As flags fly at half-mast this Memorial Day weekend, millions of Americans are expected to gather to celebrate with loved ones. Health officials are encouraging people to practice safe social distancing because “the coronavirus is still not contained,” FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn warned Sunday.
Also on Monday, a group of 18 historic warplanes is scheduled to fly over Southern California to honor veterans and the health care workers fighting the coronavirus outbreak.
Nearly 98,000 people have died from the virus in the United States, more than a quarter of the 345,000 deaths worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard. There are more than 5.4 million confirmed cases around the globe, and 1.6 million in the United States alone.
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Here are some highlights from Sunday:
- The Trump administration has banned travel from Brazil to help contain the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
- Ahead of Memorial Day, FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn warned Americans that “social distancing, hand washing and wearing masks protect us all.”
- Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear was hanged in effigy during a Second Amendment rally at the Capitol, sparking condemnation from both sides of the political aisle.
What we’re talking about: Rats haven’t been satisfied with curbside pickup or delivery amid the coronavirus pandemic. That’s why they’re increasingly desperate for food right now, warns the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some good news: A school district in Jacksonville, Florida, is working to make things easier for transgender students amid distancing learning. A new policy will give students to option to request their affirmed name is displayed on online learning hubs.
Staying Apart, Together: USA TODAY brings a newsletter about how to cope with these trying times straight to your inbox.
Pool party video goes viral; beaches draw crowds for Memorial Day weekend
With lockdowns lifted and temperatures warming across the nation, some Americans flocked to beaches and pools during Memorial Day weekend in defiance of social distancing guidelines.
- A 16-second video clip depicting a busy pool party in Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks went viral on Twitter, with some decrying the behavior and others praising it.
- At least 5 people were treated for gunshot wounds after crowds and fighting broke out Saturday near a beach in Daytona Beach, Florida.
- Local officials near Tampa, Florida, closed down a beach parking lot due to large crowds, the Associated Press reported.
- Photos emerged of busy beaches in California and Florida as officials were tasked with enforcing social distancing measures.
White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Brix reaffirmed Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that social distancing is “absolutely critical” as the country still grapples with hundreds of coronavirus deaths everyday.
Historic warplanes set to fly over Southern California on Memorial Day
A group of 18 World War II planes will fly over Southern California on Monday to honor veterans and healthcare workers. The operation, called “Memorial Day: Operation Social Strong,” will soar over hospitals, airports and cemeteries.
“We came up with the idea after seeing the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels making the rounds,” Commemorative Air Force Inland Empire Wing Operations Manager Bill Prosser told City News Service. “We’re going to be a lot slower than the T-Birds and Angels, so people can see us better. It’s not like, ‘Boom’ — they’re gone. We’ll be doing 120 mph.”
The U.S. Air Force’s Thunderbirds and Navy’s Blue Birds have flown all over the country to pay tribute to health care workers during their fight the coronavirus.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear hanged in effigy during Second Amendment rally
What started out as a freedom-loving celebration of the Second Amendment ahead of Memorial Day turned into Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear being hanged in effigy and protesters chanting outside the governor’s mansion.
The Second Amendment rally, meant to inspire people “about what it really means to be FREE,” according to Take Back Kentucky, attracted at least 100 people to the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort on Sunday.
The effigy, which bore a sign that read, “sic semper tyrannis,” which means “thus always to tyrants,” was swiftly condemned by leaders on both sides of the aisle, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
– Sarah Ladd, The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Ky.)
Trump calls for schools to reopen ‘ASAP’
As some Americans await to see if students will be going back to school buildings in the fall, President Trump tweeted Sunday night that schools should reopen “ASAP,” citing the “very good information” on coronavirus that’s now available.
Schools across the nation quickly shifted to online learning this spring and are largely staying away from in-person classes through the end of the 2019-2020 school year. Many educators have yet to make call on returning in the fall.
Trump administration suspends travel from Brazil amid coronavirus outbreak
President Donald Trump issued a proclamation on Sunday banning individuals who have been in Brazil within 14 days prior to attempting to enter the United States in the latest travel restrictions aimed at containing the rapid spread of the coronavirus.
The president, citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent and the Department of Homeland Security, said Brazil was the latest country to face travel restrictions as the country continues to face a surge in cases of COVID-19, according to the order.
Brazil is among the hardest hit countries in the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 347,000 cases and at least 22,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The country is only second to the U.S. in terms of total positive cases.
– Courtney Subramanian
Georgia reports first COVID-19 child death, a 17-year-old in Fulton County
A 17-year-old boy has died from COVID-19 in Georgia, becoming the first child to die from the virus in the state, according to state officials. The boy was from Fulton County and had an underlying condition, Nancy Nydam with the Georgia Department of Public Health told WSB-TV.
There have been 1,824 coronavirus deaths in the state, with more than 42,800 confirmed cases, according to the state’s health department.
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- Mapping coronavirus: Tracking the U.S. outbreak, state by state.
FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn tweets Memorial Day weekend caution
FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn on Sunday issued a warning ahead of Memorial Day: The coronavirus is not yet contained.
“With the country starting to open up this holiday weekend, I again remind everyone that the coronavirus is not yet contained,” Hahn tweeted. “It is up to every individual to protect themselves and their community. Social distancing, hand washing and wearing masks protect us all.”
Hahn’s tweet came hours before President Donald Trump tweeted, “Cases, numbers and deaths are going down all over the Country!” Trump has also called for governors to reopen houses of worship, calling them “essential.”
New York sports teams get approval to start training camps
Professional sports without fans took a step forward Sunday as Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave the go-ahead for teams in New York to start training camps.
The NBA and NHL seasons were stopped in mid-March, and the MLB season has been on hold after the coronavirus pandemic swept the nation, particularly New York, which has the most cases and deaths in the nation.
Other sports leagues have also been on hold, with hopes to resume operations this summer and with efforts by the NHL and NBA to resume their seasons in the coming months. Cuomo said New York teams should be able to start practices in hopes of getting their seasons underway without fans.
The impact of Cuomo’s announcement is uncertain. Teams are essentially waiting for directives from their leagues before resuming any official activities.
– Joseph Spector