May 17, 2020 - World

U.K. hires more than 17,000 coronavirus contact tracers

Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

The United Kingdom has hired 17,200 people to help track down individuals who have been in close contact with people who tested positive for the coronavirus, government minister Michael Gove told the BBC Sunday.

Why it matters: The government has almost reached its goal of recruiting 18,000 contact tracers for a testing and tracking program, which it hopes to deploy next month when some shops and schools may slowly begin to reopen.

The big picture: Contact tracing is widely believed to be a must-have for reopening parts of the economy while limiting the death toll. Most countries use a combination of cellphone apps and human contact tracers to track down everyone who came into contact with an infected patient.

  • One of the biggest vulnerabilities of the strategy, however, is that it relies on public buy-in — something that is far from guaranteed, especially in the U.S.
  • In a best-case scenario, just half of Americans say they would participate in a voluntary coronavirus contact tracing program tracked with cellphones, according to the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

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Mark Zuckerberg: Social networks should not be "the arbiter of truth"

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg argued on CNBC's "Squawk Box" Thursday that social media platforms should not police political speech, and that "people should be able to see what politicians say.”

Why it matters: Zuckerberg was responding to Twitter's decision this week to fact-check a pair of President Trump's tweets that claimed that mail-in ballots are "substantially fraudulent." Twitter's label, which directs users to "get the facts" about mail-in voting, does not censor Trump's tweets.

House Democrats pull FISA reauthorization bill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

House Democrats pulled legislation Thursday that would have renewed expired domestic surveillance laws and strengthened transparency and privacy protections amid broad opposition from President Trump, House GOP leadership and progressive Democrats.

Why it matters: The failure to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) comes as Trump continues to attack the intelligence community, which he claims abused the law to surveil his 2016 campaign and Trump administration officials.

U.S. GDP drop revised lower to 5% in the first quarter

Data: Bureau of Economic Analysis; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy shrunk by an annualized 5% in the first quarter — worse than the initially estimated 4.8% contraction — according to revised figures released by the government on Thursday.

Why it matters: It's the worst quarterly decline since 2008 and shows a huge hit as the economy was just beginning to shut down because of the coronavirus. Economists are bracing for the second quarter's figures to be the worst ever — with some projecting an annualized decline of around 40%.

2 hours ago - Economy & Business