Monday's top stories

Dave Lawler, author of World

Coronavirus tests world leaders like never before

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

In the coming months, the decisions world leaders make — and their ability to communicate them effectively — could determine whether millions live or die, and whether the global economy stays afloat.

What to watch: Nations are judging their leaders on a daily basis. They may ultimately be revered or reviled based on the decisions they make now. Some may emerge with new powers that last well beyond the outbreak.

Trump says coronavirus restrictions will be lifted "soon," dismissing health experts

President Trump struck a new tone at Monday's coronavirus press briefing, suggesting that social distancing restrictions will be lifted "fairly soon" and that the U.S. has learned enough lessons to re-open the economy despite the ongoing pandemic: “I’m not looking at months, I can tell you that right now.”

Why it matters: Trump and some of his political and economic advisers are losing patience with public health experts who believe that easing restrictions and returning to normal life before "flattening the curve" could overwhelm the health system.

Go deeperArrowMar 23, 2020 - Health

Pelosi unveils $2.5 trillion counterproposal to GOP coronavirus stimulus

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled on Monday a sweeping counterproposal to Senate Republicans' $1.8 trillion coronavirus stimulus package.

Why it matters: House Democrats' legislation — which comes with a $2.5 trillion price tag — comes after negotiations between Capitol Hill leaders and the White House broke down over the weekend, culminating in two failed procedural votes that have left the Senate Republicans' bill in limbo.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Mar 23, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Understanding the backlash to coronavirus lockdowns

Clockwise from top left: Cable-car tracks on California Street in San Francisco ... Times Square ... Windley Key, Florida ... Chicago. Photos: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images, Noam Galai/Getty Images, Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images, Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP via Getty Images

Just a week after getting everyone on board with a coronavirus lockdown, President Trump is already teasing its end.

Between the lines: It's hard not to sympathize with folks who are asked to shoulder an unfair share of the burden when they aren't the ones calling the shots.

Go deeperArrowMar 23, 2020 - Health

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson orders nationwide lockdown

Photo: Ian Vogler-WPA Pool/Getty Images

In a national address on Monday, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson became the latest world leader to order a nationwide lockdown in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Johnson warned on Sunday that a surge of coronavirus cases over the next two weeks could cripple the country's National Health Service, and that the U.K. is only "a matter of weeks" behind Italy — now the site of the worst coronavirus outbreak in the world.

Go deeperArrowMar 23, 2020 - World

Stock market tumbles as coronavirus stimulus hangs in limbo

Exterior of the New York Stock Exchange, which closed the trading floor today. Photo: Angela Weiss via AFP

Stocks closed down about 3% on Monday, though they finished above the lowest levels of the day.

By the numbers: The S&P 500 joined the Dow in shedding all the gains since President Trump's inauguration in 2017, a nod to how steep the market drop has been in an extremely short period of time.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Mar 23, 2020 - Economy & Business

Procedural vote on coronavirus stimulus fails for 2nd time in 24 hours

Mitch McConnell, Steven Mnuchin and Chuck Schumer. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

A procedural vote on Senate Republicans' $1.8 trillion Phase 3 stimulus package failed on Monday for the second time in less than 24 hours.

The big picture: Patience is wearing thin on Capitol Hill as talks over providing desperately needed aid to Americans and businesses continue to stall.

FDA eases rules for ventilator production, but hurdles remain

Photo: Roland Weihrauch/picture alliance via Getty Images

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday temporarily relaxed certain policy guidelines that could allow manufacturers to produce more ventilators.

Why it matters: Automakers, parts suppliers and other industrial companies have offered to lend their manufacturing expertise in a wartime-like mobilization to combat the global pandemic. But without some easing of the FDA's strict validation process for medical devices, it can't happen.

Go deeperArrowMar 23, 2020 - Health

Lindsey Graham: "There is no functioning economy unless we control" the coronavirus

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tweeted Monday that he is basing his decisions for coronavirus policy on information from "healthcare professionals like Dr. Fauci and others, not political punditry."

Why it matters: In an apparent public rebuke, Graham added a link to a Washington Post article about the Trump administration's signals that it might move to loosen restrictions on businesses at the end of the White House's 15-day social distancing period as an economic salve, as reported by Axios' Jonathan Swan. "There is no functioning economy unless we control the virus," he said.

Tech companies partner with public sector to take on coronavirus

Photo: Tim Boyle/Getty Images

The past couple of days have seen a wave of partnerships between government and private tech companies (or individuals) to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: The federal and state governments need private-sector help to navigate the crisis but can offer key resources and information that private actors otherwise couldn't access.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata

The story behind Ron Johnson's stock sale

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Staff

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) was one of several senators who came under fire last week after disclosing that they had sold large amounts of stock just before large swaths of the American economy shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The big picture: Many of Johnson's colleagues should indeed be scrutinized by the SEC and/or the Department of Justice, but Johnson himself hasn't done anything worthy of investigation.

Fed unveils aggressive measures to shore up economy

Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images

The Federal Reserve announced a broad slate of programs to make sure credit flows to businesses and consumers as coronavirus safety measures cripple the economy.

Why it matters: The Fed’s announcement early Monday is the most aggressive step so far this year — and the markets responded in kind, with futures rising steeply ahead of the market's open.

