As the U.S. approaches 100,000 coronavirus deaths, President Donald Trump feuded with the Michigan’s attorney general who criticized him for not publicly wearing a mask when visiting a Ford plant.
In Thursday night tweets, Trump called Dana Nessel the “Do nothing A.G. of the Great State of Michigan” and said she should not take her “anger and stupidity out on Ford Motor” or else the company might leave the state.
Nessel called Trump a “petulant child” for not wearing a mask during the visit, but Trump said he did wear one, just not in front of the press.
Trump also told reporters he would not shut down the country if there’s a second wave of infections: “We are going to put out the fires. We’re not going to close the country.”
The U.S. accounts for over a fifth of the 5.1 million global coronavirus cases with more than 1.57 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard. More than 333,000 people have died globally; the U.S. death toll is nearing 95,000.
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Here are some highlights to know Friday:
We’re not as divided as you think. Most Americans want to get back to work, school and social lives. But safely. This is the Backstory, from USA TODAY’s editor-in-chief
What we’re talking about: Kentucky restaurants are preparing to reopen Friday, but the state is telling them to nix tablecloths and cloth napkins and use disposable ones. Restaurant owners are calling the rule wasteful.
Something to smile about: Bingo! Will & Kate call the numbers in Zoom game with nursing home residents in Wales.
Are you wearing your face mask correctly? A mask that fits perfectly makes all the difference, according to Reviewed.com.
Staying Apart, Together: USA TODAY brings a newsletter about how to cope with these trying times straight to your inbox. 📥
Trump to roll out guidance for reopening places of worship
President Donald Trump’s administration is expected to release new guidance soon on reopening churches and other places of worship during the coronavirus pandemic, a day after the president slammed Democratic governors for what he described as moving too slowly to bring parishioners back to their pews.
“They’re going to be opening up very soon,” Trump said Friday of places of worship. “I consider them essential.” He said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would announce its recommendations later Friday.
The CDC in recent days has issued detailed guidelines for reopening pools, schools and restaurants, but similar guidance on reopening churches, synagogues and mosques was put on hold. The Trump administration initially shelved the documents, according to the Associated Press.
Few lockdown restrictions have stirred as much controversy as those applied to churches, repeatedly thrusting social distancing efforts into preexisting cultural and political conflicts.
– John Fritze
Pandemic halts vaccination for nearly 80 million children
The coronavirus pandemic is interrupting immunization against diseases including measles, polio and cholera that could put the lives of nearly 80 million children under the age of 1 at risk, according to a new analysis from the World Health Organization and partners.
In a new report issued on Friday, health officials warned that more than half of 129 countries where immunization data were available reported moderate, severe or total suspensions of vaccination services during March and April.
“Disruption to immunization programs from the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to unwind decades of progress against vaccine-preventable diseases like measles,” said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a statement.
UNICEF reported a significant delay in planned vaccine deliveries due to lockdown measures and a dramatic reduction in the number of available flights.
Experts say children need routine immunizations before the age of 2.
– The Associated Press
Will virus keep Florida spectators from astronaut launch?
In ordinary times, the beaches and roads along Florida’s Space Coast would be packed with hundreds of thousands of spectators, eager to witness the first astronaut launch from Florida in nine years. In the age of coronavirus, however, local officials and NASA are split on whether that’s a good idea.
NASA and SpaceX are urging spectators to stay at home Wednesday for safety reasons. Officials in Brevard County, home to the Kennedy Space Center, are rolling out the welcome mat in an effort to jump-start a tourism industry hit hard this spring by virus-related lockdowns.
If people are comfortable coming and watching the launch, “by all means, come. If they aren’t, I respect that too,” said Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey. “I’m not going to tell Americans they can’t watch a great piece of history. I’m just not going to do it.”
The sheriff said he is asking visitors to practice social distancing as they watch the launch of astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on a test flight of SpaceX’s Dragon crew capsule. Liftoff is set for 4:33 p.m. EDT.
Wear a mask in public? Majority of Democrats, Republicans say they have
Despite high-profile incidents of Americans refusing to wear face masks, an overwhelming majority of Americans say they have worn a face covering due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey.
More than four out of five Americans — 84% — said they have worn a mask in public in an effort to limit the spread of coronavirus, according to a survey from the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project.
