The Rundown for July 25, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 2,381,538 and the nation’s death toll stands at 121,979, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. The 36,000 positive cases reported nationally yesterday was a record daily high. The nation’s three most populous states — California, Texas and Florida — have been among those reporting record highs. Texas Governor Greg Abbott yesterday announced that everyone who goes to a state-run testing site will be given a free set of three-ply surgical masks. Meanwhile, dozens of Secret Service officers and agents who worked at President Trump’s rally in Tulsa last weekend have been ordered to self-quarantine after two of their colleagues tested positive.

APPEALS COURT ORDER FLYNN CASE DISMISSAL… The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday ordered a judge to dismiss the case against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Following the panel’s 2-1 ruling, Judge Neomi Rao, a Trump appointee, wrote that there is not sufficient reason to question the Department of Justice’s decision to dismiss. Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in 2017 as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

HOUSE PANEL HEARS WILLIAM BARR TESTIMONY… Former Deputy Attorney General Donald Ayer called Attorney General William Barr “the greatest threat in my lifetime to our rule of law” during a House Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday. The hearing was to convened examine Barr’s actions, including his handling of the Mueller report and his role in forcing out Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Aaron Zelinsky, an assistant U.S. attorney formerly detailed to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, testified that prosecutors involved in the trial of Trump’s longtime friend Roger Stone were under “heavy pressure from the highest levels of the Department of Justice” to give Stone “a break” by requesting a lighter sentence. John Elias, an official in the Justice Department’s antitrust division, told the panel that Barr ordered staff to investigate marijuana company mergers simply because he “did not like the nature of their underlying business.” Barr announced yesterday that he has agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on July 28.

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT BROADENS ASSANGE CHARGES… The U.S. Department of Justice has broadened its 18 charges of conspiracy against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. An indictment released yesterday alleges that Assange recruited a well-known hacking group to attack and infiltrate the computer systems of multiple members of NATO. Assange is currently jailed in the United Kingdom while awaiting extradition to the U.S.

AHMAUD ARBERY KILLERS INDICTED… A Georgia grand jury yesterday indicted the three men involved in the fatal shooting of a 25-year-old Black man who was jogging through a neighborhood. A Glynn County grand jury returned an indictment charging Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael, and William R. Bryan in the death of Ahmaud Arbery. Charges include malice and felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.

… HBO Max is bringing back the 1939 Southern war epic “Gone With the Wind” two weeks after removing it due to its romantic depiction of the antebellum South and stereotypical Black characters. TCM host and University of Chicago cinema and media studies professor Jacqueline Stewart narrates a disclaimer that precedes the film’s airing on the streaming service. HBO Max is offering the film with, “extras” that include the vides “Gone With the Wind: A Complicated Legacy” and “Hattie McDaniel: What a Character!”

‘BREAKING BAD,’ ‘SAUL’ FEATURED IN AMC SCHEDULE… AMC revealed yesterday that it will be adding new “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul” content to its July schedule. The network will also air special marathons and films starring Bryan Cranston. All 10 Season 5 episodes of “Better Call Saul” will air July 9. Two films featuring “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston, “Godzilla” and “Wakefield,” will air back to back on July 6.

… The Hockey Hall of Fame has announced a six-member class for 2020. First-ballot inductees Jarome Iginla and Marian Hossa will be enshrined with defensemen Kevin Lowe and Doug Wilson, goaltender Kim St-Pierre in the women’s category and Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland in the builder category. Iginla will join Grant Fuhr as the only two Black players honored for their on-ice accomplishments.

SACRAMENTO KINGS PLAYERS TEST POSITIVE… Sacramento Kings players Buddy Hield, Jabari Parker and Alex Len have tested positive for coronavirus. At least one other player on the team reportedly also is infected. The Kings, with a 28-36 record, are one of the 22 NBA teams scheduled to resume games on July 30 in Orlando, Florida.

The Rundown for June 19, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 2,191,052 and the death toll stands at 118,434, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. Florida set another new coronavirus case record yesterday with a jump of 3,207 new cases. The day before, California set a new record with 4,165 new cases. As hospitals in Florida complained about a shortage of ICU beds, Governor Ron DeSantis attributed the spike to increased testing. California Governor Gavin Newsom encouraged his state’s residents to wear face masks and social distance when leaving home. He said the state is closely monitoring the counties facing case increases. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, meanwhile, threatened to withhold $100 million in federal funds from the state’s local governments if they require residents to wear masks. Ricketts has encouraged people to wear a mask “but does not believe that failure to wear a mask should be the basis for denying taxpayers’ services,” his office explained. Finally, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci warned yesterday that American “anti-science bias” has presented great difficulty in curbing the pandemic.

