Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Justice Department's inspector general is remotely assessing federal prisons to determine whether the coronavirus is being properly mitigated, according to the watchdog's website.

The big picture: Federal and state prisons have acted as petri dishes for the virus in the U.S., as overcrowded and often unsanitary conditions can make social distancing and recommended hygiene nearly impossible for inmates.

Driving the news: Several state-run jails have released prisoners to fight the spread of the coronavirus. In contrast, one effort taken by the Bureau of Prisons to slow the spread is mandating that all inmates be "secured in their assigned cells" until May 18.

  • Chicago's Cook County jail — a state-run facility — is the largest-known source of coronavirus infections in the U.S., the New York Times reported last week.

What they're saying: “The Bureau of Prisons is working hard to prevent, contain, and mitigate the spread of this global pandemic in its correctional settings, and we look forward to the OIG’s assessment of these efforts,” Bureau spokesperson Justin Long told AP in a statement.

The bottom line: 446 federal inmates and 248 employees from the Bureau of Prisons have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Tuesday, and 14 inmates have died.

Go deeper: Coronavirus behind bars

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Ben Geman, author of Generate
2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

U.S. cities' lagging climate progress

Expand chart
Reproduced from a Brookings Institution report; Chart: Axios Visuals

A just-published Brookings Institution analysis of U.S. cities' pledges to cut carbon emissions reveals very mixed results.

Why it matters: The potential — and limits — of city and state initiatives have gotten more attention amid President Trump's scuttling of Obama-era national policies.

New state unemployment filings fall to 787,000

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

First-time applications for unemployment fell last week, according to Department of Labor data released on Thursday.

Between the lines: The overall number of Americans relying on unemployment also fell to a still-staggering 23 million. But there are continued signs of labor market strain, with more people shifting to an unemployment program designed for the long-term jobless.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Chris Christie: Wear a mask "or you may regret it — as I did" — Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted relief bill.
  2. Business: New state unemployment filings fall.
  3. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  4. Health: Many U.S. deaths were avoidable — The pandemic is getting worse again.
  5. Education: Boston and Chicago send students back home for online learning.
  6. World: Spain and France exceed 1 million cases.

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