Top Republicans in the US Congress are expected to meet with President Donald Trump at the White House on the next COVID-19 aid package as the crisis many hoped would have improved has dramatically worsened, just as emergency relief is expiring.
Trump insisted again on Sunday that the virus would "disappear," but the president's view did not at all match projections from the leading health professionals straining to halt the US's alarming caseloads and death toll.
Lawmakers were returning to a Capitol still off-limits to tourists, another sign of the nation's difficulty containing the coronavirus.
Rather than easing, the pandemic's devastating cycle was happening all over again, leaving Congress little choice but to engineer another costly rescue.
Businesses were shutting down again, schools could not fully reopen and jobs were disappearing, all while federal aid expired.
Without a successful federal strategy, lawmakers are trying to draft one.
The political stakes are high for all sides before the November election, but even more so for the nation, which has now registered more coronavirus infections and a higher death count of 140,500 than any other country.
Trump raised alarms on Capitol Hill when he suggested last month at a rally in Oklahoma that he wanted to slow virus testing.
Some of Trump's GOP allies wanted new money to help test and track the virus to contain its spread. Senate Democrats were investigating why the Trump administration had not yet spent some of $US25 billion ($A36 billion) previously allocated for testing in an earlier aid bill.
Just as the pandemic's ferocious cycle was starting again, the first round of aid was running out.
A federal $US600 ($A858)-a-week boost to regular unemployment benefits would expire at the end of the month. So, too, would the federal ban on evictions on millions of rental units.
With 17 straight weeks of unemployment claims topping 1 million - usually about 200,000 - many households were facing a cash crunch and losing employer-backed health insurance coverage.
Despite flickers of an economic upswing as states eased stay-at-home orders in May and June, the jobless rate remained at double digits, higher than it ever was in the last decade's Great Recession.