The coronavirus continues to spread nearly unchecked across almost the entire country: 37 states saw their caseloads increase over the past week, and only two states experienced a meaningful improvement.
Why it matters: These rapidly escalating outbreaks will translate into thousands of deaths and make it all the harder to safely reopen schools or otherwise reclaim some sense of normalcy.
By the numbers: New infections rose by at least 10% last week in 37 states, spanning every region of the country. Six states and Washington, D.C. experienced spikes greater than 50%.
Between the lines: Even some of the states that may not immediately register as bad news are still, in fact, in a bad spot.
How it works: Each week, Axios tracks the new confirmed cases in each state. We use a seven-day average to minimize the distortions that can come from single-day reporting.
What's next: Experts hope this outbreak won't be as deadly as the virus' initial attack on the New York area, in part because more young people are getting sick now.
Go deeper: We're losing the war on the coronavirus
Thu, 16 Jul 2020 09:00:33 +0000
What should I do? Axios asked the experts:
Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.
Thu, 16 Jul 2020 01:31:03 +0000
A number of prominent Twitter accounts, including those of Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Bill Gates and Elon Musk, appear to have been compromised Wednesday, posting messages tied to a cryptocurrency scam.
The latest: Twitter temporarily disabled all verified accounts from tweeting for several accounts. At about 8:45 pm ET, Twitter said in a statement: "Most accounts should be able to Tweet again. As we continue working on a fix, this functionality may come and go. We're working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible."
Why it matters: Twitter has become a key source of communication, and people generally assume the content posted by an account is from the person who owns the account, increasing the likelihood of a scam being successful.
Details: The accounts of Jeff Bezos, Mike Bloomberg and Kanye West, as well as companies Apple, Bitcoin.org, Coinbase and Ripple, were similarly compromised, in addition to several others.
Thu, 16 Jul 2020 00:50:21 +0000
President Trump announced on Wednesday that Bill Stepien will take over as his new 2020 campaign manager.
Why it matters: The elevation of Stepien is a demotion for Brad Parscale, Trump's existing campaign manager. Parscale was hand-picked by Jared Kushner, the president's adviser and son-in-law. He had been in the role longer than any of Trump's previous campaign managers.
Our thought bubble, via Axios's Margaret Talev: This has been foreshadowed for weeks and moves like elevating Stepien and bringing back Jason Miller, a top campaign spokesman and 2016 adviser, kicked off the transition. It’s an important reflection of Trump acknowledging how vulnerable his re-election bid looks — and his desire to find someone other than himself at fault.
Between the lines per Axios' Jonathan Swan: Parscale was undercut by Kushner and Trump’s loss of confidence after Tulsa. Functionally it means very little given that Stepien and Miller have already been playing bigger roles.
The state of play: Kushner is essentially still running Trump's re-election campaign from the White House.
What Trump's saying: "Brad Parscale, who has been with me for a very long time and has led our tremendous digital and data strategies, will remain in that role, while being a Senior Advisor to the campaign."
Flashback: Trump fired his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and campaign chairman Paul Manafort in 2016 and still won the election.
Go deeper... Poll: 62% say Trump is hurting efforts to slow spread of coronavirus
Thu, 16 Jul 2020 00:49:57 +0000
Stocks rose Wednesday on promising new COVID-19 vaccine data from Moderna Therapeutics, although much of the optimism is outpacing the science.
Axios Re:Cap digs into what Moderna said, what it didn't say, and what comes next in the vaccine race with Richard Besser, former acting director of the CDC and current CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Wed, 15 Jul 2020 21:53:03 +0000
The Trinity nuclear test 75 years ago represented our first reckoning with a technology that could potentially destroy us.
Why it matters: Nuclear weapons are still with us, even as we grapple with potentially dangerous and unpredictable new technologies like gene editing and artificial intelligence. How we handle the challenges they present will help decide what kind of future we have — and whether we have a future at all.
