CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. topped a million yesterday and the number of dead rose to at least 58,365, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. The nation’s death toll from the pandemic now has surpassed the number of Americans who died in the 11-year-long Vietnam War. About 30 percent of the American cases have occurred in New York state, with New Jersey, Massachusetts, California and Pennsylvania also in the top five.
TRUMP ORDERS MEAT-PROCESSING PLANTS TO REMAIN OPEN… President Trump last night invoked the Defense Production Act in signing an executive order that designates meat-processing plants as critical infrastructure and requires them to stay open. The signing follows plant closures due to outbreaks among employees and recent estimates that meat-production capacity nationwide could be reduced by as much as 80 percent. On Sunday, Tyson Foods chairman John H. Tyson warned that the nation’s food supply was “breaking.”
HOUSE WON’T RETURN THIS WEEK… Majority Leader Steny Hoyer cited health concerns yesterday in announcing that the House of Representatives will not return to Washington next week as planned. Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, said he consulted Congress’ physician in making the decision. Representatives hope to return soon and take up the next massive coronavirus relief package.
BIDEN WINS OHIO PRIMARY; MFUNE WINS IN MARYLAND… Former Vice President Joe Biden was the projected winner in yesterday’s Ohio presidential primary. The primary had been rescheduled from March 17 and conducted almost entirely by mail. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was in a distant second place after ending his campaign and endorsing Biden. In Maryland, Democrat Kweisi Mfume won yesterday’s special election to replace the late Congressman Elijah Cummings in the state’s 7th District. Mfume held the seat for five terms before leaving in 1996 to become the CEO of the NAACP. He will serve out the rest of Cummings’s term and would be considered a heavy favorite if he chooses to run for reelection in November.
MASK-GOUGERS ARRESTED… The Justice Department yesterday announced the arrest of two men accused of conspiring to violate the Defense Production Act by seeking to resell protective masks at increased prices. Prosecutors say the men sought to resell a million N95 masks in New York at prices two to three times higher than their value. 56-year-old attorney Kent Bulloch was arrested in California while his alleged accomplice, 64-year-old William Young, Sr., was taken into custody in Arizona. According to the DOJ, a potential investor the two men tried to lure into their scheme turned out to be an undercover federal agent. If convicted, both men could face up to a year in prison.
STREAMING-ONLY FILMS ELIGIBLE FOR 2021 OSCARS… The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced yesterday that films released only on streaming services in 2020 will be eligible to be nominated for the 93rd Oscars. The decision by the academy’s board of governors comes amid a shutdown of theaters and film festivals. It puts a temporary hold on the requirement that a film must have a minimum seven-day theatrical run in a Los Angeles County commercial theater to be eligible for Oscar consideration. Films that had a previously planned theatrical release but are made available on a streaming service may qualify for an award.
NETFLIX RE-UPS ON ‘QUEEN SONO’… Netflix announced yesterday that it is bringing back the crime drama series “Queen Sono” for a second season. The streaming service’s first African original series stars Pearl Thusi as a South African spy with a complicated personal life. “Queen Sono” premiered in February.
ORIOLES’ TREY MANCINI BATTLING CANCER… Baltimore Orioles outfielder Trey Mancini revealed yesterday that he is battling stage 3 colon cancer and doubts he will play this season if Major League Baseball returns. In a story he wrote in The Players’ Tribune, the 28-year-old Mancini said he had a port put into his chest on April 6 and began chemotherapy on April 13. He is scheduled to receive the treatment every two weeks for six months. Mancini batted .291 with 35 home runs and 97 RBIs for Baltimore last season.