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Whistleblower unloads on Trump admin, 'brutal' herd immunity and global graffiti tributes

‘Our window of opportunity is closing’ ousted whistleblower tells House committee.
Image: Documents that U.S. health officials have released as part of some long-delayed specific guidance that schools, businesses, and other organizations can use as states reopen from coronavirus shutdowns
Documents that U.S. health officials have released as part of some long-delayed specific guidance that schools, businesses, and other organizations can use as states reopen from coronavirus shutdowns on Thursday.Jon Elswick / AP

Good morning, NBC News readers.

The CDC offers a health advisory for the "mystery" COVID-19 illness in kids, Swedes urge Americans to take a closer look before embracing their pandemic policy and streetside tributes to frontline workers around the world.

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

'Americans need to be told the truth' — ousted whistleblower unloads on Trump admin

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday released some long-delayed guidance that schools, businesses and other organizations can use as states reopen from coronavirus shutdowns.

The six one-page "decision tool" checklists are meant to help schools, workplaces, camps, childcare centers, mass transit systems, and bars and restaurants decide when to reopen — but they arrived days and weeks after many states began lifting restrictions on their own.

The CDC drafted more extensive guidance — about 57 pages of it — over a month ago, but it was initially shelved by the Trump administration, The Associated Press reported last week.

The agency also issued a health alert to doctors Thursday on the rare COVID-19 "mystery illness" in kids.

The illness was given an official name: MIS-C, or multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children.

The alerts from the CDC came on the heels of damning Congressional testimony by a former top Health and Human Services official denouncing the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ousted whistleblower Dr. Rick Bright told the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on health Thursday that he had warned the administration about shortages of personal protective equipment — especially the lack of N95 masks in the national stockpile — back in January, but that his warnings went unheeded.

As a result, he said, "lives were endangered, and I believe lives were lost."

President Donald Trump dismissed Bright's testimony, saying he "looks like an angry, disgruntled employee."

Here are some other developments:

Experts warn about the 'brutal arithmetic' of applying herd immunity to humans

Opponents of lockdowns tout the concept of herd immunity as a way of living safely with the coronavirus.

But experts stress caution without a vaccine and say the idea usually applies to business decisions about whether to let farm animals die to save a herd.

"Humans are not herds," the World Health Organization's emergencies director said this week.

A restaurant tests waiters serving drinks and food to models pretending to be clients in safe "quarantine greenhouses" in Amsterdam in early May.Eva Plevier / Reuters

Lockdown protesters shout 'be like Sweden' — but Swedes say they are missing the point

Known for its socialized health care, progressive tax system and liberal social policies, Sweden rarely finds cheerleaders among conservative commentators and activists in the United States.

But on homemade placards at anti-lockdown protests in the last month, an unusual slogan has been spotted: “Be more like Sweden.”

Prominent Republican Party figures and GOP-supporting commentators have praised Sweden for its light-touch approach to the coronavirus pandemic— it is almost unique among nations in not ordering citizens to stay indoors, while cafes and restaurants have stayed open.

According to the Swedes, however, American admirers of their approach are confusing their own beliefs with what is a prudent and carefully planned public health policy.

Hundreds of protesters gather outside Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz' official residence in April.Glen Stubbe / AP file

As the coronavirus crisis hits home, Trump hits the trail

The coronavirus crept into the heart of the West Wing this month, with White House staffers testing positive, the vice president and top officials starting to wear masks and the country's top public health officials going into self-quarantine.

But with President Donald Trump eager to put the crisis behind him, a familiar pre-pandemic routine has made an unlikely return: speeches in 2020 battleground states, writes NBC News White House reporter Shannon Pettypiece.

Meantime, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden continues to campaign from a home studio.

Biden said Thursday that he would not pardon Trump if elected and insisted any prosecutorial decisions would be left to a more independent Justice Department during a virtual town hall-style event on MSNBC Thursday.

And after again emphatically denying the claim of a former staffer that he sexually assaulted her nearly three decades ago, the former vice president said voters "should vote with their heart."

"I wouldn't vote for me if I believed Tara Reade," Biden said.

Trump toured Owens & Minor Inc., a medical supply company, in Allentown, Pa., on Thursday.Evan Vucci / AP

Murals salute front-line workers around the world

Belgian graffiti artist CAZ refreshes a work he did in support of the medical staff amid the coronavirus disease outbreak, in Wetteren, Belgium last month.Yves Herman / Reuters

Artists are using graffiti to vent their fears and frustrations and show their support for medical workers on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak. See images from around the world.

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One fun thing

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But in the wake of COVID-19, will the most universal of those rituals — the handshake — be gone for good?

This fun video digs into that question.

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Thanks, Petra Cahill