SCOTUS BLOCKS TRUMP DECISION TO END DACA… The Supreme Court voted 5-4 yesterday to block the Trump administration’s effort to end the DACA program, which allowed non-citizens brought into the U.S. illegally as children to apply for protection from deportation. Justices found that the decision to end the program was arbitrary and capricious in rejecting White House arguments that DACA is illegal and that courts have no role to play in reviewing the decision to end the program. It appears unlikely that the Trump would be able to challenge the program before November’s presidential election.

PENTAGON TOP FOREIGN POLICY OFFICIAL RESIGNS… Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed yesterday that the Pentagon’s top official overseeing international security affairs has resigned. Kathryn Wheelbarger announced her departure after the White House canceled her nomination for a prominent senior role. Wheelbarger became the second Pentagon official to resign this week, following acting comptroller Elaine McCusker, who stepped down on Tuesday. Both women say their nominations for new jobs were denied over concerns about their loyalty to President Trump.

FACEBOOK REMOVES TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADS… Facebook announced yesterday it has removed 88 ads produced by President Trump’s re-election campaign that featured a symbol that violated its policy against organized hate. The ads called on supporters to sign a petition in support of Trump’s call to make Antifa a terrorist organization, even though there has been of the unofficial group during recent social unrest. The ads featured a red, upside-down triangle featured was similar to one used by Nazis for political prisoners in concentration camps.

ATLANTA COPS CALLING IN SICK TO PROTEST… An unknown number of Atlanta police officers called in sick yesterday to protest the murder charges filed against a since-fired white member of the force who fatally shot a Black man in the back during a foot pursuit outside a Wendy’s restaurant last week. The Atlanta Police Department insists it still has the manpower to protect the city. However, just one officer showed up for work yesterday morning in Zone 6, which covers much of Atlanta’s east side and which several dozen are assigned to patrol.

… Def Leppard, Motley Crue and Poison have rescheduled their planned North American summer stadium tour to 2021. The tour was originally scheduled to begin Sunday in San Antonio but will now start June 19, 2021, in Nashville. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts will join the three bands on the tour.

WOODSTOCK ORGANIZERS SUE FINANCIER… Woodstock 50 organizers are suing the Japanese advertising firm Dentsu over last year’s failed attempt to produce a 50th anniversary festival. In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in New York Supreme Court, organizers claim that Dentsu and its subsidiary agreed to finance the festival but then manufactured an excuse to breach their agreement, thereby depriving the organizers of millions in revenue. Plaintiffs are seeking tens of millions of dollars from Dentsu.

… Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred quickly rejected a proposed a 70-game regular-season schedule the players union submitted yesterday. In offering a proposal that included expanded playoffs in 2020 and 2021, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark expressed confidence that it could bring both sides closer on an agreement to resume a 2020 season. Manfred was angered earlier in the week after his face-to-face negotiations with Clark failed to produce a deal.

NBA PLAYERS CAN OPT TO WEAR ‘SMART RINGS’… The NBA sent out a memo yesterday announcing that players will be offered the chance to wear a titanium “smart ring” that monitors their temperature as a coronavirus precaution once the season resumes. The league is currently planning to start a modified season on July 30 with games at Walt Disney World in Orlando. The league said players who wear the smart ring would help prevent the spread the virus to other players.

The Rundown for June 3, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of conformed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 1,831,821 and the death toll stands at 106,181, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said yesterday that the U.S. should have 100 million doses of one candidate Covid-19 vaccine by the end of the year. Meanwhile, at least 15 West Point cadets who returned to the military academy for President Trump’s upcoming commencement speech have tested positive for COVID-19. The cadets had all been sent home in March during the pandemic, but they returned to campus after President Trump unexpectedly announced in April that he would deliver a commencement speech on June 13. The president’s move was criticized by many officials as a “reckless” political stunt.

