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    Coronavirus update: COVID-19 has a new epicenter, ICU patients getting younger

    Goldman Sachs is calling for a nationwide mask requirement

    Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

    Total U.S. confirmed cases: 2,600,727 ( 2,557,980)

    Total U.S. deaths: 129,545 (125,864)

    Total global cases:  10,350,645 (10,189,350)

    Total global deaths: 506,827 (502,719)

    Los Angeles is the new epicenter

    Early in the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, New York City emerged as the epicenter of the virus while Los Angeles reported relatively few cases. Those roles have now reversed.

    The Los Angeles County Health Department reports more than 100,000 confirmed cases of the virus so far, with nearly 3,000 new cases a day. The largest number recorded so far among any age demographic is among young people between 18 and 40.

    Barbara Ferrer, the director of public health for Los Angeles County, calls the increase in cases and hospitalizations “alarming.”

    Younger patients occupying Houston’s ICU

    Texas has experienced a huge increase in coronavirus cases during June, and intensive care units (ICU) in Houston hospitals are starting to fill up. But the patients are significantly younger than those who pushed New York hospitals to the tipping point in April.

    The New York Times reports that nearly one-third of the ICU patients in Houston’s Methodist Hospital system are under the age of 50. It’s a similar situation in nearby states. A significant number of new infections are of people in their 20s and 30s.

    An economic case for masks

    The idea of wearing a face-covering in public has become a contentious issue in some circles, infused with politics. But an economist at Goldman Sachs suggests that the economy would heal faster if everyone would wear a mask in public places.

    Jan Hatzius, the bank’s chief economist, worked with his team to probe the link between face masks and COVID-19 health and economic outcomes. They determined that a national requirement for everyone to wear a mask could cut the daily rate of infections by a full percentage point.

    That result, Hatzius said, could prevent another shutdown order that would eliminate more jobs and shave 5 percent off the nation’s economic growth rate.

    Fauci says follow strict guidelines critical to stopping the virus

    Health officials are testifying before a Senate committee today, providing updates on the coronavirus and the outlook for the next few weeks. Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infection Diseases (NIAID), testified that municipalities that continue to follow safety rules will have the best chance of safely reopening schools this fall.

    “If we adhere to guidelines that have been carefully laid out, that will help to keep the level of infection down and make it easier to get the children back to school,” Fauci said.

    Fauci said the states where cases are surging may have reopened too quickly and may have needed to follow stricter rules as they reopened.

    What happens in Vegas…

    Just two weeks after casinos on the Las Vegas strip reopened with social distancing rules in place, some casino employees have filed a lawsuit, saying their health and safety aren’t being protected.

    The suit was filed against the owners of Harrah’s, MGM Grand, and Bellagio casinos. Specifically, the complaint alleges the casinos were slow to shut down food and beverage facilities on their premises after some employees tested positive for the coronavirus.

    The suit was filed in federal court by Culinary Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165.

    Around the nation

    • New Jersey: Gov. Phil Murphy has rescinded his order that would have allowed restaurants to resume indoor dining this week. Murphy took the action over concerns about a spike in new cases of the virus. 

    • Illinois:  Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, says she’s keeping a close eye on spikes of virus cases in other states. So far, she says Illinois is showing progress in its Phase 4 of the reopening. However, she says residents should err on the side of caution.

    • Oregon: Oregon has seen a recent spike in coronavirus cases, though not at the level of some other nearby states. Still, Gov. Kate Brown is taking no chances, announcing a statewide mask requirement within public indoor spaces. “I do not want to have to close down businesses again like other states are now doing,” Brown said. “If you want your local shops and restaurants to stay open, then wear a face-covering when out in public.”

    Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)Total U.S. confirmed cases: 2,600,727 ( 2,557,9...
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      Senators call for investigation into nursing homes’ acceptance of COVID-19 positive patients

      Lawmakers say hospital overcrowding may not have been the only issue prompting governors to issue the order

      A pair of U.S. senators are calling for an investigation of five states that ordered nursing homes to accept patients who had recently tested positive for COVID-19 and been discharged from hospitals. 

      In a letter to Christi Grimm, Principal Deputy Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Republican senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Greg Walden of Oregon said they were concerned “that a number of states are pressuring nursing facilities to admit residents who may be infected with the COVID-19 virus.”

      “With over 50,000 deaths in nursing homes now linked to COVID-19, such facilities remain hotspots for the coronavirus,” the senators wrote. “One in five nursing homes have reported COVID-19 cases and at least a third of all deaths attributable to the coronavirus have occurred in long-term care facilities.” 

