Happy Thursday! Prepare yourself for some #data in this newsletter.
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
As of Wednesday night, 3,054,650 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the United States (an increase of 60,891 from yesterday) and 132,298 deaths have been attributed to the virus (an increase of 843 from yesterday), according to the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Dashboard, leading to a mortality rate among confirmed cases of 4.3 percent (the true mortality rate is likely much lower, between 0.4 percent and 1.4 percent, but it’s impossible to determine precisely due to incomplete testing regimens). Of 37,431,666 coronavirus tests conducted in the United States (553,560 conducted since yesterday), 8.2 percent have come back positive.
In the penultimate day of the term, the Supreme Court delivered two wins for religious liberty advocates. In a 7-2 ruling, the court affirmed the Trump administration’s ability to exempt religious organizations like the Little Sisters of the Poor from an Affordable Care Act mandate that required covered employers to provide health insurance coverage for birth control. In another 7-2 decision, the high court also expanded the rights of religious institutions to hire and fire certain ministerial employees without being being subject to employment discrimination laws. The court is expected to hand down its decision on whether the president must turn over personal financial records to Congress and the New York County District Attorney later this morning.
Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration’s Department of Homeland Security in an effort to block its recently announced rule barring international college students from studying at universities that move entirely online when classes resume.