Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We're fighting the greatest public-health crisis in a century, and we barely understand our enemy. We cannot afford to stay in lockdown until a cure or vaccine arrives — but anybody trying to reopen our cities needs information that is frustratingly difficult to find.

The big picture. The single biggest obstacle to reopening the economy is a lack of visibility: We don't know the scope of the pandemic itself, or its economic fallout, or how its trajectory will change as we embark upon an ad-hoc effort to reopen the economy.

Where it stands: The Trump administration's plan for reopening the American economy explicitly calls for "up-to-date data" — but very few state or local leaders will actually have strong data on which to base their decision-making.

We don't know how many people the coronavirus has killed, or how many people have had it.

  • The official tally of over 37,000 deaths is too low, because it's based on people who died after testing positive for the coronavirus, but we don't know how low.

We don't know how many Americans have lost their jobs because of the coronavirus shutdown.

  • The official tally is 22 million new applications for unemployment benefits. But millions more haven't been able to make it through the application process, or haven't tried.
  • The biggest employers will be able to rehire their legions of workers, but the bigger concern is the businesses that will never be able to reopen. We don't know how many of them there will be.

We don’t know when we'll have a treatment, whether summer will tame the spread, or whether the virus could return in the fall even stronger. We don't know whether we're immune once we've had it, or for how long.

  • We don't know whether tech will allow us to trace it, or whether enough Americans would sign up for that, even if it does.
  • We don’t know when it’ll be safe to fly, go to a game, or pack into a school or a church. 

Be smart: It’s shocking and a bit scary how much we do not know, despite how much we now do know.

Go deeper

Updated 45 mins ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

France reported more than 2,500 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours — the largest single-day number since May. French officials said the situation was "clearly worsening," per France 24.

By the numbers: Over 745,600 people have died of the novel coronavirus globally and over 20.4 million have tested positive, per Johns Hopkins. Almost 12.7 million have recovered from the virus.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 20,456,016 — Total deaths: 745,600— Total recoveries: 12,663,206Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 5,190,948 — Total deaths: 165,883 — Total recoveries: 1,714,960 — Total tests: 63,252,257Map.
  3. Politics: Pelosi says Mnuchin told her White House is "not budging" on stimulus position.
  4. Business: U.S. already feeling effects of ending unemployment benefits.
  5. Public health: America's two-sided COVID-19 response America is flying blind on its coronavirus response.
  6. Education: New Jersey governor allows schools to reopenGallup: America's confidence in public school system jumps to highest level since 2004.

Trump rules out socially distanced rallies: "You can't have empty seats"

The upper section is partially empty as President Trump speaks during his June campaign rally at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump said during an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt Tuesday he'd love to hold campaign rallies, but he "can't because of the covid. ... you can't have people sitting next to each other."

Why it matters: Trump is known for electrifying crowds at rallies and connecting with loyal supporters on a huge scale. But Trump stressed to Hewitt and in a separate radio interview earlier Tuesday that it wouldn't work while social distancing is required to prevent the spread of COVID-19. "You can’t have empty seats," Trump told with Fox News Radio.