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    Joe Biden made his first in-person appearance in more than two months on Monday as he marked Memorial Day by laying a wreath at a veterans park near his Delaware home. Since abruptly canceling a March 10 rally in Cleveland at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee has waged much of his campaign from his home in Wilmington. When Biden emerged on Monday, he wore a face mask, in contrast to President Donald Trump, who has refused to cover his face in public as health officials suggest. Biden and his wife, Jill, laid a wreath of white flowers tied with a white bow, and bowed their heads in silence at the park. He saluted. “Never forget the sacrifices that these men and women made,' he said after. “Never, ever, forget.” “I feel great to be out here,' Biden told reporters, his words muffled through his black cloth mask. His visit to the park was unannounced and there was no crowd waiting for him. But Biden briefly greeted a county official and another man, both wearing face masks and standing a few feet away. Biden also yelled to another, larger group standing nearby, “Thank you for your service.” His campaign says Biden has gone to the park for Memorial Day often in the past, though services were canceled Monday in the pandemic. Though low-key, the appearance was a milestone in a presidential campaign that has largely been frozen by the coronavirus outbreak. While the feasibility of traditional events such as rallies and the presidential conventions are in doubt, Biden’s emergence suggests he won’t spend the nearly five months that remain until the election entirely at home. Trump, eager to project a country coming to life even as the pandemic's death toll approached 100,000, presided over back-to-back events at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia and Fort McHenry in Baltimore. After a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington, Trump mourned the fallen in remarks at the Baltimore historic site and praised the contribution of service members “on the front lines of our war against this terrible virus.” The coronavirus has upended virtually all aspects of American life and changed the terms of the election. Trump’s argument that he deserves another term in office because of the strong economy has evaporated as unemployment rises to levels not seen since the Great Depression. As a longtime senator and former vice president, Biden is trying to position himself as someone with the experience and empathy to lead the country out of a crisis. Trump counters that he is the leader who can preside over an economic rebound later this year or in 2021. Biden has adjusted to the coronavirus era by building a television studio in his home, which he’s used to make appearances on news programs, late-night shows and virtual campaign events. Some of those efforts have been marred by technical glitches and other awkward moments. Some Democratic strategists have openly worried that Biden is ceding too much ground to Trump by staying home. The president himself has knocked Biden for essentially campaigning from his basement. Biden’s advisers say they plan to return to normal campaign activities at some point, including travel to battleground states. But they’re in no hurry, preferring to defer to the advice of health experts and authorities’ stay-at-home and social distancing recommendations. At 77, Biden is among the nation’s senior population thought to be especially vulnerable to the effects of the coronavirus — though so is Trump, who turns 74 next month. “We will never make any choices that put our staff or voters in harm’s way,” Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said recently, adding that the campaign would resume more traditional activities “when safety allows, and we will not do that a day sooner.” Trump has not resumed the large rallies that were the hallmark of his 2016 campaign and presidency but has begun traveling outside Washington in recent weeks. He visited a facility producing face masks in Arizona and a Ford plant in Michigan that has been converted to produce medical and protective equipment. Trump even played golf at his club in Virginia on the weekend, hoping that others will follow his lead and return to some semblance of normal life and gradually help revive an economy in free fall. It was the president’s first trip to one of his money-making properties since March 8, when he visited his private golf club in West Palm Beach. The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic on March 11, and Trump followed with the national emergency declaration two days later. Biden’s campaign wasted little time producing an online video offering blurry, faraway footage of Trump on the golf course, imposed over images evoking the virus ravaging the nation as the number of Americans dead from the pandemic approached 100,000. The video concluded by proclaiming: “The death toll is still rising. The president is playing golf.” Trump spent Memorial Day visiting Arlington National Cemetery and the Fort McHenry national monument in Baltimore, to be followed by a trip to Florida’s coast on Wednesday to watch to U.S. astronauts blast into orbit. ___ Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”
  • The coronavirus hasn’t been kind to car owners. With more people than ever staying home to lessen the spread of COVID-19, their sedans, pickup trucks and SUVs are parked unattended on the streets, making them easy targets for opportunistic thieves. Despite silent streets and nearly nonexistent traffic, vehicle larcenies shot up 63% in New York and nearly 17% in Los Angeles from Jan. 1 through mid-May, compared with the same period last year. And many other law enforcement agencies around the U.S. are reporting an increase in stolen cars and vehicle burglaries, even as violent crime has dropped dramatically nationwide in the coronavirus pandemic. It's a low-risk crime with a potentially high reward, police say, especially when many drivers leave their doors unlocked or their keys inside. “You might as well put a sticker on the window that says ‘come take my stuff,’” said an exasperated Alex Villanueva, the Los Angeles County sheriff. In Austin, Texas, last month, a whopping 72% of the 322 stolen vehicles had their keys nearby. The total number of auto thefts in April spiked about 50%, and burglaries to vehicles were up 2% from April 2019. The virus has created a “perfect storm,” said Austin police Sgt. Chris Vetrano, a supervisor in the 11-detective auto theft unit that investigates stolen vehicle cases. The elements for that storm: Drivers are at home and not using or checking their cars regularly. School's out, so teenagers are trying their luck. Criminals are out of work and have more time on their hands or need fast money to support a drug habit. “You can get on the internet nowadays and learn how to break into vehicles just searching YouTube,” Vetrano said. (He should know: Someone broke into his locked Ford F-150 pickup truck, one of the most commonly stolen vehicles, about a year ago.) Salt Lake City police Detective Greg Wilking said a 22% spike in vehicle burglaries there could be from a few criminals working quickly on “car prowls.” “It’s really 10 seconds,' he said. “They’re not spending a lot of time in your car. It’s a smash-and-grab-and-go,” sometimes in broad daylight. Wilking worries the numbers will keep rising because “people get more desperate as time goes on.” In Baltimore, though, a push to reduce the city's historically high numbers of vehicle thefts and burglaries appears to have paid off. Thefts from autos plunged 24% and stolen vehicles dropped 19% from January to May compared with the same period last year. Col. Richard Worley, the chief of patrol, in part credits aggressive efforts to remind residents to lock their cars, take their keys home and park in well-lit areas. In this case, however, the pandemic has actually helped police: Residents are home, driving less and keeping an eye on the neighborhood, and officers now have time for proactive patrols because calls for service and violent crime have decreased. A thief was recently arrested with 13 stolen catalytic converters during a motor vehicle stop. Sometimes, however, it's just a matter of luck. Like for Lindsey Eldridge, the police department's community outreach coordinator, who left her keys in her car's cupholder. She realized her mistake just before falling asleep. As Worley said: “She could have been a statistic.” ___ This story has been corrected to show the quote was from Worley, not Eldridge.