ANOTHER DAY OF PROTESTS… Protesters returned to streets across America yesterday for an eighth straight day of demonstrations targeting law-enforcement’s treatment of African-Americans. Earlier in the day, Trump pressed governors to put down the violence and demanded that New York call up the National Guard to stop the “lowlifes and losers.” The state of Minnesota, meanwhile, has launched a civil rights investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department over the death of George Floyd while he was in custody. Governor Tim Walz and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights said they hope to reach agreement with the city to identify short-term ways to address the police department’s history of racial discrimination. Both sides emphasized that they hope to find long-term solutions for systemic change. Finally, James Miller, who served as the Pentagon’s undersecretary of defense for policy during the Obama administration, resigned from his role on the Defense Advisory Board due to what he said was Secretary of Defense Mark Esper’s visible support for law enforcement officers’ clearing of protesters in Washington, D.C., on Monday. Miller called what he saw as Esper’s support for suppressing the protest a violation of Esper’s oath of office.

TRUMP LOOKS TO MOVE GOP CONVENTION… President Trump announced last night that he wants to move the Republican convention out of Charlotte because North Carolina Roy Cooper could not provide assurances that he could fill the convention hall. In a letter to officials at the Republican National Committee, Cooper said the possibility of the coronavirus lingering in the state or re-emerging left him unable to determine whether he could allow for full attendance at the August 24-27 convention. The RNC had been pressing Cooper for more specific guidance on his plans for the convention.

DEA APPROVED TO SURVEIL PROTESTERS… Buzzfeed News reported yesterday that the Department of Justice has given the Drug Enforcement Administration approval to conduct “covert surveillance” on protesters taking to the streets over Minneapolis Police Department’s killing of George Floyd. The surveillance powers are reportedly being granted on a temporary basis. The DEA has also been given the power to gather intelligence on demonstrators and share it with local and state law enforcement.

PRIMARIES IN 8 STATES… Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King lost his seat yesterday, as he was defeated by Senator Randy Feenstra, who took advantage of King’s provocative and racially-charged statements. In other primaries of interest, Attorney Teresa Leger Fernandez defeated former CIA operative Valerie Plame to win the Democratic nomination in New Mexico’s the 3rd Congressional District. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was projected to win Indiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Montana and Rhode Island.

… Actor Cole Sprouse has provided an account his arrest on Sunday at a Black Lives Matter protest in Santa Monica, California. Sprouse, who stars as Jughead Jones in the CW television series “Riverdale,” says his detention came after he participated in a peaceful demonstration. He claims that he and other demonstrators were given the option to leave the beachside city after a 4 p.m. curfew but were blocked by police officers who detained them with zip ties.

HENLEY SEEKS CHANGE TO COPYRIGHT LAW… Musician/songwriter Don Henley testified virtually before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee yesterday and asked for changes to a 1998 law that protect artists against online pirating. The law allows holders of copyrighted material to formally ask parties they believe have taken their content without permission to remove it. The parties can dispute the claim. If they comply promptly with the request, there are no legal consequences. Otherwise, they may be subject to criminal penalties. Henley said the law must be strengthened to make it more effective.

… NBA owners are hopeful that they can reach agreement with players on a plan that would resume play on July 31 in Orlando. The plan that would include regular-season, play-in and playoff games for the 16 teams currently holding playoff position and six more teams within six games of the eighth seed in each conference. Commissioner Adam Silver will take the proposal to a vote of the NBA’s Board of Governors tomorrow, ESPN reported yesterday. Three-fourths of the league’s 30 teams would have to vote on the plan to pass it.

The Rundown for June 1, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… At least 19,788 new coronavirus cases and 600 virus-related deaths were identified in the U.S. yesterday, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. The number of cases reported in the nation stands at 1,790,191 and the death toll is listed at 104,383. Brazil remains a hotspot for the disease as its 514,000 cases are more than any country outside the U.S.

PROTESTS RAGE… Protests targeting the killings of black people at the hands of police flared across the nation again yesterday, as peaceful demonstrations mixed with pockets of violence. President Trump, who reportedly was taken to a bunker as protests neared the White House, expressed anger at the destruction and announced that the U.S. “will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization” despite no evidence that the group is behind the violence. Texas Governor Greg Abbott yesterday declared a state of disaster and ordered thousands of additional troops and more than 1,000 National Guard members to support local law enforcement in Austin, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced that two police officers have been fired after a video appeared to show them tasing two protesters and dragging them out of a car on Saturday. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney ordered all retail stores to close immediately in order to “fully enforce” an 8 p.m. curfew. Former Vice President and current presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden visited the site of Saturday night’s Wilmington, Delaware, protests. “We are a nation in pain, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us.” he said.

