Photo: Tim Robberts/Getty Images

If you woke up to a weird text Thursday, you aren't alone: A mysterious wave of messages swept America's phones overnight, delivering puzzling messages from friends, family and the occasional ex, the AP reports.

What happened: Friends who hadn't talked in months were jolted into chatting. The best explanation seems to be that old texts sent in the spring suddenly went through.

What they're saying: Mobile carriers offered unhelpful explanations for the weird-text phenomenon, which appeared to be widespread, at least according to social media.

  • A Sprint spokeswoman said it resulted from a "maintenance update" for messaging platforms at multiple U.S. carriers and would not explain further.
  • T-Mobile called it a "third party vendor issue." Verizon and AT&T did not answer questions.

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Data: The COVID Tracking Project. Note: Vermont and Hawaii were not included because they have fewer than 20 cases per day. Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The United States' alarming rise in coronavirus cases isn't due to increased testing — particularly not where cases have grown fastest over the last month.

Why it matters: The U.S. doesn't yet know what it looks like when a pandemic rages on relatively unchecked after the health system has become overwhelmed. It may be about to find out.

The impending retail apocalypse

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Because of the coronavirus and people's buying habits moving online, retail stores are closing everywhere — often for good.

Why it matters: Malls are going belly up. Familiar names like J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus and J. Crew have filed for bankruptcy. Increasingly, Americans' shopping choices will boil down to a handful of internet Everything Stores and survival-of-the-fittest national chains.

Biden campaign using Instagram to mobilize celebrity supporters

Collins appears on the Build live interview series in November 2019. Photo: Gary Gershoff/Getty Images

The Biden campaign is launching a new initiative today that will draft Hollywood celebrities for Instagram Live chats with campaign officials and other Biden supporters.

Why it matters: The campaign, called #TeamJoeTalks, is an attempt to open up a new front on social media, drawing on celebrities’ Instagram followers to help find and motivate voters while large parts of the country remain locked down.