Friday, May 1, 2020

US economy hammered by pandemic

The U.S. economy shrank at an 4.8% annualized rate in the first quarter in its worst performance since the financial crisis, data from the Commerce Department showed. After a long period of steady growth, the downturn in gross domestic product was triggered by unprecedented shutdowns that started in March to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Many economists expect the second quarter figures to be even worse. The Federal Reserve, which twice cut interest rates last month, left them unchanged this week and pledged to keep borrowing costs close to zero amid the pandemic. (The Wall Street Journal)


Universal ousted from AMC Theatres

AMC Theatres (the world’s biggest cinema chain) says it will immediately stop screening Universal films following “unacceptable” comments from NBCUniversal’s CEO Jeff Shell on the success of opting for a digital exclusive over a traditional theatrical release. Universal had sent Trolls World Tour, a recent animated family film, straight to premium-video-on-demand as the coronavirus pandemic forced theaters to shut, and Shell later said Universal planned to continue releasing films in both formats when cinemas reopen. (Hollywood Reporter)


Oscars change eligibility rules

The Oscars are removing the prerequisite that films must have a theatrical release to be eligible for an Academy Award. With cinemas closed for the foreseeable future throughout most of the world due to the coronavirus pandemic, the requirement will be removed for one year only, organizers say. There’s one other caveat: only movies that “previously planned a theatrical release” will retain their Oscar eligibility. That move is seen as a transparent attempt to ensure that made-for-TV movies are thwarted from joining the Oscar race. (Variety)


Meat plants to stay open in pandemic

The White House has signed an executive order forcing meat processing plants to stay open during the pandemic, declaring them parts of America’s “critical infrastructure.” The moves comes after some of the country’s largest meat companies have reduced or paused their production following coronavirus outbreaks among employees, prompting worries about the U.S. meat supply. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union said that lives are at stake, and that if staff aren’t safe, the food supply won’t be either. (CNN)


More than half of Americans now support conducting all US elections by mail, according to a new Pew poll

Over the past two months, the outbreak of the novel coronavirus has had a devastating impact on nearly all aspects of life in the United States and now, most Americans expect it will disrupt the presidential election in November. With just over six months until Election Day, two-thirds of Americans (67%), including 80% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents and half of Republicans and Republican leaners, say it is very or somewhat likely that the coronavirus outbreak will significantly disrupt people’s ability to vote in the presidential election. The national survey finds broad public support for giving voters the option of voting by mail and less widespread but growing support for conducting all elections by mail. (Pew Research Center)


Most of us have lost count of the days we’ve been in quarantine, working at home in pajamas and forgetting when we last went outdoors

ABC News reporter Will Reeve might relate, except he seems to have forgotten something slightly more important: pants. He appeared earlier this week on “Good Morning America” for a segment about pharmacies using drones to deliver prescriptions to patients. But at one point, Reeve, who acts as his own cameraman as he broadcasts from home, was positioned so it was quite clear he was dressed in a suit jacket — but no pants. Viewers quickly took to Twitter to call him out. In response to a tweet asking him to put on some pants, he assured everyone he’d been wearing shorts. The reporter also joked that he won’t be getting hired as a camera operator “any time soon.” (Will Reeve Twitter)


A study from the University of Cambridge suggests that poor economic effects of the pandemic would be even worse without significant social distancing

The research argues that allowing SARS-CoV-2 to spread unchecked would have created critical health issues among what it calls “core workers” – healthcare professionals, employees of essential businesses, and transportation and sanitation workers. The resulting “labor shortfalls” would shrink most economies by at least 30% even without any public restrictions. (


A new study suggests that only three of the 14 antibody tests currently available in the U.S. work the way they’re supposed to

Only one of the tests didn’t return any false positives, which could lead people to believe they’re immune to infection when they’re not. Some of the tests had false positive rates of up to 16 percent. The FDA eased restrictions to release antibody tests early, hoping they would provide accurate information as to true infection rates. But, early antibody screenings have provided wildly different results. A much-questioned study in Santa Clara County, California suggested 2.5 to 4.2 percent of residents had been infected. One in New York City suggested 25 percent had been infected. Thousands of Americans have already received antibody tests and many of them likely believe they are immune from COVID-19 infection. The bottom line is that antibody tests will need to be far more accurate and prevalent in order to use them to issue so-called “immunity passports,” and an eventual vaccine is a far more likely method to get the U.S. to herd immunity than hopeful studies of unknown veracity about widespread immunity. (Covid Testing Project)


