The Rundown for April 24, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. is nearing 860,000 and the death toll is approaching 50,000, according to figures released yesterday. President Trump said his administration may extend its national social distancing guidelines until early in the summer or later. The Labor Department reported that another 4.4 million Americans have filed for unemployment, raising the nation’s jobless claims to 30 million.

HOUSE PASSES AID PACKAGE… The House voted 388-5 yesterday to approve a roughly $480 billion coronavirus stimulation package. The measure passed the Senate earlier this week and is headed to the White House for President Trump’s signature. The package authorizes an additional $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program after its funding ran out last week. Funding also includes $75 billion for hospitals and health care providers and $25 billion to facilitate and expand testing.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION LOSES CLEAN WATER ACT CASE.. The Supreme Court yesterday ruled that the federal government must regulate some groundwater pollutants under the Clean Water Act. Justices decided by a 6-3 vote that the law prevents pollutants from being discharged directly into navigable waters without a permit. The Trump administration cited a loophole in the law’s language in arguing that no permit is needed if a pipe doesn’t directly feed a larger body of water and instead empties into nearby groundwater. The Supreme Court dismissed the reasoning with the loophole.

DEATH TOLL AT LEAST 7 IN SOUTHERN STORMS… At least seven people were killed in Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana yesterday after severe weather blew through the South. Storms left more than 150,000 businesses and homes from Texas to Georgia without power. Three of the deaths occurred in the southeast Texas town of Onalaska, where an apparent tornado reportedly injured 20 to 30 people and destroyed 46 homes.

DOW UP SLIGHTLY AFTER VOLATILE DAY OF TRADING… The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up nearly 40 points after a volatile day of trading yesterday. The S&P 500 dropped 0.054 percent and Nasdaq Composite fell 0.0073 percent. The Dow rose as much as 400 points prior to the House vote to approve a new coronavirus stimulus package.

ENTERTAINMENT
ELTON JOHN POSTPONES REMAINING TOUR DATES… Elton John has announced that he is postponing the remaining North American dates of his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour due to the coronavirus pandemic. The 73-year-old singer plans to reschedule the North American shows in 2021. John is scheduled to begin the Australian and New Zealand leg of the tour November 30.

WHITNEY HOUSTON BIOPIC BEING PLANNED… Music industry executive Clive Davis has teamed up with the estate of late singer Whitney Houston in producing the biopic “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” Houston, who died in 2012 at age 48, sold more than 200 million records worldwide during her career. She starred in and recorded original music for the 1992 blockbuster hit “The Bodyguard.”

SPORTS
NFL DRAFT… The Cincinnati Bengals made it official by selecting LSU’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow with the first pick in the NFL draft. Burrow was one of three quarterbacks taken with the first six picks. The Miami Dolphins selected Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa at No. 5 and Oregon’s Justin Hebert went to the L.A. Chargers in the next selection. Ohio State produced a pair of top three picks, as the Washington Redskins selected defensive end Chase Young at No. 2 and cornerback Jeff Okudah went to the Detroit Lions with the third pick. LSU led the way with five first-round picks. Alabama had four and Ohio State finished with three. Last night’s draft was conducted virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Rundown for April 20, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases is nearing 750,000 and the death toll has topped 40,000, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. Governors from both parties yesterday emphasized the need for more testing and disputed President Trump’s claims that tests are readily available. Maryland Republican Governor Larry Hogan, along with governors Ralph Northam of Virginia and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, blame the lack of testing for the crisis America now faces.

MNUCHIN PROVIDES RELIEF-CHECK UPDATE… Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said yesterday that the federal government is allowing Americans more time to set up direct deposits before it starts mailing out $1,200 coronavirus stimulus payments. Mnuchin said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that many checks already have been wired directly into peoples’ accounts and claimed it was his idea to print President Trump’s name on the checks. Mnuchin also expressed hope for a quick agreement on a deal that would replenish the depleted small-business loan program.

NEIMAN MARCUS SHUTTING DOWN… Neiman Marcus plans to file for bankruptcy following the closure of its stores due to the coronavirus pandemic. Reuters reported that the company is shutting down its 43 flagship Neiman Marcus stores, two dozen Last Call stores and its two Bergdorf Goodman stores in New York while facing billions of dollars in debt. Most of the retail giant’s 14,000 employees have been furloughed.

TEXAS SHOOTING LEAVES THREE OFFICERS INJURED… Three officers were injured yesterday morning during a pursuit with a man who hijacked a Dallas Area Rapid Transit bus in Richardson, Texas. Authorities say 31-year-old Ramon Thomas Villagomez opened fire on police who responded to the hijacking, injuring a DART officer along with Garland and Rowlett police officers. Officers used a spike strip to disable the bus and end the chase. Villagomez was fatally shot after exiting the bus and exchanging gunfire with officers.