  • Presidential politics move fast. What we’re watching heading into a new week on the 2020 campaign: Days to general election: 162 ___ THE NARRATIVE As some parts of the nation continue to ease stay-at-home orders meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the economy remains in free fall. And, with the U.S. death toll now climbing toward 100,000, a conundrum is emerging: Even if people are allowed to resume their daily routines, will they feel safe enough to do so? President Donald Trump says that the country is anxious to get back to work and that pent-up consumer demand can turn things around in a hurry. Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden counters by urging caution and heeding medical and scientific experts, many of whom say it's much too early to return to normal. Which one is correct may ultimately not be clear until after November's election — but will nonetheless almost certainly be the determining factor in who wins it. ___ THE BIG QUESTIONS Does Biden have no choice but to choose an African American running mate? Black leaders have for weeks argued that the former vice president picking an African American as his vice president is the only way to reflect the Democratic Party's deep diversity and to repay a community that helped Biden overcome a disastrous start to dominate in the South and win the primary. But the issue may have come to a head on Friday when Biden endured a testy exchange with prominent black radio personality Charlamagne Tha God before declaring, “If you’ve got a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or for Trump, then you ain’t black.' He later said he shouldn't have been so “cavalier,' but not before sparking a social media firestorm and prompting the president's reelection campaign to decry it as the kind of race-baiting it often gets accused of. “It is clear now more than ever, following these racist and dehumanizing remarks, that Joe Biden believes black men and women are incapable of being independent or free thinking,' Black Voices for Trump said in a statement. Biden has refused to publicly discuss his running mate finalists, but they are thought to include several prominent white women, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. He figures to do well with African American voters in November no matter whom he picks, but a lack of enthusiasm in the black community hurt Hillary Clinton in the battleground state of Michigan and elsewhere in 2016. That's a calculation Biden may be unable to ignore, even as his campaign insists his choice will have more to do with personal relationships than skin color. How much more political will science get? Trump has long energized his conservative base by rejecting climate change and academic intellectualism but lately has begun suggesting the institution of science is out to undermine him. The president insisted on taking the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to guard against the coronavirus despite federal warnings against doing so. He also rejected as politically motivated a study showing that nearly 36,000 Americans' lives might have been saved if social distancing measures had been put in place one week sooner. Polling has already shown that issues like wearing face masks in public are becoming increasingly partisan. If science itself follows a similar path, that could hinder evolving efforts to slow the virus — potentially producing results deadly enough to go well beyond the political. How much more political will voting by mail get? Trump has intensified his opposition to expanding mail-in balloting amid the pandemic, even threatening federal funding to the battleground states of Michigan and Nevada before later suggesting that might not be necessary. Many Democratic-led states are nonetheless looking to ease rules on absentee voting, saying the coronavirus may make it a matter of life and death. With top Republicans rallying behind Trump's insistence that doing so is undemocratic and federal court cases on the issue already raging in places like Texas, how the nation votes may prove as pivotal to November's outcome as for whom it votes. Are political conventions possible in the age of the coronavirus? The Republican National Committee marked 100 days until the scheduled start of its convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, by proudly suggesting last weekend that nearly 50,000 attendees would soon be descending on that city. Its chair, Ronna McDaniel, was subsequently less committal about the gathering going off exactly as planned and beginning Aug. 24 amid the pandemic. But she vowed that it will happen at least partly in person, saying, “We will not be holding a virtual convention.” Democrats have already delayed their convention from July until August and have been more open to the idea of it unfolding virtually — taking steps to grant organizers the authority to design an event that won’t require delegates attending in person. A bigger question than if some in-person activities remain intact for one party or the other, though, is whether attendees will want to go — especially given the low political stakes since the presidential nominee on both sides isn't in doubt. ___ THE FINAL THOUGHT Trump's reelection chances likely hinge on convincing the country he built a sustained economic boom once and can do so again, leading an equally speedy and robust recovery after the coronavirus sparked an unprecedented bust. Biden has taken a different approach, promising to use the crisis to build a new economy that will embrace progressive proposals designed to lift all Americans — but without really saying how long that might take. Amid what may prove to be the nation's worst downturn, whether voters can look past the “when” to the “how” of a recovery is an open question. Still, it's one that can't be answered until a recovery actually begins to materialize. ___ 2020 Watch runs every Monday and provides a look at the week ahead in the 2020 election. ___ Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”
  • President Donald Trump honored America’s fallen service members on Monday as he commemorated Memorial Day in back-to-back appearances in the midst of the pandemic. “Together we will vanquish the virus and America will rise from this crisis to new and even greater heights,' Trump said during a ceremony at Baltimore’s historic Fort McHenry. “No obstacle, no challenge and no threat is a match for the sheer determination of the American people.” Earlier, Trump silently honored the nation’s war dead at a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, which like Fort McHenry is currently off limits to the public because of the pandemic. Presidents on Memorial Day typically lay a wreath and speak at the hallowed burial ground in Virginia. But the coronavirus crisis, soon to claim its 100,000th life in the U.S., made this year different. Many attendees arrived wearing masks but removed them for the outdoor ceremony in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Trump, maskless as always in public, gave no remarks. He approached a wreath already in place, touching it and giving a salute. Trump then traveled to Baltimore, to the chagrin of the city's mayor, and noted that tens of thousands of service members and national guard personnel are currently “on the front lines of our war against this terrible virus.” The U.S. leads the world with more than 1.6 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 97,000 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Trump said brave warriors from the nation’s past have shown that “in America, we are the captains of our own fate.” The Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine is where a poem, written after a huge American flag was hoisted to celebrate an important victory over the British during the War of 1812, became “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The fort is closed to the public because of the pandemic. Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young objected to Trump’s visit, saying it sends the wrong message about stay-at-home directives and the city cannot afford the added cost of hosting him when it is losing $20 million a month because of the pandemic. But Trump is intent on accelerating his schedule as he portrays the country as returning to its pre-pandemic ways. This month, Trump has toured factories in Arizona, Pennsylvania and Michigan that make pandemic supplies. He plans to be in Florida on Wednesday to watch two NASA astronauts rocket into space, and he played golf at his private club in Virginia on Saturday and Sunday. Young, a Democrat, last week cited the disproportionate effect the virus has had on his city and called on Trump to “set a positive example” by not traveling during the holiday weekend. “That President Trump is deciding to pursue nonessential travel sends the wrong message to our residents,' he said. The White House sounded unmoved. “The brave men and women who have preserved our freedoms for generations did not stay home and the president will not either as he honors their sacrifice by visiting such a historic landmark in our nation’s history,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in an emailed statement Sunday. Trump last summer described a congressional district that includes Baltimore as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.” He visited Baltimore months later to address a meeting of congressional Republicans, and a giant inflatable rat adorned with Trump-style hair and a red necktie taunted him from a few blocks away. Trump did not visit any Baltimore neighborhoods. He was visiting on Monday just over a week after Maryland began to lift some of the restrictions it had put in place for the coronavirus, though they remain in effect in Baltimore. Baltimore and the Washington area have the nation’s highest percentages of positive cases, according to Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force. ___ Associated Press writer Jill Colvin in Arlington, Virginia, contributed to this report. ___ Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap.
