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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

COVID-19 isn't as big of a concern for U.S. investors as it was a year ago. But market experts tell Axios it's still a risk to watch as investors look to the second half of the year.

Why it matters: Many Americans remain unvaccinated. The spread of the more infectious "Delta" variant could prove disruptive to economic activity, and in turn, could spark volatility in markets.

What they’re saying: According to BofA’s June Global Fund Manager Survey, 10% of investors continued to identify COVID-19 as the biggest risk.

  • "As we head toward the end of the year, there will undoubtedly be a COVID scare — an outbreak somewhere — that could rile the market for a bit," RBA strategist Richard Bernstein tells Axios.
  • "COVID — vaccines, variants — remains an important issue to monitor," says RBC’s Calvasina. But investors "almost universally are baking in an optimistic virus backdrop."
  • "I would not declare victory yet," Fed chair Jerome Powell said on Wednesday. "I just would encourage people to continue to get vaccinated."

Threat level: The degree to which an event will rattle markets is inversely related to how much people are already thinking about it.

  • As Calvasina tells Axios: "I worry more about the things that aren’t on investors’ horizons at all."

The bottom line: For now, the pandemic's direct impact on business is nearly gone — but not forgotten.

Go deeper

Colorado's haphazard approach to masks

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The COVID-19 pandemic recently took a serious turn amid the Delta variant's spread, but the Denver area didn't seem to notice.

In grocery stores, bars and shops across the area this weekend, the renewed public health precautions advising the vaccinated to wear masks indoors were met with a mix of acceptance, frustration and indignation, as the Axios Local team reported.

2 wildfires ravage Northern California homes as thousands evacuate

Firefighters monitoring the scene as flames from the Dixie Fire jump across highway 89 near Greenville, California, on Tuesday. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

Two massive California wildfires have triggered new mandatory evacuation orders for thousands of people and destroyed homes and businesses in the state's north overnight.

Details: The Dixie Fire, California's biggest blaze, razed houses and businesses as it ripped through the town of Greenville and surrounding areas in Plumas County Wednesday night. The rapidly spreading River Fire burned "multiple" homes as it tore through Placer and Nevada counties, KOVR notes.

Updated 1 hour ago - Sports

Olympics dashboard

Team USA's Ryan Crouser competing on Thursday in the men's Olympic shot put final in Tokyo, which he won. Photo: Andrej Isakovic/AFP via Getty Images

🥇: Ryan Crouser breaks his own Olympic shot put record to win gold for U.S.

🏐: U.S. Olympic beach volleyball duo one step away from realizing gold medal dream

🤼🏿‍♀️ "Making history": Mensah-Stock first Black woman to win Olympic wrestling gold

🛹: 2 teens and girl, 12, sweep board at women's park skateboarding

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage

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