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

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Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Major League Baseball has become the latest organization to ask Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, the Republican candidate in Mississippi's special Senate election runoff on Tuesday, to return a $5,000 campaign donation due to her recent controversial comments, ESPN reports.

The backstory: Hyde-Smith sparked backlash after she said that, if invited, she would attend a public hanging "on the front row" at a campaign event earlier this month. The remark triggered outrage due to Mississippi’s history of racially motivated lynchings.

  • Hyde-Smith claimed the public hanging comment was an an "exaggerated expression of regard." But it's also been uncovered that she posted a photo in a Confederate military hat on her Facebook page in 2014 and, in high school, attended a "segregation academy," a type of private school created in Mississippi in the 1970s to avoid forced integration.

An MLB spokesperson said that the contribution was made "in connection with an event that MLB lobbyists were asked to attend," according to ESPN. The official added that the league "has requested that the contribution be returned."

  • The MLB contribution to Hyde-Smith was first reported Saturday by the political newsletter Popular Information.

Go deeper: The fight for Mississippi's special Senate election

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.

10 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 10 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.