August 7, 2020

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has given all schools in the state the authorization to reopen.

"By our infection rates, all school districts can open, everywhere in the state," Cuomo said on Friday. "Every region is below the threshold that we established, which is just great news."

School districts in New York have to submit reopening plans to the Department of Health and the State Education Department, and these plans can be disapproved "if they're not responsible," Cuomo explained. To reopen in person, the region a school is in must have an average COVID-19 positivity rate of less than five percent, according to The New York Times. The Times notes this announcement doesn't mean all schools will ultimately reopen in person, but they have the clearance from the governor to do so.

New York during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic was the hardest-hit state in the United States, in April reaching a peak of more than 11,000 new cases in a single day. Since then, its daily number of new cases and deaths has come down, and its infection rate this week fell below one percent. Cuomo says the state will continue to monitor the infection rate in the coming weeks before schools would reopen and could adjust the plan should there be a spike.

But at this time, the governor said, "you look at our infection rate, we are probably in the best situation in the country right now, as incredible as that is. So if anybody can open schools, we can open schools." Brendan Morrow

7:02 p.m.

On Wednesday, six rockets landed near Erbil International Airport in northern Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdistan region, the Ministry of Interior of the Kurdistan Regional Government announced, and a U.S. defense official told CNN there are initial indications that three of the rockets hit a base housing U.S. troops.

There are no reports of U.S. injuries, CNN reports, but the official called the attack "troubling" because of the number of rockets fired and the possibility that several of the rockets were larger than those typically used.

The Ministry of Interior said the rockets were fired from the direction of Sheikh Amir, a town in Nineveh province that is controlled by Hashad al Shabbi, a predominantly Shia paramilitary force.

Prime Minister of Kurdistan Region of Iraq Masrour Barzani tweeted that "the KRG will not tolerate any attempt to undermine Kurdistan's stability and our response will be robust. I have spoken to the Prime Minister of Iraq, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, on the importance of holding the perpetrators accountable." Catherine Garcia

5:57 p.m.

The NBA Finals are always high stakes, but there are several storylines behind the seven game series between the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat that tips off Wednesday night that could turn it into a particularly memorable showdown.

Friends-turned-nemeses — LeBron James will don the Lakers purple and gold against the Heat, whom he helped lead to back-to-back titles during his four-year stint in South Beach that ended in 2014. James' decision to leave the Heat and return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who drafted him 2003, was received warmly around the league and paid off when he won he brought a ring to Ohio in 2016, but Miami fans still have a sour taste in their mouths, and James' relationship with Heat president, Pat Riley, has reportedly diminished after the abrupt departure. James has downplayed the personal aspect of the series, but there is history there.

It's about time — Most franchises wouldn't be too concerned about a 10-year gap between Finals appearances, but the Lakers are different. They've been to 32 Finals throughout their history, the most of any team in the NBA, but it's been a decade since they made it this far and won their last championship behind the late Kobe Bryant, whose presence will certainly loom over the series.

Legacies — Any postseason series James plays in at this point in his Hall of Fame career has an affect on his legacy, but securing another ring would go a long way. James has made nine of the last 10 NBA finals, including this year's, but some of his critics still knock him for going 3-6 in his previous appearances. A title would also likely throw James' co-star Anthony Davis into a conversation about the best big men of all time. On the Miami side, Erik Spoelstra is continuing to cement himself as one of the league's great coaches, and their leader Jimmy Butler is trying to establish that he's capable of being the centerpiece on a title-winning team. Tim O'Donnell

5:27 p.m.

Another study is warning against President Trump's debunked coronavirus treatment.

Despite being studied as an early coronavirus treatment, studies have found the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine ineffective and even dangerous when used to fight coronavirus. A study published Wednesday added to that evidence, finding that the drug was ineffective in preventing health care workers from contracting coronavirus.

For the study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania focused on 125 health care workers. Some of them received hydroxychloroquine for eight weeks from April to July, while others got a placebo. Throughout that time, four of the 64 workers who got the drug ended up with COVID-19, while four of the 61 who got the placebo did as well. Six of those who tested positive developed coronavirus symptoms, but none needed to be hospitalized. As a result, the researchers said they "cannot recommend the routine use of hydroxychloroquine" to prevent infections among health care workers.

In June, a clinical trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine also showed hydroxychloroquine wasn't effective in preventing coronavirus infections after exposure to the virus. The FDA has since removed its emergency use authorization for the drug as a coronavirus treatment, and in July it released a study showing how the drug could cause serious side effects in hospitalized patients. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:03 p.m.

