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NIH Director Francis Collins told "Fox News Sunday" claims that undocumented immigrants crossing the Southern border have played a major role in the U.S. spread of COVID-19 are a "distraction."

What he's saying: "It's an issue, but it is certainly not the cause of our current dilemma," Collins told host Chris Wallace. "We've got enough of a problem with our own citizens who have refused to roll up their sleeves, so maybe that would be a better thing to focus on if we are trying to end this."

Why it matters: Prominent Republicans, including governors like Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida, have attributed a surge of COVID-19 cases across the country to undocumented immigrants.

  • In July, Abbott issued an executive order aimed at restricting people outside government from transporting undocumented immigrants, saying the act would "reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure in our communities."  
  • DeSantis has said President Biden is "not shutting down the virus, he's helping facilitate it" by not taking a tougher stance on securing the border.

Go deeper

Oct 16, 2021 - Health

Pope Francis calls on companies to release COVID vaccine patents

Pope Francis. Photo: Massimo Valicchia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pope Francis called on pharmaceutical companies on Saturday to release patents to make COVID-19 vaccines more accessible to the poor, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: There is a stark divide between countries that have access to COVID-19 shots and those that don't, and the gap has widened as some wealthier countries have begun distributing third doses.

Oct 17, 2021 - World

Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews during a news conference in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday. Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Melbourne's stay-at-home orders will end five days earlier than planned, officials in Australia's second-biggest city announced Sunday.

Why it matters: The capital of the state of Victoria has had six lockdowns totaling 262 days since March last year. That means Melbourne spent longer under lockdown than "any other city in the world" during the pandemic, Reuters notes.

Oct 17, 2021 - Health

Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, in an "Axios on HBO" interview, said he's reluctant to withhold federal funding from states that won't enforce school mask mandates because he doesn't want to hurt students.

Why it matters: Cardona's comments suggest there are limits to how far the Biden administration will go in pressuring states to adopt universal masking — or vaccine mandates.