What's happening: Emerging technologies like synthetic biology and AI present new questions of control and new challenges to our future survival. Like the bomb, these technologies are a product of scientists doing what scientists do: advancing knowledge and making discoveries, with no way of fully predicting what they are bringing into the world.
Existential risk expert Nick Bostrom laid out the risks of these discoveries with a concept called "the vulnerable world hypothesis."
Flashback: At 5:29 a.m. on July 16, 1945, the first nuclear bomb was tested at Trinity Site, in a New Mexico desert valley called Jornada del Muerto, or Journey of the Dead.
The big picture: Even more than the Hiroshima bomb, which instantly killed some 80,000 when it was indeed used on people three weeks later, the Trinity test represents a hinge in history.
The bottom line: We have to hope this generation of scientists is more cautious and more far-seeing than those of the Manhattan Project, many of whom turned against nuclear weapons only after they saw what they had done, when it was too late.
Wed, 15 Jul 2020 21:47:18 +0000
62% of registered voters say President Trump is hurting efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus, compared to 31% who say he's helping, according to a Quinnipiac University poll out Wednesday.
The big picture: 36% of Americans approve of Trump's overall job performance, and 60% disapprove — his worst net approval rating since August 2017 and a 6-point drop from June. The poll has Joe Biden with a 15% advantage nationally over Trump, widening his lead from last month by 7 points.
Between the lines: On his handling of the economy, Trump's approval rating dropped to 36% in July as states force more businesses to close again due to the nationwide surge in coronavirus cases.
By the numbers:
Head-to-head with Biden:
The bottom line: "Yes, there's still 16 weeks until Election Day, but this is a very unpleasant real-time look at what the future could be for President Trump," Malloy said. "There is no upside, no silver lining, no encouraging trend hidden somewhere in this survey for the president."
Methodology: This RDD telephone survey was conducted July 9–13 throughout the nation. Responses are reported for 1,273 self-identified registered voters with a margin of sampling error of ± 2.8 percentage points.
Wed, 15 Jul 2020 20:29:34 +0000
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was discharged from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore on Wednesday after being hospitalized Tuesday morning for a possible infection, according to the Supreme Court. "She is at home and doing well," a spokesperson said.
Why it matters: The 87-year-old liberal justice has battled health complications for years, including a cancer diagnosis that she beat in January of this year. In May, Ginsburg was hospitalized and received nonsurgical treatment for a gallbladder condition.
What they're saying:
Asked at a press conference Tuesday if he had any response to the news of Ginsburg's hospitalization, President Trump said, "I wish her the best, I hope she’s better. ... She's actually giving me some good rulings."
Wed, 15 Jul 2020 20:12:32 +0000
Four months after the first lockdowns, there's a real possibility of a nationwide consensus on face masks.
Why it matters: As is increasingly the case in our fractured society, states and businesses led the way, finally followed by the federal government.
The big picture: 62% of respondents in the most recent Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index said they’re wearing a mask “all the time” outside the home, up from 53% two weeks ago.
Between the lines: Enforcement will mostly fall on entry-level workers to meet the portion of Americans who still see face coverings as a political statement and not a public health preventative practice.
The bottom line: As the pandemic becomes more immediately real across the country, resisting one of the easiest interventions against it makes less and less sense.
Go deeper: CDC says U.S. could get coronavirus "under control" in 4–8 weeks if all wear masks
Wed, 15 Jul 2020 19:22:36 +0000
Anthony Fauci told The Atlantic on Wednesday that efforts by certain White House officials to discredit him are "bizarre" and that it "ultimately hurts the president" to undermine a top health official in the middle of a pandemic.
Driving the news: Fauci's comments come on the heels of a USA Today op-ed by White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, who claimed that Fauci has been "wrong about everything" related to the coronavirus that the two have interacted on. Fauci told The Atlantic: “I can’t explain Peter Navarro. He’s in a world by himself.”
