HHS Secretary Alex Azar testifies on the agency's FY2021 budget on Feb. 27. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Sen. Ron Wyden, the ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, told Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Friday that he was alarmed by a whistleblower's recent allegations that federal personnel received U.S. evacuees from the coronavirus outbreak in China without adequate protective gear or training.

Driving the news: Vice President Mike Pence replaced Azar as the administration's point person for handling the coronavirus this week.

What he's saying: Wyden, in a Friday letter, said "it is particularly concerning that ACF human services personnel, with limited or no public health or health care background, were sent to quarantine sites without guidance, training, or information."

  • He asked Azar for details on HHS protocols for deploying medical and agency personnel to quarantine centers that readmit U.S. citizens and whether the agency is ensuring that all HHS employees potentially exposed to the coronavirus are being tested for it.
  • HHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Flashback: Democratic 2020 contenders and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have denounced President Trump's response to the crisis and his budget cuts to the Centers for Disease Control.

Read Wyden's full letter:

Go deeper... Coronavirus updates: WHO raises global threat level to "very high"

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NYT: White House drug price negotiations broke down over $100 "Trump Cards"

President Trump with Mark Meadows, his chief of staff, on Sept. 3 at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Negotiations on a deal between the White House and pharmaceutical industry to lower drug prices broke down last month after Mark Meadows, the president's chief of staff, insisted that drugmakers pay for $100 cash cards to be mailed to seniors before the election, according to the New York Times.

Why it matters: Some of the drug companies feared that in agreeing to the prescription cards — reportedly dubbed "Trump Cards" by some in the pharmaceutical industry — they would boost Trump's political standing weeks ahead of Election Day with voters over 65, a group that is crucial to the president's reelection bid, per the Times.

In photos: Virginians line up for hours on first day of early voting

Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

In some parts of Virginia, people waited in line up to four hours to cast their ballots on the first day of early voting, according to the Washington Post.

The big picture: The COVID-19 pandemic seems to already have an impact on how people cast their votes this election season. As many as 80 million Americans are expected to vote early, by mail or in person, Tom Bonier, CEO of TargetSmart, a Democratic political data firm, told Axios in August.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4:30 p.m. ET: 30,306,469 — Total deaths: 948,147— Total recoveries: 20,626,515Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4:30 p.m. ET: 6,705,114 — Total deaths: 198,197 — Total recoveries: 2,540,334 — Total tests: 92,163,649Map.
  3. Politics: In reversal, CDC again recommends coronavirus testing for asymptomatic people.
  4. Health: Massive USPS face mask operation called off The risks of moving too fast on a vaccine.
  5. Business: Unemployment drop-off reverses course 1 million mortgage-holders fall through safety netHow the pandemic has deepened Boeing's 737 MAX crunch.
  6. Education: At least 42% of school employees are vulnerable.