Lawmakers urge Trump administration to collect data on LGBTQ patients

NBC News

The Associated Press

27m ago / 5:38 AM UTC

Over 100 members of Congress are calling on the Trump administration to collect information on the sexual orientations and gender identities of COVID-19 patients.

A letter addressed Wednesday to the Department of Health and Human Services said a failure to track demographic data about LGBTQ identities will “make it difficult for health care providers and policymakers to clearly identify and address the prevention and treatment needs” of the community during the pandemic. A lack of data on how COVID-19 affects LGBTQ people “will exacerbate the challenges that these populations are already experiencing during the COVID-19 public health emergency,” it said.

“Like other marginalized groups, the LGBTQ community faces multiple health inequities,” it read. “With scarce demographic information available about the LGBTQ population, it is difficult to provide quality care and solutions.”

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The Associated Press

2h ago / 4:30 AM UTC

Illinois lawmaker removed from meeting after refusing to wear mask

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A member of the Illinois General Assembly was removed from the first gathering in 10 weeks after refusing to wear a face covering.

Republican Rep. Darren Bailey of Xenia, 250 miles (400 kilometers) south of Chicago, voted “no” on a face-covering rule to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, which was adopted 97-12. Bailey said he was speaking for Illinois residents who feel “captive” and “burdened” by state-ordered restrictions on movement.

Bailey, who filed a legal challenge to Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order, in effect since March 21, represents growing dissent to stay-at-home rules in central and southern parts of the state, which have had far fewer coronavirus infections than Chicago.

Pritzker, who later announced another 147 Illinois deaths related to COVID-19 at his daily briefing, said, “The representative has shown callous disregard for life, callous disregard for people’s health …. The representative has no interest in protecting others.”

Blayne Alexander

2h ago / 3:49 AM UTC

Macy’s reopens more locations with precautions

Phil Helsel

3h ago / 3:04 AM UTC

Theodore Roosevelt returns to sea

The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is returning to sea for a two-week mission, its first since being moored in Guam in late March following a coronavirus outbreak.

The Navy said that the aircraft carrier entered the Philippine Sea on Thursday local time “to conduct carrier qualification flights for Carrier Air Wing 11.”

The Theodore Roosevelt, which has a crew of nearly 5,000, is underway with around 3,300 personnel on the mission, a Defense official said. Everyone aboard the ship was tested and enough personnel have been removed from quarantine to operate the vessel, the Navy said.

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Doha Madani

2h ago / 4:11 AM UTC

Former White House employee who served 11 presidents dies at 91

A former White House butler who served 11 different presidents died at the age of 91 after contracting the coronavirus, his granddaughter told Fox 5 DC.

Wilson Roosevelt Jerman was one of the White House’s longest-serving employees, remembered fondly by former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush in a statement to NBC News on Wednesday.

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The Associated Press

4h ago / 2:33 AM UTC

Expansion of mail-in voting on hold in Texas

AUSTIN, Texas — A court ruling that paved the way in Texas for a dramatic expansion of mail-in voting over fears of the coronavirus is now on hold.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals voted Wednesday to temporarily put aside any expansion of mail-in voting while the case is under review. The order came less than 24 hours after a federal judge in San Antonio ruled that Texas must give all 16 million registered voters in the state the option of casting a ballot by mail during the pandemic.

The fight in Texas is one of several nationwide over expanding access to mail-in voting during the pandemic. Texas generally limits mail-in ballots to voters 65 or older, or those with a “sickness or physical condition.”

Republican Texas Attorney General Paxton has asserted that fear of getting the virus doesn’t qualify as a disability under the law.

Tension grows as customers clash with stores over masks

Jonathan Allen, Phil McCausland and Cyrus Farivar

4h ago / 1:42 AM UTC

White House paying huge premium for mask-cleaning machines that don’t do the job

WASHINGTON — It sounded like a great deal: The White House coronavirus task force would buy a defense company’s new cleaning machines to allow critical protective masks to be reused up to 20 times. And at $60 million for 60 machines on April 3, the price was right.

But over just a few days, the potential cost to taxpayers exploded to $413 million, according to notes of a coronavirus task force meeting obtained by NBC News. By May 1, the Pentagon pegged the ceiling at $600 million in a justification for awarding the deal without an open bidding process or an actual contract. Even worse, scientists and nurses say the recycled masks treated by these machines begin to degrade after two or three treatments, not 20, and the company says its own recent field testing has only confirmed the integrity of the masks for four cycles of use and decontamination.

Nurses in several places across the country now say they are afraid of being at greater risk of acquiring COVID-19 while using N95 masks, which they say often don’t fit correctly after just a few spins through a cleaning system that uses vapor phase hydrogen peroxide to disinfect them.

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The Associated Press

5h ago / 1:21 AM UTC

New Zealand PM urges 4-day work week to promote tourism

WELLINGTON, New Zealand: New Zealand’s prime minister wants employers to consider switching to a four-day work week as a way to promote tourism, which has been hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Jacinda Ardern said in a Facebook Live video this week that people had learned a lot about flexibility and working from home during the nation’s lockdown, which was eased last week.

New Zealand’s tourism industry had accounted for about 10% of the economy, but has ground to a halt during the outbreak.

The South Pacific nation’s borders remain closed, but Ardern said that as much as 60% of tourism was domestic and that more flexible working arrangements could allow New Zealanders to travel more within their own country.

Ardern said she would encourage employers to think about whether or not a four-day work week is something that would work for their workplace, “because it certainly would help tourism all around the country.”

Brazil’s coronavirus outbreak grows amid government tension

Coronavirus is spreading faster in Brazil than anywhere else on Earth. Doctors at a disease control center say there’s so little testing, the real number of cases could be 15 times higher. President Jair Bolsonaro, when asked about the rising death toll, said he “can’t work miracles.”

Alicia Victoria Lozano, Diana Dasrath and Katie Wall

6h ago / 11:40 PM UTC

California to issue guidance on restarting Hollywood, Tyler Perry unveils plan to reopen Atlanta studio

California will roll out guidelines on Memorial Day for TV, film and commercials to resume production amid the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday on a call with entertainment industry leaders.

“We’re in real time drafting guidelines related to productions … because we anticipate rolling out on Monday, May 25th, some sectoral guidelines that would allow these counties to begin to move forward and allow some modification, allow some work to be done, allow some movement in your industry,” Newsom said.

Hollywood has been at a total standstill since mid-March when Newsom issued a statewide stay-at-home order. As a result, hundreds of thousands of workers have lost their jobs and studios are scrambling to fill an unprecedented content demand from people binging shows and movies at home. 

Also on Wednesday, Tyler Perry unveiled a 30-page document for his plan to resume productions at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta. He will require cast and crew members to be tested for coronavirus and self-isolate at home before traveling to Georgia, undergo social distancing as much as possible on set and not leave the “quarantine bubble” at any time for the designated two-week filming period.

“I want it to be abundantly clear that there was no way I could or would consider putting people back to work without a plan that takes extreme measures to try and mitigate as much risk as possible in our productions, and I think we’ve managed to do just that,” Perry said in a letter to crew members.


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