      Nursing home spread 

      Grassley and Walden added that the data suggests deaths in nursing homes could be responsible for more than half of all COVID-19 fatalities in more than a dozen states. The senators said they were seeking to determine if a handful of states violated federal health care guidelines and regulations in choosing to admit the patients. 

      The senators said the governors of five states -- New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, and Michigan -- cleared nursing homes to “accept patients with active COVID-19 infections who were being discharged from hospitals.”

      “These state directives were issued as the COVID-19 fatality rate in nursing homes soared. In Pennsylvania, which reportedly has the seventh-highest death rate for residents of these facilities,12 69 percent of the state’s COVID-19 fatalities are now attributable to nursing and personal care homes,” the letter said. 

      “Similarly, in New Jersey, the rate was roughly 52 percent as of last month; 14 in New York, at least 6,000 deaths are attributable to nursing homes; and in Michigan, where the governor’s directive has yet to be rescinded, 34 percent of COVID-19 deaths reportedly are linked to nursing homes.” 

      Investigation requested

      The governors’ orders for nursing homes to accept individuals who recently tested positive for COVID-19 were originally issued to keep hospitals from being overrun with COVID-19 patients. However, the senators said in their letter that hospital overcrowding may not have been the sole factor in the decision.

      “It appears that at least one governor reportedly reinforced this requirement well after the period in which COVID-19 cases at hospitals peaked—suggesting that its imposition on nursing homes was not entirely due to hospital overcrowding.” 

      Amid fears of a second wave of coronavirus infections that could crop up this fall, the senators are calling on the Inspector General to complete an investigation into the matter by September 30.

      “We request that the Office of Inspector General initiate an investigation into whether the decision by these states to pressure nursing homes to admit COVID-19 patients from hospitals violated, or was in any way inconsistent with, guidelines or requirements for participation in Federal health care programs.”

      A pair of U.S. senators are calling for an investigation of five states that ordered nursing homes to accept patients who had recently tested positive for...
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      Netflix announces multi-million cash commitment to help Black communities

      The company says it wants to help address systemic racism

      Netflix has announced that it will put 2 percent of its cash holdings towards supporting the economic development of black communities. The company said its initial commitment will be as much as $100 million.

      In a blog post on Tuesday, the video-streaming giant said the money will go toward narrowing the financial divide between Black and White families created and perpetuated under the nation’s long history of systemic racism.

      “Banks that are Black-owned or led represent a mere one percent of America’s commercial banking assets. This is one factor contributing to 19 percent of Black families having either negative wealth or no assets at all,” wrote Aaron Mitchell, a Netflix director of talent acquisition, and Shannon Alwyn, Netflix’s treasury director. 

      To start, Netflix will move $25 million to the Black Economic Development Initiative, a fund recently set up by a non-profit called the Local Initiatives Support Corporation. The non-profit will invest the fund in financial institutions serving Black communities. Another $10 million will be deposited at Hope Credit Union, which focuses on obtaining funding outside of the underserved regions it serves. 

      “Over the next two years, HOPE estimates the Netflix deposit will support financing to more than 2,500 entrepreneurs, homebuyers, and consumers of color,” the company said.

      Supporting Black communities

      Mitchell and Alwyn noted in their blog post that 19 percent of Black families have “either negative wealth or no assets at all,” while just 9 percent of White households fall under that category. 

      “Black banks have existed to fight this for generations, spurring economic growth by extending credit in often underbanked communities,” the company wrote. “But they’re disadvantaged in their access to capital, especially from large multinational companies, when compared to other banks.”

      Earlier this month, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and his wife Patty Quillin pledged $120 million to Black colleges in response to the killing of George Floyd and the nationwide “Black Lives Matter” movement.

      “Both of us had the privilege of a great education, and we want to help more students — in particular students of color — get the same start in life,” Hastings and Quillin said in a joint statement.

      Netflix has announced that it will put 2 percent of its cash holdings towards supporting the economic development of black communities. The company said it...
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      Supreme Court rules religious schools can get tax credit funded scholarships

      The ruling is likely to lead to more funding for religious education

      The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in favor of parents in Montana seeking scholarship money to send their children to religious schools. In a 5-4 ruling, the court ruled that a state scholarship program funded by tax credit could not exclude religious schools.

      The ruling is expected to pave the way for more funding for religious education. 

