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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The coronavirus pandemic and social distancing have catalyzed a wave of free online cultural and educational programming.

Between the lines: As states extend their shutdowns and lockdowns, free online opportunities for cultural and educational enrichment are finding an audience that's eager for new intellectual pursuits.

What's happening:

  • Ivy League schools are offering a combined 450 free online courses, and many other universities around the world are also putting popular courses online for free. Some 1.5 million people have already registered for Yale's famous happiness course.
  • New York's Museum of Modern Art is offering free classes that include "What is contemporary art?" and "Fashion as design."
  • The Barnes in Philadelphia borrowed a page from restaurants' playbook to launch "Barnes Takeout," a series of short online lectures that focus on a single work of art.
  • From symphony halls to Broadway theaters, performance venues are streaming past performances and informational talks.
  • If the life of the mind gets to be too much, high-end gyms and exercise programs have made headlines for offering free online videos, too.

The bottom line: There are perhaps more ways than ever before for people to enrich their lives, culturally and intellectually, online for free — whether they are looking for a 40-hour course or a short video on art history for their lunch break.

Go deeper

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."

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 15 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February — FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated".
  2. Vaccines: Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: Beijing Olympic Committee lowers COVID testing threshold ahead of Games — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

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