Good morning, NBC News readers.
A series of elaborate dinners at the State Department that were hosted by Mike Pompeo and his wife, but paid for by American taxpayers, are coming under scrutiny.
Here's what we're watching this Wednesday morning.
Exclusive: Pompeo's elite taxpayer-funded dinners set off alarm bells in the State Department
As federal workers file out of the State Department at the end of a Washington workday, an elite group is often just arriving in the marbled, flag-lined lobby: Billionaire CEOs, Supreme Court justices, political heavyweights and ambassadors arrive in evening attire as they’re escorted by private elevator to dinner with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Until the coronavirus shut them down in March, the gatherings were known as "Madison Dinners"— elaborate, unpublicized affairs that Pompeo and his wife began in 2018 and held regularly in the historic Diplomatic Reception Rooms on the government's dime.
State Department officials involved in the dinners said they raised concerns internally that the events were essentially using federal resources to cultivate a donor Rolodex for Pompeo if he runs for office again.
It's unclear whether the inspector general was also investigating the Madison Dinners. But two administration officials told NBC News that Linick made some type of inquiry to the protocol office, which runs the dinners, last week, before he was fired.
Linick was also investigating Pompeo's decision to approve a Saudi arms deal.
All 50 states have reopened, but rules vary greatly
But, restrictions still in place vary greatly. Connecticut is one of the last states to reopen with its stay-at-home order just lifted as of today. Check out our state guide to see the latest guidelines for your state.
As the states reopen, public health officials say efforts to ramp up contact tracing to prevent future flare-ups have been hobbled by obstacles.
- The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 has surpassed 92,000, according to NBC News' latest tally.
- Check out our live blog for the latest updates.
- See maps of where the virus has spread in the U.S.and worldwide.
- Watch Nightly News: Kids Edition
Coronavirus already threatened some health workers' lives. Now they face violence.
As Dr. Trupti Katdare and her colleague, Dr, Zakia Sayyed, traced the contacts of a patient who had tested positive for the coronavirus, a mob set upon them, yelling and throwing stones.
"It was very scary," Katdare said of the incident, which took place April 1 in the Indian city of Indore. "We didn't understand what was happening. We were going to save their lives. What are they thinking?"
While doctors and nurses fighting the pandemic have been celebrated around the world, some have become the targets of attacks fueled by fear and misinformation.
Greenhouses, mannequins and hand sanitizer: Restaurants reimagine dining out
As restaurateurs seek to attract customers, the use of formerly enticing words such as "intimate," "cozy" and maybe even "atmospheric" may fall by the wayside.
They'll likely be replaced by words such as "bright," "clean," "spacious" and — who knows? — maybe even "sterile."
Not the most romantic of words, but restaurateurs around the world are on a quest to convince customers it's safe to eat out.
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- Former national security adviser Michael Flynn asked a federal appeals court Tuesday for an order directing the judge handling his case to dismiss it.
- "Baby bust": U.S. births fell again last year, leading to the fewest number of newborns in 35 years. And experts believe the coronavirus pandemic could drive the numbers even lower.
- Johnson & Johnson will will discontinue the use of talc in its baby powder in the U.S. and Canada amid lawsuits
- Annie Glenn, the widow of astronaut and U.S. Sen. John Glenn and a communication disorders advocate, died Tuesday at age 100 of COVID-19 complications.
THINK about it
Here's how Republicans hope to turn a Biden conspiracy theory into 2020's Benghazi, THINK contributor Kurt Bardella writes in an opinion piece.
Grocery prices are on the rise — here are 6 ways to keep your food budget under control.
Memorial Day Weekend is less than a week away — we've compiled the best all-around deals and sales for you to consider through the week and we honed in on some of the best discounts on furniture, appliances, tech and grills.
Quote of the day
"If you would have told me last year I’d be teaching people how to wear a mask, I would not have believed it."
— Nizhoni Hodge, manager of the Coeur d’Alene Casino's guest services program, on the Idaho gambling establishment reopening.
One fun thing
Peas and quiet?
As people shelter in place and worry about the cost and availability of groceries, many have found reassurance and relaxation in the timeless ritual of planting, watering and tending gardens.
"With this lockdown, it's a good opportunity for me," said one newly dedicated gardener. "My plants have all my time right now."
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Be safe and stay healthy, Petra Cahill