Americans emerging from lockdown will be facing difficult decisions about the risks they’re willing to tolerate. Here are tips for staying safe.
Congress made several major moves late Friday, including passing a historic measure allowing remote voting amid the coronavirus pandemic and approving a $3 trillion coronavirus relief package that has met widespread opposition from Republicans.
Meanwhile, graduates around the country deprived of a traditional graduation were treated to a star-studded virtual graduation ceremony, including a commencement address from Oprah Winfrey.
The U.S. has the largest coronavirus outbreak in the world by far. There are almost 88,000 deaths and 1.4 million confirmed cases, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard. Worldwide, the virus has killed more than 307,000 people and has infected more than 4.5 million.
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Here are some highlights to know:
- President Donald Trump announced Friday “Operation Warp Speed,” an effort to develop, produce and distribute a vaccine for the new coronavirus by the end of the year. Experts have cautioned that 12-18 months may be more realistic.
- Staying at hotels right now is a lot different than it used to be. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort reopens to guests and it’s “bring your own towel.” 😮
- Princess Beatrice, the latest royal to be affected by the spread of COVID-19, has delayed her wedding. In March, Prince Charles tested positive with mild symptoms.
- Student athletes and their parents have seen their dreams dashed by the coronavirus, which has sidelined scholarship hopes along with competition.
What we’re talking about: Are you ready to leave your basement and re-enter society? We answer questions and offer advice on life after quarantine. Things are tough right now, and we want to help you get through it. Get tips on Staying Apart, Together.
Something to smile about: I used this time to turn my lonely feeder into a bird hotspot.
Some local Wisconsin officials are tossing coronavirus orders
Leaders of cities and counties who raced this week to implement restrictions in the wake of a state Supreme Court ruling against Gov. Tony Evers are now tossing those orders, many citing uncertainty over whether they are legal.
The local governments are backing off their health orders just as Republican lawmakers insist it should be up to local officials rather than state leaders to determine whether people should stay at home and businesses should close.
The decisions by local officials mean an increasing number of communities in Wisconsin won’t have any restrictions in place to curb infections as the coronavirus slows but doesn’t stop. GOP lawmakers this week made clear there won’t be a statewide game plan to navigate the coronavirus outbreak anytime soon — if ever.
– Molly Beck and Patrick Marley
Trump touts ‘Operation Warp Speed’ on vaccine readiness
President Donald Trump said he hopes for a vaccine before the end of the year through an effort that will combine government agencies, private industry and the military; he also noted that “It’s very important, vaccine or no vaccine, we’re back,” referring to states lifting stay-at-home orders.
“We’re getting ready so that when we get the good word – that we have the vaccine, we have the formula, we have what we need – we’re ready to go,” Trump said Friday.
The nation’s leading infectious disease experts have cautioned since the outbreak of the virus that a vaccine may not be ready until 12 to 18 months, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
At Friday’s press briefing, Trump’s top health advisers – Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx – wore protective masks, though the president continued to spurn any kind of face covering.
– David Jackson
Those with tax issues aren’t getting their stimulus checks — and are fed up with the IRS
Kimberly Dyer was counting on her $1,700 stimulus check to help pay her bills after her work hours were reduced and her salary was cut in half because of the pandemic.
But the check hasn’t arrived, even though the Internal Revenue Service’s tracking app says she’s eligible. Neither has the $5,129 tax refund she is owed. The IRS has notified her that her 2019 tax returns are under review.
Dyer, a single mother and a social worker, suspects the two missing checks are connected. Hundreds of members of a Facebook group she created for people who haven’t gotten their stimulus check soon realized they had something else in common. They, too, have tax returns that are under audit or review. Read the full story.
– Michael Collins
Mar-a-Lago partially reopens. What does a hotel stay looks like amid coronavirus?
The next time you stay at a hotel, your hygiene experience will be different due to the coronavirus. Alot different. For example, at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, which reopens Saturday, it’s BYOT – Bring Your Own Towel – as there will be no towel service. Germ-y noodles, floats and any other pool toys will be banned. The main house, tennis courts, spa, gym, and locker rooms will remain closed.
Hotels across the hospitality industry have updated their cleanliness procedures in an effort to boost confidence among wary travelers. Industry executives are hopeful about leisure travel demand starting to pick up — and it has, slightly — but overall occupancy levels at chains such as Hilton and Marriott remain low.
“Now the challenge for hotels is how you deliver a welcoming service encounter as well as ensure the safety and health of your employees and guests,” Linda Canina, a professor at The Hotel School in Cornell University’s SC Johnson College of Business.
– David Oliver and Shannon Donnelly
More coronavirus news and information from USA TODAY
‘This is not the time to do nothing’: Volunteers risk lives to deliver food to needy
People who have long struggled to get enough to eat have been joined by people who suddenly lost their jobs as the economy crumbled or who cannot get food from their usual sources due to the spread of the coronavirus.
Food insecurity is a major issue across America. Many Americans have stepped up to help. Through an occasional series of intimate portraits in the coming weeks, USA TODAY Network journalists are shining a light on their lives and work of America’s food chain. Read more.
Are lockdowns being relaxed in my state? Here’s how America is reopening
Looking ahead to Memorial Day: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed Friday that the state’s beaches are opening up. Cuomo’s announcement came a day after New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said his state’s beaches would open May 22. The latest happenings, state-by-state.
Parents counting on athletic scholarships have been left in a terrible lurch
Teenager Jordan Montgomery is a dribbling sensation. A video of him dribbling like a mini-Globetrotter at 6, when he began performing at halftime of high school games, has been viewed on YouTube more than 600,000 times. During an interview in the family’s backyard, Jordan’s father, Craig Montgomery, estimated he has spent $200,000 on his son’s basketball career. That includes the cost of private coaches, trainers and travel for tournaments in more than a dozen states. Now, he said, the family could have to pay up to $30,000 for Jordan’s education for the next academic year.
A survey by the Harris Poll on behalf of TD Ameritrade shows competitive athletes ages 15 to 29 and parents have seen their plans upended by the coronavirus pandemic.
Among the findings:
- Almost 20% say their scholarships have been delayed or canceled.
- Many families worry they will no longer be able to pay for elite sports if the economic downturn persists.
– Josh Peter
Foster care teen’s death draws scrutiny: Who is looking out for these children?
Across the country, foster parents are in short supply, at-risk kids aren’t able to get in-person services they need and courts are closed, leaving adoptions and family reunifications in limbo. Only a handful of states have issued moratoriums on aging out of the system, which means 18 and 21-year-olds could suddenly find themselves without a home or job in the worst economy in decades, with 36.5 million Americans filing unemployment claims since March. It’s unclear how many children in the U.S. foster care system have coronavirus. But the death of a 16-year-old boy in Michigan highlights one of the many problems America’s foster care system is facing amid the coronavirus pandemic. Read more.
– Lindsay Schnell
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