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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

More than two dozen University of Texas, Austin spring breakers tested positive for COVID-19 following a spring break trip to Mexico, university and Austin public health officials said on Tuesday. A group of about 70 young adults travelled together on a chartered plane to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico about a week and a half ago, the Austin Public Health Department said in a statement. Upon their return, 28 students have tested positive for COVID-19 while "dozens more are under public health investigation."


As lawmakers prepare for another round of fiscal stimulus to address economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested the next package include a retroactive rollback of a tax change that hurt high earners in states like New York and California. A full rollback of the limit on the state and local tax deduction, or SALT, would provide a quick cash infusion in the form of increased tax rebates to an estimated 13 million American households -- nearly all of which earn at least $100,000 a year. read more


During a conference call with governors on Monday, President Trump expressed surprise that there were shortages of coronavirus test kits in the United States. The New York Times obtained an audio recording of the phone call, in which Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) is heard saying his state doesn't have an adequate number of tests. read more


CNN anchor Chris Cuomo said Tuesday that he has been diagnosed with Covid-19. He is feeling well, and will continue to anchor his 9 p.m. program "Cuomo Prime Time" from his home. read more


The Trump administration is expected on Tuesday to announce its final rule to rollback Obama-era automobile fuel efficiency standards, relaxing efforts to limit climate-warming tailpipe pollution and virtually undoing the government's biggest effort to combat climate change. read more


The Justice Department inspector general revealed Tuesday that he found errors in every FBI application to a secret surveillance court his office examined as part of an ongoing review -- suggesting the problems exposed in the bureau's probe of President Trump's 2016 campaign extend far beyond that case alone. read more


Pandemic Politics: Timing State-Level Social Distancing Responses to COVID-19 -- by political science professors and a health metrics researcher from the University of Washington says "Our findings are unambiguous: political variables are the strongest predictor of the early adoption of social distancing policies. All else equal, states with Republican governors and Republican electorates delayed each social distancing measure by an average of 2.70 days ... a far larger effect than any other factor. read more


Claims by President Trump that the U.S. leads the world in testing for coronavirus are not true, as a chart prepared by the BBC illustrates. South Korea and Italy have approached a rate of testing 800 out of every 100,000 people in the the country. The U.S. by comparison has tested 300 per 100,000. Epidemiologists say the pandemic can't be controlled without adequate testing. World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, "We cannot stop this pandemic if we do not know who is infected." read more


Naomi Davis is a New York City-based parenting blogger and influencer who has been blogging at Love Taza for many years. Naomi chronicles her life on the Upper West Side with her husband, Josh, and their now-five children to her nearly 500,000 followers on Instagram. She has worked with major brands like Target and Godiva and recently signed a deal for her first book. However, many fans became enraged after Naomi shared that her family decided to leave New York on Friday. read more


U.S. gasoline prices have dropped to their lowest levels in four years, and they are almost sure to go lower as oil prices plunge. Price-tracking services put the national average Monday around $2 a gallon. Some stations were spotted charging under a dollar. ... The cheapest prices are in a swath of the country from Texas to Wisconsin and Michigan, with most states in that band averaging under $1.77 a gallon.


A member of Congress from New York who traveled to Washington, D.C., last week to cast a vote for an economic stimulus package was diagnosed Monday with "presumed coronavirus infection." The Brooklyn-area Democrat, Rep. Nydia Velazquez, said she began feeling ill early Sunday morning and contacted the Capitol's attending physician, who diagnosed her with the virus based on her symptoms but did not recommend she seek a test or doctor's office visit. ... The revelation could mean that hundreds of lawmakers were exposed to an infection. Velzquez was forced to return to the nation's capital on Friday due to a procedural objection by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) over the House passing a $2 trillion bipartisan stimulus package by voice vote with less than a handful of members present. read more


For a brief moment earlier this month, it seemed as if social distancing might be the one new part of American life that wasn't polarized along party lines. Schools were closed in red states and blue; people across the political spectrum retreated into their home. Though President Donald Trump had played down the pandemic at first, he was starting to take the threat more seriously -- and his media allies followed suit. read more


Monday, March 30, 2020

The 68-bed field hospital in the park's East Meadow along the Upper East Side is designed as a respiratory care unit. The Army Corps of Engineers transformed Manhattan's Javits Convention Center into a makeshift 1,000-bed field hospital, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo set a goal of building a 1,000-plus patient temporary hospital in each New York City borough as well as in Westchester, Rockland, Nassau and Suffolk counties. read more


The costs of slowing the spread of coronavirus are enormous. ... But what are the benefits from this pain of social distancing? It turns out you can put a dollar figure on reducing deaths from COVID-19. And it is an enormous figure: $8 trillion, according to modeling by economists at the University of Chicago, whose economics department is best known for its defense of the harsh orthodoxies of free markets. "These benefits are over one-third of U.S. GDP and larger than the entire annual federal budget," the economists write. read more


The Trump administration has determined that the firearms industry -- from manufacturing to retail sales and shooting ranges -- is a "critical" service that should continue to operate amid the coronavirus crisis. read more


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