What he's saying: "I stand by everything I said. Contextually, at the time I said it, it was absolutely true … [The White House document] is totally wrong. It’s nonsense," Fauci told The Atlantic.
Fauci said that he met Monday with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and told him: "When the staff lets out something like that and the entire scientific and press community push back on it, it ultimately hurts the president. And I don’t really want to hurt the president."
The bottom line: Fauci maintained that he has no plans to resign, telling The Atlantic: "I think the problem is too important for me to get into those kinds of thoughts and discussions. I just want to do my job. I’m really good at it. I think I can contribute. And I’m going to keep doing it."
Go deeper: Trump says Navarro shouldn't have written op-ed attacking Fauci
Wed, 15 Jul 2020 18:11:44 +0000
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) announced on Wednesday he has tested positive for the coronavirus and will self-isolate, Tulsa World reports.
Why it matters: The 47-year-old Stitt is believed to be the first governor in the U.S. to test positive. He attended President Trump's rally in Tulsa last month, which the county's health department director said likely contributed to a surge in cases in the region.
The big picture: Oklahoma has reported 21,738 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and saw a record 993 new infections on Tuesday, according to its health department.
Wed, 15 Jul 2020 16:03:09 +0000
Walmart will require all customers to wear face masks beginning next week in all of its 5,000 company-owned stores, in addition to its Sam's Club locations, the company announced Wednesday.
Why it matters: Walmart is the largest retailer in the U.S. and the latest in a string of national chains — including Costco and Starbucks — to mandate masks for customers.
Walmart also said it would have "Health Ambassadors" stationed near the entrances of stores to remind customers without masks of the new requirements.
What they're saying: "We know some people have differing opinions on this topic. We also recognize the role we can play to help protect the health and well-being of the communities we serve by following the evolving guidance of health officials like the CDC," the company wrote in a press release.
Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that Walmart has over 5,000 stores in the U.S., not 9,000.
Wed, 15 Jul 2020 14:39:00 +0000
The White House said Wednesday that a USA Today op-ed by economic adviser Peter Navarro attacking Anthony Fauci "didn’t go through normal White House clearance processes."
Why it matters: In a normal administration, Navarro's actions would almost certainly result in his dismissal — but the White House did not immediately indicate any disciplinary action against him. It also further obscures the administration's support of Fauci, days after it put out a statement listing the times he was "wrong on things" in the coronavirus pandemic's early days.
The state of play: In the uncleared op-ed, Navarro wrote that Fauci "has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on."
What they're saying: "The Peter Navarro op-ed didn’t go through normal White House clearance processes and is the opinion of Peter alone. @realDonaldTrump values the expertise of the medical professionals advising his Administration," tweeted White House director of strategic communications Alyssa Farah.
The big picture: White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany denied earlier this week that the administration had released "opposition research" on Fauci.
Wed, 15 Jul 2020 13:14:02 +0000
Joe Biden is offering hints about how he’d try to thread the political needle to move big climate and energy plans through Congress.
Why it matters: If the 2020 election opens a path to moving substantial legislation, it's likely to be a fraught and narrow one that could vanish entirely in the 2022 midterm elections.
Catch up fast: Biden yesterday unveiled plans to spend $2 trillion over four years on clean energy and climate-friendly infrastructure projects like mass transit.
The plan also calls for policies including a requirement that power companies provide 100% zero-emissions electricity by 2035.
The big picture: Biden campaign officials, on a call with reporters Tuesday, said the plan would involve "some amount of stimulus spending."
What they're saying: New York Magazine's Eric Levitz wrote about why linking climate and energy goals to a recovery package matters politically...
The intrigue: Separately, Biden this week slightly backed off his longstanding support for Senate filibuster rules.
