AM-Prep: Cooler Copy

CORONAVIRUS - AIRLINES

UNDATED (AP) — The number of Americans getting on airplanes has sunk to a level not seen in more than 60 years as people shelter in their homes to avoid catching or spreading the new coronavirus.

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The Transportation Security Administration screened fewer than 100,000 people on Tuesday, a drop of 95% from a year ago.

The official tally of 97,130 people who passed through TSA checkpoints exaggerates the number of travellers because it includes some airline crew members and people still working at shops inside airport security perimeters.

Historical daily numbers only go back so far, but the nation averaged 97,000 passengers a day in 1954, according to figures from trade group Airlines for America. It was the dawn of the jet age. The de Havilland Comet, the first commercial jetliner, was just a few years old, and Boeing was running test flights with the jet that would become the iconic 707.

As air travel became safer and more affordable, the passenger numbers grew nearly every year. There was no commercial air travel in the U.S. for several days after the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and people were slow to get back on planes in following months.

It could be longer this time. Polling firm Public Opinion Strategies said that fewer than half the Americans it surveyed about 10 days ago say they will get on a plane within six months of the spread of the virus flattening.

CORONAVIRUS AND THE EFFECTS ON AFRICAN AMERICANS

UNDATED (AP) — As the coronavirus tightens its grip across the country, it is cutting a particularly devastating swath through an already vulnerable population — black Americans.

Democratic lawmakers and community leaders in cities hard-hit by the pandemic have been sounding the alarm over what they see as a disturbing trend of the virus killing African Americans at a higher rate. There is also a lack of information about the race of victims as the nation’s death toll mounts.

Among the cities where black residents have been hard-hit: New York, Detroit, New Orleans, Chicago and Milwaukee.

"Everywhere we look, the coronavirus is devastating our communities," said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP.

An Associated Press analysis finds that of the victims whose demographic data was publicly shared by officials — nearly 3,300 of the nation’s 13,000 deaths thus far are black. That’s about 42%. African Americans account for roughly 21% of the total population in the areas covered by the analysis.

INDONESIAN RELIGIOUS SERVICE ATTENDEES CAUGHT COVID-19

BANGKOK (AP) — Health authorities in Thailand say more than half the people returning from a trip to a mass religious meeting in Indonesia have been found to be infected with the coronavirus.

Forty-two of the 76 all-male Muslim pilgrims who arrived on a charter flight on Monday were found to be carrying the virus when they were tested on Tuesday.

Thailand yesterday confirmed 111 new coronavirus cases, including the 42 returnees, bringing the country's total to 2,369. including 30 deaths.

The Muslim group had travelled to Sulawesi island in Indonesia on March 17 to attend a ceremony organized by a Muslim missionary movement.

More than 8,000 pilgrims reportedly had arrived at the meeting site by the time officials cancelled the event, citing the health hazard.

JUSTICE AND CORONAVIRUS

BOSTON (AP) — Courthouses shuttered. Thousands of trials on hold. Legal deadlines pushed.

The coronavirus pandemic has crippled the U.S. legal system, creating constitutional dilemmas as the accused miss their days in court. The public health crisis could build a legal backlog that overwhelms courts across the country, leaving some defendants behind bars longer, and forcing prosecutors to decide which cases to pursue and which to let slide.

Judges from California to Maine have postponed trials and nearly all in-person hearings to keep crowds from packing courthouses. Trials that were under way have been halted. Some chief judges have suspended grand juries, rendering new indictments impossible. Other have allowed them to sit, though six feet apart.

Prosecutors may have to abandon some low-level cases to keep people from flooding into the legal system.

Courthouse chaos may worsen when the shutdowns end, as judges try to return to old cases while fielding a burst in new cases. A flood of lawsuits linked to COVID-19 will add to the logjam.

APOLLO 13 ANNIVERSARY

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Apollo 13's astronauts never gave a thought to their mission number as they blasted off for the moon 50 years ago. Even when their oxygen tank ruptured two days later — on April 13.

Jim Lovell and Fred Haise insist they’re not superstitious. They even use 13 in their email addresses.

As mission commander Lovell sees it, he's incredibly lucky. Not only did he survive NASA’s most harrowing moonshot, he’s around to mark its golden anniversary.

"I’m still alive. As long as I can keep breathing, I’m good," Lovell, 92, said in an interview with The Associated Press from his Lake Forest, Illinois, home.

A half-century later, Apollo 13 is still considered Mission Control’s finest hour.

Lovell calls it "a miraculous recovery."

Now the coronavirus pandemic has robbed them of their anniversary celebrations. Festivities are on hold, including at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where the mission began on April 11, 1970, a Saturday just like this year.

BODY OF GRANDSON OF JFK NIECE FOUND IN CHESAPEAKE BAY

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Authorities recovered the body of a grandson of former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend yesterday — two days after the body of the boy's mother was found in the water after a canoeing accident.

The body of 8-year-old Gideon McKean was found in roughly 25 feet of water more than 2 miles south of his grandmother's residence in Maryland, where he and his mother had launched the canoe.

The body of Gideon's mother — 40-year-old Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean, was recovered on Monday about 2,000 feet from where the boy's body was recovered, police said.

The search for the missing mother and son started a week ago after authorities responded to a report of two people on a canoe in the Chesapeake Bay who appeared to be overtaken by strong winds.

Kennedy Townsend is the eldest daughter of the late U.S. Attorney General and U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, and niece of the late President John F. Kennedy.

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