TRUMP WON’T CONTROL NATIONAL GUARD… President Trump will not take the dramatic step for now of seeking control of the National Guard, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien announced yesterday. The National Guard says that it has activated about 5,000 soldiers and airmen in 15 states and the District of Columbia, but that “state and local law enforcement agencies remain responsible for security.” During his appearance on CNN’s “Face the Nation,” O’Brien also attacked the World Health Organization as “corrupt” and vowed that the U.S. could better use its public-health funds.

MINNESOTA AG TAKING OVER GEORGE FLOYD CASE… Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said yesterday that he is turning over the George Floyd case to Attorney General Keith Ellison. The former congressman will assist Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and the two are expected to begin work today. Floyd’s family had previously requested Ellison take over the case from Freeman. Minneapolis City Council on Saturday asked Walz to appoint Ellison as special prosecutor in this case.

SPACEX CAPSULE ARRIVES AT SPACE STATION… SpaceX yesterday delivered two astronauts to the International Space Station. The SpaceX Dragon capsule, carrying test pilots Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, pulled up to the station and docked automatically. It was the first time a privately built and owned spacecraft carried astronauts to the space station in its more than 20 years of existence.

… Actors Kendrick Sampson and John Cusack were among those who had contact with police at George Floyd protests over the weekend. Sampson, who stars in the HBO comedy-drama series “Insecure,” said he went to the emergency room after being struck by seven rubber bullets and police batons at a protest in Los Angeles. Cusack tweeted on Saturday that police approached him as he was filming a burning car and struck his bike.

GUNNA TOPS ALBUM CHART… Gunna’s new release, “Wunna,” sold 111,000 copies to top the Billboard 200 album chart. Lil Baby’s “My Turn” jumped into second place with 65,000 units sold. Last week’s champ, Future’s “High Off Life,” dropped to third place on sales of 61,000 copies. The 1975’s “Notes on a Conditional Form” opened in fourth place on sales of 54,000 units. Polo G’s “The Goat” capped the top five with 52,000 copies sold.

… The Major League Baseball Players Association yesterday delivered a return-to-play proposal to team owners. According to ESPN, the proposal includes a 114-game season, deferred salaries in the event of a canceled postseason and the option for all players to opt out of a potential 2020 season due to coronavirus concerns. Players rejected a previous plan presented by owners. Both sides are hopeful that an agreement could be in place as early as this week.

JR SMITH PUMMELS VANDAL… A video posted online yesterday shows free-agent NBA guard JR Smith beating up a man who allegedly broke the window of Smith’s truck during the protests in Los Angeles over the weekend. The video shows Smith kicking the man when he is on the ground and then punching him when he gets up and runs away. Smith said he was parked in a residential area and not near any stores where looting took place during the protests.

The Rundown for May 13, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of reported coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 1,342,594 and the death toll stands at 80,820, according to figures released last night by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force testified remotely before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee yesterday. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci cautioned governments not to “jump over” various checkpoints and “prematurely open.”

TRUMP LAWYER TRIES TO PROTECT FINANCIAL RECORDS… President Trump’s personal lawyer argued before the Supreme Court yesterday that the president should not be subject to the same laws as ordinary citizens. Attorney Jay Sekulow, who is trying to prevent three financial institutions from complying with subpoenas for the president’s financial records, claimed that the president is a branch of government and is immune to subpoenas. Three House committees and the New York City district attorney have subpoenaed two banks and an accounting firm for Trump’s financial records.

JUDGE IN FLYNN’S CASE GRANTS TIME FOR CHALLENGES… The judge in Michael Flynn’s court case is delaying an immediate decision on the Justice Department’s request to withdraw the case and will allow time for outside parties to file amicus briefs in challenging the government’s position. Flynn pleaded guilty last year to lying to the FBI about his contacts with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak but sentencing was delayed when he sought to change his guilty plea. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan yesterday said he would set a schedule for parties to submit their challenges at a later date.

HOUSE DEMS UNVEIL $3T RELIEF PACKAGE… House Democrats yesterday unveiled a $3 trillion coronavirus relief package that includes another round of direct payments to Americans. A vote on the measure is scheduled for Friday. It is expected to carry a party-line vote, meaning it faces an uphill battle in the GOP-controlled Senate if it’s passed in the Democratic-led House. Republicans claim they don’t see an imminent need for another emergency relief package.

