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President Trump told reporters on Monday that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine for about a week and a half and that the White House physician knows he is taking the anti-malaria drug despite the fact he continues to test negative for the coronavirus.

Clinical trials, academic research and scientific analysis indicate that the danger of the drug is a significantly increased risk of death for certain patients, particularly those with heart problems.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) criticized the president’s decision to take “something that has not been approved by the scientists,” saying that he needs to be especially careful given his age (73) and weight group, which she categorized as “morbidly obese.”

Here are some significant developments:

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Oregon Supreme Court puts hold on judge’s ruling on stay-at-home restrictions

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An Oregon judge Monday overruled the state’s stay-at-home restrictions on churches during the coronavirus pandemic, effectively allowing them to invite larger crowds to services.

Late Monday night, however, the state’s Supreme Court put a hold on the ruling. State Supreme Court Presiding Judge Thomas A. Balmer issued a three-paragraph ruling at 7:45 p.m. Pacific time that granted the state’s emergency motion after reviewing briefs from both sides.

The hold will remain in effect until the high court considers the state’s full petition to dismiss the Baker County Circuit judge’s preliminary injunction, the Oregonian reported.

Baker County Circuit Judge Matthew Shirtcliff had said Gov. Kate Brown (D) had exceeded the 28-day window required in the state’s constitution for convening the legislature to renew the order, which limited crowds to no more than 25.

“The governor’s orders are not required for public safety when plaintiffs can continue to utilize social distancing and safety protocols at larger gatherings involving spiritual worship,'' Shirtcliff said, according to the Oregonian.

Ten churches and several individuals had filed a lawsuit, arguing the social distancing order infringed on religious freedoms.

“If we’re risking our lives to go to church, if we survive, great,” attorney Ray D. Hacke, who had filed the motion for a temporary restraining order, told the Oregonian. “If we die, then we’re going to heaven. If we want to take that risk, then it’s on us.”

The Oregon decision came five days after the Wisconsin Supreme Court invalidated the extension of Gov. Tony Evers’s stay-at-home orders and lifted restrictions on businesses. People subsequently celebrated by packing bars.

Disney takes steps toward reopening, but not everyone sees the ‘magic’ in that

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Disney is reopening part of its Florida complex Wednesday with cautionary language about the lingering risk of the novel coronavirus and new rules that have some erstwhile fans vowing not to return under what they consider too-strict conditions.

“Not going till they remove these restrictions that don’t keep anyone safe,” said one user in reply to an Instagram post, voicing displeasure with mask and temperature-check requirements. “All the magic is gone while these demands are in place.”

None of the company’s domestic theme parks have a reopening date, but the admission-free Disney Springs area — full of restaurants, shops and entertainment venues — is starting a phased opening Wednesday, with more following a week later.

Read more here.

In meeting with Trump, Rockets owner details financial struggles and NBA’s plans for return

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Under questioning from President Trump during a White House meeting of restaurant industry executives, Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta expressed optimism that the 2019-20 NBA season will resume this summer while acknowledging that the novel coronavirus pandemic has “definitely brought [my business] back to earth.”

Fertitta, the billionaire chief executive of Landry’s Inc., asked Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to “add a category” to the Paycheck Protection Program for the “larger private restaurateur” and to “do something with lease terminations” to provide his company financial relief during the pandemic.

The 62-year-old executive said that he had to lay off 40,000 employees from his chain of full-service restaurants in March and that he had recently borrowed “$300 million at 12 percent” interest because he “needed the liquidity to keep the company afloat.”

As Fertitta made his case, Trump interrupted with questions about the NBA’s return-to-play plans and about the Rockets, which he called “a hell of a team” with “two great players” in Russell Westbrook and James Harden.

Read more here.

During supposed boom time for e-sports, two companies receive over $2 million in PPP loans

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By its own metrics, Super League Gaming has thrived in the conditions created by the coronavirus pandemic. Across key indicators — including registered users and engagement hours — the company, which runs a platform for organizing amateur esports tournaments, was performing remarkably well. “Gaming has proven itself to be fairly recession-proof,” said Ann Hand, the company’s chief executive, in a March 12 earnings call.

And yet, on May 4, Super League Gaming received a $1,200,047 loan through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) enacted by Congress. Another company, Allied Esports, also received an aggregate loan of $907,129 through two subsidiaries in May. Allied Esports owns and operates a number of venues focused on esports and poker — most notably the pyramidic HyperX Esports Arena in Las Vegas, which used to host regular events that have since been canceled. The loans were first flagged by government watchdog group Accountable.US, which has been tracking which corporations have taken taxpayer money.

The loan applications, though not fraudulent or strictly illegal in any apparent way, run counter to the prevailing narrative around esports.

Read more here.