STORMS POUND SOUTHEAST… The Southeast was hit by severe storms for the second straight Sunday yesterday. Parts of Alabama were pounded by high winds, hail and heavy rain as forecasters warned of tornadoes and flooding across a wide swath of the region. Tornado watches covered a swath of East Texas and large parts of Louisiana and Mississippi yesterday afternoon. Parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama battened down for possible twisters last night.

ENTERTAINMENT
BROADWAY STAR NICK CORDERO HAS LEG AMPUTATED… Broadway star Nick Cordero had his right leg amputated due to complications from coronavirus, his wife Amanda Kloots announced yesterday. The stage performer had been sedated in the intensive-care unit of a Los Angeles hospital for 18 days. Cordero earned a Tony nomination for his starring role in the 2014 musical adaptation of Woody Allen’s film “Bullets Over Broadway.” He previously appeared on Broadway in “Rock of Ages,” “Waitress” and “A Bronx Tale the Musical.”

THE WEEKND REMAINS ATOP ALBUM CHART… The Weeknd’s “After Hours” sold 75,000 copies to remain atop the Billboard 200 chart for a fourth straight week. Tory Lanez’s “The New Toronto 3” jumped into second place after selling 64,000 units. Lil Uzi Vert’s “Eternal Atake” remained in third place after selling 61,000 copies. Lil Baby’s “My Turn” stayed in fourth place on sales of 44,000 units. Bad Bunny’s “YHLQMDLG” sold copies to cap the top five.

SPORTS
GRETZKY BELIEVES NHL WILL RETURN IN SUMMER… Wayne Gretzky told The Associated Press yesterday that he is optimistic the NHL will resume at some point this summer. The hockey legend has been trying to help the NHL with content during its shutdown while self-quarantining from his California home. The NHL is considering several options on trying to resume this season, including going directly to the playoffs at several neutral sites.

The Rundown for April 17, 2020

TRUMP PRESENTS RE-OPENING PLAN… President Trump yesterday presented a plan to allow states to lift restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The “Opening Up America” plan will roll out in three phases, with individual governors maintaining the authority to decide when to reopen. Task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said states that want to enter phase one must have plans to ensure the health and safety of workers in critical industries and meet certain requirements in testing and contact tracing. They must also be able to independently supply Personal Protective Equipment and critical medical equipment to hospitals and have the ability to surge intensive care unit capacity. States must also exhibit a downward trajectory of influenza- and coronavirus-like illnesses as well as documented coronavirus cases and positive tests within a 14-day period. Hospitals must also ensure the ability to treat all patients without crisis care.

STATES EXTEND STAY-AT-HOME ORDERS… The governors of seven Northeastern states yesterday extended their coronavirus stay-at-home orders to May 15. The governors of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Massachusetts and Rhode Island have cited the apparent success of their social-distancing directives in curbing the spread of the virus. The governors of Washington, Oregon and California have vowed to work together on reopening the West. Seven governors in the Midwest announced yesterday that they are forming a similar alliance.

17 BODIES FOUND IN NURSING HOME… The discovery of 17 bodies in one of New Jersey’s largest nursing homes is a review of all long-term care facilities in the state seeing a high number of deaths due to coronavirus. The discovery was made after police responded to an anonymous tip that a body was being kept in a shed. Police did not find a body in a shed but said the facility was overwhelmed in trying to store recent fatalities in a morgue built for four. Over the weekend, the nursing home had requested 25 body bags from authorities.

ROGER STONE DENIED NEW TRIAL… A federal judge in Washington, D.C., rejected the new-trial request by longtime Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone. The longtime Republican operative was sentencing to more than three years in prison on February 20. Stone failed to offer “any reason to believe that there has been ‘a serious miscarriage of justice,” Judge Amy Berman Jackson wrote.

FELONS ESCAPE IN WISCONSIN… Authorities in Wisconsin are searching for two felons who escaped from a maximum-security prison and are considered to be dangerous. The Wisconsin State Patrol said 37-year-old Robert Newman and 46-year-old Thomas E. Deering escaped from the Columbia Correctional Facility in Portage and are believed to have traveled outside of the county. Newman was convicted on firearm, kidnapping and theft charges and Deering was convicted for sexual assault, kidnapping and battery.

