Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Widespread social distancing has forced Americans to get creative with how they connect to one another, including romantically.

The big picture: The dating industry was poised to take a hit amid the coronavirus outbreak as potential suitors are generally unable to meet in-person. Platform Match, which also owns Tinder and OkCupid, has seen stocks tumble 25%. But daters are turning to digital courtship through video chats and virtual activities as an alternative.

The dating app Bumble saw increased user engagement as Americans adjusted to social distancing last month.

  • The platform reports a 26% spike in messages sent during the week ending March 27 compared to the week ending March 13. Trump declared COVID-19 a national emergency on March 13.
  • The app is also allowing users to add a badge to their profiles signaling they're open to virtual dating, and to filter out users who are not.

Web-based first dates are becoming the new normal, with platforms seeing a dramatic increase in users turning to calls and video chats.

  • Bumble has seen an 84% increase in users using the app's voice call and video chat tools.
  • OkCupid has experienced a 180% increase in mentions of FaceTime, Skype and Zoom on profiles and the platform has seen an 83% increase in users going on virtual dates in April compared to March.
  • A new dating app called “Quarantine Together” launched last month, with a built-in video chat option and periodic reminders to wash your hands.
  • Coffee meets Bagel has introduced virtual speed dating, with 10- to 15-minute video calls moderated by a company representative.

Between the lines: The dating industry argues that digital-first dates could become the standard beyond the COVID-19 outbreak.

  • The founder of the dating site "The League" told Axios in December: "In-person first dates will definitely be replaced by digital dates, as the stakes are lower and with video chatting you can figure out whether or not you click within the first few minutes."
  • OkCupid surveyed its users on their virtual-date preferences, finding that 31% favor a game or activity, 29% want digital dinner and drinks, 25% want a simple video chat and 15% would opt for remotely watching a TV show or movie together.

The bottom line... Hinge told its users:

"We're lucky to live in a time where we can have video chat dates, phone call dates & connect virtually in an infinite number of ways. Stay home, date from home & we’ll get through this together."

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Updated 7 hours ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

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

The number of COVID-19 cases surpassed 20 million worldwide on Monday evening, Johns Hopkins data shows.

The big picture: World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press conference as the world approached the milestone that 750,000 deaths were set to be recorded this week. "Behind these statistics is a great deal of pain and suffering. Every life lost matters," he said. "But I want to be clear: there are green shoots of hope and... it's never too late to turn the outbreak around."

Aug 10, 2020 - Health

97,000 children test positive for coronavirus in two weeks

A boy has his temperature checked as he receives a free COVID-19 test in South Los Angeles in July. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

At least 97,000 children tested positive for COVID-19 in the final two weeks of July and there's been an estimated 338,000 cases involving kids in the U.S. since the pandemic began, a new report finds.

Why it matters: The report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association comes as schools and day cares look to reopen in the U.S.

MLB postpones Cardinals-Pirates series over coronavirus outbreak

Paul Goldschmidt #46 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits a single against the Pittsburgh Pirates seventh inning at Busch Stadium on July 25 in St Louis, Missouri. Photo: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Major League Baseball announced in a statement Sunday that it has postponed the St. Louis Cardinals' three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, set to start Monday, because of a coronavirus outbreak.

Why it matters: St. Louis has had 13 games in a row postponed after seven players and six staff members tested positive for COVID-19 last week. The MLB announced Friday another Cardinals staff member and two more players tested positive for the virus. The MLB said "in light of the most recent positive test results," the league and the Cardinals "believe it is prudent to conduct additional testing while players and staff are quarantined before the team returns to play."

Go deeper: How baseball's coronavirus reckoning affects everything