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

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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 19,648,084 — Total deaths: 727,024 — Total recoveries — 11,941,723Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 4,998,105 — Total deaths: 162,425 — Total recoveries: 1,643,118 — Total tests: 61,080,587Map.
  3. Politics: Trump signs 4 executive actions on coronavirus aid — Democrats, and some Republicans, criticize the move
  4. Public health: Fauci says chances are "not great" that COVID-19 vaccine will be 98% effective — 1 in 3 Americans would decline COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Science: Indoor air is the next coronavirus frontline.
  6. Schools: How back-to-school is playing out in the South as coronavirus rages on — Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Howard to hold fall classes online.
Updated 4 hours ago - World

Brazil coronavirus death toll tops 100,000 and case numbers surpass 3 million

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro posted a photo of himself to Facebook congratulating his soccer team, Palmeiras, for winning the state title Saturday, moments after the health ministry confirmed the national COVID-19 death toll had surpassed 100,000.

Why it matters: Brazil is only the second country to confirm more than 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus. On Sunday morning, it became the second country to surpass 3 million cases, per Johns Hopkins. Only the U.S. has reported more. Bolsonaro has yet to address the milestones. He has previously tested positive for COVID-19 three times, but he's downplayed the impact of the virus, which has crippled Brazil's economy.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with the latest coronavirus case numbers and more context.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Republicans and Democrats react to Trump's coronavirus aid action

President Trump speaks to workers at a manufacturing facility in Clyde, Ohio, on Thursday. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Some Republicans joined Democrats in criticizing President Trump Saturday night for taking executive action on coronavirus aid, with Democratic leaders demanding the GOP return to negotiations after stimulus package talks broke down a day earlier.

Why it matters: Trump could face legal challenges on his ability to act without congressional approval, where the constitutional power lies on federal spending. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) was the most vocal Republican critic, saying in a statement: "The pen-and-phone theory of executive lawmaking is unconstitutional slop."