And while reopening economies and wearing a mask have at times become partisan talking points, the vast majority of Democrats and Republicans said they have worn a mask in public.
There is a small disparity among age groups, with younger people having been slightly less likely to have worn a mask in public. Roughly three out of four (78%) Americans ages 18 to 29 say they’ve worn a face mask in public, while 90% of Americans 65 and above say they have.
– Rebecca Morin
CDC estimate: 35% of cases are asymptomatic
About a third of coronavirus cases are asymptomatic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in guidance for mathematical modelers and public health officials.
The “current best estimate” for the percent of positive cases that are asymptomatic is 35%, but the CDC says that number could change as more data becomes available.
The CDC says the new coronavirus can be transmitted by people who have not yet experienced symptoms or who never experience symtoms.
Donald Trump did not wear mask in front of photographers in Michigan
Ford executives encouraged President Donald Trump to don a face mask during his visit to one of its factories Thursday, but he said he chose not to wear it near photographers because he “didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it.”
Trump, who was seen holding a navy blue mask with the presidential seal but not wearing it, said he put it on earlier in the tour. Ford officials accompanying the president were seen wearing face masks, according to reporters traveling with the president.
The president has come under scrutiny in the past for largely ignoring recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends Americans wear masks in public during the coronavirus pandemic. Trump, who notes the CDC advice is not mandatory, has described the decision as a “personal choice.”
Michigan’s attorney general Dana Nessel called Trump a “petulant child” for not wearing the mask, prompting a series of late tweets from the president, who called her the “Do nothing A.G. of the Great State of Michigan”
– John Fritze, Courtney Subramanian and Nicholas Wu
Cheap chicken, beef came at a cost. How American meat plants bred coronavirus hot spots
The meatpacking industry faces perhaps its greatest test of worker safety, as the novel coronavirus continues to sweep through its slaughterhouses and processing plants.
As of May 20, officials have publicly linked at least 15,300 COVID-19 infections to 192 U.S. meatpacking plants, according to tracking by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. At least 63 workers have died.
The meatpacking industry has evolved into a marvel of modern efficiency, producing 105 billion pounds of meat annually, but those same features that allow a steady churn of cheap meat also provide the perfect breeding ground for airborne diseases like the coronavirus: a cramped workplace, a culture of underreporting illnesses, and a cadre of rural, immigrant and undocumented workers who share transportation and close living quarters.
“This pandemic is preying on decades of the fundamental arrangement of how we produce our food,” said Joshua Specht, an assistant professor of history at the University of Notre Dame who studies the meat industry.
– Sky Chadde, Kyle Bagenstose, Veronica Martinez Jacobo and Rachel Axon
More on America’s food chain: When businesses shut down, truckers lost work, risked their health to keep America open
FDA investigates lab as COVID-19 test results in Florida questioned
Federal regulators are investigating a Texas laboratory that a Florida hospital chain dropped last week because of delayed and unreliable COVID-19 test results.
AdventHealth, which has 45 hospitals in nine states, terminated its Florida contract with MicroGen DX due to concerns about the validity of some of the 60,000 tests MicroGen had processed for the system because the lab did not store them according to CDC guidelines, AdventHealth said in a statement.
AdventHealth said it is notifying about 25,000 patients who got unreliable or delayed results. It is advising them to seek medical care and retesting if they tested negative but have COVID symptoms. Patients who tested positive should also seek retesting, AdventHealth said. It told the lab to destroy remaining tests and said its patients who haven’t received results from MicroGen DX will never receive them.
The dispute is expected to affect testing across the U.S. as MicroGen had an undisclosed number of other clients.
– Bailey Gallion and Jayne O’Donnell
Caesars Palace, Flamingo will be first hotels to reopen on Las Vegas Strip
Caesars Entertainment, operator of nine properties in Las Vegas, has not unveiled when it will reopen because it’s up to state and local officials controlling shutdown orders. But the company on Thursday granted a peek of what tourists can expect from the resort giant when Las Vegas reopens.
Rather than opening all properties at the same time, the chain will first welcome guests to Caesars Palace and the Flamingo Las Vegas. “Reopening Las Vegas in a phased approach will be a significant milestone for Caesars Entertainment as the country continues to emerge from this necessary closure period,” said Tony Rodio, CEO of Caesars Entertainment in a statement.
