Editor's note: We typically run three top stories, but have focused Fridays on the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Below is our summary of key events.
Just over 2.4 million Americans made initial unemployment claims last week, bringing the total number of newly unemployed workers during the pandemic to nearly 39 million. Though historically massive—the single-week record before the crisis was 695,000 in 1982—the figure represents the seventh straight week of declining job losses. Last week's number was also revised substantially downward by 10% to 2.7 million. The total does not include self-employed and gig economy workers receiving benefits through a temporary coronavirus-related benefits program.
The news comes as Americans prepare for Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer. Though all 50 states have at least partially loosened restrictions, travel is expected to be dramatically lower than normal. AAA, a travel association, said it would not release its annual travel forecast for the first time in 20 years, saying economic indicators were too uncertain. An estimated 43 million people traveled for the holiday last year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised guidelines yesterday, after new research showed the virus is much less likely to spread via surfaces versus person-to-person contact.
A study from Columbia University posted this week suggested that implementing stay-at-home measures one week earlier in the US could have prevented 36,000 of the deaths (more than half) seen through May 3. The study is a preprint and has not yet been peer reviewed; see the paper here (PDF).
Meanwhile, nearly a quarter of Americans say they have little or no interest in receiving a coronavirus vaccine, according to a new poll. Some cited anxiety over the speed at which potential vaccines were being developed; others said they may reconsider if the vaccine had formal regulatory approval.
President Trump traveled to Michigan yesterday, touring a Ford Motor factory outside Detroit that had been expanded to produce medical ventilators. The state has seen more than 5,100 deaths from 53,500 reported cases to date, with Central Michigan simultaneously grappling with major flooding after two dams burst earlier this week.
The US has reported 1.58 million cases, with 94,729 deaths, as of this morning. Deaths rose 1.4% since yesterday morning; see the moving three-day average here. Total cases reported worldwide passed 5 million yesterday, with at least 330,000 deaths. We recommend checking out the Financial Times' new comprehensive interactive datasets to visualize the global pandemic.
Finally, the traditional wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia will be held but without access to the general public. We aren't sure what the holiday will look like around the country this year, but here are the best photos from Memorial Day 2019.
> Lori Loughlin and her husband will plead guilty to conspiracy charges this morning in college admissions scandal; Loughlin will serve two months in prison, husband to serve five months, as part of plea deal (More) | University of California system to phase out SAT and ACT results as part of its admissions process beginning in 2021 (More)
> “The Match: Champions for Charity” pits Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady this Sunday (3pm ET, TNT and TBS) to raise funds for COVID-19 relief (More)
> CBS (57) and Amazon Prime (55) lead networks in nominations for the 47th Daytime Emmy Awards with “General Hospital” (23) leading shows for the June 26 event (More)
Science & Technology
> National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts above-average Atlantic hurricane season; estimates predict three to six Category 3 or higher systems (More)
> Artificial eye with nanometer-sized light sensors demonstrated; some sensing capabilities are on par with the human eye (More)
> Astronomers capture one of the first known images of the formation of a planet; observation made near a star named AB Aurigae, roughly 520 light-years away (More)
Business & Markets
> US to provide pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca with $1.2B to accelerate potential COVID-19 vaccine and secure 300 million doses for US; efficacy of company's vaccine still unproven (More)
> Facebook joins growing list of tech companies transitioning to remote work policy for certain employees, workers would receive location-based compensation adjustments (More)
> Insurance comparison website SelectQuote soars 40% on first day of trading, now valued at more than $4B (More)
Politics & World Affairs
> Georgia police charge man who filmed Ahmaud Arbery being shot and killed with murder and false imprisonment; the cellphone video, which leaked online May 5, ignited national outcry over the February incident (More)
> Senate confirms Rep. John Ratcliffe (R, TX-4) as director of national intelligence in party-line 49-44 vote (More) | Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) agrees to be formally vetted by Biden campaign as potential vice presidential pick, joining several others (More)
> China to enact new national security legislation on Hong Kong that will ban activities considered to be seditious; move follows months of pro-democracy protests (More) | President Trump to withdraw US from the 2002 Open Skies treaty, accusing Russia of repeated violations (More)
A Regimen for Reentry
The New Yorker | Atul Gawande. Cities search for the safest way to return to normal—whether the outbreak gains steam again will come down to our individual daily routines. (Read, $$)
The Margins | Ranjan Roy. The rapidly growing food delivery industry has led to mind-bending marketing inefficiencies and mistakes—letting one restaurateur profit by letting DoorDash deliver his own pizzas back to him. (Read)
A Historic Dumpster Fire
The Ringer | Zach Kram. ESPN's hit documentary "The Last Dance" details the last of six championships by the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls team. Here's what happened the following season. (Read)
Truly*Adventurous | Saleah Blancaflor. Original interviews and archival records detail the story of Ernie Rivers, victim of the first purported haunting in a public housing development. (Read/Listen)
Historybook: RIP (first) first lady of the US Martha Washington (1802); The Associated Press is founded (1846); RIP poet Langston Hughes (1967); HBD supermodel Naomi Campbell (1970); Manchester Arena bombing kills 22 following Ariana Grande concert (2017).
You made it. Have a great holiday weekend (we'll be back Tuesday).
"I have discovered in life that there are ways of getting almost anywhere you want to go, if you really want to go." - Langston Hughes
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