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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.

White House aims to protect workers from extreme heat

Two pear pickers in Hood River, Oregon on August 13, 2021. (Michael Hanson/AFP via Getty Images)

The White House announced a slew of actions Monday, including the start of a rule-making process at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), to protect American workers from extreme heat.

Driving the news: The U.S. just had its hottest summer on record, with triple-digit-temperatures killing hundreds in the Pacific Northwest and exposing outdoor workers to dangerous conditions.

Robert Costa: Gen. Mark Milley "was not going rogue" with China calls

Washington Post journalist Robert Costa on Monday said in an interview with ABC's Good Morning America that Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley "was not going rogue" when told his Chinese counterpart that the U.S. would not launch a surprise attack.

Driving the news: President Biden last week expressed "great confidence" in Milley after excerpts released from Costa's and Bob Woodward's book "Peril" revealed calls where Milley admits he would let China know ahead of time if former President Trump decided to attack.