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

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Less costly pandemic mitigation measures may slow the spread of the coronavirus just as well as lockdowns — if not better — according to a new study published in Nature Human Behaviour.

Why it matters: As cases continue to rise in the U.S., Americans may be more palatable to interventions that are less painful than the spring's stay-at-home orders.

What they're saying: "A smaller package of such measures can substitute for a full lockdown in terms of effectiveness, while reducing adverse impacts on society, the economy, the humanitarian response system and the environment," the authors write.

Details: The study examined the impact of more than 6,000 non-pharmaceutical interventions implemented in March and April in 79 territories worldwide.

What they found: "Surprisingly, communicating on the importance of social distancing has been only marginally less effective than imposing distancing measures by law," the authors write.

  • Food assistance and other financial supports for vulnerable populations are also highly effective, because they can help people stay home while sick without risking losing their job, for example.
  • The study also endorsed some of the component restrictions the U.S. has imposed — banning public gatherings, limiting people's movements, closing schools and border restrictions — over the more sweeping lockdowns in other countries, some of which barely allowed people to leave their homes, even to be alone outside.

Yes, but: The U.S. does not have clear, authoritative political communication about the need for social distancing, and Congress is not likely to pass a financial aid package that would enable many Americans to stay home for very long.

Go deeper

18 hours ago - Health

Obama, Bush and Clinton willing to take coronavirus vaccine in public

Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 2017. Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images

Barack Obama said during an interview on SiriusXM airing Thursday he'll take the COVID-19 vaccine and "may end up taking it on TV." Representatives for George W. Bush and Bill Clinton told CNN they'd also be willing to be inoculated in public.

Why it matters: The former presidents are hoping to instill confidence in the vaccines once authorized for use in the U.S. NIAID director Anthony Fauci has said the U.S. could have herd immunity by the end of next summer or fall if enough people get vaccinated.

Bipartisan group of lawmakers unveils $908 billion COVID stimulus proposal

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) in the Capitol in 2018. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday proposed a $908 billion coronavirus stimulus package, in one of the few concrete steps toward COVID relief made by Congress in several months.

Why it matters: Recent data shows that the economic recovery is floundering as coronavirus cases surge and hospitals threaten to be overwhelmed heading into what is likely to be a grim winter.

20 hours ago - Health

WH coronavirus task force: States must "flatten the curve" to sustain health system

A walk-up Covid-19 testing site in San Fernando, California, on Nov. 24, ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

The White House coronavirus task force warned states "the COVID risk to all Americans is at a historic high" and to brace for another surge following Thanksgiving, per a report that emerged Wednesday.

Driving the news: "If you are under 40, you need to assume you became infected during the Thanksgiving period if you gathered beyond your immediate household," said the report, dated Nov. 29, first published by the Center for Public Integrity.

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