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Trump and Biden celebrated 9/11 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania

President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will travel to Shanksville, Pennsylvania on Friday to honor the nearly 3,000 victims of the worst terrorist attack in US history on September 11, 2001. Trump will attend a ceremony on Flight 93 National Memorial, which commemorates the 40 passengers and crew who fought the hijackers aboard the United Airlines jet, which crashed without reaching its goal of the United States Capitol in Washington, DC. Biden and his wife Jill Biden will travel to New York City to witness the 9/11 Memorial and Museum Anniversary Ceremony in the morning and visit Shanksville in the afternoon. Vice President Mike Pence and Second Ms. Karen Pence will be in New York for the 9/11 museum ceremony and a separate event nearby organized by the Stephen Stiller Tunnel to Towers Foundation which will include the reading of the names of 2,977 people killed at the World Center commercial. The 9/11 museum has given up on reading the tradition of names due to security concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Smoke from the fires that blanketed the west coast may begin to clear

Strong, gusty winds have fueled the deadly fires that are burning in more than a dozen U.S. states, causing huge plumes of suffocating smoke blanketing cities all along the west coast, but winds may begin to subside on Friday. According to the National Weather Service, the winds that helped fuel the fires will die out over the weekend, but low humidity combined with warmer temperatures in the coming days is enough to stay on high alert for fires. It appears that misty clouds of smoke can persist in most areas, although the San Francisco Bay Area and parts of Los Angeles may see the skies begin to clear over the weekend. Deadly hell has killed at least 23 people, injured countless others, destroyed hundreds of homes and incinerated areas of land 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 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 on lockdown following the WHO’s March 11 announcement, COVID-19 sent the economy into a new recession that wiped out nearly all 10-year employment gains in just a few months. The fear of the virus has also profoundly disrupted everyday life. Travel and dining out are limited, schools are online, and face masks have become increasingly mandatory. Massive research is underway for a vaccine, but that too has been involved in presidential politics. Six months? Feels much longer.

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Louisiana to ease coronavirus restrictions, but New Orleans is not

Louisiana will ease restrictions on public meetings aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 on Friday, but New Orleans will not follow suit, the city mayor said. Governor John Bel Edwards announced that the state will move from “Phase Two” to “Phase Three” regulations when the current proclamation of emergency expires and said it will provide more information at a press conference on Friday. The restrictions on the New Orleans coronavirus have consistently been a bit stricter than those of the state. The city was the epicenter of a spring COVID-19 outbreak that made Louisiana one of the nation’s hotspots. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell spoke Thursday about plans to begin bringing students back to class starting Monday. “The main reason we stay in Phase Two, without moving further with any restrictions, is to get our kids back to class, have the time that will allow us to look at the data, look at the trends and then determine the impact.” Cantrell said. He said the city was looking for ways to crack down on businesses that don’t adhere to the closing rules.

The NBA playoffs include a game 7 and another potential elimination game

Two NBA playoff games will be played on Friday night: one will be a game 7 and the other will present the urgency of a game 7 for the team that needs a win to keep its season alive. The Toronto Raptors and the Boston Celtics will conclude their long and sometimes controversial bout 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 their last four games after Boston won the first two. In the other game, the Denver Nuggets will play for their playoff lives as they follow the Los Angeles Clippers 3-1 towards Game 5 of their Western Conference semifinal series. The Clippers have won their last two games to build that lead, but the Nuggets are 3-0 in elimination matches this season after they returned from a 3-1 trailing and defeated the Utah Jazz in the first round.

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What I’m Hearing: USA TODAY Sports’ Mark Medina talks about how mental health and the stress of being inside the NBA bubble have become an issue players talk about as the playoffs continue.

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Contributing: The Associated Press

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