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Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told "Axios on HBO" that there isn't yet enough information to determine whether or not the coronavirus outbreak resulted from an accident at a Chinese lab.

What he's saying: "I'm not ruling out that it could be a lab accident, and some experts have not ruled it out either," said Rubio. "Though I can't prove it and no one can because we don't have enough information to disprove it or prove it."

The backstory: Rubio expressed far less certainty than some top U.S. officials have in recent statements.

  • President Trump said on April 30 that he has a "high degree of confidence" that the outbreak originated in a lab accident in China.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on May 3 that there was "enormous evidence" that a lab accident was to blame for the epidemic.

Why it matters: U.S. allies with access to shared intelligence have said it is "highly unlikely" that a lab accident was the cause, fueling concern that the U.S. government might be pushing the theory for geopolitical reasons.

  • Based on scientific evidence, the leading theory is still that the virus originated in a bat and spread to humans via an intermediary animal.

Go deeper: U.S. statements on coronavirus origins diverge from allies

Go deeper

Updated Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."

Coronavirus hotspots keep improving

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Naema Ahmed, Danielle Alberti, Sara Wise/Axios

The coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. continues to slow, driven by significant progress in the South and Southwest, where cases skyrocketed earlier this summer.

Why it matters: All of the second-order controversies consuming the U.S. — like whether to open schools for in-person instruction — would be easier to resolve if we could get the virus under control and keep it there.

Gov. Phil Murphy: It's too soon to call New Jersey a "COVID success story"

Axios' Mike Allen and Gov. Phil Murphy.

Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J) cautioned against calling his state a "COVID success story," during an Axios virtual event on Wednesday.

Why it matters: New Jersey, once a hot spot for the novel coronavirus, is requiring quarantines for some travelers entering the state. The number of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and fatalities have declined drastically since June.

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