ENTERTAINMENT
ACTOR BRIAN DENNEHY DIES… Family members confirmed yesterday that actor Brian Dennehy died Wednesday night in New Haven, Connecticut of natural causes. He was 81. Dennehy made a number of television and film appearances before he rose to fame in the 1982 film “First Blood.” He went on to appear in such films as “Gorky Park,” “Silverado,” “Cocoon” and “Tommy Boy.” Dennehy won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Miniseries or Television Film for his role as Willy Loman in the 2000 television version of “Death of a Salesman.” He won Tony Awards for the 1999 stage version of “Death of a Salesman” and for 2003’s “Long Day’s Journey into Night.”

MICHAEL CHE PAYS PUBLIC HOUSING RENTS… Saturday Night Live castmember Michael Che announced on social media yesterday that he will be paying one month’s rent for a group of public housing residents in New York City amid the coronavirus pandemic. Che is making the donation to honor his late grandmother who recently died from the virus. Che’s grandmother used to live in the public housing building he is donating to.

SPORTS
VON MILLER TESTS POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS… Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller has tested positive for the new coronavirus and is expected to address the public today. The Broncos said in a statement that Miller got tested after experiencing “flu-like symptoms” and decided to go public “to emphasize that anyone can be afflicted with coronavirus.” The 31-year-old Miller, an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and the MVP of Super Bowl 50 is reported to be at home resting and in good spirits. On Wednesday, Los Angeles Rams center Brian Allen became the first NFL player to disclose a positive diagnosis.

The Rundown for April 14, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has risen to 581,918 and the death toll stands at 23,608, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. President Trump declared during a press conference that he has the authority over state and local governments in deciding when to lift social-distancing guidelines and reopen the economy. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called Trump’s “total” authority claim untrue. Cuomo also announced that his state is partnering with New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Rhode Island in a regional task force to help coordinate re-openings in the northeast. A similar alliance formed on the West Coast, where the governors of Washington, Oregon and California reached a working agreement.

SUPREME COURT TO HEAR CASES REMOTELY… The Supreme Court announced yesterday that justices will hear oral arguments in several cases over a six-day period next month via telephone conference. President Donald Trump’s financial documents, religious freedom and the Electoral College will be among the cases argued. The Supreme Court has closed its doors in adherence to the federal social-distancing guidelines.

SANDERS ENDORSES BIDEN… Just five days after dropping out of the presidential race, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders yesterday endorsed former rival Joe Biden. “We need you in the White House,” Sanders told Biden on a live stream that Biden hosted. Biden is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee to challenge President Trump.

UPSET IN WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT RACE… Judge Jill Karofsky pulled off an upset of incumbent state supreme court justice Daniel Kelly, according to Wisconsin election results released yesterday. The liberal challenger’s victory comes as the state supreme court is expected to rule in numerous voting rights cases leading up to November’s presidential election, including a case in which 200,000 voters could be purged from voter rolls. Results also confirmed Joe Biden won the Wisconsin Democratic presidential primary.

33 DEAD AFTER EASTER STORMS… The death toll from severe storms that struck the Southeast on Sunday rose to at least 33 people yesterday. At least 11 deaths were reported in Mississippi and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster announced that nine people died in his state. Eight deaths were reported in Georgia. States of emergency have been declared in Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia and Alabama.

ENTERTAINMENT
STEPHANOPOULOS TESTS POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS… “Good Morning America’ anchor revealed on yesterday morning’s show that he has tested positive for coronavirus. Stephanopoulos said the diagnosis came across as “no surprise” since his wife, the actress and author Ali Wentworth, tested positive two weeks ago. Stephanopoulos said he has yet to experience symptoms.

‘AMAZING RACE’ GETS MAY 20 PREMIERE DATE… CBS announced yesterday that Season 32 of “The Amazing Race” will premiere with a two-hour episode on May 20. The new season will feature returning host Phil Keoghan and kicks off in Los Angeles. The 11 teams of contestants will visit Trinidad and Tobago, France, Germany, Kazakhstan, Brazil and other countries during the season.

SPORTS
KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS’ MOTHER LOSES BATTLE WITH CORONAVIRUS… The mother of Minnesota Timberwolves two-time All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns has died due to complications from the coronavirus, family members announced yesterday. Jacqueline Cruz-Towns was 58. Towns revealed on March 25 that she was in a medically induced coma and had been placed on a ventilator. Towns’ father was hospitalized for treatment of the virus and expected to survive.

The Rundown for April 13, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… Pope Francis called for the world to come together in the face of the coronavirus pandemic during an Eastern morning service in a nearly empty St. Peter’s Basilica. The service was live-streamed to millions of viewers throughout the world. The number of coronavirus cases nationwide has topped a half-million and the death toll is at least 21,300, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. The number of fatalities pushed the U.S. above every other country in the world. People in recent days have been dying at the rate of roughly 2,000 deaths a day, officials said.

