French court launches inquiry into former prime minister's handling of Covid-19 crisis
From CNN's Alexander Durie and Fanny Bobille
A French court has launched a probe into the former prime minister and two ex-cabinet ministers' handling of the coronavirus crisis, the Paris prosecutor's office told CNN on Friday.
A judicial enquiry will examine how former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who resigned as part of the widely expected government reshuffle on Friday, and two former health ministers — Agnes Buzyn and her successor Olivier Véran— managed the Covid-19 outbreak in France. Buzyn stepped down in February.
The inquiry will begin at the Court of Justice of the Republic after the Petitions and Complaints committee upheld nine complaints against the ex-ministers. The committee is part of the CJR and examines the complaints to decide whether to pursue prosecution.
Complaints were filed by private individuals and doctors, the Paris prosecutor's office told CNN.
6:26 p.m. ET, July 3, 2020
This Arizona gym owner says he will not follow governor's closure order
From CNN’s Konstantin Toropin
Mountainside Fitness CEO Tom Hatten said he will not heed the Arizona governor’s order to close his gyms.
“We are going to stay open until we have our day in court, which is Monday morning,” Hatten said at a news conference Friday.
He said he objected to the lack of “fairness and transparency” in the new order. Hatten went on to say that the order is more about “making it look like we're doing something.”
Hatten, who has a hearing in his lawsuit against Gov. Doug Ducey Monday, said that he will respect the decision of the court.
“If we are allowed a stay, we will move forward until our full case is heard,” he said. “If the court does not allow us stay, we will comply and respect the court's decision."
LifeTime, the other gym that has been defying closure orders, has announced it will temporarily close.
“After connecting with the offices of the governor and the Director of the Arizona Department of Health Services this morning and, out of respect for the Governor, we are shutting down the indoor fitness portion of our clubs as of now through Monday evening,” a LifeTime spokesperson said in a statement.
6:08 p.m. ET, July 3, 2020
Czech Republic and Hungary open borders to US filmmakers despite EU travel ban
From CNN's James Frater in Brussels
American cast and crew will be able to travel to the Czech Republic and Hungary to work on film and TV productions, despite European Union's ban on travelers from the US, heads of those countries' national film commissions indicated.
"Please let me assure you this (travel ban) is not valid for economic workers but tourism travelers only. Filmmakers of all nations are welcome in the Czech Republic," Pavlína Zipkova, the head of the Czech Film Commission, told Hollywood executives and studios in a letter seen by CNN.
Zipkova explained that filmmakers will be provided with two documents — a “Confirmation of Performance of Economic Activities in the Interest of the Czech Republic,” signed by Czech Culture Minister Lubomir Zaoralek, and a “Declaration Concerning Arrival of a Foreign Crew Member” by the director of the Czech Film Fund, Helena Bezdek Frankova.
In a similar move, Hungarian Film Commissioner Csaba Káel told CNN “special exemption can be granted for non-EU residents to enter Hungary without mandatory quarantine."
Some background: The EU has published a list of 14 countries from outside the union whose citizens can enter from July 1 based on a set of health criteria, but the US was excluded from that list due to the rise in coronavirus infections in some parts of the country.
The criteria does allow for exemptions for “highly qualified” essential workers and can be expanded to include further categories of travelers. The final decision on who can enter a country rests with the member state.
In 2019 more than 80 films and television series were made in the Czech Republic, contributing $393 million to the country’s economy, according to the Czech Film Commission.
Filming is currently paused on Marvel’s and Disney+ The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Amazon’s Carnival Row, according to the commission.
Hungary's National Film Institute says the country is “the most popular filming destination in continental Europe” and that large scale productions spent more than $565 million there in 2019.
With sound stages “booked up for the entire year,” Hungary's National Film Institute has released a series of Covid-19 guidelines for filmmakers to ensure the health and safety of cast and crew, which Káel hopes will “make it possible to restart production at full capacity.”
Myrtle Beach mayor says city is "doing all that we can" to stop spread of virus despite keeping beaches open
From CNN's Hollie Silverman
Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune told CNN's Jim Acosta on The Situation Room Friday the city is "doing all that we can" to prevent the spread of coronavirus despite keeping beaches open to thousands of visitors for the holiday weekend.
Bethune said that the city enacted a mask ordinance Thursday to help stop the spread.
"People spread this virus and we can't stop people from coming here but we all have personal responsibility in helping to prevent the spread of this virus," Bethune said.
The mayor said the city is working to get the message out that masks are needed.
She said the city has extra law enforcement that has come in from other areas to help with crowd control.
Bethune also said the beaches have been well maintained by beach patrol, firefighters, and lifeguards and there have been "very few issues" on the beaches.
