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The coronavirus could be spreading uncontrolled in 24 states in the U.S., particularly in the South and Midwest, according to new research that is yet to be peer-reviewed, which highlights the risk of a second wave of infections in places that reopen too quickly or without sufficient precautions.

More than 94,000 people have died from covid-19 in the United States, where the number of confirmed cases is approaching 1.6 million, according to tracking by The Washington Post.

Here are some significant developments:

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8:28 a.m.
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Ohio county apologizes for guidance urging minorities to avoid ‘gang symbolism’ on masks

Health authorities in Ohio’s largest county are apologizing this week after issuing “offensive” face-mask guidance for African Americans and people of color, urging them to steer clear of masks that could be associated with “gang symbolism” or “elicit deeply held stereotypes.”

The Franklin County Public Health department, which just recently declared racism a public health crisis, had issued its guidance last month after African Americans expressed concern about being racially profiled while wearing face masks. Officials said they wanted to “ensure that all individuals feel safe and can protect themselves from the COVID-19 when out in public by wearing a face mask.”

But the pointers the health department offered didn’t exactly resonate in the way authorities apparently hoped.

Read more here.

4:03 a.m.
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Major metropolitan areas once considered virus hotspots will start to relax some restrictions as early as this weekend

States and major cities continued to push toward reopening ahead of the holiday weekend.

On Friday, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed an executive order expanding the number of people allowed to gather outdoors from 10 to 25. Recreational campgrounds around the state have also opened in time for Memorial Day.

“We are able to confidently make this decision today because of the hard work that each of you have put in, through social distancing, to relieve the stresses on our health care system,” Murphy said at a news conference.

In New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) announced that phase one reopening of businesses can begin in Long Island and the mid-Hudson next week if death statistics continue a downward trend. In the state’s initial reopening phase, retail businesses remain closed for in-person shopping but can offer curbside pickup, while construction jobs, manufacturing and wholesale trade can begin again.

New York also moved Friday to allow “all socially-distanced gatherings of 10 people or less,” rather than just small gatherings related to worship or Memorial Day, according to a civil liberties group that had sued over the matter. The New York Civil Liberties Union had argued the government “does not get to pick who gets to exercise First Amendment rights.”

Some officials voiced concerns about the change Friday.

“This was not a decision made by health professionals. It was forced by a lawsuit,” tweeted Mark Levine, chair of the New York City Council’s public health committee.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) said Philadelphia and surrounding suburbs will enter the “yellow” phase of the state’s reopening plan, under which most businesses can resume operations, by June 5.

Kentucky, Michigan and Vermont also changed their reopening statuses on Friday. For the latest information on state re-openings, read more here.

3:30 a.m.
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Some governors indicate they won’t immediately allow places of worship to reopen, despite Trump’s demands

Some governors indicated Friday they are not speeding up reopening plans for houses of worship in response to President Trump’s threat to “override” state leaders who do not let such institutions open immediately.

“We’re not ready. Honestly, that would be reckless,” Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) said at a news conference, saying her state would still be allowing worship services to resume starting May 30. She said more time was needed for groups to work out social distancing measures.

David Postman, the chief of staff for Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), told the New York Times, “We don’t believe the president has the ability to dictate what states can and cannot open.”

Asked about the president’s declaration, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said he stood by Virginia’s policy of allowing services with 50 percent capacity. In Maryland, a spokesman for Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said the governor supports reopening churches but has no plans to force local county executives to follow his recent order allowing them to operate at 50 percent capacity.

In California, where officials said earlier this week that people’s return to places of worship remains weeks off, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Friday thanked mosques across the state for “forgoing their largest gathering of the year, during the holiest time of the year” to combat the coronavirus as Ramadan comes to a close.

It’s unclear how Trump would seek to enforce a nationwide “essential services” designation for places of worship. The White House has left coronavirus response measures largely up to states.

The president’s comments Friday were quickly embraced by many conservative leaders.

