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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Data: Goldman Sachs; Chart: Axios Visuals

The positive news about a possible coronavirus vaccine could prove to be a negative for many struggling small business owners, as economists worry that it could reduce the urgency for Congress to pass a new fiscal relief package.

Why it matters: A new survey from Goldman Sachs through its 10,000 Small Businesses program provided first to Axios finds that more than half of small business owners (52%) have stopped paying themselves in a bid to keep their businesses afloat and four in 10 (42%) already have begun laying off employees or cutting worker pay.

  • 33% have dipped into personal savings to stay operational.
  • 28% say the legislative uncertainty has caused them to consider closing their business.

What's next: Moving forward, 38% of those surveyed said they will have to lay off more employees or cut employee compensation and 20% said they will not be able to pay their commercial rent through the end of the year without additional help from Congress.

.The big picture: The number of businesses that say they are unsure whether or not they will be able to survive reached its highest level in November since the survey began.

Watch this space: 59% of business owners surveyed say their revenue has been negatively impacted.

  • 86.5% of those whose revenue has been negatively impacted attribute it to changing customer behavior, while 44% say the decline in revenue is due to more restrictive state and local regulations.

Black business owners have struggled even more mightily, with 61% saying they have forgone paying themselves as a result of congressional inaction and 57% saying that less than half of their pre-COVID revenue has returned.

What we're hearing: "The economy is dependent on fiscal support to sustain momentum in the near term and to generate reflation in the longer term," Eric Winograd, senior economist at AllianceBernstein, said in an email detailing his expectations for the U.S. after this month's elections.

  • "This electoral outcome is the one that most jeopardizes the prospect of fiscal stimulus over both time horizons and therefore is the one that is most threatening to the economic outlook."
  • "With monetary policy largely bled dry, fiscal policy is the only game in town when it comes to managing the economy.  That means that fiscal stimulus is critical to the economic outlook."

Go deeper

Wall Street pencils in virus variants as latest economic risk

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Wall Street is pinning its bets of an economic rebound this year on mass vaccinations and a virus brought under control, but new coronavirus strains threaten that sunny outlook, a number of firms are warning.

Why it matters: None downgraded growth forecasts because of the variants, but they’re acknowledging there’s a new asterisk to the anticipated economic recovery.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
8 hours ago - Science

China makes history with successful Mars landing

A model of the Tianwen-1 Mars rover is displayed during an exhibition at the National Museum of China in Beijing. Photo: Wang Zhao/AFP via Getty Images

A Chinese lander carrying a rover successfully touched down on Mars for the first time, state media reports.

Why it matters: This is the first time China has landed a spacecraft on another planet, and it launches the nation into an elite club of only a few space agencies to successfully make it to the Martian surface.

8 hours ago - World

UN: 10,000 Palestinians displaced in Gaza as Israel-Hamas fighting escalates

A Palestinian woman walks after she collects her belongings inside her damaged house following an Israeli air in the northern Gaza Strip. Photo: Ahmed Zakot/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The United Nations warned Friday that ongoing fighting between Israel and Hamas "has the potential to unleash an uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis," in not only the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel, but "the region as a whole."

The big picture: More than 125 Palestinians, including 31 children have been killed in Gaza since fighting began Monday, per the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Eight people, including two children, have been killed in Israel, Reuters reported, citing Israeli authorities.

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