  • Many laid-off workers who lost health insurance in the coronavirus shutdown soon face the first deadlines to qualify for fallback coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Taxpayer-subsidized health insurance is available for a modest cost — sometimes even free — across the country, but industry officials and independent researchers say few people seem to know how to find it. For those who lost their health insurance as layoffs mounted at the end of March, a 60-day “special enrollment” period for individual coverage under the ACA closes next week in most states. Altheia Franklin, who lives near Houston, lost her medical plan after being laid off from a job at an upscale retirement community, as a counselor to seniors making the move. Stay-at-home orders and higher virus risks for older people have put such life transitions on hold in the pandemic. Franklin said she received plenty of government information about coronavirus safety and economic stimulus payments, but “the insurance piece just has not been mentioned.” She scrambled and finally found an ACA — or “Obamacare” — plan she could still afford on a reduced income. “We are in the middle of a pandemic, and God forbid if I get sick and I don't have it,' she said of her health insurance. The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that nearly 27 million workers and family members had lost job-based health coverage as of the start of this month, a number now likely higher with unemployment claims rising. In a counter-intuitive finding, Kaiser's study also estimated that nearly 8 in 10 of the newly uninsured would likely qualify for some sort of coverage under former President Barack Obama's health law, either a private plan like Franklin found, or Medicaid. “The ACA is there as a safety net for the first time in an economic downturn,” said Kaiser foundation expert Larry Levitt. But “many people losing their jobs have never had to think of relying on the ACA for coverage, so there is no reason they should be aware of their options.” There are several options, not easy to sort through. Some have application deadlines; others do not. And the Trump administration, which still plans to ask the Supreme Court later this summer to declare “Obamacare” unconstitutional, is doing little to promote the health law's coverage. Here's a quick look: SUBSIDIZED PRIVATE INSURANCE Like Altheia Franklin, people who lose workplace insurance generally have 60 days from when their coverage ended to apply for an ACA plan. They can go to the federal HealthCare.gov or their state's health insurance website. Most states that run their own health insurance marketplaces have provided an extended sign-up period for people who lost coverage in the pandemic. The federal marketplace, serving most of the country, has not. MEDICAID FOR ADULTS Nearly three-fourths of the states have expanded Medicaid to low-income adults under the Obama health law. In those states, low-income adults can qualify for free or very low cost coverage. There is no sign-up deadline. The Kaiser foundation estimates that nearly 13 million people who lost job-based insurance are eligible for Medicaid. But that option is not available in most Southern states, as well as some in the Midwest and Plains, because they have not expanded Medicaid. CHILDREN'S HEALTH INSURANCE Laid-off workers should be able to get their children covered even if the adults in the family cannot help. The federal-state Children's Health Insurance Program and Medicaid cover kids in families with incomes well above the poverty level. “Medicaid is open year round if you are a parent with kids who need coverage,” said Joan Alker, director of the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University. Children's coverage predates the ACA. COBRA People can continue their employer coverage under a federal law known as COBRA, but they have to pay 102% of the premium — too much for most who are out of work. If there's another coronavirus bill from Congress, it might include subsidies for COBRA coverage. Government statistics on people losing —and finding— health insurance coverage in the coronavirus contraction won't be available for months. The head of a California company that helps people find ACA coverage says most of the new sign-ups they're seeing are people who qualify for Medicaid, and there's been only a modest uptick for subsidized private plans. “We are all wondering where the heck is everybody,” said George Kalogeropoulos, CEO of Health Sherpa. “People first are trying to apply for unemployment, and many of them getting stuck there,” he added. “Health care is the secondary thing, and if they get stuck in unemployment, people may never do the health care thing.” Alker, the Georgetown University expert, said insurance protection has been neglected in the pandemic. “Having health insurance has never been more important,” she said. “We need a national commitment to make these newly uninsured people aware of their options.
  • Joe Biden worked out deals with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. He defended Vice President Mike Pence as a “decent guy” and eulogized Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain's “fairness, honesty, dignity, respect.” When he launched his presidential campaign, such overtures to Republicans were central to Biden's promise to “unify the country” and “restore the soul of the nation” after defeating President Donald Trump. Now that he's the presumptive Democratic nominee, Biden is sharpening his tone, still pitching consensus but touting a “bold agenda” aimed at mollifying progressives who remain skeptical he'll deliver enough on health care, student loan debts and the climate crisis. The idea is to avoid repeating the party’s 2016 defeat, when Hillary Clinton struggled to unite her moderate supporters and backers of Bernie Sanders. The dynamics are different in 2020, with Democrats united in their antipathy toward Trump. But Biden's juggling of the left wing along with mainstream Democrats and independents and Republicans disgruntled with Trump could end up as an unsuccessful attempt to be all things to all people. “It certainly seems like the approach that they’re taking right now is trying to have it both ways,” said Evan Weber, a co-founder of the Sunrise Movement, a climate action youth organization that is among the political groups working with the Biden campaign on policy proposals. For younger voters, Weber added, “Going too far in the direction of trying to appeal to a moderate narrative or a bipartisan era that most people in our generation have never experienced ... is not going to inspire a lot of confidence.” Republican pollster Whit Ayres countered that Biden’s “sweet spot” is the center-left. “You’ve got to run on who you are,” Ayres said. “If he becomes a politician of the left, it’s going to hurt his ability to consolidate the 54% of Americans who voted for someone other than Donald Trump in 2016.” Biden deflects the risks. Asked whether his recent moves mean he’ll govern as a “progressive,” Biden retorted on CNBC: “I’m going to be Joe Biden. Look at my record.” Recent interviews and campaign events reveal the nuances Biden hopes can attract support in both directions. “I think health care is a right, not a privilege,” he said on CNBC, espousing an article of faith for the left. But, he added, “I do not support Medicare for All ” single-payer insurance. Biden embraces some key principles of the Green New Deal sweeping climate plan as paths to “tens of millions of new jobs” but casts as impossible some progressives’ goal of zeroing out carbon pollution over a decade. He's reaffirmed that he wants Republicans’ 2017 tax cuts repealed for the wealthiest individuals and corporations. But he prefers a 28% corporate tax rate – still lower than what it was before the cuts – and he’s not embraced a “wealth tax' on the fortunes of the richest Americans. He opposes the Keystone XL pipeline while stopping short of backing an outright ban on fracking. The coronavirus pandemic has influenced Biden's thinking, as well. Once a senator who championed a balanced budget amendment, he’s aligned with congressional Democrats pushing trillions of dollars in aid for states, local governments, business and individuals. And, adopting the tenor of erstwhile rivals like Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Biden has intensified his calls to rebuild the economy to reflect progressive values, including stamping out income inequalities baked into the pre-pandemic system. Biden aides say he’s uniquely positioned for a wide “Biden coalition” because voters prioritize experience and temperament, along with policy. The campaign defines his coalition as young, African Americans and Latinos, as well as suburban, college-educated whites, women and those disaffected by Trump. “We do not have to make a choice between one group or another group in terms of how we are going to win this,” Biden’s campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said on a recent strategy call. Campaign co-chairman Cedric Richmond said Biden can stitch together otherwise irreconcilable parts of the electorate for one reason: Trump. “We have a president now with no discernible political philosophy other than what benefits him,” said Richmond, a Louisiana congressman. “Even people who are not as progressive (as Biden) and people who are more progressive at least like the consistency of knowing what a person believes in.” Anti-Trump conservatives offer similar sentiments. “We are living right now ... with the damage that can be done when a president is elected and thinks that he only has to answer to his base,” said Jennifer Horn of the Lincoln Project, which has produced online ads to help thwart Trump’s reelection. Even if Biden prevails in November, governing might prove tougher. Republicans who dislike Trump – the kind who cut deals with Sen. Biden or Vice President Biden – aren’t likely to back President Biden's proposed “public option” health insurance expansion when they’ve never embraced the Affordable Care Act. The same goes for tax hikes and mega-spending energy packages the fossil fuel industry opposes. And within Biden’s personal base, labor unions whose jobs are anchored in existing energy markets haven’t embraced the sweeping alternatives. During the primary, Biden told skeptics in his own party he’d work with Republicans “without compromising our values,” but work to “beat them” in the 2022 midterms if that failed. Meanwhile, Weber, the Sunrise activist, argued that despite Biden's embrace of some progressive priorities, “It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.' Tim Miller, a former spokesman for Republican Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential campaign and a steadfast member of the GOP’s “Never Trump” faction, said more 2016 voters in decisive battleground states shunned both Trump and Clinton for center-right alternatives in Libertarian Gary Johnson or Independent Evan McMullen than Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Winning back just that cohort back could be enough to secure Biden to the presidency alone this cycle, he said. “I do think that there’s a concern that if he oversteps, overemphasizes a pivot to the left that could turn off certain voters who are gettable for him,” Miller said. “That’s going to be a continued tightrope through November.” ___ Barrow reported from Atlanta.
