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Sprint today launched a new promotion offering a full year of free unlimited service to customers willing to switch to the carrier and bring their own device — a move that the Verge said "seems like the ultimate Hail Mary throw of desperation."

Desperate or savvy? Wells Fargo senior analyst Jennifer Fritzsche doesn't see the move as a race to the bottom or a desperate ploy to add subscribers. Sprint is testing an end-to-end digital offer and consumers' receptivity to keeping their devices, which could lead to longer term financial benefits, she said in an analyst note.

The backstory: The wireless business has been increasingly competitive over the last couple of years, with both AT&T and Verizon bringing back unlimited data plans amid pressure from T-Mobile and Sprint. While traditional phone subsidies have gone away, companies have been willing to fork over cash to lure customers from rival networks. A year of free service is a novel twist, though many non-Sprint customers will need a new phone to work on their network. Offering free unlimited service also shows Sprint's confidence that its airwave holdings can support a slew of new bandwidth-hungry customers.

Merger prep? Some see the announcement as proof that a merger announcement with T-Mobile is not imminent, but Fritzsche disagrees. "With this offer, Sprint is laying the groundwork as to how it can offer new and unique offers to the consumer," she wrote. "Our sense is a case will be made as to why such unique offerings can only get stronger and more customer friendly if a new carrier has greater scale."

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Coronavirus cases rise in 33 states

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

The coronavirus pandemic keeps getting worse, all across the country. Thirty-three states saw their caseloads increase this week, continuing a scary nationwide trend that’s been getting worse since mid-June.

Why it matters: The U.S. is right back in the situation we were afraid of earlier this year, with a rapidly spreading outbreak, strained hospitals, and projections of more than 200,000 deaths by the end of the year.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

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  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 3,053,328 — Total deaths: 132,256 — Total recoveries: 953,420 — Total tested: 37,532,612Map.
  3. Public health: Houston mayor cancels Republican convention over coronavirus concerns Deaths are rising in hotspots — Déjà vu sets in as testing issues rise and PPE dwindles.
  4. Travel: United warns employees it may furlough 45% of U.S. workforce How the pandemic changed mobility habits, by state.
  5. Education: New York City schools will not fully reopen in fallHarvard and MIT sue Trump administration over rule barring foreign students from online classes.
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Transcripts show George Floyd told police "I can't breathe" over 20 times

Photo: Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Newly released transcripts of bodycam footage from the Minneapolis Police Department show that George Floyd told officers he could not breathe more than 20 times in the moments leading up to his death.

Why it matters: Floyd's killing sparked a national wave of Black Lives Matter protests and an ongoing reckoning over systemic racism in the United States. The transcripts "offer one the most thorough and dramatic accounts" before Floyd's death, The New York Times writes.