Remembering 9/11, Western wildfires, coronavirus pandemic: 5 things to know Friday

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Remembering 9/11, Western wildfires, coronavirus pandemic: 5 things to know Friday

Editors, USA TODAY
Published 3:58 a.m. ET Sept. 11, 2020 | Updated 4:03 a.m. ET Sept. 11, 2020

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Trump, Biden each set to mark 9/11 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania 

President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden are each traveling Friday to Shanksville, Pennsylvania, to honor the nearly 3,000 casualties in the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history on Sept. 11, 2001. Trump will attend a ceremony at the Flight 93 National Memorial, which memorializes the 40 passengers and crew who battled hijackers aboard the United Airlines jet, which crashed without reaching its target of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.. Biden and his wife Jill Biden will travel to New York City to attend the 9/11 Memorial & Museum anniversary commemoration ceremony in the morning and then visit Shanksville in the afternoon. Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence will be in New York for the 9/11 museum ceremony and a separate event nearby arranged by the Stephen Stiller Tunnel to Towers Foundation which will feature the reading of the names of 2,977 people killed at the World Trade Center. The 9/11 museum opted out of the reading of the names tradition due to safety concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic. 

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Wildfire smoke blanketing West Coast could begin to clear

Strong, gusty winds have fueled the deadly wildfires that are burning in more than a dozen U.S. states, causing massive plumes of choking smoke to blanket cities all down the West Coast, but the winds could begin to settle down on Friday. According to the National Weather Service, the winds that have helped fuel the fires will die down over the weekend, but low humidity combined with warmer temperatures in the coming days is enough to remain on high alert for fires. It seems as if the hazy clouds of smoke may linger in most areas, though the San Francisco Bay Area and parts of Los Angeles may see skies begin to clear over the weekend. The deadly inferno has killed at least 23 people, injured countless others, destroyed hundreds of homes and incinerated swaths of land almost the size of New Jersey. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has been with us for 6 months (and counting)

Friday marks six months since the World Health Organization declared that COVID-19 had become a pandemic. Since then, the virus has claimed 905,000 lives worldwide and 191,000 in the United States – more than any other nation. After the country went into lockdown following the WHO’s March 11 announcement, COVID-19 sent the economy into a new recession that canceled out nearly all of the employment gains of 10 years in a matter of months. Fear of the virus has also profoundly disrupted everyday life. Travel and dining out are restricted, schools have gone online, and face masks have increasingly become mandatory. Massive research is underway for a vaccine, but even that has become embroiled in presidential politics. Six months? Feels much longer.

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Louisiana to ease coronavirus restrictions — but New Orleans won’t 

Louisiana will ease up on public gathering restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 on Friday — but New Orleans won’t follow suit, the city’s mayor said. Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the state will move from “Phase Two” to “Phase Three” regulations when a current emergency proclamation expires and said he would provide more information at a news conference Friday. New Orleans’ coronavirus-related restrictions consistently have been somewhat tougher than the state’s. The city was the epicenter of a spring outbreak of COVID-19 that made Louisiana one of the nation’s hot spots. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell spoke Thursday on plans to begin returning students to classrooms starting Monday. “The primary reason for us staying in Phase Two, not moving with further easement of any restrictions, is to get our kids back into the classroom, have the time that will allow us to look at the data, look at the trends, and therefor determine the impact,” Cantrell said. She said the city was looking at ways to clamp down on businesses that don’t adhere to closure rules.

NBA Playoffs feature a Game 7 and another potential elimination game

Two NBA playoff games will be played Friday night: one will be a Game 7 and the other will feature the urgency of a Game 7 for the team needing a win to keep its season alive. The Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics will conclude their long and – at times – contentious matchup when they play Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series to determine who will face the Miami Heat in the East finals next week. Toronto has won three of the last four games after Boston won the first two. In the other game, the Denver Nuggets will be playing for their playoff lives as they trail the Los Angeles Clippers 3-1 heading into Game 5 of their Western Conference semifinal series. The Clippers have won the last two games to build that lead, but the Nuggets are 3-0 in elimination games this postseason as they came back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Utah Jazz in the first round. 

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What I’m Hearing: USA TODAY Sports’ Mark Medina discusses how mental health and the stresses of being inside the NBA bubble has become an issue players are talking about as the playoffs press on.

USA TODAY

Contributing: The Associated Press

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