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Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis called on listeners in his Palm Sunday sermon — on the first day of Holy Week — to "reach out to those who are suffering and those most in need" during the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Francis delivered his message inside an empty St. Peter’s Basilica, broadcasting it over the internet to churches around the world.

  • The Vatican has mirrored Italy's lockdown, where more than 15,000 people have died from the virus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

What he's saying: “The tragedy we are experiencing summons us to take seriously the things that are serious, and not to be caught up in those that matter less; to rediscover that life is of no use if not used to serve others. For life is measured by love,” Francis said, according to Reuters.

  • He urged his listeners to turn to God “in the tragedy of a pandemic, in the face of the many false securities that have now crumbled, in the face of so many hopes betrayed, in the sense of abandonment that weighs upon our hearts."
  • “May we not be concerned about what we lack, but what good we can do for others,” he said.

The big picture: The pope’s Holy Week services normally draw tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists to Rome.

  • This year's Holy Week will take place in the empty basilica.
  • Religious gatherings are expected to be canceled or host smaller crowds around the world as countries encourage social distancing, though some places — including at least 11 U.S. states — are offering exemptions.
In photos
Pope Francis (rear C) and attendees during Palm Sunday mass behind closed doors at the Chair of Saint Peter in St. Peter's Basilica. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/Pool/AFP via Getty Images
A prelate wearing a face mask holds a palm branch as attendees wait for the start of the Pope's Palm Sunday Mass. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/Pool/AFP via Getty Images
In Lithuania, Pastor Evaldas Darulis is filmed as he leads the Palm Sunday Mass at the empty St. Francis of Assisi church. Photo: Petras Malukas/AFP via Getty Images

Go deeper

Updated 33 mins ago - Sports

Swimmer Chase Kalisz first American to win Tokyo Olympics gold medal

Chase Kalisz of Team United States celebrates after winning the Men's 400m Individual Medley Final on day two of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images

Swimmer Chase Kalisz has become the first Team United States Olympian to win gold at the Tokyo Games.

The big picture: The Rio 2016 silver medalist's winning time in the men's 400 meters Individual Medley Final was 4 minutes 9.42 seconds. His teammate Jay Litherland took silver, .86 seconds behind him. Moments later, Kieran Smith grabbed a third medal for the U.S. when he won bronze in the 400-meter freestyle.

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

DOJ won't investigate nursing home deaths in N.Y. and 2 other states

People who've lost loved ones due to COVID-19 while they were in New York nursing homes attend a March protest and vigil in New York City. As of this month, Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Department of Justice has decided not to launch a civil rights investigation into whether policies in New York, Pennsylvania and Michigan contributed to pandemic deaths in nursing homes, according to a letter sent to Republicans.

Why it matters: The Trump DOJ requested data from the three states plus New Jersey last August "amid still-unanswered questions about whether some states, especially New York, inadvertently worsened the pandemic death toll by requiring nursing homes to accept residents previously hospitalized for COVID-19," per AP.

Former Blizzard CEO says he "failed” women at the studio

Image: Neville Elder / Getty Images

Mike Morhaime, who co-founded and worked at video game studio Blizzard for 28 years, has apologized publicly for toxic work conditions at his former studio, which is now the subject of a discrimination and harassment lawsuit by the state of California.

Why it matters: Morhaime is no longer at Blizzard, but was its leader for most of its existence and therefore was in charge when much of what is alleged in California’s suit would have occurred.