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2020 Daily Trail Markers: Majority of Americans worried about reopening country too fast

Americans are putting a priority on health concerns over economic ones as the coronavirus continues to keep businesses closed across the country. Right now, CBS News political unit associate producers Sarah Ewall-Wice and Eleanor Watson say U.S. leaders are grappling with how to reopen parts of the country, but according to the latest CBS News polling, 63% of Americans are worried about opening too fast and the outbreak worsening, while just 37% worry about the economy opening too slowly and the economy growing worse. And even as the president urges opening up the country in phases, 47% of Republicans believe the governors should decide when states reopen and only 37% believe the president should decide. 

Both Republicans and Democrats approve of how governors are handling the crisis in their states, however, more Democrats than Republicans are proud of governors, and far more Republicans (73%) are proud of Mr. Trump's response to the outbreak than of the governors' response generally. 

Views of Mr. Trump's overall handling of the coronavirus outbreak have changed very little in the past few weeks. The newest polling has his approval at 48% compared to 47% two weeks ago. 

When it comes to campaigning for the general election, candidates might have to wait awhile before drumming up support at rallies. According to the latest poll, voters in both parties are hesitant to return to public places before the outbreak is over. Only 13% of all voters say they would definitely return to public places over the next few weeks if restrictions were lifted right now. Forty-eight percent of voters would not return to public places until they were confident the outbreak is over, and 39% said they would "maybe" return if they saw the outbreak getting better. 

At the same time, among places Americans said they would be willing to go should stay-at-home orders be lifted, only 13% said they would be comfortable at a large sporting or entertainment event, 15% said they'd be comfortable getting on an airplane and only 29% said they would be comfortable going to a bar or restaurant. 

This comes as multiple protests against stay-at-home orders have taken place at state capitals across the country. According to the polling, only 23% of Americans support the protests, while 62% oppose them. Among those who oppose them are 82% of Democrats, 62% of Independents and 46% of Republicans (more than the 43 percent that support them). Additionally, only 13% of Republicans believe the president should encourage them; the majority of Republicans believe he should either discourage them or not say anything at all.  

Though 70% of Americans saying staying home and stopping the spread of the virus should be the top priority, many Americans are already feeling an impact on their finances. According to the polling, 36% are already feeling the financial effect, while 41% say it will affect their finances in a few weeks or longer. Only 17% said it would not impact their finances. 

To that end, the public overwhelmingly approves – 88 to 12% – of Congress passing additional legislation to help small businesses. Right now, the majority of Democrats and independents believe the federal funding is mostly going to large businesses while Republicans are split. Sixty-one percent of Americans believe Congress should immediately return to Washington to deal with the outbreak while just 39% do not.

No matter what happens, when this is all said and done,  54% of Americans believe life in American will be permanently changed after the coronavirus. Forty-six percent believe there will be an eventual return to normal.

FROM THE CANDIDATES

JOE BIDEN

Beyond the Trump administration's public health response to COVID-19, Joe Biden is also tailoring criticism toward the president's handling of the economic side effects, alleging Mr. Trump is unable to manage the sudden financial crisis millions of Americans find themselves in, CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson reports. 

After the new unemployment numbers today, Biden said in a statement, "Every worker left wondering when they will next see a paycheck is part of this American crisis – and Donald Trump isn't doing enough for them." 

While the president pushes state leaders to find ways to allow some businesses to reopen when deemed safe, Biden says businesses should remain closed in unsafe areas. In order to keep employees of these closed businesses on the payroll, he advocates for nationwide work-sharing structures. Looking ahead, by drawing attention to the economic crisis associated with the pandemic, Biden lays the groundwork to highlight the likely financial strains many Americans will be under later this year even if the risk to their physical health subsides. 

On the primary trail, Biden was frequently critical of Mr. Trump's boasts of the once-booming economy as he said the Obama-Biden administration set the economic growth in motion.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP

The Trump campaign launched its 2020 campaign app designed to ramp up voter engagement and data collection ahead of the November election. CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga says the latest development in the campaign's online recalibration offers supporters opportunities to phone bank, register voters or host a meet-up for Team Trump. 

