In Crisis News

Assemble! Disney announces its Avengers Campus attraction will launch at Disneyland on June 4

Disney Parks

After its opening was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Disney has announced that on June 4, its anticipated Avengers Campus will finally open at Disney's California Adventure park at Disneyland in Anaheim, California.

The park itself will fully re-open, only for California residents at first, on April 30. However, California Governor Gavin Newsom recently announced that the Golden State will be fully open for business on June 15, including theme parks.

The Avengers campus will be a must-see for die-hard Marvel movie fans, complete with movie accurate re-creations of locations as seen in Doctor Strange and other films, as well as the interactive attraction WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure. Tom Holland -- Spider-Man himself -- was tapped to help bring the 3-D experience to life. 

"What Walt Disney Imagineers have created is pretty spectacular," Holland previously explained to Good Morning America. "When I first joined [the MCU] playing Spider-Man, I went to [the] Avengers headquarters [set] and it was just a bunch of green screens. So the fact that there will be a legit place where people can...visit is pretty awesome."

The campus will also feature never-before seen tech that was co-created with the engineering wizardry of the late Grant Imahara. The Mythbusters veteran, who died unexpectedly last summer, helped design bleeding-edge-tech acrobatic robot "stuntmen" that will be dressed as Spidey, and swing and tumble over the heads of park visitors.

The Avengers Campus will also provide a perfect backdrop for the Guardians of the Galaxy -- Mission: BREAKOUT attraction, which was an overhaul of Disneyland's existing "Tower of Terror" ride at the California park.

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Today’s In Crisis headlines

(NEW YORK) -- Here are today's In Crisis headlines:

Medical expert testifies George Floyd died from lack of oxygen
A medical expert in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin testified Thursday that George Floyd died from a lack of oxygen that damaged his brain and caused his heart to stop. Dr. Martin Tobin, a lung and critical care specialist from Chicago, testified that Floyd's breathing was too shallow to take in enough oxygen while he was pinned on his stomach with his hands cuffed behind his back for nine-and-a-half minutes.   His testimony came a day after a use-of-force expert said Chauvin had his knee on George Floyd's neck area the entire time that he was pinned.  Defense attorney Eric Nelson suggested Thursday that Dr. Tobin was “Monday-morning quarterbacking” the incident, saying the expert "had the luxury of slowing things down." The defense also suggested that Floyd's low oxygen could have been from the drugs found in his system. Tobin disagreed, saying Floyd would have showed a slowed respiratory rate if fentanyl was affecting his breathing, saying that isn’t seen in the videos.  Testimony continues today, with the prosecution saying they expect to call to the stand the medical examiner who performed the autopsy on George Floyd last year.

Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, dies at age 99
Prince Philip, husband to Queen Elizabeth II of England, has died at age 99.  A statement from Buckingham Palace said: "It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle."  The statement added, “The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss."  Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II married in 1947 and marked their 73rd wedding anniversary on Nov. 20, 2020.  He retired from official royal duties in August 2017, and was hospitalized in February for a pre-existing heart condition and an infection, according to Buckingham Palace.  He was discharged March 16.  In addition to his wife the Queen and their four children, Prince Philip is survived by eight grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.

COVID-19 numbers
Here's the latest data on COVID-19 coronavirus infections, deaths and vaccinations.

Latest reported COVID-19 numbers globally per Johns Hopkins University
Global diagnosed cases: 134,094,356
Global deaths: 2,905,097.  The United States has the most deaths of any single country, with 560,115.
Number of countries/regions: at least 192
Total patients recovered globally: 76,218,897

Latest reported COVID-19 numbers in the United States per Johns Hopkins University
There are at least 31,003,199 reported cases in 50 states + the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam.  This is more than in any other country.
U.S. deaths: at least 560,115.  California has the greatest number of reported deaths in the U.S., with 60,129.
U.S. total people tested: 403,673,907

The greatest number of reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is in California, with 3,690,031 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 39.51 million.  This ranks second in the world after England, which has 3,821,151 cases.  Texas is second in the U.S., with 2,819,729 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 29 million.

Latest reported COVID-19 vaccination numbers in the United States
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports a total of 229,398,685 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S.  Of those, 174,879,716 doses have been administered, with 112,046,611 people receiving at least one dose and 66,203,123 people fully vaccinated, representing 33.7% and 19.9% of the total U.S. population, respectively. The Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines each require two doses to be effective.  The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires a single dose to be effective.

