As the number of U.S. deaths nears 97,000 and the coronavirus lockdowns continue, the long Memorial Day weekend won't look anything like years past, but in some parts of the country the pandemic has stabilized enough for some to think about beginning the economic recovery.
The nation's most populous county is getting ready to reopen by the next big summer holiday: July 4.
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.
Meanwhile, ongoing stay-at-home orders also 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.
- 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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Over 100 workers at L.A. meat processing plant test positive
More than 100 workers at a Los Angeles-area meat plant that makes the famous Dodger hot dogs have tested positive for the coronavirus.
At least 116 people at the Smithfield Foods-owned Farmer John processing plant have been infected, according to the Los Angeles County public health department. Local media reports put the estimate closer to 140 people, NBC Los Angeles reported.
Smithfield, which bought Farmer John in 2017, could not be reached for comment. The company previously closed multiple plants throughout the country because of coronavirus outbreaks among employees.
According to Smithfield's website, “every employee involved in handling, preparing and processing food wears personal protective equipment covering their heads, faces (including masks and face shields), hands and bodies. Additionally, employees undergo temperature checks and are screened for COVID-19 symptoms.”
New York Times' front page memorializes the dead
The New York Times plans to dedicate its entire Sunday front page to hundreds of names of Americans killed by the coronavirus.
On Saturday, it tweeted an image of the page, which is topped with the headline, "U.S. DEATHS NEAR 100,000, AN INCALCULABLE LOSS."
An introduction to the list explains,"The 1,000 people here reflect just 1 percent of the toll." Victims get brief descriptions: "Florencio Almazo Morán, 65, New York City, one-man army."
Marc Lacey, the Times' national editor, said in a story explaining the presentation, "I wanted something that people would look back on in 100 years to understand the toll of what we’re living through."
In April, NBC News documented "60 Lives 60 Days: Stories of victims we've lost from COVID-19 two months since the first U.S. death."
U.S. appeals court upholds California's church closures
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has upheld California Gov. Gavin Newsom's ban on gatherings at houses of worship, denying an emergency motion that sought to resume in-person services while the case is appealed.
South Bay United Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista had argued the ban violated its freedom of religion, but a federal court in San Diego upheld Newsom's prohibition on May 15.
On Friday a three-judge appeals panel voted 3-2 in favor of the state, saying plaintiffs had little chance of winning their appeal. The majority agreed with the state's argument that "constitutional rights may be reasonably restricted" in extraordinary circumstances.
A long dissent from Judge Daniel Collins, an appointee of President Donald Trump, argued the state's ban "likely violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment." The church's pastor, Arthur E. Hodges III, vowed to reopen May 31.
Biden wins Democratic primary in Hawaii
Former Vice President Joe Biden won Hawaii's Democratic presidential primary Saturday in an election that was all vote-by-mail because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The race pitted Biden against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who ended his presidential campaign last month.
Man allegedly kidnaps teen driver to get through checkpoint
A Florida man was in jail Saturday after he allegedly kidnapped a 17-year-old girl and ordered her to get him through a lockdown checkpoint, authorities said.
Alexander Michael Sardinas, 37, was arrested on suspicion of felony false imprisonment, according to inmate records from the Monroe County Sheriff's Office.
The office said Sardinas forced the girl, a resident of the Florida Keys, to drive him and a companion through a checkpoint that leads to the islands after he couldn't get through in a ride-hail vehicle.
The mainland checkpoint regulates traffic to the Keys, which have been off limits to visitors since March 22 in an effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
Georgia man allegedly faked coronavirus diagnosis to employer, faces federal charges
A Georgia man who allegedly faked a coronavirus diagnosis to his employer, leading the business to temporarily shut down, is facing federal charges.
Santwon Antonio Davis, 34, of Morrow, about 15 miles south of Atlanta, is charged with defrauding his employer after he allegedly faked a medical excuse letter. He has since admitted to authorities that he did not have the virus, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Atlanta.
Davis, who was employed by an unidentified Fortune 500 company, told his supervisors in March that he had tested positive for the coronavirus and emailed a letter stating that he had been admitted to the hospital and needed to quarantine for 14 days, an affidavit states.
Out of an abundance of caution, the company shut down for cleaning, and at least four workers had to quarantine.
“The defendant caused unnecessary economic loss to his employer and distress to his coworkers and their families,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. Pak for the Northern District of Georgia.
NBA in talks to possibly resume season at Walt Disney World Resort
The NBA is in "exploratory" talks with the Walt Disney Co. to possibly restart its season at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida in late July.
The restart would be at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which would act as “a single site ... for games, practices and housing," spokesman Mike Bass said.
“Our priority continues to be the health and safety of all involved, and we are working with public health experts and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medical protocols and protections are in place,” Bass said in a statement.
GOP governor in North Dakota gives emotional plea against 'mask shaming'
Republican Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota issued an emotional plea for residents of his state to avoid "ideological or political" divides on the choice to wear face masks amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“If someone is wearing a mask, they’re not doing it to represent what political party they’re in or what candidates they support,” Burgum said during a press conference on Friday.
The governor's voice began breaking with emotion as he went on to say that people might wear a face mask "because they’ve got a 5-year-old child who’s been going through cancer treatments. They might have vulnerable adults in their life who currently have COVID, and they’re fighting.”