CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… More than 244,000 coronavirus cases have resulted in more than 5,900 deaths nationwide, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. Earlier in the day, the Labor Department reported that the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits has soared by a record 6.6 million people to cap the largest single-week filing increase in history. The figure is more than twice more last week’s report of 3 million new filings. According to the report, Pennsylvania had the largest claims increase, with more than 362,000. Ohio was second, followed by Massachusetts, Texas and California.
STIMULUS CHECKS COMING… The Treasury Department doesn’t expect to start issuing direct deposits of Stimulus Bill funds to Americans before April 13 and it could take five months to mail out all the checks. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said yesterday at a White House coronavirus briefing that payments would go out within two weeks to people whose direct deposit details are on file with the government. Mnuchin had claimed previously that the money would go out as soon as Monday.
U.S. SOLD CHINA PROTECTIVE GEAR AS CORONAVIRUS SPREAD… USA Today reported yesterday that U.S. businesses sold $17.5 million worth of face masks, $13.6 million in surgical garments, and $27.2 million worth of ventilators to China at as the first confirmed coronavirus cases were recorded on American soil. Exports of personal protective gear skyrocketed in January and February when the virus was devastating China and U.S. intelligence agencies were warning of its spread. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the first confirmed coronavirus case in the U.S. was on January 20, The report comes as American doctors and health-care workers are facing a dire shortage of protective equipment.
HOUSE COMMITTEE TO OVERSEE WHITE HOUSE PANDEMIC RESPONSE… House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced yesterday that a new select committee will oversee how the Trump administration spends more than $2 trillion allocated to fight the coronavirus pandemic. House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina will chair the bipartisan Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis. The Trump administration is facing an onslaught of criticism from governors over delays in its response.
CARRIER COMMANDER RELIEVED OF COMMAND OVER CORONAVIRUS LETTER… The USS Theodore Roosevelt captain who expressed to Navy leadership concerns about a coronavirus aboard the aircraft carrier has been relieved of his command. Captain Brett Crozier will keep his rank, however, the Navy said. Crozier detailed his concerns in a letter that leaked to the press.
TAKASHI 6IX9INE RELEASED FROM PRISON… Rapper 6ix9ine was released from prison into house arrest yesterday due to concerns over his health amid the coronavirus pandemic. The 23-year-old rapper, whose real name is Daniel Hernandez, suffers from asthma that puts him at risk, a district court judge ruled. 6ix9ine was sentenced to two years in prison in December after previously pleading guilty to racketeering, firearms and drug trafficking charges.
‘TOP GUN’ RELEASE PUSHED BACK… “Top Gun Maverick” yesterday became the latest big-budget film to be rescheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Paramount Pictures announced that the release of the sequel to the 1986 original has been pushed back from June 24 to December 23. Tom Cruise reprises his “Maverick” character in the new film.
NFL PLAYER TRACKER (source: ESPN)
The Las Vegas Raiders have come to terms with free-agent safety Damarious Randall on a one-year contract.