  • A Florida law requiring felons to pay legal fees as part of their sentences before regaining the vote is unconstitutional for those unable to pay, or unable to find out how much they owe, a federal judge ruled Sunday. The 125-page ruling was issued by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle in Tallahassee. It involves a state law to implement a 2016 ballot measure approved by voters to automatically restore the right to vote for many felons who have completed their sentence. The Republican-led Legislature stipulated that fines and legal fees must be paid as part of the sentence, in addition to serving any prison time. Hinkle has acknowledged he is unlikely to have the last word in the case, expecting the administration of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to launch an appeal. The case could have deep ramifications in the crucial electoral battleground given that Florida has an estimated 774,000 disenfranchised felons who are barred because of financial obligations. Many of those felons are African Americans and presumably Democrats, though it's unclear how that group of Floridians overall would lean politically in an election and how many would vote. The judge called the Florida rules a “pay to vote” system that are unconstitutional when applied to felons “who are otherwise eligible to vote but are genuinely unable to pay the required amount.” A further complication is determining the exact amount in fines and other kinds of legal fees owed by felons seeking the vote — by some estimates it would take elections officials several years for those pending now. Hinkle said it's unconstitutional to bar any voter whose amount owed could not be “determined with diligence.' Hinkle ordered the state to require election officials to allow felons to request an advisory opinion on how much they owe — essentially placing the burden on elections officials to seek that information from court systems. If there's no response within three weeks, then the applicant should not be barred from registering to vote, the ruling said. Hinkle said the requirement to pay fines and restitution as ordered in a sentence is constitutional for those “who are able to pay” — if the amount can be determined. The case, Kelvin Jones vs Ron DeSantis, consolidates five lawsuits filed by advocates of disenfranchised felons, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Brennan Center and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “This is a tremendous victory for voting rights,” Julie Ebenstein, senior staff attorney with ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement. “The court recognized that conditioning a person’s right to vote on their ability to pay is unconstitutional. This ruling means hundreds of thousands of Floridians will be able to rejoin the electorate and participate in upcoming elections.” The 2018 ballot measure, known as Amendment 4, does not apply to convicted murderers and rapists, who are permanently barred from voting regardless of financial obligations.
  • President Donald Trump on Sunday further limited travel from the world's coronavirus hotspots by denying entry to foreigners coming from Brazil, which is second to the U.S. in the number of confirmed cases. Trump had already banned certain travelers from China, Europe, the United Kingdom and Ireland and, to a lesser extent, Iran. He has not moved to ban travel from Russia, which has the world's third-highest caseload. Trump had said last week that he was considering limiting travel from Brazil. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany cast the step announced Sunday as another “decisive action to protect our country” by Trump, whose management of the crisis has come under sharp scrutiny. The U.S. leads the world with more than 1.6 million confirmed coronavirus cases and a death toll that is expected to surpass 100,000 later this week, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Brazil, now Latin America's hardest-hit country, is second, with more than 347,000 cases and more than 22,000 deaths. Third on the list is Russia, with more than 344,000 reported cases and more than 3,500 deaths. The White House did not immediately respond to queries about whether a travel ban would be imposed on Russia. “Today's action will help ensure foreign nationals who have been in Brazil do not become a source of additional infections in our country,” McEnany said. Filipe Martins, who advises Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on international affairs, said the U.S. was treating Brazil as it had other populous countries and suggested the news media were overplaying Trump's ban. “By temporarily banning the entry of Brazilians to the U.S., the American government is following previously established quantitative parameters that naturally reach a country as populous as ours,' Martins tweeted. 'There isn’t anything specifically against Brazil. Ignore the hysteria from the press.” Bolsonaro has downplayed the coronavirus by repeatedly calling it a “little flu” and insisting that closing businesses and issuing stay-at-home recommendations will ultimately cause more hardship by wrecking the economy. Bolsonaro fired his first health minister for going against him and backing restrictions put in place by Brazil's governors. His second minister also resigned after openly breaking with Bolsonaro over widespread prescription of the antimalarial drug chloroquine for coronavirus treatment. Trump said in an interview broadcast in the U.S. on Sunday that he had completed a course of a related drug, hydroxychloroquine, as a line of defense against becoming infected. Bolsonaro's approach has mirrored that of Trump, who in the early days of the outbreak sought to downplay the severity and suggest the few cases that existed in the U.S. would “just disappear.” After agreeing to encourage Americans to practice social distancing, Trump began to say the “cure can't be worse than the problem itself.” He has been aggressively pushing governors to allow businesses to reopen and traveling more himself. Meanwhile, the number of cases in Brazil has continued to surge, pushing hospitals in multiple states to the brink of collapse and causing the Amazon city of Manaus to bury people in mass graves. The pace of deaths has been accelerating and, with a peak still approaching, the country has only an interim health minister. Brazil has more than 360,000 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, according to health ministry data released Sunday night, meaning it trails only the U.S. in the Johns Hopkins University tally. Experts consider it a vast undercount due to insufficient testing. The ministry reported more than 22,600 deaths. The White House said Sunday it plans to donate 1,000 ventilators to Brazil. The ban on travel from Brazil takes effect late Thursday. As with the other bans, it does not apply to legal permanent residents. A spouse, parent or child of a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident also would be allowed to enter the country. The restrictions also do not apply to trade between the U.S. and Brazil. Earlier Sunday, Robert O'Brien, the U.S. national security adviser, had said an announcement was likely. “We're concerned about the people of the Southern Hemisphere and certainly the people of Brazil. They’re having a rough go of it,” he said on CBS' “Face the Nation.” He said the travel ban would likely be temporary. “But because of the situation in Brazil, we’re going to take every step necessary to protect the American people.” O'Brien said. Data from Brazil’s civil aviation agency shows there has already been a sharp reduction in U.S.-bound flights from the South American country. There were more than 700 flights from Brazil to the U.S. in February of this year, with the number dropping to just 140 in April, two months later. There were more than 700 flights to the U.S. from Brazil in April 2019, the data shows. —- David Biller and Marcelo de Sousa in Rio de Janeiro contributed to this report. —- Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap
  • Wendy De Los Santos passed the test to become a U.S. citizen just days before government offices shut down nationwide because of the coronavirus pandemic. In mid-March, officials said they would tell her in a few weeks when she could publicly recite the oath of allegiance, the final step before becoming an American citizen. More than two months later, she’s still waiting. “It is causing some anxiety. It would be nice to finish the process, even if it has to be done virtually,” said De Los Santos, a 38-year-old Boston-area medical assistant originally from the Dominican Republic. “I mean, my daughter is taking classes on Zoom. We’re here. What’s the problem?” While many parts of American life have pivoted online or are beginning to reemerge from weeks of lockdowns, the citizenship process has ground to a halt. