The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Europe Toll Passes 100,000 deaths

    As European nations passed the six-figure COVID-19 fatality threshold, there were a few promising signs. Spain, for instance, yesterday extended its lockdown to May 9 and saw its daily toll ease considerably to 410. The continent has seen nearly two-thirds of more than 161,000 global deaths from the virus. Italy, Spain and France, each near or above 20,000 fatalities, are the worst-hit.

    How are other continents doing? Japan passed 10,000 known cases yesterday, while its 174 deaths put it just ahead of Israel and Pakistan, where the government will allow mosques to remain during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, likely facilitating the virus' spread.

  2. Egged on By Trump, Protesters Decry Lockdowns

    Even some red state governors are balking in the face of President Donald Trump's exhortation to "LIBERATE" Democrat-governed states, which seemed to foment anti-lockdown protests there and in red states like Texas and Indiana, which are cautiously planning to ease restrictions as U.S. deaths near 40,000. Florida inspired an online backlash as some beaches reopened, attracting crowds.

    What might result? Early lockdowns like California's have been credited with containing infections, and experts believe encouraging people to reemerge could worsen the pandemic.

  3. 150,000 Deaths, No End in Sight

    With more than 2.3 million known coronavirus infections and 161,000 COVID-19 deaths, there is little on the horizon to suggest when the paralyzing global pandemic will end. A new study from Stanford University, yet to be peer-reviewed, found SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in 3 percent of 3,300 subjects near San Francisco. That indicates that infections are as much as 85 times higher than the area's official count.

    Where does the world stand? About 4.5 billion people, or half the world's population, are under some form of movement restrictions. Countries slow to adopt them, like the U.K. and Japan, are now facing breakdowns in medical care.

    Follow OZY's pandemic coverage.

  4. India’s Not Half Ready for the COVID-19 Storm

    With 1.3 billion people, India has so far documented more than 14,400 coronavirus cases and 480 deaths. But with unsanitary conditions at overcrowded state-run testing centers and quarantine facilities, it may soon reach a deadly breaking point. Eleven people have even escaped from one state-run isolation ward, possibly spreading the virus further.

    Why are facilities so unprepared? The Indian government says only 1.28 percent of its gross domestic product is spent on health care — woefully lagging behind America’s 18 percent, which hasn’t been enough for pandemic hot spots.

    Read OZY’s assessment of South Asia’s vulnerability.

  5. putin adjusting tie shutterstock 1367070692

    Putin Faces a Crisis He Can’t Spin

    When Vladimir Putin declared on March 17 that the coronavirus situation was “generally under control,” it was at least plausible. Russia had shut its border with China and seemed prepared for whatever nature could throw at it. Now it’s China shutting out Russians, citing them as carriers. And the increasingly low-profile Putin announced Thursday that one of the nation’s proudest celebrations, the 75th anniversary of defeating Nazi Germany on May 9, would be postponed.

    What happened? Nearly 50 cadets and instructors training for the big march are infected, indicating that Russia’s outbreak, with 32,000 reported cases, is far from controlled.

  6. Also Important...

    U.S. firms, facilitated by the Treasury Department, reportedly sent millions of face masks and other protective gear to China in January and February. In Germany, coronavirus infection rates have fallen such that each case spreads to an average 0.7 others. And a Nigerian presidential aide has died of COVID-19.

    In the week ahead: Today is the 25th anniversary of America's worst domestic terror attack, an Oklahoma City federal building blast that killed 168 people. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II marks her 94th birthday Tuesday, locked down in Windsor Castle. And you can prepare for Wednesday's 50th Earth Day celebrations by reading OZY's Golden Annivearthary series.

    Join the conversation! Check out the second part of a special edition of OZY's Black Women OWN the Conversation, focusing on how COVID-19 impacts the lives of Black women. Tune in TONIGHT at 11 p.m. (10 p.m. Central) on OWN, and share your perspective at #BlackWomenOWN on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.


  1. Survivor? You Might Not Have Immunity

    We don’t know for sure that recovering from COVID-19 means a person can’t catch it again. The disease could be like measles, affording lifelong immunity, or it could make survivors even more vulnerable. Researchers think it may make people “immunish” — past coronaviruses left the infected with immunity that wears off with time. Initial data from China suggests that the tougher the patient’s COVID-19 battle, the more protective antibodies remain.

    Are there other factors? One promising angle suggests exposure to previous coronaviruses, like those causing common colds, may aid the body's immune response.

    OZY explores the toll on mental health.

  2. Who Needs Chloroquine When You’ve Got Copper?

    “It just blew it apart.” That’s what the ubiquitous orange metal does to every recent viral health threat to come down the road, according to one microbiologist. Researchers have also found it hostile to the deadly SARS-CoV-2 virus. It’s nothing new: A 5,000-year-old Egyptian medical text cites copper’s infection-killing properties, which modern experts say involve the metal attacking pathogens with ions and electrons.

    How can it be harnessed? Rather than coronavirus-harboring stainless steel, hospitals can use copper surfaces and railings so that even between cleanings, the metal disinfects itself.

  3. The Ghost Claimants of Deepwater Horizon

    When BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil platform exploded off Louisiana a decade ago this Monday, its Gulf-floor well spewed America’s worst-ever oil spill. Thousands of fishermen lost their livelihoods. A mass tort lawsuit listed some 40,000 mainly Vietnamese American claimants, but only four clients were legit in a scheme that netted one Texas law firm and its investors $400 million in contingency fees. Some of the names appeared to have been taken from phone books.

    Was justice done? The main lawyer, who spent $10 million on his own defense, beat federal conspiracy charges and today represents virus-stricken cruise passengers.

    OZY investigates the new battle in oil.

  4. A Look at Iran Before the Apocalypse

    In November 2019, a documentary crew of four landed in Iran to travel throughout the country, meeting and filming people from all walks of life. Their travels resulted in the Vice Guide to Iran — a travelogue of the Islamic Republic at peace, spanning everything from a beach party to visiting the former U.S. Embassy with a hostage-taker.

    Why does it matter? It’s a glimpse of Persian culture before mass protests and repression and, finally, the coronavirus, which killed their embassy guide, altered it forever.

    Read this OZY feature on Iran’s Venezuela connection.

  5. The Art of Sacking at a Distance

    Julian Okwara has always been close, especially with his family — he takes after his brother Romeo, a Detroit Lions defensive end — but nowadays closeness is out. That’s why the Nigerian immigrant, still recovering from breaking his leg playing for Notre Dame in November, couldn’t show his stuff to NFL teams at February workouts, OZY reports. And yet this freakishly talented defensive end, who has set a Fighting Irish sacking record, is ready for this week’s NFL draft.

    How is he preparing? Now that Okwara has recovered, he’s sending videos of his socially distanced exhibition of his arguably first-round speed and agility.