Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Coronavirus contact tracing apps used in the EU should protect privacy and be compatible enough with one another to track the spread of the virus across borders, the European Commission wrote to its members on Thursday.

Why it matters: Contact tracing — or tracking down those who have interacted with a virus patient and advising them to self-isolate — is seen as a key step, along with widespread testing, in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Where it stands: In countries like France, Norway and Poland, Bluetooth is the primary strategy for contact tracing apps, the EU reports. The organization says that contact tracing should not rely on location data.

  • The Czech Republic is piloting using users' locations to build maps of where they have spent significant time within the last five days. The tech is operating in three regions, per the EU.
  • In the U.S., Apple and Google have proposed technology that notifies users if they've come into contact with someone with the virus, without sharing location data with the government.
  • MIT researchers are building a system that matches Bluetooth signals emitted from an infected individual's smartphone over 14 days to other phones, to find who they've come into contact with.

What they're saying: “Mobile apps can warn us of infection risks and support health authorities with contact tracing, which is essential to break transmission chains. We need to be diligent, creative, and flexible in our approaches to opening up our societies again," Stella Kyriakides, the EU health commissioner, said in a Thursday press release.

Background: Large-scale testing, contact tracing, a health system that can withstand new patient surges, and a sustained pattern of lowered infections are all necessary for countries to relax quarantines, the European Commission advised on Wednesday.

  • The ability of competing apps to work together "would allow for a more effective warning of people concerned and a more efficient public health policy follow-up," the Commission said on Wednesday.

Go deeper: Contact tracing is the latest coronavirus red flag

Go deeper

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U.S. threatens to veto UN peacekeeping in Lebanon over Hezbollah concerns

Peacekeepers with Lebanese troops in southern Lebanon. Photo: Jalaa Marey/AFP via Getty

The Trump administration is threatening to veto a resolution to extend the UN's long-standing peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon if its mandate isn't changed, Israeli and U.S. officials tell me.

Why it matters: The U.S. is the main funder of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which has an annual budget of $250 million. The veto threat is a tactical move, and part of a broader effort to put pressure on Iran and its proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10:30 a.m. ET: 20,388,408 — Total deaths: 743,599— Total recoveries: 12,616,973Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10:30 a.m. ET: 5,150,590 — Total deaths: 164,681 — Total recoveries: 1,714,960 — Total tests: 63,252,257Map.
  3. Business: U.S. already feeling effects of ending unemployment benefits — U.S. producer prices rose last month by the most since October 2018.
  4. Public health: America is flying blind on its coronavirus response.

Trump congratulates QAnon conspiracy theorist on GOP runoff win

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump on Wednesday tweeted congratulations to Marjorie Taylor Greene, a vocal QAnon conspiracy theorist who won the Republican nomination in Georgia's deep-red 14th Congressional District runoff.

Why it matters: The president's approval illustrates how the once-fringe conspiracy theory has gained ground within the GOP. Greene is among the at least 11 GOP candidates for Congress who have openly supported or defended the QAnon movement or some of its tenets, per Axios' Jacob Knutson.