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Coronavirus squeezes the "sandwich generation"

As the coronavirus poses risks and concerns for the youngest and oldest Americans, the generations in the middle are buckling under the increasing strain of having to take care of both.

Why it matters: People that make up the so-called sandwich generations are typically in their 30s, 40s and 50s, and in their prime working years. The increasing family and financial pressures on these workers means complications for employers, too.


The big picture: The pandemic has forced members of the sandwich generation to make near-constant, stressful decisions about how to safely care for their own young children with schools and day care facilities closed, while also trying to reduce health risks for elderly parents and grandparents.

  • The elderly parents present a special challenge if they need extra help at home or live in residential facilities with disproportionately high COVID-19 infection rates.
  • And grandparents are often back-up child care. But many parents are wary of asking grandparents to watch children and possibly expose them to dangerous germs in the process, thus putting more pressure on parents to find alternatives.
  • "There's a lot more stress and decision-making involved than there is for other generations that don't have that challenge," said Melissa Whitson, associate professor of psychology at the University of New Haven.

By the numbers: According to the Pew Research Center, 47% of adults in their 40s and 50s have a parent 65 or older and are also either raising young children or financially supporting a child 18 or older.

  • 15% are providing financial support to both an aging parent and a child, per Pew.
  • 38% say both grown children and parents rely on them for emotional support.

What it means for employers: Before the pandemic, two out of five employees felt that their futures could have been negatively impacted if they took advantage of flexibility options to manage their personal lives, according to a Society for Human Resource Management survey.

  • "Providing access to flexibility—which many employees now have during the pandemic—is a floor; it is necessary but not sufficient," the Family and Work Institute stated in an April report. Most important is ensuring employees feel supported by supervisors and co-workers to take advantage of flexible work policies.

The big question: How flexible employers are willing or able to be for workers who are not only worried about their own health during the pandemic, but also the health of the generations they support, said Francine Blau, Cornell University professor of economics and industrial and labor relations.

  • In some cases, she said, workers may just have to quit their jobs or look for another job that has more flexibility to work from home or during off-hours. But that's a precarious position to be in during a recession.

What to watch: "Just like child care, women do a disproportionate amount of parent care of older family members," Blau said. "This puts more stress on women...I am concerned some will fall out of the labor force."

How Biden might tackle the Iran deal

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The big picture: Rescuing the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is near the top of Biden's foreign policy priority list. He says he'd re-enter the deal once Iran returns to compliance, and use it as the basis on which to negotiate a broader and longer-lasting deal with Iran.

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  • Why it matters: The party's rising left sees Harris as the best hope for penetrating Joe Biden's older, largely white inner circle.

If Biden wins, Harris will become the first woman, first Black American and first Indian American to serve as a U.S. vice president — and would instantly be seen as the first in line for the presidency should Biden decide against seeking a second term.

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Facebook said late Thursday that a mix of "technical problems" and confusion among advertisers around its new political ad ban rules, caused issues affecting ad campaigns of both parties.

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Court rules Minnesota absentee ballots must be received by 8 p.m. Election Day

An appeals court on Thursday ruled that Minnesota absentee ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day to be counted.

Why it matters: The ruling, which comes just five days before the election, blocks the state's plan to count absentee ballots arriving late so long as they're postmarked by Nov. 3 and delivered within a week of the election. Now those ballots must be set aside and marked late.

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Twitter labels tweet from RT implying voter fraud in U.S. elections

Twitter on Thursday labeled a tweet from Russian state media outlet RT (formerly Russia Today) that included a video implying widespread voter fraud is plaguing, and potentially delegitimizing, the U.S. election.

Why it matters: It's the first time Twitter has labeled RT's account with a civic integrity label, or a designation used to highlight efforts to manipulate or interfere in elections or other civic processes.

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U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record

Data: COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

The United States reported 88,452 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, setting a single-day record, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

The big picture: The country confirmed 1,049 additional deaths due to the virus, and there are over 46,000 people currently hospitalized, suggesting the U.S. is experiencing a third wave heading into the winter months.

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The norms around science and politics are cracking

Crafting successful public health measures depends on the ability of top scientists to gather data and report their findings unrestricted to policymakers.

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