BIDEN WINS NEBRASKA PRIMARY… Joe Biden moved a step closer toward his bid to become the Democratic presidential nominee yesterday by winning the Nebraska primary. He was projected to pick up at least another 20 delegates out of the 33 up for grabs, giving him 1,444 of the 1,991 needed to clinch the nomination. President Trump won the Republican primary, and Senator Ben Sasse won the Republican primary for his seat. In-person voting was conducted, although voters were encouraged to vote early by mail.

ACTOR NICK CORDERO AWAKE AND CONSCIOUS… Actor Nick Cordero is awake and conscious after about three weeks in a medically-induced coma due to complications from coronavirus, his wife announced on social media yesterday. Cordero had entered the hospital on March 30 for and was intubated on April 1. One of his legs had to be amputated as the result of a blood clot. Cordero made his Broadway debut in 2012’s musical hit “Rock of Ages” before earning a Tony nomination in 2014 for “Bullets Over Broadway.” He appeared in the 2017 comedy remake “Going in Style” and his TV appearances included “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”

EILISH GRANTED RESTRAINING ORDER… A judge in Los Angeles has granted Billie Eilish a temporary restraining order against a man who trespassed on her parents’ property on several occasions. The 18-year-old pop star sought the protection in papers filed on Monday. The man, identified as 24-year-old Prenell Rousseau, has been to stay 200 yards away from Billie and her family members. He allegedly turned up at the house seven times last week and on one occasion tried to gain entrance through a door. A hearing is scheduled for June 1.

NBA PRIORITIZES SAFETY IN PLANS TO RETURN… ESPN reported last night that a virtual meeting with NBA commissioner Adam Silver left participants in a Board of Governors call feeling positive about the league’s momentum toward a resumption of play this season. Owners and executives praised the league’s progress toward minimizing health risk upon a return and willingness to communicate with the players union. In a discussion centered on safety concerns, the league established a goal of getting team officials and players comfortable with the idea that a positive test for the coronavirus upon a return would not force another shutdown.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 March 20, 2020

GOP SENATORS INTRODUCE CORONAVIRUS AID PACKAGE… Senate Republicans last night introduced a $1 trillion coronavirus-relief package. The plan includes cash payments of up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 couples, with the sum increasing by $500 for each child for taxpayers beneath a certain income threshold. It would also extend the tax filing deadline from April 15 to July 15, allowing corporations to delay estimated tax payments until Oct. 15 and employers and self-employed people to delay payroll taxes.

U.S. IMPLEMENTS TRAVEL ADVISORY… The State Department implemented a Level Four travel advisory yesterday in advising all U.S. citizens abroad to return home unless they are prepared to remain in place “for an indefinite period.” The advisory also urged citizens in the U.S. to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of the coronavirus. The advisory follows last week’s ban on incoming travel from 30 countries.

NATIONAL COUNTERTERRORIST CENTER OFFICIALS REMOVED… Acting National Counterterrorism Center director Russell Travers and his acting deputy, Peter Hall, were fired Wednesday night, according to a report in yesterday’s Washington Post. Travers had been on the job since last year and reportedly opposed plans to make personnel cuts at the center. Hours before, President Trump announced his intention to nominate Pentagon special operations and counterterrorism official Christopher Miller as the full-time NCTC director.

TULSI GABBARD ENDS PRESIDENTIAL BID… Hawaiian congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard announced yesterday that she is suspending her Democratic presidential campaign and endorses Joe Biden as the party’s nominee. Gabbard said Biden is the best candidate to take on Trump. She said she will now direct her time to fighting the coronavirus.

UNEMPLOYMENT FILINGS SPIKE… Figures released yesterday by the Labor Department reveal that filings for unemployment benefits spiked last week and have reached a two-year high. The Labor Department reported that claims rose by 70,000 to 281,000 last week as workers have been laid off amid the coronavirus pandemic. The filings were the most since September 2017.

CONAN O’BRIEN PLANS RETURN… Conan O’Brien is planning his return to the air. On March, he will resume releasing new episodes of his late-night talk show. O’Brien’s staff will remain at home, and the show will be cobbled together with O’Brien on an iPhone and guests via Skype. Other late-night talk-show hosts have adopted drastic measures as well. Jimmy Fallon has produced 10-minute “At Home” shows while Jimmy Kimmel and David Spade have delivered monologues from their homes. On Monday, Stephen Colbert delivered a 10-minute monologue from his bathtub.