CDC plans study to track spread of coronavirus

2:24 a.m.
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The Center for Disease Control and Prevention will conduct a nationwide study in an attempt to track the novel coronavirus and how it spreads. Reuters reported the plan to track up to 325,000 people going into next year and possibly beyond.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases will fund the testing of the first 36,000 samples. The CDC will then take over for the next 18 months, enlarge the scope of the study and evaluate how antibodies evolve in the immune system.

The study hopes to shed light on the immune response over a period of time. Vitalant Research Institute director Michael Busch told Reuters that the study is set to begin in June or July and take samples from people in 25 metropolitan areas looking at antibodies created to fight covid-19. Blood from 1,000 donors in all of the 25 areas will be tested monthly by the CDC for a year.

Boston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Seattle and the San Francisco Bay area are identified as the initial jurisdictions. Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, New Orleans and St. Louis are expected to make up the second phase of the study.

With strict social distancing, Apple reboots its retail experience

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SAN FRANCISCO — Apple’s retail stores are known for crowded areas of display devices ready for experimenting and the ability to make a purchase without needing to line up at a cash register.

But as the Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant reopens about 100 of its retail stores globally, the customer experience is bound to feel different. Apple will be enforcing strict social distancing guidelines in its stores, retail and human resources chief Deirdre O’Brien wrote in a public letter this weekend. The company will cap the number of people allowed in to keep at least six feet between everyone, will require masks and will check customers’ temperatures before they enter. Some stores will do curbside pickup only.

Apple will open at least 25 stores in seven states across the United States this week, adding to the five it unlocked last week.

Read more here.

Head of Florida coronavirus database says she was removed for refusing to censor data

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The architect and manager of Florida’s coronavirus dashboard, which has been praised by experts including White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx, announced she had been removed from her position, Florida Today first reported.

Rebekah Jones, who is credited for the Florida Department of Health data portal, told CBS12 News that she was removed because she refused to censor data and “manually change data to drum up support for the plan to reopen.” In an email to other researchers and members of the public who enrolled to receive updates on the portal, Jones announced her May 5 removal, which she said was beyond her “division’s control.”

“As a word of caution, I would not expect the new team to continue the same level of accessibility and transparency that I made central to the process during the first two months,” she wrote in the email to those who followed the database. “After all, my commitment to both is largely (arguably entirely) the reason I am no longer managing it."

Jones told The Post that she designed the portal by herself, without help from a team of data scientists and public health officers, as was previously reported.

“Every line of code, every little graphic, was built by me,” she wrote in an email. “No one ever touched that dashboard. I built it and the underlying data by myself, working 16 hour days, every day without a break.”

Speaking on CBS’s “Face the Nation” last month, Birx gave a shout-out to the dashboard for its transparency and accessibility.

“If you go to the Florida Public Health website on COVID, they’ve been able to show their communities’ cases and tests district by district, county by county, Zip code by Zip code,” Birx said. “That’s the kind of knowledge and power we need to put into the hands of American people so that they can see where the virus is, where the cases are, and make decisions.”

The Florida Department of Health didn’t immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.

Minn. restaurant owner backs down from reopening plans after state attorney general files lawsuit

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A Minnesota restaurant owner who had pledged to reopen in violation of state pandemic restrictions backed down Monday, one day after the state’s attorney general filed a lawsuit.

Shady’s Hometown Tavern in Albany, Minn., continued filling takeout orders Monday but did not allow in any of the dozens who had gathered outside in support, the St. Cloud Times reported.

Kris Schiffler owns six Shady’s establishments in Minnesota, where restaurants and bars, among other businesses, are forbidden from normal operations until June 1.

Initially, Schiffler planned to reopen all six locations to dining customers. Facing fines of up to $25,000 per day, however, he changed his mind. He then reversed course again and said the Albany location would open Monday.

On Sunday, though, Attorney General Keith Ellison filed an enforcement action against Schiffler and his restaurants. In backing the state’s efforts, a judge issued a temporary restraining order Monday.

In a news release, Ellison said, “A handful of bar and restaurant owners have said they don’t want to wait any longer and want to reopen illegally. Over the past several days, my office has reached out to them to try to educate them on their rights and responsibilities under the law and the risks to Minnesotans’ health of reopening illegally. In almost all cases, owners have agreed to comply with the law."

Restaurant executives press Trump on relief efforts at White House meeting

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Executives for restaurant groups large and small pressed President Trump for more federal assistance and for more time to spend the relief money they already have during a White House meeting Monday, which was ostensibly arranged to discuss how to safely reopen for businesses during a pandemic that has stretched into its third month.

Ten chefs and executives, representing chains as large as Burger King and restaurants as rarefied as Per Se in New York City, brought their economic concerns to the meeting. All the hospitality industry representatives were male, and mostly white, though the Independent Restaurant Coalition initially requested that North Carolina chef-restaurateur Katie Button represent the group. IRC co-founder Tom Colicchio, the man behind Crafted Hospitality, says someone at the White House rejected her. He didn’t know who.

