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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the State Department on March 17. Photo: Nicholas Kamm via Getty Images

The State Department is suspending "routine visa services in most countries worldwide" for immigrants and nonimmigrants in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the agency said Wednesday.

What's happening: Visa appointments — a crucial step for U.S. immigrants — will be canceled in all countries with a travel advisory level of 2, 3 or 4 as of Wednesday, a State Department spokesperson told Axios.

  • Affected countries include the United Kingdom, Germany, China, Israel, South Korea, Italy, Japan, France, Ukraine, Russia, India, Denmark, Turkey and Brazil.
  • The visa waiver program, which allows citizens to visit the U.S. for tourism or business for 90 days or less without a visa, will not be affected, the agency said on its website Wednesday.

What they're saying: "As resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide urgent and emergency visa services. These Embassies will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time," the State Department said on its website.

Go deeper: ICE pauses most immigration enforcement amid coronavirus outbreak

Go deeper

How the Delta variant ups the stakes in the war against COVID

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The dominant Delta variant's ability to efficiently infect people and rapidly grow inside a person is enabling the coronavirus to regain its footing in the United States.

Why it matters: "The solution is right in front of us — get everybody vaccinated and we wouldn't even be talking about this," NIAID director Anthony Fauci tells Axios.

Apple debuts plan to detect images of child sexual abuse

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Apple announced new iPhone features Thursday that it said would enable the detection and reporting of illegal images of child sexual abuse while preserving users' privacy.

Driving the news: One new system will use cryptographic hashes to identify illegal images that users are uploading to Apple's iCloud without Apple directly snooping in users' troves of photos, which can be encrypted.

California wildfire explodes in size, destroys historic town

Battalion Chief Sergio Mora looks on as the Dixie fire burns through downtown Greenville, Calif. on Aug. 4, 2021. Photo: Josh EdelsonAFP via Getty Images

The small Sierra town of Greenville, Calif., was heavily damaged on Wednesday night into early Thursday as the Dixie Fire surged northward amid high winds, extremely dry air and hot temperatures.

The big picture: The Dixie Fire, California's biggest blaze and the sixth-largest wildfire in state history, razed houses and businesses as it ripped through Greenville and surrounding areas in Plumas County.