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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks to a crowd of supporters for Sen. Bernie Sanders during a campaign rally on Oct. 19 in New York City. Photo: JOHANNES EISELE / Contributor/Getty Images

2020 candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Saturday held his first campaign rally since his recent heart attack and surgery, joined by freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)

Why it matters: Sanders formally secured the coveted Ocasio-Cortez endorsement during the rally in Queens. The support shows Sanders is still a "formidable contender" and shifts the "conversation away from his health issues and age, infusing his campaign with a renewed sense of vitality," writes the New York Times.

What she's saying: AOC credits a variety of issues — from Medicare for All to the elimination of student debt — that have risen to the forefront of the 2020 Democratic primary discussion to Sanders.

  • "In 2016, he fundamentally changed politics in America. We right now have one of the best Democratic candidates presidential primary fields in a generation, and much of that is thanks to the work Bernie Sanders has done."

The big picture: Sanders' campaign hopes the Ocasio-Cortez endorsement will highlight his ability to build a multiracial, working-class coalition of voters, notes the Times. These endorsements could also help Sanders reinvigorate young, female supporters who helped him secure primary states in 2016.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Health

California surpasses 50,000 COVID-19 deaths

A man prepares a funeral arrangement in in Los Angeles, California, Feb. 12. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

California's death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 50,000 on Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: It's the first state to record more than 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus.

4 hours ago - Technology

Facebook bans Myanmar military

A protester holds a placard with a three-finger salute in front of a military tank parked aside the street in front of the Central Bank building during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo by Aung Kyaw Htet/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook said on Wednesday it would ban the rest of the Myanmar military from its platform.

The big picture: It comes some three weeks after the military overthrew the civilian government in a coup and detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi, causing massive protests to erupt throughout the country. Military leaders have been using internet blackouts to try to maintain power in light of the coup.

It's harder to fill the Cabinet

Data: Chamberlain, 2020, "United States of America Cabinet Appointments Dataset" Chart: Will Chase/Axios

It's harder now for presidents to win Senate confirmation for their Cabinet picks, an Axios data analysis of votes for and against nominees found.

Why it matters: It's not just Neera Tanden. The trend is a product of growing polarization, rougher political discourse and slimming Senate majorities, experts say. It means some of the nation's most vital federal agencies go without a leader and the legislative authority that comes with one.