Today’s update begins with some excellent news for the citizens of the tightly locked-down state of Michigan.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is lifting her state’s stay-at-home order beginning next week, which will ease restrictions placed on businesses and public gatherings.

Under the new guidelines, stores will be able to have customers without appointments and restaurants will be able to have customers dine in, but social distancing requirements remain in place requiring limited capacity. The state has noted that coronavirus cases and deaths have dropped more sharply and treatment capacities at hospitals and other health-care facilities have improved, among other criteria.

“While Michiganders are no longer required to stay home, we must all continue to be smart and practice social distancing, and encourage those who meet the criteria to get tested for COVID-19,” Whitmer said in a statement, as The Associated Press reported.

Whitmer moved 93 percent of the state into “phase four” of the reopening plan, with hopes to move to “phase five” by July 4. In addition to stores and restaurants being able to open up to customers, day camps and pools will be open as well.

Outdoor public gatherings, which had been limited to a maximum of 10 people, will now be allowed to have up to 100, as long as social distancing is practiced.

The reason for lessening these restrictions is apparent: It is hard to organize looting, rioting, and mayhem if the crowd size is less than 10.

What began as a peaceful Grand Rapids protest over national issues of police brutality ended in fires, looting, smashed windows and extensive damage in downtown Grand Rapids.

Several parked police cruisers were set on fire at one point, causing large booms as gas erupted.

…[B]y 8 p.m., hundreds of people had gathered on two sides of the Grand Rapids police station on Monroe Center NW and began shouting chants such as “no justice, no peace,” and “hands up, don’t shoot.” Several protesters stood toe-to-toe with police, now donned in riot gear, and shouted at officers.

At some point, some people began smashing windows. It seemed to embolden others to join in.

China delayed releasing coronavirus information, frustrating WHO

Internal documents that were obtained by the Associated Press show Chinese officials delayed releasing critical genomic information for a week during the early stages of the pandemic.

Throughout January, the World Health Organization publicly praised China for what it called a speedy response to the new coronavirus. It repeatedly thanked the Chinese government for sharing the genetic map of the virus “immediately,” and said its work and commitment to transparency were “very impressive, and beyond words.”

But behind the scenes, it was a much different story, one of significant delays by China and considerable frustration among WHO officials over not getting the information they needed to fight the spread of the deadly virus, The Associated Press has found.

Despite the plaudits, China in fact sat on releasing the genetic map, or genome, of the virus for more than a week after three different government labs had fully decoded the information. Tight controls on information and competition within the Chinese public health system were to blame, according to dozens of interviews and internal documents.

Chinese government labs only released the genome after another lab published it ahead of authorities on a virologist website on Jan. 11. Even then, China stalled for at least two weeks more on providing WHO with detailed data on patients and cases, according to recordings of internal meetings held by the U.N. health agency through January — all at a time when the outbreak arguably might have been dramatically slowed.

Pandemic may result in 50% hit to box office revenues this year

One of the hardest-hit industries in the wake of the pandemic may be the entertainment industry.

The coronavirus will slash box office revenues in half this year, and the pandemic is now poised to weaken the longtime status of movie theaters as destinations for first-run movies, according to an influential media analyst.

Revenue from ticket sales will plunge to $5.5 billion this year, down more than 50 percent from $11.4 billion in 2019, MoffettNathanson analyst Michael Nathanson predicted on Tuesday. The drop could get steeper if theaters don’t reopen in July and if summer blockbusters like Warner Bros.’ “Tenet,” set to debut July 17, or Disney’s “Mulan,” scheduled for July 24, get pushed back to later in the year.

The analyst predicted “a significant bounceback” in 2021 to $9.7 billion in ticket sales, partly because a better-looking crop of movies is slated for release next year. But he also noted that movie theaters can’t count on their exclusive 90-day window for new releases to remain intact.

New Jersey coronavirus infection rates have fallen substantially

The coronavirus infection rates were some of the highest in the nation, but they have fallen substantially.

New Jersey released new data Tuesday that shows the rate of reproduction of the coronavirus in the state has fallen steadily over the last few months — so much so that each new infection has led to fewer than one new case for weeks now.

That’s six times lower than the rate was 10 weeks ago, when the Garden State was placed under sweeping stay-at-home restrictions, Gov. Phil Murphy announced.

Each infected person in the Garden State, whether showing symptoms or not, spread to more than five others when Murphy issued his orders March 21. By April 14 — the state’s peak for hospitalizations — that rate has dropped to roughly 1-to-1, according to the state’s data. And it fell below 1-to-1 sometime before May 18.

“We have slowed this virus significantly,” Murphy said during his daily coronavirus briefing in Trenton.

 

 
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