Angela Merkel prepares to address the nation. Photo: Steffen Kugler/Bundesregierung via Getty Images

In a national address with no precedent in her 14 years as chancellor, Angela Merkel said Germany now faces the gravest challenge since World War II.

What she’s saying: “Take it seriously. Since German unification, no, since the Second World War, there has been no challenge to our nation that has demanded such a degree of common and united action," Merkel said, per DW.

  • Not one for dramatic statements, Merkel’s elevated warnings come with French President Emmanuel Macron declaring his country now “at war” and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson noting that the societal changes underway are unprecedented in peacetime.
  • Merkel had never before made a televised address to the nation beyond her annual New Years' address, per Reuters.

Driving the news: Cases of coronavirus jumped 9% in Germany on Wednesday alone, to 12,000. The country has experienced relatively few deaths, with 28 to date.

  • German health officials warned Wednesday that as many as 10 million people could be infected in the next two to three months if social contact is not significantly reduced.
  • Merkel herself warned last week that up to 70% of Germany’s population — some 60 million people — could eventually be infected.
  • "It's down to each and every one of us. We are not doomed to helplessly watch the spread of the virus. We have a means to fight it: we must practice social distancing out of consideration for one another,” she said in Wednesday’s speech.

What to watch: Germany’s policy response is ramping up, though it is not yet as sweeping as in Italy or France, where people have been ordered to leave their homes only when absolutely necessary. Germany has closed its borders and put travel restrictions on its citizens.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 12,859,834 — Total deaths: 567,123 — Total recoveries — 7,062,085Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 3,297,501— Total deaths: 135,155 — Total recoveries: 1,006,326 — Total tested: 40,282,176Map.
  3. States: Florida smashes single-day record for new coronavirus cases with over 15,000 — NYC reports zero coronavirus deaths for first time since pandemic hit.
  4. Public health: Ex-FDA chief projects "apex" of South's coronavirus curve in 2-3 weeks — Coronavirus testing czar: Lockdowns in hotspots "should be on the table"
  5. Education: Betsy DeVos says schools that don't reopen shouldn't get federal funds — Pelosi accuses Trump of "messing with the health of our children."

Scoop: How the White House is trying to trap leakers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has told several White House staffers he's fed specific nuggets of information to suspected leakers to see if they pass them on to reporters — a trap that would confirm his suspicions. "Meadows told me he was doing that," said one former White House official. "I don't know if it ever worked."

Why it matters: This hunt for leakers has put some White House staffers on edge, with multiple officials telling Axios that Meadows has been unusually vocal about his tactics. So far, he's caught only one person, for a minor leak.

11 GOP congressional nominees support QAnon conspiracy

Lauren Boebert posing in her restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, on April 24. Photo: Emily Kask/AFP

At least 11 Republican congressional nominees have publicly supported or defended the QAnon conspiracy theory movement or some of its tenets — and more aligned with the movement may still find a way onto ballots this year.

Why it matters: Their progress shows how a fringe online forum built on unsubstantiated claims and flagged as a threat by the FBI is seeking a foothold in the U.S. political mainstream.