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which handles citizenship, visa, refugee and asylum claims, postponed in-person services on Mar. 18, citing concerns about the virus spreading. It's extended the suspension at least through June 3. A limited number of small naturalization ceremonies have taken place, but advocates complain that most aspiring citizens haven’t been told when the final step will happen. Citizenship groups warn the delays threaten to disenfranchise thousands of potential voters in a critical election year. Registration deadlines for primaries are approaching in a number of states, and would-be voters must be citizens when they register or risk facing criminal charges or even deportation, they say. “This is yet another attempt to politicize access to voting,” said Kristen Clarke, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The final ceremonial step should not be used as a pretext to deny otherwise citizenship-eligible individuals access to the ballot.” USCIS is holding more ceremonies as it becomes better at using new formats, deputy director for policy Joseph Edlow said. But he said federal law requires people to take their oath “publicly” and “in person' and that key parts of the ceremony can't be done virtually, such as collecting permanent resident cards and issuing citizenship certificates. “Naturalizing new United States citizens is a critical benefit we administer at USCIS and we’re working hard to resume that process,' Edlow said in a statement. “However, we will not ignore federal law, which has clear in-person requirements for naturalization, in the name of convenience or expediency.” But federal law also requires citizenship ceremonies be conducted “as frequently as necessary' to “minimize unreasonable delays,” said Chiara St. Pierre, an attorney with the International Institute of New England, which is helping De Los Santos and others waiting to take their oath. President Donald Trump could issue an executive order temporarily easing the in-person requirement or authorizing others to administer the oaths, such as postmasters and notaries public, St. Pierre said. Trump, however, has used his executive powers to push immigration restrictions during the pandemic, including suspending refugee arrivals, halting some visa processing, largely closing the nation’s borders and turning away asylum-seekers. “There are a lot of options for getting this done,” St. Pierre said of citizenship ceremonies. “These people have already been approved to become citizens. It’s almost a technicality.” Complicating matters, USCIS told Congress last week that it needs $1.2 billion in emergency funding and to charge higher fees just to stay afloat. The agency is almost entirely funded by service fees — including the roughly $725 it charges for processing a citizenship application — but that revenue has dried up during the crisis, officials said. The agency declined to say how many people have participated in ceremonies since the pandemic took hold in the U.S. but said at least 85 have been scheduled through June 4 in a dozen cities, including San Antonio, Salt Lake City, Philadelphia and Anchorage, Alaska. In Phoenix this week, about 30 people a day took part in small naturalization ceremonies in the USCIS office parking lot. Donning face masks and waving small American flags, the aspiring citizens recited the oath outside their cars. In York, Pennsylvania, officials last week began administering oaths to about six people at a time on the courthouse steps. USCIS declined to say how many people are waiting, but advocates say it's easily in the hundreds of thousands. The agency approved more than 200,000 people for naturalization from April 1 to June 30 of last year. And in Los Angeles alone, some 10,000 people were slated to be naturalized at the city’s convention center on a single March day before the virus scuttled monthly ceremonies through September. The Democratic-led U.S. House has proposed mandating that USCIS conduct naturalization ceremonies remotely as part of its latest, $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill, though leaders in the Republican-controlled Senate have declared the aid package “dead on arrival.' In the meantime, some advocates are trying to secure emergency oath ceremonies for the neediest families. “It’s triage, really,” said Jacob Benhabib, an attorney for the Boston-based Project Citizenship. “We don’t know how long it will take for USCIS to get through the backlog or in what order they’ll take people, if left to their own devices.” Poe Meh and Pay Reh, an elderly couple in Lowell, Massachusetts who arrived as refugees from Myanmar in 2011, were among those granted a special oath ceremony last week with Benhabib's help. He argued that the couple faced financial disaster if they weren’t naturalized immediately. The couple’s Supplemental Security Income benefits, which provide a few hundred dollars each month for rent and other living costs, expired late last year, and they couldn’t reapply until they became citizens, Benhabib said. They recited the oath last Friday outside the USCIS office in Lawrence, with only an agency representative and security guard present, according to son-in-law Mee Reh, who helped with translation. A day later, with naturalization papers in hand, the couple filed for SSI benefits, their son-in-law said. They're waiting to hear back. “This is a big happiness,” Mee Reh said. “We were worried there would be more difficult times ahead.” ___ Associated Press reporters Amy Taxin in Los Angeles and Ben Fox in Washington contributed to this story.
  • President Donald Trump has a new pitch to voters for this fall: Trust me. As the economy faces a once-in-a-century recession, with more than 38 million people out of work, Trump is increasingly talking up a future recovery that probably won't materialize until after the November election. He's asking voters to look past the pain being felt across the nation and give him another four-year term on the promise of an economic comeback in 2021. “It’s a transition to greatness,” Trump says over and over, predicting a burgeoning economy come the fall. “You’re going to see some great numbers in the fourth quarter, and you’re going to end up doing a great year next year.' His chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, echoes the wait-until-next-year sentiment, holding out hope for a “big bang 2021.” It's a delayed-reward tactic Trump was using long before the global pandemic gut-punched the country. He has turned to it with new urgency as the coronavirus has robbed him of the booming economy that was to be the core of his reelection message. Trump had already pledged to finally release a Republican health care plan after the polls closed — despite having served more than three years in office — along with a postelection tax cut and a “Phase 2” trade deal with China. Now, Trump is making the case to voters that if he helped bolster the economy once, he can do it again. “We built the greatest economy in the world,' Trump says frequently. 'I’ll do it a second time.” It's not just next year that will be a mystery to voters on Election Day. Trump and his team have been talking up the fourth quarter — October through December — but economic reports on that period won't be released until 2021. Preliminary figures for the third quarter will be released Oct. 29, days before the Nov. 3 election. And unemployment could still be in double-digit territory by Election Day, White House economist Kevin Hassett and Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston said in television interviews Sunday. “Unfortunately, I think it's likely to be double-digit unemployment through the end of this year,” Rosengren told CBS' “Face the Nation.” To bring back the low jobless levels seen at the end of last February, he said it would probably take a vaccine or “other medical innovations that make it much less risky to go out.' Still, Trump and his campaign are hoping they can convince the public that Trump, not Democrat Joe Biden, is the candidate who can turn things around, even as they push the recovery timeline into next year. “The president has a clear record of building the economy to unprecedented heights before it was artificially interrupted by the coronavirus, and they know he will build it a second time,” said Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh. Economists, however, warn that the “snap back” Trump's advisers have been talking up is unlikely, given the severity of the recession. It will take years for the economy to recover, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Polling data suggests Trump has some work to do to persuade Americans that all will be well next year. Americans are split on whether they think the economy will improve (41%) or worsen (40%) over the coming year, according to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Their opinions differ based on their politics. A majority of Republicans (62%) think the economy will get better in the coming year, while a majority of Democrats (56%) think it will get worse. The poll finds that only 49% of Americans now approve of how Trump is handling the economy, compared with 56% in March, though the numbers remain split largely on party lines. While a majority of Americans in households that lost a job do think it’s at least probable that the job will return, 70% now describe the state of the nation’s economy as poor, versus just 29% who say it’s good — down from 67% in January. Trump has been encouraging states to begin easing restrictions and reopening their economies. But that doesn't necessarily mean jobs will return. While most of those who say they got a haircut at least monthly before the outbreak or shopped regularly in person for nonessential items would definitely or probably do so in the next few weeks if they were allowed, Americans may be wary to return to life as normal. Only about half of those who did so at least monthly before the outbreak say they’d travel, go to bars and restaurants, use public transportation, or exercise at a gym or studio. Just 42% of those who went to concerts, movies, or theater or sporting events at least monthly say they’d do so in the next few weeks if they could. Still, the poll shows that 66% of Americans continue to say that their personal financial situation is good — a number that has remained steady since before the outbreak began. Americans are also more likely to expect their personal finances to improve than worsen in the next year, 37% to 17%. In the end, that's what is going to matter most, said Michael Steel, a Republican political strategist. “This election will turn on facts more than messages,' he said. 'The president is placing a bet by reopening the economy before public health officials believe it is safe. If the economy recovers sharply and infection rates remain steady or go down, then voters will reward his boldness, but if we continue to see massive unemployment and a spike in new infections and deaths, all the political wordsmithery the world will offer won’t help him.” ___ AP Director of Public Opinion Research Emily Swanson contributed to this report.

