Monday morning news – May 4, 2020

More states begin slow push to jumpstart economies » More states continue to slowly reopen for business. Florida is among the latest states to roll back restrictions. Governor Ron DeSantis told reporters…

DESANTIS: I announced today on Monday as part of Phase One, we’re going to begin doing our state parks so people can go. Now there’s obviously going to continue to be social distancing. We don’t want to have big crowds. But if you’re going out there with your family, that’s a healthy thing to do. 

Dine-in restaurants and many retail locations can also begin reopening today, but only at 25 percent capacity, and with other precautions. But that reopening will exclude three counties in South Florida, which have been hardest-hit by the virus. 

And over the weekend, restaurants, stores and other businesses reopened in more than a dozen states under strict conditions. 

Among the restaurant chains reopening in numerous states are Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and Longhorn Steakhouse as well as Dickey’s Pit BBQ. And the company’s CEO Laura Rey Dickey, said it’s taking safety seriously. 

DICKEY’S: You should see that we are prepared. You should see hand sanitizer stations by the doors. You should see that tables are set, but again, only at 25 percent here in Texas. 

Each state is moving at its own speed and with its own restrictions to avoid another spike in infections. But the reopenings on Friday marked the single biggest one-day push yet to jumpstart state economies. 

Demonstrators gather at Michigan capital in defiance of lockdown » Michigan is not among the states moving to reopen. And over the weekend, large crowds of protesters gathered outside the state Capitol to protest lockdown orders. Hundreds of protesters ignored social distancing guidelines in defiance of Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who extended the emergency stay-at-home order. 

White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx reacted to the protests on Fox News Sunday. 

BIRX: It’s devastatingly worrisome to me personally, because if they go home and infect their grandmother or grandfather, who has a co-morbid condition, and they have a serious or very unfortunate outcome, they will feel guilty for the rest of our lives. 

Birx added “We need to protect each other at the same time we’re voicing our discontent.”

Michigan has enforced some of the strictest coronavirus safety measures in the country. But protesters have gathered at other state’s capitals as well. 

FDA approves remdesivir for emergency use » The Food and Drug Administration has given Gilead Sciences the green light to distribute the drug remdesivir to patients with serious COVID-19 illnesses. 

FDA Administrator Daniel O’Day made the announcement over the weekend. 

O’DAY: We authorized Gilead’s application for emergency use authorization for the use of remdesivir in hospitalized patients. 

For now, the intravenous drug will be limited to patients with a critical need, such as those on ventilators or with other severe breathing problems. 

A recent NIH study revealed that the drug appears to help some people recover faster. In the study of more than a thousand hospitalized patients, participants recovered 31 percent faster. 

Intel report details China’s coronavirus coverup » A group of intelligence agencies from five countries authored a scathing memo about the Chinese government’s coverup of the coronavirus. 

The group known as “Five Eyes” includes intel officials from the United States, Canada, the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand. The Daily Telegraph obtained the 15-page dossier on Saturday, which lays out the case against the ruling Chinese Communist Party. 

Among the key findings, the dossier notes: 

The “deadly denial of human-to-human transmission,” destruction of evidence from laboratories … and the government’s refusal to let international scientists in to investigate the origin of the virus. 

It also notes that China has refused to provide live virus samples to outside scientists working on a vaccine. And some of the Chinese doctors, scientists, and activists who spoke out about the virus have been punished or have disappeared

On ABC’s This Week on Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ramped up criticism of China. 

POMPEO: Remember, China has a history of infecting the world. And they have a history of running substandard laboratories. These are not the first times that we’ve had a world exposed to viruses as the result of failures in a Chinese lab. 

He acknowledged that the intelligence community is not yet certain that the coronavirus came from a lab in Wuhan, China. But he said there is a—quote—“significant amount of evidence” that it did. 

He did stress that he had no reason to believe that the virus was deliberately spread. But he added that Chinese leaders clearly and “intentionally concealed the severity” of the outbreak.  

North, South Korean troops exchange fire after Kim reemerges » North and South Korean troops exchanged fire along their border on Sunday. It was the first such incident since the countries took unprecedented steps to ease tensions in 2018. It didn’t cause any known casualties on either side. 

South Korean officials said troops from the North fired several bullets at a guard post inside the border zone. South Korea responded with a total of 20 rounds of warning shots on two occasions and issued a warning broadcast.

The U.S. government believes North Korea’s firing to be accidental. 

The exchange of fire came a day after North Korean state news broadcast video of leader Kim Jong Un reappearing in public after a 20-day absence.

AUDIO: [Sound of North Korean news broadcast]

Kim reportedly attended a ceremony marking the completion of a fertilizer factory near Pyongyang. The video showed Kim smiling and walking around the facilities, ending weeks of speculation about his health and rumors of his death.

(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon) People watch a TV showing an image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, May 2, 2020. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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