President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at the Lincoln Memorial on July 4 in 2019. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

If it seems odd to stage a town hall with no in-person audience at the Lincoln Memorial, a site for huge rallies and events in more normal times, you're missing the point: President Trump's plan for Sunday night is packed with strategic signaling.

Driving the news: Fox News said this week that the president will sit for a two-hour event on emerging from the coronavirus pandemic, called "America Together: Returning to Work," to be co-hosted by Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum.

  • "We wanted a powerful image of American strength and the idea of what reopening looks like," a White House aide tells Axios.

Worth noting: Trump staged a July 4 tribute on the memorial's steps last year.

Why it matters: The event comes on the heels of concerning dips in polls for the president. It's also taking place as he calls for national parks to reopen and for many businesses to get back to work.

  • Trump has often compared himself with President Abraham Lincoln — and praised or mentioned his predecessor, one of the most lauded presidents in history, in the context of his own political struggle.
  • He has also said contending with the coronavirus pandemic makes him a "wartime president" — and Lincoln kept the nation together through Civil War, one of the most tumultuous periods in his history.

Be smart: Trump thrives on rallies, grand events and getting outside of the White House compound. He's been cooped up for weeks — and this is both a way out of the gates for a few hours as well as a test run before big campaign rallies can resume.

  • "He's eager to get out of the building," the White House aide said. "The weather's getting to be nicer."

One big question: Will supporters of the president try to show up on site despite the "virtual" designation to try to see him in person — and jeopardize one another's health?

  • The White House says it's not encouraging people to do so and a perimeter will be set up.

Go deeper

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Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Friday that the state's second phase of reopening is "postponed indefinitely" in response to a modest increase in coronavirus cases.

The big picture: The state is reporting more COVID-19 deaths than most others across the U.S. outside of domestic epicenters like California, or previous hotspots including New Jersey and New York, per a New York Times database.

Aug 7, 2020 - Health

Cuomo says all New York schools can reopen for in-person learning

Gov. Cuomo on July 23 in New York City. Photo: Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that all school districts across the state can choose to reopen for in-person learning because it has so far maintained low enough coronavirus transmission rates.

Why it matters: It’s another sign that the state, once the global epicenter of the pandemic, has — at least for now — successfully curbed the spread of the virus even as infections have surged elsewhere around the country.

Updated 50 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 19,451,097 — Total deaths: 722,835 — Total recoveries — 11,788,665Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2. p.m. ET: 4,968,413 — Total deaths: 161,858 — Total recoveries: 1,623,870 — Total tests: 60,415,558Map.
  3. Public health: Fauci says chances are "not great" that COVID-19 vaccine will be 98% effective.
  4. Science: Indoor air is the next coronavirus frontline.
  5. Schools: How back-to-school is playing out in the South as coronavirus rages on — Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Howard to hold fall classes online.