      "A State need not subsidize private education. But once a State decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious," wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

      Roberts -- who joined fellow conservatives in the majority opinion -- added that the court has “repeatedly held that the Establishment Clause is not offended when religious observers and organizations benefit from neutral government programs." Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, joined by the court’s other Democratic appointees, dissented.

      "Because Montana's Supreme Court did not make such a decision— its judgment put all private school parents in the same boat—this Court had no occasion to address the matter," she wrote.

      Landmark decision

      On Twitter, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos called the ruling a “historic victory for America’s students.”  

      “Today's landmark SCOTUS decision in Espinoza v. Montana is a huge victory for students and parents across America. Religious discrimination is dead,” she wrote. “All states need to seize this extraordinary opportunity to expand all education options at all schools to every single student.” 

      Religious groups also celebrated the ruling. In a statement, Brian Burch, the president of Catholic Vote, said the ruling was “long overdue victory for American families and a defeat for anti-Catholic bigotry.”

      Opponents of the ruling include American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who called the court’s decision “a seismic shock that threatens both public education and religious liberty.”

      “Never in more than two centuries of American history has the free exercise clause of the First Amendment been wielded as a weapon to defund and dismantle public education,” Weingarten said.

      The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in favor of parents in Montana seeking scholarship money to send their children to religious schools. In a 5-4 ruling, the...
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      Amazon hands out $500 million in thank you checks to front-line workers

      The one-time bonuses range from $150 to $3,000

      In the midst of all the coronavirus-related push-and-pull between Amazon and its employees, there’s a new one to add to the positive side of the equation.

      Late Monday, a memo was sent to the company’s front-line employees and partners with the promise of a sizeable monetary bonus as thanks for all the workers have done during the COVID-19 pandemic -- including getting orders in and out the door, helping customers in stores, and anything that’s part of the Amazon-to-customer relationship.

      “Our front-line operations teams have been on an incredible journey over the last few months, and we want to show our appreciation with a special one-time Thank You bonus totaling over $500 million,” wrote Dave Clark, Amazon’s Senior Vice-President of Worldwide Operations.

      Rewards for employees and partners

      Amazon stated that all front-line employees and partners who were with the company throughout the month of June (June 1 – June 30, 2020) will receive a bonus of:

      • $500 for full-time Amazon employees, Whole Foods Market employees, and Delivery Service Partner drivers

      • $250 for part-time Amazon employees, Whole Foods Market employees, and Delivery Service Partner drivers

      • $1,000 for all front-line Amazon and Whole Foods Market leaders

      • $3,000 for our Delivery Service Partner owners

      • $150 for each Amazon Flex driver with more than 10 hours in June

      “Again, my thanks and gratitude for the truly remarkable commitment to customers you have shown throughout this journey. I have never been more proud of our teams,” Clark concluded.

      Amazon employees took to Reddit to express their gratitude, although there were a few who grumbled about supposedly having to wait until the end of July to see the money in their account. There was also some dissatisfaction coming from Amazon employees who work from home and appear to be cut out of the bonuses.

      In the midst of all the coronavirus-related push-and-pull between Amazon and its employees, there’s a new one to add to the positive side of the equation....
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      Amazon’s brand value jumps amid the coronavirus shutdown

      The online retailer sits atop a ranking of the most valuable brand

      As the coronavirus (COVID-19) began to shut down large parts of the U.S. economy in March, some companies struggled while others did quite well. Amazon is a prime example.

      In their annual ranking -- BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Brands -- WPP and Kantar keep Amazon at number one, reporting that the last few months have only served to enhance its position atop the retail food chain.

      Amazon has moved up the rankings since 2006. In this year’s evaluation of businesses, the Amazon brand increased in value by nearly $100 billion, growing 32 percent. Amazon’s brand value of $415 billion accounts for a third of the Top 100's total growth.

      The ranking is based on a number of factors, including its stock price performance from April 2020 to reflect the impact of COVID-19. A handful of companies, most of which are highly valued by consumers, were able to consistently invest in longer-term marketing and make their brands even stronger during the health and economic crisis.

      A strong showing by tech companies

      In addition to Amazon, other technology brands are clustered at the top of this year’s ranking.  Apple maintained its position as the second most valuable global brand, growing 14 percent to $352.2 billion. 

      Microsoft moved back up to the number three position, turning in a 30 percent gain in value to $326.5 billion. Google slipped to fourth place, growing its brand by 5 percent to a value of $323.6 billion.