FAUCI DISCUSSES PANDEMIC… National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci expressed hope yesterday that a rollback on coronavirus restrictions could begin in some places as early as next month. During an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Fauci acknowledged that a quicker response to the outbreak could have saved lives. Fauci also said he had confidence in state governors to decide when to begin lifting restrictions.

MAJOR PORK PRODUCER CLOSES… One of the country’s largest pork processing facilities has announced that it is closing until further notice amid the coronavirus pandemic and warned that its closure puts the country’s meat supply at risk. Smithfield, based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, accounts for 4 to 5 percent of the country’s pork production and employs about 3,700 people. During a press conference on Saturday, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem said that Smithfield employees accounted for more than half of the active coronavirus cases in the state, with about 240 of its employees sick. Meat processors in Iowa and Pennsylvania have also shut down because of sick workers.

OPEC REACHES OIL-PRODUCTION DEAL… Leaders of oil-producing countries agreed to a deal yesterday that will slash oil production by 9.7 million barrels a day starting May 1. OPEC has been seeking to cut production in order to stabilize oil prices, which have fallen to 18-year lows in recent weeks. Saudi Arabia and Russia have engaged in a price war that has flooded the oil market.

ALABAMA CAN’T BAN ABORTION, JUDGE RULES… A federal judge ruled yesterday that Alabama cannot ban abortions as part of the state’s response to coronavirus. The preliminary injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson allows abortion providers to decide whether a procedure can wait. Abortion rights advocates are also fighting efforts in Texas, Ohio and other states to prohibit abortion services during the coronavirus pandemic.

STORMS BATTER SOUTH… Strong storms pounded the South yesterday and left thousands of residents without power. The National Weather Service reported that tornadoes touched down in northwest and north-central Louisiana, damaging buildings and toppling trees. The storm spanned southeast Arkansas, across wide swaths of Mississippi and Alabama and into western Georgia.

ENTERTAINMENT
DISNEY CELEBRATION LIVE-STREAM CANCELED… Today’s free stream of the previously recorded “Celebrating 25 Magical Years of Disney on Broadway” has been canceled due to a union dispute. The program was a fundraising effort to support Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS’ COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund. “Celebrating 25 Magical Years of Disney on Broadway” was taped on November 4.

THE WEEKND REMAINS ATOP ALBUM CHART… The Weeknd’s “After Hours” sold 90,000 copies to remain atop the Billboard 200 album chart for a third week. Rod Wave’s “Pray 4 Love” finished in second place after selling 72,000 units. Lil Uzi Vert’s “Eternal Atake” remained in third place on sales of 69,000 copies. Lil Baby’s “My Turn” jumped into fourth place with 48,000 units sold. Sam Hunt’s “Southside” sold 46,000 copies to cap the top five.

SPORTS
NBA DISCUSSES RETURN… ESPN reported yesterday that NBA executives and trainers have been discussing a 25-day plan for the season to resume. The plan reportedly includes an 11-day series of workouts and a 14-day training camp. Commissioner Adam Silver has said that the league won’t even be able to make any decisions until next at the earliest and it is not known whether the 2019-20 season will be completed.

The Rundown for April 6, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has surpassed 312,000 and more than 8,500 people have died, according to figures released yesterday by Johns Hopkins University. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that the coming week is going to be “bad,” but said that the country could see a turnaround within seven to nine days. Meanwhile, a tiger in the Bronx Zoo became the first animal to test positive for the coronavirus in the U.S. The test was administered after the tiger developed a “dry cough,” according to the Wildlife Conservation Society. Also, the Navy captain who was removed from command of the carrier U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt after expressing his concerns over the threat of coronavirus aboard his ship has tested positive for the virus. Captain Brett Crozier began exhibiting symptoms before his removal on Thursday. Crozier was fired after a letter he had emailed to Navy leaders was leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle. The letter detailed the failures on the service’s part to provide the necessary resources to swiftly move sailors off the carrier and disinfect areas on board as the virus spread through the ship.

MASS ORDERS OF MEDICAL SUPPLIES BEGAN MID-MARCH… The Associated Press reported yesterday that the federal government waited until mid-March to place bulk orders of desperately-needed medical supplies during the coronavirus pandemic. Health and Human Services reportedly ordered $4.8 million worth of N95 masks from 3M on May 12 and then placed another $173 million order on March 21, but neither contract required delivery of the products to the Strategic National Stockpile until the end of April. The stockpile is reportedly running critically low.

