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Photo: Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The hope and promise of May is gone, replaced by the realization that America is in for another miserable year of COVID-19.

Why it matters: Another winter — and another flu season — is on the way as the U.S. engages in a whack-a-mole strategy that slows down the virus in one region, but sees it flaring up in another.

  • "Unless Americans use the dwindling weeks between now and the onset of 'indoor weather' to tamp down transmission in the country, this winter could be Dickensianly bleak," public health experts told STAT's Helen Branswell.
  • “I think November, December, January, February are going to be tough months in this country without a vaccine,” said Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota.

The stark results:

  • Our schools are increasingly desperate, and parents too. Online education isn't the same for adults, let alone elementary students.
  • To cap it all off, our entertainment options are running dry. Studios haven't been filming and there are dimming prospects for fall college sports.

The big picture: No other rich nation has anything close to our level of sustained outbreak, so no other rich nation will have anything close to our level of misery in the 2020-21 school year.

  • Europe is reporting a new outbreak, as have nations in Asia.
  • But they have repeatedly done what we haven't since the weather warmed up — successfully put the screws on community spread.

The bottom line: This may be the most miserable school year ever for many people, and a groundswell event that could forever alter the life trajectory for many of America's kids.

Go deeper

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

Chuck Grassley says he tested positive for COVID-19

Sen. Chuck Grassley. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Stringer

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has tested positive for the coronavirus, adding Wednesday that he remains "symptom free."

Why it matters: Grassley is the second oldest member of the Senate at 87 years old, meaning he is at high risk for a severe infection, according to the CDC. The Iowa senator is the third in the line of succession to the presidency as president pro tempore of the Senate.

Teachers union wants funding transformation to fight systemic racism

Photo: Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty

Inequities in education funding require a hard look as students of color struggle with lack of access to high-quality education, National Education Association (NEA) president Becky Pringle said at a virtual Axios event Tuesday.

Why it matters: Systemic racism is embedded in the structures of American education, and it sets up a stark divide between white students and students of color, who often do not share access to the same resources.