Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

South Korea — a model for how to handle the coronavirus well — has had to re-tighten some of its commercial restrictions as on Sunday it reported the biggest-single day increase in cases it has seen in over a month with 34 new cases.

Why it matters: The U.S., by contrast, is seeing roughly 25,000 new cases per day — a discrepancy that far outstrips the differences in population between the two countries.

  • What happened in South Korea is pretty much what you'd expect: An infected person went to several clubs in one night. He is believed to have infected 43 fellow clubgoers, who in turn infected another 11 people, per NPR.

We will almost certainly see much bigger subsequent waves of infection here in the U.S., where the focus is on reopening — even in nursing homes. We're already seeing full flights again, and our adherence to social distancing has never been uniform.

  • There's even a risk of an outbreak within the White House — close quarters where many people are still showing up to work and few are wearing masks.
  • Two West Wing workers have tested positive, prompting a slew of senior officials to self-quarantine — including, per the New York Times, CDC director Robert Redfield, FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn, and the NIH's Anthony Fauci.
  • Eleven Secret Service employees also have the coronavirus, Yahoo News reports.

Between the lines: The White House is a model of what it would look like to go back to work with ample testing and ample protections, which most of the country will not have.

My thought bubble: The coronavirus can gain a foothold even in the most highly guarded workplace in the country. We've seen in South Korea that a return to normal life can open the door to a new outbreak, even after things seemed under control. We know they're not under control here.

  • We know this is a highly contagious virus, and we know that distance from other people is the only real protection at this point.
  • In other words, we know what awaits us as we reopen.

Go deeper: U.S. coronavirus caseload has held steady

Go deeper

Updated 12 hours ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

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

New Zealand confirmed Thursday there are 13 local cases linked to the four who tested positive for COVID-19, ending 102 days of no community spread. Auckland locked down Wednesday for 72 hours and the rest of NZ is under lesser restrictions.

By the numbers: Over 751,000 people have died of the novel coronavirus globally and another 20.7 million have tested positive, per Johns Hopkins. More than 12.8 million have recovered from the virus.

Aug 13, 2020 - Health

Coronavirus cases are falling, but don't get too comfortable

Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Danielle Alberti, Sara Wise/Axios

America's coronavirus outbreak is slowing down after a summer of explosive growth.

By the numbers: The U.S. is averaging roughly 52,000 new cases per day — still a lot of cases, but about 10.5% fewer than it was averaging last week.

Aug 12, 2020 - Health

Florida sheriff bans employees from wearing masks

Sheriff woods. Photo: Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

Sheriff Billy Woods of Marion County, Fla., prohibited his employees from wearing masks at work on Tuesday, disputing — in spite of scientific evidence — that they help curb the spread of coronavirus, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

Why it matters: Many large police departments only suggest officers wear masks, and some have faced public scrutiny for tenuous or nonexistent mask policies. But Woods is among the first law enforcement officials to outright ban masks for his department, according to the Washington Post.