The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. States Reopen, But Experts Warn of Long Haul

    With the U.S. virus death toll now closing in on the number of American deaths in the Vietnam War, states like Oklahoma, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee have made further steps toward reopening nonessential businesses, alarming public health authorities. But Deborah Birx, the White House coordinator for coronavirus response, says social distancing practices will likely need to continue through the summer. Meanwhile, China is reinstituting some restrictions as concerns persist about a second wave of the virus.

    Explore all of OZY's coronavirus coverage.

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    New Zealand Claims Coronavirus Victory

    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is lifting many of her country's COVID-19 restrictions, having determined that there is no widespread community transmission there. With only 19 total deaths due to coronavirus, New Zealand will now reopen schools and businesses, except those like hair salons that require face-to-face contact. Still, all payments must be contactless and people are encouraged to work and study from home if possible — perhaps modeling the new post-pandemic normal for other countries as they ease lockdowns.

    Read OZY's coverage of how the virus will forever change health care.

  3. Trump Absent From COVID-19 Briefings

    President Donald Trump didn't participate in coronavirus press briefings for the second straight day Sunday. Instead he took to Twitter, first to wish his wife a happy birthday and then to blast journalists who received "Noble Prizes." When some pointed out the spelling error, and that there is no Nobel prize for journalism, Trump deleted his tweets and replaced them with an explanation: He was being sarcastic — also his rationale for controversial comments about disinfectant injections. Meanwhile, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who landed in ICU earlier this month with COVID-19, returned to work today.

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    Airlines, Planemakers Struggle for Survival

    They'll have to fight for their flights. Even as global stocks rose Monday on news of relaxing lockdown restrictions, airlines and plane manufacturers are far from recovering. Airbus has already cut its production by a third, but the company's CEO sent a letter to employees warning of an existential crisis ahead. Budget carrier Norwegian Air, whose shares are down 86 percent from a year ago, is expected to run out of cash next month unless a risky financing plan gets approval from shareholders. And quick fixes won't cut it: The industry's not expected to rebound for years.

  5. Also Important...

    South Korea urged caution about reports that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is in ill health. Scientists are finding a quiet ocean helps them study whales better. And Saudi Arabia has ended the death penalty for minors.

    Coronavirus update: Many governments are releasing the incarcerated en masse as the disease spreads in overcrowded prisons.

    We heard you! Responding to our question about whether you would vote in person during the pandemic, C. Gerome said, "Why would I take the risk to vote in person when I don’t even feel safe enough to pick out my own groceries in person?"


  1. Poachers Target Locked Down Wildlife Parks

    Without tourists, it's a trap. Wildlife parks in Africa are normally tourist hotspots, but without any visitors due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions, conservationists say there's been an increase in poaching of big animals. That could also be because people have lost their jobs and are turning to hunting wildlife for food. Without the funds normally generated by tourism, and with social distancing restrictions in place, conservation groups are having trouble fighting for the animals' protection.

    Check out OZY's coverage of a YouTuber's wildlife spotting app.

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    Africa's Startups See Pandemic Opportunity

    Despite the rise of mobile payments as standard around the world, Africa still largely runs on cash: Two-thirds of sub-Saharan Africa's population is still unbanked. But as the coronavirus and its attendant lockdowns make digital payments more important, OZY reports, African telecom and fintech companies have spotted an opportunity. With moves like suspending payment fees for mobile transactions, they're hoping to help people in a time of need — and draw in low-income customers who may stay with the startups after the pandemic subsides.

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    Pompeii Researchers: Ancient Romans Recycled

    Waste not, want not. Archaeologists had long known about the big trash piles preserved outside the walls of volcano-smothered Pompeii, but now an excavation team believes those piles were part of a collection and sorting system that recycled usable trash back into city projects, like wall construction. By analyzing soil, academic Allison Emmerson says her team was able to track the path of the ancient Roman garbage — and she thinks Pompeii's reuse strategies could have lessons for modern humans dealing with a waste crisis.

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    COVID-19 Could Encourage Onscreen Ageism

    Age is nothing but a number ... and a risk factor. One Swedish film company's new guidelines for allowing production to resume post-pandemic bluntly said that nobody at high risk for the virus should be hired, saying, "We cannot cast anyone above the age of 70." That could sideline legendary actors in their golden years from conscientious sets, forcing shows to be rethought and cutting short careers decades early. Meanwhile, some productions are moving ahead with distancing-friendly virtual studios covered in high-resolution LED screens, which could eliminate the need to shoot on location.

  5. New Pats Kicker Will Cover Far-Right Tattoo

    New England drafted a bit more than it bargained for when it got Justin Rohrwasser, 23, whose left arm is emblazoned with the logo of the Three Percenters, a far-right militia group. Rohrwasser says he got the tattoo as a teenager and "thought it stood for a military support symbol at the time." He's agreed to cover the ink while he's playing, though it's not clear if he will cover his other tattoos, including the phrase "Liberty or Death" and a tribute to the Dave Matthews Band.

    Read OZY's story on the quest to evaluate NFL prospects with AI.