☕ Cover Shot: Yesterday, the Labor Department reported that 3.28 million Americans filed unemployment claims last week as coronavirus continues to shutter businesses across the country.
Good Morning. Here’s what you need to know to start the day, along with perspective from both sides for calmer coffee conversations with your family, friends, colleagues, and co-workers. Plus, a bit of good news: One Atlanta man decided to help the city’s homeless population by placing portable handwashing stations around the region.
📰 TOP STORY
Jobocalypse: Yesterday, the Labor Department reported that 3.28 million Americans filed unemployment claims last week as coronavirus continues to shutter businesses across the country. This statistic dwarfs record numbers from other recent economic downturns. Claims peaked at 665,000 in March 2009 and at 695,000 in October 1982. The report resurfaced debate over whether or not government-imposed economic shutdowns do more harm than good.
How It’s Playing On The Right: The Hill contributors Madison Gesiotto, Robert Arnot, and Stephen Moore make the following points. First of all, history has shown government solutions often lead to larger problems. Take prohibition, for example, which led to the rise of organized crime. Moreover, government leaders need to acknowledge that the lockdown also carries health risks. One study found that the rate of drug addiction could nearly double for those who are unemployed. Among Americans between the ages of 50 and 75, another study showed the unemployed are 35 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack. Suicide rates could also spike and if Americans lose employer-based healthcare benefits, how will 30 million people with heart disease, 34 million with diabetes, and 35 million with chronic lung disease afford treatment and medication? With health and safety in mind, it is essential that Americans go back to work as soon as possible.
How It’s Playing On The Left: Yascha Mounk of the Atlantic contends that people who now advocate that we “choose the economy” are not being honest about the consequences of that decision, and here’s why: “In Germany, the government assumes that six or seven out of every 10 citizens could get it. The World Health Organization has estimated the case fatality rate to be 3.4 percent, meaning that about one in every 33 patients will die. Even if we assume the true fatality rate turns out to be much lower than the current figures suggest—say, about one in 100—more than 1 million Americans would succumb to COVID-19 in the next few months. That is about as many people as the country lost in the Civil War, World War I, and World War II—combined.”
Flag This: You’re kidding yourself if you think there’s an easy answer, and both sides make valid points. One final thought piece we stumbled across is titled, “The Smart Way to Save Jobs in the Time of Coronavirus” by Katharine Abraham and Susan Housman for POLITICO. The pair writes about the concept of “shared work” which other countries use. Here’s how it works: “Employers experiencing a temporary reduction in business agree to cut employees’ hours instead of laying off workers entirely. Employees on reduced hours receive unemployment benefits in proportion to the reduction in their hours. Businesses benefit by retaining valued employees and avoiding recruitment and training costs when economic conditions return to normal. Workers benefit by retaining most of their income and access to health insurance — a critical factor in a public health-triggered economic crisis like this one.” Keep reading.
🦅 US NEWS
We’re Number One
The US now has more confirmed cases of coronavirus than any other country with over 82,000 positive tests. Flashback: The first case in the US—a man in Washington state who had recently traveled to Wuhan, China—was reported on Jan. 21. Within six weeks, America has taken the top spot. New York is the center of the pandemic in the US, with its 37,802 infections accounting for nearly half of all cases in the country and tens of thousands more than any other state. Total US Fatalities topped 1,170 Thursday.