News

  • Officials with the Georgia Aquarium announced a new addition Sunday after the aquarium’s 20-year-old beluga whale gave birth this month to a calf. The not-so-little baby beluga, born May 17 to a whale named Whisper, weighed 174 pounds at birth and measured 5.4 feet in length. The average weight of a beluga calf at birth is between 119 and 145 pounds and the average length is between 4.5 and 5.1 feet. The Georgia Aquarium remained closed Monday to the public because of the coronavirus pandemic. Aquarium officials said their teams were closely monitoring mom and baby on Sunday. “We are so proud of Whisper and overjoyed to welcome her calf to our Georgia Aquarium family,” said Dennis Christen, senior director of zoological operations, mammals and birds at the Georgia Aquarium. “We will be there right alongside the calf as it continues to grow and learn from Whisper.” Officials said other beluga whales housed at the Georgia Aquarium, Qinu, Maple, Nunavik and Imaq, were doing well Sunday and were in a separate area of the exhibit. The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.
  • More than 5.4 million people worldwide – including at least 1.6 million in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. While efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak continue, states have begun to shift their focus toward reopening their economies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Monday, May 25, continue below: 1,625 new coronavirus infections reported in the UK Update 3:15 p.m. EDT May 25: Officials in the United Kingdom reported 1,625 new coronavirus infections Monday morning, raising the country’s total number of infections to 261,184. Officials said that as of 9 a.m. local time, 36,914 people had died nationwide of COVID-19. Nearly 38,000 coronavirus cases reported in Louisiana Update 3 p.m. EDT May 25: Officials in Louisiana reported 640 new coronavirus infections Monday, raising the state’s total number of infections to 37,809. The number was far higher than average due to a server issue which delayed reports of positive cases from commercial lab data, according to the Louisiana Department of Health. Statewide, at least 2,585 people have died of COVID-19 and at least 28,700 people have recovered from the viral infection, officials said. Patrick Ewing released from hospital after coronavirus diagnosis Update 2:25 p.m. EDT May 25: Basketball Hall of Famer and Georgetown men’s basketball coach Patrick Ewing has been released from a hospital after testing positive for COVID-19, his son said Monday in a post on Twitter. Patrick Ewing Jr. said his father was resting Monday at home and continuing his recovery. “I want to thank all of the doctors and hospital staff for taking care of my father during his stay, as well as everyone who has reached out with thoughts and prayers to us and since his diagnosis,” the younger Ewing said in a post on Twitter. “I hope everyone continues to stay safe and protect yourselves and your loved ones.” The elder Ewing had announced Friday that he was diagnosed with a coronavirus infection. Number of deadly COVID-19 cases continues to fall in Massachusetts Update 2:10 p.m. EDT May 25: Officials in Massachusetts on Monday announced 68 new coronavirus-related deaths in the state, marking the fourth day in a row that the number of new deadly cases has decreased, according to WFXT. As of Monday, at least 6,372 people statewide have died of COVID-19, according to numbers released by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Officials said 92,675 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the state. >> Read more on Boston25News.com 965 new cases of COVID-19 reported in New Jersey Update 2 p.m. EDT May 25: Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey said Monday that 965 new coronavirus infections have been reported, raising the total number of COVID-19 cases in the state to 155,092. Murphy said officials also reported 16 more deaths, much smaller than the number of new daily deaths reported so far in the pandemic. He noted the low number might be due to delayed reporting over the holiday weekend. As of Monday, 11,144 people have died in New Jersey of COVID-19. WHO temporarily pauses review of antimalarial drug touted by Trump in COVID-19 fight Update 1:25 p.m. EDT May 25: World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced Monday that the organization has paused a review of the efficacy of an antimalarial drug touted by President Donald Trump due to concerns over its safety for use in treating novel coronavirus infections. At a news conference Monday, Tedros said the decision was made in light of an observational study published Friday in the medical journal The Lancet which found that coronavirus patients who were treated with antimalarial drugs hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine or a combination of the drugs and an antibiotic were at a higher risk for death. “The Executive Group of the Solidarity Trial, representing 10 of the participating countries, met on Saturday and has agreed to review a comprehensive analysis and critical appraisal of all evidence available globally,” Tedros said Monday. “The review will consider data collected so far in the Solidarity Trial and in particular robust randomized available data, to adequately evaluate the potential benefits and harms from this drug. The Executive Group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity Trial while the safety data is reviewed by the Data Safety Monitoring Board.' Tedros said other coronavirus drug trials were continuing Monday. “This concern relates to the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloraquine in COVID-19,” Tedros stressed. “I wish to reiterate that these drugs are accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria.” Trump honors fallen soldiers, military members fighting coronavirus pandemic on Memorial Day  Update 1:10 p.m. EDT May 25: President Donald Trump is mourning America’s fallen service members and noting that Memorial Day this year is different from years past. Marking the holiday at Baltimore’s historic Fort McHenry, Trump noted that tens of thousands of service members and national guard personnel are currently “on the frontlines of our war against this terrible virus.” The U.S. leads the world with more than 1.6 million confirmed coronavirus cases and is approaching 100,000 deaths. Trump said brave warriors from the nation’s past have shown that “in America, we are the captains of our own fate.” Fort McHenry is where a poem written during the War of 1812 became “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The fort is closed to the public because of the pandemic. Trump speaks at Memorial Day ceremony at Fort McHenry Update 12:05 p.m. EDT May 25: President Donald Trump is speaking Monday at a Memorial Day ceremony at Fort McHenry in Baltimore. 96 new fatal coronavirus cases reported in New York Update 11:45 a.m. EDT May 25: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said Monday that 95 more people have died of COVID-19 statewide. The number was slightly less than the 109 new fatal cases reported one day earlier. Cuomo said hospitalization rate and the number of patients needing intubations continued to fall Monday, though he stressed that social distancing efforts need to continue. Trump to participate in Memorial Day wreath-laying ceremony at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Update 10:25 a.m. EDT May 25: President Donald Trump is set to participate in Monday morning’s wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley are also scheduled to participate. Pence: Republican National Convention will be moved from NC ‘if needs be’ Update 9:50 a.m. EDT May 25: Vice President Mike Pence said Monday that the Republican National Convention will be moved from Charlotte, North Carolina to another city “if needs be” due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event is scheduled to begin Aug. 24. “I think the president is absolutely intent on ensuring that as we see our nation continue to make steady progress on putting the coronavirus epidemic in the past that, come this August, we’ll be able to come together in a safe and responsible venue and renominate President Donald Trump for four more years,” the vice president said Monday during an appearance on Fox News’s “Fox and Friends.' His comments came after Trump wrote in a series of messages posted earlier Monday on Twitter that Republicans “must immediately be given an answer by the Governor as to whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied.” The president framed the governor’s decision to keep businesses shut in the state due to the health threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic as a political decision by a Democratic governor. As of Sunday, the last date for which data was available, 23,222 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus infections in North Carolina. Officials said at least 744 people have died. Stay-at-home order protesters plan demonstrations in North Carolina Update 9:05 a.m. EDT May 25: Protesters organized by the group ReOpen NC plan to hold a “Freedom Rally” Monday outside the governor’s mansion in North Carolina, WSOC-TV reported. “It would just be so appropriate to do it on Memorial Day and just really shine a light on honoring our fallen heroes and standing up for freedom right now,” said Ashley Smith of ReOpen NC, according to WSOC-TV. “We just all feel it is more important now -- than many of us have seen in our lifetime.” Protests were also planned for Monday in Charlotte, Asheville, Greensboro and Wilmington, WSOC-TV reported. Rally organizers told WTVD that Gov. Roy Cooper’s phased reopening of businesses was hurting the state’s economy. As of Sunday, the last date for which data was available, 23,222 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus infections in North Carolina. Officials said at least 744 people have died. >> Read more on WSOCTV.com Volunteers work in the night to create scaled-back Memorial Day flag garden in Boston Update 7:48 a.m. EDT May 25: A Memorial Day tradition in Boston was made possible by a group of volunteers who worked through the night to honor our fallen heroes, WFXT is reporting. Each Memorial Day for the past decade, the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund has planted more than 37,000 flags on Boston Common – one flag for each fallen service member from Massachusetts since the Revolution. The project requires hundreds of volunteers, and due to coronavirus precautions and guidelines, organizers initially canceled the event this year. To keep the tradition alive, a group of 10 volunteers worked carefully overnight to plant 1,000 flags on the common. Each flag in the scaled-back display is 6 feet apart from the others, and organizers hope the smaller spectacle will minimize the number of people who visit the garden. People who plan on stopping by to see the display are asked to wear masks at all times, stay a safe distance away from others and be respectful. In addition to the flag garden, people were encouraged to create their own patriotic displays at home this year and share photos online using the hashtag #HeroesFlagGarden. A Monday morning ceremony at Boston Common will include speakers, a wreath-laying and a rendition of “Taps.” Florida reports lowest number of daily deaths since late March Update 5:04 a.m. EDT May 25: Florida health officials on Sunday reported five new coronavirus-related deaths statewide since Saturday – the lowest day-to-day increase since March 29, records show. According to Orlando’s WFTV, officials also reported 740 additional cases of the virus statewide since Saturday. As of Sunday, the total number of cases in the state was at 50,867, with 2,237 deaths. Read more here. ‘Person of interest’ identified in bias crimes against Asians in Seattle Update 3 a.m. EDT May 25: Police in Seattle are investigating a growing number of crimes targeting Asians during the outbreak. Seattle officers said the attacks started late Saturday afternoon in the heart of Ballard and moved to Golden Gardens Park. They believe one man is responsible for all the incidents. A victim at Golden Gardens Park said the man spat in his face. The workers at Thai Thani Restaurant said the man threw things at them while demanding to know if they are Chinese. “I hear some noise, and I see some guy angry, yelling,' Umboom Moore told Seattle’s KIRO-TV. That was the first time she knew something unusual was happening Saturday night at the restaurant where she works. “Just like some crazy guy,” she said. “So I just started taking pictures.” Her co-worker, Natthiya Chumdee, said he was yelling at her. “Right over there, he smashed the window,” she said. When he asked if she is Chinese, she told him everyone there is Thai. He asked her to kneel and swear to it. “Well, I’m not going to do that,” she said. “He’s starting [to] lose control. And he comes here, and he says, ‘You know, I’m going to slam the door, this table to you.’” The night before, Tonya McCabe got the brunt of his anger. “He said, ‘Are you Chinese?’” she said. “And I said, ‘No, we’re not.’ And he still kept yelling at us. And I said, ‘If you’re not going to leave, I’m going to call 911.’ And then he said, ‘Better [expletive] call 911.’” Just last week, a man was captured on camera shoving an Asian couple as they walked by. They told Seattle police he spat on them, too. The man in these latest attacks is described as white, 5 feet, 10 inches tall, in his mid-20s to mid-30s and is of a muscular build. He was wearing a white shirt and shorts. It is the same suspect description in two attacks at Golden Gardens Park on Saturday night. “I stand back there, and ... yell to him, ‘Get out, leave!’” said McCabe. It has McCabe and the others working at this restaurant finding a different way to get around this city that is now their home. “I’m afraid to like walk on the street or take a bus,” said McCabe. They told KIRO that the man also approached other Asian-owned businesses in the area before apparently heading to Golden Gardens Park. Anyone who recognizes him is asked to call Seattle police. 17-year-old Georgia boy becomes youngest in state to die from COVID-19 Update 2:24 a.m. EDT May 25: The Georgia Department of Public Health said Sunday that a 17-year-old boy has died of the coronavirus, marking the youngest fatality and first pediatric death in the state. Nancy Nydam with the department confirmed the information to Atlanta’s WSB-TV on Sunday. The teen was from Fulton County and had an underlying condition, according to officials. His identity has not been released. More than 1,800 people have died of COVID-19 in Georgia since the outbreak began, with the median age of deaths at 73.6 years old, according to the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cases of COVID-19 in children have typically been less severe, though there has been growing concern and a new warning about a rare condition recently seen in dozens of children nationwide. A spokesperson for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta confirmed that a team of infectious disease and cardiology experts are evaluating several cases in metro Atlanta of children who exhibited Kawasaki-like symptoms and inflammation. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta physician specialists stressed that it appears to be a rare finding with a low rate in Georgia. New York health officials have already issued a warning about a rare inflammatory syndrome that has infected at least 64 children in that state. A spokesperson for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta said they have experts for treating the symptoms regardless of a potential link to COVID-19. Families should contact their doctor or visit an emergency room if their child develops signs of illness such as high fever, rash, red eyes, abdominal pain and swelling of the face, hands or feet. US coronavirus cases top 1.6M, deaths near 98K Update 12:43 a.m. EDT May 25: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States surged past 1.6 million early Monday across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to a Johns Hopkins University tally, there are at least 1,643,238 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 97,720 deaths. The hardest-hit states remain New York, with 361,515 cases and 29,141 deaths, and New Jersey, with 154,154 cases and 11,138 deaths. Massachusetts, with 92,675 cases, has the third-highest number of deaths with 6,372, while Illinois has the third-highest number of cases with 110,304. Only 16 states and territories have confirmed fewer than 5,000 cases each. Seven other states have now confirmed at least 42,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: • California: 94,020 cases, resulting in 3,754 deaths • Pennsylvania: 71,563 cases, resulting in 5,136 deaths • Texas: 55,861 cases, resulting in 1,528 deaths • Michigan: 54,679 cases, resulting in 5,228 deaths • Florida: 50,867 cases, resulting in 2,237 deaths • Maryland: 46,313 cases, resulting in 2,277 deaths • Georgia: 42,902 cases, resulting in 1,827 deaths Meanwhile, Connecticut has confirmed at least 40,468 cases; Louisiana, Virginia, Ohio and Indiana each has confirmed at least 31,000 cases; Colorado, North Carolina, Minnesota and Tennessee each has confirmed more than 20,000 cases; Washington, Iowa, Arizona and Wisconsin each has confirmed at least 15,000 cases; Alabama and Rhode Island each has confirmed more than 14,000 cases; Mississippi, Missouri and Nebraska each has confirmed at least 12,000 cases; South Carolina has confirmed at least 10,000 cases; Kansas, Delaware, Kentucky, Utah and the District of Columbia each has confirmed at least 8,000 cases, followed by Nevada with more than 7,000; New Mexico and Oklahoma each has confirmed at least 6,000 cases, followed by Arkansas with more than 5,000; South Dakota and New Hampshire each has confirmed at least 4,000 cases; and Oregon and Puerto Rico each has confirmed at least 3,000 cases. Click here to see CNN’s state-by-state breakdown. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Officials with the World Health Organization announced the group has temporarily paused its trial of an antimalarial drug touted by President Donald Trump as a possible treatment for COVID-19 due to concerns over its safety. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of the WHO said Monday that the decision was made in light of an observational study published Friday in the medical journal The Lancet which found that coronavirus patients who were treated with hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine or a combination of either drug and an antibiotic were at a higher risk for death. “The Executive Group of the Solidarity Trial, representing 10 of the participating countries, met on Saturday and has agreed to review a comprehensive analysis and critical appraisal of all evidence available globally,” Tedros said Monday. “The review will consider data collected so far in the Solidarity Trial and, in particular, robust randomized available data, to adequately evaluate the potential benefits and harms from this drug.' Tedros said other coronavirus drug trials were continuing Monday. “This concern relates to the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in COVID-19,” Tedros stressed. “I wish to reiterate that these drugs are accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria.” In the study published in The Lancet, researchers reviewed more than 96,000 COVID-19 cases in which patients were hospitalized between late December and mid-April. The data used for the study, which included 15,000 cases in which patients were treated with either hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine or a combination of the drugs with an antibiotic, came from 671 hospitals on six continents, researchers said. “We were unable to confirm a benefit of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine ... on in-hospital outcomes for COVID-19,” researchers said in a summary of their findings. “Each of these drug regimens was associated with decreased in-hospital survival and an increased frequency of ventricular arrhythmias when used for treatment of COVID-19.” Trump has dismissed concerns around the safety of hydroxychloroquine and told reporters last week that he was taking a two-week regiment of the drug to protect himself against a coronavirus infection. The president said he was not advised to take the drug but that he instead requested it himself from the White House physician. Scientists continue to race toward a vaccine for COVID-19, which White House officials have said is expected by the end of the year. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Friday that he was confident a vaccine would be ready in the timeline given by officials. “(The Department of Defense) has the expertise and the capacity of course, to get the manufacturing done and the logistics and I’m confident that we will deliver,” he said during an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show. The United States has by far the most number of COVID-19 cases in the world with more than 1.6 million reported as of Monday afternoon, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. At least 97,850 people have died of coronavirus infections nationwide, according to Johns Hopkins.
  • Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Monday urged voters to return their absentee ballots in time for the June 9 primary, even as thousands of Fulton County voters are waiting for their ballots to arrive and the coronavirus forced some early voting locations to close. About 1 million voters who requested absentee ballots haven’t yet turned them in, according to state election data through Sunday. “Vote from the convenience of your own kitchen table. Take your time to do it, but get it done as soon as you can,” Raffensperger said in an interview. “Sooner better than later, because it has to be received by June 9, no later than 7 p.m., to be counted.” So far, over 551,000 voters have returned their absentee ballots, and another 77,000 voted in person during the first week of early voting. More than 25,000 Fulton voters still haven’t received their absentee ballots as the county’s elections office has struggled to process a flood of ballot requests, especially those that were emailed. Fulton election officials said the backlog would be eliminated by Memorial Day, but the county processed just 3,000 absentee ballot requests from Friday to Sunday. “It’s concerning that they’re still not caught up,” Raffensperger said. “What that has done has created concern on voters who say, ‘I haven’t received my absentee ballot, and yet I emailed that back in early. What’s the delay?’” If Fulton voters don’t receive their absentee ballots soon, they might not have much time to return them by the state’s election day deadline. A federal lawsuit is asking a judge to rule that ballots should be counted as long as they’re postmarked by election day. Other counties are dealing with coronavirus-related problems, Raffensperger said. Appling County will reopen its only early voting location Tuesday after it was closed Friday for cleaning because a voter tested positive for the coronavirus. In McDuffie County, two election workers caught the coronavirus, leaving its elections staff shorthanded. “Particularly on Memorial Day, we think about the huge sacrifice armed forces members made, sacrificing their lives, so we would have the freedom to be a free people and be able to freely vote,” Raffenpserger said. “These are trying times, and we encourage everyone to complete the process if you requested an absentee ballot.” You may find this story and more at AJC.com.
  • Gwinnett County police are investigating Monday the shooting death of Richard St. John in Norcross. Officers found the 70-year-old sometime around 8:30 p.m. Sunday after a 911 caller reported a male had been shot on Brittney Way near Phil Niekro Parkway. St. John was taken to a hospital, where he died of his injuries. No further information about the victim or the circumstances surrounding his death were available Monday morning. Police are asking anyone with information related to the shooting to contact GCPD detectives at 770-513-5300. To remain anonymous, tipsters should contact Crime Stoppers at 404-577-TIPS (8477) or visit Crime Stoppers. Crime Stoppers tipsters can receive a cash reward for information leading to an arrest and indictment in this case. Case Number: 20-038848 You may find this story and more at AJC.com.
  • More than 60 residents were displaced by two separate fires over the Memorial Day weekend in DeKalb and Newton counties, according to the American Red Cross. In the first fire at the Sierra Village Apartments in Brookhaven, eight units were destroyed Sunday leaving 41 people homeless. Firefighters responded to the blaze on Oak Shadow Lane around 8:15 a.m. Sunday. One person suffered minor burns, DeKalb Fire Capt. Dion Bentley said. Then in a second incident early Monday, fire broke out at the Magnolia Heights Apartments in Covington, where 26 people were displaced. Fire department officials could not be reached for comment. Along with emotional support, Sherry Nicholson, the Red Cross’s regional communication director, said volunteers provided assistance for those who were displaced to help with essentials such as temporary lodging, food, clothing, and replacement medications. Caseworkers will continue to work with the families in the weeks ahead to help them begin their recovery. Fire officials were still unaware of the cause of either fire early Monday. You may find this story and more at AJC.com.