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

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Congress is unlikely to pass another coronavirus relief package before the election — and that's bad news not only for people who are struggling financially, but also for our efforts to contain the virus itself.

Why it matters: All signs point to a difficult winter ahead, and congressional inaction could make things much worse by forcing millions of people to choose between following public health recommendations or feeding their families.

The big picture: The U.S. containment strategy, as flawed as it is, depends on people who may have the virus getting tested and staying home until it's safe to come into contact with others again.

  • But staying home is harder for people living paycheck-to-paycheck, and for those who don't have homes.
  • "If people need to go out and panhandle…if they're evicted and they need to be in shelters…they're not going to be able to protect themselves, and their priority is not going to be to protect themselves from this virus," Columbia's Jeffrey Shaman said.

Between the lines: Stimulus bills have gone beyond giving financial aid to individuals. They also provide additional money for testing, and Democrats' proposals have included more money to help state and local governments.

  • Although there's some leftover money from previous bills, "states are hemorrhaging cash, and so we're not going to have money for testing for schools, or other high risk work places, [or] essential workers, [or] first responders," Brown University's Ashish Jha said. "What that means is that those folks aren’t going to get tested."

A lack of resources will serve as a disincentive for people to get tested and then isolate, putting themselves and their communities at risk, experts said.

  • “Desperate individuals who need the money are likely to go to work with mild symptoms, but they could surely be infectious, so this is a major disincentive," the University of Minnesota's Michael Osterholm said.
  • The choices could be particularly brutal for working parents. Preventing transmission within schools — and thus within families — is dependent on sick or exposed kids being able to stay home.

The bottom line: “No doubt about it, the failure to pass this will make it much harder to contain the virus in the fall, and that means we will see larger outbreaks, more people getting sick, more schools closed and more economic devastation across the nation," Jha said.

Go deeper

Dec 23, 2020 - World

New York City will enforce quarantine for U.K. travelers with visits from sheriff's deputies

Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

All U.K. travelers going to New York City will now be required to quarantine or face a daily $1,000 fine, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Although all people are required to quarantine when traveling into the city, U.K travelers specifically will receive visits from sheriff’s deputies to ensure they are following the two-week quarantine order.

Updated 20 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Los Angeles County to require vaccination proof at indoor bars — France suspends 3,000 unvaccinated health workers without pay — Moderna suggests booster shots, citing clinical data.
  2. Health: 1 in 500 Americans has died — Cases are falling, but deaths are rising — Study: Gaps in data on Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders alarming amid COVID.
  3. Politics: Gottlieb says CDC hampered U.S. response — 26 states have limited state or local officials' public health powers — Axios-Ipsos poll: 60% of voters back Biden vaccine mandates.
  4. Education: Denver looks to students to close Latino vaccination gap — Federal judge temporarily blocks Iowa's ban on mask mandates in schools — Massachusetts activates National Guard to help with school transportation.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Dec 23, 2020 - Health

Over 1 million people in U.S. have received the COVID-19 vaccine

Photo: Hyoung Chang/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

More than 1 million people in the U.S. have received the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine as of Wednesday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: The U.S. began its largest vaccination campaign in U.S. history last week as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths surged nationwide.

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