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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Travellers wear protective masks at Hong Kong High Speed Rail Station on Jan. 29. Photo: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

The collision of urbanization, population growth and the rapid movement of people and goods across borders is heightening global pandemic risk.

Why it matters: Aside from the tragic human cost, outbreaks such as the coronavirus, and the fear that accompanies them, are threatening to roil geopolitics and the global economy.

What's happening: A number of factors are exacerbating risk.

  • "Travel times have rapidly decreased," says Amesh Adalja, a doctor and emerging infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. "Viruses can now spread at the speed of a jet rather than a steam-liner."
  • On top of that, growing populations and movement to cities are forming mega-metros — like Wuhan, China — where masses of people in close quarters make it easier for diseases to spread, he says.

At the same time, advancements in medicine are making us more resilient to new diseases.

  • We have more sophisticated hospital equipment, better antibiotics and antivirals.
  • China "has been fairly open in sharing genetic sequences," Tom Bollyky, director of the global health program at the Council on Foreign Relations, told reporters on a call Wednesday. "That allowed for the development for a diagnostic. And the vaccine side is underway."

"The hysteria associated with an outbreak like this probably could cause more damage than the virus itself," Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, told reporters.

The hysteria around the outbreak could even accelerate the ongoing "decoupling" of the U.S. and China, as American companies ponder moving their factories and supply chains out of the country to hedge against the risk of the pandemic.

The bottom line: It's crucial for health officials around the world to be as transparent as possible when dealing with such an outbreak, but the coronavirus cases come as tensions between Washington and Beijing are peaking.

  • China, though quick on some information sharing, has been reluctant to share other types of crucial data about the virus, U.S. health officials say. Advisers to the CDC told CNN they're lacking basic information about who's getting infected with the disease and how it's spreading.
  • "The main thing is to maintain trust and self-reporting. ... These are the kinds of things that snuff out outbreaks," says Bollyky. "It does seem like, in the early days of this, it was not gotten right."

Be smart: While this new strain of coronavirus has killed 132 people so far, this flu season took 8,200 lives in the U.S. alone, reports Axios' Bob Herman.

Go deeper: What's happening with the coronavirus

Go deeper

Venezuela suspends talks with opposition after Maduro ally extradited to U.S.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, in June. Photo: Gaby Oraa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key ally of Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro was extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. Saturday to face money laundering charges in Florida, Bloomberg first reported.

Why it matters: Venezuela's government called off negotiations with opposition officials that were scheduled for Sunday in Mexico in response to the extradition of Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman and financial fixer for Maduro.

4 hours ago - Health

5 times as many police officers have died from COVID as from guns since pandemic began

Photo: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

COVID-19 is the leading cause of death for police officers even though members of law enforcement were among the first to be eligible to receive the vaccine, CNN reports, citing data from the Officer Down Memorial Page.

Why it matters: Nearly 476 police officers have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic started, compared to the 93 deaths as a result of gunfire in the same time period, according to ODMP and CNN.

Virginia energy giant quietly boosts McAuliffe

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe speaks during a campaign rally on Oct. 15 in Henrico, Virginia. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe has sworn off money from the Richmond company Dominion Energy. But the utility has found more subtle ways to back McAuliffe's gubernatorial bid, records show.

Driving the news: Dominion's political action committee has donated $200,000 to a murky political group called Accountability Virginia PAC, a group with ties to prominent Democrats that's been running ads attacking Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin from the right.

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