5.18.2020

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Need to Know
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Operation Warp Speed
President Trump revealed Friday an ambitious goal of delivering millions of coronavirus vaccines, potentially by the end of the calendar year. Dubbed Operation Warp Speed, reaching the goal will require finding a vaccine and scaling up its manufacturing process and production. A press release detailed the effort as a cross-agency partnership with the private sector, focusing on three areas of medical countermeasures, including vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.  

Many experts have said a vaccine, which is different from treatments for COVID-19, is likely 12 to 18 months away. A focused effort may help meet or accelerate that timeframe, though scientific uncertainty still remains, particularly in how potential vaccine candidates will perform in clinical trials. There are at least five top vaccine candidates; see their current status, along with other treatments, here.  

In Congress, the House narrowly passed a $3T stimulus package by a 208-199 vote. The proposal has been knocked for including a slew of ancillary provisions; one Republican voted in favor of the bill, with 14 Democrats voting against it. The Senate is unlikely to consider the package in its current form.

Overseas, Spain saw the daily number of deaths fall below 100 for the first time since March. India extended its nationwide lockdown, with some exceptions, for another two weeks, while China reinstated a lockdown in some northeastern villages after a cluster of new cases were reported in the region. 

The US has reported 1.49 million total cases, with 89,564 deaths, as of this morning. Deaths rose 4% since Friday morning; see the three-day rolling average here

We've added a number of new items to our expert-curated coronavirus resource page. Check it out here.
JCPenney Files for Bankruptcy
Department store chain JCPenney filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Friday, a move foreshadowed when the company missed two recent debt payments. The 118-year-old chain, with more than 800 stores and 85,000 employees, is the latest in a string of fashion retailers to file for protection in the past month, including J.Crew and Neiman Marcus. The filing allows the company to restructure its debt and reorganize while remaining in business (bankruptcy 101). 

The crisis has accelerated a downward trend for many brick-and-mortar retailers who have failed to keep pace with the shift in consumer preference toward online shopping. E-commerce has grown to nearly $160B per quarter (see data) - with Amazon controlling half of those sales - and more than one-third of US apparel sales happen online. 

JCPenney was in a particularly vulnerable spot, never recovering from a failed turnaround attempt in 2013.
Mediterranean Heat Wave 
The hottest mid-May in decades forced officials in Greece to reopen public beaches over the weekend, while attempting to keep in place strict social distancing requirements. The culprit is a mass of warm air moving up from North Africa that also pushed temperatures 20 to 25 degrees (F) above average in Italy, Turkey, and Israel. The early season warmth revives memories of last summer's brutal heat waves that rolled through Europe.

Greece (2,800 confirmed cases, 163 deaths), which so far has avoided the worst of the coronavirus, threatened businesses who violated social distancing rules with $21K fines and three months of closure. One beach operator used a drone to remind visitors to stay apart.

Across the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Arthur is expected to brush North Carolina's Outer Banks today. It's the first named storm of the season and marks the sixth straight year a named storm has developed before the official June 1 start of the Atlantic hurricane season. 
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Mask up.
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Some words of advice: (1) only leave your home if it's essential, (2) wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, (3) wear a mask whenever you do leave home.

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In the Know
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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture
> Fred Willard, longtime actor and comedian, dies at 86 (More)  | Former Miss America and sports broadcaster Phyllis George dies at 70 (More) | Lynn Shelton, television and film director, dies at 54 (More)
> Barack Obama, Malala Yousafzai among commencement speakers at LeBron James-hosted virtual high school graduation (More) | Obama criticizes government's pandemic response, highlights racial disparities in COVID-19 deaths during online ceremony for historically black colleges and universities (More)
> Sports Return: Germany's Bundesliga soccer league returned this weekend for first matches in more than two months (More) | Kevin Harvick wins at Darlington Raceway in NASCAR's first race since the pandemic began (More)
Science & Technology
> Two new studies identify COVID-19 patients with T cells, a type of immune system cell, that attack the coronavirus; some people never infected with SARS-CoV-2 also harbor T cells, likely from previous infections (More) | What is the difference between T cells and antibodies? (More)
> Largest genomic analysis to date of East Asian lineages reveals most descend from two distinct population groups that began intermixing as agriculture was introduced, around 10,000 years ago (More)
> Direct quantum entanglement of a record-setting 15 trillion atoms observed in a magnetic gas; behavior seen at elevated temperatures, near 350 degrees (More) | What is quantum entanglement? (More)
Business & Markets
> US retail sales plunge 16.4% in April, falling below the expectations of a 12.3% drop; figure is the largest monthly decline on record (More)
> Texas to lead a group of state attorneys general to bring antitrust lawsuit later this year against Google concerning search and Android operating system (More)
> Facebook to acquire GIF search platform Giphy for a reported $400M; company says half of Giphy traffic already comes from Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp (More)

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Politics & World Affairs
> Rep. Justin Amash (L, MI-3) ends exploratory bid for third-party presidential run, saying the political climate isn't favorable; Amash undecided on whether he'll run for his current seat as a Libertarian candidate (More)
> President Trump fires State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, says he will nominate a replacement shortly; critics say Linick was fired after opening a probe into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for directing an aide to do personal tasks (More)
> Eleven firefighters injured after an explosion at a downtown Los Angeles hash oil plant damages multiple buildings; officials have opened an arson investigation into the initial fire (More)
Protect yourself, protect others.
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For every order at Maskd Health through this link, they'll donate a face mask to the first responders who are keeping us safe every day. What's more, 10% of all proceeds go to organizations that are helping stop the spread of the coronavirus. This year, they've already donated over 50,000 masks.

With masks starting as low as $2 each, you can get peace-of-mind for a fair price. Check out Maskd Health today to protect both yourself and others. Enjoy 5% off with code 1440.
 
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Etcetera
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The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards are back
This German cafe is using pool noodles to enforce social distancing.
Using Legos to demonstrate how statistics work.

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The 77 best podcasts of the year (so far). 
Michael Jordan's sneakers go for a record $560K at auction.
... Meanwhile, Jordan reveals his famous "flu game" was all a myth.
These Coca-Cola–backed bottles degrade within one year.
Elaborate front yard ceremony replaces one student's graduation
Clickbait: Even penguins can enjoy fine art.
Historybook: Pope John Paul II is born (1920); Jackie Cochran is first woman to break sound barrier (1953); HBD actress Tina Fey (1970); Mount St. Helens erupts, killing 57 (1980); Facebook raises $16B; largest IPO for a tech company at the time (2012).
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"The future starts today, not tomorrow."
- Pope John Paul II
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