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Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics via St. Louis Fed; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Sentence from a nightmare: 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, a decline from the previous week's 6.9 million.

The big picture: Over the past three weeks, 1 in 10 working-age adults filed for unemployment, Axios' Courtenay Brown notes.

Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics via St. Louis Fed; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Why it matters: We're not even close to understanding the long-term ramifications of America rocketing from sub-4% unemployment to what could be Depression levels in about a month.

  • This is just the first wave, since we don't know how many businesses will fail while waiting on reopening or bailouts.
  • Once the lockdowns end, we don't know how businesses will behave in a world where the next lockdown is just a new outbreak away.

But we do know:

  • More pain is on the way, and it will be felt with savage inequity.
  • We mustn't become numb to the scale of these numbers.
  • We each must play our role: If you're not an essential worker, that means staying home and avoiding group gatherings.

The bottom line: Now is the time to behave in ways that you can recount with pride for future generations.

  • What's next: President Trump is preparing to launch a second coronavirus task force focused on reviving the U.S. economy, driven in part by the overwhelming number of Americans who have filed for unemployment since the start of the pandemic, Axios' Alayna Treene reports.

Go deeper

Exclusive: White House meeting with members of Problem Solvers Caucus

Members of the Problem Solvers Caucus discuss the COVID-19 relief bill in December. Photo: Oliver Contreras/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Top White House officials will meet Wednesday with a bipartisan coalition of House lawmakers as the administration tries to enlist moderates to support the president's infrastructure proposal.

Why it matters: The meeting is something of an olive branch after President Biden's team courted groups of progressives to back the $2.2 trillion package.

2 hours ago - Health

The new vaccine threat is fear itself

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The FDA’s decision to pause the use of Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine has set off a chain reaction of fear — about the safety of the vaccine, and about whether the FDA is overreacting — that's causing unnecessary drama just as the vaccine effort is finally picking up speed.

The big picture: Throughout the pandemic, the public and the media, and sometimes even regulators, have struggled to keep risks in perspective — to acknowledge them without exaggerating them, and to avoid downplaying them because other people will exaggerate them.

Cryptocurrency giant Coinbase heads to Wall Street

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Coinbase, the country's largest cryptocurrency exchange, is expected to go public today at what could be a valuation north of $100 billion.

Why it matters: This gives crypto a Wall Street seal of legitimacy, after an early existence marred by ties to illicit goods.