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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

America is facing what feels like a Darwinian moment where the strong in business, wealth and health are more likely to survive, while many others will sadly wither.

Why it matters: The pandemic is exposing — and deepening — many of the nation's great divides.

  • Many of the people who are disproportionately hurt by the virus have the least control over or say in the system.
  • It’s predominantly the old — and the previously or already ill — who are getting hit the hardest.  
  • As we told you in last week's Deep Dive, it's exposed long-standing health care inequities and communities of color and low-income families are bearing the brunt.
  • All week, we saw a stream of new data showing a shockingly disproportionate toll among African Americans.

But the imbalance transcends demographics:

  • Those without health insurance are less likely to get tested or seek treatment, increasing their mortality rate.
  • Those with weak governors or mayors, slow to react or stubborn to face reality, will suffer and die from belated social distancing and stay-at-home mandates.  
  • Those with strong health and immune systems are likelier to survive. Here, as in Italy, it is likely those who develop the strong antibody that defeats the virus will be first back to work and to return to normal life. 

The Darwinian dynamic feels especially acute for business. Millions of companies and jobs will be wiped away, with mainly the strong — or well connected — able to hang on.

  • Those companies with strong connections and lobbyists will get bailouts to stay alive. 
  • Those smaller businesses with good connections to banks will be first in line for government money to stay afloat. 
  • Those with strong balance sheets — and not inflated paper value or hype — will thrive and attract more emergency capital from investors. 
  • Those mom and pop shops with good local businesses but thin margins will struggle mightily and many will go under without substantial aid delivered quickly. The hourly workers who make them possible will suffer, too. 
  • Those workers who can easily transition to remote work will be fine. Those in blue collar jobs that can only be done in person are not only more vulnerable to the virus but also losing their jobs and insurance.

The bottom line: As with so much in American life, the coronavirus draws out the sharp divides between the nation's haves, and have nots, as who you are, who you know and where you live can make the difference in everything, including life and death.

Subscribe to Axios AM/PM for a daily rundown of what's new and why it matters, directly from Mike Allen.
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Go deeper

Coronavirus cases fell by 15% this week

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise/Axios

New coronavirus infections fell by almost 15% over the past week, continuing a steady downward trend.

Why it matters: The standard caveats still apply — progress can always fall apart, the U.S. is climbing down from a very high number of cases, and this is far from over. But this is undeniably good news. Things are getting better.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Ipsos poll: COVID trick-or-treat.
  2. World: Greece tightens coronavirus restrictions as Europe cases spike — Austria reimposes coronavirus lockdowns amid surge of infections
  3. Economy: Conference Board predicts economy won’t fully recover until late 2021.
  4. Technology: Fully at-home rapid COVID test to move forward.
  5. States: New York rolls out new testing requirements for visitors.
Updated Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

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

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."