The Presidential Daily Brief

Important

  1. US Toll Now World's Highest With 20,600 Dead

    On Saturday, 1,846 new U.S. deaths were reported, making America the new world leader in COVID-19 deaths — now totaling nearly 20,600. About half of those were in the New York area, but Midwestern cities are preparing for their own onslaught. As Chicago readied a temporary morgue for 2,000, Mayor Lori Lightfoot took to the streets, telling groups to "break it up."

    How is Europe doing? Spain, with some 17,000 fatalities, is allowing some non-essential workers to commute and distributing masks at transit stops, while police in Italy, France and Britain were deployed to prevent outdoor gatherings under sunny skies.

    OZY looks at the next hot spots.

  2. PM Leaves Hospital as UK Deaths Top 10,000

    The 55-year-old prime minister thanked his caregivers and said "it could have gone either way" during his weeklong stay. He also praised the "personal courage" of doctors, nurses and others involved in the struggle that is "by no means over." But he didn't mention shortages of personal protective gear, which have reached "dangerously low levels," according to Britain's doctors union. Deaths jumped 737 Sunday, taking the national toll to 10,612 shortly after a leading scientist warned the U.K. is likely to be Europe's worst-hit nation.

    Where are things the worst? In London, but hospitalizations are stabilizing, while northern England is seeing increases.

  3. Report: Trump Warned in January of Virus Disaster

    President Donald Trump was warned by a top adviser in late January that some 500,000 Americans could die from the coronavirus and nonetheless downplayed such risks, according to the New York Times. Trump, who's denied seeing the warning, announced an "Opening Our Country" task force Friday, saying he wants to end lockdowns "as soon as possible." It would be his "biggest decision," but done in consultation with medical advisers.

    Can he do that? Not exactly, as governors, experts and aid agencies are collaborating on their own strategy, employing greater testing and unprecedented contact tracking.

  4. The Checks Are in the Mail

    Attached to last month’s $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, the payments — $1,200 to adults beneath income thresholds and $500 per child — should begin landing in bank accounts next week, but those without direct deposit may wait months to get checks in the mail. The Treasury Department plans to send 5 million checks a week, and a new app will help taxpayers file 2018 and 2019 tax returns to speed the process up.

    Will it be enough? Lawmakers and President Donald Trump appear amenable to more stimulus allocations, although Congress seems stuck on the next one.

  5. The Markets Must Be Crazy

    Is the coronavirus bear on the run? When Wall Street's week ended Thursday, the S&P 500 stock index was 25 percent higher than its crashing March 23 low. But the global economy remains in a coma, and prognosticators are seeing a contraction rivaling the Great Depression. Some $4.5 trillion in economic stimuli from the U.S. government and Federal Reserve, along with leveling off of new virus cases, have nonetheless fueled market advances not seen since the 1930s.

    Will it last? No one can say for sure, but considering stats from past downturns, one analyst foresees a new low this summer.

  6. Also Important...

    Wikileaks founder Julian Assange fathered two children while living in London's Ecuadorian embassy, says his partner, who is worried he will be stricken with COVID-19 in prison. More than 1,000 people have died from the coronavirus in Brazil, where President Jair Bolsonaro remains dismissive of pandemic precautions. And a former employee of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has filed a police report alleging he sexually assaulted her in 1993.

    In the week ahead: North Korea has cancelled the Pyongyang Marathon, scheduled for Sunday. Monday is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 13 accident that nearly stranded three astronauts in space. And despite the pandemic, South Korea will hold parliamentary elections Wednesday.

    Coronavirus update: The global death toll has passed 100,000, with nearly 19,000 each in Italy and the United States, which has surpassed 500,000 known cases.

Intriguing

  1. New Jersey Nurse: Scared, Brave and Infected

    She can see fear in her colleagues’ eyes. But oncology nurse Emily Rostkowski, drafted to fight COVID-19, says they are “acting so brave.” Used to helping families say goodbye when life ends, she and other nurses at Holy Name Medical Center, a coronavirus hot spot, can only offer a gloved hand when patients lose their battle to breathe.

    What of her own family? Rostkowski sleeps in her basement to avoid infecting them — a necessary precaution, as she fell ill and recovered before receiving positive test results. Three of her colleagues weren’t so lucky.

    Read OZY’s account of less-prepared states.

  2. The Never-Ending Pandemic Cruise

    Cruise ships have been ground zero for new infections, yet 6,000 passengers remain at sea. A Guardian analysis has found eight such ships, including one with at least 128 positive coronavirus test recipients. Some set sail in mid-March — after the World Health Organization declared the pandemic. European and American health authorities have said their citizens must remain aboard for 14 days after testing negative.

    Where do things stand? Australia has launched a criminal probe of one operator that unloaded infected passengers. Observers suspect other cases may be concealed, and those still aboard despair of ever disembarking.

    OZY examines the foundering industry’s future.

  3. The Virus Is Killing India’s Newspapers

    The writing may be on the wall. Around the world, newspapers are struggling to survive the onslaught of digital titans’ advertising monopoly. The one major exception has been India, where readership has been growing — until now. Amid the 21-day lockdown that began March 25, Indians are clamoring for news, but, as OZY reports, viral posts, so to speak, have convinced many that newsprint carries coronavirus along with useful information.

    Is there truth to that? The concern is unproven, and research indicates the pathogen survives better on smooth surfaces than porous ones, a message the Times of India is fervently advertising.

  4. Did 'Tiger King' Series Hurt the Cats?

    The message remains caged. Netflix’s Tiger King documentary may have enraptured a housebound audience rivaling the services’ top series. But it didn’t help its eponymous wildlife, contends Peter Frick-Wright, who produced a podcast about America’s big cat breeders. While making much of the antagonists’ oversize personalities, he contends, the series spends too little time showing what’s wrong with baby tiger petting zoos.

    How did it err? For one thing, the five-hour series equates animal rights crusader Carole Baskin with the man jailed for attempting to arrange her murder, when, Frick-Wright says, Baskin’s work might have outlawed big cat exploitation.

  5. Why the MLB Can’t Resume Like South Korea

    It’s a bad pitch. That’s how sportswriter Jesse Spector sees Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred’s proposal to begin a socially distanced season in May. All teams would play in Phoenix without fans, with players sequestered in hotels. The model is South Korea, whose pros seem intent on playing soon. But the U.S. hasn’t crushed the viral curve as the Seoul government has.

    What’s wrong with the scheme? Aside from players potentially exposing one another to the coronavirus, Spector argues that you would need to ask the working stiffs to separate from their families during a crisis.

    OZY’s got sports fans covered for lockdown.