DANIEL DAE KIM TESTS POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS… Daniel Dae Kim is the latest Hollywood star to be diagnosed with coronavirus. The 51-year-old Korean-American actor posted on social media that he became symptomatic at home in Hawaii after spending several weeks in New York shooting the TV show “New Amsterdam.” Kim says his condition is “not 100 percent” but “close.”

NBA NEWS… The coronavirus continues to make its way through the NBA. Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart revealed yesterday that he has tested positive while two unidentified Los Angeles Lakers players also announced positive tests. The Denver Nuggets announced that an unnamed member of the organization has been diagnosed with the virus.

MLB NEWS… The Boston Red Sox announced yesterday that starting pitcher Chris Sale will undergo Tommy John surgery. Sale decided to undergo the procedure now out of fear that delaying it could have caused him to miss significant time in the 2021 season. The 30-year-old Sale didn’t pitch after experiencing elbow soreness last August. He went 6-11 with a 4.40 ERA in 25 starts on the season.

NFL NEWS… New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton yesterday became the first person connected to the NFL to have reported catching the coronavirus. The 56-year-old Payton said he didn’t feel great this past Sunday and took a test Monday. He said he came forward with his diagnosis in an effort to get people to take the situation seriously.

The Arizona Cardinals have signed linebacker De’Vondre Campbell to a one-year deal.

The Carolina Panthers have signed wide receiver Keith Kirkwood to a one-year deal.

The Cincinnati Bengals have agreed to terms with cornerback Mackensie Alexander on a one-year contract. The Cincinnati Bengals plan to sign cornerback Torry McTyer to a one-year deal.

The Cleveland Browns have signed cornerback Kevin Johnson and defensive tackle Andrew Billings to one-year contracts.

The Denver Broncos are waiving former Super Bowl MVP quarterback Joe Flacco after a failed physical.

The Los Angeles Rams have released running back Todd Gurley and linebacker Clay Matthews.

The Miami Dolphins have re-signed safety Adrian Colbert to a one-year deal.

The Minnesota Vikings have re-signed kicker Dan Bailey.

The New England Patriots have signed guard Joe Thuney to a franchise tender.

The New York Giants have signed quarterback Colt McCoy to a one-year deal.

The Philadelphia Eagles have sent a 2020 third-round pick and 2020 fifth-round pick to the Detroit Lions in exchange for cornerback Darius Slay.

The Washington Redskins are planning to sign tight end Logan Thomas.

The Rundown for March 13, 2020

ONGOING SHUTDOWNS OVER CARONAVIRUS… Efforts to contain the coronavirus continue as officials are calling off public gatherings, postponing sporting events and canceling classes at schools. As of yesterday morning, there had been more than 1,300 confirmed cases in the U.S. with at least 39 deaths of them fatal. The virus has infected more than 126,000 people worldwide and is blamed for more than 4,600 deaths. Doctors say the vast majority of cases are mild, and almost half of those infected have recovered. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, conceded during testimony before the House oversight committee yesterday that government efforts have failed to provide Americans easy and accessible testing. President Trump drew condemnation from leaders of the European Union for not consulting them before announcing that he as barring travelers from 26 nations from entering the U.S.for 30 days. It was also revealed yesterday that the communications secretary for Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro tested positive for coronavirus just five days after he was among a group of officials who met with Trump.

U.S. LAUNCHES AIR STRIKES IN IRAQ… The Pentagon confirmed yesterday that U.S. forces launched airstrikes in Iraq against Iranian-backed Shia militia members blamed for a rocket attack that killed and wounded American and British troops Wednesday night at Iraq’s Camp Taji. Officials said multiple strikes by U.S. manned aircraft hit five locations and mainly targeted Kataib Hezbollah weapons facilities inside Iraq. Earlier yesterday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced that President Donald Trump had given him the authority to take whatever action he deemed necessary.

DOW FALLS AFTER FED INJECTION… The Federal Reserve Bank of New York yesterday took drastic steps in injecting more than $1.5 trillion into the markets amid investors’ fears of the coronavirus’ economic impact. The move brought immediate calm but it quickly gave way. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell nearly 10 percent in its worst drop since the 1987 stock market crash. The Dow was down 2,353 points at closing bell, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq fell by over 9 percent.

SANDERS WINS CALIFORNIA DEM PRIMARY… News outlets yesterday declared Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders the winner of California’s Democratic primary. Official numbers from the Super Tuesday contest have been delayed pending the final count of mail-in votes and provisional ballots. As of yesterday, Sanders was holding a 34.3-to-27.6-percent lead. He had claimed 184 delegates to former Vice President Joe Biden’s 144, with 81 delegates left to be allocated.