COVID-19 death toll in US now more than 560,000
The death toll from COVID-19 in the United States is now more than 560,000 people.  The latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University as of Friday morning puts the total number of reported deaths at 560,115.  It was six weeks ago that the U.S. recorded 500,000 deaths, just over a year after the first U.S. COVID-19 case was reported, on January 21, 2020.  The U.S. continues to report more COVID-19 deaths than any other country, accounting for just over 19% of global fatalities.  The latest deaths forecast by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that a total of 568,000 to 588,000 COVID-19 fatalities will be reported by the week ending May 1.

One-third of US population has now received COVID-19 vaccine
At least one-third of all people living in the U.S. have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The CDC reports 112,046,611 people have received at least one vaccine dose, representing approximately 33.7% of the total population.  Those numbers increase significantly among older adults, with 76.9% of the population aged 65 and older having received at least one vaccination, and 58.4% of that demographic now fully vaccinated.  Even with the race to vaccinate the population, there have been at least 259,000 U.S. deaths from COVID-19 since immunizations began in mid-December.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Prince Phillip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, dies at age 99

Danny Lawson - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Prince Phillip, husband to Queen Elizabeth II of England, has died at age 99.

A statement from Buckingham Palace said: "It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle."  The statement added, “The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss."

The Duke of Edinburgh was known as one of the hardest-working members of the royal family during his tenure alongside the country's longest-reigning monarch. Philip married then-Princess Elizabeth in 1947 and fulfilled thousands of royal duties.  At age 96, in August 2017, Prince Philip retired from his official royal duties with the "full support of the queen," according to Buckingham Palace.

Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II married in 1947 and marked their 73rd wedding anniversary on Nov. 20, 2020.  When King George VI died on Feb. 6, 1952, Philip's wife became Queen Elizabeth II at age 26.  In 1957, Elizabeth declared the Duke of Edinburgh a prince of the United Kingdom.  They had four children together.

"He is someone who doesn't take easily to compliments, but he has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know," Queen Elizabeth said in 1997, paying tribute to her husband on their golden wedding anniversary.

Prince Philip had been hospitalized a number of times over the last few decades, with increasing visits and stays over the past several years.  Most recently, he was admitted in February as "a precautionary measure, on the advice of His Royal Highness’s Doctor, after feeling unwell," according to a Buckingham Palace statement at the time.  It was later revealed he’d received treatment for a pre-existing heart condition and an infection.  He was discharged March 16.

In addition to his wife the Queen and their four children, Prince Phillip is survived by eight grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Over 172,000 migrants stopped at US-Mexican border last month

iStock/Photo Beto

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- It was a record number that hasn't been seen in nearly two decades, as immigration authorities say they halted more than 172,000 migrants at the U.S.-Mexican border in March 2021.

That is the highest number of migrants since the early 2000's, says U.S. Border Patrol.  

The majority of the migrants were stopped between American ports of entry, while 4,000 were apprehended by port officials.

Sixty percent of those apprehended -- or 103,000 people -- were quickly expelled under the Trump administration's health regulation known as Title 42.

Border Patrol agents also say they are apprehending more families, but, have noticed "self separation" from older families by sending their children alone across the border.

On the growing crisis of unaccompanied minors at the border, the number of children taken into custody has doubled since February, with officials taking in about 18,890 minors last month.

Those numbers are rising as of early April and, as of Thursday, Customs and Border Protection authorities say there are over 20,200 unaccompanied minors in U.S. custody.

As for why the agencies say they are strained under the growing number of migrants seeking asylum in the U.S., one official told ABC News that the fault can be traced back to former President Donald Trump's policies.

"We are continuing to dig out of a hole that was left by the previous administration," the official said, citing the lack of preparedness given to the Department of Health and Human Service.

Adds the official, "Nobody should have the expectation this is going to be solved overnight after four years of sort of potentially undermining the system."

