Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The days of ignoring the coronavirus are over.

The big picture: State and local governments — combined with big cultural institutions and corporations — are rapidly making social distancing a reality felt by all Americans.

  • Sports leagues are going dark: The NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS are suspending or delaying their seasons. The NCAA is canceling March Madness.
  • Cultural events are being canceled or postponed: Broadway in NYC is the latest to shut down, and the St. Patrick's Day parades won't march in 2020.
  • Schools are shutting down or going virtual: The list of universities that aren't shutting down is becoming shorter than the ones going online.
  • States like Washington and New York are going on war footings vs. the virus, with emergency declarations and grim warnings.
  • Even the U.S. Capitol is closing its doors to visitors until April 1.

Between the lines: President Trump's Oval Office address last night has not been well-received, with markets plummeting and widespread confusion thanks to his false claims over how a European travel ban will be implemented.

  • Epidemiologists predict numbers will still rise, and they say actions could be better put toward mitigating community spread in the U.S.
  • Joe Biden blasted the administration's "colossal" failure on coronavirus testing and called for free testing plus emergency paid sick leave.
  • Bernie Sanders warned that the "number of casualties may be even higher than what the armed forces experienced in WWII." (That sounds crazy until you recall the congressional doctor warned 70 million–150 million Americans may become infected.)

The bottom line: Things are likely to get much worse before they get better, as U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson told his public today:

  • "This is the worst public health crisis for a generation. ... Many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time."

Go deeper

OPEC's balancing act: increasing output against smaller demand

An off-shore oil platform in California. Photo: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC+) coalition is entering the next phase of fraught market-management efforts that have repercussions for the battered U.S. oil industry.

Driving the news: The group yesterday agreed to press ahead with plans to begin increasing output as demand haltingly recovers.

More than 32 million Americans are receiving unemployment benefits

Photo: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

More than 32 million Americans are receiving some form of unemployment benefits, according to data released by the Labor Department on Thursday.

Why it matters: Tens of millions of jobless Americans will soon have a smaller cash cushion — as coronavirus cases surge and certain parts of the country re-enter pandemic lockdowns — barring an extension of the more generous unemployment benefits that are set to expire at the end of the month.

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Alumni fight to save college sports

Data: Mat Talk Online; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

242 collegiate athletic programs have been cut amid the pandemic, altering the careers and lives of thousands of student-athletes.

Yes, but: Some passionate alumni groups have opted to fight, banding together in hopes of saving the programs they helped build and continue to love.