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5 things to know for April 2: Coronavirus, health, guns, NASA, Daniel Pearl

The Democratic convention is a little more than 100 days away. Joe Biden says it’s difficult to imagine it will go on as planned, given coronavirus measures.

Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

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1. Coronavirus 

The global tally of coronavirus cases is inching ever closer to the grim 1 million mark. In the US, more than 40 spring breakers have tested positive for the virus after taking a flight from Austin, Texas, to Mexico in defiance of public health advice. In Uganda, members of a world-renowned children’s choir have fallen ill after returning from the UK two weeks ago. Some countries have taken drastic measures to curb the social spread of the disease. Panama has resorted to separating genders, allowing women and men to run errands in public on alternating days. In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte has warned that people who are “unruly” or who break quarantine may be shot by police. In South Asia, experts worry coronavirus protection measures may provide an opportunity for organized crime to surge in the region. More than 939,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported worldwide, and over 47,000 people have died. Follow updates here. 

2. Health 

Not enough equipment, not enough tests: That’s the reality facing American health care workers. The Trump administration says it will no longer ship personal protective equipment to allies overseas while there is such a critical shortage at home. Officials at the Strategic National Stockpile have shipped out the last rounds of its inventory, depleting the bulk of protective gear long before need across the country is met. The White House coronavirus task force may also soon recommend the public wear masks, since it appears countries in Asia where the practice is common are seeing lower infection rates and faster containment. As for tests, one of the nation’s largest commercial labs faces a backlog of about 160,000 coronavirus tests, delaying results by up to 10 days.

3. Guns

It’s not just toilet paper people are rushing to buy. The FBI reported 3.7 million gun purchase background checks in the month of March, a 41% surge that indicates more and more people are trying to buy guns. Updated guidance from the federal government has designated firearm and ammunition retailers as essential services, which means they can stay open despite a growing number of states issuing stay-at-home orders. The decision is a victory for Second Amendment rights groups, some of which had already filed lawsuits in places where gun retailers weren’t exempted in stay-at-home orders.


For the first time since the final space shuttle mission in 2011, NASA says astronauts will launch into space aboard an American rocket and spacecraft from American soil. The agency is partnering with SpaceX for a manned SpaceX Demo-2 flight test in May from Kennedy Space Center. Of course, this launch date could be postponed depending on the state of the coronavirus crisis. This is a big step for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. By facilitating commercial spaceflights, the agency says it’s providing another way for astronauts to get to and from the International Space Station. And it looks like a lot of people are interested in blasting off: More than 12,000 people applied to be part of NASA’s next class of astronauts.

5. Daniel Pearl

A local court in Pakistan has overturned the death sentence and murder convictions of four men believed to be involved in the 2002 killing of American journalist Daniel Pearl. All had been in prison for 18 years. Three were handed life sentences, and a fourth, Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh, was awaiting execution. The high court in Pakistan’s southern province of Sindh vacated Sheikh’s murder conviction and reduced his sentence to a shorter prison term for kidnapping. Pearl was working as the South Asia bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal when he was kidnapped by militants in Pakistan and later murdered. His death shook the international community and sowed dread regarding the rise of radical Islamist terrorism.


Dolly Parton donates $1.1 million to coronavirus research 

And weeee will always love her. 

JK Rowling launches ‘Harry Potter at Home’ hub for bored children

When all else fails, escape to Hogwarts! 

Nature documentaries are offering an escape for cooped-up viewers

“Oh right, that’s what the outside looks like again!”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is still working out at the Supreme Court gym 

In other news, the Supreme Court has a gym.

Instead of laying people off, Kansas City’s WWI museum is giving employees thousands of pages of archives to digitize from home 

Now, that’s some creative thinking. 


5 million

That’s the number of Marriott International customers who may have been affected by a data breach. The company says it was the target of a hack between mid-January and February of this year.


“What are you waiting for? What more evidence do you need?”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, questioning other states’ leaders who haven’t yet issued stay-at-home orders to combat coronavirus spread. As of this morning, all but 11 states have issued sweeping orders for residents to avoid going out in public.



How hamsters fit so much food in their cheeks

Fitting the food in their mouths is one thing. Fitting their mouths elsewhere is … another. (Click here to view.)



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