In the meantime, officials have asked Congress for additional support in cracking down on criminals and smugglers that are trafficking individuals.  The agency is requesting better technology at the border, improved infrastructure, more asylum officers and more immigration judges to expedite holding times.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Today’s In Crisis headlines

(NEW YORK) -- Here are today's In Crisis headlines:

President Biden to announce executive actions to address gun violence
President Joe Biden today will announce limited steps, using his executive power, to address gun violence, three weeks after three mass shootings.  The president is expected to announce six actions, according to senior administration officials, including asking the Department of Justice to issue a proposed rule within 30 days to help stop the spread of so-called ‘ghost guns’, which are assembled from parts purchased online that don't have serial numbers, making them difficult to track.  Their sale and purchase is also unregulated.  Nothing today will address assault rifles, nor will Biden propose any gun control legislation.  White House officials stress that these are “initial” actions, leaving room for more to come down the road.  President Biden is also expected to nominate David Chipman, a former federal agent and adviser at the gun control group Giffords, to be director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. If confirmed, Chipman will be the agency's first permanent director since 2015.

Worse than expected 744,000 new unemployment applications files last week
A worse than expected 744,000 applications for unemployment were filed in the week ending April 3, according to figures released Thursday morning by the U.S. Labor Department.  That’s an increase of 16,000 over the previous week’s numbers, which themselves were revised up from 719,000 to 728,000.  Given the recent signs that the jobs market was improving, today’s report is discouraging but, economists hope, not indicative of a trend.  According to today's numbers there are a total 18,164,588 people currently claiming unemployment through all government programs. 

COVID-19 numbers
Here's the latest data on COVID-19 coronavirus infections, deaths and vaccinations.

Latest reported COVID-19 numbers globally per Johns Hopkins University
Global diagnosed cases: 133,250,442
Global deaths: 2,890,706.  The United States has the most deaths of any single country, with 559,117.
Number of countries/regions: at least 192
Total patients recovered globally: 75,760,641

Latest reported COVID-19 numbers in the United States per Johns Hopkins University
There are at least 30,923,521 reported cases in 50 states + the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam.  This is more than in any other country.
U.S. deaths: at least 559,117.  California has the greatest number of reported deaths in the U.S., with 59,993.
U.S. total people tested: 402,066,700

The greatest number of reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is in California, with 3,687,493 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 39.51 million.  This ranks second in the world after England, which has 3,818,665 cases.  Texas is second in the U.S., with 2,815,338 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 29 million.

Latest reported COVID-19 vaccination numbers in the United States
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports a total of225,294,435 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S.  Of those, 171,476,655 doses have been administered, with 109,995,734 people receiving at least one dose and 64,422,618 people fully vaccinated, representing 33.1% and 19.4% of the total U.S. population, respectively. The Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines each require two doses to be effective.  The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires a single dose to be effective.

More than 3,600 US healthcare workers died of COVID-19 in 2020, investigation finds
A just-published 12-month investigation by Kaiser Health News (KHN) and the U.K.’s The Guardian newspaper found that more than 3,600 U.S. healthcare workers died of COVID-19 in the first year of the pandemic.  Titled “Lost on the Frontline,” the investigation also revealed that lower-paid healthcare workers who handled the everyday tasks of patient care – including nurses, support staff and nursing home employees – were “far more likely to die in the pandemic than physicians were.”  Additionally, the investigation found nearly two-thirds of those healthcare workers identified as people of color, further evidence that the pandemic is disproportionally affecting those demographics. 

The KHN/Guardian investigation further revealed that more than half of U.S. healthcare workers who died of COVID-19 were younger than 60, with a median age of 59, compared to the general population, where the median age of death from the virus is 78.  And twice as many healthcare workers died in nursing homes as in hospitals, the investigation found.  Only 30% of deaths were among hospital workers, with the majority of those who died employed by residential facilities, outpatient clinics, hospices and prisons, among other places.  The investigation also reports since the advent of COVID-19 vaccines, deaths among healthcare workers have decreased significantly.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


President Biden expected to unveil new gun control measures Thursday

Alex Wong/Getty Images


(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- In the wake of several mass shootings, President Joe Biden is expected to roll out several new gun control measures Thursday, sources tell ABC News.

President Biden included gun reform as part of his platform, citing that he wants to end America's mass shooting problem.

While there is currently no information regarding the plans expected Thursday, it is expected that the president will propose legislation banning "ghost" guns, guns that are assembled by parts purchased online and therefore do not have a serial number, and background checks.

President Biden is expected to announce the gun control plans alongside Attorney General Merrick Garland.  In addition, the president is said he will use the press announcement to announce the new Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives director. 

