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Protests during then-candidate Donald Trump's visit to the Flint Water Treatment Plant on September 14, 2016. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled on Thursday that Flint, Michigan residents can proceed with more than a dozen lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency and the federal government in connection with increased levels of lead in the city's water supply, CNN reports.

By the numbers: Fetal death rates jumped by 58% in Flint after the city's water was found to be contaminated with high levels of lead in 2014 and 2015, and fertility rates for women dropped by 12%, per a 2017 study. Fifteen state and local officials have been criminally indicted in connection with the Flint water crisis, 4 of whom were charged with involuntary manslaughter.

"The impact on the health of the nearly 100,000 residents of the City of Flint remains untold. It is anticipated, however, that the injury caused by the lead-contaminated public water supply system will affect the residents for years and likely generations to come."
— US Judge Linda V. Parker in Thursday's ruling

The other side: The EPA declined to comment on Thursday's ruling, which stated that the federal government is not immune to legal action in these cases, according to CNN.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
5 mins ago - Technology

Tech's race problem is all about power

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

As problematic as the tech industry's diversity statistics are, activists say the focus on those numbers overlooks a more fundamental problem — one less about numbers than about power.

What they're saying: In tech, they argue, decision-making power remains largely concentrated in the hands of white men. The result is an industry whose products and working conditions belie the industry rhetoric about changing the world for the better.

Mayors fear long-lasting effects of COVID-19

Data: Menino Survey of Mayors; Chart: Axios Visuals

U.S. mayors tend to be an optimistic bunch, but a poll released Thursday finds them unusually pessimistic about prospects for post-pandemic recovery.

Why it matters: In a survey of mayors of 130 U.S. cities with more than 75,000 residents, 80% expect racial health disparities to widen, and an alarming number predict that schools, transit systems and small businesses will continue to suffer through 2021 and beyond.

Coronavirus hospitalizations top 100,000 for the first time

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking ProjectHarvard Global Health Institute; Cartogram: Danielle Alberti and Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

More than 100,000 Americans are now in the hospital with coronavirus infections — a new record, an indication that the pandemic is continuing to get worse and a reminder that the virus is still very dangerous.

Why it matters: Hospitalizations are a way to measure severe illnesses — and severe illnesses are on the rise across the U.S. In some areas, health systems and health care workers are already overwhelmed, and outbreaks are only getting worse.