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

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Senate failed millions of small businesses Thursday by ending its week without passing an extension to the number of weeks that PPP loan recipients have to use their funds.

Why it matters: People may lose their jobs while politicians dither.

The state of play: At issue is the so-called "covered period," during which time PPP loan recipients must spend the funds in order to have them forgiven. It currently stands at eight weeks, but a bipartisan proposal would double it to 16 weeks.

  • The basic idea is to make the money last longer, particularly for small businesses that are opening slower.
  • This added flexibility could help some loan recipients keep people on payroll for longer.
  • The proposal also would have extended the PPP loan application period from the end of June to the end of December and allowed recipients to use funds to buy both personal protective equipment for employees and make safety-related changes to their properties.

There was hope yesterday that the Senate would get this done via a unanimous consent vote. But that didn't happen. Senators say the language is still being negotiated.

  • Again, the bill is bipartisan. And its most vocal Senate proponent is Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). But Axios' Alayna Treene reports that there is some GOP worry that extending the covered period could incentivize businesses to delay their reopenings.

What's next: It is possible, albeit unlikely, that the Senate could hold a pro forma session today and get the extension passed.

  • Lawmakers from both parties say a more likely scenario is attempted passage during a pro forma session next week.
  • Either way, there will need to be bicameral negotiations, as the House version extends to 24 weeks (which is the number that restauranteurs asked for during a recent White House roundtable).

The bottom line: For some the earliest loan recipients, the eight-week period begins expiring in June. Later loan recipients are in planning mode, and are being hamstrung by uncertainty. In both cases, paycheck protection hangs in the balance.

Go deeper

Updated Aug 30, 2020 - World

Berlin police break up protests against coronavirus restrictions

A protester confronting a police officer in Berlin on Aug. 28. Photo: Abdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Berlin police arrested 300 demonstrators after disbanding a protest Saturday over Germany's coronavirus restrictions as tens of thousands of participants refused to maintain social distancing, per the BBC.

Why it matters: Berlin's regional government tried to ban the protest earlier this week, citing concern for public health. Protesters successfully appealed the decision on Friday, though a court required demonstrators to observe social distancing.

Updated Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."

Updated Oct 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Pfizer booster has 95.6% efficacy, large study shows — FDA authorizes mix-and-match for booster shots — J&J expects $2.5 billion of vaccine sales this year.
  2. Health: Cases and deaths keep falling — White House unveils plan to "quickly" vaccinate kids ages 5-11 — The global coronavirus vaccine gap — Gates Foundation to send $120 million of antiviral pills to lower-income countries.
  3. Politics: Reports: Brazil leader to be accused of crimes against humanity over COVID — Puerto Rico leads U.S. vaccination rates — Hawaii invites fully vaccinated travelers to return from Nov. 1.
  4. Education: Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations — Parent sues Wisconsin school district after child tests positive.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.