A White House official says President Biden will select David Chipman, a former ATF agent who has worked with former Representative Gabby Giffords as a gun control advocate.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday will include a "combination of steps," including executive orders and presidential memos.

For Congress to advance any form of gun control, Democrats, who control the House, will require 10 Republicans in the Senate to pass legislation.

The issue of passing bills along party lines has inspired progressive Democrats to call for the elimination of the 60-vote threshold to advance legislation. 

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Tyler Perry ends studio quarantine bubble, sets up COVID-19 vaccine center

ABC News/Stephen Iervolino

The quarantine bubble at Tyler Perry's studios is coming to an end.

About a year ago, the mogul enacted a strict protocol that allowed crews to safely return to work amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Now ET confirms that it will come to an end on April 11. 

Additionally, Perry has set up a vaccination site on the Atlanta studio lot so that production crews, as well as their friends and families, can receive the vaccine. The mogul worked with the city's Grady Memorial Hospital to administer doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which was not mandatory for staff but simply available to those that wanted it.

Even with these latest updates to operations, productions on the lot will reportedly still follow COVID-19 safety protocols. 

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Survey finds getting their kids to bed has become a struggle for half of American parents since the pandemic

iStock/maximkabb

With millions of kids still out of school and relegated to Zoom classes, not only have screen time limits gone by the wayside, so too have bedtime limits.

According to a survey of 5,000 Americans parents with kids aged 3-18, half say getting their kids to bed has become a struggle since the COVID-19 pandemic began. 

Sixty percent say that bedtime routines have changed since March of 2020, and 42% admit they've stopped enforcing bedtime rules since the traditional rush to school stopped. 

The non-scientific poll sponsored by Zarbee’s Naturals also revealed the battle over bedtimes is worse in some states than others: kids in Florida, for example are the most likely to stay up past their bedtimes. Parents in the Sunshine State say their kids stay up late an average of three nights a week, by an average of 33 minutes past the time they should be hitting the hay.

Kids in Washington State were ranked the least likely to give their parents grief about bedtimes, only staying up late an average of once a week.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


University study says nearly 40,000 American children have lost at least one parent to COVID-19

iStock/Hector Pertuz

As vaccinations continue to rise and COVID-19 cases fall in many parts of the country, researchers are looking at the toll the pandemic had -- and will continue to have -- on Americans. 

To that end, Researchers at Penn State University estimate that nearly 40,000 American children have lost at least one parent to COVID-19, which the scientists say will take a toll on them emotionally and financially for years to come. 

Every 13th COVID death steals a parent from those most vulnerable, the researchers' data revealed. These thousands of children and young people, some who were left orphans by the disease, are at a higher risk of not only "prolonged grief and depression," researchers say, but also "lower educational attainment, and economic insecurity," iand even accidental death and suicide. 

"When we think of COVID-19 mortality, much of the conversation focuses on the fact that older adults are the populations at greatest risk," notes Ashton Verdery, an associate professor of sociology, demography and social data analytics, in a university press release.  But while roughly 81% of deaths have been among those ages 65 and older according to the CDC, "that leaves 19% of deaths among those under 65," he explains, adding, "In these younger age groups, substantial numbers of people have children..."

The study notes that three-quarters of the children who have lost a parent to the disease are adolescents, while one in four are still in elementary school. 

The scientists' findings also show that a fifth of the children losing parents to COVID are Black, a population that has been hit harder by the disease than others. That statistic is especially shocking considering Black children only make up about 14 percent of all youths in the U.S., Verdery and his team report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Today’s In Crisis headlines

(NEW YORK) -- Here are today's In Crisis headlines:

Derek Chauvin trial testimony continues to focus on officer training
Testimony in the murder trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin on Tuesday continued to focus on the training Chauvin and other city police officers received.  The jury was told that Chauvin underwent training in 2016 and 2018 on how to defuse tense situations with people in crisis and how police must use the least amount of force necessary to get someone to comply.  Sgt. Ker Yang, the Minneapolis police official in charge of crisis intervention training, and use-of-force instructor Lt. Johnny Mercil became the latest department members to testify as part of an effort by prosecutors to discredit the argument that Chauvin was doing what he was trained to do when he put his knee on George Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes during his arrest on May 25 of last year. 

