The House is set to vote on a historic $3 trillion coronavirus stimulus proposal that includes more $1,200 checks and money for state and local governments. House Democrats unveiled the new stimulus bill Tuesday, however, the bill is likely to get a cool reception in the GOP-controlled Senate. .
Friday will also see parts of New York, the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S., allowed to reopen but Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned residents to remain cautious. "Phased reopening does not mean the problem has gone away," Cuomo said. "Follow the data, follow the science, follow the facts, follow the metrics."
The U.S. has the largest coronavirus outbreak in the world by far. There are almost 86,000 deaths and 1.4 million confirmed cases, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard. Worldwide, the virus has killed more than 302,000 people and has infected more than 4.4 million.
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Here are some of the most significant recent developments:Ivanka Trump, daughter and senior adviser to President Donald Trump, says she wears a mask at the White House — which is one reason the president does not.Wisconsinites are trying to understand what daily life is supposed to look like now that the state Supreme Court has eliminated the governor's stay-at-home order. It looks like the rules will be set by city and county officials.Another 3 million Americans filed jobless claims last week as layoffs continue to ravage economy.
What we're talking about Friday: Online school is hard. But what if you're still learning to speak English?
Ivanka Trump wears a mask inside the White House and 'everyone is instructed to do so as well'
Ivanka Trump, daughter and senior adviser to President Donald Trump, says she wears a mask at the White House, and that's one reason the president doesn't have to. "There are different procedures as it relates to interacting with the president," Ivanka Trump told USA TODAY on Thursday when asked about criticism her father has received for declining to wear a mask in public.
The president "is tested on a daily basis – all those who come into contact with him are tested on a daily basis," she said in an interview. "No one is in close proximity to him that isn't wearing a mask. I always wear a mask when I am with the president, and everyone is instructed to do so as well."
Last week, the White House implemented new safety measures after two aides tested positive for the coronavirus and three members of the coronavirus task force entered quarantine after attending meetings with one of the staff members diagnosed with the virus.
– David Jackson and Courtney Subramanian
Epicenter of US COVID-19 outbreak, New York state, to begin reopening
Parts of New York state, which has been the U.S. epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, will begin reopening Friday — including a wide range of businesses, from construction and manufacturing to tennis courts and drive-in theaters. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley regions of western and Upstate New York have met seven crucial criteria, including declining hospitalizations and ramped-up testing capacity. Yet, New York City is not among areas ready to reopen. "It's been a crisis and a painful one, but we are coming out the other side," Cuomo said. "This is the next big step in this historic journey."
Congressman: Airlines should leave seats empty on planes to promote social distancing
The chairman of the House Transportation Committee called on airlines Thursday to dramatically cut back the number of seats they offer on aircraft to promote social distancing.
Rep. Peter DeFazio said he was acting after seeing a tweeted photo from a physician on a United Airlines flight from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco, that showed passengers in every seat. Dr. Ethan Weiss' tweets said passengers, including a group of 25 fellow health workers like himself who had been caring for coronavirus patients in New York, were "shocked" and "scared" at the sight of a full Boeing 737.
"I would be, too, if I were about to spend the next five hours sealed in a tube with up to 184 passengers, all seated inches from one another, and any number of whom could be a carrier of COVID-19," wrote DeFazio, a Democrat from Oregon, in letters to two industry groups, Airlines for America and the National Air Carrier Association.
Many airlines say they have been voluntarily leaving middle seats empty on flights in order to promote social distancing.
– Chris Woodyard and Dawn Gilbertson
Coronavirus could be contracted through eyes
More Americans are using cloth coverings to shield their noses and mouths in an effort to blunt the spread of coronavirus, but eyes — long believed to be a possible infection route — usually remain open to the air. That's how a high-profile infectious disease expert believes he caught the virus.
Virologist and NBC contributor Joseph Fair says he was likely infected through his eyes while on a crowded airplane flight, Fair told the Today Show. He said he was taking precautions he advises others to take, including wearing a mask.
Yet, days later, he began presenting symptoms of COVID-19 and soon needed to be hospitalized. "You can still get this virus through your eyes ... it's the best guess I have of probably how I got it," Fair said. He also said he expects he will soon be discharged.
Experts told USA TODAY Thursday that, while the story underscores a risk that people should take seriously during a pandemic, it isn't one that should prompt panic.
– Joel Shannon
One in four restaurants may shut down permanently
One of the most noticeable long-term victims of the COVID-19 crisis may be restaurants, with 25% of them likely shuttering for good. That's the forecast from the reservation service OpenTable, whose bookings on Wednesday had shrunk by 95% compared to May 13 of last year, Bloomberg reported.
The National Restaurant Association said its members lost about $30 billion in March, and $50 billion in April. In the last week alone, several restaurants have announced they won't re-open, including the buffet chain Sweet Tomatoes/Souplantation, Jen's Grill in Chicago and 32-year-old Ristorante Franchino in San Francisco.
– Jefferson Graham
Global deaths pass 300,000 and counting
Crossing the 300,000 mark in global deaths from COVID-19 on Thursday served as another grim reminder of the enormous damage inflicted by the virus, with the U.S. right in the middle of the pandemic.
No country approaches even half the 85,000-plus lives the U.S. has lost. That figure represents about 28% of the world's total even though the American population makes up only 4.3% of the global amount.
Next on the death toll list is Great Britain with more than 33,000. The UK population of 67 million is about 20% of the U.S.'s 330 million, so the British rate of fatalities is considerably higher than America's.
The Jersey shore, 'where memories are made,' to open Memorial Day weekend
New Jersey's beaches can reopen by Memorial Day weekend but with rules in place that will require beachgoers to spread out their umbrellas and chairs more than usual. Gov. Phil Murphy said towns that open their beaches, boardwalks and lakefronts must comply with social distancing measures and limit capacity. More than 15,000 coronavirus deaths have been reported in New Jersey so far, the second-highest total behind New York.
“The Jersey Shore after all is where memories are made," Murphy said. "The last thing any of us wanted was a summertime down the shore to be a memory.”
– Stacey Barchenger
More coronavirus news and information from USA TODAYBuying the plunge: Individual investors remain optimistic despite coronavirus pandemicFace masks on the fly: Las Vegas airport adds PPE vending machinesInvestigation: Gun stores have defied orders to close their doors as the pandemic drives historic demand for firearmsNational park reopenings: The Grand Canyon is set to reopen Friday, with some restrictions.
Whistleblower warns of 'darkest winter in modern history'
An immunologist who says he was unfairly ousted from the Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday that if the U.S. does not develop a plan to address a second wave of the virus, the country will experience the "darkest winter in modern history."
Rick Bright, who was removed last month from his position as the director of HHS' Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee that the nation might be rushing too quickly on a vaccine before a full assessment is made of its effectiveness and safety. A 12-to-18-month schedule to develop one would require everything to go perfectly, he said.
“We’ve never seen anything go perfectly,” he added.
– Maureen Groppe and William Cummings