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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans' desire for more human connection as the coronavirus pandemic forces them to stay at home is leading to a surge in phone calls, the New York Times reports.

By the numbers: Verizon told the Times it is now handling an average of 800 million wireless calls a day throughout the week — more than double the number of calls it handles on Mother's Day, which is typically one of the busiest call days of the year.

  • AT&T said its number of calls has risen 35%, while the length of calls has also increased by 33%.
  • Meanwhile, internet traffic is up 20% to 25% on average per day.

Why it matters: Telecommunication companies were expecting to see a surge in internet use, but hadn't anticipated seeing such large spikes in phone calls. The spike in phone calls is especially surprising given how long it's been in decline.

  • The increase in calls is for both personal and business purposes. Prior to the outbreak, calls generally peaked in the morning and evening.
"For years, we've seen a steady decline in the amount of time people spend talking to one another, especially on wireless devices. The move to staying at home has reignited people's hunger to stay connected, voice to voice."
— Kyle Malady, Verizon’s chief technology officer

Go deeper: Big Tech's summer internships go digital

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Trump blocks banks from limiting loans to gun and oil companies

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Big banks are no longer allowed to reject business loan applicants because of the industry in which they operate, according to a new rule finalized on Thursday by the Trump administration.

Why it matters: Wall Street has curtailed its exposure to industries like guns, oil and private prisons, driven by both public and shareholder pressures. This new rule could reverse that trend.

Former FDA commissioner: "Reliable drug supply is absolutely critical"

Axios' Caitlin Owens and former FDA commissioner Mark McClellan. Photo courtesy of Axios Events

Having a reliable supply of pharmaceutical drugs throughout America will be "absolutely critical" to boosting affordability in health care during the Biden administration, former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Mark McClellan said at a virtual Axios Event on Friday.

The big picture: McClellan, who served under President George W. Bush, says drugs having limited supply and limited competition leads to elevated pricing. He considers drug supply to be a national security and public health issue.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
4 hours ago - Economy & Business

Americans are still spending money

Source: Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans spent more money at stores and restaurants in 2020 than they did in 2019 — even in the face of a devastating global pandemic that shut down broad sectors of the economy.

Why it matters: The monthly retail sales report this morning came in well below expectations, and showed consumer spending falling on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Total expenditures were still higher in December 2020 than they were a year previously, however.