“We wanted a woman up there, and they said no,” Colicchio told The Washington Post.

Read more here.

Pelosi says ‘morbidly obese’ Trump should steer clear of hydroxychloroquine

1:13 a.m.
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday criticized President Trump’s decision to use hydroxychloroquine, warning that the president’s age and fitness level puts him at greater risk of experiencing dangerous side effects.

“He’s our president, and I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists,” Pelosi said in an interview on CNN, adding that Trump should be especially careful given his “age group” and his “weight group,” which she described as “morbidly obese.”

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) also denounced Trump’s decision, arguing that the president is putting members of the public in danger.

“I don’t know whether he is taking it or not,” Schumer said on MSNBC. “I know him saying he is taking it, whether he is or not, is reckless, reckless, reckless. It gives people false hope, has people avoid real medical attention, and can actually cause them trouble. It is just dangerous, what he did.”

Letter from Trump’s doctor on hydroxychloroquine leaves some questions unanswered

1:08 a.m.
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Hours after President Trump told reporters that he is taking the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, the White House released a letter Monday night from the president’s in-house doctor confirming that the two discussed the matter, but left some questions unanswered.

“After numerous discussions he and I had for and against the use of hydroxychloroquine we concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks,” White House physician Sean P. Conley wrote.

Conley notably did not say in the letter whether he had written Trump a hydroxychloroquine prescription. And the letter does not explicitly state whether Trump is taking the drug.

In his exchange with reporters, Trump said he began taking hydroxychloroquine about 10 days ago, after he told the White House physician he would like to start taking the drug. That timing would put the start of Trump’s regimen at roughly the same time news broke that two White House staffers had tested positive for the virus. The letter released by the White House on Monday night made a mention of one of those cases.

“As has been previously reported, two weeks ago one of the President’s support staff tested positive for COVID-19,” Conley wrote in the letter. “The President is in very good health and has remained symptom-free. He receives regular COVID-19 testing, all negative to date.”

In a safety alert issued April 24, the Food and Drug Administration warned that it had received reports that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine could have serious side effects and that the drug should be taken under the close supervision of a doctor in a hospital setting or a clinical trial.

IRS is sending stimulus payments on prepaid debit cards

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About 4 million stimulus payments will be sent on prepaid debit cards in place of paper checks, the Treasury Department and the IRS announced Monday.

The cards, which can be used at an ATM or to make purchases, are being distributed to people without bank information on file with the IRS.

The IRS also announced that the agency is adding 3,500 telephone representatives to answer questions about their stimulus payments. The IRS still has tens of millions of payments to make under the Cares Act, signed into law in late March. The extraordinary speed at which the up to $1,200 stimulus payments were sent out resulted in some significant glitches.

NYC police shut down Orthodox school defying shutdown

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New York City police on Monday shut down an Orthodox school in Brooklyn that was operating in defiance of a mandatory pandemic shutdown, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D0 said.

“I can’t stress how dangerous this is for our young people,” de Blasio tweeted. “We’re issuing a Cease and Desist Order and will make sure we keep our communities and our kids safe.”

Law enforcement officials estimated more than 100 people were inside the building in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood and no one was arrested, WNBC-TV reported. There were no signs on the building indicating a school was operating, the station said.

Last month, de Blasio went to the scene of a large gathering of Orthodox mourners at a Brooklyn funeral and oversaw police operations dispersing the crowd. He was subsequently criticized by community leaders for singling out a Jewish group at a time when police were not enforcing stay-at-home orders elsewhere in the city.

Notre Dame announces plan to reopen campus

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The University of Notre Dame announced Monday that it will open its South Bend, Ind., campus to all students for the fall semester two weeks earlier than planned on Aug. 10. The school will also skip a fall break in October and complete the semester before Thanksgiving.

Notre Dame completed the spring semester remotely after students were sent home in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. All summer plans, including academics, were canceled except for a small number of students with specific needs.

Higher education institutions across the country are struggling to complete their fall academic calendars amid safety concerns over reopening campuses and having large groups of people together in classrooms. However, universities are also considering enrollment numbers and tuition revenue.

The pandemic has forced universities to get creative. The University of South Carolina, for example, came up with its own plans. Students will physically return to campus in August for three months, then move to remote instruction after Thanksgiving.

“By far the most complex challenge before us is the return of our students to campus for the resumption of classes in the fall semester,” the Rev. John Jenkins said on Notre Dame’s website. “Bringing our students back is in effect assembling a small city of people from many parts of the nation and the world, who may bring with them pathogens to which they have been exposed. We recognize the challenge, but we believe it is one we can meet.”

The university will have “comprehensive testing” for students, faculty and staff and will have contact tracing, quarantine and isolation protocols. There will be mask and social distancing conditions and new cleaning measures for all campus spaces. There will also be facilities for students who test positive and need to quarantine.