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In our news wrap Monday, China’s largest city reported its first deaths from the latest COVID outbreak as a third week of lockdowns began. According to Shanghai’s official announcement, three people have died. Also, Israeli troops shot and wounded two Palestinians in a village in the occupied West Bank. Hours later, Israeli forces intercepted a rocket fired from Gaza.
In the day's other news: A federal judge in Florida struck down a COVID mask mandate for planes, buses and trains. And she imposed a nationwide injunction. The judge ruled that the mandate exceeds the CDC's authority.
A Biden administration official said late today that its agencies are reviewing the decision, but that TSA will not enforce the mask mandate at this time. We will return to this after the new summary. Also, today, Philadelphia became the first major U.S. city to reimpose a mask mandate for indoor public spaces.
In China, Shanghai reported three deaths from COVID-19, the first to be officially announced in the city's recent outbreak. It came as Shanghai entered its third week of lockdowns and as mandatory testing continued.
Meanwhile, Chinese officials acknowledged the outbreak is hurting the economy.
Fu Linghui, Spokesperson, National Bureau of Statistics of China (through translator): It is worth noting that, since March, the world situation has become more complex. Domestically, the COVID-19 epidemic continued to impact the economy. Some factors exceeded our expectation. And that is why some major indicators pointed to slower growth.
For the first quarter of this year, China's economy grew at an annual rate of 4.8 percent. That is well below the government's target.
Israeli forces intercepted a rocket fired from Gaza today, the first in seven months. It marked a new escalation after days of growing violence. Hours earlier, Israeli troops shot and wounded two more Palestinians in a village near Jenin in the occupied West Bank. The Israelis said the soldiers fired when Palestinians threw rocks and explosive devices.
Back in this country, police in Columbia, South Carolina, arrested a second person today in Saturday's shoot-out that wounded nine people at a shopping mall. A separate incident in South Carolina wounded nine more people early Sunday. And a manhunt continues in Pittsburgh after two people were killed and eight wounded at a house party shooting on Saturday.
Migrant crossings across the U.S. southern border have hit the highest level in two decades. Immigration officials today reported that 221,000 in March crossed. That's up from 30 — up 34 percent from February. Meanwhile, Republicans and some Democrats are urging President Biden not to lift pandemic era asylum restrictions, but the White House called today for Congress to step up.
Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary:
There is no question we have a broken immigration system. There's more we need to do. We have been saying that from the first day the president took office.
And anyone who wants to work on that, Democrats, Republicans, anyone, how we can put smarter security in place, how we can have an asylum processing system that works, we would love to do that.
For now, the asylum restrictions are due to lapse on May 23.
Notice to all those who've been waiting to the last minute, this is deadline day for filing federal tax returns. The Internal Revenue Service expected tens of millions of last-minute filings. That's on top of the agency's biggest backlog ever. The IRS blames insufficient staffing in part. Its work force has not increased in size since 1972.
Today also marked the first springtime running of the Boston Marathon since 2019. Officials canceled it in 2020 and staged it in the fall of last year due to COVID-19. Today, Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya won the women's title, marking 50 years of women competing. And Evans Chebet, also of Kenya, took home first place for the men.
On Wall Street, unease about interest rates and inflation kept stocks in check. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 39 points to close at 34411. The Nasdaq fell 18 points. The S&P 500 slipped one.
And the White House Easter Egg Roll is back after a two-year pandemic hiatus. On the cool and rainy South Lawn, President and Mrs. Biden welcomed 30,000 children and adults for the daylong festivities. The holiday tradition dates back to 1878.
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