CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. is nearing 860,000 and the death toll is approaching 50,000, according to figures released yesterday. President Trump said his administration may extend its national social distancing guidelines until early in the summer or later. The Labor Department reported that another 4.4 million Americans have filed for unemployment, raising the nation’s jobless claims to 30 million.
HOUSE PASSES AID PACKAGE… The House voted 388-5 yesterday to approve a roughly $480 billion coronavirus stimulation package. The measure passed the Senate earlier this week and is headed to the White House for President Trump’s signature. The package authorizes an additional $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program after its funding ran out last week. Funding also includes $75 billion for hospitals and health care providers and $25 billion to facilitate and expand testing.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION LOSES CLEAN WATER ACT CASE.. The Supreme Court yesterday ruled that the federal government must regulate some groundwater pollutants under the Clean Water Act. Justices decided by a 6-3 vote that the law prevents pollutants from being discharged directly into navigable waters without a permit. The Trump administration cited a loophole in the law’s language in arguing that no permit is needed if a pipe doesn’t directly feed a larger body of water and instead empties into nearby groundwater. The Supreme Court dismissed the reasoning with the loophole.
DEATH TOLL AT LEAST 7 IN SOUTHERN STORMS… At least seven people were killed in Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana yesterday after severe weather blew through the South. Storms left more than 150,000 businesses and homes from Texas to Georgia without power. Three of the deaths occurred in the southeast Texas town of Onalaska, where an apparent tornado reportedly injured 20 to 30 people and destroyed 46 homes.
DOW UP SLIGHTLY AFTER VOLATILE DAY OF TRADING… The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up nearly 40 points after a volatile day of trading yesterday. The S&P 500 dropped 0.054 percent and Nasdaq Composite fell 0.0073 percent. The Dow rose as much as 400 points prior to the House vote to approve a new coronavirus stimulus package.
ELTON JOHN POSTPONES REMAINING TOUR DATES… Elton John has announced that he is postponing the remaining North American dates of his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour due to the coronavirus pandemic. The 73-year-old singer plans to reschedule the North American shows in 2021. John is scheduled to begin the Australian and New Zealand leg of the tour November 30.
WHITNEY HOUSTON BIOPIC BEING PLANNED… Music industry executive Clive Davis has teamed up with the estate of late singer Whitney Houston in producing the biopic “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” Houston, who died in 2012 at age 48, sold more than 200 million records worldwide during her career. She starred in and recorded original music for the 1992 blockbuster hit “The Bodyguard.”
NFL DRAFT… The Cincinnati Bengals made it official by selecting LSU’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow with the first pick in the NFL draft. Burrow was one of three quarterbacks taken with the first six picks. The Miami Dolphins selected Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa at No. 5 and Oregon’s Justin Hebert went to the L.A. Chargers in the next selection. Ohio State produced a pair of top three picks, as the Washington Redskins selected defensive end Chase Young at No. 2 and cornerback Jeff Okudah went to the Detroit Lions with the third pick. LSU led the way with five first-round picks. Alabama had four and Ohio State finished with three. Last night’s draft was conducted virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic.