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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

Nov 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Colorado governor and partner test positive for coronavirus

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis. Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) tweeted Saturday night that he and his partner, Marlon Reis, tested positive for COVID-19.

The big picture: He said they're both "asymptomatic, feeling well, and will continue to isolate at home." On Nov. 9, Polis extended a 30-day mask mandate to combat a rise in cases. The state has confirmed 225,283 coronavirus infections since the pandemic began. Since September, the governors of Wyoming, Nevada, Virginia and Missouri have also tested positive for the virus.

21 hours ago - Health

Restaurants fight COVID restrictions

Diners in the Wicker Park neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois, on Nov. 11. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Restaurants in several states — including Kentucky, Illinois and California — are staying open and defying restrictions, as states try to manage skyrocketing coronavirus cases and hospitalizations with more safety measures.

The big picture: Restaurant industry trade groups have been desperately lobbying for federal aid from a coronavirus stimulus package that has yet to see any traction in Congress.

Nov 29, 2020 - Sports

Broncos and 49ers the latest NFL teams impacted by coronavirus crisis

From left, Denver Broncos quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Jeff Driskel during an August training session at UCHealth Training Center in Englewood, Colorado. Photo: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the NFL season into chaos, with all Denver Broncos quarterbacks sidelined, the San Francisco 49ers left without a home or practice ground, and much of the Baltimore Ravens team unavailable, per AP.

Driving the news: The Broncos confirmed in a statement Saturday night that quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles were identified as "high-risk COVID-19 close contacts" and will follow the NFL's mandatory five-day quarantine, making them ineligible for Sunday's game against New Orleans.

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