Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The Department of Health and Human Services is auctioning a more than $250 million contract to a communications firm to "defeat despair and inspire hope" about the coronavirus pandemic, Politico reported Monday evening.

Why it matters: The decision to offer the contract comes as HHS faces questions over its independence from the Trump administration in recent weeks.

  • Food and Drug Administration commissioner Stephen Hahn earlier this month called criticisms against his remarks about granting an emergency use authorization of convalescent plasma as a treatment for the coronavirus "entirely justified."
  • President Trump has previously accused senior health officials of being part of the "Deep State" following a decision to put the plasma treatment on hold.
  • Hahn said in a Twitter post that what he should have said better was that "the data show a relative risk reduction not an absolute risk reduction.

The state of play: The document, viewed by Politico, said a majority of the money will be spent from now until January.

  • The goals of the contract are to "defeat despair and inspire hope, sharing best practices for businesses to operate in the new normal and instill confidence to return to work and restart the economy,” build a “coalition of spokespeople” around the country, provide information on vaccines and therapeutic treatments, and give updates regarding reopenings.
“By harnessing the power of traditional, digital and social media, the sports and entertainment industries, public health associations, and other creative partners to deliver important public health and economic information the administration can defeat despair, inspire hope and achieve national recovery."
  • HHS did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

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Oct 24, 2020 - World

Poland's president tests positive for coronavirus

Duda. Photo: Sergii Kharchenko/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Polish President Andrzej Duda has tested positive for the coronavirus, a spokesperson announced on Saturday.

The big picture: Duda is reportedly feeling well and in isolation. His positive test comes amid a massive uptick in COVID-19 throughout the country and elsewhere across Europe.

  • Poland had previously warded off the virus with relative success, but is now facing a massive influx of cases that threatens to overwhelm its medical system.
  • The nation on Saturday tracked "13,628 new cases and 179 new deaths — a record number of deaths in one day since the start of pandemic," AP reports.
Updated 55 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Ex-FDA chief: Pence campaigning after COVID exposure puts others at risk — Mark Meadows: "We are not going to control the pandemic"
  2. Health: 13 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week — U.S. reports over 80,000 new cases for second consecutive day.
  3. World: Australian city Melbourne to exit one of world's longest lockdowns — In photos: Coronavirus restrictions grow across Europe
  4. Media: Fox News president and several hosts advised to quarantine after possible COVID-19 exposure
  5. Nonprofit: Rockefeller Foundation commits $1 billion for COVID-19 recovery
Updated 55 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Ex-FDA chief: Pence campaigning after COVID exposure puts others at risk — Mark Meadows: "We are not going to control the pandemic"
  2. Health: 13 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week — U.S. reports over 80,000 new cases for second consecutive day.
  3. World: Australian city Melbourne to exit one of world's longest lockdowns — In photos: Coronavirus restrictions grow across Europe
  4. Media: Fox News president and several hosts advised to quarantine after possible COVID-19 exposure
  5. Nonprofit: Rockefeller Foundation commits $1 billion for COVID-19 recovery