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.

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Why it matters: If we get a vaccine relatively soon, the next big challenge will be balancing the need to get it into people's hands with the need to keep working on other solutions that might prove more effective.

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WHO: Health care workers account for around 14% of coronavirus cases

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Though health workers represent less than 3% of the population in many countries, they account for around 14% coronavirus cases reported to the World Health Organization, the organization announced Thursday.

Why it matters: The WHO called on governments and health care leaders to address threats facing the health and safety of these workers, adding that the pandemic has highlighted how protecting them is needed to ensure a functioning health care system.

Former Pence aide says she plans to vote for Joe Biden

President Trump in the Oval Office on Sept. 17. Photo: Oliver Contreras-Pool/Getty Images

Vice President Pence's former lead staffer on the White House coronavirus pandemic response announced on Thursday that she plans to vote for Joe Biden in the 2020 election, accusing President Trump of taking actions "detrimental to keeping Americans safe."

What she's saying: "It was shocking to see the president saying that the virus was a hoax, saying that everything's okay when we know that it not. The truth is that he doesn't actually care about anyone else but himself," said Olivia Troye, Pence's former homeland security, counterterrorism and coronavirus adviser.