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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

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

The winners and losers of the pandemic holiday season

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The pandemic has upended Thanksgiving and the shopping season that the holiday kicks off, creating a new crop of economic winners and losers.

The big picture: Just as it has exacerbated inequality in every other facet of American life, the coronavirus pandemic is deepening inequities in the business world, with the biggest and most powerful companies rapidly outpacing the smaller players.

Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving

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

The daily rate of new coronavirus infections rose by about 10 percent in the final week before Thanksgiving, continuing a dismal trend that may get even worse in the weeks to come.

Why it matters: Travel and large holiday celebrations are most dangerous in places where the virus is spreading widely — and right now, that includes the entire U.S.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday that restrictions previously imposed on New York places of worship by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) during the coronavirus pandemic violated the First Amendment.

Why it matters: The decision in a 5-4 vote heralds the first significant action by the new President Trump-appointed conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who cast the deciding vote in favor of the Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish synagogues.