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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, U.S. Census Bureau; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Southwest Georgia has one of the nation's largest number of coronavirus cases after accounting for its small population, and yet Gov. Brian Kemp announced this week that the state is beginning to lift its social distancing measures.

Why it matters: Anywhere in America — including rural or suburban communities — can become the next coronavirus hotspot, if the pandemic is mishandled.

The big picture: If any city or state begins lifting social distancing measures without the right public health measures in place, they run the risk of allowing the virus to get out of control.

  • If the city or state already has a high and growing caseload, the effect of lifting the measures is akin to pouring gasoline on a fire.

Between the lines: Rural areas may have lower overall case numbers than cities, as is expected, but they also generally have much weaker health care systems that can easily become overwhelmed.

The bottom line: There is no ignoring or escaping the coronavirus for the sake of the economy. An economy can't function if people are too scared or too sick to go to work or go out to buy things.

Go deeper

Updated 56 mins 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.
Updated Jul 31, 2020 - Health

Coronavirus testing still can't keep up with demand

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Testing is once again becoming a critical weakness in the America's response to the coronavirus pandemic, and experts say we may need to revive tighter standards about who can get a test.

Why it matters: Although testing has gotten a lot better over the course of the pandemic, the pandemic has gotten worse, and that means the U.S. needs to prioritize its resources — which might mean that frequent testing solely to help open businesses or schools just isn't feasible.

Health care industry tops list of most-favored amid coronavirus

Data: Harris Poll COVID19 Tracker Wave 20; Chart: Axios Visuals

Doctors, nurses and hospitals have experienced a greater increase in consumer trust and confidence than any other industry during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new Axios/Harris poll.