PANDEMIC IMPACTS MORE THAN A QUARTER OF THE ECONOMY… More than a quarter of the U.S. economy has come to a standstill amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal. The report cited a study from Moody’s Analytics that indicated the daily output of the U.S. economy has fallen about 29 percent compared with the first week of March. The study also found that the U.S. economy was disproportionately tied to urban areas, with a tenth of the U.S. drop in daily output being tied to three counties Los Angeles, New York and Cook (Illinois) counties.

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT ORDERS FACE COVERINGS… Defense Secretary Mark Esper has ordered military personnel and other individuals on Defense Department property to wear “cloth face coverings” in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s coronavirus guidance. Esper also advised in a memo that DoD employees, family members and contractors “follow CDC guidelines on the use of cloth face coverings in public settings or where other social distancing.” President Trump defied the advisory and said he was “choosing not to” wear a mask.

THOUSANDS OF RENTAL CARS DESTROYED IN BLAZE… Authorities don’t yet know how many rental cars were destroyed in a weekend fire at Southwest Florida International Airport but say the number tops 3,500. Fire officials say there were only about 20 vehicles involved when firefighters were called Friday night but the blaze quickly burned out of control. The fire sent a massive plume of smoke above Fort Myers.

ENTERTAINMENT
WEEKND TOPS ALBUM CHART… The Weeknd’s “After Hours” sold 138,000 copies to remain atop the Billboard 200 album chart for a second week. 5 Seconds of Summer’s “Calm” jumped into second place after selling 133,000 units. Lil Uzi Vert’s “Eternal Atake” dropped to third place after selling 84,000 copies. Dua Lipa’s “Future Nostalgia” debuted in fourth place after selling 66,000 units. Pearl Jam’s “Gigaton” capped the top five with 63,000 copies sold.

‘JAWS’ ACTRESS DIES… Actress Lee Fierro, who was best known for her appearance in the 1975 film “Jaws” has died after complications with the coronavirus. She was 91. In “Jaws,” Fierro played the mother whose son was killed by the shark that spreads terror across a beach town. Fierro reprised the role in the 1987 sequel, “Jaws: The Revenge.”

SPORTS
NFL HALL-OF FAMER BOBBY MITCHELL DIES… NFL Hall-of-Famer Bobby Mitchell died yesterday of natural causes at age 84. Mitchell launched his NFL career in 1958 as a halfback for the Cleveland Browns but was converted to flanker after his trade to the Washington Redskins. Mitchell retired in 1969 with 14,078 total yards and 91 career touchdowns. He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1983.

RECORD-SETTING NFL KICKER DIES… Former NFL kicker Tom Dempsey died of coronavirus complications on Saturday night, family members confirmed yesterday. He was 73. Dempsey made history in 1970 as a member of the New Orleans Saints when he kicked a 63-yard field goal despite having been born without toes on his dominant foot. For 28 years, it remained the longest field goal in NFL history. More recently, Dempsey has been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease has been living in a New Orleans senior home where more than 50 residents have tested positive.

The Rundown for March 31, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… More than 163,800 confirmed cases have been reported throughout the U.S. and there have been more than 3,000 deaths, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. Hospitals in New York City say intensive care units are now overwhelmed but help is on the way in the form of the Navy hospital ship Comfort, which has arrived in New York Harbor. Also yesterday, Virginia, Maryland, Arizona and Tennessee joined 28 other states in issuing stay-at-home orders.

CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE COORDINATOR WORRIED… White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx said during an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show yesterday that she is “very worried about every city in the United States” and believes that without drastic precautions, there could be at least 2 million fatalities. Birx said that “if we do things perfectly” the number of fatalities could be limited to as many as 200,000. “I think everyone understands now that you can go from five to 50 to 500 to 5,000 cases very quickly,” Birx warned.

TRUMP WAS TALKED INTO CONTINUING SOCIAL-DISTANCING GUIDELINES… National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said yesterday that he had to plead “strongly” with President Trump to stop him from withdrawing social-distancing guidelines early. During an appearance on CNN’s “New Day,” Fauci said Trump changed his mind after he saw models showing as many as 200,000 people could die. On Sunday, Trump publicly abandoned his hope of reopening the U.S. economy by Easter and confirmed he would keep federal guidelines on social distancing in place through the end of April.

MACY’S FURLOUGHING EMPLOYEES… The “majority” of Macy’s roughly 130,000 employees are being furloughed starting this week in the face of the revenue drop brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. All 775 Macy’s stores closed on March 18 but the retailer continues to sell products online. The company adopted measures that were intended to prevent the layoffs, but they weren’t “enough” to avoid cutting back on the number of employees.

