Our Expert Voices conversation on pandemics.

When it comes to infectious disease outbreaks, the difference between a mild localized illness or a deadly worldwide plague may rest on the single protein of a microbe. And yet the U.S. is woefully unprepared for the next pandemic. We score only a 6.7 out of 10 on an independent assessment of our national preparedness.

Our nation's health security efforts are deeply fractured. Nobody has responsibility to design and implement a comprehensive national strategy, demand collaboration, align and scale agency-specific budgets to measurable outcomes, nor the authority to hold agencies accountable. Improving preparedness is not exclusively about increased resources. With the right leadership, existing resources could be better applied if redistributed in support of a national strategy.

The need to appoint an Ebola Czar during the response to 3 cases of Ebola in the U.S. was not an accident. It simply exposed the underlying lack of a senior national leader to provide oversight of our health security enterprise from prevention through response to recovery.

Bottom line: It's time for the White House to treat the threat of a global pandemic — which could kill hundreds of thousands of Americans and fundamentally disrupt our society — with the same respect as a foreign invasion, though microbe sized.

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5 hours ago - Health

Fauci says if people won't wear masks, maybe it should be mandated

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Graeme Jennings- Pool/Getty Images

NIAID director Anthony Fauci told CNN on Friday evening that if "people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it."

Why it matters: Fauci made the comments the same day the U.S. hit its highest daily COVID-19 case count since the pandemic began.

Harris to Black voters: Casting a ballot is about honoring your ancestors

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris speaks at a "Get Out The Vote" rally at Morehouse College. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Kamala Harris appealed to Black voters in Georgia on Friday, urging them to "honor the ancestors" by casting ballots, and again calling President Trump a "racist."

Why it matters: The U.S. saw a significant decline in African-American voter turnout between 2012 and 2016, reaching its lowest point since 2000. Higher turnout among Black Americans this year could tip the balance in favor of Democrats in key battleground states, including Georgia.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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  5. World: Spain and France exceed 1 million cases.