Good morning. I hope you got some rest this weekend.
Situational awareness: Former Vice President Joe Biden has asked President Trump to drop legal challenges to the ACA, in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Today's word count is 1,685, or a 6-minute read.
Sen. Rand Paul. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images
The Trump administration is urging commercial labs to prioritize testing inpatients for the novel coronavirus, Vice President Mike Pence said yesterday, a reflection of how we're prioritizing America's woefully inadequate supply of diagnostic tests.
Why it matters: A high-profile example of the pitfalls of this strategy — which essentially means that only the sickest patients get tested — is Sen. Rand Paul's positive diagnosis, announced yesterday. Paul is asymptomatic, but recently was in close contact with other senators, leading them to self-quarantine.
The big picture: As researchers learn more about the virus, it's becoming more apparent that asymptomatic carriers are likely important to its spread.
The latest: Our testing issues are no longer about a lack of labs making them. The latest problem is that even as our testing capability ramps up, we face shortages of the supplies used to make and conduct the tests.
What they're saying: "We are in a new phase of this fight. Only one thing matters now: treatment of the gravely ill," tweeted Mark Levin, chair of New York City Council health committee.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Tens of millions of people are trying to stave off the coronavirus without reliable access to basic needs like shelter, food or health care, Axios' Kim Hart reports.
Why it matters: The people who were already vulnerable in a strong economy are facing severe hardship as jobs evaporate overnight and safety net services are strained to the max.
Here's a look at who's hurting the most:
People experiencing homelessness: You can't "socially distance" or shelter in place if you don't have shelter in the first place.
Low-income workers: Hourly-wage workers in retail, food service, janitorial jobs, and even preschool teachers often live paycheck to paycheck — and their incredibly slim margins are about to be obliterated.
Older residents of rural areas: Rural residents tend to be older and less likely to have paid sick leave or access to health care services.
Single parents: They're shouldering the burden of work (if they still have it) and childcare on their own.
Poor families: Children are at the mercy of their circumstances and, without school to offer routine and reliable meals, can take on the anxiety they see in the adults around them.
The mentally ill and immunocompromised: This group of patients has a host of complicated pre-existing conditions that often go untreated due to lack of access to care or social stigma.
Inmates: Social distancing is hard to achieve in overcrowded jails without putting everyone on lockdown or solitary confinement, Axios' Stef Kight reports.
President Trump told a news conference Sunday that he's activated the federal National Guard to assist Washington state, California and New York to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.
After days of intense negotiations, talks between Capitol Hill leaders and the White House over a "Phase 3" stimulus package to fight the coronavirus broke down on Sunday, leading to a failed cloture vote meant to move the bill forward.
Apple, GM and Tesla are among the U.S. firms diversifying from their specialist areas to help deliver essential medical supplies like masks and ventilators to assist in the fight against the novel coronavirus, Axios' Ina Fried and Joann Muller report.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that inaction by the federal government has forced state governments to compete "against each other" for coronavirus supplies.
President Trump should use the Defense Production Act to ramp up the country's domestic production of medical masks, gowns and other items crucial for health care workers to fight the novel coronavirus, the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association and American Nurses Association wrote in a letter on Saturday.
In a rare interview, China's ambassador to the U.S., Cui Tiankai, told "Axios on HBO" that he stands by his belief that it's "crazy" to spread rumors about the coronavirus originating from a military laboratory in the U.S.
Syria reported its first case of the novel coronavirus on Sunday, according to state media.
The German government is banning public gatherings of more than two people to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, stopping just short of confining people to their homes Bloomberg reports.
Classified Chinese government data suggests that one-third of coronavirus cases in the country were asymptomatic "silent carriers," according to the South China Morning Post, the English-language paper in Hong Kong.
The government of Singapore is tracing the coronavirus in ways that are simultaneously impressive and terrifying for those who worry about high-tech dictatorship.
Rwanda, Uganda, Burkina Faso and other African countries are making new efforts to pause international travel and institute stay-at-home orders to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, AP reports.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Hospitals are asking retired doctors and nurses to come back and help with operations as they prepare for a rush of severe coronavirus cases, Axios' Bob Herman reports.
The bottom line: Retired clinicians likely won't be placed in intensive care units or coronavirus testing stations, because older adults are at higher risk of falling ill and dying from the virus. But they could help stabilize hospitals that will need as many hands on deck as possible over the coming months.
Where it stands: The Association of American Medical Colleges floated this idea last week with hospitals and federal agencies.
What they're saying: Some retired clinicians are willing to take on other necessary care, while residents and other doctors funnel into coronavirus cases.
By the numbers: 41% of doctors are 55 or older, according to American Medical Association data provided to Axios, and 38% of nurses are 55 or older.
Photo: Nicholas Christakis' Twitter
Communities across the country are preparing for an influx of coronavirus patients, which is expected to greatly exceed the number of hospital beds available.
The coronavirus pandemic is caused by a virus humans haven't encountered before — meaning our bodies have no built-in immunity to it and researchers are frantically working to learn more about it, Axios' Eileen Drage O'Reilly reports.
Why it matters: While there are important lessons to be learned from other pandemic flus and even seasonal flu outbreaks, the coronavirus pandemic is new and not exactly comparable, making predictions, policies and treatments all the more difficult.
While both seasonal flu and COVID-19 cause similar respiratory illnesses, there are key differences between the viruses.
County officials are urging Congress to make their governments eligible to directly receive coronavirus relief funds to offset the ballooning costs of responding to the crisis, Kim reports.
Why it matters: The country's 1,900 public health departments are run by counties, which also manage roughly 1,000 U.S. hospitals. More than 500 counties have already declared a state of emergency to trigger additional funding and resources.
By the numbers: Los Angeles County, the most populous in the country, is estimating $290 million in costs over six months, and 50 of the 88 cities in the county will face additional expenses of $145 million.
Between the lines: Costs are only part of the picture. Adding to the budgetary pressure is the anticipated lost tax revenue due to businesses shutting down for weeks if not months, which makes it even more challenging to absorb the extra costs.
Keep 'em coming!