FLORIDA PASTOR ARRESTED FOR VIOLATING STAY-AT-HOME ORDER… The pastor of a Florida megachurch was arrested yesterday for violating a safer-at-home order by holding two Sunday services that drew hundreds of people. Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne was charged with unlawful assembly and violation of a public health emergency order in Hernando County. The pastor’s church is located in Tampa.

ABORTION EFFORTS BLOCKED… Federal judges yesterday temporarily blocked efforts in Texas and Alabama to ban abortions during the coronavirus pandemic. A separate ruling found that a new Ohio order is also unconstitutional if it prevents abortions from being carried out. The rulings were delivered as lawsuits were also filed in Iowa and Oklahoma after governors in those states similarly ordered a stop to non-emergency procedures and specifically included abortion among them.

ENTERTAINMENT
‘JOE EXOTIC’ FILES SUIT… A central figure in the hit Netflix documentary “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness” has filed a lawsuit over his conviction in a murder-for-hire plot. Former Oklahoma zookeeper Joseph Maldonado-Passage, who went by the name “Joe Exotic,” is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence. His suit seeks nearly $94 million in damages, claiming his conviction was based on false and perjured testimony. Defendants include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of the Interior, the assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted him and several witnesses.

AUTHOR TOMIE dePAOLA DIES… Popular children’s book author Tomie dePaola died yesterday in a New Hampshire hospital of complications from surgery performed after a fall last week. He was 85. DePaola was best-known as the writer of the Strega Nona picture book series. He wrote or illustrated more than 270 books that sold nearly 25 million copies.

SPORTS
NEW OLYMPIC DATES… Organizers yesterday announced new dates for the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games following the first-ever postponement of the quadrennial sports events. The Summer Games in Tokyo are now scheduled to begin on July 23, 2021, while the Paralympic Games will start a month later. The new dates will allow minimum disruption to the international sports calendar and will allow athletes time to finish the qualification process, according to the International Olympic Committee.

IMPACTED COLLEGE ATHLETES GRANTED EXTRA YEAR… The NCAA Division I Council agreed yesterday to grant an extra year of eligibility to all spring-sport student-athletes whose seasons were canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. The decision applies to all athletes, not just seniors. The NCAA will leave it up to each school to decide whether to grant seniors in spring sports less or equal financial aid next year, the NCAA said.

The Rundown for March 30, 2019

CORONAVIRUS GUIDELINES EXTENDED… The White House is extending federal guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus outbreak through April 30. The decision comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel advisory urging residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to avoid non-essential travel. There are 142,328 cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. and 2,436 deaths, according to numbers released last night by Johns Hopkins University.

CORONAVIRUS HITS LIBERTY UNIVERSITY… Liberty University, which defied medical experts by partially reopening its campus amid the coronavirus pandemic, has confirmed that 11 students are battling coronavirus symptoms. University president Jerry Falwell Jr. initially planned to follow Virginia’s public health directives and close the school to almost all students but apparently changed his mind. Eight-hundred of the 1,900 students that initially returned to campus last week have left.

SENATORS’ STOCK SELL-OFFS INVESTIGATED… CNN reported yesterday that the Justice Department is investigating stock sell-offs by members of Congress who had been privately briefed about the brewing coronavirus crisis. The FBI has already interviewed Republican Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, who dumped as much as $1.7 million worth of stock. Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia is also on investigators’ radar, as she and her husband sold up to $3 million worth of stock.

VIRUS-LADEN CRUISE SHIP TO DOCK IN FLORIDA… A Holland America cruise ship carrying four dead passengers and more than 130 others who are battling flu-like symptoms has received clearance to dock in Florida in the “near future.” The ship has been anchored outside the Panama Canal after being denied entry. One of the dead passengers is reported to be an American.

STRONG STORMS BATTER MIDWEST, SOUTH… Officials say there were no deaths reported after strong storms brought tornadoes, high winds, hail and rain to parts of the Midwest and South on Saturday. Tornadoes were spotted in Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin as thunderstorms swept through. High winds and a possible tornado were also reported in Indiana. Jonesboro, Arkansas, was particularly hard-hit, as it was struck by an EF3 tornado with winds of up to 140 mph.

