Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

It may be counterintuitive, but it's actually better if the novel coronavirus outbreak lasts awhile in the U.S., public health experts say.

Between the lines: If everyone who is going to get sick does so at once, it would overwhelm the health care system, putting all of us — not just those with the coronavirus — at risk.

  • "Time is our friend. The longer we can spread things out, the better it is," said Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.

The big picture: There are only so many hospital beds in the U.S., and around 70–75% of them are occupied at any given time, Jha said.

  • If around 30–40% of Americans end up infected with the coronavirus over only a few months, the hospital-bed math just doesn't work.
  • On the other hand, if we can contain the virus's spread so that it takes 12 to 18 months to work its way through the population, "then we have a shot at not completely overwhelming the health care system," Jha said.

The good news: That's why public health officials keep talking about social distancing — it can prevent this bottleneck effect.

  • "If we don't do it, you'll have tens of thousands of people dying because they cannot get hospital care. To me, it's not a close call which is worse," Jha said.

The bottom line: The coronavirus may affect our daily lives for a long time — and that may be a good thing.

Go deeper: How to beat back the coronavirus

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Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 12,859,834 — Total deaths: 567,123 — Total recoveries — 7,062,085Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 3,297,501— Total deaths: 135,155 — Total recoveries: 1,006,326 — Total tested: 40,282,176Map.
  3. States: Florida smashes single-day record for new coronavirus cases with over 15,000 — NYC reports zero coronavirus deaths for first time since pandemic hit.
  4. Public health: Ex-FDA chief projects "apex" of South's coronavirus curve in 2-3 weeks — Coronavirus testing czar: Lockdowns in hotspots "should be on the table"
  5. Education: Betsy DeVos says schools that don't reopen shouldn't get federal funds — Pelosi accuses Trump of "messing with the health of our children."

Scoop: How the White House is trying to trap leakers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has told several White House staffers he's fed specific nuggets of information to suspected leakers to see if they pass them on to reporters — a trap that would confirm his suspicions. "Meadows told me he was doing that," said one former White House official. "I don't know if it ever worked."

Why it matters: This hunt for leakers has put some White House staffers on edge, with multiple officials telling Axios that Meadows has been unusually vocal about his tactics. So far, he's caught only one person, for a minor leak.

11 GOP congressional nominees support QAnon conspiracy

Lauren Boebert posing in her restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, on April 24. Photo: Emily Kask/AFP

At least 11 Republican congressional nominees have publicly supported or defended the QAnon conspiracy theory movement or some of its tenets — and more aligned with the movement may still find a way onto ballots this year.

Why it matters: Their progress shows how a fringe online forum built on unsubstantiated claims and flagged as a threat by the FBI is seeking a foothold in the U.S. political mainstream.