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

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Physicians' offices applied for PPP loans to help offset patient volumes that stopped. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

Small hospitals, physician clinics, surgery centers, dental offices and other health care businesses were among the most common recipients of loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, according to data released by the federal government on Monday.

The big picture: Medical facilities had to halt routine procedures in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic as a way to prevent spread of infection and keep hospital beds open. PPP loans saved some, but certainly not all, of the jobs that are dependent on those routine procedures.

Between the lines: The health care industry is benefiting from two major sources of federal bailouts tied to the pandemic.

  • The main pot of money is $175 billion in no-strings-attached grants. A lot of those funds have flowed to large hospitals and medical providers that charge high prices.
  • Health care also is the largest recipient of PPP loans. Most of the loans have gone toward dentists, independent medical providers and rural hospitals that have not benefited as much from the main bailout funding.

The intrigue: Some health care organizations are dipping into both sources of money.

  • Sutter Health — a large hospital system in California that has $6 billion in cash and investments and is on the hook for a $575 million settlement tied to allegations of anticompetitive behavior — has received $205 million in federal bailout funds.
  • Two of Sutter's affiliated physician practices, Sutter East Bay Medical Group and Gould Medical Group, also each received at least $5 million in PPP loans, according to the new federal data.
  • A Sutter spokesperson said those groups are independent contractors whose finances "are wholly separate from those of Sutter Health."

The bottom line: Small medical providers say applying for PPP loans was an administrative nightmare, but the program still shuttled tens of billions of dollars into an industry that was forced to curtail patient visits.

Go deeper

Melania Trump reveals son Barron had COVID-19, opens up about diagnosis

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

First lady Melania Trump disclosed on Wednesday that her 14-year-old son, Barron Trump, also tested positive for COVID-19 in a statement detailing her experiences with the virus. Barron exhibited no symptoms and has since tested negative.

The big picture: President Trump revealed that he and the first lady tested positive for the coronavirus on Oct. 1. The president was admitted to Walter Reed Medical Center the following day.

Updated Oct 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Pfizer booster has 95.6% efficacy, large study shows — FDA authorizes mix-and-match for booster shots — J&J expects $2.5 billion of vaccine sales this year.
  2. Health: Cases and deaths keep falling — White House unveils plan to "quickly" vaccinate kids ages 5-11 — The global coronavirus vaccine gap — Gates Foundation to send $120 million of antiviral pills to lower-income countries.
  3. Politics: Reports: Brazil leader to be accused of crimes against humanity over COVID — Puerto Rico leads U.S. vaccination rates — Hawaii invites fully vaccinated travelers to return from Nov. 1.
  4. Education: Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations — Parent sues Wisconsin school district after child tests positive.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

The coronavirus is surging again

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Note: After a database error, Missouri has not reported cases since Oct. 10; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise/Axios

Coronavirus infections jumped by almost 17% over the past week as the number of new cases increased in 38 states and Washington, D.C.

Why it matters: The U.S. is headed solidly in the wrong direction — and at a dangerous time, as experts say the fall and winter will likely make the pandemic worse. They had hoped we could get cases under control before then, but that seems unrealistic.

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