Apr 28, 2020

Axios Vitals

By Caitlin Owens
Caitlin Owens

Good morning.

Tomorrow at 2pm ET, I'm answering your questions via a Twitter Video Q&A on the coronavirus and its impact on the health care industry. Tweet your questions using #AskAxios and #AskAxiosCaitlin and watch my answers tomorrow on Twitter! 

Today's word count is 1,298, or a 5-minute read.

1 big thing: Americans fear economic collapse
Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Nearly nine in 10 Americans now worry about the U.S. economy collapsing, a view that transcends party lines, according to the latest installment of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

  • While three-fourths also fear their communities reopening too soon, there's a massive gulf between how Democrats and Republicans view the threat, Axios' Margaret Talev reports.

The big picture: Week 7 of our national survey shows individuals recalibrating risk and pacing themselves for an open-ended slog, as 12% report knowing someone who died from the virus — and one in four knows someone who's tested positive.

  • More than half of those who have received stimulus money say they've put some or all into savings, or plan to spend it but haven't yet.
  • People are gingerly testing reconnecting in person with some family and friends even as they hold to the broader notion of social distancing.
  • Race, income and geography continue to shape how people are impacted and react.

What they're saying: "When you force one question over the other, health is still more important, over the economy," said Cliff Young, president of Ipsos U.S. Public Affairs. "But that's going to start changing."

By the numbers: The survey shows an especially grim way Democrats have been affected by the pandemic: They're twice as likely (15%) as Republicans (8%) to know someone who died.

  • African Americans (28%) are three times as likely as whites (9%) and twice as likely as Hispanics (13%) to know someone who has died.

Between the lines: Partisanship is the biggest driver of concerns about communities reopening prematurely.

Go deeper.

2. How to combat coronavirus misinformation

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

When it comes to combating misinformation, research shows that it's more effective for authoritative figures to present accurate facts early and routinely alongside misinformation, rather than to try to negate every piece of misinformation after-the-fact by labeling it false or by calling it out as false.

Why it matters: The research provides a roadmap for more effective and efficient management of the coronavirus "infodemic" by health experts, government officials internet platforms and news companies, Axios' Sara Fischer reports.

What they're saying:

  • Proactive messaging: According to research from Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania and co-founder of FactCheck.org, gaps in the public's background knowledge about common sense flu cures, like whether vitamin C prevents viruses, show "ongoing need for effective communication of needed information long before a crisis."
  • Pre-bunking: Australian psychologist and professor Stephan Lewandowsky, who chairs the Cognitive Psychology department at the University of Bristol, argues that if people are made aware of the flawed reasoning found in conspiracy theories, they may become less vulnerable to such theories.
  • Go where fake news spreads: According to Hall Jamieson, it's not effective for health care officials to spread context in venues where people generally don't receive misinformation.

Yes, but: Many of these efforts don't acknowledge the fact that people have become increasingly biased towards information, regardless of its validity, that backs their political viewpoint.

Go deeper.

3. The latest in the U.S.
Expand chart
Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

Attorney General Bill Barr issued a memo Monday directing Department of Justice prosecutors to act against state or local authorities imposing lockdown measures that "could be violating the constitutional rights and civil liberties of individual citizens."

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced on Monday that he will allow the state's stay-at-home order to lapse on April 30, at which point Texas will begin "phase one" of its reopening plan.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) and Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) announced on Monday that their states will join California, Oregon and Washington in their pact to work jointly in gradually lifting coronavirus restrictions.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed Monday that the chamber will reconvene on May 4 as it begins to consider the next coronavirus stimulus package.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) announced Monday that she will lift some coronavirus restrictions on businesses in 77 of the state's 99 counties on May 1, allowing them to reopen with limited capacity, the Des Moines Register reports.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted Monday that President Trump will hold a coronavirus press briefing, after announcing earlier in the day that the White House would cancel its scheduled briefing.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told MSNBC Monday that minimum guaranteed income is "worthy of attention" as a policy measure to help Americans deal with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Kevin Hassett, a senior economic adviser to President Trump, told CNBC's Squawk Box Monday that the U.S. is likely to experience a GDP decline of between 20% and 30% in the second quarter.

4. The latest worldwide
Expand chart
Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

EU advisers recommend that economic recovery measures for the coronavirus pandemic be in line with climate policy with low-carbon investments, Reuters reports.

After seeing IHS Markit's readings on the depths of the decline in Britain's manufacturing and services sectors, Bank of England governor Gertjan Vlieghe warned that the U.K. may be in the grips of an economic contraction for the ages.

The world has rarely been more ripe for power grabs, and Hungary's Viktor Orbán is not the only leader taking advantage. Emergency laws in Serbia and Cambodia also provide leaders near-total power, while governments elsewhere are using the virus as cover to crack down on the media, opposition or minorities, the Economist reports.

Addressing the coronavirus without paying attention to climate change and biodiversity crises would be a mistake, given the ways in which all three are interrelated, an expert in wildlife conservation told "Axios on HBO."

5. Cuomo wishes he "blew the bugle" sooner

In an interview for "Axios on HBO," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told my colleague Jonathan Swan he wishes he had sounded the alarm sooner about the coronavirus.

Why it matters: The coronavirus has now killed more than 22,000 New Yorkers, giving Cuomo's state the worst death toll in the world — vastly worse than other dense global cities like Tokyo and Seoul.

  • And yet in managing the crisis, Cuomo has been widely praised, and he's become a fan favorite for Democrats around the country.

Swan asked Cuomo what he wishes he could change about his response to the virus. His response:

  • "When we heard in December that China had a virus problem, and China said basically, 'it was under control, don't worry,' we should've worried."
  • "I wish someone stood up and blew the bugle. And if no one was going to blow the bugle, I would feel much better if I was a bugle blower last December and January."

What's next: Cuomo said he thinks Americans will push leaders to do a better job next time a pandemic arrives on our shores.

  • "This will change society. Society will not allow this to happen again. They will want to be more prepared," he said. "They will want to move more quickly. And government will follow that social instinct."

Go deeper.

6. White House unveils coronavirus testing plan

President Trump unveiled two new documents at Monday's coronavirus press briefing — a coronavirus "testing overview" and "testing blueprint" — that lay out how the administration plans to work with state governments and the private sector to expand testing, Axios' Alayna Treene reports.

Why it matters: Governors have urged the federal government to be more involved in expanding testing and coordinating a national strategy, but it's unclear whether these new documents will allay their concerns.

Details: The "testing overview" lays out three stages that address testing — "launch," "scale," and "support opening up again."

  • The first two stages summarize steps that the administration has already taken, while the third stage details a plan for the federal government to "coordinate with governors to support testing plans and rapid response programs."

Key line: The overview makes clear that the federal government will act as a "supplier of last resort" when it comes to testing.

Read the overview.

7. HHS to disclose groups getting bailout funds

Right now, there's no public database to see which hospitals and other health care providers have received federal coronavirus bailout funds, but the Department of Health and Human Services is "in the process of establishing a database to disclose the entities that have attested to the receipt of their distributions and the amounts they receive," a spokesperson told Axios.

Why it matters: This is public funding, but today the public can't see where the money is going, Axios' Bob Herman reports.

Caitlin Owens