Nearly 102, ‘super human’ woman survives 2 pandemics

101-year-old woman from Mohegan Lake, New York Angelina Friedman, was born on a boat traveling from Italy to New York during the 1918 flu pandemic. Her mother died giving birth on the ship. She was one of 11 children, the last one surviving. She is now a resident of the North Westchester Restorative Therapy and Nursing Center, but was taken to the hospital on March 21 for a minor medical procedure. When she tested positive for COVID-19, the procedure was postponed and she spent a week in the hospital. She returned to the nursing home and isolated in her room. After running a fever on and off for several weeks, she finally tested negative for coronavirus on April 20. The family said she was doing great, that she was eating again and looking for yarn to crochet with. She is not believed to have contracted that disease, but has survived cancer, sepsis, multiple miscarriages, and now, COVID-19. Though she was hospitalized and ran a fever for several weeks, she is now back at home. Her daughter said the woman “has super human DNA.” “My mother is a survivor,” the daughter said. “She survived miscarriages, internal bleeding and cancer. She and my dad had cancer at the same time. She survived. He didn’t.” The woman was named “prom queen” at the nursing home last year during a spring event. The daughter was hoping an employee at the nursing home can show her mother the story from the local news station. “If my mother could see this, I’d say, ‘Keep going, Ma! You’re going to outlive us all.’” (WPIX)


The U.S. economy shrank 4.8% during the first three months of 2020, the worst quarterly performance since 2008

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the country’s GDP could decrease by 40% in Q2. Since the coronavirus crisis started, at least 26 M Americans have applied for unemployment benefits and approximately half of the small businesses in the country have suspended operations. According to a report by Main Street America, as many as 7.5 M small businesses could shut down due to the virus – there are approximately 30 M small businesses in the United States. (NBC News)


Justin Amash, an independent congressman from Michigan, will seek the Libertarian Party’s nomination for president

Amash, who left the Republican party last year, has launched a website to raise funds for his presidential exploratory committee and said he is taking first steps toward launching a presidential campaign. It’s unclear how his campaign will affect the presidential race. Earlier this week, one poll showed that Joe Biden would have a greater lead over President Trump in the absence of a third-party candidate. Third-party candidates may have helped Trump win the 2016 election by decreasing support for Hillary Clinton in battleground states such as Michigan. Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, who ran as the Libertarian candidate in 2016, captured more than 3% of the popular vote. (The New York Post)



A man arming himself against a feared Bill Gates 5G coronavirus vaccine conspiracy to track Americans was placed in psychiatric hold for three days while police seized unregistered shotguns from his home

The San Diego, California, City Attorney’s Office said they obtained a Gun Violence Restraining Order against the 52-year-old after he told family and friends about his plan to arm himself during the Covid-19 pandemic, which he claimed was an elaborate hoax to scare Americans into vaccines that made people trackable through 5G towers. Police were called after the man allegedly became “enraged” when denied the purchase of ammunition in what he believed was a government plan targeting him, saying “I guess I’m going to have to take things into my own hands”. Officials said the purchase was denied due to a prior conviction. The man is on probation for a drink-driving conviction and is prohibited from owning firearms until 2025. When confronted at his Rancho Peñasquitos home, the man allegedly appeared to exhibit psychotic and delusional behaviour and was determined to be a danger to others, stating he needed to arm himself against the Microsoft founder and the government. Bill Gates has been the focus of alternate hypothesis over the cause and purpose of the coronavirus pandemic due to the work the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has done with experiential vaccines. In response to questions, the respondent was said to be aggressive and confrontational, ranting and fidgeting. Police seized three shotguns while the man was apprehended for evaluation and placed on a 72-hour psychiatric hold. (San Diego City Attorneys Office)


California city official resigns after allegedly throwing cat during Zoom meeting

A planning commissioner in California has resigned after video surfaced of him appearing to throw his cat and allegedly drinking a beer during a Zoom meeting, according to a report. The video in question was a Vallejo Planning Commission teleconference on April 20. The planning commissioner was seen on video announcing, “I’d like to introduce my cat,” before he apparently picked up the feline and threw it. After the meeting, he was heard by city staff making derogatory remarks. The meeting was held online due to the coronavirus pandemic. In later statement to the press, the man said he has resigned from the planning commission, which occurred just days before the council was considering a resolution to remove him from the seven-person panel. (Vallejo Times-Herald)


Finally Feel Good Friday Kicks In With:

  • Amtrak Day
  • Batman Day
  • Beltane
  • Dandelion Day
  • Executive Coaching Day
  • Global Love Day
  • Hug Your Cat Day
  • International Workers Day
  • Keep Kids Alive! Drive 25 Day
  • Law Day
  • Lei Day
  • Loyalty Day
  • May Day
  • May One Day
  • Mother Goose Day
  • National Bubba Day
  • National Purebred Dog Day
  • New Homeowner’s Day
  • School Principals’ Day
  • Silver Star Banner Day
  • Skyscraper Day
  • Space Day (First Friday)
  • Stepmother’s Day
  • School Lunch Hero Day (First Friday)
  • Tuba Day (First Friday)

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