TSA releases tighter guidelines for passing through security
Summer travel will look different once people start flying again, according to new details from the Transportation Security Administration that aim to reduce the amount of person-to-person contact.
The federal agency said Thursday in a statement that travelers will now have to place their print or mobile boarding passes on scanners themselves in order to avoid a touch point.
Passengers will also be required to put any food items in a clear plastic bag in order to “lessen the likelihood that a TSA officer will need to open the carry-on bag.”
Security checkpoints will also include “visual reminders of appropriate spacing,” and staggered lanes, in order to allow for social distancing.
The TSA said it is also encouraging, but not mandating, the use of face masks during the check-in procedure, though agents will be wearing masks and changing gloves between pat-downs.
‘Ridiculous,’ ‘scary,’ ‘distraction’: Whitmer berates Trump’s threats to cut off Mich. funding
Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday slammed President Donald Trump’s threats to withhold federal funding to her state as “ridiculous,” a “distraction” and “scary.”
In an interview with “CBS This Morning,” Whitmer was asked to react to the president’s vows to withhold funding for the state in response to its pursuit of mass mail-in voting. She did not spare words.
“You can only imagine how I feel about that,” the governor said, adding, “To have this kind of distraction is just ridiculous to be honest. The threatening to take money away from a state that is hurting as bad as we are right now is just scary, and, I think, something that is unacceptable.”
Trump on Thursday will visit a factory near Detroit that has been repurposed to manufacture ventilators — a trip that Whitmer pleaded not include any “petty political stuff.”
Read the full story here.
Americans rank South Korea, Germany above U.S. for coronavirus response
Americans believe South Korea and Germany stand apart from other countries — including the United States — in their responses to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new Pew Research Center report.
Participants in the survey gave higher ratings to South Korea and Germany (66 percent good or excellent), mixed ratings for the United Kingdom (49 percent), United States (47 percent) and World Health Organization (46 percent), and lower ratings for Italy (34 percent) and China (33 percent).
In terms of the U.S. response, 84 percent of participants think the U.S. can learn from other countries about ways to slow the spread of COVID-19. Opinions about the United States’ handling of the outbreak split largely along party lines, with 81 percent of liberals saying the U.S. has done a fair or poor job, and only 22 percent of conservatives.
The national survey by the Pew Research Center was conducted between April 29 and May 5 and involved 10,957 U.S. adults.
Feds charge Chinese national in $20 million PPP fraud scheme
Federal prosecutors charged a Chinese national Thursday with trying to fraudulently obtain $20 million in Paycheck Protection Program and other government-guaranteed loans intended for small businesses dealing with COVID-19.
Muge Ma, a 36-year-old known as “Hummer Mars” residing in Manhattan, allegedly presented applications to five banks saying he had two companies with hundreds of employees who needed help, according to the criminal complaint.
Ma represented himself and one of his companies as a test-kit manufacturer for COVID-19 and a medical supplier, neither of which were true, prosecutors said. The bulk of the loans which were approved before the fraud was found were frozen by investigators before Ma could receive them – approximately $800,000.
Ma faces bank fraud, wire fraud and multiple false statement charges.
As the Middle East prepares for Eid holiday, virus cases spike
A huge spike in coronavirus cases in the Middle East where many have been observing the Islamic month of Ramadan, has led countries to extend and reinforce lockdown measures, to prevent its spread during this weekend’s Eid holiday.
The largest number of cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, has been in Saudi Arabia, which normally sees millions of Muslims descend on the holy cities of Mecca and Medina during Ramadan.
This year, the kingdom took the decision to close off the religious sites, with stark images of empty mosques and sacred sites circulating online.
Read more here.
NYC mayor says new hospitalizations down, positive cases increase slightly
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said new hospitalizations for the coronavirus are down in the city, although the percentage of people testing positive for the virus ticked up slightly.
At a news briefing on Thursday, the mayor said new hospital admissions of COVID-19 patients is down from 63 as of May 18 to 60, and the number of patients in intensive care units dropped from 483 to 477.
However, among people tested for the virus, the number with positive results increased slightly to 9 percent from 8 percent.
“It’s a pretty good day,” de Blasio said, adding, “I want us to get to great days.”
Wuhan bans trade and consumption of wild animals, citing health concerns
The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus pandemic was first detected, implemented a five-year ban Wednesday on the trade of illegal wildlife and the consumption of wild animals.
While the precise source of COVID-19 remains a mystery, scientists have suggested that like many other coronaviruses, it was transmitted to humans from animals, sparking concern for the risks of live-animal markets. Genetic analysis of the virus by a group of Chinese scientists in February suggested it likely originated from pangolins — scaly, long-snouted anteaters that are poached for traditional medicinal purposes in both Asia and Africa.
The ban — prohibiting the breeding, sale and consumption of wild animals including endangered species — is intended to protect people’s health and safety, according to a statement issued by the Wuhan government Wednesday. It will also be paired with public education around wildlife and improved supervision over wildlife protection and management.
Another 2.4 million Americans filed for initial unemployment last week, bringing total to almost 40 million
Another 2.44 million Americans filed for initial unemployment benefits last week, bringing the total number of people who lost their job so far during the coronavirus pandemic to almost 40 million.
The weekly figures, released Thursday by the Department of Labor, come amid a slew of bankruptcies and as more companies announce layoffs.
While the month of May still represents a staggering total of job losses, the number of unemployment benefit claims has been in gradual decline after hitting a peak of 6.8 million for the week ending March 28.
America continues to face the worst labor market since the Great Depression, with the official unemployment figure already at over 20 million, representing a total loss of all jobs gained since the Great Recession. The current unemployment rate of 14.7 percent is the worst since the height of the Great Depression, when it hit 24.9 percent.
“I think the jobs numbers will be worse before they get better,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned on Tuesday, during a joint appearance before the Senate banking committee with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.
Powell, who has estimated that unemployment could reach 25 percent, has said the economy can only fully recover once there is a vaccine.