The Presidential Daily Brief

important

  1. U.S. Braces for Painful COVID-19 Reality

    President Donald Trump backed away from his dream of restarting the economy by Easter, declaring last night that Americans should follow rigid social distancing restrictions at least through April. That's after public health experts predicted the U.S. could suffer up to 200,000 coronavirus deaths. Still, Trump said, "a lot of great things will be happening" by June. As of early Monday, the country had recorded 143,000 infections and more than 2,400 fatalities.

    Will Trump take quicker action now? He expressed dismay at how hard his hometown of New York City has been hit, but some worry he's still distracted by feuding with governors over resources.

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    India's Lockdown Hits the Poor Hard

    The world's largest lockdown has left millions of migrant laborers jobless — so many are hitting the road back home on foot. "I fear hunger more, not corona," said one 32-year-old worker. Only one regional Indian government out of 36 has arranged transportation for workers, while protests in defiance of the restrictions have rippled across the country, which has posted nearly 1,100 infections.

    Who else is suffering? Local reports suggests patients with serious and chronic illnesses, such those living with HIV, are having trouble accessing crucial health-related services under the lockdown.

    Don't miss OZY's feature about why South Asia is a COVID-19 time bomb.

  3. Oil Prices Sink to Record Lows

    Brent crude, the international benchmark, hit an 18-year low today, dropping 6 percent to $23 per barrel, while its U.S. counterpart, West Texas Intermediate, fell below $19. Widespread lockdowns across the U.S. and Europe have severely diminished global demand — and the ongoing price war between major producers Russia and Saudi Arabia, which is boosting supply, certainly isn't helping.

    What's next? Analysts say the "historic oil price collapse" could continue as extra crude threatens to flood the world's storage spaces.

    Read this OZY column about why Russia's coming for America's shale.

  4. Meanwhile, Wuhan Begins Waking Up

    "I’m so excited, I want to cry." So said one resident of the original epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic. After being locked down since late January, the city of 11 million is gradually coming back to life as shops and businesses open and travelers are allowed back in. Over the weekend, only 54 new cases of COVID-19 were reported — all of them imported, officials say.

    What's next? The global community will be watching Wuhan closely for tips on how to get back to some sort of normal life while still keeping coronavirus at bay.

  5. Also Important...

    President Trump vowed yesterday that the U.S. government won't foot the security bill for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who have reportedly moved to the United States. British low-cost airline EasyJet has grounded its entire fleet of planes — and it remains unclear when it'll resume operations. And Elmo and Cookie Monster are among the Sesame Street characters promoting good hygiene in a series of new public service spots.

    Coronavirus Update: As of early Monday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across 177 countries and regions has passed 732,000.

    Speak up! What's been the most difficult part of social distancing for you or your family? Let us know by replying to this email — and we’ll feature the most interesting answers right here later in the week.

intriguing

  1. Why the Indian Namaste Is Going Viral

    The future is in your hands. Thanks to coronavirus, the centuries-old Indian greeting is slowly replacing the handshake in the world of diplomacy, OZY reports. During a time when state visits and global summits are being called off, it's giving world leaders, from Prince Charles to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the chance to hold essential meetings with some semblance of normalcy.

    Is this the greeting of the future? Experts note the namaste — a combination of two Sanskrit words that translates to "we bow to you" — meets the requirements of social distancing while also appearing natural.

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    Some NYC Amazon Workers Will Walk Out

    Around 200 employees at the online retailer's Staten Island warehouse will duck out at noon today over its decision to stay open after a worker tested positive for COVID-19. "People are scared. ... We’re unsafe," said the walkout leader, who's demanding the warehouse be closed and sanitized. Amazon said it has tripled its cleaning efforts and disputes claims by the leader — who was ordered to quarantine — that employees who've chosen to self-isolate won't be paid.

    Could Amazon give in? The workers have attracted support from the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which claims the company is placing "enormous profits" over safety.

    Check out OZY's ideas for making some cash while self-isolating at home.

  3. Hungry Rats Swarm Shuttered New Orleans

    The city's famous French Quarter is still bustling despite the coronavirus lockdown — but instead of bar-hopping tourists, the revelers are rats. "It's driving our rodents crazy," said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. The rats would normally feed on garbage from restaurants and bars, experts said, but they're going hungry after businesses closed to curb the contagion that's infected 3,540 and killed 151 in Louisiana.

    How did the Pelican State become a hot spot? Many are pointing to Mardi Gras events in late February, but Gov. John Bel Edwards argued that "not one person" in Washington told him to cancel the festivities.

  4. CBS News, Nashville Lose Veterans to Virus

    It was "a hard hit to the heart." Dan Rather's words mourning the death of longtime CBS colleague Maria Mercader, 54, rang true for many whose loved ones have joined the ranks of COVID-19 fatalities. Yesterday the virus claimed Grammy-winning country music star Joe Diffie, 61, who went public with his diagnosis Friday. And a Sunday tweet announced that folk bluegrass legend John Prine, 73, is also critically ill.

    What about notable survivors? Singer-songwriter Rita Wilson yesterday counted her "many blessings," including five years in cancer remission and surviving COVID-19 with husband Tom Hanks.

    Read OZY's story about whether Sweden botched its pandemic response.

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    Coronavirus Can't Stop Belarusian Soccer

    They're not taking one for the team. Despite sports leagues around the world calling their seasons on account of the pandemic, the Belarusian Premier League is defiantly playing on. On Saturday, 1,750 maskless fans packed a stadium in the capital Minsk. The league's even attracting attention from sports-starved viewers abroad, securing new broadcast deals in nearly a dozen countries.

    What's the bigger picture? Authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko claims "no one is talking about the virus" in the former Soviet nation of 9.5 million, which has reported just 94 cases despite taking virtually no protective measures.