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Trump deems places of worship 'essential'

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: President Donald Trump holds a protective face mask with a presidential seal on it that he said he had been wearing earlier in his tour at the Ford Rawsonville Components Plant
President Donald Trump holds a protective face mask with a presidential seal on it that he said he had been wearing during his tour of a Ford plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, on Thursday.Leah Millis / Reuters

Ongoing stay-at-home orders prompted President Donald Trump on Friday to deem houses of worship essential. He threatened to override governors who have ordered churches, synagogues and mosques not to reopen in the coming days.

With the coronavirus threat looming, the long Memorial Day weekend won't look anything like years past.

Meanwhile, the nation's most populous county is getting ready to reopen by the next big summer holiday - July 4.

Here's what to know about the coronavirus, plus a timeline of the most critical moments:

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Hertz files for bankruptcy protection

Hertz filed for bankruptcy protection Friday, unable to withstand the coronavirus pandemic that has crippled global travel and with it, the heavily indebted 102-year-old car rental company’s business.

The Estero, Florida-based company’s lenders were unwilling to grant it another extension on its auto lease debt payments past a Friday deadline, triggering the filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. Hertz and its subsidiaries will continue to operate, according to a release from the company.

By the end of March, Hertz Global Holdings Inc. had racked up $18.7 billion in debt with only $1 billion of available cash.

Read the full story here

Missouri hair stylist with coronavirus exposed dozens of clients

A hair stylist in Springfield, Missouri, exposed as many as 91 people to coronavirus after working at a salon for eight days while symptomatic, health officials said Friday.

The exposed include 84 Great Clips customers and, potentially, seven coworkers, said Clay Goddard, director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department.

The condition of the stylist, who was not identified, was not revealed, but co-owners of the salon said in a statement the patient is "following medical advice and taking appropriate actions."

So far, no other positive case connected to the stylist has been confirmed, but the county is nonetheless facing "a glut of cases," Goddard said.

Read the full story here.

Another tourist arrested in Hawaii after quarantine violation

A tourist from California was arrested Friday for allegedly violating Hawaii's 14-day quarantine for visitors, the state officials said.

Misty Lynn Beutler, 51, of Moorpark, was collared by agents from the office of Hawaii's attorney general after her son's neighbor in Honolulu spotted her arrive May 9, unload luggage, and, a few days later, walk outside with a dog, according to the office of Gov. David Ige.

Agents spotted the pair leaving the son's building when she was arrested, the office said in a statement. She was booked in lieu of $2,000 bail.

Beutler's was at least the third high-profile quarantine-related arrest in the second half of May.

America's last Blockbuster gets a boost from film buffs staying at home

Chicago won't begin to loosen restrictions for several weeks

CHICAGO — Chicago cannot begin to loosen restrictions designed to limit the spread of the coronavirus before early June, officials in the United States’ third-largest city said.

Chicago, like the rest of Illinois, has been under a stay-at-home order since March 21. Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said all parts of the state are on track for restrictions to begin loosening on May 29. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, though, said she could not provide residents with a specific date when the city can loosen restrictions but she hopes it can move forward in early June.

The city’s multi-phase plan for reopening businesses, government buildings and lifting some restrictions on residents’ movement requires a decline in new cases and emergency room visits, along with a 15% average rate of positive tests among those performed by health care providers in a 14-day window.

At 20.5%, the rate of positive tests remained a concern Friday, but the head of the city’s public health department said that percentage has declined in recent days and that she feels confident the city can reach the target number.

“The bottom line is that we are on track but we need people to continue to stay home and save lives this weekend and next week,” Dr. Allison Arwady said.

Tanzania says virus defeated through prayer, but fears grow

NAIROBI, Kenya — On just one day this month, 50 Tanzanian truck drivers tested positive for the coronavirus after crossing into neighboring Kenya. Back home, their president insists that Tanzania has defeated the disease through prayer.

All the while, President John Magufuli has led a crackdown on anyone who dares raise concerns about the virus’s spread in his East African country or the government’s response to it. Critics have been arrested, and opposition politicians and rights activists say their phones are being tapped.

The country’s number of confirmed virus cases hasn’t changed for three weeks, and the international community is openly worrying that Tanzania’s government is hiding the true scale of the pandemic. Just over 500 cases have been reported in a country of nearly 60 million people.

While many African countries have been praised for their response to the coronavirus, Tanzania is the most dramatic exception, run by a president who questions — or fires — his own health experts and has refused to limit people’s movements, saying the economy is the priority.

Indiana moves to next reopening phase two days ahead of schedule

Medical worker fought COVID-19 with help from doctor who was former patient

This July 4, Independence Day could take on new meaning for L.A. residents

The nation's most populous county is aiming for a July 4 reopening as public health and policy experts say the coronavirus pandemic has stabilized enough to begin economic recovery.

Los Angeles County officials set the deadline this week to reopen restaurants, malls and retail stores by Independence Day as stay-at-home orders continue to take a toll on nearly every industry, from retail to TV and film production.

"We have the epidemic under control with these lockdown orders, and we can start thinking about relaxing those orders," said Neeraj Sood, a professor and vice dean for research at the University of Southern California's Price School of Public Policy. "I think the county is ready to open on July 4th."

Businesses must submit detailed proposals to the county by June 30 outlining the safety measures they plan to introduce to protect workers and customers, including social distancing rules and employee access to personal protective equipment.

Read the full story here.

Justice Department joins push against Illinois coronavirus restrictions

The Justice Department is adding its support to a lawsuit challenging the pandemic-related stay at home restrictions in Illinois.

On Friday, DOJ lawyers filed a statement of interest backing a lawsuit filed by Illinois state Rep. Darren Bailey, a Republican who charges Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker's emergency orders to help the state cope with the pandemic have exceed his authority.

“However well-intentioned they may be, the executive orders appear to reach far beyond the scope of the 30-day emergency authority granted to the governor under Illinois law,” Steven D. Weinhoeft, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, said in a statement. “Even during times of crisis, executive actions undertaken in the name of public safety must be lawful."

The filing also urges that Bailey's suit, which was moved from state court to federal court earlier this week, be moved back to state court.

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