13 things to know about coronavirus for today

There are more than 1.2 million confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., including at least 72,000 deaths.

Here’s what else you need to know today, from President Trump‘s decision to keep the coronavirus task force intact to more data on staggering job losses.

The Trump administration and Congress

  • President Trump on Wednesday said he backed off plans to dissolve the White House coronavirus task force following public outcry, saying he didn’t realize how “popular” the group of medical experts and government leaders was. Read more from Brett Samuels here.

  • Still, Trump blocked Anthony Fauci, a key member of the task force, from testifying at a House hearing on the country’s COVID-19 response, prompting bipartisan backlash. Read more from Jessie Hellmann here.

  • Congress is under the gun to pass yet another massive round of coronavirus relief, as funds for small business loans dry up, state budgets are ravaged and unemployment claims soar to record highs, Mike Lillis and Scott Wong report.

  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) predicted a “tidal wave” of lawsuits against small businesses could flood the courts if Congress doesn’t pass liability protection legislation. Liability protection is the GOP’s big ask in upcoming COVID response bills, but the proposal is strongly opposed by Democrats. Read more from Justine Coleman here. 

News from the states

  • Maryland’s coronavirus case numbers are trending in the right direction, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said Wednesday, and the first phase of the state’s plan to reopen could begin as soon as next week. Read more from Nathaniel Weixel here.

  • Republicans filed a lawsuit against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) on Wednesday after she extended Michigan’s state of emergency. State GOP lawmakers accused Whitmer of abusing her power by extending the order, a move they said only the state legislature could authorize. Tal Axelrod has the story here.

  • The Supreme Court denied a request to halt an order Pennsylvania’s governor entered in March to close businesses in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Read more from John Kruzel here.

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced he will be adding salons and barbershops to the list of businesses that will be able to reopen in the state this week after two state representatives from his own party got haircuts despite his orders amid the pandemic. Read more from Aris Folley here.

  • Tyson Foods Inc. will resume limited production at its largest pork plant, in Waterloo, Iowa. Meatpacking plans have become COVID-19 hotspots in some states. Read more here from Aris.
  • The coronavirus that has exploded into a global pandemic has almost certainly been circulating for several months longer than public health experts first suspected, masked by asymptomatic cases or illnesses incorrectly diagnosed. Read more from Reid Wilson here.
  • The U.S. economy shed 20.2 million private sector jobs in April, according to ADP. The figure was the worst monthly reading in the company’s history of reporting job losses. Niv Elis has more here.

  • More than 40 publicly traded companies said they will return loans obtained through the Paycheck Protection Program after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned of legal ramifications if they don’t. Read more here.

  • Some of the areas most affected by the pandemic received relatively fewer forgivable business loans from the government than other areas, according to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Niv has the story here.

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