Graham talks with reporters in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) refused to take a COVID-19 test as demanded by his Democratic challenger, Jaime Harrison, forcing organizers of Friday's U.S. Senate debate to change the format at the last minute.

Why it matters: If Graham were to test positive for the virus it could delay confirmation hearings on Trump's Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

  • Graham, who is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has set an Oct. 12 start date for the hearings.
  • Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), who also serve on the committee, recently tested positive for the coronavirus.
  • If Graham tested positive, his ability to campaign in person could also be limited, in a race that has become increasingly heated.
  • The Cook Political Report on Wednesday updated its forecast for South Carolina's Senate race, moving it from "lean Republican" to "toss up."

Background: Graham and Harrison argued on Twitter Thursday night and Friday after the Democrat said he would not participate in the debate unless the senator took a COVID-19 test.

  • Graham accused Harrison of "ducking the debate because the more we know about his radical policies, the less likely he is to win. It's not about medicine, its politics."
  • Graham added that the rules of the debate did not require a COVID-19 test, and he cited a note from his doctor that said he did not meet the criteria for needing a COVID-19 test after possible exposure. Last week, Graham said he had tested negative for the coronavirus.
  • Harrison questioned why Graham would not take a test when he and the debate moderators agreed to do so.
  • Harrison later thanked the event organizers for changing the format.

Of note: The pair faced off behind a plexiglass barrier in their first debate last Saturday.

Go deeper

Oct 20, 2020 - World

Argentina becomes 5th country to report 1 million coronavirus cases

High school students at an improvised classroom in the yard of their school in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Oct. 13. Photo: Juan Mabromata/AFP via Getty Images

Argentina's health ministry reported 12,982 new coronavirus cases Monday night, taking the country's total to 1,002,662.

Why it matters: Argentina is the fifth country to surpass 1 million COVID-19 cases, after Russia (over 1.4 million), Brazil (more than 5.2 million), India (7.5-plus) and the U.S. (over 8.2 million), per Johns Hopkins. "It means one in every 45 Argentinians have had the virus," the Guardian notes. The country reported Monday that the virus had killed another 451 people, taking the death toll to over 26,000.

Editor's note: The headline of this story has been corrected to show Argentina passed 1 million cases not 5 million.

The next wave of the coronavirus is gaining steam

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Map: Naema Ahmed/Axios

The percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive is rising across the country, including in states that are also seeing a spike in cases.

Why it matters: High positivity rates indicate a worsening outbreak, and put together with the rise in cases and hospitalizations across the country, suggest that the U.S. is in bad shape.

Oct 20, 2020 - Health

California to independently review FDA-approved coronavirus vaccines

California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California will "independently review" all coronavirus vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration before allowing their distribution, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced at a news conference Monday.

Why it matters: The move could raise further public concern that the federal government could release a vaccine based on political motives, rather than safety and efficacy. Newsom noted the "political polarization" around the issue.

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