Many governors across the U.S. are disregarding or creatively interpreting White House guidelines in easing their states' lockdowns and letting businesses reopen, an Associated Press analysis found.
The AP determined that 17 states do not appear to meet one of the key benchmarks set by the White House for loosening up — a 14-day downward trajectory in new cases or infection rates. And yet many of those states have begun to reopen or are about to do so, including Alabama, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah.
The push to reopen across the country comes amid pressure from businesses that are collapsing by the day and workers who have been thrown out of a job. Over 33 million Americans have applied for unemployment benefits over the past seven weeks, and a highly anticipated report on Friday is expected to show U.S. unemployment as high as 16%, a level not seen since the Depression.
Regional and political fractures are emerging in many countries over how fast to lift the lid on coronavirus-imposed lockdowns, as worries about economic devastation collide with fears of a second wave of deaths.
French mayors are resisting the government’s call to reopen schools, but Italian governors want Rome to ease lockdown measures faster. In the U.S., meanwhile, a new report on unemployment claims shows the depth of job losses caused by business shutdowns.
In other developments:
- A member of the military serving as one of President Donald Trump’s valets has tested positive for the coronavirus. The White House says Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have since tested negative for the virus and “remain in good health.” It marks the latest coronavirus scare for the president.
- Nearly 3.2 million laid-off workers applied for unemployment benefits last week. Roughly 33.5 million people have now filed for aid in the seven weeks since the coronavirus forced companies to slash payrolls. That is the equivalent of 20% of Americans who had been employed in February, when the jobless rate was at a 50-year low.
- The U.S. military is barring the enlistment of would-be recruits who have been hospitalized for the coronavirus, unless they get a special medical waiver.
- The decision to wear a mask in public is becoming a political statement — a moment to pick sides in a brewing culture war over containing the coronavirus.
- A new study finds no evidence of benefit from a malaria drug widely promoted as a treatment for coronavirus infection. Hydroxychloroquine did not lower the risk of dying or needing a breathing tube in a comparison that involved nearly 1,400 patients treated at Columbia University in New York, researchers reported Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
- Centenarians are succumbing rapidly to the coronavirus pandemic. Entire limbs are being lopped off family trees, and their wisdom and lore are dying with them.
- IndyCar has gotten the green flag to finally start its season, which it will do in Texas with a nighttime race June 6 without spectators. The race at Texas Motor Speedway was the next one on the schedule that hadn't been postponed or canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
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