Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Live music was an early casualty of the coronavirus pandemic, and independent venues across the country are especially at risk as the crisis drags on.

Why it matters: These venues are accessible cultural spaces and key economic drivers, and no one in the industry, from bands to bookers to bartenders, knows when things will return to normal.

The state of play: More than 1,200 venues have joined the National Independent Venue Association, and its outreach to Congress highlights just how difficult things will be for the industry in the months ahead.

  • 11 independent venues that spoke to the New York Times all said they could only survive between six months and a year without government aid.
  • To stay afloat now, they need to be able to pay their employees and rent, which can be huge given their central locations in many cities.
  • To operate moving forward, they want extensive contract-tracing efforts and assistance if they're forced to reopen at a fraction of normal capacity.

Even as the country begins to reopen, venues in D.C. can't open until stage 3 ("sporadic transmission") of its plan — it enters stage 1 Friday — and, even then, they can only have five people per 1,000 square feet.

  • Normal operations can't resume until a vaccine or cure.
  • Similar restrictions are in place in other major cities, like New York and L.A.

The bottom line: Even as venues try everything from merchandise sales to food delivery to live-streaming in order to stay afloat, existential uncertainty hangs over their very business model.

  • "A lot of these questions can’t be answered. We just know that, as of today, this is dire, because the odds of us opening to full capacity are slim to none for a very long time," Chicago venue owner Katie Tuten told The New Yorker.

Go deeper

How "COVID fatigue" clouds judgment and endangers public health

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Compounded stress and exhaustion from worrying about the coronavirus pandemic since the start of the year is leading to "COVID fatigue" and serious mental health issues, some medical experts say.

Why it matters: This can lead to risky behavior that can increase the spread of the coronavirus as well as raise levels of depression and anxiety that foment the abuse of alcohol or drugs.

Updated Sep 25, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

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

The number of deaths from COVID-19 surpassed 980,000 worldwide on Thursday.

By the numbers: Globally, more than 32 million million people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Johns Hopkins data shows.

Colleges drive a new wave of coronavirus hotspots

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Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Note: Washington state case count does not include Sept. 1; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise/Axios

America’s brief spurt of progress in containing the coronavirus has stalled out.

Why it matters: We had a nice little run of improvement over the past month or so, but cases are now holding steady at a rate that’s still far too high to consider the outbreak under control.

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