National News, Monday, 5/4 – Economic Recovery May Be Slow As States Reopening Already Showing

News stories from across the nation from Washington D.C. to the west coast, from RogueValleyMagazine.com

Monday, May 4, 2020

On Friday, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, 77, was interviewed on MSNBC and denied the accusations of his former aide, Tara Reade, which she claimed happened in 1993.

Mr. Biden addressed Ms. Reade’s claims personally for the first time, saying “it’s not true, I am saying unequivocally.  It never, never happened.”

He also issued a written denial Friday morning, after facing criticism from some women’s advocates and some Democrats that he hadn’t personally responded to Ms. Reade’s claims.  Mr. Biden’s campaign has denied Ms. Reade’s account since her claims were made public in late March.

Mr. Biden has said he doesn’t have personnel records in his files, which are held out of public view at the University of Delaware.  Mr. Biden said he was requesting the secretary of the Senate ask the National Archives to “identify any record of the complaint she alleges she filed and make it available.”

A representative for the National Archives directed inquiries about Mr. Biden’s personnel records to the Senate, stating that “any records of Senate personnel complaints from 1993 would have remained under the control of the Senate.”  

Ms. Reade has said in addition to saying she filed a complaint, Ms. Reade said she told three superiors in the Senate office about the alleged harassment, but not the alleged assault.  She said that after raising concerns, she was demoted from her job as the office’s intern coordinator and asked to leave.

Ms. Reade has said she didn’t discuss her claim of sexual assault with Mr. Biden’s staff or in the Senate personnel complaint because she was scared. She talked about the alleged assault with several people around the time she said it happened.  Ms. Reade’s brother and a friend who interned in other Capitol Hill offices while Ms. Reade worked for Mr. Biden said she told them in the mid-1990s about the alleged assault. A former neighbor of Ms. Reade’s, Lynda LaCasse, also told some news outlets that Ms. Reade had told her about the alleged sexual assault.

Reade says she will sit in front of TV cameras soon and tell her story once and for all.  

“I’m digesting and processing everything he said,” she said. “I will respond.”

New York’s Governor Cuomo used the backdrop of a subway train facility in Queens for his daily coronavirus briefing on Saturday.

He was happy to see total hospitalizations and new COVID-19 down slightly, but said the death toll was “obnoxiously and terrifying high” as it jumped to 299 in the previous 24 hours.

Cuomo said 23 of the deaths came from nursing homes.

He said the state will start distributing 7 million masks in nursing homes and other vulnerable locations, including NYCHA complexes.

With an approximate 900 patients still being admitted daily, Cuomo said they will ask hospitals for specific information, including age, residence, gender and ethnicity.

Antibody testing has now surveyed 15,000 people with 12.3% positive results. The majority are in the five boroughs, and the most in the Bronx (27.6%).  Delving deeper, data revealed 25% of those positive are Latino/Hispanic, while 17% are Black.

Cuomo was at an MTA facility in Flushing to see first-hand how workers will clean trains starting Wednesday.  Pat Foye, MTA Chairman, said the nightly subway closure for disinfecting could only happen thanks to Mayor de Blasio’s commitment.

As some states in the U.S. are loosening stay-at-home orders and beginning to open up certain business categories, few shoppers are walking into most of those businesses. 

It looks like it will take more than a while for some to come out of hibernation.  Customers may yet be afraid.

In South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster eased restrictions imposed and a first look this week shows consumers haven’t resumed their pre-pandemic routines.  The early experience in South Carolina is sobering,  suggesting it will take more than lifting lockdowns for economic activity to rebound.

It also illustrates the limits of policy makers’ influence when residents’ and businesses’ behavior depends on their own perceptions of risk. The data so far suggest it will take a while after orders are lifted for the economy to pick up again.

“It’s not like you flip a switch and everything is healthy and back to where it was before,” said Frank Hefner, an economist at the College of Charleston.

States from Connecticut to California and even Oregon are weighing lifting restrictions on businesses soon. 

A week into the reopening in Georgia, officials are watching coronavirus infection rates for any aftershocks from lifting restrictions.

Epidemiologists warned it was too soon to tell. The virus can incubate for two weeks before symptoms appear, and then it can take longer for tests to be taken and results reported.  The state reported 1,000 new cases in 24 hours Friday, which was a jump from previous days, according to Department of Public Health data. The state attributed that to a doubling of testing in the past week.

“When you test more, you’re going to have more cases,” said Cody Hall, spokesman for Gov. Brian Kemp.

Mr. Kemp, a Republican, took further steps this week to open the state, citing the need to rebuild the economy. He lifted his stay-at-home order for most Georgians starting Friday, while urging residents to limit their trips and continue social distancing. “The fight is far from over,” he said Thursday.

On Thursday, 16% of 20,000 tests came back positive, compared with previous days when the state averaged about 20% positive tests. The state has more than 27,000 confirmed cases as of Friday, and a reported death toll of 1,162.

