☕ Cover Shot: President Donald J. Trump signs a Presidential Memorandum in the Oval Office of the White House, Wednesday, March 11, 2020, for the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Labor on making general use face masks available to our healthcare workers. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)
Welcome to America’s Newsletter from Tag The Flag, the best morning newsletter on the internet, bringing you nonpartisan news and every view of the Red, White, and Blue. Here’s what you need to know to start your day.
📌 BULLETIN BOARD
Almost 150 U.S. companies make toilet paper. So why are people hoarding it? Here’s the answer
🦅 U.S. NEWS
Taking drastic action Wednesday, President Donald Trump announced he is cutting off travel from Europe to the U.S. (with the exception of the UK) and moving to ease the economic cost of a viral pandemic that is roiling global financial markets and disrupting the daily lives of Americans. Earlier in the day, Congress’ in-house doctor told Capitol Hill staffers at a closed-door meeting this week that he expects 70-150 million people in the U.S. — roughly a third of the country — to contract the coronavirus, Axios reported. According to The Hill, federally funded tests conducted by scientists from several major institutions indicated that the coronavirus can survive in the air for several hours, while remaining alive on plastic and other surfaces for up to three days. How are some young people handling the news? Well, by capitalizing on cheap flights saying: ‘If I die, I die‘. How are the super-rich approaching the situation? By jetting off to private bunkers. With the media cranking out coronavirus content for clicks faster than anyone can fathom it’s important to remember: The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. Here’s a sample of how it’s playing out across the airwaves:
- Trump’s Chernobyl’: Media Wuhan Virus Frenzy Fuels Panic Joy Pullmann, Federalist
- Why Trump Can’t Just Tweet Through the Coronavirus Lili Loofbourow, Slate
- Coronavirus: Ten Reasons Not to Panic Ignacio López-Goñi, The Conversation
The longest-ever bull market for U.S. stocks ended Wednesday. Why it matters: The downturn, marked by a 20% decline from the most recent high for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, heightens fears that the economic expansion that began following the financial crisis could also be on its last legs. What’s Happening: Stocks have crumbled, oil prices have tanked and U.S. government bond yields have plumbed record lows in the face of the rapidly spreading coronavirus. For context: The S&P 500 is still shy of a bear market, down 19% from its Feb. 19 peak. It has shed about $5 trillion in market value. Zoom out: Today “will be a critical day,” Tim Anderson, managing director at TJM Investments, said. “Every other time we’ve had a sharp down day, we’ve rallied the following day.” – WSJ
Weinstein Will Waste Away
Harvey Weinstein was sentenced Wednesday to 23 years in prison for rape and sexual assault. Details: He was found guilty of third-degree rape and first-degree criminal sexual act in February and acquitted of predatory sexual assault. Zoom out, per Axios: “The #MeToo movement — which galvanized support for alleged victims of sexual misconduct and caused at least 201 powerful men to lose jobs or major positions — gained traction after allegations against Weinstein came to light in 2017…Weinstein still faces four felony charges of rape and sexual battery in Los Angeles. If convicted on all counts, he could get an additional prison sentence of up to 28 years.” – AP / Axios
🌎 WORLD NEWS
The World Health Organization declared a global pandemic as the coronavirus rapidly spreads across the world, CNBC writes. Quoted: “We’re deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction,” the WHO’s chief said. WHO officials had been reluctant to make such a declaration. For context: The last time WHO declared a pandemic was during the 2009 H1N1 swine flu outbreak. The 2002-2003 outbreak of SARS, which is also a coronavirus, was contained enough to avoid that classification. Here’s how it’s playing:
- Is COVID-19 an Opportunity for Europe? Lucrezia Reichlin, Project Syndicate
- Could Coronavirus Change the Global Order? Jonathan Haslam, Spectator
Italy shuts nearly all shops as WHO declares pandemic
As a result of the WHO’s pandemic declaration, Italy will close all shops except food stores and pharmacies in Europe’s toughest lockdown yet as virus deaths and cases continue to mount. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said bars, restaurants, hairdressers and non-essential company departments would also close. Italy has more than 12,000 confirmed cases and a death toll of 827. Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that up to 70% of the country’s population – some 58 million people – could contract the coronavirus. Mrs Merkel made the stark prediction at a news conference on Wednesday alongside Health Minister Jens Spahn. – BBC
The Supreme Court acted on Wednesday to allow President Donald Trump to continue with his policy of returning asylum seekers to Mexico, heading off an appeals court order that would have halted the practice along a long stretch of the southern border, POLITICO writes. Why it matters: the decision is virtually certain to allow Trump to continue the policy — sometimes called “remain in Mexico” — through the November election.
- Supporters have argued that thousands of immigrants would rush the border if the high court didn’t step in.
- Critics of the policy contend that requiring most asylum applicants to return to Mexico puts them in danger, particularly from violence related to rampant drug-trafficking in many parts of the country.
Pepsico Rocks Out
PepsiCo agreed to buy energy-drink maker Rockstar for $3.85 billion on Wednesday. Faster-growing beverages have piqued the interest of Pepsi and its competitor Coca-Cola as consumers shy away from sugary drinks. Currently, Austria’s Red Bull dominates the energy drink market. Last year, Red Bull sold over 7.5 billion cans, whereas Rockstar sold just over 70 million. Elsewhere: Chick-fil-A announced that it will sell its signature and Polynesian sauces at Walmart, Target, Winn-Dixie, and Publix stores in Florida for a trial run in April and May. All profits will be donated to the Chick-fil-A Remarkable Futures Scholarship Initiative, which offers its workers college tuition aid. – Yahoo
The National Basketball Association has suspended its season after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus, the league announced Wednesday night. The NBA said the report that the player tested positive came in shortly before the Jazz were scheduled to play the Oklahoma City Thunder Wednesday. The game, which was to be held in Oklahoma City, was canceled before it could start. Fans were told to leave the arena. Thought bubble: based on the chain reaction we’ve seen with other industries like education, it’s plausible to think that other leagues will feel compelled to follow the NBA’s lead. – CNBC
TikTok steps up transparency efforts after privacy concerns in United States
Social media app TikTok is launching a content moderation center in a bid to boost transparency, the Chinese company said on Wednesday, as it faces scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers who have accused it of sharing user data with the Chinese government. So You Know: According to a 2017 Chinese law, companies operating in the country are required to cooperate with the government on national intelligence. Zoom out: Several U.S. agencies that deal with national security and intelligence issues have banned employees from using the app, whose popularity among teenagers has been growing rapidly. – Reuters
📅 ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
1933: FDR broadcasts first ‘fireside chat’ during the Great Depression
On March 12, 1933, eight days after his inauguration, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gives his first national radio address—or “fireside chat”—broadcast directly from the White House.