Fox News' Chris Wallace received mixed reviews for his performance as the moderator for the first 2020 presidential debate. Some analysts blamed him for failing to keep things under control, while others believe he did the best he could. For his part, Wallace said he's "just sad with the way" it all turned out.

In an interview with The New York Times, Wallace spoke candidly about the situation, admitting that he felt desperate while trying to prevent the candidates from interrupting each other. He also said he didn't realize until it was too late that President Trump wasn't planning to stop ignoring the ground rules (Wallace refused to say whether Trump deserved the primary blame for how things unfolded). "I never dreamt that it would go off the tracks the way it did," he told the Times, adding that, despite his lengthy journalism career, "I've never been through anything like this."

Afterwards, Wallace had no desire to celebrate, though he did reluctantly accept a glass of champagne from his producers at the airport. He said he's "been involved in a certain amount of soul-searching" since returning home. Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

4:51 p.m.

Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) never wastes an opportunity to roast a CEO.

On Wednesday, three pharmaceutical executives, including former Celgene CEO Mark Alles, testified on drug pricing for the House Oversight Committee. While at the company, Alles saw a massive increase in the price of the cancer drug Revlimid — and Porter broke down just what it got Alles in return.

Porter started her takedown by asking Alles if he knew what a Revlimid pill cost in 2005: $215, she reminded him with the help of a whiteboard. And by the time Alles left the company late last year, after its sale to Bristol-Myers Squibb, a single Revlimid pill cost $763. "Did the drug get substantially more effective in that time? Did cancer patients need fewer pills?" Porter questioned, trying to figure out why Celgene upped the price. Alles answered by saying Revlimid proved effective in more patients. "So you discovered more patients who might benefit from paying $763 a pill?" Porter rhetorically responded, outlining how the average senior in her district couldn't even afford one pill.

Porter then moved on to tear apart the $13 million Alles made in 2017 as Celgene's CEO. "It's 200 times the average American's income and 360 times what the average senior makes on Social Security," Porter noted. She then reminded Alles just how he made "half a million dollars, personally, just by tripling the price of Revlimid." "The drug didn't get any better, the cancer patients didn't get any better, you just got better at making money," Porter concluded. Watch her questioning below. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:36 p.m.

Meet the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Kamala Khan.

Marvel Studios has cast newcomer Iman Vellani as the title character in the upcoming Disney+ show Ms. Marvel, Deadline and The Hollywood Reporter reported on Wednesday. Vellani in playing Pakistani-American teenager Kamala Khan will be portraying the Marvel Cinematic Universe's first Muslim superhero.

Kamala Khan, who draws inspiration from Captain Marvel, became Marvel's first Muslim character with her own comic in 2014, and the Reporter notes her comics are known for "exploring Kamala's identity as a Pakistani American living in a religious family while trying to find her own way." Vellani isn't an established actor, and in fact, according to Deadline, this is her first role in a major Hollywood production. She was previously a part of the Toronto International Film Festival's Next Wave Committee made up of "young film enthusiasts," and in a Q&A for the TIFF website, asked what character she'd play in a movie, she responded, "Iron Man ... duh."

In addition to starring on her own Disney+ show, Ms. Marvel is expected to appear in upcoming Marvel movies as well. Kumail Nanjiani, who's set to star in Marvel's Eternals, congratulated Vellani on Wednesday, tweeting, "Your work is going to mean so much to so many people, myself included." Needless to say, you may not have heard the name Iman Vellani prior to today, but in the years ahead, get ready to hear it a whole lot more. Brendan Morrow

3:41 p.m.

In an attempt to clarify comments he made during Tuesday night's president debate, President Trump said Wednesday at the White House that he doesn't know who the Proud Boys are, but added that they should "stand down" and let law enforcement do their jobs.

Trump sparked bipartisan criticism during the debate when moderator Chris Wallace asked him if he was willing to denounce far-right and white supremacist groups. Trump asked who he should specifically address, and when the Proud Boys — a far-right group designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center — were suggested, he told them "to stand down and stand by," which members quickly adopted as a rallying cry.

The president's aides argued he didn't need to clarify anything since he was trying to tell the group to "get out of the way," but Trump added a new wrinkle to the situation by claiming ignorance. His critics aren't taking him for his word since he has a history of saying he doesn't know who people are when his connections to them are called into question, like David Duke in 2016, and because he didn't need any clarification about the group before telling them what to do, which suggests awareness. But regardless of whether Trump knows who the Proud Boys are, he seems to have deliberately dropped "stand by" from his rhetoric. Tim O'Donnell

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