5:44 p.m. ET, July 3, 2020
MLB and players association announce 31 players and 7 staff members test positive for Covid-19
From CNN's Jill Martin
Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) announced today the first set of results from their Covid-19 testing.
Here's a breakdown of the results:
The total number of positive tests is 38, which is 1.2% of the 3,185 total samples collected and tested, according to the statement.
Thirty-one of these 38 positives are players and seven are staff members, the statement said.
Nineteen different clubs have had one or more individuals test positive during intake testing, according to the statement
The testing was conducted as part of the mandatory intake screening process under MLB’s Covid-19 Health Monitoring & Testing Plan, prior to the workouts and full baseball activities that started today.
5:22 p.m. ET, July 3, 2020
Here's the latest coronavirus update from Texas
From CNN’s Konstantin Toropin
Texas is reporting a third day of new Covid-19 cases topping 7,000, according to state health department data.
The state is reporting 7,555 new Covid-19 cases on Friday. Although this is lower than the previous two days, which included a record high for Texas, it continues the trend of sharp increases of cases in the state.
The state also reported 50 new deaths from Covid-19 Friday.
Here's what we know about the surge in coronavirus cases in Texas:
Rise in cases: Texas reported a record 8,076 new cases on Wednesday and 7,915 new cases yesterday, state data shows.
Major GOP event still happening: The Republican Party of Texas will hold their state convention in-person with an expected attendance in the thousands. The convention will be held indoors at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston from July 16-18. Committee meetings will begin on July 13.
5:32 p.m. ET, July 3, 2020
This is what it looks like at Mount Rushmore, where Trump is headed for tonight's fireworks show
From CNN's Joe Johns and Betsy Klein
Despite social distancing guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that say people in large gatherings should wear face masks and attempt to stay at least six feet apart, there are hundreds of black plastic folding seats linked together with plastic ties at the Mount Rushmore National Memorial amphitheater, where President Trump is expected to attend, speak and view a fireworks show tonight.
"Folding chairs at an event like these need to be zip tied together by code, per a public safety official involved with the event," a public safety official tells CNN. "In case of an emergency, like a fire event or a storm or anything that would cause people to quickly move out, the zip ties would ensure that the chairs will not be easily knocked over or fly into egress paths — moving a full row of chairs, rather than one or two. Additionally, the zip tied chairs then cannot be used as a weapon."
A majority of the attendees at the venue arriving so far have not been wearing face coverings.
There is also bleacher seating in the venue which means many spectators at the event will not have to sit in seats that are linked together.
Some background: The 7,500 tickets for the event are lower than the typical visitor flow during the busy summer season. On normal days, 28,000 to 32,000 visitors come to Mount Rushmore during a 10-hour period. Amid the pandemic, the park never closed but visitation has been down to around 20,000 people, said Maureen McGee-Ballinger, Mount Rushmore's chief of interpretation and education.
Coronavirus cases in South Dakota currently remain stable, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, with 6,893 confirmed cases and 97 deaths as of Thursday — but it remains to be seen how many attendees will travel from other states. Thirty-six states are currently experiencing a rise in new cases.
4:52 p.m. ET, July 3, 2020
Miami Heat closes facility after second player tests positive for Covid-19
From CNN’s Jacob Lev
The NBA's Miami Heat have closed their practice facility at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Florida, after a second player tested positive for Covid-19, according to multiple media reports which the team confirmed to CNN.
The team will not resume practices until it enters the NBA's "bubble" at Disney later this month.
In recent weeks, the Denver Nuggets and Brooklyn Nets had to shut down their facilities after players on both teams tested positive for the virus.
The NBA season is scheduled to restart on July 30 at the Walt Disney Resort near Orlando, Florida.
4:52 p.m. ET, July 3, 2020
Man voluntarily gets off plane after refusing to wear face covering
From CNN’s Ganesh Setty
The man caught on video arguing with a police officer on Spirit Airlines flight NK197 from LaGuardia Airport to Fort Lauderdale, Florida chose to voluntarily deplane after refusing to keep his face covering on, according to a Spirit Airlines spokesperson.
“I’m going to my father who had a stroke. I’m not leaving the flight ... I'm a Purple Heart, I gave my life for this country,” the man said in the video.
In the video, the man said he was allowed onto the flight with the scarf draped on his head.
Spirit Airlines requires all passengers to wear face coverings, with some exemptions for children, according to the airline’s website.
“Spirit will always err on the side of caution when it comes to the health and safety of our guests. Wearing a face covering is simple, it’s easy, and it’s critical to Spirit and the airline industry as a whole,” said Spirit in a statement to CNN.
CNN has reached out to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for comment.