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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

This Sunday will be America's biggest test yet for whether people can social distance long enough to flatten the coronavirus curve.

Why it matters: Glimmers of hope in New York and San Francisco aren't a license to mingle. For many families, the holiday could pit relative against relative over how seriously to take social distancing on one of the biggest family gathering days of the year.

The big picture: Thousands of Americans died from coronavirus this week, and New York has more cases than every country outside the U.S.

  • The city's first wave of infections appears to be flattening, and the nightmare scenarios have yet to play out in the U.S.
  • But lifting the lockdown "after just 30 days will lead to a dramatic infection spike this summer and death tolls that would rival doing nothing," the N.Y. Times reports, citing government projections.
  • Countries previously considered success stories have been forced to impose new lockdowns, including Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan.

Easter Sunday is a high-attendance day for Christian churches, and many other families plan gatherings around the secular edition.

  • Pews will be empty this year, and Easter egg hunts will be limited to parents and children.
  • Jewish families felt their own pain earlier this week, sparking a wave of virtual Passover Seders.

Between the lines: Group gatherings, including religious events and family celebrations, appear to be a major contributor to community spread, Axios' Marisa Fernandez reports.

  • Local outbreaks stemmed from joyful celebrations among ultra-Orthodox Jews in New York, a quinceañera in central Nebraska and a 70s-themed party for local politicos at Trump National Golf Club, Los Angeles, the Washington Post reports.
  • Funerals in Chicago and Georgia have also been identified as the source of major outbreaks.

One indicator people may be keeping their distance: Customers have been buying less food for their family gatherings.

  • A restaurant owner in Rayne, Louisiana said the volume of crawfish sales have dramatically decreased for annual crawfish boils, The Advocate reports. 

The bottom line: Lockdowns won't lift "until we know this country is going to be healthy," President Trump said today.

  • "We don’t want to go back and start doing it over again, even though it would be in a smaller scale.” 

Go deeper

55 mins ago - World

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai detained on fraud charge

An activist holds a placard highlighting China's Tiananmen Square massacre as pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrives at West Kowloon Magistrates' Court in Hong Kong in November. Photo: Isaac Wong/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai is being detained until an April court hearing after the pro-democracy supporter was charged Thursday with fraud, per his Apple Daily news outlet.

Why it matters: The 72-year-old's arrest and denial of bail is another blow for the pro-democracy movement in the former British colony amid concerns about a fresh crackdown on activists.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Inhofe loudly sets Trump straight on defense bill

Sen. Jim Inhofe speaks with reporters in the Capitol last month. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Senator Jim Inhofe told President Trump today he'll likely fail to get two big wishes in pending defense spending legislation, bellowing into his cellphone: "This is the only chance to get our bill passed," a source who overheard part of their conversation tells Axios.

Why it matters: Republicans are ready to test whether Trump's threats of vetoing the bill, which has passed every year for more than half a century, are empty.

Conspiracy theories blow back on Trump's White House

Sidney Powell. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

President Trump has rarely met a conspiracy theory he doesn't like, but he and other Republicans now worry the wild tales told by lawyers Sidney Powell and Lin Wood may cost them in Georgia's Senate special elections.

Why it matters: The two are telling Georgians not to vote for Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler because of a bizarre, baseless and potentially self-defeating theory: It's not worth voting because the Chinese Communist Party has rigged the voting machines.