Light at the end of the pandemic tunnel

Yesterday we talked about the American pessimism around the economy. But as our latest Axios-Ipsos poll shows, we’re optimistic about things like the state of the pandemic.

According to our survey, Americans are more likely to think that returning to a normal life is now a low to moderate risk. That same poll found that most Americans are happy with the way their children’s schools are handling COVID precautions and student safety.

  • Additionally, Meta says it will block certain ad targeting on Facebook.

  • And how cities remain resilient to climate change.

Guests: Margaret Talev and Sara Fischer of Axios.

Credits: Axios Today is produced in partnership with Pushkin Industries. The team includes Niala Boodhoo, Erica Pandey, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Julia Redpath, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Alex Sugiura, Sabeena Singhani, Lydia McMullen-Laird and Jayk Cherry. The music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected] You can send questions, comments, and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice message to 202-918-4893.

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ERICA PANDEY: Good morning! Welcome to Axios today!

It’s Wednesday November 10. I am Erica Pandey for Niala Boodhoo.

Here’s what you need to know today: Meta says it will block certain ad targeting on Facebook. Moreover, how cities remain resilient in the face of climate change.

But first, Today’s One Big Thing: Americans See the Light at the End of the Pandemic Tunnel.

Yesterday we talked about the American pessimism around the economy. But as our latest Axios-Ipsos survey shows, we are Optimistic about some things … like the state of the pandemic.

According to our survey, Americans are more likely to think that returning to a normal life is now a low to moderate risk. That same poll found that most Americans are happy with the way their children’s schools are handling Covid precautions and student safety.

So could this mean that fears of another wave of covid are fading? Margaret Talev from Axios is joining us now to help us answer this question. Hello, Marguerite.


ERICA: So Margaret, is the pandemic pretty much over according to Americans?

DAISY : Well, there is no magic answer to this question. We don’t have a question that says, do you think it’s pretty much over? But the question “How much do you think returning to your normal life before the coronavirus represents a risk to your health and well-being?” November is now: 10% say returning to normal life before coronavirus is a significant risk – 10%; one in 10 Americans.

Let’s go back to the end of January, the beginning of February, just a few days after the inauguration of Joe Biden. It was four times larger – 39% of those polled said returning to a normal life before Covid would be a significant risk. This reduction tells you the trajectory from which it is going. If you can get the shot, if you take both injections, you feel largely protected and now people feel the Delta variant is going down and that’s really what made those numbers move.

ERICA: And Margaret, there have been a lot of headlines over the past few months about the fighting going on in schools over vaccination warrants or masks. This poll doesn’t really reflect that conflict we’ve heard so much about, does it?

DAISY : Well, this poll reflects the questions around COVID. On the sole question of how the local schools have managed to balance the kind of health and safety issues around school and back to school with other priorities like learning, right? ? Or your child’s mental health? The findings were fascinating. Most Americans, like seven in ten Americans, give their local schools good grades. And when you look at the partisan split, it’s over two-thirds of Republicans giving their local schools good marks for how well they’ve balanced these things.

So what this shows, according to our pollster Chris Jackson, is a tail wagging scenario where there is a core of the American population, about one in 10, just under one in 10 parents, who are really, really unhappy with the way schools have dealt with COVID and they are the ones generating the heat, the energy, the criticisms that are fueling this debate.

ERICA: Is all of this good news for President Biden whose approval ratings are dropping?

DAISY : It could be. At least that’s a window of opportunity for him. You know, for the last few weeks he’s been dragged down by the perception that the economy is going badly and that there is nothing he can do to stop it. And that COVID was persistent and all the things he said would stop it, hadn’t done enough to stop it. Now in two straight weeks we’ve seen some terrific jobs numbers that could be a way for him to come back and now we’re seeing that kind of parallel track. When Americans really psychologically believe the Delta variant is behind them, it could create a moment for the president to find the narrative and start talking about how his policies are helping bring the country back to something that feels a little more normal. .

