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COVID-19 tests under scrutiny, outrage in Minneapolis and a new era for Americans in space

Police fired tear gas at demonstrators after black man pleading for air dies in custody.
Image: A police officer throws a tear gas canister towards protesters at the Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct, following a rally for George Floyd
A police officer throws a tear gas canister towards protesters at the Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct, following a rally for George Floyd in Minneapolis.Carlos Gonzalez / AP

Good morning, NBC News readers.

Brewing questions about the accuracy of COVID-19 tests, outrage in Minneapolis after a black man dies in police custody, Twitter fact checks its most high-profile user and a new era for Americans in space.

Here's what we're watching this Wednesday morning.

You can get a COVID-19 test more readily now, but will it be accurate?

Since the coronavirus pandemic started spreading across the United States in March, nearly 70 diagnostic tests have received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.

Many of these tests were developed at breakneck speed in an effort to get tests out to the American people.

Now more and more people have access to testing, but new data shows that false negatives on COVID-19 tests may be more common than first realized with some tests missing up to 20 percent of positive cases.

It's a critical issue as the country begins to reopen, with accurate testing being one of the most important tools in states' arsenals to track — and stop — the spread of the coronavirus.

Meantime, health workers are still taking the brunt of the illness.

More than 62,000 doctors, nurses and other health care providers on the front lines of the U.S.'s COVID-19 crisis have been infected, and at least 291 have died, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday.

Here are some other developments:

Tear gas fired at Minneapolis protests over George Floyd's in-custody death

Hundreds of people gathered in Minneapolis on Tuesday night to decry the in-custody death of George Floyd, which led to the firing of four officers.

Emotions and tensions ran high as the demonstrations became unruly, with windows damaged, graffiti sprayed and a police car vandalized. Officers in riot gear confronted protesters and fired tear gas.

On Monday, Floyd was pinned to the ground by an officer who put his knee on Floyd's neck for about eight minutes in an incident that was captured on video.

"Please, please, please, I can't breathe," Floyd, who was black, begged the white officer.

He died a short time later; a medical examiner's report is pending.

"The lack of humanity in this disturbing video is sickening," Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said in a tweet Tuesday. "We will get answers and seek justice."

Twitter fact checks some of Trump's tweets for the first time

Twitter slapped a fact check label on a pair of "misleading" tweets by President Donald Trump on Tuesday in which he railed against mail-in voting amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

It marks the first time that the social media giant has fact checked Trump or otherwise enforced its terms regarding his tweets. Many of his critics have long called on Twitter to hold the president accountable for violating its terms of service.

But Twitter notably said Tuesday that it will not remove tweets from the president that impugned MSNBC host Joe Scarborough — despite pleas from the family of a woman who died while working for Scarborough when he was a member of Congress.

The woman, Lori Klausutis, died in 2001 while working in Scarborough's congressional office. Medical authorities said her death stemmed from a heart condition that caused her to collapse and hit her head on her desk.

But Trump has repeatedly pushed a baseless conspiracy theory — on Twitter repeatedly over the weekend and from the White House podium on Tuesday — that Scarborough was somehow involved in foul play.

Lori's husband, Timothy Klausutis, sent an impassioned letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey last week asking for the company to delete Trump's tweets that pushed the conspiracy theory.

But the tech giant has refused to do so.

A new era for Americans in space

American astronauts are set to lift off from American soil on American-made rockets and spacecraft for the first time in nine years this morning.

But the flight's significance goes beyond patriotism. NASA officials say that the long-anticipated launch could usher in a new era of human spaceflight — one that is reliant on private companies rather than the government.

Wednesday's mission will mark the first time a commercially built vehicle carries NASA astronauts into orbit and the first time that SpaceX attempts to ferry human passengers to the space station.

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THINK about it

Trump's scapegoating of Asian Americans is an affront to all Americans, Joe Biden and Sen. Tammy Duckworth write in an opinion piece.


If you are looking for one cast iron pan to be your kitchen workhorse, cookbook author Jonathan Bender says this is the one to try.

One fun thing

With Americans set to return to space today, NBC News' Lester Holt caught up with one avid space watcher: 7-year-old Jerry Morrison III.

The indefatigable youngster has made it his mission to share with other kids "how beautiful space can be."

His passion for science is contagious and worth sharing with any kids you know.

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Be safe and stay healthy, Petra Cahill