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

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Refugees wait near to enter Europe near Turkey's border with Greece. Photo: Gokhan Balci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced he opened Turkey's border with Europe on Saturday — turning a longstanding threat into a reality, AP reports.

The state of play: The move appears to be an attempt to pressure European countries to support Erdoğan's military efforts in Idlib as operations from Turkish, Russian and Syrian forces escalate. Erdoğan has called on European nations to support the 3.6 million displaced Syrian refugees in Turkey, The New York Times reports.

Nearly 4,000 migrants have gathered at the Turkey-Greece border to try to enter Europe, per the Times, with another 500 caught between the two border posts. Migrants, assisted by Turkish authorities, traveled by sea toward the Turkish coast in hopes of reaching the Greek islands, though few have reportedly arrived.

  • Greece responded to the incoming refugees at its border by firing tear gas, with its government claiming it "will do whatever it takes to protect its borders," Reuters reports.
"We will not close the gates to refugees. The European Union has to keep its promises. We are not obliged to look after and feed so many refugees. If you're honest, if you're sincere, then you need to share."
— President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a speech Saturday, per AP

The big picture: Military escalations in Idlib could add to the ongoing humanitarian crisis as at least 950,000 displaced civilians make their way to the Syrian-Turkish border, AP notes.

  • The chaos in Idlib could mean Turkey will face new international pressure to open its sealed border with Syria to offer the refugees relief.

Context: In 2016, Turkey agreed to accept Syrian refugees in exchange for the European Union's financial support. Erdoğan claims the EU has not held up its end of the deal, according to AP.

Go deeper: Syria's Idlib offensive forces civilians to flee, pits Turkey against Russia

Go deeper

House passes $1.9 trillion COVID relief package

Photo: Screenshot via C-SPAN

The House approved President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package on a 219-212 vote early Saturday morning, sending it to the Senate for a possible rewrite before it gets to Biden's desk.

The big picture: The vote was a critical first step for the package, which includes $1,400 cash payments for many Americans, a national vaccination program, ramped-up COVID testing and contact tracing, state and local funding and money to help schools reopen.

8 hours ago - Health

Biden says it's "not the time to relax" after touring vaccination site

President Biden speaking after visiting a FEMA Covid-19 vaccination facility in Houston on Feb. 26. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that "it's not the time to relax" coronavirus mitigation efforts and warned that the number of cases and hospitalizations could rise again as new variants of the virus emerge.

Why it matters: Biden, who made the remarks after touring a vaccination site in Houston, echoed CDC director Rochelle Walensky, who said earlier on Friday that while the U.S. has seen a recent drop in cases and hospitalizations, "these declines follow the highest peak we have experienced in the pandemic."

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Most COVID-19 survivors can weather risk of reinfection, study says — "Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis
  2. Vaccine: FDA advisory panel endorses J&J COVID vaccine for emergency use — About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.