- A Read From the Right: How Deadly Is the Coronavirus? It’s Still Far From Clear John Lee, Spectator USA
- A Link From The Left: New York’s Ordeal Could Be America’s Future Dean Obeidallah, CNN
The Next Hotspot: New Orleans
New Orleans is on track to become a coronavirus epicenter. Thursday afternoon, the Louisiana Department of Health reported more than 2,300 cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Statewide, 83 people have died, putting Louisiana’s death toll among the highest in the country. Zoom out from the NYT: “There is a rising suspicion among medical experts that the crisis may have been accelerated by Mardi Gras — the weeks-long citywide celebration that unfolds in crowded living rooms, ballrooms and city streets — which this year culminated on Feb. 25.” Why it matters: this dims hopes that less densely populated and warmer-climate cities would escape the worst of the pandemic, and that summer months could see it wane. Reporting is largely the same on both sides, see below:
- A Read From the Right: Coronavirus cases skyrocket in New Orleans, Mardi Gras likely to blame Amanda Woods, New York Post
- A Link From the Left: New Orleans Coronavirus: City Faces a Nightmare, and Mardi Gras May Be Why Katy Reckdahl, Campbell Robertson and Richard Fausset, New York Times
🌎 US NEWS
US indicts Venezuela’s Maduro on narcoterrorism charges
U.S. authorities charged Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and senior government officials with drug trafficking and conspiring with terrorists and offered multimillion-dollar rewards for their arrests, escalating the Trump administration’s effort to unseat the leftist regime. In associated action, the State Department offered a total of $65 million for the arrest and capture of Mr. Maduro and four other top current and former officials, $15 million for the president and $10 million each for the others. Here’s how it’s playing:
- A Read From the Right: Nicolas Maduro indictment rightly closes door on any Venezuela compromise Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner
- A Link From the Left: This Could Be Nicolas Maduro’s Last Stand Eli Lake, Bloomberg
U.S., China Trade Blame for Coronavirus
The last time Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump talked was in early February when the coronavirus was ravaging China but not the U.S. The two talked about whether China would still buy as many farm goods as it promised in a trade deal. Since then, both governments have traded barbs over the coronavirus, generating distrust that now stands in the way of rescuing the global economy. Why it matters: As the global economy lurches toward recession, the world’s two largest economies are taking potshots at each other and ignoring chances for coordination. A relationship that helped pull the world out of a global recession a decade ago now is on the rocks.
- A Read From the Right: The Chinese Communist Party vs. America Brian Kennedy, The American Mind
- A Link From the Left: Blaming China to Shield Trump From Accountability Nancy LeTourneau, Wash Monthly
- Bonus Read: U.S., China Should Cooperate to Defeat COVID-19 Yanzhong Huang, Foreign Affairs
- Bonus Read: Why China’s No-New-Infection Claim Is Difficult to Believe Richard Bernstein, RCI
🗞️ BIZ, SPORTS, & TECH
Dow Clocks In Biggest Three Day Gain Since 1931
Despite a steep rise in jobless claims, US stocks climbed higher on Thursday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average registering its biggest 3-day surge since 1931. One reason stocks may have taken the historic number in stride was that top-end estimates projected the number could have surpassed 4 million. The fact that filings came in lower than the worst-case forecasts gave investors a brief sigh of relief. Boeing continued its climb, adding 13%. American and Delta also continued to build on their upswing, each rising 2%. Elsewhere, big names in the energy space marched higher as well. Shares of Marathon, Exxon Mobil, and Chevron all climbed higher despite the fact that Brent crude dropped below $27 a barrel.
Steph Curry Interviews Dr. Fauci on Instagram
Golden State Warriors star guard Stephen Curry interviewed Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, about the coronavirus pandemic and the possibility of being able to hold large gatherings, including sporting events, in the future. The question-and-answer session lasted almost 30 minutes and averaged close to 50,000 viewers, including former President Barack Obama, on Instagram Live. Watch the full interview.
The Wrong Zoom
Trading of Zoom Technologies was suspended by the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday partly because investors confused the company with Zoom Video, the wildly popular video conferencing service. Zoom Technologies is now up 50% this month and almost 900% this year. The company will resume trading on April 9th.
📢 PRESENTED BY: THE STREET SHEET
Why are downloads for mediation apps surging? Which private equity company is investing heavily in the UK despite Brexit concerns? Which company is Facebook about to buy? These are all the questions we’ll be taking a look at this weekend in the Street Sheet. Sign up here and you’ll get your first edition this Sunday.
🗳️ FLAG POLLS
Source: Reuters/Ipsos, Approve 45, Disapprove 52, Disapprove +7
President Trump Job Approval, Tuesday, March 24
Source: Gallup Approve 49, Disapprove 45, Approve +4
Source: Gallup, Approve 22, Disapprove 74, Disapprove +52
Weekly Flag Poll from Tag The Flag
Is the United States doing a better or worse job than other countries of handling the coronavirus pandemic? Responses: 1,124. Click to vote
On This Day in 1939: The University of Oregon defeats The Ohio State University 46–33 to win the first-ever NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The NCAA held its first women’s basketball tournament in 1982.
How Coronavirus Tests Actually Work (FiveThirtyEight)
Sex & Death in the Afternoon: An Oral History of the American Soap Opera (Mental Floss)
Dr. Fauci doughnuts are selling like hotcakes at Donuts Delite (Democrat & Chronicle)
The Long Read: The Federal Reserve is promising to do everything it can to save the economy – but what is that, actually? Answer