Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Hospitals are approaching the deadline to repay coronavirus relief loans from the federal government, but their finances are still suffering as the pandemic drags on, Kaiser Health News reports.

The big picture: Hospitals — especially rural hospitals that were suffering before the pandemic — are hoping Congress will grant them an extension.

  • It's not just hospitals that are worried about finances. 35% of clinicians nationwide who were surveyed said revenue and pay are still significantly lower than pre-pandemic levels and net losses threaten current and future viability, according to a new poll from Primary Care Collaborative.

The state of play: Medicare expanded its Accelerated and Advance Payment Program in April, distributing $34 billion to providers. Nationwide, 65% of small, rural hospitals accepted a loan.

  • The National Rural Health Association criticized the program in a brief, warning "most rural hospitals will have extreme difficulty or will not have the ability to repay."

What's next: After 120 days — which will come soon — hospitals are supposed to either repay their loans or see their Medicare payments garnished until they've made up their debt.

  • But Medicare hasn't started asking for the money yet, and Congress may extend the repayment deadline as part of a deal to keep the government open, KHN reports.

Go deeper

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Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note ±3.3% margin of error for the total sample size; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Americans believe the federal government's handling of the pandemic has gotten significantly worse over time, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: Every other institution measured in Week 29 of our national poll — from state and local governments to people's own employers and area businesses — won positive marks for improving their responses since those panicked early days in March and April.

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Fox News president Jay Wallace and anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum are among those recommended to get tested and quarantine after possible exposure to COVID-19, the New York Times first reported Sunday night.

The big picture: The Fox News contingent, which also included "The Five" show hosts Juan Williams and Dana Perino, were on a charter flight from Nashville to New York following Thursday's presidential debate with a person who later tested positive for the coronavirus.

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In photos: Unrest in Italy as coronavirus restrictions grow across Europe

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Protests in Italy against fresh COVID-19 pandemic restrictions that came into effect Monday descended into violence in Milan and and Turin, where police used tear gas to disperse demonstrators, per the Guardian.

The big picture: The protests in Italian cities still reeling from the first lockdown mark some of the biggest resistance against measures seen yet as restrictions return across Europe, which is facing a second coronavirus wave. Here's what's been happening in cities across the continent, in photos.

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