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A border crosser wears a mask for protection. Photo: Paul Ratje/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indefinitely extended its public health order on Tuesday, empowering border agents to quickly expel migrants who cross the border illegally.

Why it matters: The order will be reviewed every 30 days. Border agents have already used the authority to expel more than 20,000 migrants, including asylum seekers and children, in less than 2 months, according to DHS data.

  • The order will be in effect until CDC director Robert Redfield determines that the threat of coronavirus spreading from across southern or northern borders no longer poses a "serious danger" to public health.
  • Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement that the order "has been one of the most critical tools the Department has used to prevent the further spread of the virus."

Go deeper

Tony Pham tapped as acting head of ICE

Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters in D.C. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) top legal adviser Tony Pham will be the agency's next top official, after current acting director Matthew Albence retires, according to an email sent to Department of Homeland Security employees Tuesday.

Between the lines: Pham and his family came to the U.S. as Vietnamese refugees in 1975 and became citizens 10 years later, according to his bio on DHS' website.

Updated Oct 16, 2020 - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Note: Does not include probable deaths from New York City; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. surpassed 8 million coronavirus cases on Friday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: Coronavirus infections jumped by almost 17% over the past week as the number of new cases across the country increased in 38 states and Washington, D.C., according to a seven-day average tracked by Axios.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired general Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star general Lloyd Austin as his nominee for Defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.