WATCH: President Trump Invokes the Defense Production Act

After weeks of his critics demanding that he use the Defense Production Act, President Donald Trump announced that he would use the act to order General Motors to manufacture ventilators.

“Today, I signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to use any and all authority available under the Defense Production Act to require General Motors to accept, perform, and prioritize federal contracts for ventilators,” Trump said in a statement on Friday.

Earlier on Friday the president signaled that he was close to issuing the order when he tweeted about GM and their negotiations with the federal government. . .

The Trump administration has been criticized by some for what appears to be a lack of medical equipment to tackle the pandemic that was months in coming. The administration has argued that previous administrations, both the Obama and the last Bush administration, are to blame for the shortages. (Read more from “WATCH: President Trump Invokes the Defense Production Act” HERE)

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This State Is Not Putting up With Gun Shops Being Closed

By The Blaze. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a letter warning city and county officials that they did not have the authority to shut down gun shops in Texas over the coronavirus pandemic. . .

Paxton outlined the Texas law that governed the power of local governments over firearms sales in his letter and came to a stern conclusion.

“Thus, although section 418.108 of the Government Code may generally allow municipal and county officials to ‘control the movement of persons and the occupancy of premises’ in a local disaster area, notwithstanding that general authority, emergency orders from local officials may not relate to the transfer, possession, ownership or sale of firearms,” he wrote.

Paxton goes on to assert that local authorities do have the right to regulate use of firearms, but that does not extend to the sale or transfer of firearms. (Read more from “This State Is Not Putting up With Gun Shops Being Closed” HERE)

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Guns and Ammo Sales, Pistol Permit Applications Soar in NC Amid Coronavirus Anxiety

By The News Observer. Just after 10 a.m. Tuesday more than 100 people were either inside or lining up outside Perry’s Gun Shop in Wendell, the store’s owner said.

Nearly half were in the store, where owner Berry Perry said he was trying to enforce social distancing.

“I am trying to limit the number of people in the store to recognize the six-foot safety limit,” he said.

The gun store, which is selling hundreds of firearms a day, is one of many across the Triangle and the nation seeing business surge as new and existing gun owners clear shelves of guns and ammunition amid the uncertainty of the novel coronavirus’ impact on the community and supply chains. (Read more from “Guns and Ammo Sales, Pistol Permit Applications Soar in NC Amid Coronavirus Anxiety” HERE)

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Which World Leaders, U.S. Politicians Have Tested Positive or Been Exposed to the Coronavirus?

By Fox News. As world leaders race to respond to the global coronavirus pandemic, government leaders and politicians — in the United States, Europe and elsewhere — have contracted the novel COVID-19 virus. . .

Prince Charles, the next in line for the British throne, tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday, March 25, sending shockwaves through the Royal Family. . .

Earlier this month, there were fears President Trump had been exposed to the virus — after a Brazilian press secretary who attended an event at Mar-a-Lago tested positive for COVID-19 days later. And, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., both quarantined themselves after coming in contact with someone at the Conservative Political Action Conference in late February who later tested positive. . .

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, the wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, tested positive for the coronavirus on March 13 after returning from London. She and her husband separately began 14-day quarantine periods, BBC reported. Trudeau was not tested for COVID-19 and was expected to fulfill all job duties while working remotely. . .

Franck Riester, French minister of culture, and Brune Poirson, the secretary of state to the minister of ecological and inclusive transition, both tested positive for the coronavirus, according to Foreign Policy. Several lawmakers in the French National Assembly have also contracted COVID-19. (Read more from “Which World Leaders, U.S. Politicians Have Tested Positive or Been Exposed to the Coronavirus?” HERE)

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Boris Johnson Tests Positive for Coronavirus

By Washington Examiner. The prime minister of the United Kingdom tested positive for the coronavirus.

Boris Johnson, 55, announced on Friday he was self-isolating after contracting the COVID-19 virus, which has spread across the world.

“Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus. I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus. Together we will beat this,” he wrote in a tweet.

Johnson said he has a temperature and “persistent cough” but stressed that he can continue working.

“Be in no doubt that I can continue, thanks to the wizardry of modern technology, to communicate with all my top team to lead the national fight back against coronavirus,” he said. (Read more from “Boris Johnson Tests Positive for Coronavirus” HERE)

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More Than 400,000 Jobs Available as Coronavirus Prods People to Stock up on Necessities and Order Takeout

By Washington Examiner. The outbreak of the coronavirus across the United States has shuttered whole industries. Still, demand for essentials, such as food, toilet paper, and even pizza delivery, has increased hiring by over 400,000 jobs as people shelter in their homes and stock up on necessities.

