Tuesday morning news – May 12, 2020


Trump touts coronavirus testing gains » At the White house on Monday, President Trump and top health officials said the country is on track to provide all the COVID-19 testing needed to reboot the economy. 

TRUMP: In the span of just a few short months, we’ve developed a testing capacity unmatched and unrivaled anywhere in the world. 

The president also announced $11 billion in new funding to states and Native American tribes to pay for testing. 

Assistant Health Secretary Admiral Brett Giroir serves as the administration’s testing czar. He said the country has now produced more than 9-million tests and leads the world by a wide margin, both in the number of total tests and testing per capita. Giroir also said the percentage of positive tests is dropping. 

GIROIR: In 31 states as of last night, the positivity rate is less than 10 percent, which is not a litmus test but is a good idea that we’re doing plenty enough testing that we can enter Phase One for careful reopening. 

But President Trump also faced questions from reporters about whether the White House’s own testing protocols are working after the vice president’s press secretary tested positive. The president and Vice President Pence have since tested negative. 

Pence returned to work at the White House Monday but kept his distance from staffers. Several top health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci and CDC Director Robert Redfield are self-isolating for two weeks as a precaution. 

Retail chains begin phased reopening » And as more states reopen, numerous retail chains are working to open up while implementing new safety measures. WORLD’s Leigh Jones reports. 

LEIGH JONES, REPORTER: Department stores beginning a phased reopening include Nordstrom, Macy’s, Kohls  and Gap, along with its subsidiaries like Old Navy. And all have announced new measures to safeguard employees and customers. 

Nordstrom plans to clean fitting rooms between each use, and customers can only pay with cards, not cash. 

Both Gap and Kohls will temporarily close all fitting rooms and restrooms, and supply employees with face masks. 

And all of those stores plan to ramp up cleaning and sanitation, install plexiglass barriers at registers and take steps to limit crowds inside their stores.  

Best Buy is also opening some locations this month. Customers can purchase items for curbside pickup and can make appointments for in-store consultations. 

And a select number of Apple stores are reopening in four states. Employees will check customers’ temperatures and limit traffic. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Leigh Jones. 

Uber lays off 3,500 employees amid coronavirus slowdown » Ride sharing company Uber is laying off 3,500 employees as fewer people are taking trips amid COVID-19 lockdowns. 

Uber executive Ruffin Chavaleau delivered the news during a Zoom online teleconference. 

She noted that “right now, the rides business is down by more than half” and she said for now, Uber will have to become a smaller company.

AUDIO: Today will be your last working day with Uber. I know that this is incredibly hard to hear. No one wants to be on a call like this. 

She added—quote—“You will remain on payroll until the date noted in your severance package.”

The cuts affected customer support employees around the world. A company filing last week noted Uber is cutting about 14 percent of its workforce. 

Georgia’s attorney general asks for DOJ’s help investigating Arbery case » Georgia’s attorney general has asked the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the handling of the killing of an African American man. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has that story. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Twenty-five-year-old Ahmaud Arbery was fatally shot in the coastal town of Brunswick in February, but no arrests were made until this month. That’s when a video surfaced that appeared to show the shooting. It sparked national outrage. 

Attorney General Chris Carr said in a statement, “The family, the community and the state of Georgia deserve answers, and we will work with others in law enforcement at the state and federal level to find those answers.”

Shortly after the video became public, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation arrested 64-year-old Gregory McMichael and his 34-year-old son Travis McMichael. They are charged with murder and aggravated assault. 

The father and son said they thought Arbery matched the description of a burglary suspect. And Travis McMichael claims he fired in self-defense. 

The Department of Justice said Monday that it’s weighing possible federal hate crimes charges. Both suspects are white.

It’s also considering a request to investigate how local police and prosecutors handled the case. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Jerry Stiller dies » Actor and comedian Jerry Stiller has died. Stiller was best known for his roles as the basement-dwelling father-in-law on The King of Queens and as Frank Costanza on the sitcom Seinfeld.

SEINFELD: Many Christmases ago I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him I realized there had to be another way. What happened to the doll? It was destroyed. 

Jerry Stiller also appeared in an assortment of movies, including The Taking of Pelham One Two Three and Hairspray.

His son, actor Ben Stiller announced his death Monday. He said his father died of natural causes at the age of 92. 

He added that his father “was a great dad and grandfather and the most dedicated husband” to his wife Anne for more than 60 years.


(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) President Donald Trump speaks during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House, Saturday, April 18, 2020, in Washington. 

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