      Microsoft benefited from the shift to a work-from-home environment, enjoying strong growth in its cloud-enabled workplace ecosystem that incorporates Office365 and Microsoft Teams to allow people to maintain 'business as usual' during the lockdown.

      Other technology companies improving their brand standing this year include Netflix, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Xbox.

      "The continued growth in value of the BrandZ Top 100 shows that strong brands are in a much better place than they were in the global economic crisis of 2008-2009,” said David Roth, chairman of BrandZ. “While the impact of COVID-19 has impacted every business regardless of size or geography, consistent investment in marketing can and will help carry you through a crisis."

      With most consumers ordering everything from dinner to household supplies from home, payment systems also improved their brand values during the shutdown. Visa held onto 5th place with 5 percent growth and Mastercard moved from 12th to 10th place in the rankings.

      In the top 10, Facebook and McDonald’s were the only brands to lose ground this year. Facebook saw the value of its brand decline by 7 percent while McDonald’s lost only 1 percent.

      As the coronavirus (COVID-19) began to shut down large parts of the U.S. economy in March, some companies struggled while others did quite well. Amazon is...
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      Ford recalls Super-Duty F-250, F-350 and F-550 diesel pickups

      The transmission torque converter damper plate may fracture

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 13 model year 2020 Super-Duty F-250, F-350 and F-550 diesel pickups.

      The transmission torque converter damper plate was not tempered, resulting in a brittle damper plate that may fracture and cause the engine to stall or require increased brake pedal effort in order to stop the vehicle.

      An engine stall or requiring additional braking effort to stop the vehicle can increase the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Ford will notify owners, and dealers will replace the transmission assembly free of charge.

      This recall is expected to begin July 6, 2020.

      Owners may contact Ford customer service at (866) 436-7332. Ford's number for this recall is 20S33.

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 13 model year 2020 Super-Duty F-250, F-350 and F-550 diesel pickups. The transmission torque converter damper plate was ...
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      Supreme Court keeps CFPB in place but says President can fire its director at will

      The decision opens the agency's leadership up to political pressure

      In a 5-4 decision on Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court gave the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) the all-clear to continue operating as it has been for more than 10 years, but it said the President of the United States can remove its director anytime and “at will.”

      The CFPB has been the consumer’s best friend ever since the 2008 financial crisis went down. The bright idea of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Congress established the bureau with one task and one task only: ensure that consumer debt products are safe and transparent. 

      The “big number on Dodd-Frank”

      To date, the Bureau has done its job well. As of its 2017 audit, it had returned close to $12 billion to consumers through 2017.

      But things changed rapidly when President Donald Trump moved into the White House. Less than a month after Trump took office, he promised to do "a big number on Dodd-Frank," the consumer protection legislation that enabled the creation of the Bureau. 

      The Dodd-Frank legislation says the President can remove the director of the Bureau for "inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office,” so that’s what Trump did.

      The Bureau can still do its job, but…

      The Supreme Court decision sided with Seila Law -- a California law firm which was in the crosshairs of the CFPB over promotions of debt relief services. The firm previously said that the CFPB’s leadership by a single director who was removable “for cause” ignored the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers rule.

      Not only that, but the Court said that the Bureau’s director can be removed by the President of the United States “at will.”

      “The agency may ... continue to operate, but its Director, in light of our decision, must be removable by the President at will,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his majority decision, a pro-conservative opinion.

      Fighting back, Justice Elena Kagan and her three liberal colleagues said that their conservative counterparts took away what allowed the CFPB to be effective -- it’s immunity from Washington politics.

      “Today’s decision wipes out a feature of that agency its creators thought fundamental to its mission -- a measure of independence from political pressure,” Kagan wrote.

      The decision could hurt consumers

      Soon after news of the decision went live, consumer watchdog group Allied Progress said that it’s a sad day when an administration’s consumer financial policy can be swayed by the highest bidder and have the power to fire a director on the spot for putting the interests of consumers ahead of the wish lists of donors. 

      “Bottom line: this industry-backed case had nothing to do with what the Bureau is in a legal sense and everything to do with what it does, which is hold bad financial actors responsible while recovering billions of dollars on behalf of cheated consumers,” said Jeremy Funk, spokesman for Allied Progress. 

      “Greedy banks, predatory lenders, and other financial scammers won’t stop until the agency is fully dismantled.”