When prosecutors showed Mercil a photo of Chauvin with his knee on Floyd's neck, Mercil stated that the technique shown is not and has never been an authorized restraint technique taught by the Minneapolis Police Department.  He added that while the technique Chauvin used is not technically an unauthorized use of force under the department's policy, he believes the technique wouldn't be authorized because Floyd was under control and handcuffed. 

COVID-19 numbers
Here's the latest data on COVID-19 coronavirus infections, deaths and vaccinations.

Latest reported COVID-19 numbers globally per Johns Hopkins University
Global diagnosed cases: 132,544,153
Global deaths: 2,876,084.  The United States has the most deaths of any single country, with 556,529.
Number of countries/regions: at least 192
Total patients recovered globally: 75,300,641

Latest reported COVID-19 numbers in the United States per Johns Hopkins University
There are at least 30,847,926 reported cases in 50 states + the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam.  This is more than in any other country.
U.S. deaths: at least 556,529.  California has the greatest number of reported deaths in the U.S., with 59,887.
U.S. total people tested: 400,866,033

The greatest number of reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is in California, with 3,685,045 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 39.51 million.  This ranks second in the world after England, which has 3,816,361 cases.  Texas is second in the U.S., with 2,811,460 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 29 million.

Latest reported COVID-19 vaccination numbers in the United States
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports a total of 219,194,215 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S.  Of those, 168,592,075 doses have been administered, with 108,301,234 people receiving at least one dose and 63,016,976 people fully vaccinated, representing 32.6% and 19% of the total U.S. population, respectively. The Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines each require two doses to be effective.  The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires a single dose to be effective.

Fears of a new COVID-19 surge increase among experts
For six consecutive weeks, the World Health Organization has recorded increases in the number of COVID-19 infections reported worldwide.  Last week there were four million new cases, WHO COVID-19 technical lead Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove said on Tuesday, also saying that's likely an underestimate of the true infections that have been occurring globally.  The Americas are among countries reporting increased transmission, driven by Brazil, Canada, Colombia and the U.S. 

As states and municipalities continue to ease pandemic restrictions, nearly half of new coronavirus infections in the U.S. are in just five states -- New York, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey -- which together reported 44% of the nation's new COVID-19 infections. That's nearly 197,500 new cases in the latest available seven-day period data.  Total U.S. infections during the same week numbered more than 452,000, according to state health agency data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the White House pandemic task force, said Tuesday, "We're really on the brink of a surge...it's really a critical time right now. Because we could just as easily swing up into a surge. That would be a setback for public health. But that would be a psychological setback too because people are really have what we call COVID-19 fatigue. And we just don't want to have to go back to really shutting things down. That would be terrible."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


World's billionaires add more to their ranks, add $8 trillion to wealth amid pandemic

iStock/guvendemir

(NEW YORK) -- A new report by Forbes finds that the world's richest individuals have profited off the COVID-19 pandemic.   The publication's 25th annual billionaires list found that the globe's top earners added $5 trillion to their net worth.

In addition, a record-breaking 2,755 billionaires have been identified in 2021, adding 493 new billionaires since 2020.

When comparing last year's total earnings from those who made the billionaires list, the list has made $8 trillion more than last year's total amount.  Overall, the combined net worth of all those who appeared on the list is worth $13.1 trillion.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos stayed in the top spot this year, with a total net worth of $177 billion.  In second was Tesla CEO Elon Musk with $151 billion, rising from 31 last year.

For the first time since 1993, Warren Buffet fell out of the top five earners, now listed at number six with a net worth of $96 billion.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg placed fifth with $97 billion while Microsoft founder Bill Gates placed fourth with a net worth of $124 billion.

The list has fueled economists concerns that the pandemic has only increased the wealth gap, citing the U.S. now having the most billionaires in the world with 724 residing in the country, and pointed to the current U.S. unemployment rate that sits at six percent. 

The unemployment rate was at 3.5 percent in February 2020.

While nearly 2,000 billionaires on this year's list are described as "self made," nearly 500 new billionaires made their money via COVID-related health care, cryptocurrency, traditional IPOs and SPACs.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


It's come to this: Enter the Bluetooth-enabled Xupermask

Honeywell

If you like keeping safe from COVID-19 -- and maybe looking a bit like a robot -- you're in luck. On Thursday, the Xupermask -- what's being billed as the world's first "smart mask" -- will launch.

