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Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
As of Monday night, 2,588,022 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the United States (an increase of 39,030 from yesterday) and 126,131 deaths have been attributed to the virus (an increase of 328 from yesterday), according to the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Dashboard, leading to a mortality rate among confirmed cases of 4.9 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 31,557,407 coronavirus tests conducted in the United States (569,394 conducted since yesterday), 8.2 percent have come back positive.
The New York Times reports President Trump received a written briefing in late February about a Russian military intelligence unit paying bounties to the Taliban in exchange for killing American and coalition troops in Afghanistan. The Associated Press has sources saying top White House officials were aware of such an arrangement as early as March 2019. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said in a statement that “because the allegations in recent press articles have not been verified or substantiated by the Intelligence Community, President Trump had not been briefed on the items.”
On Monday, the Supreme Court paved the way for the federal government to resume executions as early as July. The court also struck down a Louisiana law that would have required abortions providers in the state to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, and held that the president may remove the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at will.