A drive-by quinceañera? Latino families get creative, maintain a tradition

Kristie Rodriguez and her daughter Xochitl spent a lot of time planning the teen's quinceañera celebration to mark her 15th birthday.

“Every little Hispanic girl dreams about her quinceañera and her wedding. Those are your two big days in your life,” Rodriguez, 45, from San Antonio, Texas, told NBC News.

Then coronavirus hit—and stay-at-home orders left Rodriguez having to reimagine the venerated Latino tradition in a very different way.

It took some creativity and work, but Rodriguez and her husband Jimmy surprised Xochitl with a low-key but unforgettable version of her big day, surprising her with a a ‘drive-by’ quinceañera on April 21st. Xochitl was able to share with her closest family and friends—at a safe social distance.

Across the country, families have found ways to celebrate.

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Photo: Healthcare workers place a nasal swab from a patient into a tube for testing

Healthcare workers place a nasal swab from a patient into a tube for testing at the Brightpoint Health and UJA of NY Federation free pop-up coronavirus (COVID-19) testing site in Brooklyn, New York on May 8, 2020.Angela Weiss / AFP - Getty Images

Court halts ban on mass gatherings at Kentucky churches

FRANKFORT, Ky. — A federal court halted the Kentucky governor’s temporary ban on mass gatherings from applying to in-person religious services, clearing the way for Sunday church services.

U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove on Friday issued a temporary restraining order enjoining Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration from enforcing the ban on mass gatherings at “any in-person religious service which adheres to applicable social distancing and hygiene guidelines.”

The ruling from the Eastern District of Kentucky sided with the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Nicholasville, but applies to all places of worship around the commonwealth. Two other federal judges, including U.S. District Judge David Hale, had previously ruled the ban was constitutional. But also on Friday, Hale, of Kentucky’s western district, granted Maryville Baptist Church an injunction allowing in-person services at that specific church to proceed, provided the church abide by public health requirements.

Exceptions to the Democratic governor’s shutdown order include trips to the grocery store, bank, pharmacy and hardware store. Beshear had previously announced that places of worship in Kentucky will be able to once again hold in-person services starting May 20, as part of a broader plan to gradually reopen the state’s economy. 

Sen. Ted Cruz gets hair cut at Dallas salon whose owner was jailed

Sen. Ted Cruz, the conservative Republican of Texas, got his hair cut Friday at the Dallas salon owned by a woman jailed for violating orders aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus.

Barbershops and hair salons were allowed to reopen Friday in Texas, although with six feet between work stations.

Cruz flew from Houston to get a cut at Salon à la Mode. Owner Shelley Luther was sentenced Tuesday to seven days in jail for staying open despite public health orders but was freed Thursday after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott eliminated jail for violating an order related to the coronavirus.

Luther's situation has been championed by some on the political right. Cruz, leaving the salon wearing a mask, said of his haircut "I think it's terrific," video from NBC Dallas-Fort Worth showed.

"I'm proud to stand with Shelley Luther and I'll tell you, what happened to her was wrong," Cruz said. "It was ridiculous to see somebody sentenced to seven days in jail for cutting hair. That's not right, that's not justice, that's not Texas."

Luther, also wearing a mask, said a visit by Cruz was "something that I would have never dreamed of" and "overwhelming in a great way."

Top White House officials buried CDC report

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The decision to shelve detailed advice from the nation’s top disease control experts for reopening communities during the coronavirus pandemic came from the highest levels of the White House, according to internal government emails obtained by The Associated Press.

The files also show that after the AP reported Thursday that the guidance document had been buried, the Trump administration ordered key parts of it to be fast-tracked for approval.

The trove of emails show the nation’s top public health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spending weeks working on guidance to help the country deal with a public health emergency, only to see their work quashed by political appointees with little explanation.

The trove of emails show the nation’s top public health experts at the CDC spending weeks working on guidance only to see their work quashed by political appointees with little explanation.

NBC News has not viewed the emails and the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Newsom says community spread started at nail salon

After dropping a provocative remark that community spread of coronavirus in California started at a nail salon, Gov. Gavin Newsom declined Friday to provide additional details about where the salon was located and how health officials traced the case.

“This whole thing started in the state of California, the first community spread, in a nail salon. I just want to remind everybody of that and that I’m very worried about that,” Newsom said Thursday during his daily COVID-19 briefing in Sacramento.

He said he could not release more information because of health and privacy concerns. He added that his office would provide additional details when possible.

Newsom's initial comment triggered immediate backlash from the beauty industry, which called his statement "surprising and disappointing."

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Washington state saw coronavirus infection rate creep back up in April

Washington state allowed more businesses to resume Friday, but data from modelers showed the infection rate began to creep back up in April, the governor said.

Gov. Jay Islee said at a news conference Friday that data shows the infection rate in the state was around three — meaning one person infected three others — in March before dropping to one or below one depending on the region.

But as of April 19, that number had gone up from a low to at or just above one. "We just cannot allow that line to go significantly above one or we will simply again see an exponential growth," Inslee said.

He said the success the state has seen is because of the sacrifices Washingtonians have made in obeying social distancing and other rules to prevent the spread of the coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19.

Inslee said the data and possible continuation of the trend shows that "we have to continue a step-by-step, measured approach." Inslee has relaxed some rules from his stay-at-home order and on Friday curbside retail and landscaping was allowed to open or resume

As of Friday, there have been more than 16,300 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state and 905 deaths, according to the state health department. Inslee also said Friday that "there's a real good reason to believe" that public schools could reopen this fall, but he that "it's dependent in part on what we do here in May." 

FDA director in self-quarantine

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Director Stephen Hahn has started two weeks of self-quarantine after coming into contact with a person who has coronavirus, aides told NBC News Friday.

He immediately tested negative for the virus but was isolating himself for two weeks as a precaution, they said.

Hahn announced his self-quarantine in a memo to staff members Friday, the sources said. Politico first reported the director's isolation.

Earlier Friday Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary, Katie Miller, confirmed she has tested positive for COVID-19. She's the second administration staffer to contract the virus this week.

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