The very face of the American consumerism was forced to mask up.
Crews arrived on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills at 6am on Monday, local time, armed with sheets of plywood to board up each of the 70 boutiques and properties lining the high-end retail strip.
The same played out across North America as the nation hunkered down and waited for a new President to be elected. At the time this edition went to press, it was too close to call with incumbent Donald Trump defying predictions to put in a strong showing.
US retailers hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic have already been hammered by public disorder peaking after the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in police custody in Minneapolis which fueled protests, some violent, across the country.
US businesses have suffered property damage and theft worth an estimated $1 billion in insured losses this year, according to conservative estimates from the Insurance Information Institute, making this year's protests "the costliest civil disorder in US history".
A week before the election, Walmart removed all guns and ammunition from display, fearing the items would be targeted by frustrated supporters of a losing candidate.
As it was in New Zealand last month, the US presidential election was largely a referendum on the incumbent leader's handling of the virus. Trump insists the nation is "rounding the turn" on the virus. But Dr Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, this week broke with the President and joined a chorus of Trump administration scientists sounding the alarm about the current spike in infections.
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In an irony surely not lost on many Americans, they had to brave exposure to the virus in order to attempt to oust the very President who oversaw it reaching world record numbers — 9.42 million cases and still climbing.
As befitting an election with people's very lives on the line, 102 million Americans voted early and the total turnout was the highest in a century. It estimated almost a third who voted this time didn't vote in 2016.
Joe Biden entered Election Day with multiple means to victory while Trump, playing catch-up in several battleground states, had a narrower but still feasible road to clinch 270 Electoral College votes. Control of the Senate was at stake, too: Democrats needed to net three seats if Biden captured the White House to gain control of all of Washington for the first time in a decade. The House was expected to remain under Democratic control.
John F. Kennedy once warned the fruits of victory from a nuclear war would be "ashes in our mouths". The eventual winner of this election will take over an anxious nation, reeling from a once-in-a-century health crisis that has closed schools and businesses, and worsening as the weather turns cold.
The huge turnout meant long queues, and there was at least one arrest for suspected armed intimidation at a North Carolina polling station, but the fuse on public tension remained so far unlit.
This is not so much the ambitious "hope" Barack Obama promised in 2008, or the "greatness" Trump vowed to restore, but an apprehensive wish to avoid much more damage.