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Virus sends consumer spending down 13.6% in April

U.S. consumer spending plunged by a record-shattering 13.6% in April as the pandemic shuttered businesses, forced millions of layoffs and sent the economy into deep recession.

Europe’s extensive social welfare net is showing signs of fraying under economic strain from the coronavirus. The Spanish government will provide more money for the country’s most impoverished families so they can reach a minimum monthly income.

India reported another record increase in cases and Pakistan a record number of deaths.

As cases steadily rise across Africa officials say they are losing the global race for equipment and drugs.

What’s happening today

— Nations are easing restrictions and opening up air travel, even as the coronavirus spreads in many areas of the world.

— In Latin America, the virus initially affecting wealthy citizens is now increasingly concentrated in poorer neighborhoods.

— Protecting people from extreme heat in America’s Southwest desert cities is more complicated this year because of COVID-19.

— South Africa says it has a backlog of nearly 100,000 unprocessed tests for the coronavirus, an example of the painful shortage of testing kits across Africa as cases steadily rise.

— Worshippers in Turkey have held their first communal Friday prayers in 74 days after the government reopened some mosques as part of its plans to relax measures in place to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

— In Brazil, couples have begun turning to drive-thru marriage to avoid the coronavirus. At a notary on the western outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, 15 couples were married on Thursday alone.

— The virus is affecting training for Marine Corps recruits at Parris Island and across the military. Defense leaders say some adjustments are beneficial and could become permanent.

— The Spanish government will provide more money for the country’s most impoverished 850,000 families so they can reach a minimum monthly income in the nation’s first attempt to guarantee a basic salary.

— For Orthodox Christians, the use of a shared spoon by a priest to distribute Holy Communion is a tradition that dates back thousands of years and the Greek Orthodox Church insists is impossible for any disease to be transmitted through Holy Communion.

— Alabama’s sparsely populated Lowndes County has the sad distinction of having both the state’s highest rate of COVID-19 cases and its worst unemployment rate.

One number

— One: New Zealand has all but eradicated the coronavirus from its shores with just one person in the nation of 5 million still infected.

In other news

Street art: Street art is drawing inspiration from the pandemic, offering comic relief, wit and beauty in a world where people are cut off from each other.

One good thing: Former middleweight boxing champion Hassan N’Dam wanted thank the French hospital that cared for his father-in-law through his bout with COVID-19. He decided to give the staff boxing lessons to help relieve the tension of long shift work.

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