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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There are now a lot of known knowns about the coronavirus: It's here, it's spreading, it's stressing hospitals, it's crippling the economy, it's slowed only by distance and isolation — and it's sure to get much worse before it gets much better. 

Why it matters: Similarly, there is a sameness to the patterns and known unknowns. So now we hit the maddening stage of waiting.

  • We wait and watch Wuhan and China to see if life really does return to normal once the virus is contained. The global economy hinges on this light at the end of the tunnel. 
  • We wait and watch Italy to see when its daily death rate peaks, plateaus and then plunges. This will give us a sense of how long highly concentrated outbreaks elsewhere might last. 
  • We wait to see when New York hits its apex (two to three weeks, experts say) and watch how bad it gets. We also watch New Orleans and Detroit to see if New York is an early indicator or an anomaly. 
  • We wait for widespread testing to be a reality so we can find out if the virus has spread far beyond our fears. 
  • We wait to see if Dr. Anthony Fauci's projection of 100,000 to 200,000 potential U.S. deaths is accurate — and, if so, how the media, public and markets might react to multiple days with death tolls beyond the nearly 3,000 lost on 9/11. 
  • We wait to see Trump's next move in his itch to "reopen America" after his extension Sunday of social-distancing guidelines through April 30. Does he continue to listen to his scientists, or eventually side with advisers who fear economic disaster if America stays home too long?
  • We wait and watch as drug companies race for a cure, which industry insiders say won’t happen at scale until 2021. We wait to see the consequences of using experimental medications to slow or salve. 

The big picture: This waiting period will expose whether coronavirus was an awful three months we will never forget — or a once-in-a-lifetime disruption and destroyer of life.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Go deeper

Air quality alerts issued as California fires threaten more sequoias

The Windy Fire blazes through the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees near the Trail of 100 Giants in Sequoia National Forest, near California Hot Springs, on Tuesday. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Two wildfires were threatening California's sequoia trees over overnight, hours after authorities issued fresh evacuation orders and warnings, along with air quality alerts on Wednesday.

The big picture: Officials in the Bay Area and the San Joaquin Valley issued air quality alerts as smoke from the Windy and KNP Complex fires resulted in hazy, "ash-filled" skies from Fresno to Tulare, the Los Angeles Times notes.

Asymptomatic Florida students exposed to COVID no longer have to quarantine

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during a September news conference in Viera, Fla. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced Wednesday an emergency order allowing parents to decide whether their children should quarantine or stay in school if they're exposed to COVID-19, provided they're asymptomatic.

Why it matters: People infected with COVID-19 can spread the coronavirus starting from two days before they display symptoms, according to the CDC. Quarantine helps prevent the virus' spread.

Federal judge: Florida ban on sanctuary cities racially motivated

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday struck down parts of a Florida law aimed at banning local governments from establishing sanctuary city policies, arguing in part that the law is racially motivated and that it has the support of hate groups.

Why it matters: In a 110-page ruling issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom said the law — signed and championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) — violates the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause because it was adopted with discriminatory motives.