“I wholeheartedly agree” with Trump, tweeted Gov. Brian Kemp (R) of Georgia, which has moved especially aggressively to reopen. “Places of worship — especially during these difficult times — are ESSENTIAL!”

3:17 a.m.
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Hotel uses empty rooms to illuminate messages of hope

In mid-March, as the virus began seizing American life in ways big and small, hotel occupancy across the country plummeted. Some hotels may not survive the crisis, but the DoubleTree in Crystal City, Va., has turned the pandemic into an opportunity by using the suddenly empty hotel’s north tower to display messages of hope.

“We were itching for an idea to do something more,” said Charles Hill, the DoubleTree general manager. “We’re in hospitality; what we do is take care of people." Hill and his colleagues began to focus on the empty tower, so visible from one of the region’s busiest thoroughfares. They viewed it as a canvas in need of a message. “We wanted people to know: You’re not alone, people are thinking about you,” Hill said.

They settled on a heart, which felt like a unifying symbol that also seemed reasonably easy to execute. By opening and closing shades of empty rooms, the hotel created a striking image, especially at night — glowing for commercial planes landing at Reagan National Airport and vehicles zipping through the city. The feedback was positive and the hotel staffers continued throwing around ideas. They did “LOVE” in mid-April and “HOPE” a couple of weeks later.

Read more here.

3:04 a.m.
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Energy won’t be the same when this is over

Coal, already staggering, has taken yet another serious blow, caused by the pandemic. Some analysts ask whether we’ve now passed peak oil — whether we’ll ever again burn 100 million barrels a day. Will investors take a pass on capital-intensive liquefied natural gas terminals and plants? Advocates for renewable sources of energy believe they can survive the price challenges of the near future and emerge stronger than ever.

A lot is unknowable right now. A second surge of covid-19 could flatten the economy for many months to follow. Even now, optimists and pessimists argue over the likely pace of recovery. If President Trump is reelected in November, he can be expected to look kindly on fossil fuels. Joe Biden has promised, if elected, to rejoin the Paris climate accords, set new vehicle fuel economy standards, promote renewables, and push for carbon pricing by 2025.

Read more here.

2:53 a.m.
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Rental car giant Hertz files for bankruptcy amid virus fallout

Hertz, one of the world’s largest and oldest rental car companies, announced on Friday that it and some its subsidiaries have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, making the firm another victim of the economic shutdown caused by the novel coronavirus.

“The impact of COVID-19 on travel demand was sudden and dramatic, causing an abrupt decline in the Company’s revenue and future bookings,” Hertz Global Holdings said in a statement Friday. “Hertz took immediate actions to prioritize the health and safety of employees and customers, eliminate all nonessential spending and preserve liquidity.

“However, uncertainty remains as to when revenue will return and when the used-car market will fully reopen for sales, which necessitated today’s action.”

The company said all of its businesses around the world, including its Hertz, Dollar, Thrifty, Firefly, Hertz Car Sales and Donlen subsidiaries, remain open for business. It added that reservations will continue as usual.

As per the bankruptcy filing, Hertz has more than $1 billion in cash on hand “to support its ongoing operations,” the firm said, adding that it may seek additional cash depending on the how long and how badly the coronavirus continues to affect its business.

Hertz was supposed to pay a group of lenders who lease vehicles for day-to-day rentals on April 27 but was unable to cover the debt, even after a one-week grace period. The two sides agreed to a May 22 deadline to “develop a financing strategy and structure that better reflects the economic impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic and Hertz’ ongoing operating and financing requirements,” according to an SEC filing.

2:49 a.m.
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Michigan’s Department of Corrections tested all inmates and found nearly 9 percent had coronavirus

Nearly 9 percent of prisoners in the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) system have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, with thousands of tests results still pending, officials say.

On Friday, the MDOC announced that all 38,130 inmates inside the state’s 29 prisons were administered tests. The results included 3,263 confirmed cases, with 16,551 tests still pending. Though the vast majority (18,316) of prisoners tested negative, the large number of positives underscore the importance of testing in revealing the virus’s prevalence among people in custody.

