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Bracing for a grim April jobs report, arrests for Ahmaud Arbery's killing, charges dropped in Michael Flynn case and VE Day

Bus drivers, farmers, sanitation workers: These are some of the most dangerous jobs in America right now.
Image: Michigan
A pedestrian walks by The Framing Gallery, closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in Grosse Pointe, Mich., on Thursday. Paul Sancya / AP

Good morning, NBC News readers.

We're expecting to get a better sense of the devastating impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on the economy when the monthly jobs report comes out this morning.

Here's what we're watching this Friday.


All eyes on this morning's job report

We all know, the economic news is grim.

Another 3 million Americans filed jobless claims last week, bringing the total number of people who have filed for unemployment benefits to 33 million since the coronavirus pandemic ripped through the economy, according to data released Thursday by the Department of Labor.

"The outlook for the labor market remains frightening," said Nick Bunker, director of economic research at the job search site Indeed. "That’s one in five jobs likely gone in seven weeks."

Thursday's jobless claims number comes ahead of the monthly employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which will be released this morning.

Economists expect the report for the month of April to be bleak — with some estimating it will show that the national unemployment rate has soared to 16 percent, after months at a half-century low.

But as the pandemic rips apart the economy, one of the greatest divides may be between those who can work remotely and those who can't.

For millions of Americans, particularly those deemed "essential" during the coronavirus pandemic, working from home is simply not an option.

NBC News spoke to economists, epidemiologists, occupational health experts and workers across the country to understand what jobs pose the greatest risks.

Hint: It's not just nurses and doctors. Janitors, meat packers and farmers are doing some of the most dangerous jobs in the country right now.

Of course, the economic crisis doesn't just impact our bank accounts, but our mental health.

NBC News' Trymaine Lee explores how Americans are dealing with the new anxieties created by the huge surge of unemployment, and where people can turn for help in this week's "Into America" podcast.

  • Check out our live blog for the latest coronavirus updates.
  • See maps of where the virus has spread in the U.S.and worldwide.
  • Watch "Nightly News: Kids Edition." See how the penguins at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium are doing during the pandemic and meet a young girl who is using her time at home to cook.

The government still doesn't know how many nursing homes have coronavirus outbreaks

On April 19, Medicare Administrator Seema Verma took the podium at the White House's daily coronavirus briefing to announce that the Trump administration would begin tracking outbreaks and deaths at long-term care facilities nationwide — and publish the numbers for everyone to see.

The effort would begin within days, federal officials promised.

More than two weeks and 13,000 long-term care deaths later, the federal government still has not tallied the number of nursing homes that have had outbreaks nationwide or the number of residents who have died.

The lag in data collection is just one of a number of bottlenecks in the effort to slow the virus' deadly spread in nursing homes across the U.S. Ted S. Warren / AP file

Angry tweets and mocking videos: China attempts to shape coronavirus narrative online

As the blame game about the coronavirus pandemic continues to heat up between the United States and China, senior Chinese officials have taken to English language social media platforms to both fend off and make accusations about its spread.

A slick, animated video published and distributed by Chinese state media, entitled "Once upon a virus" was widely shared online last week.

Featuring a Lego-like terra-cotta warrior representing China and a Statue of Liberty for the U.S., the pair traded barbs on COVID-19.

The satirical video is just one example of howChina has become "much more assertive" and confident in putting forward its view into the wider public sphere, Rana Mitter, a professor and the director of the University of Oxford China Centre, told NBC News.

Father and son arrested and charged with murder in death of Ahmaud Arbery

A white man and his son who are accused of killing an unarmed black man in Georgia in February have been arrested after video of the incident sparked widespread outrage.

Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34, were arrested in the death of Ahmaud Arbery, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced. Both men face charges of aggravated assault and murder.

Arbery, 25, was shot to death in Brunswick, a coastal city about midway between Savannah, Georgia, and Jacksonville, Florida, on Feb. 23 as he was running through the Satilla Shores neighborhood. His family says he was out jogging, while the McMichaels claimed that they thought he was a burglar.

Something felt "fishy" about the lack of information in a police report about Arbery, according to one of his friends and an Air Force law enforcement officer.

Jabari Robinson Sr. was unconvinced about the initial narrative surrounding Arbery's death and became one of many voices rallying for answers before the arrests on Thursday.

We apologize, this video has expired.

Justice Department drops case against ex-Trump adviser Michael Flynn

The Justice Department dropped criminal charges against Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump's former national security adviser.

In documents filed Thursday in federal court in Washington, D.C., the Justice Department said it was recommending that the judge dismiss the criminal case.

Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The filing by U.S. Attorney Timothy Shea was submitted about an hour after the original prosecutor, Brandon Van Grack, filed papers withdrawing from the case.

The extraordinary reversal by the Justice Department came after a long campaign by President Donald Trump and his allies.

Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that he was happy about the Justice Department's recommendation.

"He was an innocent man," he said of Flynn. "He is a great gentleman."

The move outraged and surprised many former prosecutors and observers of the Justice Department.

MSNBC National Security Analyst and FBI veteran Frank Figliuzzi said the DOJ "grossly distorted" facts in order to drop the case and called it "deeply disturbing."


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Plus


THINK about it

Sen. Mitch McConnell pushing through the nomination of Judge Justin Walker to the prestigious U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is anegregious example of the death of judicial qualifications, former assistant U.S. attorney and NBC/MSNBC legal analyst Glenn Kirschner writes in an opinion piece.


BETTER TODAY

Six weird things you're probably feeling right now that are perfectly normal, according to therapists.


Shopping

Looking for a tech upgrade but reluctant to pay high prices? Buying refurbished products is good for your wallet and good for the planet. Here's what to know.


One fun thing

On this day 75 years ago, there was something to cheer about.

After years of bloody conflict, Nazi Germany unconditionally surrendered. World War II in Europe was finally over.

The official date for the end of war in Europe is May 8. VE Day is usually marked by parades and remembrances, but while the world fights another war against COVID-19, celebrations this year will be muted.

We thank all the men and women who sacrificed so much to get us through that horrific chapter in history.

People wave flags in London's Trafalgar Square during the VE Day celebrations on May 8, 1945. R. J. Salmon / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

Thanks for reading the Morning Rundown.

Please send me any comments or questions you have on the newsletter: petra@nbcuni.com

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Be safe and stay healthy, Petra Cahill