Also up for grabs? Rewards. Similar to a video game, participants can earn points for helping to expand the campaign's digital footprint – share a Trump tweet to win one point. Convince a neighbor to download the app for one hundred points. Individuals earning 5,000 points earn a campaign store discount, while 100,000 points gets you a picture with the president himself. The app has been in the works for over a yearThe campaign began testing the app in January, with plans to deploy the digital tool at a smaller "Keep America Great" rally. Yet with the coronavirus pandemic putting a pause on all campaign rallies, the application has been retooled to promote virtual events and was announced via Twitter.

Separately the Trump campaign is pushing for the removal of a Democratic Super PAC ad on a local station in Michigan. According to a cease and desist letter sent to the station in Grand Rapids provided by the American Bridge PAC, CBS News political unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice reports the campaign is demanding that they stop airing the ad titled "Trust" which takes on the president's response to the coronavirus and China. 

The letter reads in part, "The AB PAC ad's central premise is based on the deliberately false, misleading, and deceptive claim that, 'Trump sent seventeen tons of American masks and medical supplies to China. Our masks and supplies.' This allegation is materially misleading and is willfully blind to the most basic context." 

On February 7, the State Department did announce it was facilitating the transport of "nearly 17.8 tons of donated medical supplies to the Chinese people, including masks, gowns, gauze, respirators, and other vital materials." 

According to the State Department, those supplies were "donated by the American people." This is not the first time the Trump campaign has sent a cease and desist letter to a television station over a Super PAC ad in the 2020 campaign cycle. On April 13, the Trump campaign announced it was suing a station in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, for carrying an ad by Priorities USA that was airing in battleground states which slammed Trump's coronavirus response. 

The Trump campaign claims it manipulated audio clips to create an entirely new sentence. When the Trump campaign first sent a cease and desist letter to the station over that ad in March, Priorities USA responded by expanding its ad buy.

VEEPSTAKES

STACEY ABRAMS

Stacey Abrams went further in depth today on why she would be a strong running mate for Joe Biden, according to CBS News campaign reporter Cara Korte. During a live-streamed chat with Color for Change, a civil rights 501(c)(4), Abrams gave a blow-by-blow explanation of her credentials. Abrams said that she must be direct with her ambition or else, as an African-American, she would be discounted. 

"As a person of color I cannot be shy about my response because any hint that I don't think I'm qualified, that I don't think we can, is used as a justification for saying that we can't," she said. Abrams went on: "This isn't about ambition for me, it's about ambition for our people  – that we should be considered and should be elevated to a place where we can help represent and serve our communities." 

She also discussed her philosophy for winning in November. Abrams acknowledged the need to win in the Midwest working class areas, but contended that she would help galvanize voters in more urban areas. 

"We have to win those blue wall states but we also have to expand the map because we keep – if we keep playing the last election while the other side is running the next election, we will continue to fall behind," she said. "And the thing is we need someone who can not only win Saginaw and Racine, and Scranton, we need to win Detroit and Milwaukee and Philadelphia."

AMY KLOBUCHAR

While her name is being floated as a running mate for Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar, in a round of media appearances, continued her November focus on how to keep elections safe in the post-pandemic era, CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson reports.  As scientific debate continues on whether public gatherings later this fall will be safe or not, the Minnesota senator is leading a push for greater financial support to states considering greater absentee voting measures. 

"People should not have to make a decision between voting and their health," Klobuchar said, stating there is bipartisan support for both granting financial assistance for states to implement more vote by mail opportunities and initiating an extension of early in-person voting to limit congregation on Election Day.

In one of her appearances Thursday, Klobuchar joined Rock the Vote along with When We All Vote, a nonpartisan initiative by former First Lady Michelle Obama, on a call to push for federal legislation to expand mail-in voting. 

"We cannot even be certain where students are going to be on Election Day," said Oregon Senator Ron Wyden. "We want to COVID-proof the election in America." Wyden and Klobuchar have introduced a bill to expand no-excuse absentee vote-by-mail, early-in-person voting and reimburse states for election-related costs during the pandemic. 