ENTERTAINMENT
JOE DIFFIE DIES, JOHN PRINE IN CRITICAL CONDITION… Joe Diffie, who had a string of chart-topping hits in the 1990s, has died from complications related to the coronavirus. He was 61. Two of Diffie’s 13 albums went platinum and another two were certified gold… Meanwhile, singer-songwriter John Prine is in “critical” condition with Coronavirus symptoms, according to family members. The 73-year-old Prine was hospitalized on Thursday and was intubated Saturday night. He has survived two battles with cancer.

THE WEEKND TOPS ALBUM CHART… The Weeknd’s new release, “After Hours,” sold 444,000 copies to top the Billboard 200 album chart. Last week’s champ, Lil Uzi Vert’s “Eternal Atake,” slipped into second place with 115,000 units sold. Lil Baby’s “My Turn” dropped to third place after selling 60,000 copies. Bad Bunny’s “YHLQMDLG” sold 51,000 units to finish fourth. Conan Gray’s “Kid Krow capped the top five with

SPORTS
NFL PLAYER TRACKER (source: ESPN)
The Detroit Lions have agreed to a one-year contract with wide receiver Geronimo Allison.

The Washington Redskins have signed Ronald Darby to a one-year deal.

The Rundown for March 26, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of deaths in the U.S. due to the coronavirus rose to at least 928 yesterday as 223 fatalities were reported. More than 65,000 Americans have now tested positive test for the virus, with nearly half in New York. Medical experts expect the numbers will rise dramatically as more tests are administered and analyzed.

SENATE APPROVES STIMULUS PACKAGE… The Senate voted unanimously last night to approve a $2 trillion stimulus package aimed at providing relief from the coronavirus pandemic. The largest emergency aid package in U.S. history is now heading to the House for a vote. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer indicated yesterday that the House will begin considering the relief package at 9 a.m. tomorrow. The Senate proposal includes $250 billion for direct payments to individuals and families, $350 billion for small business loans, $250 billion for unemployment insurance benefits and $500 billion in loans for distressed companies.

TRAVEL HALTED FOR U.S. TROOPS… Defense Secretary Mark Esper has ordered a halt to travel for 60 days for all U.S. troops, their families and civilian employee to limit the spread of coronavirus. The move will affect 90,000 troops scheduled for deployment, according to the Pentagon. Exceptions will be made for medical purposes and for those aboard ships that are deployed for 14 days. In addition, it will not affect the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

JUDGE ISSUES ORDER OVER DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE… A federal judge yesterday ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a full environmental review of the Dakota Access pipeline. The order comes nearly three years after the controversial pipeline began carrying oil. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg wrote that a more extensive review is necessary than the environmental assessment that was done. Boasberg ordered both parties to submit briefs on whether the pipeline should continue operating during the period of the new environmental review.

AMERICAN HOSTAGE IN IRAN DEAD… The family of retired Drug Enforcement Agency and FBI agent, private investigator and part-time CIA consultant Robert Levinson announced that he has died after being held hostage in Iran. Family members said they made the announcement based on information received from U.S. officials. Levinson had traveled to Kish Island, Iran, in 2007 to investigate cigarette smuggling and was meeting with U.S. fugitive Dawud Salahuddin when Iranian security officials detained them both. Salahuddin later said he never again saw Levinson after they were released. In 2014, Levinson’s family filed suit against Iran.

ENTERTAINMENT
TONY AWARDS POSTPONED… The Tony Awards has become the latest cultural event to be postponed due to the coronavirus. The awards ceremony was scheduled to air live on CBS on Sunday, June 7, from New York City. The show will be rescheduled, but a new date will not be determined until Broadway reopens.

ELTON JOHN TO HOST LIVING-ROOM CONCERT… Elton John has signed on to host a living-room concert for coronavirus relief special broadcast this Sunday. Billie Eilish, Mariah Carey, Billie Joe Armstrong and Alicia Keys are among performers who have agreed to take part in delivering at-home performances. Each performance was filmed using the artists’ personal cell phones, cameras and audio equipment. The hour-long iHeart Living Room Concert for America will air commercial-free on Fox.

SPORTS
BASEBALL PLANS COMEBACK… Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said during an ESPN interview yesterday that “nothing’s off the table” in terms of plans to return. Manfred said he’s hopeful the sport can begin preparing for a season at some point in May but there’s no way of knowing for certain when the sport will return. For the past couple weeks, MLB executives and the MLB Players Association have exchanged proposals over salary and service-time issues, as well as the proper way to return.

NFL PLAYER TRACKER (source: ESPN)
The Dallas Cowboys have agreed to a one-year deal with tight end Blake Bell.

The Kansas City Chiefs have re-signed defensive tackle Mike Pennel and fullback Anthony Sherman to one-year deals.

The Minnesota Vikings have signed free-agent wide receiver Tajae Sharpe to a one-year contract.

