CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. has risen to 1,193,813 and the number of deaths has reached 70, 802, according to figures released last night by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. President Trump announced yesterday that he has changed his mind about dissolving the White House coronavirus task force and instead will shift its primary focus to reviving business and social life. Two months ago, Trump said “anybody that wants” a coronavirus test “can get a test,” but his administration continues to release conflicting guidelines. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said during a press conference yesterday that it is “nonsensical” to think that everyone should be tested. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court yesterday declined to lift an executive order by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf that mandated all non-essential business close.
DOJ INVESTIGATES MARYLAND PPE FRAUD… The Justice Department has launched an investigation into a Maryland company that allegedly was paid millions of dollars to provide 1.5 million masks and 110 ventilators to hospitals but failed to do so. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said the founders of Blue Flame Medical used connections in his administration to secure the $12.5 million deal. The state paid half of the contracted amount for an April 14 delivery that never arrived, documents indicate.
NEW EDUCATION POLICY REDEFINES SEXUAL ASSAULT… The Department of Education has issued a new policy that changes the way schools and universities respond to complaints of sexual misconduct. The new policy introduced by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos strengthens the rights of the accused and narrows the scope of cases colleges are required to investigate. Those accused of sexual assault will have access to all evidence used against them and will be allowed to cross-examine their accusers. Schools can be held accountable for mishandling complaints only if they acted with “deliberate indifference.”
JUSTICE GINSBURG RELEASED FROM HOSPITAL… Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was discharged from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore yesterday following treatment for a benign gall bladder condition. The 87-year-old Ginsburg promptly participated remotely in arguments in two cases. She will return to the hospital for outpatient visits in the following weeks and a gallstone that caused the infection will be removed without the need for a surgical procedure, her doctor explained.
TRUCKER ARRESTED IN 30-YEAR-OLD SLAYINGS… A long-haul trucker from Iowa was arrested yesterday after being linked by DNA evidence to the killings of three women whose bodies were dumped in Wyoming and Tennessee in the early 1990s. 58-year-old Clark Perry Baldwin was arrested at his home in Waterloo, Iowa, on murder charges filed in Wyoming and Tennessee. Two of the women were pregnant at the time of their slayings. Investigators say they are looking into whether Baldwin can be connected to any other unsolved murders.
CBS SHAPES PRIMETIME LINEUP… CBS announced yesterday that it has renewed 23 series for the 2020-21 prime-time television season. The network is cutting the four-year-old Matt LeBlanc sitcom “Man with the Plan,” along with first-year comedies “Broke,” “Tommy” and “Carol’s Second Act.” Another sitcom, “God Friended Me,” was canceled last month. “Hawaii Five-0,” “Madam Secretary” and “Criminal Minds” ended their runs this season.
SINCLAIR ORDERED TO PAY RECORD FINE… Sinclair Broadcast Group has agreed to pay a $48 million fine to the Federal Communications Commission to settle an investigation into the company’s efforts to purchase Tribune Media. The FCC says it’s the largest-ever civil penalty ever imposed on a broadcaster. The FCC announced in June 2019 that it was investigating whether Sinclair met its obligations to negotiate retransmission consent agreements in good faith and its failure to identify the sponsor of content.
MLB FOCUSING ON PLAN… ESPN reported yesterday that Major League Baseball expects to offer a return-to-play proposal to the MLB Players Association within a week as teams have begun to encourage players to prepare for a “spring” training that could begin in mid-June and a season that would start in early July. Among obstacles to the proposal is the approval of ownership on a plan and reaching agreement with the players’ union. General managers and managers from at least a dozen teams have reportedly urged their players to ramp up baseball activities.