The New York Times reports Black Eyed Peas frontman and budding technologist will.i.am inspired the design, based on one he wore at the MTV VMAs last year.

The CEO of Salesforce, Marc Benioff, was one of those who caught the performance, and will told him the mask design was something he'd been working on since the start of the pandemic in 2020. 

Benioff and will then collaborated with the CEO of Honeywell, a company that was making N95 face masks, and the Xupermask was born.

For $299, the Xupermask comes stocked with noise-cancelling headphones, Bluetooth, and a HEPA filtration system -- which the company says is not medical-quality -- and fans that keep your glasses from fogging. 

The Times reports that the silicon and athletic mesh mask costs $299 and was designed by Jose Fernandez, who created costumes for movies like Black Panther, The Avengers and X-Men 2. Those gigs also got Fernandez the job designing the sleek spacesuits for Elon Musk's SpaceX.

"We are living in sci-fi times," will.i.am told the Times. Describing the pandemic as being, "straight out of a friggin’ movie," he added, "We are wearing masks from yesterday's movie. So I wanted to make a mask to fit the era that we’re in."

Despite declining infection numbers and people being vaccinated by the millions, will.i.am thinks masks are here to stay. "SARS happened in Japan and Southeast Asia, and they got over it, and they still wear masks," he explained.

 

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Movie theaters, theme parks and other venues could be fully operational by June 15, says California's governor

California's Disneyland - ABC

Movie theaters, theme parks, sports stadiums, and even conventions could soon return to full capacity in California, according to an announcement from embattled Governor Gavin Newsom. 

Newsom announced Tuesday that as COVID-19 cases continue to drop and vaccinations continue to rise in the Golden State, the state's economy could fully reopen as early as June 15, according to Los Angeles ABC News affiliate KTLA. 

The relaxation of rules in the once hard-hit state would occur as long as vaccination supplies stay steady, and hospitalization rates remain low, he clarified. 

"It is time to turn the page on our tier system and begin looking to fully reopen California’s economy. We can now begin planning for our lives post-pandemic," Newsom said in a statement released ahead of a late-morning news conference he held in the Bay Area.

Conventions and other large-scale indoor events will be permitted as testing and vaccination verification continue. 

The governor said the state's mask mandate will remain "in the short run," meaning if Californians get back to the movies en masse, they'll be masked. 

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Ketchup packets can't catch up to pandemic demand

iStock/cbarnesphotography

Who could have guessed two years ago that toilet paper and ketchup packets would become the new currency?

Well, it's not Mad Max quite yet regarding those supplies -- thankfully, the toilet paper hoarding has abated from its pandemic highs -- but those little condiment packets have been in high demand, and suppliers apparently can't...well, catch up. 

The Wall Street Journal reports that the issue is the increased take-out that eateries have been providing to stay afloat since the lockdowns began, and the fact that ketchup bottles have been removed from tables at restaurants that are open, to reduce potential COVID-19 spread, further squeezing supplies of the individual condiment packets.  Packet prices are up 13% since January 2020, the paper reports, and stockpiles are dwindling.

That results in significant costs for restaurants. For example, fast food seafood chain Long John Silver's has reported some $500,000 in extra ketchup-related costs.

To cope, WSJ notes that restaurant managers are doling out ketchup in individual cups, and even raiding big-box stores like Costco to fill the demand.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Budweiser offering you the chance to curse out 2020 atop a mountain

Budweiser

It's just four months into 2021, and a little more than a year after the start of the pandemic, so chances are you've still got some choice words for 2020.

Now Budweiser is giving you the chance to scream them at the top of your lungs, at the top of a mountain in Utah. 

The new sweepstakes, called "Swear, Sip and Ski," will give the lucky winner and a guest a "once-in-a-lifetime" vacation to Utah -- the state that adopted Bud as its official beer -- where they'll get a two-night stay at a lodge in Snowbird, dinner, and a one-day pass for some Heli-Skiing, when you'll be whisked to the top of a mountain, where the "winner and their friend [can] swear their hearts out in a judgement-free zone."

All you need to do to enter is comment on the Facebook post above with the hashtags #BeerUtahSwearsBy and #Sweepstakes and tag the cursing companion who's 21 or older that you'd bring along.

Obviously, there's more to Heli-Skiing than showering down damnation from a mountaintop like a Greek god, but hey, when's the next time you're going to be at the top of a mountain? 

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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