March 31, 2020

Three-quarters of Americans have been urged or ordered to stay at home, to the extent possible, to stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, and those measures appear to be working, The New York Times reports, citing data from internet-connected thermometer company Kinsa. The thermometers and their app upload temperature readings to a centralized database, allowing Kinsa to track fevers across the country. It started mapping fevers to catch flu outbreaks in 2018, and it modified its software to look for "atypical" COVID-19 fevers earlier in March.

Kinsa's million-plus thermometers have been recording up to 162,000 readings from around the U.S. each day since the coronavirus started spreading, the Times reports. Only strict social-distancing measures — closing bars and restaurants, asking people to shelter in place — led to a significant drop in fever readings, while declaring a state of emergency or limiting the size of public gatherings had little effect. Data from New York and Washington State's health departments have buttressed Kinsa's findings, showing drops in hospitalizations a few days after Kinsa spotted the falloff in fevers.

The Kinsa readings certainly look "like a way to prove that social distancing works," Dr. William Schaffner at Vanderbilt University tells the Times. "But it does shows that it takes the most restrictive measures to make a real difference." Kinsa data appears to show that social distancing is also reducing transmission of the seasonal flu.

"People need to know their sacrifices are helping," Kinsa founder Inder Singh tells the Times. "I've had friends text or call and say: 'Inder, this seems overblown. I'm sitting at home by myself, I don't know anyone who's sick, why am I doing this?'" Read more about the fever mapping at The New York Times. Peter Weber

9:01 p.m.

Once on the brink of extinction, California condors were seen soaring over Sequoia National Park in May, the first time the endangered bird has been spotted there in five decades.

The California condor is North America's largest land bird, with a 9.5-foot wingspan. By 1982, lead poisoning had killed off most of the population, leaving about 25 condors in the wild. To try to keep the condor from going extinct, the wild birds were captured and put into breeding programs at the San Diego Wild Animal Park and Los Angeles Zoo. In 1992, condors were released into the wild at Southern California's Los Padres National Forest, and there are now about 100 birds in this flock.

At least six condors were seen at Sequoia National Park in late May, wildlife officials said on Tuesday — four in the Giant Forest and two near Moro Rock. California condors are known to nest in sequoia tree cavities, and biologist Dave Meyer told the Los Angeles Times he was excited to see them in an "important historic habitat." Researchers use GPS transmitters to track the condors, giving them insight into their nesting and feeding habits.

The condor sighting is "evidence of continued recovery of the species," Tyler Coleman, a wildlife biologist with Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, told the Times. It took "decades for the population to recover to the point where they were being seen in locations far beyond their release site," he said, and "arrival in Sequoia is good evidence that they are utilizing and occupying habitat where they once lived. It is an important milestone." Catherine Garcia

7:42 p.m.

A Wonder Years revival is coming to ABC, 27 years after the show ended its six-season run.

The Wonder Years told the story of suburban teenager Kevin Arnold and his middle-class family in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The reboot will feature a Black family in Montgomery, Alabama, in the 1960s, The Hollywood Reporter says. The goal is for the show to start airing during the 2021-22 television season.

Lee Daniels will serve as an executive producer, with Big Bang Theory and Frasier's Saladin K. Patterson writing the script. The Wonder Years co-creator Neal Marlens has signed on as a consultant, while the show's original star, Fred Savage, will executive produce and direct. Catherine Garcia

6:50 p.m.

The Ivy League on Wednesday suspended all fall sports because of the coronavirus pandemic, becoming the first Division I conference to do so.

The decision affects football, soccer, field hockey, volleyball, and cross country, and could influence other leagues as they decide how to proceed with sports during the pandemic. The Ivy League Council of Presidents said in a statement its leaders did not think they could "create and maintain an environment for intercollegiate athletic competition that meets our requirements for safety and acceptable levels of risk."

The New York Times reports all sports will be on hold until at least January, and the league has yet to determine whether fall sports might be moved to the spring. Princeton football Coach Bob Surace told the Times he's hopeful his team will be able to play in early 2021, but that can only happen if there are better treatments and people take social distancing measures seriously. Catherine Garcia

5:40 p.m.

President Trump's campaign rally at a Tulsa, Oklahoma, stadium in late June "likely contributed" to a big jump in new COVID-19 cases, Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said Wednesday.