CHELSEA MANNING RELEASED FROM PRISON… Former intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning was released from prison yesterday. She had been in detention in Virginia since last May after refusing to testify in an inquiry into Wikileaks. Manning was found guilty in 2013 of charges including espionage for leaking secret military files to Wikileaks.

PROMOTERS SUSPEND CONCERT TOURS… Two dominant live entertainment promotion companies have announced that they are suspended all touring activities because of the coronavirus pandemic. Live Nation Entertainment and AEG Presents both said they would halt events beginning this weekend at least through the end of March. On Tuesday, AEG announced the postponement until October of both the Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals.

IN THEATERS… “Bloodshot” stars Vin Diesel and Eiza Gonzalez in the story about a slain soldier who is re-animated with superpowers. The film is rated PG-13… In “The Hunt,” 12 strangers wake up not knowing where they are or how they got there and soon discover that they’ve been chosen for a very specific purpose. Betty Gilpin and Hilary Swank star in the R-rated film.

NCAA CALLS OFF TOURNAMENTS; NHL SUSPENDS SEASON… The sporting world has undergone a complete shutdown due to the health threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic. Yesterday, the NHL announced that it was suspending its season but expressed hopes to resume. The league had 189 games and three and a half weeks remaining in its regular-season schedule. Later, the NCAA called off its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments as part of a complete cancellation of all remaining spring and winter championships. Major League Baseball, meanwhile, announced that it is suspending spring-training games and will delay the start of the 2020 regular season by at least two weeks. On Wednesday night, the NBA announced suspended its season “until further notice” after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. His teammate Donovan Mitchell reportedly also has been diagnosed with the virus.

The Rundown for March 12, 2020

TRUMP ANNOUNCED TRAVEL BAN OVER CORONAVIRUS… During an address from the Oval Office last night, President Trump announced plans to sharply restrict travel to the U.S. from 26 European countries to combat the spreading public health crisis that has engulfed his presidency. Trump said the plan would be in effect over the next 30 days. Afterward, administration officials explained that the ban will apply only to foreign nationals and not to American citizens who had been screened before entering the country.

SENATORS SEEK EMERGENCY DECLARATION… Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other senators are preparing to ask President Trump to issue an emergency declaration for the coronavirus pandemic. The formal declaration would let the Federal Emergency Management Agency use more than $40 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund to assist local state government in their response to the coronavirus. Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington tried to pass by unanimous consent a bill that would “allow Americans to earn paid sick leave time so they can address their own health needs and the health needs of their families.” The bill failed when it was opposed by Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.

HEALTH OFFICIALS BRIEF HOUSE PANEL… Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform yesterday that the coronavirus spread is going to get worse. Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told lawmakers that the role of local agencies is becoming more important as more states report cases. Redfield said 31 people have died from the coronavirus in the U.S. Of the deaths, 23 were in Washington, there were two each in California and Florida, and there has been one death each in New Jersey and South Dakota. The World Health Organization declared yesterday that the global coronavirus crisis is now a pandemic. Meanwhile, Reuters reported that information from dozens of meetings at the Department of Health and Human Services about the novel coronavirus has been withheld due to a White House order to keep top-level discussions classified. Officials said the classified meetings have limited the government’s ability to respond to the pandemic.

SENATE OVERTURNS STUDENT-LOAN PROTECTION REVISAL… The Senate yesterday overturned an Education Department policy to reverse student loan protections. 10 Republicans joined Democrats in the 53-to-42 vote. The rule designed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos would have revised the “borrower defense” rule enacted by the Obama administration and restricted available actions by students who were misled by colleges engaged in misrepresentation or misconduct. The House passed a resolution of disapproval of the revised rules last month by a vote of 231 to 180, with six Republican members voting with Democrats.

SUPREME COURT ALLOWS ‘REMAIN IN MEXICO’ MIGRANT POLICY… The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Trump administration yesterday in allowing the controversial “Remain in Mexico” policy to remain in place along the southern border. The policy, officially called the Migrant Protection Protocols, requires asylum seekers to wait in Mexico prior to their appearance in U.S. immigration court. Officials say that about 60,000 migrants have been sent back across the border since the MPP was first implemented in January 2019. The Supreme Court has yet to issue a final ruling on the legality of the MPP program itself. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California briefly had blocked the policy last month, finding that it violates federal law.