Both Caesars Palace and the Flamingo will offer hotel rooms, dining options and access to pools – as well as slot machines and table games. An added perk has also come out of the pandemic: All self-parking at Caesars properties along the Strip will be free.
– Ed Komenda, Reno Gazette Journal
‘You’ve been so strong’: Melania Trump sends support to students
First lady Melania Trump is sending support to the nation’s students. While taking part in CNN‘s weekly global town hall on the coronavirus Thursday, the first lady applauded scholars for “keeping up your studies” and “learning in new ways” amid the pandemic.
“Over the past two months, I know you have had to make many changes in your life,” Melania Trump said in a pre-recorded video. “Many of you had to attend classes in your home and haven’t been able to see your friends.”
The onset of COVID-19 abruptly ended the in-person school year for many students across the nation in March as stay-at-home orders and online schooling became the new normal over safety concerns.
– Cydney Henderson
Donald Trump to order US flags lowered to honor coronavirus victims
President Donald Trump said Thursday he will order U.S. flags to be lowered over federal buildings to honor those who have died from the coronavirus.
The order, which Trump said would continue into the Memorial Day weekend, comes as the nation approaches 100,000 deaths from the virus. Flags traditionally fly at half staff on Memorial Day to honor the nation’s fallen members of the military.
Trump’s decision came hours after congressional Democrats sent a letter requesting that the flags be lowered when the coronavirus death toll hits 100,000.
– John Fritze and Nicholas Wu
Reopening America: Alaska returns to life ‘prior to the virus’ on Friday
What’s changing on Friday? Alaska will resume life as it was “prior to the virus,” with a full reopening of the economy without restrictions; Iowa will reopen movie theaters, museums and zoos; and Kentucky will allow restaurants to operate at 33% capacity indoors with unlimited outdoor seating. Find out the latest news in your state.
Florida to host 70-team youth baseball tourney over Memorial Day weekend
The Brevard County Commission in Florida says it’s time to play ball again at the USSSA Space Coast Complex in Viera — starting this weekend with a 70-team youth baseball tournament.
This weekend’s event could draw 1,500 people, including players, coaches and family members. There will be a number of safeguards in place to help prevent the potential spread of the coronavirus, like social distancing, cleaning shared equipment and changing out game balls more frequently.
– Dave Berman, Florida Today
Is summer vacation canceled? Depends whom you ask
As the annual summer travel season kicks off Friday, travelers and the businesses that cater to them face unprecedented uncertainty, chaos and concern.
Major attractions and vacation destinations remain closed, stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions are still pervasive, and some would-be travelers are anxious about the virus and crowds or put off by new safety measures, including mandatory face masks on planes. Add in steep job losses and the question becomes: Is summer vacation canceled this year?
The outlook is so murky AAA ditched its annual Memorial Day travel forecast this year for the first time in 20 years. All officials of the automobile club and travel agency could offer was that holiday weekend travel volume will be weak.
– Dawn Gilbertson
Smithsonian museums collect artifacts from coronavirus pandemic
Smithsonian museums are closed during the coronavirus pandemic, but curators across the institution are hard at work collecting artifacts to best preserve this moment in time. And they need your help.
The National Museum of American History established a task force to spearhead the effort to assess and document scientific and medical events during this period and their effects on business, work, politics and culture.
Curators will preserve objects, photographs and documents that will live permanently in the museum’s collection. The museum can’t accept materials while the building is closed, so curators request that potential donors secure items to be considered for acquisition.
– David Oliver
CDC director ‘can’t guarantee’ another round of lockdowns in winter
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Robert Redfield told the Financial Times that he “can’t guarantee” whether or not a second round of stay-at-home orders is coming for the United States in the winter as the new coronavirus may see a second wave that coincides with cold weather and a flu season.
“I can’t guarantee; that’s kind of getting into the opinion mode, we have to be data driven. What I can say is that we are committed to using the time that we have now to get this nation as overprepared as possible,” Redfield told the newspaper in an interview.
Redfield said the spread of the virus in the southern hemisphere gives him concern about a second wave at the end of 2020 in the northern hemisphere.
Redfield also addressed U.S. preparedness in fighting the virus. The CDC and Trump administration have faced criticism for not having adequate testing capacity in the pandemic’s early days.
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Contributing: The Associated Press
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