As Americans begin an unusual Memorial Day weekend, flags around the country will be at half-staff for victims of the virus. The death count in the U.S. is likely to hit 100,000 by early next week.

President Donald Trump said he ordered the flags to be lowered Friday through Sunday “in memory of the Americans we have lost to the CoronaVirus.” Flags will be at half-staff Monday “in honor of the men and women in our Military who have made the Ultimate Sacrifice for our Nation,” Trump tweeted.

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has eased restrictions on nonessential gatherings, allowing birthday parties, barbecues and any other gathering as long as people practice social distancing.

But Justice Department officials have warned Los Angeles and Illinois their lockdown orders could be illegal if they are too restrictive.

Americans itching to get out of the house this weekend “can be outside” if they take proper social distancing precautions, White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx advised Friday. “You can play golf. You can play tennis with marked balls. You can go to the beaches” while keeping at least six feet apart, she said.

Trump golfed Saturday at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia. Golf courses have remained open in the state under the governor’s stay-at-home order.

Roughly 96,300 people have died from the virus in the United States, more than a quarter of the 340,000 deaths worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard. There are more than 5.2 million confirmed cases around the globe, with 1.6 million in the United States alone.

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DOJ to LA, Illinois: Lockdown orders may be illegal if too restrictive

The Justice Department is warning state and local officials that stay-at-home orders aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus may be illegal if they become too strict.

Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband said in a letter Friday to Los Angeles officials that their recent comments suggesting that stay-at-home orders may be extended “may be both arbitrary and unlawful.” The Justice Department also said Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s “sweeping limitations” on his state’s residents raise constitutional concerns.

Attorney General William Barr said last month that he directed federal prosecutors “to be on the lookout” for state and local directives that could violate constitutional rights.

“Simply put,” Dreiband said in his letter, “there is no pandemic exception to the U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights.”

The letter was addressed to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer. It cited comments the two made about the possibility of long-term lockdowns.

A county official later said that Ferrer’s comments were “taken out of context,” according to CBS Los Angeles. Garcetti also clarified his comments and said he doesn’t expect an extended lockdown.

New York permits recreational gatherings of up to 10 people

In time for Memorial Day weekend, New York will allow all gatherings of up to 10 people with proper social distancing and mask-wearing. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order easing the ban on nonessential gatherings of any size, which took effect March 23 as the coronavirus rapidly spread through New York. His move followed a lawsuit from the New York Civil Liberties Union challenging a prior order that allowed gatherings only for religious services.

The decision will enable New Yorkers to spend time together in parks, backyards and beaches over the holiday weekend as long as they maintain distance and adhere to the state Department of Health’s cleaning and disinfecting protocols. However, beaches in New York City are closed for swimming.

– Jon Campbell and the Associated Press

‘We need more prayer’:Trump calls for Memorial Day church reopenings but sends mixed signals on enforcement

Hertz, billions in debt, files for bankruptcy

Hertz filed for bankruptcy protection Friday, unable to withstand the coronavirus pandemic that has crippled global travel and with it, the heavily indebted, 102-year-old car rental company.

The Estero, Florida-based company’s lenders were unwilling to grant another extension on its auto lease debt payments past a Friday deadline, triggering the filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware.

By the end of March, Hertz Global Holdings Inc. had racked up $18.7 billion in debt with only $1 billion in available cash.

Starting in mid-March, the company – whose car-rental brands include Dollar and Thrifty – lost all revenue when travel shut down due to the novel coronavirus, and it started missing its payments in April. Hertz has also been plagued by management upheaval, naming its fourth CEO in six years on May 18.

“No business is built for zero revenue,” former CEO Kathryn Marinello said on the company’s first-quarter earnings conference call May 12. “There’s only so long that companies’ reserves will carry them.”

– Associated Press

NBA legend and Georgetown coach Pat Ewing hospitalized with virus

Georgetown men’s basketball coach and Hall of Fame player Patrick Ewing has tested positive for COVID-19, the school announced Friday evening.

Georgetown said in a news release that Ewing, 57, is isolated and receiving care at a Washington hospital. He chose to announce his diagnosis “to emphasize that this virus can affect anyone,” the school said. He is the only member of the team to test positive.

An 11-time All-Star as a player with the New York Knicks, Ewing transitioned to coaching in 2002, serving as an assistant with several NBA teams before accepting the head coaching job at Georgetown before the 2017-18 season. 

– Tom Schad

Nevada’s 28% joblessness is worst in US and in state history

More than one-fourth of Nevada’s workers don’t have jobs as the state’s unemployment rate hit 28.2% in April — the highest rate in the U.S. and the worst in Nevada history. The previous record for Nevada unemployment was estimated at 25% during the Great Depression.

Nevada was hit especially hard by coronavirus shutdowns because so many of its jobs are tied to the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors, according to David Schmidt, chief economist for the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation. 

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Wear a mask in public? Majority of Democrats, Republicans say they have

Despite high-profile incidents of Americans refusing to wear face masks, an overwhelming majority of Americans say they have worn a face covering due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey.

More than four out of five Americans — 84% — said they have worn a mask in public in an effort to limit the spread of coronavirus, according to a survey from the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project. 

And while reopening economies and wearing masks have become partisan talking points, the vast majority of Democrats and Republicans have worn masks.

There is a small disparity among age groups, with younger people slightly less likely to have worn a mask in public. Roughly three out of four (78%) Americans ages 18 to 29 say they’ve worn a mask, while 90% of Americans 65 and above say they have.

– Rebecca Morin

Donald Trump orders US flags lowered to honor coronavirus victims

President Donald Trump said Thursday he will order U.S. flags to be lowered over federal buildings to honor those who have died from the coronavirus.

The order, which Trump said would continue into the Memorial Day weekend, comes as the nation approaches 100,000 deaths from the virus. Flags traditionally fly at half-staff on Memorial Day to honor the nation’s fallen members of the military. 

Trump’s decision came hours after congressional Democrats sent a letter requesting flags be lowered when the coronavirus death toll hits 100,000.

– John Fritze and Nicholas Wu

CDC estimate: 35% of cases are asymptomatic

About a third of coronavirus cases are asymptomatic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in guidance for mathematical modelers and public health officials.

The “current best estimate” is 35%, but the CDC says that could change as more data becomes available.

The CDC says the new coronavirus can be transmitted by people who have not yet experienced symptoms or never experience symptoms.

More coronavirus news and information from USA TODAY:

Contributing: Kristine Phillips, Nicholas Wu, The Associated Press

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