Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen during a press conference at the Justice Department. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen advised law enforcement officials in a memorandum Tuesday they may use "terrorism-related statutes" in cases involving "the purposeful exposure and infection of others with COVID-19," per Politico and the Washington Post.

"Because coronavirus appears to meet the statutory definition of a 'biological agent,' under federal law such acts potentially could implicate the Nation’s terrorism-related statutes."
— Excerpt from Rosen's memo, per WashPost

The big picture: The novel coronavirus had killed 796 people and infected more than 55,000 others by early Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data. All levels of government are racing to try and contain the spread of the virus and impact on economies by introducing a range of measures, from social distancing to stay-at-home orders.

Between the lines: WashPost notes that Rosen's memo to Department of Justice leaders, U.S. Attorneys and law enforcement agency chiefs appears to be "theoretical" at this stage.

Of note: The Justice Department filed its first COVID-19 enforcement action on Sunday, against a website it says was offering a fraudulent coronavirus vaccine.

  • Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Department of Justice's Civil Division said in a statement, "The Department of Justice will not tolerate criminal exploitation of this national emergency for personal gain." Axios has contacted the DOJ for comment on the memo.

Go deeper

Biden clarifies comments on African American and Latino communities

Joe Biden delivering a speech in Delaware in July. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Joe Biden explained on Twitter Thursday night what he "meant" by earlier comments suggesting that "the African American community is a monolith."

What they're saying: "Unlike the African-American community, with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community with incredibly different attitudes about different things," Biden remarked in an interview hosted by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the National Association for Black Journalists, Politico reports.

Updated 45 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tests negative for coronavirus after positive result

Photo: Justin Merriman/Getty Images

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) tested negative for the coronavirus after initially testing positive earlier Thursday, his office announced.

Why it matters: 73-year-old DeWine was set to meet President Trump Thursday on the tarmac at an airport in Cleveland and was tested as part of standard protocol.

Updated 55 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 18,996,008 — Total deaths: 712,476— Total recoveries — 11,478,835Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 4,877,115 — Total deaths: 159,990 — Total recoveries: 1,598,624 — Total tests: 59,652,675Map.
  3. Politics: Pelosi rips GOP over stimulus negotiations: "Perhaps you mistook them for somebody who gives a damn" — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tests positive.
  4. Public health: Majority of Americans say states reopened too quicklyFauci says task force will examine aerosolized spread Study finds COVID-19 antibodies prevalent in NYC health care workers.
  5. Business: The health care sector imploded in Q2More farmers are declaring bankruptcyJuly's jobs report could be an inflection point for the recovery.
  6. Sports: Where college football's biggest conferences stand on playing.