Walmart, the largest employer in the U.S., wants to hire an additional 150,000 temporary workers by the end of May to meet the increase in demand at its stores. However, those temporary jobs could become permanent. , ,

The company will also implement a new process to expedite hiring dramatically for critical roles, such as cashiers and stockers. What is usually a two-week application cycle will be reduced to a 24-hour process.

Walmart looks to hire people who have been recently laid off because of the pandemic, said its president and CEO, Doug McMillon. . .

Amazon seeks to hire an additional 100,000 full- and part-time workers to keep up with e-commerce demand. It plans to invest over $350 million worldwide, which would include pay increases of $2 per hour for U.S. employees who work in its fulfillment centers, transportation operations, or stores, or those making deliveries so that others can remain at home. (Read more from “More Than 400,000 Jobs Available as Coronavirus Prods People to Stock up on Necessities and Order Takeout” HERE)

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Coronavirus Job Losses Hit These States the Hardest, According to Record Unemployment Claims

By Yahoo. The impact of the economic shutdown in the U.S. caused by the COVID-19 pandemic was revealed Thursday when the latest tally of Americans applying for unemployment benefits spiked to 3.28 million — the largest number ever recorded in history.

That weekly number quadruples the prior record and dwarfs, by far, the largest halt to employment seen during the 2008 financial crisis. Single weekly jobless claim numbers never topped 700,000, until now.

But digging further into the disastrous 3.28 million headline number reveals a slowdown that hit some states harder than others, and reveals why President Trump might be so eager to see businesses reopen in some communities sooner rather than later.

Key swing states, which Trump won by the slimmest margins in 2016, showed some of the largest percentage increases in unemployment applications for the week ending March 21. Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania each reported a jump in weekly unemployment applications that surpassed 2,300%.

On a percentage basis, New Hampshire suffered the worst spike in unemployment claims, up more than 3,300% from just 641 claims the week prior to top 21,000 weekly claims at last clip. Conversely, Utah, which hasn’t been hit with as many reported cases of coronavirus as other states, only saw jobless claims rise by less than 1%. (Read more from “Coronavirus Job Losses Hit These States the Hardest, According to Record Unemployment Claims” HERE)

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Mexicans Demand Crackdown on Americans Crossing the Border

By BBC News. Mexican protesters have shut a US southern border crossing amid fears that untested American travellers will spread coronavirus.

Residents in Sonora, south of the US state of Arizona, have promised to block traffic into Mexico for a second day after closing a checkpoint for hours on Wednesday.

They wore face masks and held signs telling Americans to “stay at home”.

Mexico has fewer than 500 confirmed Covid-19 cases and the US over 65,000.

The border is supposed to be closed to all except “essential” business, but protesters said there has been little enforcement and no testing by authorities. (Read more from “Mexicans Demand Crackdown on Americans Crossing the Border” HERE)

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Protesters in Mexico Block Lanes at Arizona Border Crossing to Demand Stricter Coronavirus Screenings

By USA Today. Protesters on the Mexican side of the border blocked the Mexico-bound lanes in the twin border cities of Ambos Nogales for several hours Wednesday to express their displeasure with the Mexican government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The protesters demanded greater controls and screenings on southbound traffic at the U.S.-Mexico border out of concern that travelers from the U.S. could import new cases of the coronavirus into Mexico.

Less than a dozen people wearing face masks and carrying signs used two of their vehicles for a blockade of the two southbound lanes at the DeConcini crossing, several hundred feet into the Mexican side of the border, video taken by Mexican media showed.

Some of the signs asked U.S. residents to “stay at home.” Others called on Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to step up controls and restrictions along the U.S.-Mexico border to contain the spread of COVID-19. (Read more from “Protesters in Mexico Block Lanes at Arizona Border Crossing to Demand Stricter Coronavirus Screenings” HERE)

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WATCH: Sleepy Joe’s Latest Shadow Briefing Goes Worse Than the First

Following Biden’s “Virtual Happy Hour” which my colleague, Bonchie, posted on here, the former Vice President decided to resume his shadow briefings on the Chinese virus on Wednesday. He wants to show Americans how a real president would handle this crisis. (He decided to skip Tuesday’s briefing. I suppose he was worn out after three ten minute interviews he’d given earlier in the day from his home studio.)

Those who watched it said the presumptive Democratic nominee “devolved into gibberish” at times. In the clip below, Biden tells viewers, “I’m going to, Barack, significantly increase the number of pell grants that are out there. A pell grant is a family basically less than $50,000 you’re able to get at the time, it was less than six but it raised it to $6000.” . . .

Lloyd Constantine, a New York attorney and one-time senior policy advisor to former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, writes, “Biden is a melting ice cube. Those of us who have closely watched as time ravaged the once sharp or even brilliant minds of loved ones and colleagues, recognize what is happening to the good soldier Joe.” . . .

