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Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said at an Axios virtual event Wednesday that the next coronavirus relief package needs to be as "narrowly focused" on COVID-specific issues as possible in order to resolve the differences between Republicans and Democrats.

Why it matters: Democrats and negotiators from the Trump administration remain far apart on a deal for the next tranche of relief. The fraught negotiations come as millions of Americans continue to suffer from the health and economic effects of the pandemic without the unemployment benefits from the first stimulus bill.

The big picture: Lankford called the $3 trillion bill passed by House Democrats in March a liberal "wish list," arguing that the package should be targeted at vaccines, treatments, schools, small businesses, and providing liability protections to universities and businesses.

  • He pointed out that much like the coronavirus itself, the economic impacts of the pandemic have affected different businesses in different ways.
  • Some, like grocery stores, have seen record revenue, while others, like restaurants and travel companies, have been forced into bankruptcy.

What he's saying: "There shouldn't be a focus on giving everyone 100%. ... We can't do that," Lankford said. "Whatever package we put out next, we should treat it like we treat the virus."

  • "Remember, this is other people's money we're dealing with. This is not just invented money. It's borrowed from the future or it's taken from your next-door neighbor in tax dollars, so let's target it to what we need, in the areas that need it, and not just do a blanket amount to everybody."

What to watch: Lankford said lawmakers hope to reach an agreement in days, not weeks.

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Nov 12, 2020 - Economy & Business

America's coronavirus complacency

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The long-feared autumn spike in coronavirus cases has arrived, both in Europe and in the U.S. — and there's a huge difference in how the two regions are reacting. Europe is on an emergency footing, while America ... isn't.

Why it matters: We've seen this movie before, and we've seen the need for coordinated government action, from public-health agencies to fiscal policy to monetary policy. That's happening in Europe. It's not happening here.

Nov 12, 2020 - Health

The trickiest vaccine launch in U.S. history

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Even if the federal government manages to secure the cash needed for COVID-19 vaccine distribution — and that's a big if — there's still a huge task ahead at the state level.

Why it matters: America has never attempted to vaccinate so many people on such short notice, with so many lives on the line.

Nov 12, 2020 - Health

Chicago issues stay-at-home advisory as COVID-19 cases spike

Photo: KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday announced a stay-at-home advisory and a 10-person cap on social gatherings to combat a surge in new COVID-19 infections.

Why it matters: Lightfoot warned that Chicago could see 1,000 or more additional coronavirus-related deaths this year if steps are not taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Chicago has recorded an average of 1,920 cases a day over the last seven days, up from an average of 1,410 daily cases the week prior, per data from the city's Department of Public Health.