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Coronavirus pandemic in the US
The Transportation Security Administration is working to put in place a plan to check temperatures of passengers as they go through security at a number of American airports, a federal health official confirmed to CNN.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the plan and said the TSA would take temperatures at about a dozen unidentified airports. It said the program could begin as soon as next week.
The federal health official emphasized to CNN the plan was not yet final.
The TSA would not confirm it was planning on enacting such a program.
“At this time, no decision has been made regarding specific health screening measures at airports. TSA continues to rely on the health expertise of HHS and the CDC. Ongoing discussions with our DHS and interagency colleagues, as well as our airport and airline partners, will enable the agency to make informed decisions with regard to the health and safety of the aviation environment. The safety and security of the traveling public and our employees will always be our top priority,” the agency said in a statement.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said he was not supportive of temperature checking.
"I cannot find any law that gives TSA the authority to perform temperature checks as reported," he said. "The health and safety of our Transportation Security Officers have already been put at great risk the past few months. The administration should not put these frontline workers in further danger in order to provide passengers a potential false sense of safety.”
North Dakota officials released guidelines for large gatherings and mass gathering events, such as banquets, ballrooms and event venues, Gov. Doug Burgum announced at a news conference Friday.
The governor amended an executive order to “strongly encourage the adoption of the large gathering protocols by recreational and sports arenas and music and entertainment venues,” which had previously been closed under the order, effective immediately.
The state is now using a five-level risk model to determine what businesses and places can reopen and how they can operate, the governor said.
The levels are red/critical risk, orange/high risk, yellow/moderate risk, green/low risk and blue/new normal, Burgum said.
“The phases will be implemented if all industry guidelines are adhered to, all health criteria is met, and there is no increased risk of exposure or uncontrolled transmission,” according to the guidelines.
Right now: The state is currently operating at the “moderate risk” level, meaning there is heightened risk for exposure but if transmission is controlled in the area and health criteria is met, gatherings in facilities can be up to 50% occupancy, according to the guidelines.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order Friday allowing counties to enter into the state’s full phase one reopening plan.
The order gives amusement parks in Florida, like Walt Disney World Resort, the green light to submit their plans to reopen, according to the executive order.
The plan must include a proposed reopening date, guidelines that ensure guest and staff safety and a letter from the local mayor confirming approval of the effort.
In an attempt to remedy some of the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic to the agricultural industry, the United States Department of Agriculture on Friday announced a new program to deliver billions of dollars of produce and other farm products to nonprofits and local food banks.
The “Farmers to Families Food Box” program will distribute $3 billion worth of agricultural goods to non-profit organizations across the country that might have gone to waste.
“It was horrifying to hear about vegetables having to be plowed under because of no markets. Milk having to be dumped, animals potentially having to be euthanized because we had broken the supply chain,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said on Friday at a ceremony marking the program’s launch. “This is a simple program that will help to feed people in need.”
More than 200 companies nationwide were awarded contracts by the USDA to provide boxes of fresh produce, meat and dairy products.
House Democrats on Friday approved a rules change to allow lawmakers to vote while away from Washington during the coronavirus pandemic, a move that will allow the chamber to operate remotely for the first time in its more than 200-year history.
Democrats approved the resolution over Republican opposition with a vote of 217-189.
How it works: Under the new rules, lawmakers who cannot or do not want to travel to the Capitol for legislative business will be able to cast votes in the House through a proxy. Members would give a colleague specific instructions for how they would vote on a measure, and the proxy must vote in accordance with their instructions.
Members will be limited to acting as proxy for only up to 10 members.
Why this matters: The resolution is a significant rules change for the chamber. Republicans urged against the change, arguing instead for the House to return in person to conduct its work.
The resolution will expire after 45 days, although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be able to extend the provisions if the pandemic is still happening or if there is a resurgence.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee will lift capacity restrictions for restaurants and retail stores in most of the state starting next week, according to a statement from the governor's office.
The new guidance applies to large attractions, such as racetracks, waterparks, amusement parks, theaters and auditoriums. Those facilities can reopen on May 22.
“Tennesseans have worked incredibly hard to do their part and help slow the spread of COVID-19 so that our state can begin to reopen. Thanks to their continued efforts, we’re able to allow restaurants and retail businesses to operate at greater capacity and large attractions to open in a safe and thoughtful way,” Lee said in a statement.
Businesses must still adhere to social distancing guidelines.
The changes apply to 89 of the 95 counties in the state.
Davidson, Shelby, Knox, Hamilton, Madison and Sullivan counties are not included in the new guidelines. Those counties may continue to follow individual, county-specific reopening plans, the statement said.
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union is "extremely disappointed by Kroger's decision to end Hero Pay," the union's president Marc Perrone said in a statement.
Kroger announced Friday that the company would end Hero Pay for employees and provide a one-time bonus to its workers.
The Hero Pay program, which saw an increase of $2 per hour starting March 31, is set to end Sunday.
"The simple fact is that the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Social distancing continues," the statement said. "Kroger workers are still required to wear masks. There is no vaccine."
Perrone said that increased sales and profits made by grocery stores make the decision to end Hero Pay "more inexplicable."
"The reality is that Kroger is choosing to ignore this pandemic," Perrone said. "This is not how we treat heroes in America."
More context: At least 65 grocery workers have died and at least 9,810 have been infected or exposed to the coronavirus, according to the UFCW statement.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear reacted to the news Friday saying he wants the additional pay to continue as the pandemic isn't over.
“Kroger is suspending Hero Pay to workers effective Sunday, can I react to that news? Man, our grocery store workers have done incredible work. This virus isn't gone, I would love to see that pay increase," Beshear said. "Of course, it's additional $2 per hour so I will tell you, I'd love to see that additional pay continue, even beyond this. I like to think that you ought to be able to support your family working just one job, and it's been a really important job.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell outlined in a memo certain requirements teams must follow to reopen their facilities next week.
Here are the guidelines they must follow:
- Teams may have no more than 50% of staff in the facility, not to exceed 75 people. This is a total for all team locations.
- No members of the coaching staff may return to the facility. Teams may otherwise decide which employees may return to the facility, which may include members of the personnel, football operations or football administration staff, equipment staff, medical staff, and nutritionists. If the strength and conditioning coach is currently participating in player rehabilitation, he may continue that work in the facility. Otherwise, the strength and conditioning coach may not return until the rest of the coaching staff is allowed to return.
- No players may be in the facility other than those currently undergoing medical treatment or rehabilitation.
- Teams must promptly report any incidence of Covid-19 in the facility to Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL's chief medical officer, in addition to the club's infection control officer and any other required reports.