The Presidential Daily Brief

Important

  1. Virus Antibody Tests Still Disappointing

    Even as U.S. coronavirus deaths top 40,000 and a majority of Americans say they're worried about reopening the country too quickly, protests demanding a swift economic restart are spreading. But doing that safely depends on antibody tests to determine who might have some immunity, and those tests — which the Food and Drug Administration is allowing despite a lack of official vetting — can be extremely inaccurate. Experts also warn they're being dangerously misused.

    What about treatment? Swiss pharma company Novartis has gotten approval for a trial of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, the relatively untested drug President Donald Trump has touted as a potential cure.

    Follow OZY's pandemic coverage.

  2. Canadian 'Police' Rampage Kills 16

    A gunman impersonating a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer killed 16 people in a shooting rampage that began Saturday night in Portapique, Nova Scotia. Wearing an RCMP uniform and driving a mock police cruiser, a man identified as Gabriel Wortman eluded authorities overnight, leaving a 57-mile trail of crime scenes before he was tracked down and killed Sunday. One officer was also killed. The worst mass shooting in Canadian history "will remain etched in the minds of many," said one RCMP commander.

    What's the motive? Police said it's not clear, but Wortman's neighbors indicated that the pandemic had recently shuttered his denture clinic.

  3. US Small Business Relief Deal Nears

    A new deal between congressional Democrats and the White House is "very close," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday, after the first $350 billion plan aimed at keeping businesses and their employees going during lockdowns was depleted. Democrats have held out for the new $310 billion relief package to include additional money for hospitals, food stamps and local governments. The lack of funding prompted New York Mayor Bill de Blasio to ask President Trump if he was telling his suffering city to "drop dead."

    How soon could the deal happen? Mnuchin said he hoped for a Senate vote today.

    Get small business coping hacks from OZY.

  4. Afghan Presidential Palace Stricken by Virus

    President Ashraf Ghani has reportedly isolated himself from his aides after at least 20 Kabul officials tested positive for COVID-19. The 70-year-old leader is keeping most contacts digital as he guides his impoverished nation's response to the pandemic. Sources said the presidential palace outbreak is being blamed on a contaminated document — something experts say is highly unlikely — and infected workers and their families are now under quarantine.

    What about the rest of Afghanistan? While there have only been around 30 deaths reported in the war-torn nation, health officials warn the virus's spread could be catastrophic without serious containment measures.

  5. Also Important...

    United Arab Emirates religious authorities have advised Muslims that due to this year's extraordinary circumstances, fasting and congregating for prayers aren't necessary during Ramadan, which starts this week. Florida's sea turtles are thriving without humans (and their trash) clogging beaches. And Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have announced they'll no longer engage with four U.K. tabloids for publishing stories that are "distorted, false, or invasive beyond reason."

    Coronavirus Update: The final three cruise ships still sailing the world with passengers are expected to dock today, despite port closures.

    Join the conversation! Check out the second part of a special edition of OZY's Black Women OWN the Conversation focusing on the impact of COVID-19 on the lives of Black women. Tune in Tuesday at 11 p.m. ET on OWN, and join the conversation at #BlackWomenOWN on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Intriguing

  1. New Medical Shortage: Dialysis Units

    It's not just the lungs. Doctors fighting COVID-19 are finding that a third of their most gravely ill patients quickly lose kidney function — even those with no history of kidney trouble. That means that in addition to struggling to find enough ventilators, they're desperate for dialysis machines to do the work of the waste-filtering organs. "Everybody is running into shortages at this point," lamented the head of nephrology for New York City's largest hospital network.

    What else is needed? Treatment also requires specialized nurses, many of whom have been sidelined by the virus.

    OZY's resource guide can help you stay healthy.

  2. Tech Giants May Have to Pay for Aussie News

    Costs are going up Down Under. Australia's competition watchdog has been working on creating a voluntary code of conduct for Facebook and Google. But Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has now ordered that the code be mandatory — and that it must force the companies to pay Australian media for using their content, since Facebook and Google collect the lion's share of online advertising dollars for distributing it. A draft code is expected this summer.

    Has this ever worked? Other efforts to police the tech leaders' use of global news have seen the companies work around restrictions rather than ponying up the fees.

    OZY investigates how coronavirus is straining newspapers offline too — in India.

  3. The Scientists Trolling Sewers for Polio

    Even when you've defeated a devastating virus, vigilance is required. India's last polio case was recorded in 2011, OZY reports, but that doesn't mean that it, along with its lifelong paralysis and other effects, couldn't filter back from nearby nations where conflict prevents its eradication. To that end, researchers are trolling sewers for samples, looking for the disease among more routine pathogens.

    Can this work for the pandemic? The techniques pioneered in India, along with Pakistan and Nigeria, can be used after it ends — in case COVID-19 makes a comeback.

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    Magic Kingdom Furloughs 100,000

    Is it still the happiest place on earth? Disney, likely bracing for a lengthy shutdown, will cease paying 100,000 of its park employees this week, leaving them to rely on state aid instead. The company will continue to pay furloughed employees' health care benefits — and pay into the incentive schemes that account for most of the tens of millions in compensation for top executives. It's still unclear when Disney parks will be able to reopen (and under what conditions).

    What about the top brass? CEO Bob Chapek is forgoing half of his $2.5 million base salary for the year.

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    NY State Unleashes Golfers, Not Caddies

    They're playing through. Authorities in Albany allowed courses to open this weekend, but with only groundskeepers and guards "essential" to safety allowed to work. Clubhouses and locker rooms remain closed, no gatherings are allowed and players must keep 6 feet apart. Golfers must also carry their own bags to limit coronavirus transmission.

    Is there a problem with that? An aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo said earlier this month that opening courses was "counter to the message" of social distancing while COVID-19 is still killing thousands of New Yorkers.

    OZY takes a look at how coronavirus is forcing sports fans to get creative.