Total case count is one of multiple data points that officials track to determine progress in the pandemic fight. They also look for decreases in hospitalizations and intensive-care admissions.

With a new model in place, an independent data scientist linked to on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, showed that coronavirus deaths in Georgia could double by the summer as the state continues to ease social-distancing guidelines.

Three counties in the southwestern part of the state already have some of the highest per capita rates of infection in the U.S., according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Gov. Kemp allowed businesses such as hair salons, tattoo parlors and bowling alleys to open their doors on April 24.  Restaurants and theaters were allowed to reopen Monday. Some mayors objected, and schools throughout the state remain closed.

Officials weighing whether to reopen should have robust testing in place to react swiftly to a possible surge, said Bill Hanage, a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

One of the very richest men in America is Warren Buffett, who on Saturday offered reassurance at Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s annual meeting that the U.S. economy will recover steadily from the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking onstage at an empty arena in downtown Omaha, Neb., Mr. Buffett said the range of possibilities from the pandemic was wide, but it had significantly narrowed in recent weeks.

He said it now seemed unlikely the world would face the worst possible health and economic scenarios from the novel coronavirus, compared with some of the predictions made earlier this year.   Buffet assured everyone that the U.S. economy will recover with time.

“We’ve faced tougher problems, and the American miracle, the American magic, has always prevailed,” he said in livestreamed remarks, adding that it would do so again.

Despite Mr. Buffett’s confidence in the economy’s ability to overcome obstacles over time, he said it is hard to factor in an unpredictable event like a pandemic on markets, and he underscored his policy of not using borrowed money for investments.

“You can bet on America, but you are going to have to be careful on how you bet. Simply because markets can do anything,” he said.

Mr. Buffet said Berkshire sold about $6.5 billion of stock in April.

Much of those sales were shares of airline companies, Mr. Buffett said. Berkshire had significant holdings in four of the largest carriers in the country— United Airlines Holdings Inc., American Airlines Group Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc. and Southwest Airlines Co.  It sold its entire stake in each company.

“When we sell something, we sell our entire stake,” he said.

Mr. Buffett added that the coronavirus crisis has changed the business in a dramatic way through no fault of the companies’ management.

“The airline business has the problem that if the business comes back 70% or 80%, the aircraft don’t disappear,” he said. “The world changed for airlines.”

Mr. Buffett also said he was personally looking forward to flying again, though he “may not fly commercial.”

Inside Berkshire, Mr. Buffett said earnings would be less overall for the company, but the conglomerate’s largest businesses—insurance, railroads and energy—are in decent shape and will continue to produce cash.

Alive or not?  North Korea this week released new images they say, of Kim Jong Un making his first public appearance in more than three weeks — seemingly quashing speculation that he was gravely ill or even dead.

In videos and photos released by the Korean Central News Agency, official state media of the hermit kingdom, Kim, 36, was shown attending a ceremony opening a fertilizer factory near Pyongyang.

He was pictured alongside senior officials, as well as his sister Kim Yo Jong, who experts have identified as Kim’s likely successor if he was to become incapacitated. The pictures were accompanied by a typically fawning report from the state media which claimed workers at the factory broke into “thunderous cheers” for Kim.

In the video, a smiling Kim wore a black Mao suit and cut a huge red ribbon with a ceremonial pair of scissors.

There were no signs he was in discomfort and was pictured without a walking stick, like the one he was seen using in 2014. He was shown, however, riding a green electric cart.

Speculation has been swirling about Kim’s health since he missed the April 15 birthday celebration for Kim Il Sung, his grandfather and the founder of North Korea.

The Daily NK, a Seoul-based publication that bases most of its reports on testimony from North Korean defectors and other sources inside the country, reported the secretive leader was recovering from surgery at a coastal luxury resort. It reported Friday that “had something wrong healthwise due to either excessive drinking or overwork.”

This isn’t the first time Kim has vanished from public life. In 2014, he vanished for nearly six weeks, an absence South Korea’s spy agency attributed to receiving surgery for a cyst on his ankle.  His health apparently has become an increasing problem in recent years. He is overweight, smokes and drinks, and has a family history of heart issues.

When asked about the report of Kim’s sighting Friday, President Trump told reporters at the White House, “I don’t want to talk about it.”

Apple to make it easier to unlock your iPhoneFace ID was a great idea — until large parts of the world were forced to wear face masks.

Apple is apparently on it. Users are reporting a subtle new feature in the latest test version of its iPhone operating system (iOS 13.5) that will make it easier to unlock your iPhone without having to take off your protective face mask.

… Videos shared on Twitter show that Apple devices with Face ID will jump to the backup passcode-entry screen if it detects a mask. That’s not only helpful if you’re unlocking your phone dozens of times a day, but it’s also helping to keep people safe by not forcing users to take off their masks and potentially exposing themselves to the virus.

