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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The health care industry has been on a long run of financial prosperity, but early data points show the coronavirus is abruptly ending that run.

The big picture: Health care is usually pretty recession-proof because people still need to see doctors and fill prescriptions when the economy tanks. 

  • But almost no business is immune to a pandemic that is severely curtailing almost all forms of consumption, including most health care services.

Driving the news: Walgreens and Tenet Healthcare yesterday previewed how bad things have been so far.

  • Sales at Walgreens stores shot up 26% in the first 21 days of March compared with the same time in 2019, as people stockpiled prescriptions, toiletries and any other product they could find. But sales then plummeted "at a mid-teens rate of decline" as people hunkered down at home. April will be worse.
  • Hospital and surgery center chain Tenet Healthcare withdrew its 2020 financial expectations and furloughed 500 people, as surgery volumes dried up. Tenet, through the new bailout package, also will be asking the federal government to advance the pay on $1.5 billion of Medicare revenue — which will have to be repaid later.

Go deeper: Health care profits dip, but stocks soar

Go deeper

1 hour ago - World

U.S. strikes Iran-backed militia facilities in Syria

President Biden at the Pentagon on Feb. 10. Photo: Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images

The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, the Pentagon announced.

The state of play: The strike, approved by President Biden, comes "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

Senate parliamentarian rules $15 minimum wage cannot be included in relief package

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the provision to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour cannot be included in the broader $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Why it matters: It's now very likely that any increase in the minimum wage will need bipartisan support, as the provision cannot be passed with the simple Senate majority that Democrats are aiming to use for President Biden's rescue bill.

Dave Lawler, author of World
1 hour ago - World

Biden's big Saudi reset

Mohammed bin Salman. Photo: Ryad Kramdi/AFP via Getty

President Biden spoke with Saudi Arabia's King Salman this evening ahead of the release of a CIA report expected to implicate the king's son, and the kingdom's de facto ruler, in the murder of a U.S.-based journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

Why it matters: In one month, Biden has ended support for the Saudi war effort in Yemen, frozen a large arms deal and snubbed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) by declining to speak with him directly.