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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.

Go deeper: U.K. hedges its massive coronavirus gamble

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Rahm Emanuel floated for Transportation secretary

Rahm Emanuel. Photo: Joshua Lott for The Washington Post via Getty Images

President-elect Biden is strongly considering Rahm Emanuel to run the Department of Transportation, weighing the former Chicago mayor’s experience on infrastructure spending against concerns from progressives over his policing record.

Why it matters: The DOT could effectively become the new Commerce Department, as infrastructure spending, smart cities construction and the rollout of drone-delivery programs take on increasing economic weight.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden turns to experienced hands for White House economic team

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Joe Biden plans to announce Cecilia Rouse and Brian Deese as part of his economic team and Neera Tanden to head the Office of Management and Budget, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: These are experienced hands. Unveiling a diverse group of advisers also may draw attention away from a selection of Deese to run the National Economic Council. Some progressives have criticized his work at BlackRock, the world's largest asset management firm.

Biden taps former Obama communications director for press secretary

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Jen Psaki, who previously served as Obama's communications director, will serve as President-elect Joe Biden's press secretary, the transition team announced Sunday.

The big picture: All of the top aides in Biden's communication staff will be women, per the Washington Post, which first reported Psaki's appointment.