Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated trends in the fast food, giving franchises that stayed open a new leg up over their dine-in competition.

Why it matters: Social distancing was a seismic event for customer behavior prompting rapid changes from some American classics.

The big picture: Drive-through and advance ordering have higher margins for restaurants, with a side benefit of luring more customers, the WSJ reports.

  • "Franchisees can reduce labor costs by operating stores without the usual dine-in service."
  • "While urban locations are suffering, suburban stores with drive-through service are seeing massive increase in demand."
  • Starbucks is planning to build more locations in urban areas designed specifically for takeout and advance ordering."

Efficiency plays a big role...

  • Chains are reducing menu options, closing dining rooms and offering better deals.
  • McDonald's has cut 25 seconds off its average drive-through wait time, its CEO said last week.

Between the lines: This is also a moment when other food chains, including grocery stores, are looking to chip away at the power of delivery services.

  • Kroger and Albertsons are among the grocers that are willing to do the shopping for customers, with no fees for pickup.

The bottom line: Necessity and competition have spurred a solid 5 years or more of innovation in about 4 months.

Go deeper

Hospitals want more time to repay pandemic loans

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Hospitals are approaching the deadline to repay coronavirus relief loans from the federal government, but their finances are still suffering as the pandemic drags on, Kaiser Health News reports.

The big picture: Hospitals — especially rural hospitals that were suffering before the pandemic — are hoping Congress will grant them an extension.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
7 hours ago - Health

Supply shortages continue to plague COVID-19 testing

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Supply shortages are still a problem for coronavirus testing, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: Health systems are being forced to limit who gets tested, sometimes limiting tests to the most essential patients — which is far from an ideal testing strategy.

Sep 22, 2020 - Health

Axios-Ipsos poll: Vaccine resistance grows

Data: Axios/Ipsos surveys. 1,100 U.S adults surveyed Aug. 28-31, 2020, and 1,008 U.S. adults surveyed Sept. 18-21,2020; Chart: Axios Visuals

The share of Americans eager to try a first-generation coronavirus vaccine dropped significantly in the latest installment of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index, as President Trump hyped suggestions that one could be ready before the election.

Why it matters: As the U.S. reaches a milestone of 200,000 deaths, this underscores the risks of politicizing the virus and its treatments.

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