ERICA: Margaret Talev is Axios’ editor-in-chief for policy. Thank you Marguerite.

DAISY : Thanks Erica.

ERICA: We’ll be back in 15 seconds with a big bang from Facebook’s parent company, Meta.

[ad break]

ERICA: Welcome to Axios today. I am Erica Pandey.

Facebook’s parent company, Meta, announced yesterday that it will block certain ads targeting people’s sexual orientation or political or religious identities. Axios media reporter Sara Fischer is here to explain why this is important and how it fits into some of the larger issues of trust in big tech right now. Hey, Sara.


ERICA: So Sara, what does this Meta movement mean for Facebook users?

SARA: So, for users, this means that they will not receive ads targeted to some of their interests which could be related to sensitive issues such as religious affiliation, your sexual orientation or politics. But really Erica, I don’t think they’re going to feel as big an impact as the advertisers themselves.

ERICA: Yes, why is this so important to advertisers?

SARA: Well, advertisers love Facebook because they can target people however they want. But in recent years, under pressure from regulators and activists, Facebook has made a few changes just to make sure some advertisers don’t abuse its systems. And so for them, they will have a little less choice when they go to the market for consumers.

ERICA: It’s a move we’re seeing from Facebook to restore trust. But what are some of the other privacy concerns that are causing people to seek alternatives to engines like Facebook and Google?

SARA: I think users want to know their data is safe and their data is not being mined. And so you mentioned that there are a ton of other new companies trying to take advantage of this environment and create privacy alternatives to Google and Facebook.

ERICA: Well, what are these?

SARA: So you have a new startup called It’s a web browser, a search engine, and it’s backed by Marc Benioff with input from other investors, $ 20 million in funding. And basically it’s a search engine that really focuses on making sure that none of your entries, none of your queries are logged in a way that would someday come back to bite you or make you vulnerable. I mean, come on, would you like somebody someday to access your research? A few other new startups, there’s this one called Brave which is a privacy-focused web browser. They say they have 36 million users. DuckDuckGo, who is a little older, around 15 years old, said they have seen a huge increase in downloads. And Protonmail, which you surely use as a reporter. They think they’re going to have 75 million users by next year. So there is clearly a huge boost around privacy-focused businesses.

ERICA: Sara, can these startups really compete with the giants Facebook and Google?

SARA: So far, none of their business models have proven to be able to adequately compete with Google and Facebook. But Erika, if the privacy landscape continues to change, for example, if a national privacy law were to be passed, they could have continued support from lawmakers and momentum with consumers that could perhaps allow them to compete. one day.

ERICA: This is Sara Fischer, Axios media reporter. Thanks Sara.

SARA: Thank you.

ERICA: The climate has of course been on the world stage with world leaders in Glasgow for Cop26. At the same time, cities are making their own plans to tackle climate change at the local level. Cities are, after all, on the front lines of the climate crisis, as they face power outages, floods and fires, and they often need to act quickly to prevent this.

I did a report on this this week and wanted to share some of what I find with you. Here’s an example, Kansas City, Missouri, is planning to build a solar farm half the size of Manhattan on a huge expanse of unused land next to its airport. This farm would produce so much electricity that it would power not only every building in the city, but a ton of residential and private buildings as well.

Another example is San Diego, which has a comprehensive plan to improve its climate resilience with measures such as updating its transit systems to resist rust from flooding or planting more trees. in low-income neighborhoods to relieve extreme heat.

Local action like this is essential because it is often cities and states that control critical infrastructure in tackling climate change, but cities often lack the resources countries have to do what they need.

The new infrastructure bill could make a difference for cities. The bill allocates tens of billions of dollars specifically to climate resilience. And that could be the money needed to energize some of these cities’ ambitious plans for the future.

That’s all we have for you today! You can join our team on podcasts at or contact me on Twitter. I am Erica Pandey, replacing Niala Boodhoo. Niala is back tomorrow with a special Veterans Day episode from Axios Today.

Thanks for listening – stay safe and have a nice day.

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