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Pope Francis livestreaming his Sunday blessing to people in St. Peter's Square on March 8. Photo: Alessandra Benedetti - Corbis/Getty Images

Pope Francis livestreamed his Sunday blessing from inside the Vatican — and not from his window overlooking St. Peter's Square — in order to dissuade crowds gathering there during Italy’s coronavirus outbreak, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Italy has the largest number of reported cases in Europe, and at least 16 million people are now under quarantine in the country's north. Despite the precautions, Pope Francis waved from the window at the small crowd that gathered in the square to watch his address on large video screens.

What he's saying: Pope Francis said that he felt "caged" as a result of restrictions from the outbreak.

  • “It’s a bit strange this Angelus prayer today with the pope caged in the library, but I see you and I am close to you,” he said, according to Reuters.
  • The pope encouraged people “to live this difficult moment with the strength of faith, the certainty of hope and the fervor of charity."
  • "I am close in prayer to people who are suffering because of the current coronavirus epidemic as well as to all those who are taking care of them," he said.

Between the lines: Pope Francis appears to have recovered from an illness that prevented him from attending a retreat with senior Vatican officials last week. He tested negative for the coronavirus.

Of note: The pope also asked for an end to the conflict in Syria between Russian-backed forces and Turkey, which has displaced thousands of people.

In photos
People waiting in St. Peter's Square to hear Pope Francis' Sunday address. Photo: Antonio Masiello/Getty Images
People wearing face masks in St. Peter's Square on Sunday. Photo: Antonio Masiello/Getty Images
Pope Francis waving to the crowd. Photo: Alessandra Benedetti - Corbis/Getty Images
Photo: Alessandra Benedetti - Corbis/Getty Images

Go deeper: What to expect next with the coronavirus

Go deeper

Former FDA commissioner: "Reliable drug supply is absolutely critical"

Axios' Caitlin Owens and former FDA commissioner Mark McClellan. Photo courtesy of Axios Events

Having a reliable supply of pharmaceutical drugs throughout America will be "absolutely critical" to boosting affordability in health care during the Biden administration, former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Mark McClellan said at a virtual Axios Event on Friday.

The big picture: McClellan, who served under President George W. Bush, says drugs having limited supply and limited competition leads to elevated pricing. He considers drug supply to be a national security and public health issue.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Americans are still spending money

Source: Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans spent more money at stores and restaurants in 2020 than they did in 2019 — even in the face of a devastating global pandemic that shut down broad sectors of the economy.

Why it matters: The monthly retail sales report this morning came in well below expectations, and showed consumer spending falling on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Total expenditures were still higher in December 2020 than they were a year previously, however.

The deplatforming fight shifts to the courts

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Capitol riot and tech firms' sweeping attempt in its wake to dislodge the online far right are kicking up efforts to have the courts settle knotty questions about online speech and power.

Why it matters: Legal battles could force the people angry at Big Tech to bring more rigor to arguments that have often devolved into messy sideshows.