vaccine that is tied to the work of federal scientists, and the stock market reactions signal that investors think they'll reap a lot of the reward if the vaccine is proven to work.

By the numbers: Moderna, which has no FDA-approved drugs on the market, is now valued at $31 billion.

  • The massive stock rally has paid off for executives. Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel has sold $9 million worth of stock in July alone.
Caitlin Owens