Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

President Trump spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the coronavirus pandemic and arms control on Thursday, the Kremlin announced and the White House later confirmed.

Why it matters: The phone call comes amid recent warnings that hackers associated with Russian intelligence services have tried to steal information from researchers working to develop a coronavirus vaccine. It also follows reports that the Kremlin paid Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan, which the White House has insisted is uncorroborated intelligence.

What they're saying: President Trump "reiterated his hope of avoiding an expensive three-way arms race between China, Russia, and the United States and looked forward to progress on upcoming arms control negotiations in Vienna," White House spokesperson Judd Deere said in a press release.

The big picture: Russia is reporting the fourth-most coronavirus infections in the world behind India, Brazil and the U.S, although experts doubt the authoritarian regime's official tally.

Go deeper: Russia tests anti-satellite weapon in space

Go deeper

Oct 19, 2020 - World

Putin critic Navalny says Trump should condemn his poisoning

A screenshot of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny on CBS' "60 Minutes." Photo: CBS/"60 Minutes"

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny called on President Trump during an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" broadcast Sunday to condemn his Novichok poisoning that left him critically ill in hospital.

Details: Asked by CBS' Lesley Stahl if it's important for Trump to condemn the attack, which Navalny says Russian President Putin was behind, he replied: "I think it's extremely important that everyone, of course, including and maybe in the first of all, president of United States, to be very against using chemical weapons in the 21st Century."

6 mins ago - Health

Fauci: Trump hasn't been to a COVID task force meeting in months

Photo by Drew Angerer via Getty Images

President Trump has not attended a White House coronavirus task force meeting in “several months,” NIAID director Anthony Fauci told MSNBC on Friday.

Why it matters: At the beginning of the pandemic, the task force, led by Vice President Mike Pence, met every day, but in the "last several weeks," members have held virtual meetings once a week, Fauci said, even as the number of new cases continues to surge in the country.

47 mins ago - Health

How to help save 130,000 lives

People wear face masks outside Grand Central Terminal in New York City. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

Nearly 130,000 fewer people will die of COVID-19 this winter if 95% of Americans wear face masks in public, according to research published Friday.

Why it matters: “Increasing mask use is one of the best strategies that we have right now to delay the imposition of social distancing mandates," Dr. Christopher Murray of the University of Washington told the N.Y. Times.