Photo: Abdulgani Basheer/AFP/Getty Images

In the blink of an eye, we've entered a new phase on the coronavirus.

The big picture: Italy, Iran and South Korea are at "decisive" points in their responses, the World Health Organization said on Thursday.

  • "We are actually in a very delicate situation in which the outbreak can go in any direction based on how we handle it," said WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Iran now has 245 cases and 26 deaths, has closed schools and canceled its Friday prayers. At least six Iranian government officials have fallen ill, the N.Y. Times reports.

  • Saudi Arabia is closing its borders to religious pilgrims, with the hajj coming this summer.
  • Italy has seen its number of cases double in three days.

Between the lines: The world's big democracies are suddenly facing internal transmissions, with less police state control to tamp the spread.

  • California has a shortage of testing kits and is monitoring 8,400 people for the virus, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday.
  • Obama's Ebola czar, Ron Klain, tore into the White House over a report in the N.Y. Times that all public statements and appearances by health officials must be coordinated with the office of Vice President Mike Pence.
  • The European Union's open borders policy seems to be holding, and 14 European countries are now reporting cases.
  • South Korea's and Japan's responses to the virus have been far less severe than China's. Japan wants its schools to close until April, and Korea delayed schools from starting for another week.

The bottom line: "The risk of a global pandemic is very much upon us," Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said today.

Go deeper: California health officials confirm 33 cases of novel coronavirus

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As boycott grows, Facebook juggles rights groups and advertisers

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As an advertiser boycott of Facebook over its tolerance of hate speech continues to snowball, the company has begun making small, incremental changes to mollify activists while it tries to buy time to evolve its content policies.

Driving the news: Sources tell Axios that the product and policy changes sought by the #StopHateForProfit campaign were long under discussion both inside Facebook and with some external groups. Meanwhile, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has reportedly told employees that the boycotting advertisers will be back before long.

Replacing the nursing home

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Nursing homes have been the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, prompting more urgent discussions about alternative housing situations for elderly Americans.

Why it matters: Deaths in nursing homes and residential care facilities account for 45% of COVID-19 related deaths, per the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity — but there are few other viable housing options for seniors.

54 mins ago - Health

How Joe Biden would tackle the coronavirus

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If Joe Biden wins in November, his coronavirus response would feature a no-expenses-spared federal approach to mitigating the virus and a beefed-up safety net for those suffering its economic consequences.

Why it matters: It’s nearly inevitable that the U.S. will still be dealing with the pandemic come January 2021, meaning voters in America will choose between two very different options for dealing with it.