“When it comes to this virus, testing is critical to knowing exactly what you are dealing with and how to address it,” MDOC Director Heidi Washington said in a statement. “The vast majority of the prisoners we found who tested positive had no symptoms and were making it more challenging to control the spread of this illness.”

Tracking the spread of the virus in prison systems, the Marshall Project discovered spikes in positive results in Michigan, as well as Arkansas, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee. Those state prison systems had recently undertaken enormous testing protocols, resulting in the discovery of more cases.

According to the Marshall Project, at least 29,251 inmates in the United States had tested positive as of Wednesday, representing a 19 percent leap from the previous week.

Some prisons have released inmates early over concerns about the spread of the virus. On Thursday, President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen was released from federal prison to home confinement amid these worries.

2:22 a.m.
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Press secretary appears to inadvertently reveal account numbers as Trump donates quarterly salary to HHS

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced Friday that President Trump was donating his quarterly paycheck to the Department of Health and Human Services to help with the development of new therapies to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s the second time Trump has donated to HHS. He did the same with his fourth-quarter income from 2019.

As McEnany held up the $100,000 check from Trump, made out to HHS, on Friday, she appeared to reveal the president’s bank account and routing numbers. (In the photo above, the numbers were purposefully blurred by The Washington Post.)

Judd Deere, the White House deputy press secretary, did not confirm to The Post if the check displayed the president’s actual account info.

“President Trump has donated his entire salary since he took office — a promise he made and has kept — and today his salary went to help advance new therapies to treat this virus,” Deere said in an email to The Post, “but leave it to the media to find a shameful reason not to simply report the facts, focusing instead on whether the check is real or not.”

During his presidency, Trump has bypassed the traditional salary and has donated to agencies like the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Office of the Surgeon General.

The bank account and the nine-digit routing numbers are printed at the bottom of checks. Financial institutions use the information to send and receive money. Experts caution to keep these numbers private to avoid identity theft and other fraud.

2:05 a.m.
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Missouri hairstylist worked with coronavirus symptoms and exposed 84 clients, health officials say

A hairstylist in Springfield, Mo., worked while exhibiting coronavirus symptoms and directly exposed 84 clients, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department announced Friday.

The health department said the hairstylist did wear a face covering, and so did the clients. Those directly exposed, including the stylist’s co-workers, will be notified by the health department and offered a coronavirus test, it said.

The hairstylist worked on at least eight days within the past two weeks, according to the health department. They also visited a number of other locations, including a Dairy Queen, Walmart and fitness center.

Missouri businesses, including hair salons, were allowed to reopen May 4 as long as they adhered to social distancing guidelines.

At a news conference Friday, Springfield-Greene County Health Department Director Clay Goddard called the revelation of someone working while symptomatic frustrating and disappointing.

“I’m going to be honest with you. We can’t have many more of these. We can’t make this a regular habit or our capability as a community will be strained and we will have to reevaluate what things look like going forward,” Goddard said, according to McClatchy. “Each of us owns just how this will go forward in our community.”

In a statement to McClatchy, which reported the news earlier Friday, Great Clips franchise owners said the Springfield location would be closed for “deep cleaning,” adding that the staff and customer safety was a top priority.

1:46 a.m.
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Nevada governor sets June 4 target date for reopening casinos

Nevada could move soon to reopen casinos after the state’s Gaming Control Board meets next week.

On Friday evening, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) said he would hold a news conference Tuesday regarding the state entering the second phase of reopening, if data on the virus “stays consistent.” Sisolak also announced a workshop the same day involving the Gaming Control Board and state and local health officials. The Board will discuss coronavirus response measures within resort hotels.

“Pending the evaluation of trends in our data and results of this meeting, I have set a target date of June 4, 2020, for reopening Nevada’s gaming industry,” Sisolak said in a tweet.

Though shuttered casinos will miss the big draw of the Memorial Day weekend, several giant gaming resorts — including the MGM Grand and Wynn — had started taking tentative date reservations beginning June 1, according to the Las Vegas Journal Review.

