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Heatwave, pandemic put damper on July 4th, Redskins under pressure and Ghislaine Maxwell's mystery hideout

Summer is here. We've got tips on how to enjoy it in a safe way during the coronavirus pandemic.
Image: Mike Pence
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott changed course Thursday and made it mandatory to wear masks in public in most of the state as coronavirus cases surge. Tony Gutierrez / AP

Good morning, NBC News readers.

Happy 4th of July eve. We've got the latest on the coronavirus pandemic, a heatwave hitting the country and a request for one NFL team to change its controversial name.

Here's what you need to know before you head out to enjoy your weekend.

A heatwave and a pandemic: Scientists sound alarm as July 4 will kick off extreme summer across U.S.

A sustained blast of heat is expected to bake much of the United States with hotter-than-usual temperatures this holiday weekend. And forecasts say the hot weather could linger for several weeks.

The first major heat wave of the season comes as many states are scrambling to contain the rampant spread of the coronavirus — which has left resources strained.

One major fear is that in some cities, it will be a challenge to provide relief for vulnerable people in cooling centers because of social distancing guidelines.

Here are some other developments:

Schools want to reopen safely. Without federal funds, many worry they can't.

As educators across the country look to reopen schools in the fall and welcome at least a portion of their students back in-person, they find themselves in an impossible situation.

With their budgets decimated by the economic downturn, many school districts are wondering how they will pay for costly new cleaning procedures, health screenings and other safety measures.

The price tag is expected to be enormous: The average-size district could pay as much as $1.8 million to reopen all of its school buildings under the new safety guidelines, according to a joint analysis by the Association of School Business Officials International and AASA, The School Superintendents Association.

"They're caught between a rock and a hard place, and the biggest fear is they're going to be forced to open schools without the safety guidelines," said Dan Domenech, executive director of AASA.

Image: Children in masks and hazmat suits sit, socially distanced, in a classroom while personnel in hazmat suits clean.
"The challenges that stand before schools are just Herculean," said one school expert. Doris Liou / for NBC News

FedEx asks Washington Redskins to change team's name

FedEx has asked the Washington Redskins to officially change their name, long condemned as an anti-Indigenous slur.

FedEx owns the naming rights to the Maryland field where the team plays, and its chief executive, Fred Smith, owns a minority stake in the team.

The request comes a day after Adweek reported that 87 investment firms and shareholders worth $620 billion sent a letter urging FedEx, Nike and PepsiCo to stop doing business with the team until the name is changed.

Was Ghislaine Maxwell hiding out at this $1 million home paid for in cash?

Before Jeffrey Epstein's confidant Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested Thursday, she was hiding out at a 156-acre property in rural New Hampshire that was paid for in cash through a limited liability company, according to federal prosecutors.

The description matches a luxury home purchased last year for $1 million in a deal shrouded in secrecy, according to two people familiar with the transaction.

The previous owner did not know the identity of the buyer, and neither did the previous owner’s agent, according to people familiar with the transaction.

“If you’re looking for a place to hide, boy, you can’t find a better one,” a person familiar with the deal said.

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THINK about it

Here's why the Ghislaine Maxwell story is so grotesquely fascinating — and confusing, Jill Filipovic writes in an opinion piece.


It's going to be a summer like no other. Here's how to make the best of it with safety advice, travel tips and clever ideas to keep your kids entertained.


Sprinklers are a fun way to help your child forget about trips to the waterpark. Here are some of the best ones out there.

Quote of the day

"Wearing a face covering in public is proven to be one of the most effective ways we have to slow the spread of COVID-19."

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

One fun thing

Just in time for an Independence Day weekend without the usual crowded throngs and baseball games, Lin-Manuel Miranda is bringing his multicultural story of the Founding Fathers to streaming TV.

The Broadway smash "Hamilton" will premiere exclusively on Disney+ today.

"Hamilton" had originally been scheduled for a theatrical release in October 2021. Then the coronavirus pandemic struck, and the show's debut was advanced and made available on streaming.

To some, the streaming debut couldn't be better timed. Not only coming as the country celebrates the Fourth of July, but during this politically polarized moment.

The show's diverse casting and contemporary sound, make the lessons of the past seem relevant and accessible, said Brian E. Herrera, associate professor of theater at Princeton University,

"Hamilton," Herrera said, is brilliant because it invites audiences, particularly young people and people of color, to think of the American story as one "that could be theirs."

Thanks for reading the Morning Rundown.

Have a very happy July 4! Be safe, but have fun and enjoy celebrating our wonderful, yet imperfect, union.

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Thanks, Petra