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

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Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The pandemic has been hard on everyone, but the impact on teenagers has been uniquely profound.

Why it matters: High schoolers spent much of the past year isolated and on the sidelines, and that lack of human connection combined with shortened or canceled sports seasons has taken a devastating toll.

  • A coordinated, national response would have allowed teens to at least take solace in being alone together. Instead, state-by-state protocols meant they all had different experiences.
  • Some kids played sports and attended in-person classes. Others learned virtually and saw sports seasons canceled, robbing them of lifelong memories and, in some cases, the chance to get recruited.

The tale of two towns...

Map data: ©2021 Google

Denver City, Texas, and Hobbs, New Mexico, are separated by just 35 miles, but their states responded to the coronavirus in drastically different ways. Texas was freewheeling; New Mexico was the opposite.

  • Denver City: After the initial lockdown, the town of 5,000 reopened its schools with baseline safety measures (masks, social distancing, contact tracing) and ran a cancellation-free football season.
  • Hobbs: The larger town (population 40,000) across the border continued with remote or hybrid learning throughout the year. Athletes could practice in small pods, but there were no actual games.

What they're saying: For some, like Hobbs junior football star Kooper Davis, the time away from the field and friends was unbearable, as depicted in a must-read story from ProPublica's Alec MacGillis.

"I play football and basketball and those sports make up a big part of my life, and when I'm not here every day doing something with those sports, honestly, I feel really lost in life."
Davis, during an October demonstration to reopen schools

In December, Davis took his own life; the third Hobbs teen to do so in the last three months of 2020 alone. "No doubt, if my son had been in school on Monday this wouldn't have happened," said his father, Justin Davis.

Read the full story.

Go deeper

Right-wingers making McCarthy sweat for future Speaker post

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stands with his Republican colleagues outside the House on Nov. 17. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Right-wing elements in the Republican Party are complicating House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's attempts to become the next speaker of the House should the GOP take back the majority in 2022.

Why it matters: While McCarthy has worked carefully to build trust among the conservatives who tanked his chances at clinching the speakership in 2015, they're still circling ahead of the next Speaker vote in January 2023.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress sprints to meet crush of deadlines

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Congressional leaders have been pushing off vital action for months — and a lot of it will catch up with them in December, which begins Wednesday.

Driving the news: Funding for the federal government is set to expire at midnight on Friday. There are also consequential deadlines related to the debt limit, President Biden's agenda and annual actions like voting on the National Defense Authorization Act.

3 hours ago - World

U.S. fears Iran won’t scale back to 2015 nuclear deal

Officials gather in Vienna on Sept. 29 for the first day of renewed nuclear talks with Iran. Photo: EU Vienna Delegation/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

U.S. officials have extremely low expectations as world powers resume negotiations with Iran to curb its nuclear program, believing the Iranians aren't yet ready to negotiate seriously, Axios is told.

Driving the news: Senior officials in the U.S. intelligence community have assessed the new Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, thinks of his predecessor, Hassan Rouhani, as a weak accommodationist who negotiated a bad deal with the U.S. and other world powers in 2015.

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