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Georgia, Coronavirus, Spelling Bee: Your Friday Evening Briefing


Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. Some businesses reopened across Georgia after Gov. Brian Kemp defied opposition from President Trump, public health experts and some mayors in his state.

After initially backing Mr. Kemp’s plan, the president said some businesses in the state “should take a little slower path.” Above, a hair salon in Marietta on Friday.

The move to reopen in Georgia, along with similar plans in Oklahoma and Alaska, is being scrutinized as other governors consider future steps for their own states.

In Wisconsin, a few thousand conservative activists gathered at the State Capitol to protest statewide stay-at-home measures. The protest was the nation’s largest to date to condemn the orders.

2. For the record, there is no evidence that sunlight, bleach or any disinfectant can cure coronavirus in the body.

When Mr. Trump was asked about the comments in the Oval Office today, he claimed he was being sarcastic.

Separately, the F.D.A. warned that two anti-malaria drugs can cause “dangerous” side effects and should only be used in clinical trials or hospitals. The president has promoted both of the drugs.

3. The grim economic indicators just keep getting grimmer.

The Congressional Budget Office forecasts a $3.7 trillion deficit for the 2020 fiscal year, which would be the largest gap as a share of the economy since World War II. The budget office also predicted a 5.6 percent economic contraction and an unemployment rate of nearly 12 percent by year’s end. Above, shuttered streets in Manhattan.

The new projection came as President Trump signed a $484 billion relief bill into law, replenishing a fund for small businesses and providing money for hospitals and increased testing.

4. Bowing to pressure from Beijing, E.U. officials softened criticism of China in a report on how governments spread disinformation about the pandemic.

European officials, worried about the repercussions, delayed and then rewrote the document in ways that diluted the focus on China, a vital trading partner, offering a starkly different approach than the one adopted by the Trump administration.

Among other revisions, the new version omitted references to China’s criticism of France and a pro-Chinese bot network in Serbia, above.

5. Joe Biden is facing increasing pressure to choose a black woman as a running mate.

The former vice president has already committed to selecting a woman, and he and his allies have repeatedly mentioned two black women as possibilities: Senator Kamala Harris of California and Stacey Abrams, the Democratic Party’s 2018 nominee for governor of Georgia, pictured above in March. The push is in part fueled by the weaker-than-expected black turnout in 2016.

Polling shows Mr. Biden narrowly ahead of President Trump in some states. By comparison, things looked considerably rosier for Hillary Clinton in many swing states at this point in 2016. Here’s the latest polling landscape.

6. Long mocked and considered a cliché, Silicon Valley preppers are feeling vindicated by the pandemic.

The moment you first started to prepare for coronavirus has become the hottest new credential in tech. Noticing the outbreak early signaled that you were someone who kept a close eye on China, brushed off snark and knew how to parse data.

So what makes disaster prepping so appealing to tech types?

“There may also be something about making money in a heartbeat that predisposes you to imagine it disappearing in one,” our tech reporter Nellie Bowles writes. Her own prepper box includes flu medicine, headlamps, sardines, a tarp and a stun gun.

“Those of us who are older are singled out for a form of house arrest,” said Gordon Rogoff, 88, a theater professor and director pictured in 2019 above. “I like it, actually.”

8. A stripped-down N.F.L. draft turned out to be pretty special.

There were no big bear hugs with Roger Goodell, the league’s commissioner, and there was no glitz on the Las Vegas Strip, but the first virtual draft in league history still had its pyrotechnics and surprises — and even tender moments — our football reporters write.

Green Bay delivered the shock of the night by drafting Jordan Love, above, as a potential successor to Aaron Rodgers, Miami’s rebuild came to fruition and New England maneuvered to have 13 picks over the next two days of the draft. Here’s what else we learned.

9. For something completely different: How to make it in America as a professional falconer.

We spoke to Adam Baz, an urban falconer who works as a subcontractor for bird abatement companies that scare away “pest birds.” He’s one of 137 permit holders nationwide through a federal program that allows the use of protected raptors.

“This relationship is really just about training and a symbiotic partnership,” he said. “I always say the hardest part of being a falconer is the unreciprocated love.”

10. And finally, canceling the biggest spelling bee of the year? Not so fast.

This year is the first time since World War II that the national finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee have been canceled. Now, Shourav Dasari, above in 2016, and his sister, Shobha, who also competed at the top level, are organizing a virtual spelling bee in its place.

So far they’ve put together a list of 1,000 to 1,500 words for the contest, which will be held the last week of May. Upward of 250 students have registered for it. And while organizers will be keeping a close eye on webcams for any signs of cheating, it’s unlikely.

“They tend to be kind of earnest kids, so I can see it working really well,” one spelling bee expert said.

Have a spellbinding weekend.


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