Photo: David Ramos/Getty Images

Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic are among the many airlines opting to transition to hauling cargo — sometimes in empty passenger cabins — after the coronavirus pandemic gutted demand, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: It's another example of how the pandemic is changing the economics of the airline industry, which has been transporting medical equipment around the word to battle the coronavirus — as well as more traditional items like mail, seafood and smartphones.

The state of play: Typically, half of all air freight is transported through companies like UPS, FedEx and DHL and the other half is in the baggage holds of passenger planes.

  • Virgin had never flown a cargo-only flight before the pandemic and is now operating 90 such flights a week.
  • American Airlines is flying nearly 140 cargo flights a week.

Yes, but: While the practice offers some momentary relief for airlines, the tenuous state of the world economy could bring a drop in demand for goods, calling freight rates to fall as well.

Go deeper: Airline industry braces for a forever-changed world

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Updated Sep 2, 2020 - Politics & Policy

FEMA to stop funding for cloth face masks in schools

Photo by Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials said Tuesday the agency is changing its policy on funding personal protective equipment, per a recording of a conference call obtained by NPR.

Why it matters: The new policy, effective Sept. 15., means that states will no longer be reimbursed for cloth face masks unless they're for emergency protective measures. This impacts schools, public housing, and courthouses, according to NPR.

Updated Sep 18, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Though health workers represent less than 3% of the population in many countries, they account for around 14% of the coronavirus cases reported to the World Health Organization, WHO announced Thursday.

Why it matters: The WHO called on governments and health care leaders to address threats facing the health and safety of these workers, adding that the pandemic has highlighted how protecting them is needed to ensure a functioning health care system.

U.S. won't join WHO-led efforts to secure coronavirus vaccine

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Trump administration has decided to go it alone on developing and distributing a coronavirus vaccine, after refusing to join the World Health Organization's efforts to provide equitable doses for all countries, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: The U.S. is betting it will win the race for a coronavirus vaccine without any help from foreign countries.