CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 3,902,058 and the death toll stands at 142,066, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University… President Trump warned during a White House briefing that the pandemic in the U.S. will probably “get worse before it gets better.” Florida recorded a new high for hospitalizations yesterday, as an additional 518 hospital admissions were reported. The 9,440 new cases reported marked the first time in seven days that the state’s total was below 10,000.
HOUSE PASSES DEFENSE BILL… The House yesterday passed a $741 billion annual defense spending bill by a bipartisan 295-to-125 vote. The bill is expected to pass in the Senate but faces a possible veto by President Trump, who has object to its provision calling for the removal of Confederate leaders’ names from U.S. military bases. The bill also includes a 3 percent pay raise for U.S. troops.
BIDEN UNVEILS ECONOMIC PLAN… Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden yesterday unveiled a $775 billion economic plan that would build thousands of new child-care centers nationwide and include new tax credits for children, seniors and disabled Americans. The plan offers $8,000 in tax credits for most families with one child and $16,000 for those with two or more children. It would also expand after-school, weekend and summer care programs for children and provide free pre-kindergarten education.
OHIO HOUSE SPEAKER ARRESTED… Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder was arrested by FBI agents at his rural farm. Yesterday for his role in a $60 million bribery scheme allegedly involving state officials and associates. Householder, a Republican, represents a district east of Columbus. He and four others were each charged with “conspiracy to participate, directly or indirectly, in the conduct of an enterprise’s affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity,” which carries a maximum of 20 years in prison. The charges are related to a law passed last year that bailed out two Ohio nuclear power plants while gutting subsidies for renewable energy and energy efficiency. According to a federal complaint, Householder and his associates conducted a years-long bribery campaign to build support for Householder’s bid to become House speaker and help get the nuclear bailout law passed.
14 WOUNDED IN CHICAGO SHOOTINGS… A mass shooting targeting people attending a funeral in Auburn Gresham community of Chicago left at least 14 people wounded. Witnesses say occupants inside a black vehicle opened fire at attendees gathered at a funeral home for a solemn ceremony to remember a victim of gun violence. Police reported that at least 60 shell casings were found at the scene.
HBO ORDERS BRIDGET EVERETT COMEDY SERIES… HBO announced yesterday that actress, comedian and singer Bridget Everett has signed on to star in a new comedy series. “Somebody Somewhere” follows a story inspired by Everett’s life growing up in Kansas. Everett plays a woman who is “a true Kansan on the surface” but secretly struggles “to fit the hometown mold.” She recently co-starred in the HBO series “Camping.”
MADDOW INTERVIEW OF MARY TRUMP SETS MSNBC RECORD… Rachel Maddow’s one-hour interview with President Trump’s niece Mary Trump last Thursday was the most-watched regularly-scheduled show ever on MSNBC. According to the Nielsen Company, 5.2 million people tuned in to view the discussion about Mary Trump’s memoir about her uncle’s family. “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man” pre-sold nearly 1 million copies and first-week sales figures are due later this week.
NFL COVID TESTING COSTLY… The NFL’s protocol for thorough COVID-19 testing this season will cost “about $75M,” Sports Business Daily reported yesterday. According to the report, BioReference Laboratories will be charging a flat fee covering up to 120 tests per team per day, with extra tests available at $125 each. The teams will pay 1/32nd of the total fee, and they will individually pay for any extra tests that they require.