The New York Jets have agreed to terms with former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Patrick Onwuasor on a one-year contract.

The Philadelphia Eagles have agreed to a one-year deal with Cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman.

The Pittsburgh Steelers signed defensive tackle Cavon Walker, offensive tackle Jarron Jones and safety Tyree Kinnel from the XFL yesterday.

The Washington Redskins have agreed to terms with wide receiver Cody Latimer. Details were not announced.

The Rundown for March 25, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. topped 50,000 yesterday, according to figures released by John Hopkins University. At least 606 people with the virus have died. New York City accounts for more than half of the nation’s cases. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo likened the speed of the spread to a “bullet train.”

SENATE PASSES STIMULUS BILL… The Senate earlier this morning passed a $2-trillion package to stimulate the economy during the coronavirus pandemic. Details were forthcoming, but it appeared the deal included $250 billion in direct payments to individuals and families, $350 billion in small business loans, $250 billion in unemployment insurance benefits and $500 billion in loans for distressed companies. The bill next goes to the House, where Democrats have introduced their own proposal.

TRUMP SAYS HE WANTS AMERICA REOPENED BY EASTER… President Trump said yesterday that he hoped to re-open the country by Easter. Experts immediately criticized the April 12 target date as unrealistic. The president expressed outrage over having to “close the country” by shutting down businesses and implementing social distancing despite a pandemic. People “don’t want to be locked in a house or an apartment or some space,” the president said.

MICHAEL COHEN DENIED IN BID FOR REDUCED SENTENCE… A federal judge yesterday denied a request by President Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen to reduce or modify his three-year prison sentence. Cohen’s sought to have his three-year sentence reduced to one year or serve the entirety in home confinement but U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley said the motion had a “fatal flaw” as only prosecutors can file to reduce or alter a sentence. Cohen has been imprisoned at the Federal Correctional Institution in Otisville, New York, since May. He pleaded guilty to arranging a hush-money scheme in the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign to pay two women who had affairs with Trump.

INMATES ESCAPE WASHINGTON JAIL… Six inmates remained at large yesterday after 14 inmates escaped a county jail in Washington state overnight. Authorities in Yakima County say the inmates used a table inside the annex to break open an exterior fire door. Eight inmates were captured and returned to jail. The escapees’ charges include theft, assault, resisting arrest, possession of a firearm and drug offenses.

ENTERTAINMENT
WARNER BROS. DELAYS FILM RELEASES… The release of the superhero stand-alone film “Wonder Woman 1984” is being pushed back two months due to the spread of the coronavirus. The Warner Bros. film was set to hit theaters in early June but will now go out in August. Warner Bros. also announced it is delaying the adaptation of the Lin-Manuel Miranda musical “In the Heights,’ the animated movie “Scoob!” and the horror film “Malignant.”

NETFLIX MOVES… Netflix has announced plans to order second seasons of the unscripted shows ”The Circle,” “Love is Blind’ and “Rhythm + Flow,” all of which will premiere in 2021. Additionally, Netflix will unveil an all-new series called “Sparking Joy,” a follow-up on the popular show “Tidying Up. ” The announcement came despite the shutdown of all Netflix shows and movies due to the coronavirus.

SPORTS
OLYMPICS POSTPONED… The Tokyo Olympic Games will be pushed back to 2021 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The postponement after Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, held talks with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach. Until a few days ago, Japan had insisted there were no plans to delay the Games.

MLB NEWS… New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard will undergo Tommy John surgery tomorrow to correct a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching (right) elbow. The 27-year-old Syndergaard was expected to help anchor the Mets’ rotation. Last season, he pitched a career-high 197⅔ innings in compiling a 10-8record with a career-worst 4.28 ERA.

NFL PLAYER TRACKER (source: ESPN)
The Carolina Panthers have signed wide receiver Robby Anderson to a two-year. The move comes the day the club formally cut ties with quarterback Cam Newton.

The Cincinnati Bengals have signed former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Josh Bynes to a one-year deal.

The Green Bay Packers have reached agreement with free-agent receiver Devin Funchess.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have agreed to terms with former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Tyler Eifert. The Jaguars also signed former Detroit Lions cornerback Rashaan Melvin to a one-year contract.

The Los Angeles Chargers have signed linebacker Nick Vigil to a one-year deal.

The New York Jets have agreed to a one-year contract with wide receiver Breshad Perriman.

The Seattle Seahawks have agreed with wide receiver Phillip Dorsett on a one-year deal.

The Washington Redskins have signed free-agent running back Peyton Barber to a two-year deal.