Jul 29, 2020

Axios Vitals

By Caitlin Owens
Caitlin Owens

Good morning.

Today's word count is 948, or a 4-minute read.

1 big thing: The school dilemma is worse for families of color
Reproduced from KFF Health Tracking Poll; Note: Share includes responses for "very/somewhat worried", income is household income; Chart: Axios Visuals

Children of color have the most to lose if schools remain physically closed in the fall. Their families also have the most to lose if schools reopen.

Why it matters: The child care crisis created by the coronavirus pandemic is horrible for parents regardless of their race or income, but Black and Latino communities are bearing the heaviest burden.

The big picture: Racial inequality is a defining feature of the pandemic, both in terms of its health impact and its economic effect. This is no less true when it comes to education.

  • Children of color are more likely to fall behind the longer they stay home from school, partially because of limited access to virtual education.
  • Parents of color are also more worried than white parents about losing the other benefits that schools provide, like social services and food, according to recent polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Reproduced from KFF Health Tracking Poll; Note: Share includes responses for "very/somewhat worried" income is household income; Chart: Axios Visuals

Parents of color are also more worried about the health risks — to teachers, their children and their families — of reopening schools for in-person learning. They were significantly more likely than white parents to say that schools should reopen later rather than sooner, per KFF.

  • These fears aren't unwarranted. Black and Latino Americans are much more likely than white Americans to be hospitalized or die from the coronavirus, especially younger adults — the demographic that has school-age children.
  • Community spread is also harder to control in these communities, as people of color are disproportionately essential workers. Multigenerational households are also more common.
  • Creative schooling solutions — like "pandemic pods" — may be out of reach for many of these parents, either because of affordability issues or because of other parents' fears about "podding" with the children of essential workers.

Between the lines: Some fears vary starkly based on income, while others are universal.

Go deeper: Parents turn to "pods" as a coronavirus schooling solution

2. College plans are also a mess

The fall semester is right around the corner, and colleges and universities' plans are all over the place.

The big picture: "There are as many plans as there are institutions, and their guidebooks are being written in pencil, leaving families and students in limbo," the Wall Street Journal reports.

Details: Some schools are planning on bringing all students back for in-person classes, some are doing online-only, and some are doing a hybrid.

  • Some, like Colby College in Maine, have ambitious testing plans. Others are only allowing certain students to return at one time.
  • The rules surrounding quarantining and social activity can also vary drastically.

Between the lines: Students' and faculty members' health is obviously at stake. But so is colleges' financial well-being, as whatever decisions they make could have huge impacts on enrollment.

  • Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued some general guidelines, school leaders are largely on their own.

Go deeper: A blueprint for managing colleges during coronavirus

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

Multiple Republicans made clear on Tuesday that they are not on board with several key provisions in the $1 trillion stimulus bill released by Senate GOP leadership Monday. Many said they find the process confusing, messy and not reflective of the Republican conference. 

Anthony Fauci told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Tuesday that he has "not been misleading the American public" after President Trump retweeted critical comments about him Monday night.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state Health Department will investigate "egregious social distancing violations" that took place at a concert last weekend in the Hamptons featuring The Chainsmokers, an electronic music duo.

Drug sales at Pfizer dipped 11% in the second quarter, totaling $11.8 billion, but the pharmaceutical giant still reported more than $3.4 billion in net profits, or $0.78 in adjusted earnings per share — 15% above what Wall Street expected.

Twitter temporarily prevented Donald Trump Jr. from tweeting and retweeting on Tuesday after the president's son shared coronavirus-related misinformation.

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

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the head of Germany's infectious disease research agency both said on Tuesday that they are starting to see possible signs of a second coronavirus wave in some European countries, NPR reports.

Italy extended its state of emergency declared over the coronavirus outbreak until Oct. 15, per Reuters, as the WHO warned Tuesday that the world is still in the "first wave" of the pandemic.

Belgium is increasing social distancing requirements due to a recent infection spike and Spain has closed gyms in Barcelona, the Washington Post reports.

The World Health Organization's Margaret Harris said at a briefing in Geneva that people were still thinking of COVID-19 as seasonal, but the virus "is behaving differently." "Summer is a problem," she said. "This virus likes all weather."

5. Alzheimer's blood test breakthrough

An international team of researchers has found that a newly developed blood test is highly accurate in aiding the detection of Alzheimer's disease, Axios' Rebecca Falconer writes.

Why it matters: The test could distinguish Alzheimer's from other conditions, and may be able to detect changes in the brain 20 years before dementia symptoms occur, per the study findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Tuesday.

What they're saying: Current assessment tools, such as PET scans and spinal fluid analyses, are invasive and costly. Maria Carrillo, chief science officer at the Alzheimer's Association said in a statement that this more affordable and widely available test would be "game changing for individuals, families and our healthcare system."

  • Oskar Hansson, from Lund University in Sweden, said that once verified and confirmed, the test could open up the possibility of early diagnosis of Alzheimer's before the dementia stage.

The bottom line: Carrillo noted that while these early results, presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference on Tuesday, are encouraging, "we do not yet know how long it will be until these tests are available for clinical use."

Go deeper: Chasing the elusive causes of Alzheimer's disease

Caitlin Owens