The Trump administration is formalizing new guidance to recommend that many, if not almost all, Americans wear face coverings when leaving home, in an effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.
The recommendations, still being finalized Thursday, would apply at least to those who live in areas hard-hit by community transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. A person familiar with the White House coronavirus task force's discussion said officials would suggest that non-medical masks, T-shirts or bandannas be used to cover the nose and mouth when outside the home — for instance, at the grocery store or pharmacy. Medical-grade masks, particularly short-in-supply N95 masks, would be reserved for those dealing directly with the sick.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the proposed guidance before its public release.
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In other developments today:
- The captain of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier facing a growing outbreak of the coronavirus was fired Thursday by Navy leaders who said he created a panic by sending his memo pleading for help to too many people. Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the ship's commander, Capt. Brett Crozier “demonstrated extremely poor judgement” in the middle of a crisis. He said the captain copied too many people on the memo, which was leaked to a California newspaper and quickly spread to many news outlets.
- The number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide passed the 1 million threshold Thursday in the latest indication of the pandemic's growing foothold around the globe, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The count represents confirmed cases, but the true numbers are believed to be much higher.
- The economic damage from the coronavirus crisis is piling up, with an unprecedented 6.6 million Americans filing for unemployment benefits in a single week. About half of all working Americans report some kind of income loss affecting themselves or a member of their household, with low-income residents and those without college degrees especially likely to have lost a job, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned Thursday that the state’s supply of breathing machines could be exhausted in six days if the number of people made critically ill by the coronavirus outbreak continues at its current rate. Across the world, the competition for masks and other protective gear intensified amid growing evidence that people who are infected but have no symptoms can spread the virus.
- The Democratic National Committee is delaying its presidential nominating convention until the week of Aug. 17 after prospective nominee Joe Biden said he didn’t think it would be possible to hold a normal convention in mid-July because of the pandemic.
- Some Americans without direct deposit won't get their payments until mid-August or later from a U.S. economic stimulus package. The IRS will make about 60 million payments to Americans through direct deposit in mid-April, and then paper checks will start going out May 4 at a rate of about 5 million per week, according to a memo obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.
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