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📺 This week on "Axios on HBO": Rep. James Clyburn, the Democratic "kingmaker" largely credited for Biden's surge, says he thinks President Trump is a racist and warns the U.S. "could very well go the way of Germany in the 1930s" (clip); DNC chair Tom Perez talks diversity, coronavirus and the future of the Democratic party; plus much more. Tune in Sunday 6pm ET/PT on all HBO platforms.
Today's word count is 1,212, or a 5-minute read.
Some of the nation's best academic laboratories wanted to begin developing their own coronavirus diagnostic tests early last month, but were blocked by federal rules about test development.
Why it matters: The U.S. is woefully behind in mass deployment of tests to detect the novel coronavirus, determine its spread and isolate hot spots. Once given the go-ahead to develop tests under more relaxed terms, some of these labs were able to get tests up and running in a matter of days.
Even though their testing capacity is usually limited, academic labs are particularly crucial to coronavirus testing because they're attached to hospitals. That means that providers treating patients at these hospitals can receive tests results much more quickly than those who have to send samples to commercial, state or CDC labs.
"They followed the standard process, but what needed to be in vision was that this was a once in a generation pathogen — a once in a generation epidemic," former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb told me.
The approval process for the academic labs highlights the clash between bureaucracy — which is in place for a reason — and the need to move quickly in the face of an emerging pandemic.
The coronavirus outbreak in Italy has gotten so bad so quickly that some doctors are now forced to practice "catastrophe medicine" — determining which severely ill patients should, and should not, get care based on the resources available.
Between the lines: The U.S. is not at that point — but a week ago, neither was Italy, Axios' Bob Herman reports.
Where it stands: The rapid spread has forced Italian leaders to quarantine the entire country and close all shops except for pharmacies and grocery stores. The Italian health care system, which many experts hold in high regard, is overworked.
What's next: There are several theories as to why cases exploded so dramatically in Italy, but the answers aren't clear right now. In the meantime, experts say the biggest lesson for Americans is that trying to limit the virus' spread — mainly by limiting contact with potentially infected people — really is important.
Yes, but: The U.S. has no national plan for how to ration care if intensive care units and ventilators are all in use.
The bottom line: Shutting down schools, closing cultural spots, suspending sports and staying at home will upend people's lives in the short term, and hypothesizing who should get lifesaving care is an ethical nightmare.
Governors and businesses in the U.S. decided to lessen community spread and exposure of the novel coronavirus by shutting down mass gatherings.
Stocks plunged more than 9% on Thursday, with the S&P 500 26% below its February all-time high.
Some hospital systems are temporarily pausing bills for any patients who receive care related to the new coronavirus.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state's hospitals may need to halt all elective surgeries and recall former doctors and nurses, which would add 25% to 30% to the system's capacity, he said.
In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom released a sweeping executive order, allowing the state to take over hotels and medical facilities for coronavirus treatments.
President Trump came in contact with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's press secretary at Mar-a-Lago, who later tested positive for coronavirus.
Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is in isolation after testing positive for the novel coronavirus on Thursday.
EU leaders said Thursday that President Trump's sweeping decision to impose travel restrictions on the continent in response to the coronavirus pandemic was "taken unilaterally and without consultation."
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave a sober address Thursday on his country's response to the coronavirus, saying "many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time."
The world was not prepared for a pandemic. When one struck, international coordination broke down rather than ramping up, Axios' Dave Lawler reports.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
As cases of the coronavirus multiply across the U.S., every office, school, restaurant and store shutdown is stress-testing the country’s ability to live life without leaving home, Axios' Erica Pandey writes.
Why it matters: The coronavirus is triggering a grand experiment: Remote work and remote learning have long been buzzwords, but the sudden switch to telecommuting en masse has the potential to accelerate shifts in how work is conducted and the way we think about it.
The big picture: Telework isn’t a new concept. It can be a great way to bring new types of workers — including stay-at-home parents or people living in rural areas — into the fold, and it can save companies millions in real estate costs.
But it's still relatively uncommon in the U.S. — and there's ongoing debate over whether remote employees are as happy and productive as onsite ones.
Now that almost every office and school is abruptly asking (or forcing) people to work at home, the disruption in habits and procedures could have lasting effects — even after people go back to business as usual.
Health care hiring has surged over the past few years, but the influx of bodies won't necessarily alleviate an impending wave of coronavirus cases, Bob writes.
The big picture: Most new health care jobs are on the administrative side — not doctors, nurses or other clinical staff who are needed to help triage and care for patients.
Where things stand: The health care industry has added roughly 914,000 jobs over the past three years — more than the population of San Francisco — and a large chunk of those jobs came in outpatient settings like physician offices.
The bottom line: "We have a lot of fat in our health care system," said Bob Kocher, a doctor and partner at Venrock. "But we don't have any fat on the clinical workforce side."