Wed, 15 Jul 2020 13:04:29 +0000
In 2018 President Trump granted the Central Intelligence Agency expansive legal authorities to carry out covert actions in cyberspace, providing the agency with powers it has sought since the George W. Bush administration, former U.S. officials directly familiar with the matter told Yahoo News.
Why it matters: The CIA has conducted disruptive covert cyber operations against Iran and Russia since the signing of this presidential finding, said former officials.
Driving the news: According to the Yahoo News story, of which I am the lead author, the 2018 covert action finding gives the CIA much more power to undertake such operations without needing prior approval from the National Security Council.
Of note: These new powers are not related to the CIA’s ability to hack for the purpose of mere intelligence-gathering, said former officials.
Other impacts of the 2018 finding:
1. Financial institutions. It loosens prior restrictions on disruptive or destructive targeting of financial institutions, former U.S. officials said.
2. "Cut-outs." The presidential authorization makes it much easier for the CIA to target “cut-outs” believed to be working surreptitiously for hostile foreign intelligence services at media organizations, charities, religious institutions, or other non-state entities for disruptive or destructive cyber actions, said former officials. In the past, the burden of proof for targeting such entities was high; now, standards have been made far more lax, said former officials.
3. The "big four." The finding explicitly enables the CIA to use these new powers against the “big four” U.S. adversaries — China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. But even though the CIA already had more legal maneuverability on covert operations against Iran than other U.S. foes, the Trump administration was particularly focused on escalating its activities against Tehran, said former officials.
The big picture: Some officials emphasize that Trump-era shifts in U.S. offensive cyber operations are part of a natural evolution in U.S. policies in this arena, and that many changes would have been granted under a new Democratic administration as well.
Wed, 15 Jul 2020 10:00:35 +0000
Tech was the first industry to send its workers home when COVID-19 first hit the U.S., and it has been among the most cautious in bringing workers back. Even still, many companies are realizing that their reopening plans from as recently as a few weeks ago are now too optimistic.
Why it matters: Crafting reopening plans gave tech firms a chance to bolster their leadership and model the beginnings of a path back to normalcy for other office workers. Their decision to pause those plans is the latest sign that normalcy is likely to remain elusive in the U.S.
What's happening: Many tech companies had already announced plans to allow most workers to telecommute through the end of the year (and in some cases indefinitely). Quietly, though, companies had been drawing up playbooks for portions of their workforces to return to the office sooner.In many cases, though, those plans are now on hold.
Snapchat, which had said employees could work remotely through Sept. 1, notified workers on Tuesday that was being extended through at least Jan. 4, citing the resurgence of COVID-19 in many parts of the U.S.
Apple, meanwhile, has been forced to again close many of the U.S. retail stores that had re-opened.
Most companies didn't want to talk publicly about reopening plans, but private conversations with many of them revealed a consistent theme: The industry is expecting even more of its workforce to be out of the office longer than they'd anticipated before the latest U.S. resurgence of the pandemic.
It's a big change from just a few weeks ago, when many companies held out hope that some percentage of their broad workforce would be able to return in fall. Now, firms are returning their focus on those workers who absolutely have to be in the office.
The big picture: Tech has become increasingly central to American life as the key gateway for entertainment, information, commerce and education. The good news is that many tech companies have found that much of their work can be done from home, without a big hit to productivity.
Yes, but: Not all workers can stay home. Cloud-based software companies need relatively few on-site workers, while a company like Intel needs a fairly large in-person staff. (You can't manufacture chips at home.)
Between the lines: Lots of companies say their workers are their biggest asset, but in the tech industry, where the competition for engineering talent remains fierce, that's especially true.
Our thought bubble: Tech has the luxury of taking care of its valuable workers. In many other industries, the practical and ethical equation is far more complex, because keeping the business going often requires some workers to be put at risk.
Wed, 15 Jul 2020 09:50:43 +0000
The coronavirus pandemic has changed the game for U.S. businesses, pushing forward years-long shifts in workplaces, technology and buying habits — and forcing small businesses to fight just to survive.
