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Destruction from Cyclone Amphan in Kolkata, India in May. Photo: Debajyoti Chakraborty/NurPhoto via Getty Images

New data indicates that the number of people killed in natural disasters in the first six months of 2020 was much lower than average figures over the past 30 years.

Why it matters: A combination of climate change and more people moving into risk-prone areas can intensify the effects of natural disasters. But better preparation and greater wealth can prevent deaths, even as the overall price of catastrophe rises.

Driving the news: The reinsurer Munich Re released data about the toll of natural disasters over the first six months of 2020.

  • While the financial losses were just slightly below the 30-year average over the same months, far fewer people than average 2,900 people total were killed by natural catastrophes.
  • That's 38% below the total from the first half of 2019, and nearly 90% below the 30-year average.
  • 2020's figures reflect a continued downward trend in deaths over the past few years.

Be smart: Much of what happens with natural disasters over a six-month window can be chalked up to randomness. But nimbler responses to disasters can reduce the number of deaths even in the event of a major catastrophe.

  • The biggest disaster so far in 2020 was Cyclone Amphan, which struck India in May. While the storm caused $11.5 billion in damages, only 135 people died — a number that likely would have been far higher decades ago.

Yes, but: The Atlantic hurricane season is nearing its peak months — and they're predicted to be busy. As the U.S. discovered in 2005 and 2012, one very bad storm can erase those positive trends.

Go deeper: Hurricane Hanna heads for southern Texas as Category 1

Go deeper

Oct 29, 2020 - Health

U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record

Expand chart
Data: COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

The United States reported 88,452 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, setting a single-day record, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

The big picture: The country confirmed 1,049 additional deaths due to the virus, and there are over 46,000 people currently being hospitalized, suggesting the U.S. is experiencing a third wave heading into the winter months.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

McConnell drops filibuster demand, paving way for power-sharing deal

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (R) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell attend a joint session of Congress. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has abandoned his demand that Democrats state, in writing, that they would not abandon the legislative filibuster.

Between the lines: McConnell was never going to agree to a 50-50 power sharing deal without putting up a fight over keeping the 60-vote threshold. But the minority leader ultimately caved after it became clear that delaying the organizing resolution was no longer feasible.

3 hours ago - Technology

Scoop: Google won't donate to members of Congress who voted against election results

Sen. Ted Cruz led the group of Republicans who opposed certifying the results. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Google will not make contributions from its political action committee this cycle to any member of Congress who voted against certifying the results of the presidential election, following the deadly Capitol riot.

Why it matters: Several major businesses paused or pulled political donations following the events of Jan. 6, when pro-Trump rioters, riled up by former President Trump, stormed the Capitol on the day it was to certify the election results.