Last year, more than 300,000 tourists visited Las Vegas during Memorial Day weekend, according to AAA and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

1:18 a.m.
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Top executives for vaccine manufacturer sold stock after promising results

Top executives for Moderna sold nearly $30 million in shares after the Massachusetts biotechnology company announced promising results for a possible covid-19 vaccine earlier this week, CNN reported Friday.

The news, revealed in SEC filings, come just days after Moderna announced results from its first human safety tests — considered a preliminary step toward showing the vaccine was effective, as The Washington Post reported earlier this week. The vaccine is one of eight for coronavirus that have been tested on humans worldwide.

CNN reported that Moderna’s chief financial officer and chief medical officer executed options and sold $30 million in combined shares through 10b5-1 plans. In an emailed statement, a Moderna company spokesperson told The Post that the 10b5-1sales were preplanned and declined to provide further information.

The company’s stock rose nearly 20 percent to $80 following the announcement that eight people who received the vaccine had developed virus-fighting antibodies similar or greater than those in recovered covid-19 patients. Those results suggest but don’t prove that the vaccine could provide some level of immunity.

12:55 a.m.
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Virginia welfare recipients can soon order groceries online through pilot program

Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said Friday that the federal government has picked Virginia to take part in a pilot program that lets recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) order groceries online and have them delivered, helping prevent exposure to the novel coronavirus.

“For families with small children or with members who have underlying health conditions that put them at greater risk, this will help keep them even safer,” Northam said.

He thanked the state’s U.S. senators, Tim Kaine (D) and Mark R. Warner (D), for working to get Virginia included in the demonstration.

More than 740,000 state residents receive the federal food aid program, Northam said. The online ordering option will launch Friday, May 29, and initially be available through Amazon and Walmart. Other retailers who want to participate can apply through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Northam said.

More information is available on the website of the Virginia Department of Social Services.

SNAP benefits cannot be used to pay tips or delivery fees, Northam’s office said.

12:32 a.m.
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White House says D.C. region among worst in country, as summer closures continue

The lead coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force said Friday that the District and its suburbs have the highest rate in the country of people testing positive for the infection, despite implementing the same restrictions and stay-at-home orders as other states.

Dr. Deborah Birx said she has asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to work with officials in the nation’s capital, as well as in Chicago and Los Angeles, which she said are in similar positions, “to really understand where these new cases are coming from and what do we need to do to prevent them in the future.”

Birx said 42 states have a less than 10 percent positive-test rate on a rolling seven-day average, below the averages in Maryland, Virginia and the District.

Read more here.

12:09 a.m.
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'This is a mess’: Amid criticism, CDC confirms it combined two types of coronavirus tests

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that it was combining the results of viral and antibody tests for the coronavirus to calculate nationwide totals, which critics assert could misrepresent figures intended to show how many people actually have the virus.

The discrepancies made headlines this week after being reported by the Atlantic and NPR’s WLRN station in Miami.

Antibody (or serologic) tests, which generally rely on a finger-prick of blood, indicate whether someone has recently been infected with the coronavirus by identifying proteins the body produced while fighting an infection. Viral tests, also known as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, are designed to detect genetic material from the virus to tell if someone is currently infected with the disease.

Ashish Jha, a Harvard professor of global health, told the Atlantic that the mixing of test results concerned him because antibody tests are intended for the average person — not just those who are symptomatic. He told the publication that blending the two tests “will drive down your positive rate in a very dramatic way.”

In an email to CNBC, CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said the agency hopes to “have the testing data broken down between PCR and serology testing in the coming weeks.”

In Virginia, officials said on Thursday that they would no longer include antibody tests in their daily counts of who had been tested for the virus, The Washington Post reported.

The Atlantic noted that Georgia, Texas, Pennsylvania, Maine and Florida, among other states, had engaged in the same practice of combining tests.

“How could the CDC make that mistake?” Jha told the Atlantic. “This is a mess.”