Dem lawmaker goes on epic rant after GOP colleague admits hiding positive coronavirus test

A Pennsylvania Democratic lawmaker joined colleagues on his side of the aisle in lambasting a Republican lawmaker for keeping them in the dark about testing positive for the coronavirus.

Rep. Brian Sims, D-Philadelphia, delivered an epic Facebook Live rant on Wednesday about the exclusion, saying state House Republicans called for in-person committee meetings to argue that business sectors were safe to reopen even as they knew they had been exposed to the virus.

 

"Every single day of this crisis this State Government Committee in Pennsylvania has met so that their members could line up one after one after one and explain that it was safe to go back to work," he said. "During that time period they were testing positive. They were notifying one another. And they didn’t notify us."

"I never ever, ever knew that the Republican leadership of this state would put so many of us at risk for partisanship to cover up a lie," he said during the nearly 12-minute tirade. "And that lie is that we're all safe from COVID."

Rep. Andrew Lewis, R-Dauphin, said in a Facebook Live address Wednesday night, hours after he publicly announced he had tested positive, that he informed as few people as possible about contracting the coronavirus because he wanted to protect the privacy of those around him and because he was only in close quarters with a handful of house colleagues.

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Grand Canyon to fully open South Rim entrance in June

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. — The Grand Canyon is expanding access to its more popular South Rim entrance and planning to let visitors in around the clock next month after it shuttered temporarily over coronavirus concerns.

The entrance station will be open from 4 a.m. until 2 p.m., starting Friday until June 5 when the national park will drop restrictions on the hours. The canyon’s North Rim also will reopen June 5, though the campground will be closed until July 1 because of construction.

Park concessionaires will start reopening lodging in June, the park said Thursday.

New outbreak as South Korea reopens, cases surge in Brazil

San Francisco sets strict new mask policy with 30-foot requirement

San Francisco will begin requiring nearly everyone to wear a mask when they're not at home — including runners, people on bicycles and in general anyone who is within 30 feet of another person not in their household. 

Mayor London Breed said the order would take effect Friday night, and that as the city begins to relax certain restrictions, a stricter mask policy is a necessary step to prevent transmissions of the coronavirus. "We've all had to adjust to our new way of life," she said on Twitter.

There will be exceptions, including for people sitting stationary in a park or on a beach, but the new order is more expansive than policies in most of the rest of the country. San Francisco's previous order had generally exempted people exercising from wearing masks. 

"The 30 feet (10 yard) distance is used here to give people adequate time to put on a Face Covering before the distance closes and the people are within six feet of each other," the order says. 

Oklahoma signs off on Saturday classes for schools in case of 2nd surge

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma State Department Department of Education on Thursday approved Saturday classes in case of another surge of coronavirus cases.

The board approved a plan starting in the fall in which Saturday classes will be counted toward minimum attendance requirements, which is currently prohibited by state law.

Health officials have warned of a possible second surge of coronavirus cases and state schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister has said she wants schools to prepare multiple calendars for the fall, in case of another outbreak.

Oklahoma schools canceled in-person classes and moved to distance learning in mid-March as the virus spread in the state.

Missouri governor delays rolling out phase two of reopening

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson delayed rolling out the second of phase of the state’s reopening plan on Thursday, saying the extension would give some communities “more time to prepare.”

Parson partially ended a stay-at-home order May 4, allowing businesses to reopen with social distancing rules in place. Parson extended the plan’s first phase to June 15.

Widely circulated images of a crowded Memorial Day pool party that local health officials called “reckless” didn’t play a role in Thursday’s decision, he said. “The thing at the Lake of the Ozarks is a very, very small sample of what's going on in the state, and for the most part, people were doing their part and I think they're going to continue to do that,” he said.

The number of confirmed cases in the state has continued to rise, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. As of Wednesday, data showed the state had recorded roughly 12,800 cases and 689 deaths.

44 deaths among meatpacking workers in U.S., union says

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — At least 44 meatpacking workers in the U.S. have died from the new coronavirus and another 3,000 have tested positive, according to an estimate released Thursday by the largest union representing workers.

Meat processing plants have become hot spots for infections in communities across the country, but most have stayed open since President Donald Trump's executive order a month ago declaring them critical infrastructure. The United Food and Commercial Workers union said 30 meatpacking plants have closed at some point since March, resulting in an estimated 40% reduction in pork production and a 25% reduction in beef.

The actual number of employees with the coronavirus is likely higher than the estimate, said Mark Lauritsen, director of the food processing and meatpacking division for the United Food and Commercial Workers International. The union compiled the figures from local union members who either received data from the meatpacking plant or verified infections with employees.

RNC signals convention to stay in North Carolina after Trump threats

The top officials from the Republican National Committee and the Republican National Convention signaled in a letter Thursday that its presidential convention will remain in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

This comes as President Donald Trump in recent days has threatened to move the convention elsewhere unless Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper loosens some of his COVID-19 restrictions. 

NBC News obtained a letter from top Republican officials to Cooper’s office about proceeding with the RNC in Charlotte as planned but asked North Carolina officials for “clear guidelines” given the time crunch. 

Ronna McDaniels, the RNC chairwoman, and Marcia Lee Kelly, the president of the Republican National Convention, have asked the Democratic governor to sign off on “safety protocols,” including pre-travel health surveys and thermal scans of all mandatory attendees. They are also requesting an “aggressive sanitizing protocol for all public areas."

Trump has said stated he wants to view proposals by next week to make a decision. 

How private jet owners got a subsidy from coronavirus relief funds

A California aviation management company to the elite is sharing the benefits of a taxpayer-financed loan with its private jet-owning clients after it won the loan through the federal Paycheck Protection Program, according to three clients and a copy of a letter announcing the plan.

Congress and President Donald Trump enacted the loan program, known as PPP, to prevent workers at small businesses from being laid off during the coronavirus crisis. The company, Clay Lacy Aviation of Van Nuys in Los Angeles, will be able to keep pilots and flight attendants employed with the money it received.

But the company also decided to provide a benefit for clients who own the jets it manages, a rich set who weren't the target of federal coronavirus relief funds.

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People are accidentally throwing out their stimulus check — because it looks like junk mail

Some Americans may be unwittingly throwing their long-awaited stimulus check in the trash. That's because, starting last week, the Treasury Department and the IRS started sending out economic impact payments in regular white envelopes that could be confused for junk mail.

Almost 4 million people — including those for whom the agency does not have a bank account on file — will be getting their stimulus check in the form of a prepaid debit card. The only problem is that the debit cards come in an envelope that says “Money Network Cardholder Services” and does not bear any federal markings.

That has prompted some recipients to complain they look too similar to an unwanted credit card offer, leading some to accidentally throw the card — which could contain as much as $3,400 for a family of four — in the trash.

To help taxpayers identify the card, the IRS said in an FAQ that the cards will bear the Visa logo and are issued by MetaBank. A letter included with the card explains that the card is the Economic Impact Payment Card. More information is available at eipcard.com.

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Cancer, coronavirus are a dangerous mix, new studies find

New research shows how dangerous the coronavirus is for current and former cancer patients. Those who developed COVID-19 were much more likely to die within a month than people without cancer who got it, two studies found.

They are the largest reports on people with both diseases in the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain and Canada. In one study, half of 928 current and former cancer patients with COVID-19 were hospitalized and 13 percent died. That’s far more than the various rates that have been reported in the general population.

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