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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A new report recommends stimulus spending to help close the digital divide revealed by pandemic social distancing.

Why it matters: Right now many Americans can't easily access remote work or education, which leaves them behind and limits their ability to safely carry out social distancing. Stimulus spending could be diverted to address those gaps, which would also leave us better prepared to respond to the next pandemic.

Context: As painful as the pandemic lockdown has been, without the internet and digital tools like Zoom, it would be almost impossible to carry out any semblance of normal life while stuck at home. But not every American has access to those tools.

  • Over a quarter of rural Americans lack access to broadband with speeds of at least 25 Mbps download.
  • America lags behind other countries on mobile and remote payment systems, which has emerged as an obstacle to rapidly getting stimulus checks to citizens.
  • About 40% of teachers report their students lack a computer at home or the necessary access to do their homework online.

In a new report, the nonprofit Information Technology and Innovation Institute (ITIF) recommends that some of the additional stimulus funding Congress is considering should go toward public policies that can ensure every American can live, work and learn remotely.

  • "This should be a wakeup call in Congress," says Rob Atkinson, president of ITIF. "We have been relying on the private sector to do this but a lot of these problems can only be solved by public-private partnership."

Details: The full report includes more than 25 different stimulus proposals ranging from telemedicine to industrial automation to 3D printing. But the top priorities are providing true universal broadband internet and workable e-government services.

"Broadband access is particularly important for any kind of workable remote education. And for e-government, I'm just angry that people are desperately applying for unemployment and these websites keep crashing."
— Rob Atkinson

The bottom line: Never let a crisis go to waste.

Go deeper: Coronavirus breaks the telecom bundle

Go deeper

Focus group: Red flags for Biden infrastructure plan

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

Some swing voters say President Biden needs to better explain who'll pay for his $2 trillion infrastructure plan — and they'll only back bipartisan legislation that's paid for by corporations, not the middle class.

Why it matters: These takeaways from our latest Engagious/Schlesinger focus groups offer crucial context for an administration basing much of its legislative strategy on polls showing Americans notionally favor spending on roads, bridges, job training and broadband access.

Polish leader says U.S. must show democracy's resilience

Radosław Sikorski. Photo: Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Donald Trump's tumultuous presidency and the Jan. 6 Capitol assault are signals that people are “less enamored” by democracy, a former Polish foreign minister who has the ear of the White House and Congress tells Axios.

Why it matters: Radosław Sikorski, currently a member of the European Parliament, said it’s critical that democratic countries like the U.S. now showcase their resilience to the world.

Veiled attacks rile Virginia governor's race

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new political group in Virginia is taking pains to keep the people behind it a secret. And one candidate in the state's gubernatorial race claims it is buying ads designed to falsely make it look like they're coming from him.

Why it matters: The group, dubbed the Patriot Leadership Trust, has succeeded in hiding the identities of its principals, depriving Virginians of information about the people and interests seeking to sway their votes in a bellwether off-year race.