Biden’s decline over just the last week has been extraordinary. I don’t think it will be possible for the Democrats to keep this farce going until November. (Read more from “WATCH: Sleepy Joe’s Latest Shadow Briefing Goes Worse Than the First” HERE)

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U.S. is New Epicenter of the Coronavirus Pandemic, NYC’s Leaders to Blame?; Trump Administration to Publish Social Distancing Guidelines for Counties According to Risk

By Live Science. The coronavirus outbreak reached a somber milestone in the U.S. on Thursday (March 26) — the nation now has more coronavirus cases than any other country in the world.

There are now at least 82,174 cases of the new coronavirus disease, COVID-19, in the United States, according to worldometer, a website that tracks coronavirus cases. That’s higher than the case count in either Italy (which has 80,589 cases) or China (which has 81,285 cases). . .

Just a few days ago, the World Health Organization warned that the U.S. had the potential to become the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. (Read more from “U.S. Is New Epicenter of the Coronavirus Pandemic” HERE)

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Tucker Carlson Hammers New York’s Leaders, not Trump, for Spreading Chinese Virus

By Victor Garcia. Tucker Carlson focused the top of his Thursday show on New York City’s battle with the coronavirus, ripping city officials for increasing the “risk” for citizens and not taking the outbreak seriously in its early stages.

“As this deadly virus emerged from eastern China and began to spread inexorably across the globe, clearly headed here, leaders in New York not only failed to shield their citizens from it, they took affirmative and aggressive steps to increase the risk to their population,” Carlson said.

“Why would they do that? Well, because they were worried far more about being called racist than protecting human lives. That’s not an overstatement. That’s not hyperbole.”

Carlson criticized New York City health commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot, among others, who dismissed the incoming threat of the coronavirus in February.

“The risk to New Yorkers from coronavirus is low and … our preparedness as a city is very high,” Barbot said at a Feb. 2 press conference supporting the Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade and Festival. “There is no reason not to take the subway, not to take a bus, not to go out to your favorite restaurant and certainly not to miss the parade next Sunday [Feb. 9].” (Read more from this story HERE)
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Trump Administration to Publish Social Distancing Guidelines for Counties According to Risk

By The Blaze. President Donald Trump announced Thursday that his administration will roll out social distancing guidelines for state and local governments by categorizing counties according to their level of risk amid the coronavirus pandemic, in order to assist officials “in making decision about maintaining, increasing, or relaxing social distancing and other mitigation measures.” . . .

In a letter to the nation’s governors, the president wrote, ‘As we enhance protections against the virus, Americans across the country are hoping the day will soon arrive when they can resume their normal economic, social, and religious lives.”

“If furtherance of this shared goal,” President Trump continued, “my Administration is working to publish new guidelines for State and local policymakers to use in making decision about maintaining, increasing, or relaxing social distancing and other mitigation measures they have put in place.”

The president explained that this initiative can be achieved through the increased COVID-19 testing across the nation, providing data allowing the federal government to classify counties “with respect to continued risks posed by the virus” as the spread of the disease is monitored.

(Read more from “Trump Administration to Publish Social Distancing Guidelines for Counties According to Risk” HERE)

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Trump to Review Options to ‘Open the Country up’ as U.S. Coronavirus Cases Pass China, Italy

By CNBC. President Donald Trump will hear recommendations from the White House coronavirus task force this weekend on plans to “open the country up” as the economy continues to strain under the pandemic.

The new guidance on how to kickstart the economy will come days after the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. surpasses China or Italy, making it the country with the largest outbreak in the world.

Vice President Mike Pence told reporters at the White House on Thursday that the task force will share “a range of recommendations and additional guidance for going forward” with the next steps in its efforts to blunt the impact of the coronavirus.

“The president has made it clear, that in his words, he wants to open the country up. But we’re going to do that responsibly, and as the president told the governors today, we’ll do that based on the data,” said Pence, who leads the U.S. response to the outbreak. (Read more from “Trump to Review Options to ‘Open the Country up’ as U.S. Coronavirus Cases Pass China, Italy” HERE)

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Coronavirus Unemployment Benefits. Here’s Who Qualifies and How Much They Get.; A Record 3.3M Americans File for Unemployment Benefits

By NBC News. The coronavirus relief package dramatically expands unemployment insurance to for the jobless during the outbreak, aimed at easing the suffering imposed by the crisis as claims last week topped 3 million and shattered records.

The $2 trillion bill, which was passed the Senate and is set to be approved by the House on Friday, creates two main categories of benefits for individuals. The first is Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which covers people who are unable to work because of the coronavirus outbreak — that includes independent contractors, gig workers, sick people and those caring for a loved one during the outbreak. The second is an extra $600 per week over the next four months for those who are out of work and getting jobless benefits in their state. . .