"In the past few days, we've seen almost 500 new cases, and we had several large events just over two weeks ago, so I guess we just connect the dots," Dart said in explaining the case surge. The city saw a record high of 261 new cases on Monday, and another 206 on Tuesday. Several Trump campaign staffers tested positive for COVID-19 before the event, and a reporter who attended the rally and Trump campaign surrogate Herman Cain tested positive after it. Oklahoma is among several southern and western states that have seen massive rises in new coronavirus cases in recent weeks after many of them moved to reopen businesses.

Trump is set to have another rally this weekend in New Hampshire, where case counts have been steadily declining. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) has encouraged rally attendees to wear masks. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:29 p.m.

Newly-released transcripts of Minneapolis police body camera footage filed in state court Tuesday shed more light on the final moments before Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who faces second-degree murder and manslaughter charges, killed George Floyd in May. The transcripts were filed as part of an effort by another officer, Thomas Lane, to have charges that he aided and abetted Floyd's murder thrown out, The New York Times reports.

One of the more harrowing moments in the transcripts occurs when Floyd, who was arrested on suspicion of using counterfeit money at a nearby store, was on the ground with Chauvin's knee on his neck pleading for his life, a scene captured on video by a passerby. The new transcripts reveal that after Floyd said the officers were going to kill him, Chauvin responded by telling him to "stop talking, stop yelling, it takes a heck of a lot of oxygen to talk."

Later, Lane, who was helping Chauvin restrain Floyd, said he was worried Floyd was having a medical emergency. "Well, that's why we got the ambulance coming," Chauvin replied, as shown in one of the transcripts. Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

5:16 p.m.

The Biden-Sanders Unity Task force, a team of supporters of former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) campaigns, issued recommendations for the Democratic Party platform in a 110-page document Wednesday. Here are six of their most notable recommendations on the topics of climate change, criminal justice reform, the economy, education, health care, and immigration.

1. Carbon-free electricity generation by 2035. The climate change committee led by former Secretary of State John Kerry and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) recommends "Democrats commit to eliminating carbon pollution from power plants by 2035."

2. Decriminalizing marijuana. The criminal justice task force stops short of recommending federal legalization of recreational marijuana, but leaves that decision up to individual states. "All past criminal convictions for cannabis use should be automatically expunged," the committee continues.

3. Black unemployment and homeownership. The economy committee, headed by potential Biden running mate Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), recommends a broad re-evaluation of how slavery and Jim Crow segregation "continues to impact the economic prospects of Black Americans today." That includes a focus on the "extreme gap in household wealth" between white people and people of color.

4. Student loan relief. Democrats would pause payments and interest accrual on federal student loans when a person is making less than $25,000 a year. "After 20 years, remaining federal student loan debt should be automatically forgiven," the education committee recommends.

5. A COVID-19 health insurance plan. "A platinum-level, federally administered health insurance option with low fees and no deductibles" should be available on the marketplace until the pandemic ends and unemployment significantly falls, the health care committee said.

6. Protect TPS and DED immigrants from deportation. "Law-abiding" recipients of Temporary Protective Status and Deferred Enforced Departure — programs President Trump has sought to shrink — should not be "sent back to countries where they cannot live safely," the immigration committee suggests. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:42 p.m.

Facebook has removed dozens of pages and accounts linked to President Trump's longtime adviser Roger Stone for inauthentic behavior.

The company on Wednesday said it took down 54 Facebook accounts, 50 pages, and four Instagram accounts "involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior" and that an investigation linked this network of pages and accounts to Stone and his associates, CNN reports.

Those involved use fake accounts "to pose as residents of Florida, post, and comment on their own content to make it appear more popular than it is," including posts about Stone and "his pages, websites, books, and media appearances," as well as WikiLeaks, the 2016 election, and Stone's trial, Facebook said. This network also spent about $300,000 on Facebook and Instagram ads.

Facebook also took down Stone's Instagram account as part of its removal effort, CNN reports. Facebook's head of security policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, told The Washington Post that Stone's personal accounts were "deeply enmeshed in the activity here." Some of the pages were linked to the Proud Boys, the far-right group that Facebook previously banned, the company said.

Stone, who was convicted last year of witness tampering and lying to investigators, as well as other charges, told The New York Times on Wednesday that "the claim that I have utilized or control unauthorized or fake accounts on any platform is categorically and provably false." He's set to report to prison next week. Brendan Morrow

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