Kendall Baker, author of Sports

An Olympics delay due to coronavirus feels inevitable

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The International Olympic Committee acknowledged for the first time Sunday that it may have to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Games — an outcome that once felt impossible but now, amid mounting external pressure, feels inevitable.

The state of play: The IOC set a four-week deadline for a decision and added that canceling the Games is not under consideration because that "would not solve any of the problems or help anybody."

Go deeperArrowMar 23, 2020 - Sports

Surgeon general on coronavirus: "This week, it's gonna get bad"

"I want America to understand: This week, it's going to get bad," Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Monday on NBC's "Today," referring to the coronavirus outbreak in the United States.

Why it matters: The U.S. has reported more than 35,000 coronavirus cases and 371 deaths from the virus, making it the third-largest outbreak in the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Go deeperArrowMar 23, 2020 - Health
Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals

The gaping holes in U.S. coronavirus testing strategy

Sen. Rand Paul. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Trump administration is urging commercial labs to prioritize testing inpatients for the novel coronavirus, Vice President Mike Pence said Sunday, a reflection of how we're prioritizing America's woefully inadequate supply of diagnostic tests.

Why it matters: A high-profile example of the pitfalls of this strategy — which essentially means that only the sickest patients get tested — is Sen. Rand Paul's positive diagnosis. Paul is asymptomatic, but recently was in close contact with other senators, leading them to self-quarantine.

Go deeperArrowMar 23, 2020 - Health

Trump signals an economic pivot on coronavirus shutdowns

Sunday's White House briefing. Photo: Eric Bardat/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump and some of his senior officials are losing patience with the doctors’ orders.

The state of play: Amid dire predictions for jobs and the economy, the White House is beginning to send signals to business that there's light at the end of the tunnel — that the squeeze from nationwide social distancing won't be endless.

U.S. internet lifelines face a tough test

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

With the in-person economy in the U.S. essentially shut down, the internet has never been more critical. The key question now is how well the network can handle the unprecedented demand.

Why it matters: Europe's networks have already come under strain, and if cloud services and internet service providers here falter, "shelter in place" could get a lot rougher.

Kim Hart, author of Cities

The coronavirus economy will devastate those who can least afford it

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If you think your new reality is inconvenient and stressful, here's some perspective: Tens of millions of people are trying to stave off the coronavirus without reliable access to basic needs like shelter, food or health care.

Why it matters: The people who were already vulnerable in a strong economy are facing severe hardship as jobs evaporate overnight and safety net services are strained to the max.

Go deeperArrowMar 23, 2020 - Health
Dion Rabouin, author of Markets

Coronavirus has left us with nothing good to say about the economy

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

While you might be tired of all of the doom and gloom that's been written about the economy over the past two weeks amid the coronavirus outbreak, there's an even more depressing fact to consider: there is nothing bright and hopeful to say right now.

The state of play: Congress' failure Sunday night to pass a major stimulus program illustrates once again how dysfunctional our government has become and how at risk the world is for catastrophe.

College students are still going out despite coronavirus warnings

More than half of college students say either they or their friends have gone to bars, parties, restaurants or other social gatherings in the last week, according to a new College Reaction poll.

Why it matters: The findings underscore how messages from political leaders and health authorities about the critical importance of social distancing to slow the spread of the virus haven't taken hold with younger Americans.

Go deeperArrowMar 23, 2020 - Health
Amy Harder, author of Generate

10 ways coronavirus is changing energy and climate change

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The novel coronavirus, upending our world as we know it, is also changing how we consume energy and address climate change.

Driving the news: The various impacts are occurring both now and into the future. Most changes don’t bode well for acting on climate change and transitioning to cleaner energy.

Canada and Australia pull out of Tokyo Olympics over coronavirus

A Tokyo 2020 Olympics banner in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images

Pressure is building on organizers of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics to call off the Games, after officials in Canada and Australia announced Sunday night they would not send athletes to this summer's event.

Why it matters: Canada and Australia are the first teams to announce they won't go to the Games because of COVID-19 risks. Both countries have called for the event to be held in the northern summer of 2021.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Mar 23, 2020 - Sports

Trump activates National Guard in Washington, California and New York

President Trump speaks during a briefing at the White House. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Trump told a news conference Sunday that he's activated the National Guard to assist Washington, California and New York to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Why it matters: As Trump noted, all three states "have been hit the hardest" by the outbreak. Major disaster declarations have been approved for New York and Washington state and California's request will be granted soon, Trump said.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Mar 23, 2020 - Health

Sen. Rand Paul tests positive for coronavirus

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has tested positive for the coronavirus, his office announced on Twitter Sunday.

Why it matters: He's the first U.S. senator to test positive. According to his office, Paul is asymptomatic and was not aware of making direct contact with an infected person.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Mar 23, 2020 - Health

Singapore's Big Brother fights against coronavirus

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The government of Singapore is tracing the coronavirus in ways that are simultaneously impressive and terrifying for those who worry about high-tech dictatorship.

The latest example: On Saturday, a friend living there received a WhatsApp message from the Singaporean government with instructions to download a new coronavirus tracing app called "TraceTogether."

Go deeperArrowMar 23, 2020 - Health