Pandemic politics shadowed President Donald Trump’s trip to Michigan to highlight lifesaving medical devices, with the president and officials from the electoral battleground state clashing over federal aid, mail-in ballots and face masks.
The president did not wear a face covering Thursday despite a warning from the state’s top law enforcement officer that a refusal to do so might lead to a ban on Trump's return.
Trump visited Ypsilanti, outside Detroit, to tour a Ford Motor Co. factory that had been repurposed to manufacture ventilators, the medical breathing machines governors begged for during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The visit came as the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits in the two months since the coronavirus took hold in the U.S. hit nearly 39 million even as states gradually let people go back to work after nationwide business shutdowns triggered by the outbreak. The Labor Department says more than 2.4 million people filed for jobless aid last week alone.
The continuing trend of heavy job cuts reflects an economy that is sinking into the worst recession since the Great Depression. The National Association of Realtors reports that sales of existing homes plunged 17.8% in April, the largest one-month decline since a 22.5% fall in July 2010.
In other developments:
- Signs of renewed business activity are surfacing across the country as states gradually reopen economies and some businesses call a portion of their laid-off staffers back to work. Yet with millions more Americans seeking unemployment aid last week, the U.S. job market remains as bleak as it's been in decades.
- Fast-food restaurants have fared better than sit-down restaurants as the coronavirus pandemic gripped the U.S., but that gap appears to be closing with the opening of dining rooms, especially chain eateries.
- Something is finally clear in the uncertain NBA: Players believe they’re going to play games again this season. The obvious questions — How? Where? When? — remain unanswered. But players around the league are being urged to start getting mentally and physically ready for training camps that could be just a few weeks away.
- Silicon Valley and Seattle giants — Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Twitter — were the first to send their employees home as the virus spread to the U.S. Now they're among the last to return them to the office. Some of their employees might never go back. The companies are studying what their highly-paid, highly-valued employees want, using their own technology to make remote work easier and looking to hire new workers outside of big city hubs.
- As much of California reopens businesses amid easing coronavirus restrictions, a farming region bordering Mexico is struggling with a spike in cases. A spokesman for the largest hospital in the Imperial Valley area east of San Diego believes American citizens living in the Mexicali, Mexico, are crossing the border to the U.S. for treatment.
- Russian medical workers say they face mistrust, low pay and even hostility as they battle both the coronavirus and a system that fails to support them. Doctors who try to speak out about a lack of protective equipment and dire working conditions are accused of lying, and some are being fired or face prosecution.
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