CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… 884 Americans died over a 24-hour period, raising the U.S. death toll from coronavirus over 5,000, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. The Washington Post yesterday reported that the federal government’s emergency stockpile of protective equipment and medical supplies is almost exhausted. Officials told the paper that the situation has pitted the federal government against individual U.S. states in competition for safety gear. Vice President Mike Pence warned that the spread of coronavirus in the U.S. appears to be on a similar trajectory as Italy, where the death toll has exceeded 13,000.
FLORIDA, MISSISSIPPI TO IMPOSE LOCKDOWNS… At least 33 states and the District of Columbia are not on stay-at-home orders after the governors of Florida and Mississippi dropped their weeks-long resistance yesterday. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis imposed a 30-day stay-home order barring residents from venturing outside except for essential purposes. Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves issued a stay-at-home order that goes into effect 5 p.m. Friday. Meanwhile, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered all playgrounds and basketball courts in New York City to close. He reported yesterday that the state’s death toll is approaching 2,000.
E-CIGARETTE MAKER TARGETED IN FTC COMPLAINT... The Federal Trade Commission filed an antitrust complaint against the tobacco giant Altria and Juul yesterday. The complaint alleges that Altria sought to monopolize profits and fix price when it bought a 35 percent stake in Juul in late 2018 for $12.8 billion while the two still had competing brands on shelves. The FTC says the investment included a clause that prevented Juul from competing against Altria for six years. The FTC called the investment and its associated agreements “an unreasonable restraint of trade” and is seeking to undo the investment.
U.S. TO ENHANCE COUNTERNARCOTICS OPERATIONS… President Trump announced yesterday that the U.S. will deploy Navy ships near Venezuela as part of enhanced counternarcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere. Additional Navy destroyers, combat ships, aircraft helicopters, Coast Guard cutters and Air Force surveillance aircraft will double the U.S.’s capabilities in the region, Trump said. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper added that the operation would deal a blow to Venezuelan President Maduro’s control over the country.
STOCKS FALL… Wall Street continued its tumble yesterday on reports of job losses and fears of the coronavirus pandemic. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 973.65 points, or 4.44 percent, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite both closed down 4.41 percent. The plunge extended the Dow’s losses from Tuesday, when it dropped 410 points to end Wall Street’s worst first quarter in history and worst three-month performance since 1987.
ADAM SCHLESINGER DIES… Singer-songwriter Adam Schlesinger died yesterday of the coronavirus. He was 52. Schlesinger co-founded the band Fountains of Wayne, which is best-known for its 2003 hit song “Stacy’s Mom.” In addition to winning three Emmys and a Grammy, he received an Oscar nomination for writing the title track to the 1996 movie “That Thing You Do.”
ACTOR ANDREW JACK DIES… Actor Andrew Jack, who played Caluan Ematt in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” died Tuesday at a hospital in Surrey, England, after contracting the COVID-19 virus, his agent confirmed yesterday. Jack was 76. He also served as a dialogue coach on “The Lord of the Rings” movies, “Guardians of the Galaxy” and the “Avengers” films. More recently, he was working on “The Batman.”
NFL PLAYER TRACKER (source: ESPN)
The Dallas Cowboys have signed defensive end Aldon Smith to a one-year contract.