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Reopening schools threatens to turn political amid pressure from the Trump administration

The Trump administration is engaged in a full-court press to reopen schools this fall: The president threatened this morning to cut off federal funding if schools don't reopen, and claimed — without evidence — that Democrats want them closed through November for political reasons.

What they're saying: "Ultimately, it's not a matter of if schools should reopen — it is simply a matter of how," Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said, assailing "elite" D.C.-area schools for their "disaster" of an attempt at distance learning this spring. "They must fully open and they must be fully operational."


Why it matters: Virtual learning isn't as effective, and schools provide critical in-person resources for kids with disabilities, mental health issues and nutritional needs.

  • Millions of parents need their kids back in schools so that they can fully reenter the workforce. The burden of extended closures will hit hardest along class, racial and gender lines.
  • The question is how to reopen safely: So much is uncertain about the role of children in spreading the coronavirus, which could affect teachers and at-risk adults at home.

Driving the news: Vice President Pence said today that the CDC will issue a set of five documents next week on school reopenings, after President Trump criticized the agency's existing guidelines — which include keeping kids six feet apart at all times, if possible — as "very tough & expensive."

Between the lines: How and when schools return will be a decision left to state and local authorities. Pence said the administration will be "looking for ways to give states a strong incentive" as part of negotiations with Congress over a Phase 4 relief package.

  • New York City's 1,800 public schools will adopt a hybrid model that will limit in-person attendance to just one to three days a week, Mayor de Blasio announced today.
  • Others are likely to follow in the footsteps of the nation's largest public school system with an indefinite mix of in-person and remote learning.
  • But unlike New York, which has largely flattened its curve after getting hammered by the virus this spring, states across the South are still seeing a massive surge in infections that could turn schools into a petri dish.

The bottom line: Trump griped on Twitter today that Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweden are reopening their schools.

  • The U.S. yesterday reported over 50,000 more coronavirus cases than those four countries combined.

Obama: The rest of us have to live with the consequences of what Trump's done

Campaigning for Joe Biden at a car rally in Miami on Saturday, Barack Obama railed against President Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying "the rest of us have to live with the consequences of what he's done."

Driving the news: With less than two weeks before the election, the Biden campaign is drawing on the former president's popularity with Democrats to drive turnout and motivate voters.

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Murkowski says she'll vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said Saturday that she'll vote to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on Monday, despite her opposition to the process that's recently transpired.

The big picture: Murkowski's decision leaves Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) as the only Republican expected to vote against Barrett.

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Post-debate poll finds Biden strong on every major issue

This is one of the bigger signs of trouble for President Trump that we've seen in a poll: Of the final debate's seven topics, Joe Biden won or tied on all seven when viewers in a massive Axios-SurveyMonkey sample were asked who they trusted more to handle the issue.

Why it matters: In a time of unprecedented colliding crises for the nation, the polling considered Biden to be vastly more competent.

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The murder hornets are here

Entomologists in Washington state on Thursday discovered the first Asian giant hornet nest in the U.S.

Why it matters: You may know this insect species by its nom de guerre: "the murder hornet." While the threat they pose to humans has been overstated, the invading hornets could decimate local honeybee populations if they establish themselves.

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Biden is highest-spending political candidate on TV ads

After spending an additional $45.2 million on political ads this week, former Vice President Joe Biden has become the highest-spending political candidate on TV ads ever, according to data from Advertising Analytics.

By the numbers: In total, the Biden campaign has spent $582.7 million on TV ads between 2019 and 2020, officially surpassing Michael Bloomberg's record spend of roughly $582 million. Biden's spend includes his primary and general election advertising.

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SurveyMonkey poll: Trump improves, but not enough

President Trump's final debate performance exceeded Americans' expectations, but it wasn't enough to shift the dynamics that left him trailing Joe Biden across most measures, according to a new Axios-SurveyMonkey poll.

What they're saying: "Liar" was the word used most by debate watchers to describe Trump's performance, followed by "lies," "strong," "presidential" and "childish." "Presidential" was the word used most to describe Biden's performance, followed by "liar," "weak," "expected" and "honest."

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Hunter Biden saga dominates online debate

Data: NewsWhip; Table: Axios Visuals

The mainstream media turned away. But online, President Trump's charges about Hunter Biden were by far the dominant storyline about the final presidential debate, according to exclusive NewsWhip data provided to Axios.

  • Coverage of business dealings by Joe Biden's son — and pre-debate allegations by one of his former business associates, Tony Bobulinski — garnered more than twice as much online activity (likes, comments, shares) as the runner-up.
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America was sick well before it ever got COVID-19

From high levels of obesity and opioid addiction to inequities in access to care, America's pre-existing conditionsmake the country an easy target for COVID-19, as well as future pandemics that could cripple the United States for decades to come.

Why it matters: One of the best ways the country could prepare for future threats — and boost its economy — is to improve Americans' overall health.

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