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

While MLB struggles with testing delays ahead of its shortened season, Japan's Nippon Pro Baseball (NPB) — the world's second-best league behind MLB — has not only resumed play, but will soon allow fans at games.

  • NPB: The season began nearly three weeks ago, and some fans will be allowed at ballparks starting Friday (either 5,000 or 50% capacity, whichever is smaller).
  • MLB: Multiple teams canceled workouts on Monday due to delayed test results. Summer camp began on July 1, and Opening Day is still scheduled for July 23 (highlighted by Yankees at Nationals).

By the numbers: The U.S. has 2.6 times more people than Japan (328.2 million vs. 126.5 million), and 26 times more land.

  • Both countries recorded their first confirmed COVID-19 case at roughly the same time (Jan. 16 for Japan; Jan. 20 for the U.S.).
  • On March 28, the U.S. had its first day with 20,000+ new cases. Since then, we've seen just 13 days with fewer than 20,000 new cases, while Japan has yet to reach 20,000 cases total.
  • Between this past Friday and Sunday, Japan reported 648 new cases. Over that same period, the U.S. reported 150,657.

The shutdown:

  • NPB: Starting Feb. 29, the league barred fans from attending preseason games; by March 9, they'd shut down and pushed back Opening Day. At the time, Japan had just 502 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
  • MLB: Fans were still in the stands at spring training on March 12, when MLB followed the NBA's lead and shut it down. At the time, there were over 1,000 confirmed cases in the U.S.

The big picture: Japan's success in curbing the spread has puzzled experts, since they "largely ignor[ed] the default playbook," Time reports. Rather than emphasizing testing (they'd tested just 0.2% of their population through late May), Japan relied on a culture of mask-wearing and a focus on contact tracing.

Go deeper

21 hours ago - Health

Florida surpasses 500,000 confirmed coronavirus cases

Emergency at Coral Gables Hospital near Miami on July 30. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Florida has reported over 500,000 total confirmed coronavirus cases as of Wednesday, according to the state's health department.

Why it matters: Florida joins California as the only two states to surpass this milestone. Texas, which is reporting the third-most confirmed cases in the country, is not far behind, according to Johns Hopkins data.

Coronavirus hotspots begin to improve

Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Danielle Alberti, Sara Wise/Axios

Coronavirus infections are falling or holding steady in most of the country, including the hard-hit hotspots of Arizona, California and Florida.

The big picture: A decline in new infections is always good news, but don't be fooled: the U.S. still has a very long way to go to recover from this summer's surge.

Updated 9 hours ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

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

The Philippines' economy sunk into recession as its gross domestic product shrank 16.5% in the second quarter — marking the lowest reading since 1981, official figures show.

The big picture: Millions of Filipinos went on lockdown Tuesday as cases surged past 106,300, with stay-at-home orders in place for two weeks in Manila and nearby provinces on the island of Luzon, per the BBC. The economy's contraction is the "deepest" on record, Bloomberg notes.