Friday's top stories

Trump appoints Peter Navarro to enforce Defense Production Act

President Trump briefs reporters with the White House coronavirus task force on March 26. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro was appointed as the Trump administration's point man to enforce the Defense Production Act on Friday, after President Trump authorized the use of the DPA to direct General Motors to build ventilators for patients affected by the novel coronavirus.

Why it matters: America's hospitals, doctors and nurses have urged Trump since last week to use the DPA to ramp up the country's domestic production of medical supplies crucial for health care workers, saying "there will not be enough medical supplies" without it.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Mar 27, 2020 - Health

New York's race against the clock on coronavirus

Inside the Javits Center in NYC. Photo: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

With much of America ground to a halt, the state of New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month.

Why it matters: The state is bracing for a peak in coronavirus hospitalizations in mid-April, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Friday.

Go deeperArrowMar 27, 2020 - Health

Trump signs historic $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill

Photo: JIM WATSON / Getty Images

President Trump signed the $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package into law on Friday shortly after the House passed the bill.

Why it matters: What happens in Washington is often lost on the rest of the country. But this rescue package is the largest in American history, has the attention of leaders on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue and matters to Americans back home.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Mar 27, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump erupts at GM over ventilators

President Trump speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., on March 26. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

At President Trump's urging, automakers have mobilized with astonishing speed to help medical equipment makers produce much-needed ventilators and masks to fight the coronavirus.

But, but, but: With pressure mounting as the pandemic spreads and mixed signals coming from the White House's emergency response team, an agitated president lashed out at GM and Ford Friday morning on Twitter.

Go deeperArrowMar 27, 2020 - Health
Ina Fried, author of Login

Google donates $800 million in cash and ads to fight coronavirus

Photo: Google

Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced Friday that his company is donating more than $800 million in cash and advertising to help stem the spread of the novel coronavirus and ease the impact on small businesses.

Why it matters: It would appear to be the largest donation yet from a tech giant. The ad credits also could help keep business flowing through Google's ad system amid what is expected to be a sharp downturn in advertising.

Ben Geman, author of Generate

Imagining a new energy normal after coronavirus

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

One thing to watch once this tragic crisis passes is what forms of enforced behavior stick around by choice after lockdowns end — and what it means for energy use.

Where it stands: Global oil demand has collapsed as lots of air and vehicle travel has stopped, and billions of people worldwide are cutting back or halting their movements.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets

The plan to fight coronavirus with trillion-dollar platinum coins

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The growing throng of critics who have assailed the Senate's $2.2 trillion spending bill as avarice, insufficient and disappointing have an alternative.

Enter Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and the Automatic BOOST to Communities Act, a bill so massive, audacious and unparalleled in scope that one of its primary authors asserts "There is no number that would be meaningful to estimate" its cost.

Kendall Baker, author of Sports

The ripple effects of March Sadness

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The NCAA men's basketball tournament makes up more than 75% of the organization's annual revenue, so ever since March Madness was canceled, college administrators have been bracing for an economic gut punch.

Driving the news: The NCAA delivered the blow yesterday, announcing that it will distribute just $225 million to Division I conferences and schools for 2020 — less than half of the $600 million that had originally been budgeted.

Go deeperArrowMar 27, 2020 - Sports

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tests positive for coronavirus

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Friday that he has tested positive for coronavirus and will be self-isolating while leading the nation's response to the outbreak.

Why it matters: Johnson is the first major elected world leader to test positive. Prince Charles, the heir to the UK throne, has also tested positive.

Go deeperArrowMar 27, 2020 - Health

Tech giants set to lose billions in ad revenue in virus shutdown

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Tech giants like Google, Facebook and others are expected to lose billions of advertising dollars this year thanks to economic disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, analysts say.

Why it matters: The losses aren't expected to cripple these companies, but they will put a dent in the otherwise unprecedented growth that several have experienced for the past few years.

What a coronavirus exit ramp looks like

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans are looking for an exit ramp away from the extreme social distancing brought on by the coronavirus, but that will require steps we're not yet prepared for.

The big picture: Responsibly easing off of social distancing will only be possible as the number of new cases levels off, and will depend on extensive testing to avoid another surge in infections.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Mar 27, 2020 - Health

Advisers steer Trump to drop back-to-work deadline

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins in the socially distanced White House briefing room. Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Believing the worst is yet to come, some top advisers to President Trump are struggling to steer him away from Easter as an arbitrary deadline for much of the nation to reopen.

State of play: The operating assumption among administration officials involved in the coronavirus planning is that the April 12 mark — 16 days away — will not, in fact, turn out to be the starting gun for businesses across America to reopen.

Go deeperArrowMar 27, 2020 - Health

Parks pose major problem for cities battling coronavirus

A couple riding a bike and scooter wearing protective masks in Central Park. Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Closed businesses, home offices and schools amid the coronavirus pandemic has translated into an influx of outdoor recreation in parks, despite states' advice for people to stay home.

Why it matters: So many people are visiting city parks to escape the stuck-at-home monotony that the public spaces have become crowded. Some people are exercising in groups or playing contact sports, undermining social distancing recommendations.

Go deeperArrowMar 27, 2020 - Health

The next coronavirus hotspots

A second wave of cities, including Boston, Detroit, New Orleans and Philadelphia, are seeing increases in confirmed coronavirus cases, and could become epicenters for the outbreak if they're not able to bring those cases under control soon.

Why it matters: Whether these cities can prevent their outbreaks from spiraling out of control will be a major test for the U.S.' ability to contain the virus.

Go deeperArrowMar 27, 2020 - Health
Amy Harder, author of Generate

How climate change and wildlife influence the coronavirus

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The good news is, climate change is not directly at play with the coronavirus. The bad news: we humans are still root drivers in pandemics like this one.

Driving the news: Buying, selling and consuming wild animals, such as at the Wuhan, China, market where this novel coronavirus is believed to have originated, is increasingly spreading deadly infectious diseases, experts say.

Go deeperArrowMar 27, 2020 - Science

GM deal for ventilators stalls as White House shops around

Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The White House canceled an announcement planned for Wednesday on a proposed venture between General Motors and Ventec Life Systems to build necessary ventilators amid the coronavirus outbreak, the New York Times first reported and Axios confirmed.

What we know: The announcement was called off to buy more time for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assess whether the estimated cost of more than $1 billion was too expensive, and how many ventilators would be produced. Per the Times, the deal could still happen, but government officials are currently looking at other proposals.