The global coronavirus death toll passed 300,000, with more than 4.4 million confirmed cases around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. remains the world's worst-hit country, with more than 86,600 deaths.
Friday evening the House passed a $3 trillion coronavirus relief package that would include another round of stimulus payments of up to $1,200 per person. President Donald Trump has suggested he won't support the bill.
Critics Friday said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is presenting families detained at the border with the choice of allowing children to be released without them or staying together and facing possible virus exposure in detention.
Additionally, the CDC issued a health alert to physicians on a rare but potentially deadly condition linked to COVID-19 in children that has now been reported in at least 19 states and Washington, D.C.
- MAPS: Confirmed cases in the U.S. and worldwide, confirmed deaths in the U.S. and globally.
- Reopening America: See what states across the U.S. have already reopened.
- The coronavirus has destroyed the job market in every state. See the per-state jobless numbers and how they’ve changed.
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It’s a work from home Congress as House approves proxy vote
WASHINGTON — It all started with the grandchildren.
As House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer saw it, if he could Face Time with the grandkids, why not have Congress legislate by video chat and avoid the health risks of convening at the Capitol during the coronavirus pandemic?
And so the silver-haired, 80-year-old congressman from Maryland helped steer the House into one of the more substantial rules changes of its 230-year history.
“This is no revolutionary, radical change,” Hoyer said. “This is exactly what the Founders wanted to happen.”
The House approved the new rules Friday, during what could likely be the chamber’s last fully in-person votes for the foreseeable future.
From now on, lawmakers will be allowed to cast House floor votes by proxy — without being “present” as the Constitution requires. The next step will allow them to skip the middle-man and simply vote remotely once leaders approve the technology.
Washington governor backs off requirement for restaurant logs
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday sought to clarify a rule that would require restaurants to keep daily logs of all customers once they reopen, saying it's now voluntary.
"We are asking visitors to voluntarily provide contact information in case of COVID-19 exposure," Inslee said in a statement, adding that the information would be shared with health officials if a visitor is exposed to the virus. If unused, the log would be destroyed in 30 days.
"This will not be required of anyone," Inslee said.
On Monday, Inslee issued guidance that said restaurants allowed to reopen with table service were required to "create a daily log of all customers" in case contact tracing was needed later.
The data collection requirement caused an uproar, and several restaurant owners were skeptical of the rule, The Seattle Times reported.
Businesses are still required to keep a log of those who voluntarily give their information.
Alaska lawmaker compares virus screening to Holocaust
JUNEAU, Alaska — An Alaska lawmaker on Friday defended asking whether stickers that individuals may be asked to wear as part of a Capitol coronavirus screening process will be “available as a yellow Star of David.”
Republican Rep. Ben Carpenter of Nikiski said he was serious in making the comment in an email chain with other legislators. He was responding to proposed protocols aimed at guarding against the virus as lawmakers prepare to reconvene Monday. The protocols suggest stickers be worn to confirm someone at the Capitol had been screened.
“The point is, tying it to the Star of David shows, who amongst the human population has lost their liberties more than the Jewish people?” he said in an interview. “And if there were more people standing up for the loss of liberties prior to World War II, maybe we wouldn't have had the Holocaust."
Rep. Grier Hopkins, a Fairbanks Democrat, responded to Carpenter's email by calling the remark “disgusting. Keep your Holocaust jokes to yourself.”
Charges dropped against Florida pastor who defied stay-at-home order
A Florida pastor who was arrested in late March after holding a church service in defiance of stay-at-home orders won't be prosecuted, the state's attorney said Friday.
Rodney Howard-Browne of The River at Tampa Bay Church was arrested March 30 on charges that he violated local orders against mass gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic. He held two services the day before.
The prosecutor, Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren, said in a statement Friday that Howard-Browne won't be prosecuted, although he said that the arrest was appropriate.
"Pastor Howard-Browne's arrest accomplished the safer-at-home order’s goal, which is compliance with the law," Warren said.
The pastor was charged with two misdemeanors. Liberty Counsel, a law firm that has been defending Howard-Browne, called the arrest politically motivated. "Neither the pastor nor The River at Tampa Bay Church did anything wrong," Liberty Counsel founder and chairman Mat Staver said in a statement.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had left matters up to local officials but on April 1 issued a statewide stay-at-home order that did call churches an essential activity, and that order trumped conflicting local rules.
House passes Democrats’ $3 trillion coronavirus ‘HEROES’ aid package
President Donald Trump this week declared the Democrats' proposal "DOA."
Similar to the first major coronavirus aid package signed into law in late March, the 1,815-page HEROES Act would provide up to $1,200 in payments (or $2,400 for married couples), with an extra $1,200 per dependent up to a maximum of three. The income thresholds are the same as in the earlier CARES Act, with money for people making up to $99,000 and couples up to $198,000. The amount would start to reduce from $1,200 above thresholds of $75,000 and $150,000, respectively.
The bill passed by a vote of 208-199 and now heads to the Senate.
What's up with the skyrocketing grocery prices — and when will it all stop?
Consumers frantically rushing through the grocery stores like a coronavirus version of the hit TV game show “Supermarket Sweep” now have another challenge to deal with: skyrocketing prices.
April grocery prices shot up to the highest levels since February 1974, with meat, poultry, fish and eggs increasing the most, according to the latest Consumer Price Index released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Eggs were up 16 percent. Pork roasts, steaks and ribs, up 10 percent. Fresh whole chicken, up 7 percent.
It’s enough to make shoppers want to tear up their receipts. But there is some relief: Fresh cakes and cupcakes were down over 2 percent, prepared salads down over 3.5 percent, and ham was down 1.7 percent.
The price fluctuations come after coronavirus sent panicked shoppers now eating all their meals at home to stock up all at once and at the same time scrambled the supply chain’s ability to stock shelves.
Navajo Nation residents to be under strictest lockdown yet
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Residents of the Navajo Nation will be under the strictest weekend lockdown yet. Grocery stores, gas stations and other businesses will be closed starting Friday night. Essential workers also are being told to stay home until Monday around dawn.
A frustrated Navajo Nation president made the announcement after a spike in deaths that he attributed to shifting traffic patterns in New Mexico. As of Thursday, the tribe reported 127 deaths and 3,632 positive cases since it first began tracking the figures. Tribal officials say more than 500 people have recovered.
The Navajo Nation has been hit harder by the coronavirus than any other Native American reservation.
J.C. Penney files for bankruptcy
J.C. Penney, weighed down by debt and battered by the coronavirus, has filed for bankruptcy.
Sales at J.C Penney have fallen annually since 2016. Its roughly 860-store footprint is less than a quarter of its store base in 2001. The company’s nearly $11 billion in sales the last fiscal year are almost a third of its sales the same year.
The Texas-based retailer, which was founded more than a century ago, employed roughly 90,000 full- and part-time employees as of February.
It joins fellow department store chains Neiman Marcus and Stage Stores as victims of the pandemic, which has forced their doors shut and exacerbated problems that existed before the virus started spreading.