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Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell. Photo: Milos Miskov/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) announced in a statement Thursday that it is investigating whether the coronavirus pandemic began through human contact with wild animals in China or if it was the result of a laboratory accident in Wuhan.

Why it matters: The ODNI said it concurs with the scientific consensus that the virus was "not manmade or genetically modified." The statement comes after some U.S. officials have promoted an unsubstantiated theory linking the virus to an infectious-disease lab in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.

The big picture: Senior Trump administration officials have pushed U.S. spy agencies to find evidence supporting the theory, the New York Times reports.

  • China has denied the allegation, but senior Chinese officials have also pushed their own theories linking the coronavirus to a military laboratory in the U.S.
  • The coronavirus crisis has sent U.S.-China relations spiraling, alarming analysts who say the two countries are at their most dangerous point in decades, Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian reports.

Go deeper: What we know about the Chinese lab at the center of the coronavirus controversy

Go deeper

Updated Aug 5, 2020 - World

China says U.S. is "endangering peace" with high-level visit to Taiwan

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar during a June briefing in Washington, D.C. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced Tuesday night he will lead a delegation to Taiwan "in the coming days."

Why it matters: It's the highest-level visit by a U.S. cabinet official to Taiwan since 1979. Azar is also the first U.S. Cabinet member to visit the island state in six years. The visit has angered China, which views Taiwan as part of its territory. Chinese officials accused the U.S. Wednesday of "endangering peace" with the visit, AFP reports.

At least 3 dead after Amtrak train derails in Montana

Photo: Jacob Cordeiro/Twitter

An Amtrak train derailed near Joplin, Montana, resulting in at least three deaths and multiple injuries to passengers and crew on Saturday, per a company statement.

The big picture: 141 passengers and 16 crew members were estimated to be traveling on the westbound Empire Builder train from Chicago to Seattle and Portland when eight cars derailed about 4p.m., Amtrak said early Sunday.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Federal judge blocks vaccine mandate for NYC teachers

Students are dismissed from the first day of school at PS 133 in Brooklyn on Sept. 13. Photo: Michael Nagle/Xinhua via Getty Images

A federal appeals court is set to hear a challenge Wednesday to a vaccine mandate planned for New York City school employees.

Why it matters The vaccine mandate was set to begin on Monday, prompting concerns over staffing shortages in schools across the nation's largest school system. But a judge on Friday temporarily blocked the measure, per AP.