Coronavirus infections down, air travel up: Memorial Day Weekend is a big test
It’s officially Memorial Day Weekend, coronavirus infections are dropping and 50% of the American adults are fully vaccinated. It’s a recipe for a big serving of travel. More than 37 million people are expected to go 50 miles or more from home this weekend – a 60% jump compared to last year, but still 6 million people fewer than the pre-pandemic Memorial Day weekend in 2019, according to AAA. Memorial Day weekend will be a test of whether the U.S. can avoid the spikes in infections and hospitalizations that occurred amid, and after, the winter holidays before vaccines were widely available. The takeaway from the CDC Director Rochelle Walensky: “If you are vaccinated, you’re protected, and you can enjoy your Memorial Day.”
Biden to appear at Delaware Memorial Day event
President Joe Biden, who is in his home state of Delaware for the weekend, will attend the Delaware Commission of Veterans Affairs’ annual Memorial Day ceremony Sunday morning at War Memorial Plaza near New Castle, the White House said Friday. Last year, then the presumptive Democratic nominee for the 2020 presidential election, Biden marked Memorial Day by making an unscheduled appearance at the same park, laying a wreath while wearing a mask as the country was in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. Biden’s appearance will come after a busy Friday that saw him appear at a rock climbing facility in Virginia alongside Gov. Ralph Northam to tout the state’s progress in combating the pandemic, pay tribute to the armed forces at an Air Force base elsewhere in Virginia and unveil a massive $6 trillion budget proposal that would increase the national debt to a percentage of the economy higher than it was in World War II.
Additional details emerge in San Jose mass shooting
The investigation into the latest mass shooting in the U.S. will continue this weekend in San Jose, California, as information about the suspected shooter and the massacre continue to come to light. Local authorities weren’t notified in 2016 after federal officers detained the man accused of killing nine of his co-workers this week and found him with books about terrorism and writings detailing his hatred of the rail yard where he worked, the Santa Clara County District Attorney told USA TODAY Friday. Authorities reported finding 12 firearms and 22,000 rounds of ammunition at the home of the suspected gunman. Employees described the suspect, who died by suicide after the shooting, as being disgruntled, and officials said he clearly planned the attack.
Drivers, start your engines! The Indianapolis 500 returns Sunday
The Indianapolis 500 will welcome a sold-out 135,000 spectators Sunday — the largest crowd at a sporting event since the start of the coronavirus pandemic — and drop the green flag on a packed house and a party not seen in over a year. Indianapolis Motor Speedway can normally accommodate nearly 400,000 on race day, but Roger Penske, who bought the speedway in January 2020, only got clearance to permit 40% attendance. Nonetheless, Penske said he thinks “with opening America we can be the premiere event and that “it’s an honor for us to even be in a position to execute something like that.” Reigning IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon won the coveted pole for the race and will lead the 33-car field. He won by just 0.03 miles per hour at the end of qualifying for his fourth Indy 500 pole after also winning it in 2017, 2015 and 2008 — when he won the iconic race.
After a delay, the French Open to begin Sunday in Paris
The French Open, tennis’ second major tournament of the year, will begin Sunday at Roland Garros in Paris. Returning to the month of May after being played in September last year due to the pandemic, the event is back in its rightful spot on the calendar — except for being delayed by a week because of COVID-19 concerns. Naomi Osaka of Japan, the world’s No. 2-ranked women’s player made headlines this week when she announced she would not speak to press at the tournament, taking the unusual step as a way to preserve her mental health. She also said she is willing to pay a fine for not fulfilling media responsibilities. On the men’s side, 13-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal and both of his longtime rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer are in the same half of the bracket for the first time at a Grand Slam tournament.
Contributing: The Associated Press