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Adapted from The Brookings Institution analysis of Streetlight Data; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Two Brookings Institution analysts say it's possible to revive the economy while maintaining the benefits of greatly reduced traffic — but only with important policy changes.

Why it matters: The radical decline in movement during the pandemic has caused steep reductions in car travel. Going forward, the extent of the bounce back of vehicle and air travel will affect oil demand and emissions of CO2 and traditional pollutants.

The big picture: "[T]he COVID-19 lockdown has enabled the country to execute a transportation experiment at an almost unfathomable scale," write Adie Tomer and Lara Fishbane in this new post.

  • "Those results should give us hope that it’s possible to reduce congestion, deliver a safer and greener transportation system, and still bring the economy back to full capacity."

By the numbers: Their piece gets to the scale of the driving decline, though traffic is already rebounding, as this Apple proxy data shows.

  • Even if driving rebounded completely by next month, 2020 would see the lowest nationwide vehicle miles traveled since 1998, they note.

What's next: As states begin easing restrictions, they call for several steps.

  • Allowing continued telework in sectors where that's possible.
  • Transportation departments should implement fees based on miles driven to make up for losses in gasoline tax revenue, which are under pressure anyway as cars get more efficient.
  • They back growing calls for using the pandemic as an opportunity to permanently revamp streetscapes to better accommodate bikes, pedestrians and other non-auto uses. (Check out #Covid19streets on Twitter for more on this.)

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
Aug 12, 2020 - Health

America's flying blind on its coronavirus response

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A month after the Trump administration changed how hospital data is reported, the public release of this data "has slowed to a crawl," the Wall Street Journal reports.

The big picture: This is the latest example of how the world's wealthiest country just can't get it together.

Updated 15 hours ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

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

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced all domestic pandemic restrictions will be lifted in New Zealand from midnight Monday except in Auckland, where they'll be eased late Wednesday.

The big picture: Ardern delayed the country's election until Oct. 17 as authorities work to stamp out a coronavirus cluster in Auckland, after the re-emergence of COVID-19. There have been single-digit or zero domestic cases in NZ's most populous city since the government reintroduced restrictions.

Updated Aug 11, 2020 - Health

New Zealand reports first local coronavirus cases for 102 days

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after a press conference at Parliament on July 22 in Wellington, New Zealand. Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Auckland is locking down and the rest of New Zealand faces lesser restrictions for 72 hours after four members of the same family tested positive for COVID-19, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: It's the first cases not in managed isolation for 102 days, Ardern said at a news briefing.