Factory workers package disposable protective masks along a production line in Morocco's Casablanca on April 10, as the North African country increases mask production due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Fadel Senna/AFP via Getty Images

The novel coronavirus will cause the sharpest economic downturn since the Great Depression, a UN report projected on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Governments around the world are pushing to reopen economies devastated by COVID-19 lockdown measures as cases continue to rise along with the death toll. And the World Health Organization warns the virus "may never go away."

  • WHO emergencies expert Mike Ryan stressed during a briefing on Wednesday that it would take a "massive effort" to get COVID-19 under control even if there were a vaccine.

What they're saying: "It is important to put this on the table: this virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities, and this virus may never go away," Ryan said.

  • He noted HIV hadn't gone away, but we have found the therapies and we have found the prevention methods.

The big picture: The UN World Economic Situation and Prospects report stated the pandemic would cause the global economy to shrink 3.2.%, "racking up some $8.5 trillion in overall losses — wiping out nearly four years of output gains."

  • A top official at WHO's mental health department to the UN warned of an emerging mental health crisis. "The isolation, the fear, the uncertainty, the economic turmoil — they all cause or could cause psychological distress," the department's director, Devora Kestel said.

By the numbers: COVID-19 has infected more than 4.3 million people and killed over 297,00.

Of note: Scientists are working on more than 100 potential COVID-19 vaccines and several in clinical trials are under way.

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Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Americans feel Trump's sickness makes him harder to trustFlorida breaks record for in-person early voting.
  2. Health: The next wave is gaining steam.
  3. Education: Schools haven't become hotspots.
  4. World: Ireland moving back into lockdown — Argentina becomes 5th country to report 1 million infections.

Biden says he would issue nationwide stay-at-home order in face of COVID-flu nightmare

Joe Biden accepts the Democratic Party nomination on Aug. 20. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden told ABC News on Friday that, if elected, he would issue a nationwide stay-at-home order at the recommendation of scientists if coronavirus infections surged in January alongside the flu season.

Why it matters: The country's coronavirus crisis could worsen this winter if hospitals are overwhelmed with patients requiring care from COVID-19 at the same time as the flu. The severity of the influenza season also depends on how many Americans get flu shots.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
Aug 21, 2020 - Health

Hospitals still suing patients in coronavirus hotspots

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

As millions of Americans lost their jobs and fell sick with the coronavirus this summer, hospitals in some of the hardest-hit states were getting back to the business of suing their patients.

Why it matters: The Americans least likely to be able to pay their medical bills are the same people who are vulnerable to the virus and its economic fallout.