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

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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

L.A. becomes first county to surpass 1 million coronavirus cases

COVID-19 mass-vaccination of healthcare workers takes place at Dodger Stadium. Photo: Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Los Angeles County officials said Saturday they had detected the county's first case of the highly transmissible coronavirus variant first found in the United Kingdom.

Why it matters: The announcement came as L.A. became the first county to surpass 1 million COVID-19 cases, straining the area's already overwhelmed health care system.

The consumer's massive "war chest"

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Economists expect the pace of economic growth to cool off now that government transfer payments like stimulus checks and emergency unemployment benefits are in the rearview mirror. But evidence suggests that the U.S. consumer is sitting on a lot of financial firepower that could be a key driver of growth in the quarters to come.

Why it matters: U.S. consumer spending is massive, representing about 70% of GDP.

The Fed takes on its own rules amid stock trading controversy

Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

New disclosures that showed Fed officials were active in financial markets set off a firestorm of criticism. Now the Fed may overhaul the long-standing rules that allow those transactions.

Why it matters: What officials actively traded was sensitive to the Fed decisions they helped shape, including the unprecedented support that underpinned a massive financial market boom.

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