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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

What happens after a war? Two weeks ago, that question may have resulted in cautiously optimistic answers about America's ability to bounce back from its current crisis. Now, things aren't so clear.

Why it matters: Wars are — generally — over when they're over; then the post-war rebuilding can begin. Pandemics don't work that way; their effects reverberate for decades.

What's happening: Billions of people around the world are living in fear of a lethal and invisible enemy. They're sequestering themselves inside their homes and avoiding human contact not just because they are being told to do so by their governments, but because they have internalized the need to do so out of simple self-preservation.

  • Extreme measures are popular. 74% of Jordanians approve of their government's measures, which started with a round-the-clock curfew. The curfew now lasts from 6 pm until 10 am, and driving is banned during the day.
  • New Zealand's very strict lockdown is also popular.

Between the lines: "Getting righteous about other people’s inadequate social distancing is how we manage our fear," Leslie Jamison writes in the NYRB. That, too, is visible in New Zealand, as well as all over Twitter.

  • Righteousness requires self-certainty. Once people are certain of something, it takes years for those heuristics to decay. A mistrust of mingling with strangers — or even with friends — is likely to linger for a generation.
  • That's going to have long-lasting economic repercussions in entertainment, sports, hospitality, travel, including mass transit, and myriad other sectors.
  • Even a vaccine won't end the fear. Vaccines aren't 100% effective, viruses mutate, and fear is not governed by rational calculation.

The big picture: Americans who lived through the Great Depression were scarred for life by the experience, and they exhibited a level of caution and frugality that only their boomer children would eventually overcome.

  • After the coronavirus crisis, we're similarly likely to enter what Allianz economic adviser Mohamed El-Erian characterizes as a "greater emphasis on resilience and a move away from efficiency."
  • Economically speaking, that's likely to weigh on any recovery, making it risk-averse and sluggish.
  • Unlike a war's V-Day, the end of the pandemic won't be greeted with euphoria. It won't even be possible to pinpoint when the end arrives.

The bottom line: It's easier to switch an economy off than to switch it on.

Go deeper

Chris Cuomo accuser: On-air "hypocrisy" spurred report

Journalist Chris Cuomo. Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

A woman who accused fired CNN journalist Chris Cuomo of sexual misconduct said Sunday she decided to come forward after learning of his comments about women who made similar accusations about his brother. He denies her allegations.

Why it matters: Her attorney Debra Katz said in a statement that she heard "the hypocrisy" of his on-air words about his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and was "disgusted by his efforts to try to discredit these women," so "retained counsel to report his serious sexual misconduct against her to CNN."

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise" — Two years of COVID-19 — Prior coronavirus infections may not protect well against Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Data demonstrates most-vaccinated counties less vulnerable to worst of COVID — Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate.
  4. World: Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles downWHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Vulnerable Democrats: Less Trump talk

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Vulnerable House Democrats are convinced they need to talk less about the man who helped them get elected: President Trump.

Why it matters: Democrats are privately concerned nationalizing the 2022 mid-terms with emotionally-charged issues — from Critical Race Theory to Donald Trump's role in the Jan. 6 insurrection — will hamstring their ability to sell the local benefits of President Biden's Build Back Better agenda.