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Coronavirus bounces back where it had been knocked out

This week has seen a number of worrying headlines from countries initially viewed as major pandemic success stories.

Why it matters: After enormous sacrifices made to prevent or contain widespread outbreaks, countries are grappling with the challenge of preserving that success without daily life, and the economy, grinding to a halt once again.

  • Australia recorded its highest daily death toll, 13, on Thursday. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said a new lockdown in the state of Victoria — which recorded 723 new cases today — wasn't working as well as hoped, and he acknowledged a virus Australia had nearly stamped out will be around "for some time."
  • Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam issued a more dire warning — the city is "on the verge of a large-scale community outbreak" that could cause its hospital system to "collapse." Hong Kong is recording upwards of 100 new cases each day.
  • Vietnam had eliminated community transmission altogether for 99 days, and it has still yet to record a single death, but it's seen 39 new cases over the last three days. The government is tightening border controls and ramping up contact tracing.
  • Japan is recording many more cases now than during its first wave in March and April. The government finds itself in the awkward position of urging caution to limit the spread while promoting domestic travel to boost the economy.

Germany has been a model for the rest of Europe, but the head of the national public health agency now says Germans have become "negligent," causing a rise in cases.

  • Spain and Belgium, which were both hit very hard but turned a corner after imposing strict lockdowns in the spring, are now recording case levels not seen since May.
  • Catalonia is back under curfew, with nearly 7,000 cases recorded there just last week.
  • Belgium has halted its reopening process and imposed new local restrictions in Antwerp. “Our aim is clear — avoid another full lockdown,” Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès said.

Among the factors blamed by leaders and public health experts are the abandonment of social distancing, particularly among younger people, the reopening of bars and the loosening of travel restrictions.

What to watch: We are unlikely to re-enter a period in which most of the world is living under lockdown. Instead, we're seeing stalled reopening plans and targeted lockdowns, as countries hope the worst is behind them but prepare for the possibility it isn't.

Go deeper: Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro says he tested negative for coronavirus

Less travel is causing the NBA to see better basketball

In addition to keeping out the coronavirus, the NBA bubble has also delivered a stellar on-court product, with crisp, entertaining play night in and night out.

Why it matters: General managers, athletic trainers and league officials believe the lack of travel is a driving force behind the high quality of play — an observation that could lead to scheduling changes for next season and beyond.

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Senate Republicans release report on Biden-Ukraine investigation with rehashed information

Senate Republicans, led by Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), on Wednesday released an interim report on their probe into Joe Biden and his son's dealings in Ukraine.

Why it matters: The report's rushed release ahead of the presidential election is certainly timed to damage Biden, amplifying bipartisan concern that the investigation was meant to target the former vice president's electoral chances.

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The high-wage jobs aren't coming back

Reproduced from Indeed; Chart: Axios Visuals

The pandemic has caught up with high-wage jobs.

The big picture: Early on, the pandemic walloped hiring across the wage spectrum and in every sector. Now, states have opened up, and the lower-wage retail and restaurant jobs have slowly come back — but higher-paying jobs are lagging behind.

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The FDA plans to toughen coronavirus vaccine standards

The Food and Drug Administration plans to toughen the requirements for a coronavirus vaccine emergency authorization, which would make it more difficult for one to be ready by the election, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Why it matters: Public skepticism of an eventual vaccine keeps increasing as President Trump keeps making promises that are at odds with members of his own administration.

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Wall Street fears meltdown over election and Supreme Court

The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and President Trump's vow to name her replacement to the Supreme Court before November's election are amplifying Wall Street's worries about major volatility and market losses ahead of and even after the election.

The big picture: The 2020 election is the most expensive event risk on record, per Bloomberg — with insurance bets on implied volatility six times their normal level, according to JPMorgan analysts. And it could take days or even weeks to count the record number of mail-in ballots and declare a winner.

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Election clues to the country level

Ipsos and the University of Virginia's Center for Politics are out with an interactive U.S. map that goes down to the county level to track changes in public sentiment that could decide the presidential election.

How it works: The 2020 Political Atlas tracks President Trump's approval ratings, interest around the coronavirus, what's dominating social media and other measures, with polling updated daily — enhancing UVA's "Crystal Ball."

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Trump pushes to expand ban against anti-racism training to federal contractors

President Trump announced late Tuesday that the White House attempt to halt federal agencies' anti-racism training would be expanded to block federal contractors from "promoting radical ideologies that divide Americans by race or sex."

Why it matters: The executive order appears to give the government the ability to cancel contracts if anti-racist or diversity trainings focused on sexual identity or gender are organized. The memo applies to executive departments and agencies, the U.S. military, federal contractors and federal grant recipients.

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GoodRx prices IPO at $33 per share, valued at $12.7 billion

GoodRx, a price comparison app for prescription drugs at local pharmacies, on Tuesday raised $1.14 billion in its IPO, Axios has learned.

By the numbers: GoodRx priced its shares at $33 a piece, above its $24-$28 per share offering range, which will give it an initial market cap of around $12.7 billion.

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