CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 2,590,582 and the nation’s death toll stands at 126,141, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey yesterday issued an executive order shutting down bars, gyms, movie theaters and water parks in the state among a surge in cases. Additionally, the order prohibits gatherings of more than 50 people ahead of the 4th of July weekend, delays the start of in-person school instruction to August 17 and pauses the issuing of special-event licenses until July 27. Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak signed a directive extending Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan until the end of July after 37 percent of the state’s 17,894 positive cases occurred in the last two weeks. Also yesterday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced malls in the state that seek to reopen under the state’s Phase 3 status must have air conditioning filters that can help reduce air particulates that could spread the coronavirus.
CONGRESS WANTS ANSWERS ABOUT RUSSIAN BOUNTIES… A bipartisan group of congressional leaders is demanding the Trump administration explain what it knew about reports U.S. intelligence concluded Russia offered bounties to Taliban fighters to kill American troops. The White House briefed a group of House Republican lawmakers on the matter yesterday, leaving Democrats to call on Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and CIA Director Gina Haspel to provide all-member briefings to Congress. The New York Times reported yesterday that President Trump received a written briefing in February on possible Russian bounties and that the investigation into the matter is focused on the killings of three Marines in a truck bombing last year.
SUPREME COURT STRIKES DOWN LOUISIANA ABORTION LAW… The Supreme Court yesterday struck down Louisiana’s law regulating abortion clinics. Chief Justice John Roberts sided with four more liberal colleagues in ruling that the law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals violates abortion rights the court first announced in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Dozens more challenges state-imposed restrictions have yet to be heard in the courts.
WHITE HOUSE OPPOSES INFRASTRUCTURE BILL… The White House came out in opposition yesterday to a $1.5 trillion proposal from congressional Democrats to boost U.S. infrastructure over the next decade, calling into question the source of new spending. The Democratic-controlled House is set to begin debate today on the measure, which includes a massive boost in spending on roads, bridges, public transit, rail, ports and airports as well as water systems, schools and broadband internet. A final vote is expected later this week ahead of Congress’ September 30 deadline to reauthorize surface transportation spending.
‘GOLDEN STATE KILLER’ TAKES PLEA DEAL… The 74-year-old retired California police officer who was given the nickname “Golden State Killer” after being accused of committing multiple murders and attacks throughout California during the 1970s and ’80s took a plea deal yesterday to avoid the death penalty. Joseph DeAngelo Jr. pleaded guilty in Sacramento to 13 counts of first-degree murder and more than 25 other counts, including kidnapping, weapons and burglary charges in several California counties. He was linked to at least 13 DNA evidence collected from genealogy databases uploaded by family members was used to arrest DeAngelo in April 2018.
JOHN LEGEND TO HEADLINE MACY’S 4TH OF JULY SHOW… John Legend has signed on to headline Saturday’s 2020 Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular in New York. Entertainment will include performances by Lady A, the Killers, Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley and the Black Eyed Peas. Today co-host Craig Melvin will host the event, which airs at 8 p.m. EST on NBC.
BROADWAY REMAINS DARK… Broadway will remain dark through the rest of the year, as theater owners and producers are issuing refunds for tickets to shows through January 3. The Broadway League said it doesn’t know for sure when shows will open but producers say they don’t expect any openings before late winter or early spring. “The Minutes,” a play by Tracy Letts, is scheduled to open March 15, while David Mamet’s “American Buffalo” is slated to start April 14.
PLAYERS OPTING OUT WHEN PLAY RESUMES… Brooklyn Nets center DeAndre Jordan has tested positive for the coronavirus and won’t be with the team when the NBA season resumes next month in Orlando, Florida. Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie also has tested positive but it’s not known whether he’ll be able to play… In major league baseball, Colorado Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond announced yesterday that he will opt out of playing this season. Earlier yesterday, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Mike Leake and Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and pitcher Joe Ross announced that they are also won’t be playing.