Jobless claims, coronavirus mask orders, NASA unveils new sun photos: 5 things to know Thursday


1.3M workers file for unemployment as COVID-19 cases surge

A closely watched gauge of layoffs across the U.S. held steady at a historically high level last week, pushing the total during the coronavirus-induced economic crisis above a mind-boggling 51 million. About 1.3 million Americans filed applications for unemployment insurance for the first time, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg estimated that 1.25 million people filed initial claims. The 1.3 million total marks the 15th straight weekly decline after first-time claims peaked at 6.9 million at the end of March, but it’s the smallest drop yet. That could reflect the spike in coronavirus cases across much of the country, particularly the South and West, and decisions by more than 20 states to pause or reverse the reopening of restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theaters and other outlets.  

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Amid poor poll numbers, Trump campaign announces major shakeup

President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign will have a new look Thursday amid a series of problems and numerous polls showing Trump trailing the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.  On Wednesday, Trump announced that Bill Stepien, a former White House political director, would become his campaign manager. Stepien replaces Brad Parscale, who will still serve as a senior adviser. The shakeup comes as the Trump campaign has sought a reset amid a coronavirus pandemic that wreaked havoc on a once booming U.S. economy — a key argument to the president’s reelection strategy — and a national reckoning over race in the wake of George Floyd’s death. 

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What states require face masks in public? Alabama joins growing list

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued an order requiring the use of face masks in public “when interacting within 6 feet” of people from separate households beginning Thursday. The order specifies masks must be worn in indoor spaces open to the public, a vehicle operated by a transportation service or an outdoor space where 10 or more people are gathered. As coronavirus cases rise in at least 45 states, many governors are instituting or renewing orders requiring people to wear face coverings in public. Several states – such as Florida, Georgia and Mississippi – do not have mask mandates but recommend that people wear face masks. 

About that Twitter hack…

We may find out more Thursday about the hacking of Twitter accounts belonging to prominent world figures in what was the largest breach in the social media company’s history. Bogus messages soliciting bitcoin appeared on the Twitter accounts of former President Barack Obama, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Amazon CEO and  founder Jeff Bezos and many others Wednesday in what Twitter believes was a “coordinated social engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees.” By providing a public address, millions of users who have access to cryptocurrency trading platforms can send as much Bitcoin — in this case, BTC — as they want. In total, the accounts tweeted out to nearly 100 million followers. And some users apparently fell for it: more than 230 transactions were recorded in Bitcoin’s public ledger as of 5 p.m. ET Wednesday. 

NASA to unveil closest-ever photos of the sun

Scientists from NASA and the European Space Agency on Thursday will release the first data captured by the joint Solar Orbiter mission on its 65 million-mile journey to the sun. After launching in February from Florida’s Cape Canaveral, the orbiter in June made its first close pass of the sun, turning on all 10 of its instruments for the first time. The data include the closest-ever pictures taken of the sun, according to NASA. “We’re going to see the sun like never before,” said Florida Tech associate professor of physics and space sciences, Jean Carlos Perez. Scientists will also discuss new measurements of particles and magnetic fields flowing from the sun.

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