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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Times Square virtually empty on March 23. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

In just over a week, more than 47,000 chain stores across the U.S. have shut their doors as retailers have taken extreme measures to help slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: "Most have pledged to remain closed to the public for at least two weeks, but they may stay closed for much longer. In the same period, small retail businesses throughout the U.S. also hit pause on their physical locations but are not included in this list."

On another front: A separate Bloomberg report finds that major U.S. retail and restaurant chains, including Mattress Firm and Subway, have told landlords they will withhold or pay only reduced rent starting in April.

The intrigue: A snowball effect could be underway. Landlords can’t afford to stop collecting rent for long, with many property owners sitting on large piles of debt.

  • "The U.S. relief packages being considered don’t directly address rents. But the Federal Reserve’s actions may give banks the leeway to defer mortgage payments, allowing property owners to delay rent," the story notes.
  • "It’s also unclear if retailers can declare a so-called force majeure, a contract clause that covers highly unusual events, and if landlords could then make the same case to insurers."

Quick take: “In the space of a week, the retail landscape has changed from being fairly normalized to being absolutely disrupted beyond what we’ve ever seen before outside of the Second World War,” Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, told Bloomberg.

Go deeper: 96% of small business owners are already feeling coronavirus impact

Go deeper

House passes $1.9 trillion COVID relief package

Photo: Screenshot via C-SPAN

The House approved President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package on a 219-212 vote early Saturday morning, sending it to the Senate for a possible rewrite before it gets to Biden's desk.

The big picture: The vote was a critical first step for the package, which includes $1,400 cash payments for many Americans, a national vaccination program, ramped-up COVID testing and contact tracing, state and local funding and money to help schools reopen.

8 hours ago - Health

Biden says it's "not the time to relax" after touring vaccination site

President Biden speaking after visiting a FEMA Covid-19 vaccination facility in Houston on Feb. 26. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that "it's not the time to relax" coronavirus mitigation efforts and warned that the number of cases and hospitalizations could rise again as new variants of the virus emerge.

Why it matters: Biden, who made the remarks after touring a vaccination site in Houston, echoed CDC director Rochelle Walensky, who said earlier on Friday that while the U.S. has seen a recent drop in cases and hospitalizations, "these declines follow the highest peak we have experienced in the pandemic."

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Most COVID-19 survivors can weather risk of reinfection, study says — "Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis
  2. Vaccine: FDA advisory panel endorses J&J COVID vaccine for emergency use — About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.