      In a 5-4 decision on Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court gave the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) the all-clear to continue operating as it has been...
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      Coronavirus update: HHS delivers dire warning, things get dicey in Texas

      Gilead Sciences has put a price on remdesivir

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

      Total U.S. confirmed cases: 2,557,980 (2,510,323)

      Total U.S. deaths: 125,864 (125,539)

      Total global cases: 10,189,350 (10,005,970)

      Total global deaths: 502,719 (499,306)

      Somber warning from HHS Secretary

      Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar says “the window is closing” on America’s ability to control the coronavirus (COVID-19). Appearing on CNN, Azar said the surge in new cases in the South and Southwest threatens to overwhelm hospitals, echoing a fear that was expressed in New York in April. Cases have since declined in the Northeast.

      "Things are very different from two months ago,” Azar said. “So it is a very different situation, but this is a very, very serious situation and the window is closing for us to take action and get this under control." 

      On the positive side, Azar suggested the U.S. is in a better position than it was early in the pandemic thanks to improvements in testing, contact tracing, hospital capacity, supplies of personal protective equipment, and advancement in treatments.

      A ‘dangerous turn’ in Texas

      Texas is one state where cases of the virus have skyrocketed during June. Gov. Greg Abbott says the number of cases in the state has more than doubled in a short period of time.

      “We need to understand that COVID-19 has taken a very swift and very dangerous turn in Texas over just the past few weeks,” he said.

      Abbott has backtracked on Texas’ reopening, ordering bars to close down again and limiting restaurant capacity to 50 percent.

      Remdesivir’s price tag

      Gilead Sciences, the pharmaceutical company making the experimental antiviral drug remdesivir, has priced the COVID-19 treatment prior to receiving final government approval.

      A Wall Street Journal analysis shows the typical hospital patient with commercial insurance would be charged $3,120 for an average course of treatment, but what the consumer ends up paying would depend on their health benefits coverage.

      Public Citizen has argued for a drastically lower price, maintaining that the drug was developed with the aid of federal funding and expertise.

      FDA grants emergency approval for another antibody test

      The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted emergency use clearance for an antibody blood test made by medical device manufacturer Danaher. The test is designed to show whether someone has been infected with the coronavirus.

      The FDA has recently tightened rules for the manufacturers of these tests, warning that there are many fraudulent products on the market. Danaher says the test is extremely reliable and has virtually eliminated the chance of a false-negative result.

      Reuters reports the company has shipped tests to about 400 hospitals and is poised to turn out 30 million test kits per month.

      Three more symptoms

      The symptoms of the coronavirus can vary widely, from raging fever to hallucinations. Health officials have now added three more.

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports some people who have tested positive for the virus have also exhibited congestion or runny nose, nausea, and diarrhea. 

      The CDC says symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus.

      Around the nation

      • Arizona: State health officials are struggling to keep up with the surge in new cases of the coronavirus, which set a single-day record on Sunday. The Arizona health department reported 3,858 new coronavirus cases and 9 additional deaths. 

      • Florida: Florida is another state reeling from the rapid increase in hospitalizations. The state logged 8,530 new cases Sunday, only slightly fewer than Saturday’s record of 9,585.

      • California: Gov. Gavin Newsom has ordered bars to close again in seven counties and imposed other restrictions on public gatherings as cases have recently surged. Newsom says the number of patients in intensive care units at California hospitals shot up 4 percent in one 24-hour period.

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)Total U.S. confirmed cases: 2,557,980 (2,510,32...
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      Consumers use rewards credit cards to help get by during the pandemic

      The type of card you have has never been more important

      If you have a travel rewards credit card in your wallet, you may be asking yourself just how useful that will be in the midst of a pandemic

      Air travel has plunged since the coronavirus (COVID-19) swept the world, and cruises have been canceled. Many countries are temporarily closing their borders to travelers from other countries, another inducement to stay home. In the U.S., some states where coronavirus cases are low are discouraging travelers from states where cases have spiked.

      For travel rewards cardholders, that may mean a lot less travel in the months ahead. Not only are they missing out on racking up rewards points, but they are also likely paying a hefty annual fee for the privilege of having the card.

      The Wall Street Journal reports that major banks are taking steps to discourage customers from canceling these highly profitable cards, noting that JPMorgan Chase is delaying a $100 increase to its $450 annual fee on its flagship Sapphire Reserve Card.

      Chase has joined Citibank and other major card issuers in adding other non-travel rewards to their cards to keep them in consumers’ wallets. However, consumers should carefully measure the value of those potential rewards against the annual fee.

      Cash may be king

      Having a rewards card that provides points or cashback on routine purchases like gasoline and groceries may make more sense in these times, and these types of cards rarely carry an annual fee.

