Coronavirus pandemic, Trump visits Pennsylvania, unemployment figures: 5 things to know Thursday

Coronavirus pandemic, Trump visits Pennsylvania, unemployment figures: 5 things to know Thursday

Ousted coronavirus vaccine chief set to testify

A vaccine expert who said he was ousted after raising concerns about a drug President Donald Trump touted as a potential treatment for coronavirus is scheduled to testify Thursday at a congressional hearing. Rick Bright filed a whistleblower complaint last week after he was removed from his role as director of the office involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine at the Department of Health and Human Services and assigned to another job. Bright says in the report he resisted widespread use of hydroxychloroquine, which Trump had repeatedly touted, because claims of its benefit lacked "scientific merit." He's expected to testify at 10 a.m. ET before the House Energy Subcommittee on Health.

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Trump visits Pennsylvania as he pushes reopening message

President Donald Trump will visit a medical supply business in Pennsylvania on Thursday despite health warnings and as the White House institutes new safety procedures after two employees tested positive for coronavirus. He plans to use the trip to spotlight his argument that the economy can be reopened safely and life can soon return to normal, even as lawmakers and his own health advisers warn that moving too quickly could trigger a deadly new wave of the virus. Ahead of the visit, Trump criticized the state's Democratic governor, Tom Wolf, for not seeking to reopen the state's economy fast enough.

Millions more expected to file for unemployment

Economists estimate that the Labor Department on Thursday will report that 2.5 million Americans filed new applications for unemployment insurance last week amid the COVID-19 pandemic. That's a bleak figure, but it's down from the 3.2 million the prior week. More than 33 million people have applied for benefits over the past seven weeks, and April's unemployment rate hit 14.7%, highest since the Great Depression. On the plus side, the weekly count of jobless claims has declined for five straight weeks after peaking at 6.9 million at the end of March.

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Biden to participate in virtual town hall; Abrams scheduled to appear

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, will take part in a live one-hour virtual town hall Thursday night at 10 p.m. ET on MSNBC. Later in the hour, Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams will join the event in her first joint television interview with Biden. The former vice president has already committed to choosing a woman as his running mate and Abrams is widely considered to be on Biden's shortlist, though no announcement is expected Thursday. Like all his campaign events since mid-March, it appears Biden will participate from his Wilmington, Delaware, home as he follows social distancing guidelines like most Americans amid the coronavirus pandemic. But some Democrats are getting antsy for Biden to move beyond the standard online speeches, especially as President Donald Trump is starting to travel more.

On the road: Trump to visit Pennsylvania factory as he pushes message on reopening'Economy isn’t a light switch': Biden urges caution on reopenings amid coronavirusFirst televised interview: What we learned when Tara Reade spoke with Megyn Kelly about the Biden assault claim

Florida beach conditions may become dangerous as storm system develops

A tropical or subtropical storm is likely to form this weekend, with Florida to see rough beach conditions and increasing rain chances before the system forms Thursday into Friday. If the system gets a name, it would be Tropical (or Subtropical) Storm Arthur. As of midday Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said there was a 70% chance of tropical development within the next five days. The system is forecast to remain well off the southeast coast and track farther out to sea. But dangerous waves and life-threatening rip currents will be possible along Florida beaches leading up to the storm. The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season officially begins June 1.


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