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A hospital tent city rose in Central Park this week. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Something surprising is unfolding amid the finger-pointing and war-gaming about the coronavirus threat to America: A general consensus is forming about the next 60 days of wait and pain.

Why it matters: America has a chance to return to some semblance of normal in late May or June, gradually and perhaps geographically, but anything extending beyond that would still be too catastrophic to consider.

  • Virtually every state will be in some form of quarantine up until that point.
  • Death tolls will rise high, possibly beyond 100,000. But the combination of increased testing, social distancing, medical supplies and public awareness should avert the worst scenarios.
  • The $2 trillion rescue package will float the U.S. economy this month. Unemployment will skyrocket — before the stimulus, projections topped 30%. But help is on the way to blunt some of the damage, making the chances of catastrophic collapse much lower than a few weeks ago.
  • Businesses will still be destroyed, more than most realize. But the days of either party caring about Fed actions, congressional spending or simply doing too much are over, for now. Another big rescue package will be needed as we sort through the wreckage — and it could be bigger than the first.
  • College students are home for the rest of the academic year — and now face questions about employment and internships. And while it hasn't been made official for all K-12ers, it's hard to see any school reopening before summer.
  • The threat of a post-summer viral resurgence is real, and likely. But the country will also be far better prepared to test, isolate and potentially heal. 
  • A realistic vaccine produced and distributed at scale likely won’t be a reality until at least 2021, though there is hope experimental versions will be fast-tracked before. 

One thing to watch: A growing number of Fortune 500 CEOs worry this consensus underplays the danger to the U.S. economy if America stays at home beyond April. 

  • Once next month rolls around, many fear the chances of an economic snapback fades.

The bottom line: It will take years, if not a generation, to dig out of the debt, lives and jobs lost. But those conversations will be punted until coronavirus is behind us.

Go deeper

9 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

10 hours ago - World

France recalls ambassadors from U.S. and Australia over submarine deal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), and French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia after both countries blindsided their French allies with a new military pact and submarine contract, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing an agreement with the U.S. and U.K. to acquire nuclear submarines, Australia ripped up an existing $90 billion submarine deal with France. That led senior French officials to accuse the U.S. of a "stab in the back."

Updated 10 hours ago - World

In reversal, Pentagon now says drone strike killed 10 Afghan civilians

Caskets for the dead are carried towards the gravesite as relatives and friends attend a mass funeral for members of a family that is said to have been killed in a U.S. drone airstrike, in Kabul on Aug. 30. Photo: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A U.S. drone strike launched on Aug. 29 killed 10 civilians in Afghanistan, including seven children, rather than the Islamic State extremists the Biden administration claimed it targeted, the Pentagon said Friday.

Why it matters: U.S. Central Command said at the time that officials "know" the drone strike "disrupted an imminent ISIS-K threat" to Kabul's airport, and that they were "confident we successfully hit the target."