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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

18 mins ago - Podcasts

The vaccine race turns toward nationalism

The coronavirus pandemic is worsening, both in the U.S. and abroad, with cases, hospitalizations and deaths all rising.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the state of global vaccine development — including why the U.S. and China seem to going at it alone — with medicinal chemist and biotech blogger Derek Lowe.

Updated 32 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day.
  2. Politics: Top HHS spokesperson pitched coronavirus ad campaign as "helping the president" — Space Force's No. 2 general tests positive for coronavirus.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases — Europe faces "stronger and deadlier" wave.
  4. Sports: Boston Marathon delayed MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.
Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Updated 1 hour ago - Economy & Business

How central banks can save the world

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The trillion-dollar gap between actual GDP and potential GDP is a gap made up of misery, unemployment, and unfulfilled promise. It's also a gap that can be eradicated — if central banks embrace unconventional monetary policy.

  • That's the message from Eric Lonergan and Megan Greene, two economists who reject the idea that central banks have hit a "lower bound" on interest rates. In fact, they reject the idea that "interest rates" are a singular thing at all, and they fullthroatedly reject the idea — most recently put forward by New York Fed president Bill Dudley — that the Fed is "out of firepower."

Why it matters: If Lonergan and Greene are right, then central banks have effectively unlimited ammunition in their fight to increase inflation and employment. They are limited only by political will.