CARTEL CRACKDOWN RESULTS IN ARRESTS, SEIZURES… U.S. authorities say they have arrested more than 250 people and seized 600 kilograms of illegal narcotics as part of a broader crackdown that targets the Mexican drug cartel known as the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion. Last month, federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against the daughter of the cartel’s recognized leader, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, better known as “El Mencho,” and extradited his son to the U.S. to stand trial. The cartel’s No. 2 in command, Ruben Oseguera Gonzalez aka “Menchito,” has also been extradited to the U.S. from Mexico to face drug trafficking and firearm charges in Washington, D.C.

WEINSTEIN SENTENCED TO 23 YEARS IN PRISON… Disgraced Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison yesterday after offering a plea for mercy. The 67-year-old Miramax co-founder was convicted last month of raping a once-aspiring actress in a New York City hotel room in 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on former TV and film production assistant Mimi Haleyi at his apartment in 2006. He faced a minimum of five years and a maximum of 29 years in prison.

NUMBER OF FREQUENT MOVIE-GOERS DROPS… A detailed report released yesterday by the Motion Picture Association found that frequent movie-going slipped in 2019 and there were fewer tickets sold across all age groups. However, the number of occasional moviegoers. In 2019, there were 11 million such moviegoers in North America who were responsible for 47 percent of all ticket sold, according to the report. That compares to 12 percent and 49 percent of all tickets sold in 2018. The number of infrequent moviegoers, or those that go only once a year, increased from 10 percent to 11 percent. The number of occasional moviegoers, defined as those who go to a theater less than once a month, made gains, increasing from 53 percent to 54 percent while non-moviegoers fell from 25 percent to 24 percent.

NBA SUSPENDS SEASON… The NBA announced last night that it is suspending its season “until further notice” after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. The diagnosis prompted the postponement of Utah’s game at Oklahoma City just before tip-off last night. The New Orleans Pelicans’ game at Sacramento was also postponed because one of the referees scheduled to work the game had worked Utah’s game Monday night.

PHILADELPHIA 124 – Detroit 106… Joel Embiid returned from a shoulder strain to score 30 points and grab 14 rebounds in leading the 76ers past the Pistons. Al Horford added 20 points and 10 boards.

New York 136 – ATLANTA 131 (OT)… The Knicks recovered to outlast the Hawks after blowing a 23-point lead. Julius Randle pumped in 33 points. RJ Barrett added 26 points.

Charlotte 109 – MIAMI 98… The Hornets rolled past the Heat after trailing by 18 points entering the second quarter. Devonte Graham scored a game-high 30 points.

DALLAS 113 – Denver 97… The Mavericks held the Nuggets to 12 fourth-quarter points in a come-from-behind victory. Boban Marjanovic had 31 points and 17 boards. Luka Doncic tossed in 28 points.

Chicago is at Orlando…
Milwaukee hosts Boston…
Memphis is at Portland…
Golden State hosts Brooklyn…
Houston is at the L.A. Lakers

CHICAGO 6 – San Jose 2… Patrick Kane found the net twice as the Blackhawks skated past the Sharks. Alex DeBrincat assisted on three goals.

Winnipeg 4 – EDMONTON 2… Kyle Connor scored a tie-breaking goal 2 9seconds into the third period and added an empty-netter as the Jets doubled up on the Oilers. Blake Wheeler had a goal and an assist.

St. Louis 4 – ANAHEIM 2… Zach Sanford netted the go-ahead goal with 2:47 left in the second period and Alex Pietrangelo added the finishing empty-netter in the Blues’ win over the Ducks. Adam Henrique had a goal and an assist.

COLORADO 3 – N.Y. Rangers 2 (OT)… Cale Makar’s goal at 2:50 of overtime sent the Avalanche past the Rangers. Gabriel Landeskog set up two goals.

LOS ANGELES  3 – Ottawa 2… The Kings scored back-to-back power-play goals in the third period to upend the Senators. Martin Frk scored the game-winner with 4:41 remaining. Gabriel Vilar/di tied the game 6:07 earlier.

Nashville is at Toronto…
Montreal hosts Buffalo…
Philadelphia is at Tampa Bay…
New Jersey hosts Carolina…
Detroit is at Washington…
Columbus hosts Pittsburgh…
Vegas is at Minnesota…
Dallas hosts Florida…
the N.Y. Islanders are at Calgary…
Arizona hosts Vancouver