The Presidential Daily Brief

Important

  1. COVID-19 Treatment Shows Promise

    A ray of hope amid the pandemic emerged Wednesday in early U.S. trials for potential COVID-19 treatment remdesivir. The antiviral medication shows "a clear-cut, significant, positive effect" in shortening recovery times, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, who advises President Donald Trump and runs the agency conducting the research. Patients on remdesivir saw hospitalization times cut from 15 to 11 days. The news boosted global markets, along with the U.S. Federal Reserve's decision to "use its full range of tools" to buoy a crumbling economy. Meanwhile, U.S. virus deaths passed 60,000 — likely undercounted as "other" deaths have spiked.

    Follow OZY's comprehensive pandemic coverage.

  2. South Korea Zeroes Out, UK Deaths Soar

    Is it under control? For the first time since February, health authorities in Seoul reported only four new infections, all contracted abroad. South Korea's cases stand at 10,765, with one new death raising that toll to 247. The news was far more grim in Britain, where 3,811 nonhospital deaths were added to the total yesterday, pushing it past 26,000 — Europe's second-highest. Today Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who celebrated the birth of his son Wednesday, will lead a pandemic briefing, his first since returning to work after recovering from COVID-19. It's also the deadline for the government's unfulfilled pledge to conduct 100,000 daily virus tests.

  3. Greenhouse Gases Drop a Record 8 Percent

    The planet's taking a breath. The gases that cause global warming are on pace for an 8 percent drop this year, owing to an “unprecedented” decrease in fossil fuel use. Using data through mid-April, the International Energy Agency reported that nations under lockdowns are seeing energy demand reduced by up to 25 percent, contributing to the emissions drop. But the decline is for the "wrong reasons," said the group's executive director, through painful lockdowns that have limited the movement of 4 billion people. There are also fears that recovery efforts may involve relaxing environmental regulations, allowing emissions to worsen.

    Read OZY's look at Mongolia's sooty skies.

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    Trump Blames China as Poll Numbers Dip

    He's been through this before. As President Trump gets closer to November's election, poll numbers from his own campaign are showing former Vice President Joe Biden ahead in key swing states. Campaign officials reportedly gave Trump the bad news last week in an effort to keep him from leading daily coronavirus updates, which he says people "love" — but his strategists believe are hurting him. Meanwhile, in a new interview, Trump said China "will do anything they can" to damage his reelection chances, including holding back information on the pandemic.

  5. Also Important...

    President Trump says he'll end months of White House confinement with a trip to Arizona next week. The city of Los Angeles plans to offer free coronavirus testing to all of its residents. And South Korea says that troubling examples of recovered COVID-19 patients testing positive again turned out to be false positives.

    Coronavirus update: The global death toll has passed 225,000, led by the U.S., Italy and Britain.

    Listen up! OZY's back with a brand-new podcast. Tracing history's many twists, turns and unintended consequences, Flashback introduces you to the disastrous turning points, dangerous ideas and crazy coincidences that the history books never told you about. Subscribe now so you'll be the first to catch episode one on May 6, and as a special treat, check out our exclusive mini-episode about how Isaac Newton discovered gravity while social distancing during the Great Plague.

Intriguing

  1. Study Finds Virus Can Stay Airborne for Hours

    Could it get worse? The coronavirus has been shown to be transmitted via respiratory droplets expelled by infected people. But new Chinese research found genetic markers of COVID-19 in airborne droplets so small — less than one ten-thousandth of an inch — that they could float for hours. One expert said it "strongly suggests" airborne transmission is possible. But the scientists cautioned that finding the genetic material doesn't necessarily mean the droplets are infectious. The results could help make a case for mask-wearing, as social distancing isn't enough against an aerosol threat.

  2. NYC Mayor, Police Break Up Rabbi's Funeral

    It was too soon. Mayor Bill de Blasio is taking heat for tweeting to "the Jewish community" that "the time for warnings has passed" as hundreds of mourners gathered in Brooklyn Tuesday. De Blasio himself joined the officers dispersing the funeral of Rabbi Chaim Mertz, reportedly a COVID-19 victim. Jewish leaders said the mayor generalized about the city's entire Jewish population, which has largely observed social distancing, and De Blasio expressed regret for his tone, but insisted large gatherings "WILL NOT be tolerated." Meanwhile, questions linger over whether the NYPD's response was appropriate.

    OZY reports on North Africa's fatal proximity to Europe.

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    McGowan: Biden 'Must Cease' Campaign

    "There is no world in which Joe Biden can make this OK." That's what #MeToo campaigner Rose McGowan declared in an OZY interview, referring to a 1993 sexual assault allegation against the presumptive Democratic nominee. While many victim advocates have equivocated on Tara Reade's claim that Biden assaulted her when she worked in his U.S. Senate office, McGowan has championed Reade's cause. She rejects the "terrible choice Americans have been given" between Biden and "a dangerous, malignant narcissist in the White House" and insists that "there is a window" in which Democrats can correct that.

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    Elon Musk Rips 'Fascist' California Lockdown

    Like one of his rockets, he's gone ballistic. The electric car and spacecraft mogul on Wednesday blasted California's shelter-in-place rules that have kept his main Tesla factory idle. "This is fascist," he said during an earnings conference call, assailing "breaking people's freedoms in ways that are horrible and wrong." Officials in the Bay Area, where Tesla's Fremont facility is located, have extended their lockdown through May. And the earnings? A surprise quarterly profit of $1.24 per share helped send Tesla soaring 8 percent in after-hours trading.

    Read OZY's rundown of innovations that will change the world.

  5. Gymnastics Coach Banned for Verbal Abuse

    One of the top coaches in American gymnastics has been banned from the sport for eight years for verbally and emotionally abusing athletes. USA Gymnastics suspended former Olympic coach Maggie Haney Wednesday after Olympic gold medalist Laurie Hernandez and 2018 world champion Riley McCusker spoke out against her. To return to coaching, she'll have to complete Safe Sport courses — set up in the wake of revelations about former team doctor Larry Nassar sexually abusing scores of gymnasts. The lesson, said Hernandez's attorney, is that "these are children ... they're not something to be controlled."