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Health care workers after dropping off a patient at a nursing home. Photo: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

Federal health officials have received reports of almost 26,000 deaths from the coronavirus in nursing homes, AP reports, citing materials prepared for the nation's governors.

Why it matters: That figure makes up approximately one-quarter of all U.S. deaths thus far from COVID-19. Information obtained by AP only consists of reports from about 80% of the nation's 15,400 nursing homes.

  • The stark figures follow months of scrutiny against state and local governments over their handling of the coronavirus in nursing homes.
  • A report from the Government Accountability Office last month detailed a "persistent" pattern of nursing homes failing to control infectious spread.

The big picture: Nursing home residents and staff remain among the most vulnerable to coronavirus havoc as the rest of the country begins to ease lockdown restrictions.

  • Industry professionals cite the cost of widespread testing and the length of time between tests and results as two main hurdles, per AP.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recommends a one-time universal test for all residents and staff, followed by a weekly retest of staff.

Behind the scenes: Sources familiar with internal deliberation at the White House tell Axios' Jonathan Swan that the Trump administration plans to pile more pressure on states to increase COVID-19 testing in nursing homes. There have been internal discussions about ways to condition different forms of funding to states on their level of testing in nursing homes.

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."

America's great virtual-learning experiment faces glitches nationwide

Andrew Burstein logs onto his eighth-grade class in Delray Beach, Fla. Photo: Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP

An estimated 62% of American schoolkids are starting the year virtually, with many of the rest facing the same fate should caseloads rise in their areas. Only 19% have in-person school every day, with another 18% in hybrid formats, according to a Burbio tracker.

The state of play, via the AP: Three of Texas’ largest school districts were hit with technical problems on the first day of classes, as were school systems in places such as Idaho and Kansas. North Carolina’s platform crashed on the first day of classes last month, and Seattle’s system crashed last week.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: CDC says some immunocompromised people can get fourth COVID shot — FDA panel endorses Pfizer vaccines for 5-11 year olds — Moderna says vaccine shows strong immune response in kids
  2. Health: COVID cases, deaths at meat plants were far higher than previously thought — 96% of Tyson Foods employees vaccinated ahead of mandate deadline — U.S. releases updated vaccination, testing rules for foreign travelers
  3. Politics: Louisiana lifts mask mandate except for some schools — Alabama governor orders state agencies to fight federal vaccine mandate — Axios-Ipsos poll: Confidence in Biden COVID recovery tumbles
  4. Education: Benefits of vaccine for children outweigh risks, FDA says — Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

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