NFL management giving up salaries
The financial impacts of the novel coronavirus pandemic have reached the NFL in the form of pay cuts and furloughs for league staffers. According to a memo issued to NFL employees, commissioner Roger Goodell has given up his salary for the time being. Goodell, who earns approximately $4 to 5 million in salary and whose total annual compensation is $40 million, went to the compensation committee and volunteered to reduce his salary to $0. The matter was approved, and Goodell’s salary reduction was implemented earlier this month.

… League staffers making at least $100,000 took pay cuts of between 5-15%, depending on positional ranks. Employees making less than $100,000 per year did not have their pay reduced. Some individuals working in the league office were asked to take furloughs. The league office furloughs are expected to begin on May 8, according to the memo.

Did you receive your stimulus check yet?

A bunch of dead people did. The Treasury Department says it is working on a plan to “retrieve” $1,200 economic impact payments that were accidentally sent to dead people. Currently tens of millions of people who are very much alive are still waiting for their payments.

… There have been dozens if not hundreds of reports of people receiving money meant for their deceased relatives. One deceased woman in Connecticut’s check was even labeled “DECD” for deceased.

A new survey found that nearly half of respondents — 48 percent — are willing to splurge on a gift for Mom versus 38 percent on a gift for Dad.

Turning 21 is a magical time in a person’s life.
You get to buy beer for the first time (legally), you get to go to a bar for the first time (legally), you can gamble for the first time in public (legally).

During an almost global lockdown, turning 21 right now kinda stinks. So Keystone Light is looking to hook you up with your very own beer can cake. And of course, free beer. Upcoming 21-year-olds can enter to receive a Keystone Light-shaped cake by emailing their ZIP Code, age, and a summary in 150 words or less of what their perfect 21st birthday would look like if they weren’t in quarantine. Winners will also receive a $200 gift card with their birthday cake. Email to sendcake@keystonelight.com

Nineteen children, ages 9 to 16, have been accused of stealing more than $1.1 million in vehicles from car dealerships in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The thefts started March 17. Forty-six vehicles, valued at approximately $1.1 million, were reported as stolen in Winston-Salem. All but six of the vehicles have been recovered. Detectives have also arrested one adult, a 19-year-old, in connection to the investigation.

The US marriage rate fell to its lowest level on record in 2018, federal stats released this week shows.

New figures from the National Center for Health Statistics reveal the nationwide marriage rate fell 6 percent from 2017 to 2018. It’s the lowest rate since the US government started tracking such data in 1867.

… Researchers say there’s no clear reason for the decline and it’s expected the ongoing coronavirus pandemic to further drive down the number of Americans getting hitched.

Grocery stores have been adjusting their store policies in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and Costco is the latest to add more requirements for shoppers.

Starting Monday (May 4) customers are required to wear a face mask or face covering while inside Costco facilities.

Surprise…you’re using Facebook more.  The coronavirus pandemic has been very good for Facebook use. The company saw a surge in user growth, with an average of more than 1.73 billion daily active users in March. That’s up from 1.66 billion in the previous quarter.

Most drinkers are unwittingly consuming more calories than they realize.

A study found the majority of women do not know that two glasses of wine contain 370 calories — almost a fifth of their recommended daily allowance.

Vice President Mike Pence wore a mask Thursday when he visited a General Motors plant in Indiana.

Pence had on the protective face gear when he toured the plant, which has been converted to make ventilators to help combat coronavirus. On Tuesday Pence was criticized for not wearing a mask on a visit to Mayo Clinic.

Left-handed people aren’t uncommon, but their plight is more than noticeable in this world dominated by the right-handed people.

Science recently attempted to explain why almost 10 percent of the world’s population is left-handed. People’s preference of the hand may lie in the rare genetic condition called Situs Inversus.

Affecting nearly 1 in 20,000 people, people with Situs Inversus have their major organs in the opposite direction than what is normally observed. Say for example, the heart would be tilted to the right or the gall bladder and liver could be on the left side instead of their general location to the right. Researchers discovered that the part of the genetic code that’s abnormal in people with Situs Inversus is the same part that influences handedness. More notably, as a result of this asymmetry, left-handed people also have larger corpus callosum — a thick band of nerve fibers in the brain that divides the left and right hemispheres of the cerebellum.

… Though the world is a lot less friendly to left-handed people with many forced to use their right hand during their childhood, it is they who have a slight advantage over their right-handed people: Left-handed people have advantages in some sports and they can be more skilled in certain tasks.

A survey says men and women aren’t in sync in the bedroom when it comes to the optimum time. Men feel most frisky between 6AM and 9AM, while women are feeling the love way into the night — between 11PM and 2AM.

And the percentages of those who enjoy getting it on during the other gender’s preferred window are similarly low, with just 16 percent of men wanting sex before falling asleep for the night, and a mere 11 percent of women wanting to take care of business as soon as the alarm goes off.

Want to live to 100?

Well a study suggests you get 10 hours of sleep a night. In the study, researchers found that people who reach 100 are three times more likely to spend at least 10 hours a night in bed. The study involved analysis of data from a 2005 Chinese survey.


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