CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has topped 960,000 and the number of people dead has risen to at least 54,700, according to figures released by health officials last night. The Navy hospital ship Comfort is returning to Norfolk, Virginia, after discharging its last patient yesterday. The ship was sent to New York on March 28 initially to be used for non-coronavirus patients to free up beds in hospitals but President Trump said last week that it would be admitting coronavirus patients as well. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said last week that the ship was no longer needed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has added six new symptoms to its list of possible signs of the coronavirus. Previously, the CDC only noted fever, cough and shortness of breath as symptoms. The agency has updated its list to include: chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell. Shortness of breath has also been changed to “shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.”
MORE STATES PREPARE RE-OPENINGS… Colorado, Mississippi, Minnesota, Montana and Tennessee are preparing to join other states in reopening businesses without coronavirus-testing procedures in place. Colorado Governor Jared Polis has said curb-side retail pickup can begin today, with hair salons, barbershop and tattoo parlors allowed to reopen on Friday. Tennessee will allow restaurants to reopen today and Mississippi’s mandatory lockdown order expires at midnight. Montana is allowing churches to reopen but social-distancing measures are required; the state’s restaurants and schools will be allowed to reopen on May 7. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” yesterday that the state is “several weeks away” from phased reopening. During an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said he has raised concerns about “mixed messaging” coming from the White House amid the pandemic and stressed that it’s “critical” for the president to stick to facts as he seeks to inform the public.
LABOR DEPARTMENT OFFERS GUIDANCE FOR MEAT PROCESSORS… The Labor Department has issued new guidelines for U.S. meatpacking and meat-processing plants. The interim guidance from the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends screening, spacing employees at least 6 feet apart, temperature checks and the wearing of cloth face coverings. More than 5,000 U.S. meat- and food-processing workers have been infected with or exposed to the new coronavirus and 13 have died, the country’s largest meatpacking union said on Thursday.
BATON ROUGE POLICE IN DEADLY SHOOTOUT… One officer was killed and another was critically injured during a shooting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, yesterday. Authorities say 36-year-old Ronnie Kato opened fire on officers responding to a call. Kato was reportedly wanted in a domestic homicide that had happened earlier yesterday. The suspect was later taken into custody after exchanging gunfire with a SWAT team in a four-hour-long standoff.
EL PASO SHOOTING DEATH TOLL HITS 23… Officials confirmed yesterday that the last remaining hospital patient following last August’s mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, has died. Guillermo “Memo” Garcia became the 23rd victim of the shooting when he passed away Saturday night at the Del Sol Medical Center in El Paso. The suspected shooter, Patrick Crusius, remains in custody and has been indicted on 90 federal charges, including hate crimes.
SPLITSVILLE FOR CAVALLARI, CUTLER… Reality TV star Kristin Cavallari has announced that she and former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler are getting a divorce. The former “Laguna Beach” star, who currently stars in her own reality show “Very Cavallari” on E!, added that the divorce is simply a “situation of two people growing apart.” The couple married in 2013 and have three children together.
DaBABY TOPS ALBUM CHART… DaBaby’s “Blame It on Baby” sold 124,000 copies to debut atop the Billboard 200 album chart. The Weeknd’s “After Hours” slipped into second place after four weeks at No. 1 with 55,000 units sold. Lil Uzi Vert’s “Eternal Atake” remained in third place after selling 54,000 copies. Fiona Apple’s “Fetch the Bold Cutters” opened at No. 4 on sales of 44,000 units. Lil Baby’s “Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial” sold 42,000 copies to cap the top five.
TULANE HOOPS DISMISSES LEADING SCORER AFTER ARREST… Tulane has dismissed its leading scorer, guard Teshaun Hightower, yesterday following his Saturday night arrest on murder, aggravated assault, battery and possession of a firearm charges. Investigators say Hightower was one of six suspects connected to an April 8 fatal shooting in Stockbridge, Georgia. He averaged 15.9 points and 4.6 rebounds at Tulane last season after playing his first two years at the University of Georgia. Court records show he was being held in the Henry Country Jail in McDonough, Georgia.