Why it matters: These changes are providing an almost insurmountable advantage to big companies, which are positioned to come out of the recession stronger and with greater market share than ever.
What we're hearing: "There is no doubt that the longer this pandemic pulverizes this economy the main victims will be small and midsized companies," Bernard Baumohl, chief economist at The Economic Outlook Group, tells Axios.
What to watch: Big companies, which have benefited far more from Congress and the Federal Reserve's coronavirus relief efforts, are expected to buy out or simply wait out smaller competitors.
The backstory: The Fed has provided nearly $3 trillion in liquidity since March to reopen credit and financial markets, and corporate titans like Apple, Exxon Mobil and United Airlines have taken advantage, borrowing a record amount of money at rock bottom rates.
By the numbers: A recent survey by the National Federation of Independent Business found that 22% of PPP recipients anticipate having to lay off at least one employee or have already.
A recent survey of U.S. chief financial officers found the difference in outlooks between small and large firms over the next 12 months "is extreme."
The big picture: The pandemic has ushered in an evolution in business akin to the development of the internal combustion engine or the dot-com bubble crash that accelerated globalization and second generation internet companies, Mohamed Kande, U.S. and global advisory leader at PwC, tells Axios.
The bottom line: "That will be a tough environment" for small business, Kande says.
Wed, 15 Jul 2020 09:40:50 +0000
College students overwhelmingly plan to return to campus this fall if their schools are open — and they claim they'll sit out the fun even if it's available, according to a new College Reaction/Axios poll.
Why it matters: For many, even an experience devoid of the trappings of college life is still a lot better than the alternative.
76% of college students say they will return to campus if they have the option. 66% say they would attend in-person classes.
Reality check: Avoiding these temptations is a lot easier said than done. Peer pressure, boredom and a gradual relaxation of strictness could all change the calculus when restless students find themselves in their dorms on a Friday night.
The big picture: College students have few options and going to school may be the best choice available.
The bottom line: For most students, returning to a much tamer campus with far more restrictions sounds a lot better than not going back at all.
Methodology: The poll was conducted July 13-14 from a representative sample of 800 college students with a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.
College Reaction’s polling is conducted using a demographically representative panel of college students from around the country. The surveys are administered digitally and use college e-mail addresses as an authentication tool to ensure current enrollment in a four-year institution. The target for the general population sample was students currently enrolled in accredited 4-year institutions in the United States.
Wed, 15 Jul 2020 09:00:42 +0000
Florida is the new domestic epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, and it's on track to keep getting worse.
By the numbers: Of the 20 U.S. metro areas with the highest daily case growth, nine are in Florida, according to Nephron Research.
Driving the news: The state health department announced 132 new deaths yesterday, the most the state has seen since the pandemic began.
Between the lines: Deaths lag several weeks behind new cases, and cases are skyrocketing.
Zoom in: "Miami is now the epicenter of the pandemic. What we were seeing in Wuhan five or six months ago, now we are there,” said Lilian Abbo, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Miami, earlier this week.
What we're watching: Hospitals are filling up, Disney World is open and the state is imposing minimal social distancing requirements.
Wed, 15 Jul 2020 09:00:15 +0000
The Trump administration is cutting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention out of the process of collecting coronavirus data, The New York Times reports.
Why it matters: The new database will not be open to the public, according to the Times, and comes amid repeated efforts by the Trump administration to sideline the CDC.
Details: The White House told hospitals to stop reporting key data about their patients to the CDC, and to instead feed it into a new system that will flow directly to the Health and Human Services Department, which oversees the CDC.
Between the lines: Experts told the NYT that the CDC's data collection systems are flawed, but some questioned whether the administration's new system would be significantly more efficient, on top of their questions about its transparency.
Context: The CDC is increasingly under fire from the White House and its Republican allies.
Wed, 15 Jul 2020 03:27:12 +0000
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