Referendum day in Buka, the capital. Photo: Ness Kerton/AFP via Getty Images

The people of Bougainville voted Saturday on whether they want their island to become the world's newest country.

What to watch: Results are expected by Dec. 20, and most in Bougainville (pop. ~300,000), currently an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea, are expected to vote for independence.

Why it matters: The FT notes that the referendum has "sparked a scramble for political influence among foreign mining companies, which want to establish operations in an area that contains copper and gold reserves estimated to be worth tens of billions of dollars."

  • Flashback: "Between 1972 and 1989 a company controlled by Rio Tinto, the Anglo-Australian miner, operated the massive Panguna copper and gold mine on the island, generating huge profits and almost half of Papua New Guinea’s export income. But the activity caused serious pollution and tensions to flare with locals, which erupted into civil war in 1989 and forced Panguna to close."

What to watch: The referendum is non-binding, and Papua New Guinea's leaders seem reluctant to grant independence.

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NYC's coronavirus positivity rate spikes to highest since June

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

New York City's coronavirus positivity rate has ticked up to 3.25%, its highest since June, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The jump — from 1.93% on Monday — came on the first day that public elementary classrooms reopened in the city after months of closures, but guidelines state that all public schools will have to shut if the citywide seven-day positivity rate stays above 3%.

Updated 30 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 a.m. ET: 33,423,249 — Total deaths: 1,003,008 — Total recoveries: 23,199,564Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 a.m. ET: 7,152,221 — Total deaths: 205,268 — Total recoveries: 2,794,608 — Total tests: 102,342,416Map.
  3. Health: Americans won't take Trump's word on the vaccine, Axios-Ipsos poll finds.
  4. Media: Fauci: Some of what Fox News reports about COVID-19 is "outlandish"
  5. States: Cuomo extends New York moratorium on evictions until 2021.
  6. World: More than 1 million people have now died from coronavirus — India the second country after U.S. to hit 6 million cases.
Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
39 mins ago - Economy & Business

AppHarvest is going public

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

AppHarvest, a Morehead, Ky.-based developer of large-scale tomato greenhouses, is going public via a reverse merger with a SPAC called Novus Capital (Nasdaq: NOVSU). The company would have an initial market value of around $1 billion.

Why it's a BFD: This is about to be a "unicorn" based in one of America's poorest congressional districts. AppHarvest CEO Jonathan Webb tells Axios that the company will employ around 350 people in Morehead by year-end, and that its location allows its product to reach 75% of the continental U.S. within a one-day drive.