Photo: Yuri Gripas/AFP via Getty Images

The FBI announced on its website for Freedom of Information Act matters Tuesday that it's only accepting requests sent through the mail and won't process electronic ones "[d]ue to the emerging COVID-19 situation."

Why it matters: New Trump administration guidelines in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak recommend social distancing measures, including limiting social gatherings of more than 10 people. There's a global push for people who are able to switch to online work remotely to do so.

A screenshot of the FBI eFOIPA web page.
  • The Freedom of Information Act was intended to make federal government functions more transparent, providing Americans with the right to request access to records from any federal agency.

The intrigue: It is unclear from the statement posted to the Freedom of Information/Privacy Act submission portal page why it wants requests sent in the mail.

What they're saying: While the FBI has yet to comment publicly on the reason for its decision, a government attorney said in a statement to BuzzFeed the "rapidly evolving" outbreak is forcing the FBI to "drastically reduce its FOIA processing because it cannot do the work remotely, due to the system’s security constraints."

  • "The FOIA processors need to be on-site to do the work, but they are too closely positioned to be able to conform to the new social distancing guidance," the attorney added. "FBI is working on a response, but it is not clear when it will have one. And the production scheduled for the end of this month is now on hold, along with productions in many other cases."

Flashback: Forget email. The FBI wants your requests via fax

Go deeper

Updated 2 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 a.m. ET: 18,814,178 — Total deaths: 707,754— Total recoveries — 11,361,953Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 a.m. ET: 4,823,891 — Total deaths: 158,256 — Total recoveries: 1,577,851 — Total tests: 58,920,975Map.
  3. Public health: Florida surpasses 500,000 confirmed casesFauci calls U.S. coronavirus testing delays "totally unacceptable."
  4. Business: America's next housing crisis.
  5. States: Virginia launches contact tracing app using specs from Apple and Google.
  6. Cities: L.A. mayor authorizes utilities shut-off at homes hosting large gatherings
  7. Politics: White House, Democrats remain "trillions of dollars apart" on stimulus talks.
13 mins ago - World

Hiroshima mayor warns of rise of nationalism on 75th anniversary

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C) at the Memorial Cenotaph in the Peace Memorial Park during the 75th anniversary service for atomic bomb victims in Hiroshima, Japan, on Thursday. Photo: Philip Fong/AFP via Getty Images

Hiroshima's Mayor Kazumi Matsui on Thursday urged the international community to work together to defeat the coronavirus pandemic and warned against an increase in "self-centered nationalism," per the Washington Post.

Why it matters: He said at a remembrance service on the atomic bombing of the Japanese city that the 1918 flu pandemic killed millions as countries fighting in World War I were unable to overcome the threat together, per DPR. "A subsequent upsurge in nationalism led to World War II," he added. The U.S. bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945 and Nagasaki three days later contributed to the end of World War II, but tens of thousands of people died. At the service, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lamented nuclear weapons' "inhumanity," but he didn't mention Japan's wartime past, WashPost noted.

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LeBron James on Trump NBA protest remarks: "We could care less"

The Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James kneels during the national anthem before the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, on Wednesday. Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

LeBron James responded on Wednesday night to President Trump's comments calling NBA players "disgraceful" for kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism and that he won't watch games because of the action.

The big picture: Trump has repeatedly criticized sports players for taking the knee since 2016. But James said during a news conference, "I really don’t think the basketball community are sad about losing his viewership, him viewing the game." November's elections marked "a big moment for us as Americans," he said. "If we continue to talk about, 'We want better, we want change,' we have an opportunity to do that," he added. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said the league will "respect peaceful protest."

Go deeper: LeBron James forms voting rights group to inspire Black voters