Klobuchar told CBS News correspondent Nikole Killion Democratic senators have sent a letter to congressional leaders calling for $3.6 billion to be included in a fourth coronavirus aid package. 

"That is a realistic number for what we need and we're just going to negotiate everything we can," Klobuchar said to CBS News. She also touted the bill during an Instagram live chat with When We All Vote co-chair Valerie Jarrett. It was hosted by the nonprofit organization, The United State of Women. "This doesn't have anything to do with who wins but it has everything to do with making the voters safe," Klobuchar told Jarrett.

ELIZABETH WARREN

Senator Elizabeth Warren said on Thursday that her oldest brother, Don Reed Herring, had died from coronavirus. "I'm grateful to the nurses and frontline staff who took care of him, but it's hard to know that there was no family to hold his hand or to say 'I love you' one more time—and no funeral for those of us who loved him to hold each other close," she tweeted. 

Herring, who was 86 and lived in Oklahoma, died on Tuesday, Warren said. A long-time military man who fought in Vietnam and a lifelong Republican, CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak says he had been a fixture in the progressive senator's presidential campaign stump speech. "I mentioned my three brothers. One is a Democrat. Do the math," Warren frequently told voters asking her how she'd bridge the partisan divide. "But here's the thing: I think about the things that unite us." 

GRETCHEN WHITMER

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer commented in a CNN interview Thursday morning on speculation that she is on a shortlist to become Joe Biden's running mate. Asked if the state of Michigan can spare losing its governor during the coronavirus pandemic to campaign, CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman says Whitmer responded, "The job that I want is the one that I have. I worked for two years to become the governor of the state of Michigan." 

In a separate interview on MSNBC, Whitmer criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's comment that he is in "favor of allowing states" to go bankrupt. McConnell made the comment in an interview with Hugh Hewitt. "I was really disappointed to see Senator McConnell's comments about letting states go bankrupt," Whitmer said. "I just think that it's incredibly irresponsible."

GOVERNOR'S MANSION

HELP WANTED

Governors across the political spectrum are continuing to speak up about the need for federal funding as they deal with the pandemic's brutal impact on their state budgets, says CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro

Most states are expecting to see a substantial loss in tax revenue due to the economic downturn, and some are already acknowledging the incoming budget cuts to come. Republican Governor Kristi Noem said that while her state has always been a "really thrifty state," they'll be seeing a substantial tax revenue loss. "All I really want to do is make sure that I don't have to slash teacher funding, to make sure that I don't have to slash highway maintenance," she said. 

"I don't want to have to cut funding for nursing homes. But that is situation that they are putting me in. Now that is not conservative." In response to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's suggestion that bankruptcy be an option for states with decimated budgets and that there shouldn't be any "blue state bailouts," New York Governor Cuomo said it was "one of the really dumb ideas of all time…The entire nation is dependent on what the governors do to reopen. But then you're not going to fund the state government? You think I'm going to do it alone? How do you think this is going to work?" Cuomo said Thursday. "'I mean for crying out loud. If there's ever a time to stop your obsessive political bias and anger...now is the time."

The decimating of state budgets comes as states continue to extend their stay-at-home orders, while also working through how they can reopen their economies. A new roadmap by the National Governors Association hopes to help states out with that, though it warns that the sufficient amount of resources needed, such as testing and PPE supplies, may not be there yet. 

The report observes that testing capacity in the U.S. remains "inadequate" to move forward, despite repeated assurances from the White House that the U.S. has enough testing for states that meet other criteria to begin to reopen, reports CBS News digital political reporter Kathryn Watson. "Opening prematurely — or opening without the tools in place to rapidly identify and stop the spread of the virus — could send states back into crisis mode, push health systems past capacity, and force states back into strict social distancing measures," the report reads. 

