A firefighter using a drip torch near Somis, California, Nov. 1. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

49,661 wildfires burned 4.6 million acres in the U.S. in 2019, according to the National Interagency Coordination Center (NICC).

Why it matters: That's a 46% drop in acres burned and an 11% decrease in total fires from the 2018 season.

Yes, but: Though the 2019 season was less active in terms of the total number of fires and acres destroyed, catastrophic fires still resulted in fatalities and damaged or destroyed structures.

  • The Kincade Fire in Sonoma County, California, burned 77,758 acres, injured four first responders and destroyed 374 structures and damaged 60 others. The fire's cause is still under investigation.
  • The 1,011-acre Sandalwood Fire in Riverside County, California, killed two civilians, destroyed 76 structures and damaged 14 others after a truck dumped burning trash into brush.
  • The Saddleridge Fire tore through 8,799 acres in Los Angeles County, killing one civilian and damaging or destroying at least 31 structures, according to the Los Angeles Times. The fire's cause is also still under investigation.

The big picture: 2019 was the fourth least active fire season in the last decade in terms of acres scorched by wildfires.

Of note: Last year was the second-wettest year on record, with record-high precipitation in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, according to the Weather Channel.

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Case growth outpacing testing in coronavirus hotspots

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.