Once you’re on unemployment insurance in your state, you will be eligible for an extra $600 per week in emergency federal compensation through July 31, 2020. That’s in addition to what you’ll receive in state benefits. . .

This bill creates a new program, called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, that extends benefits to gig workers, contractors and others who wouldn’t otherwise qualify for unemployment compensation but cannot work due to the coronavirus emergency. You’ll get the $600 per week, plus half the average unemployment benefit in your state. . .

In most states, people who lose their job can typically get up to 26 weeks of unemployment, and then it stops, even if you haven’t found a new job. This bill will provide another 13 weeks once it runs out. After those 39 weeks, if an “extended benefits” program is triggered, that can provide an additional 13 to 20 weeks of compensation. (Read more from “Coronavirus Unemployment Benefits. Here’s Who Qualifies and How Much They Get.” HERE)

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A Record 3.3M Americans File for Unemployment Benefits as the Coronavirus Takes a Big Toll on the Economy

By USA Today. Layoffs are skyrocketing to unprecedented levels as the coronavirus upends the U.S. economy.

The number of Americans filing initial applications for unemployment benefits jumped nearly twelvefold to a record 3.28 million last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, offering the most vivid evidence yet of the pandemic’s widespread damage to the economy.

The total was well above the 1.5 million claims economists forecast, according to the median estimate of those surveyed by Bloomberg. Workers file claims for unemployment benefits when they lose their jobs.

“A definite and unmistakable sign the United States has entered a recession,” Chief Economist Scott Anderson of Bank of the West wrote in a note to clients.

The pandemic has set off the most abrupt near-shutdown of the economy in history. Many restaurants, shops, movie theaters, sports arenas and other gathering spots across the country suddenly closed their doors or scaled back service last week to contain the spread of the virus. (Read more from “A Record 3.3M Americans File for Unemployment Benefits as the Coronavirus Takes a Big Toll on the Economy” HERE)

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Grocery Store Throws out $35,000 Worth of Food It Says Woman Deliberately Coughed on; What Grocery Stores Are Doing to Protect Workers During Coronavirus Outbreak

By Washington Post. The past few weeks have been tough for Gerrity’s Supermarket, a small family-owned chain in northeastern Pennsylvania. Like grocers nationwide, it has been deluged with orders and has struggled to keep basics such as chicken breasts and toilet paper on the shelves. Employees have been working overtime, pausing only for five-second breaks to wipe everything down with disinfectant wipes.

Then, on Wednesday afternoon, a woman came in and deliberately coughed all over the produce section, meat case and bakery department, co-owner Joe Fasula said. The store had to throw away more than $35,000 worth of food. . .

With most other businesses shuttered in an attempt to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, grocery stores have found themselves on the front lines of the global pandemic. Numerous supermarket employees nationwide have already tested positive for covid-19, and fears about being exposed to the virus run rampant. Meanwhile, a disturbing trend has emerged: People deliberately coughing on workers, other shoppers or the food. (Read more from “Grocery Store Throws out $35,000 Worth of Food It Says Woman Deliberately Coughed on” HERE)

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What Grocery Stores Are Doing to Protect Workers During Coronavirus Outbreak

By New York Post. Grocery stores like ShopRite have taken drastic measures to help and protect their customers and workers from the coronavirus pandemic — from $2 pay raises to installing plexiglass sneeze guards, and now allowing workers to wear protective masks and gloves.

Grocery stores have mentioned Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines in notices on whether they would allow workers to wear masks. The CDC has told the public not to buy masks as medical workers worldwide face a massive shortage. The agency also says the fitted N95 masks require training to be worn properly. . .

ShopRite posted a notice inside at least one of its stores Thursday, which was obtained by The Post, noting that employees would be allowed to wear masks. . .

The powerful United Food and Commercial Workers International Union said in a press release that store employees represented by the union would get a 10 percent increase in pay during the coronavirus outbreak. Workers will also receive two additional weeks of paid leave if they become sick.

Whole Foods says on its website that the company has adjusted its hours, is providing a $2 pay bump and unlimited call outs for sick workers, and all team members placed into quarantine or diagnosed with COVID-19 will receive up to an additional two weeks of paid time off, as announced by its parent company, Amazon. (Read more from “What Grocery Stores Are Doing to Protect Workers During Coronavirus Outbreak” HERE)

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FBI Agent Charged With Stalking Ex-Girlfriend

A Montana FBI agent has been charged with stalking his ex-girlfriend and obstructing officers investigating the case.

Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said Ricky James Shelbourn was arrested on the misdemeanor charges on March 16, the Independent Record reported Monday.

Shelbourn, the supervisory senior resident agent in Montana, was released on his own recognizance. He is not allowed to possess or have access to any firearms. (Read more from “FBI Agent Charged With Stalking Ex-Girlfriend” HERE)

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