ISSUES THAT MATTER

JOBS

Another 4.4 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance for the week ending April 18, the Labor Department reported on Thursday, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to roil the U.S. job market. Over the past five weeks, since businesses around the country began closing due to the virus, CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster notes about 26.5 million workers have filed jobless claims. The weekly number reported on Thursday is the fourth highest ever recorded by the Labor Department, but it is a drop from the 5.2 million claims for the week ending April 11. 

More than 6 million people filed claims in the weeks ending April 4 and March 28. The advance number of continuing claims for the week ending April 11 is just under 16 million. That indicates how many people are actually receiving unemployment benefits. Before the coronavirus pandemic, the previous weekly high for continuing claims was 6.6 million people in May 2009.

Those numbers are all seasonally adjusted, which "attempts to measure and remove the influences of predictable seasonal patterns" to show how employment levels change over time. The unadjusted numbers show that more than 24.3 million workers have filed claims the past five weeks. That dwarfs previous five week stretches, according to Heidi Shierholz, who served as chief economist at the Labor Department from 2014-2017 during the Obama administration and is now with the Economic Policy Institute. 

"In the period before the coronavirus hit, just over a million workers would apply for UI in a typical five-week span, and in the worst five-week stretch of the Great Recession, it was less than four million," Shierholz wrote in a blog post. She says more than 1 in 7 workers have lost jobs based on the unadjusted jobless numbers. Shierholz also estimates that about 71% of people who have filed for unemployment between March 14 and April 11 are receiving their benefits.  

PRIMARILY CONCERNED

KANSAS

Tomorrow is the deadline for registered voters in Kansas to request a mail-in ballot for the Democratic primary in that state, which was originally scheduled for May 2. While Joe Biden is the presumptive nominee, CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar says all formally filed candidates will remain on the ballot and voters can still choose to vote their preference on their ranked-choice ballots. Any candidates that reaches the 15% viability will be awarded Kansas delegates. 

Earlier this month, after Senator Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race, Kansas Democratic Party Chair Vicki Hiatt urged voters to still participate during the vote by mail primary. 

"If we want to make sure voters have the option to vote-by-mail in future elections, especially for the November general election if the COVID-19 virus has not been contained, Kansas must prove that vote-by-mail keeps our communities safe and makes our democracy stronger." 

In late March, the KDP and the Democratic National Committee moved forward with a plan to conduct the primary completely by mail in an effort to help stop the spread of coronavirus. The KDP sent out more than 370,000 ballots to registered Democrats in the state. 

CAMPAIGN STRATEGY

BATTLEGROUND ORGANIZING

Organizing Together 2020, an independent campaign coalition made up of presidential campaign alumni, is working with two new partners to jumpstart their presence and work in battleground states. The Congressional Black Caucus PAC and Giffords gun safety group will be working with the organization to build up and train campaign volunteers in six states: Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

The new partnerships add to OT2020's roster of labor unions and progressive groups that they're working with through the election. Giffords political director Joanna Belanger told CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro that OT2020 will serve as a "one-stop shop" for volunteers to learn the information and messaging on everything from gun violence to education to campaign finance reform. 

"What they're doing is super important," she said. "Making sure voters, in key swing states that will decide the election, understand what's at stake and who they should be voting for." 

The CBC PAC says OT2020 will also help with informing voters on how to cast their ballots, especially as more elections push the use of absentee and mail ballots. The PAC's political director, Niccara Campbell, said current CBC members will also be made available to support and energize volunteers. 

"Whether it be cheering on as a surrogate to get everyone together, to lend their voices, to get everyone pepped up and ready to go – anything in that realm, that's exactly what they'll be lending their voice to," she said. 

While OT2020 said it's already planning to do a lot of digital work, the group has adapted to the pandemic by honing in on text-messaging mobilization and using Zoom to connect with volunteers. OT2020 National communications director Geoff Burgan told Navarro while lots of Democrats had multiple favorite candidates in mind during the primaries, "the overriding thing for so many of them was, 'How do I defeat Donald Trump and his policies?' 'How do I get started on that today?' That's going to be the point across the groups, so many of our members want to get their organizing started as soon as they can," he added.

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