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Broadway actor loses COVID-19 battle, how anti-Trump Republicans got in his head and the great school debate

During his Independence Day speech, President Trump inaccurately claimed that 99 percent of coronavirus cases were "harmless."
Image: Nick Cordero
Broadway actor Nick Cordero died Sunday after contracting the coronavirus and spending weeks in intensive care.Noam Galai / WireImage file

Good morning, NBC News readers.

Hope you had a healthy, safe and restful weekend celebrating the 4th of July. Here's what we're watching this Monday morning.

'My heart is broken,' says wife of Broadway actor who died after coronavirus battle

Another famous face will be added to the tens of thousands killed by COVID-19 in the U.S.

Broadway actor Nick Cordero died Sunday after contracting coronavirus and spending weeks in an intensive care unit earlier this year, his wife said.

Cordero, 41, had his leg amputated and was in a medically induced coma after going to an emergency room on March 30 with symptoms of the virus.

"I am in disbelief and hurting everywhere," his wife, Amanda Kloots, posted on Instagram.

During his Independence Day speech on Saturday, President Donald Trump inaccurately claimed that 99 percent of COVID-19 cases "are totally harmless."

The commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Stephen Hahn, declined Sunday to defend or criticize Trump's false claim.

Hahn, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said he was "not going to get into who's right and who is wrong" when pressed repeatedly about Trump's comments on CNN's "State of the Union."

"We must do something to stem the tide," he said, "and we have this in our power to do it by following the guidance from the White House task force and the CDC."

"People need to take it seriously," he added.

Here are some other developments from the weekend:

How Lincoln Project anti-Trump Republicans got into his head. Spoiler: It was easy.

The Lincoln Project, a super PAC run by a host of so-called never-Trump Republicans, has one major stated goal: to "defeat Trump and Trumpism" in 2020.

Along the way, the group has been seeking to provoke a Trump response with its ads and social media ventures.

The never-Trumpers say the president has taken the bait so many times, he's making their fundraising skyrocket.

"By attacking us, he's become our biggest financial bundler," said John Weaver, a prominent Republican operative and member of the Lincoln Project. "If we were an administration, we'd probably make him ambassador to Slovenia or something, because he's raising so much money for us."

Meantime, warning signs are flashing for Trump in Wisconsin, a state he turned red for the first time since 1984.

Although the election is still months away, NBC News interviews with a number of Wisconsin voters, current and former lawmakers, party officials, political strategists, pollsters, politics watchers and union officials paint a picture of a critical battleground slipping from the president's grasp.

College students are preparing to return to campus in the fall. Is it worth it?

As universities unveil a patchwork of reopening plans ranging from in-person learning, remote classes or a hybrid model, college students are caught between a desire to return to campuses despite lingering coronavirus fears, or to continue remote learning while missing a more traditional college experience.

Many are wondering, is it really worth it?

"No matter which way you slice it, it’s just a lose-lose situation," one student said.

In Pamplona, the bulls aren't running for the first time since the Spanish civil war

Pounding hooves and squeals of excitement as bulls charge toward the fleeing crowd of thousands of people will not be heard on the streets of Pamplona on Monday for the first time since Spain's civil war.

Made famous by Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel "The Sun Also Rises," the historic San Fermin bull-running festival normally draws hundreds of thousands of people from around the world to drink, dance and race through the streets of the Spanish city.

Although it has survived previous pandemics, this year's event was canceled in April as the country's coronavirus outbreak spiraled out of control.

"It's so strange and sad," said Carmelo Buttini Echarte, 52, one of the best-known bull runners, who said he has not missed a bull run in 40 years since his first at age 12.

Residents wear faces mask on June 20 in Pamplona as they march the route of the running of the bulls. Alvaro Barrientos / AP file

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THINK about it

Americans have never been so unhappy. But, John F. Helliwell, editor of the World Happiness Report, writes in an opinion piece that things are beginning to look up.


Here are some savory, sweet and refreshing salad recipes to celebrate summer.

One interesting thing

Almost two thousand years ago, Pompeii was a densely populated, bustling city. Then, a cataclysm triggered by nature turned it overnight into a ghost town.

Sound familiar?

As the world continues to grapple with coronavirus, what can Pompeii teach us about heeding warnings from nature?

Watch the last episode in our fascinating "Next Italian Renaissance" series.

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Thanks, Petra