      In a new report, PayPal offers research showing that a significant number of consumers are using their credit card rewards to stretch their budgets. Nearly a third of consumers have used rewards to purchase the things they need most, such as groceries. 

      "More and more people across the country are turning to their credit card rewards as a helpful and easy way to make their dollars go farther, and in the current environment, two-thirds of Americans now view these rewards balances as a way to buy the things they need such as groceries and other essentials," said Jill Cress, vice president of consumer marketing at PayPal.

      Unaware of their rewards

      At the same time, the research found that 39 percent of people with rewards credit cards were completely unaware of their rewards balance. Cress says it’s not only important to incorporate those rewards into the household budgets, but consumers should also think carefully about the credit cards they have and the kinds of spending they reward.

      "With travel and luxury items still less of a priority for many right now, our research shows that people are instead tapping into their rewards balances to support small businesses in their community and to give back to causes," Cress said.

      Replacing a travel rewards card that carries an annual fee with a no-fee card providing cashback on everyday purchases may be a prudent step in this new environment, and there are many of these cards to choose from.

      ConsumerAffairs has researched the best cashback credit cards here.

      If you have a travel rewards credit card in your wallet, you may be asking yourself just how useful that will be in the midst of a pandemicAir travel h...
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      States pause reopening to combat surge in coronavirus cases

      Many states have reported record rises in cases

      Amid a rise in coronavirus cases across the nation, at least 12 states have opted to pause their reopening plans.

      More than 30 states are seeing rises in coronavirus cases, and daily coronavirus case reports hit a new national high of nearly 40,000 on Friday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

      Arizona reported 3,858 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, which set a single-day record. Florida hit a record on Saturday, logging 9,585 new cases. Ahead of July 4 celebrations, Florida officials have restricted access to beaches in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach. 

      In California, the number of patients in intensive care units at hospitals rose 4 percent in one 24-hour period. In an effort to combat the increase in cases, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered bars to close again in seven counties and imposed other restrictions on public gatherings.

      In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott said the number of cases more than doubled in a short period of time. Abbott ordered bars to close down again and limited restaurant capacity to 50 percent in light of the “very swift and very dangerous turn” the virus has taken over the past few weeks. 

      Follow the guidelines

      Governors in many states -- including Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Nevada, New Mexico, and North Carolina -- have announced that they’re halting plans to move ahead to the next phase of their reopening plans. 

      As states attempt to drive down case numbers, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s infectious disease expert, implored everyone to continue heeding the guidance of the CDC. 

      "For goodness sakes: avoid crowds, wear masks. Those are the fundamentals that -- when you look at the television clips, when you see pictures in the newspapers -- people are not doing that. That's a recipe for disaster," Fauci told CNBC.

      Vice President Mike Pence struck a more optimistic tone about the recent surge in cases, saying "we've all seen the encouraging news as we open up America again."

      "To one extent or another, the volume of new cases coming in is a reflection of a great success in expanding testing across the country," Pence said Friday.

      Amid a rise in coronavirus cases across the nation, at least 12 states have opted to pause their reopening plans.More than 30 states are seeing rises i...
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      Boeing 737 MAX planes set to begin key certification tests

      The tests will intentionally trigger the software that was found to be a factor in both fatal crashes

      Boeing’s 737 MAX jets, which have been grounded for more than a year, are set to undergo three-days’ worth of key test flights starting June 29. 

      Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that pilots and test crew members will run through a series of “methodically scripted” scenarios designed to intentionally push the reprogrammed MCAS stall-prevention software to its limits.

      The MCAS software was found to be a factor in the two fatal 737 MAX crashes that occurred just five months apart. The tests will focus on ensuring that the changes have sufficiently increased the safety and reliability of the software. 

      Federal Aviation Administration officials told Reuters that the tests “will include a wide array of flight maneuvers and emergency procedures to enable the agency to assess whether the changes meet FAA certification standards.”

      If the initial round of testing doesn’t reveal any issues, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson will board the plane to personally verify its safety before issuing approval. The FAA would then need to approve new pilot training procedures and might not allow the 737 Max to resume passenger flights until September.

      While it’s possible that the aircraft could be cleared to resume operations before the end of the year, the recertification process has historically been long and beset with delays.

      “Based on how many problems have been uncovered, I would be stunned if the flight tests are ‘one and done,’” a source told the publication. 

      Boeing’s 737 MAX jets, which have been grounded for more than a year, are set to undergo three-days’ worth of key test flights starting June 29. Source...
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