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Good morning. It's Friday, Aug. 7, and we're covering jobs numbers, a high-profile false positive in Ohio, and the potential return of college football. Have feedback? Let us know at email@example.com.
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NEED TO KNOWUnemployment Claims DipJust under 1.2 million Americans filed initial unemployment claims last week, roughly 200,000 less than analysts expected. The figure is the lowest since the pandemic upended the US economy, though it still marks the 20th straight week initial claims have exceeded 1 million.
More than 55 million initial claims have been filed since mid-March, though not all are workers losing their jobs for the first time. In California, workers who were rehired but subsequently let go once coronavirus cases rose again represented more than half of new claims in the week ending July 25. Continuing claims—workers who have been collecting benefits for at least two weeks, a better proxy for current unemployment—fell by 844,000 to 16.1 million. When benefits provided under a stimulus provision capturing gig economy and self-employed workers are included, total claims rise to 32.1 million.
The July jobs report comes out this morning. There is a lot of variability in projections, but forecasts average to predict a 10.6% drop in unemployment (down from 11.1% in June) and growth in jobs of about 1.7 million.
False Positive in Ohio
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) tested negative for the coronavirus last evening after testing positive earlier in the day. The first result, using a quicker but less accurate method, came shortly before he was expected to host President Trump on a visit to the state. The false positive is emblematic of the larger problem of accurate testing across the country, though experts say false negatives are more consequential, since infected patients are then more likely to spread the virus. DeWine was an early advocate for precautions like face masks and social distancing and had reported no symptoms.
Trump's visit to Ohio included the announcement of an executive order encouraging the federal government to purchase certain drugs and medical supplies only from US factories. The directive may have a significant impact on the pharmaceutical industry and its complex supply chains, though the Food and Drug Administration must first determine which drugs will be subject to the order.
Separately, Senate Republicans have largely withdrawn from negotiations on a phase four coronavirus stimulus bill, letting the White House negotiate directly with House Democrats. Leaders on both sides have alternately said talks have stalled while predicting a deal as soon as next week.
A $600-per-week boost to unemployment, now at the center of the talks, expired last week. See differences between the Republican and Democrat proposals here.
A surge in US coronavirus cases seen in late July appears to have reversed course, though officials warn a continued uptick in deaths (which has averaged over 1,000 per day recently) is expected. The US has reported 4.88 million total cases as of this morning, with 160,104 deaths. See how your state is doing here.
Clemson Tops Preseason PollsThe first USA Today college football coaches poll was released yesterday, with Clemson slated to enter a season full of uncertainty as the nation's top-ranked team. The Tigers, led by phenom quarterback Trevor Lawrence, fell to LSU in last year's national championship. Ohio State, who lost to Clemson in last year's semifinals, sits in the No. 2 spot, followed by Alabama, Georgia, and LSU.
The sport's major conferences are proceeding as if the season will take place, while acknowledging the coronavirus may force a change in plans. The Power Five conferences—the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12—have effectively canceled all major out-of-conference games and dramatically reshuffled schedules. Many stadiums will be empty and players have banded together to voice safety concerns. Football-related revenues account for more than half of the average athletic department budget at Power Five schools, and the teams could lose a collective $4B if the season is canceled.
The first games are (for now) scheduled for Aug. 29; see the full slate here.
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IN THE KNOWSports, Entertainment, & CultureBrought to you by In The Wild
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Number FeverBloomberg Businessweek | Jeff Maysh. In 1992, a simple million-dollar marketing stunt led to full-fledged chaos after an error at a processing plant led to hundreds of thousands of winners. (Read, $$)
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The Last of the ZoroastriansGuardian | Shaun Walker. A glimpse inside India's Zoroastrian community—one of the world's oldest still-practicing religions—as its numbers rapidly dwindle. (Read)
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Historybook: Nobel Peace Prize winner Ralph Bunche born (1904); HBD actress Charlize Theron (1975); Operation Desert Shield preps US to enter Gulf War (1990); US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania are bombed, killing 224 and wounding 4,500 (1998); RIP journalist Peter Jennings (2005).
"Hearts are the strongest when they beat in response to noble ideals."
- Ralph Bunche
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