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America's flying blind on its coronavirus response

A month after the Trump administration changed how hospital data is reported, the public release of this data "has slowed to a crawl," the Wall Street Journal reports.

The big picture: This is the latest example of how the world's wealthiest country just can't get it together.


Testing and case data — which tell the story of where people are getting sick — have been a problem for the last six months. This latest fiasco blurs the picture of how many people are getting very sick at a given time, which until now has been a more reliable measure of the pandemic.

Driving the news: The Department of Health and Human Services last month ordered states to report coronavirus hospitalization data directly to the agency, rather than to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as they'd been doing.

  • Now, important data, like the number of beds occupied by coronavirus patients, is lagging by a week or more.
  • The implications go beyond tracking the virus. Hospitalization data is also used by agencies to determine where to send remdesivir and personal protective equipment.

What they're saying: “The transition has been a disaster,” Jeffrey Engel, senior adviser to the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, told the WSJ. “What HHS said was that the CDC was not nimble enough and couldn’t handle new data elements, and that’s simply not true.”

The other side: HHS officials told the WSJ that the new system has a more complete set of data, but that the quality-control process has led to some delays as the new system gets up and running.

The bottom line: We're doing a terrible job handling the pandemic, at least relative to other wealthy countries. The fact that we don't have a good idea of what's happening in real time – and it's getting worse — is one of the major contributors to that failure.

Only Joe Biden can win the election in a popular and electoral vote landslide

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Justice's moves ring Big Tech with regulatory threats

The Department of Justice proposed legislation to curb liability protections for tech platforms and moved a step closer toward an antitrust lawsuit against Google Wednesday.

The big picture: As President Trump faces re-election, lawmakers and regulators are hurriedly wrapping up investigations and circling Big Tech with regulatory threats.

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Democrats' mail voting pivot

Democrats spent the early months of the coronavirus pandemic urging their base to vote absentee. But as threats of U.S. Postal Service delays, Team Trump litigation and higher ballot rejection rates become clearer, many are pivoting to promote more in-person voting as well.

Why it matters: Democrats are exponentially more likely to vote by mail than Republicans this year — and if enough mail-in ballots are lost, rejected on a technicality or undercounted, it could change the outcome of the presidential election or other key races.

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Biden's mail voting danger

Data: SurveyMonkey; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Voters who disapprove of President Trump most strongly are by far the most likely to vote by mail in the presidential election, according to an Axios analysis of exclusive data from SurveyMonkey and Tableau.

Why it matters: The new data shows just how strongly the mail-in vote is likely to favor Joe Biden — with potentially enormous implications in the swing states due to the greater risk of rejection with mail ballots.

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Reopening the ACA debate is politically risky for GOP

Data: Kaiser Family Foundation, The Cook Political Report; Notes: Those losing insurance includes 2020 ACA marketplace enrollment and 2019 Medicaid expansion enrollment among newly-eligible enrollees. Close races are those defined as "Toss up" or "Lean R/D"; Table: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The sudden uncertainty surrounding the future of the Affordable Care Act could be an enormous political liability for Republicans in key states come November.

Between the lines: Millions of people in crucial presidential and Senate battlegrounds would lose their health care coverage if the Supreme Court strikes down the law, as the Trump administration is urging it to.

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The coronavirus is surging again

Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise/Axios

The coronavirus is surging once again across the U.S., with cases rising in 22 states over the past week.

The big picture: There isn't one big event or sudden occurrence that explains this increase. We simply have never done a very good job containing the virus, despite losing 200,000 lives in just the past six months, and this is what that persistent failure looks like.

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Two officers shot in Louisville amid Breonna Taylor protests

Louisville Metro Police Department said two officers were shot downtown in the Kentucky city late Wednesday, just hours after a grand jury announced an indictment in the Breonna Taylor case.

Driving the news: Metrosafe, the city's emergency services, said it received reports of a shooting at South Brook St. and Broadway Ave., near the area where protests were taking place. A police spokesperson told a press briefing the injuries of both officers were not life-threatening. One officer was "alert and stable" and the other was undergoing surgery, he said.

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Biden: Breonna Taylor indictment "does not answer" call for justice

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday condemned the grand jury indictment of a Louisville police officer who entered Breonna Taylor's home in March in a botched drug raid that led to her death, saying in a statement the decision "does not answer" for equal justice.

The big picture: Biden called for reforms to address police use of force and no-knock warrants, while demanding a ban on chokeholds. He added that people "have a right to peacefully protest, but violence is never acceptable."

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