Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The U.S. is scrambling to prepare for the second phase of the coronavirus outbreak — beyond the threat, to the actual response — and hospitals, investors and policymakers are already behind.

Why it matters: It's no longer that this could be bad for the economy; the layoffs are starting. It's no longer that the health care system may be overmatched; hospitals privately admit they are on the verge of it.

  • It’s no longer that this might surpass government’s abilities; we are headed to a $2 trillion deficit, invoking wartime powers, and vast and wide economic destruction.
  • Partly because we were behind the eight ball on testing, taking too long to wrap our minds around what was coming, now we're scrambling into Phase 2, as well.

Hospitals and government agencies are trying to throw together enough medical supplies, and enough physical space, to do the work of responding to a widespread outbreak.

  • Hospitals are postponing elective procedures, and even organ transplants, because they're expecting a big surge in coronavirus patients. Some non-coronavirus patients will soon be moved to the Navy's two hospital ships to free up hospital beds.
  • New York University's now-vacant dorms may become makeshift hospital rooms, and cities are also looking to motels, vacant buildings and even RVs as quarantine sites.
  • Faced with looming shortages of hospital beds, ventilators and face masks, President Trump has freed up military manufacturing tools, and some doctors are even making their own equipment out of common craft supplies.

The economic crisis is entering a new phase, too: Investors have gone from panic selling to logic selling.

  • In Phase 1 of the crisis, major American companies saw their share prices sink on fears that the virus would ripple through the U.S. — even though the companies themselves were fundamentally sound.
  • That's no longer true. Corporate America's backbone — brands like Hilton, Ford and American Airlines, which have been synonymous with national pride and prosperity — are in free fall.
  • COVID-19 has cost them their customers and any prospect of revenue. It has forced them to send workers packing and to beseech the government for bailouts to make payroll.

 “Capitalism does not work in an 18-month shutdown," prominent investor Bill Ackman, of Pershing Square Capital Management, said Wednesday on CNBC. "Capitalism can work in a 30-day shutdown.”

What's next: The Senate signed off on a coronavirus relief bill yesterday just as the White House formally proposed a separate $1 trillion relief and stimulus plan, with half the money going to cash payments to needy Americans.

  • The working class is confronting a very real crisis: The U.S. has gone from near-record-low unemployment to mass layoffs and indefinite furloughs.
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned the Senate we could see 20% unemployment without a drastic aid package.
  • Several states have already recorded dramatic spikes in applications for unemployment insurance, and the widespread shutdown of so much of the service industry has only just begun.

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Updated Jul 10, 2020 - Health

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Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

South Carolina restaurants and bars will have to close alcohol sales by 11 p.m., beginning Saturday, under an order issued Friday by Gov. Henry McMaster.

The big picture: The U.S. had another record single-day spike of 63,200 new coronavirus cases from Thursday. COVID-19 cases in South Carolina have increased, with 21,560 cases recorded in the last two weeks.

Updated Jun 25, 2020 - Health

Texas pauses its reopening as coronavirus cases surge

Customers sit outside on the patio at Eight Row Flint in Houston on May 22. Photo: Mark Felix/AFP via Getty Images

Texas is pausing its phased economic reopening in an effort to battle the state's surging coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced Thursday.

The state of play: Abbott said the move "will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase," but allowed businesses — including restaurants and bars — already open under the state's guidelines to remain in operation.

Jun 25, 2020 - Health

America's reopening grinds to a halt

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

America's great economic reopening is hitting a major snag, just like the public health experts warned.

Why it matters: Confirmed case counts are soaring to the point where Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is pausing the state's reopening and canceling elective surgeries to stockpile PPE.