US surgeon general: Brace for coronavirus Pearl Harbor

US Surgeon General Jerome Adams expects coronavirus deaths to increase this week, with the impact felt nationwide. "This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment, only it's not going to be localized," he says.

Students program robotic hands to use sign language

A group of engineering students at The Citadel are building a pair of robotic hands and programing them to use American Sign Language using voice recognition software. While the robotic hands lack the physical or facial expressions that are important to the language, students say they want to create an online workshop that can teach students anywhere how to create the robot, which is cheap and easy to do, according to cadet Paul Vargas.

Problems plague Paycheck Protection Program

The launch of the Paycheck Protection Program has been marked by confusion and technical glitches that have slowed the dispersal of funds. The portal for the program has reportedly been crashing and slow, with many banks manually entering information as thousands apply. Some businesses may have a harder time securing loans as some banks are giving priority to current customers.

Publix rolls out contactless payment

In an effort to help slow the coronavirus outbreak, Publix Super Markets is joining other US retailers in rolling out contactless payment options at checkout using Google Pay, Apple Pay, the Publix app or "tap" payment debit and credit cards. "By expediting this payment option, we will help customers reduce contact with commonly used surfaces like PIN pads," said Publix CEO Todd Jones.

Survey: Americans edgy about sharing COVID-19 status with apps
Axios

More than half the US residents responding to a survey late last month said they are willing to share some health data, including a positive COVID-19 test result, with the CDC or World Health Organization, but far fewer said they would want a positive test result shared with local officials or other federal agencies. Only 21% said they would share a positive test result with apps that anonymize or aggregate data on where infected people are, and 9% would share it with apps that disclose patient names.

Google puts Chrome's SameSite rules on hold

Google is temporarily stopping its SameSite third-party cookie tracking rules to ensure businesses using websites to communicate about essential services such as banking, online grocery and health care remain accessible to Chrome users during the coronavirus pandemic. In March, Google said it would focus Chrome and Chrome OS updates on security, rather than more features.

Walmart sees sales surge in stores, online amid pandemic

Walmart saw an almost 20% sales increase at its more than 4,700 US stores in the last four weeks, compared to the same period last year, as consumers stockpiled food and other essential items amid the spread of coronavirus. The retailer also saw a surge in downloads of its grocery mobile app and reported a more than 30% jump in online sales over the past two months.

Fake Netflix websites aim to steal payment data
USA Today

Cybercriminals have created Netflix look-alike websites that steal users' data and financial information, cybersecurity firm Check Point reports. Consumers are advised to look for spelling errors in promotional emails and on webpages and to create unique passwords for each service they use.

Trump moves to stop exports of medical supplies

President Donald Trump signed a directive allowing the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to use the Defense Production Act to block the export of scarce medical supplies such as N95 respirators, gloves, surgical masks and other personal protective equipment. Trump also said the government sent hundreds of ventilators in states hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, including New Jersey, Michigan, Louisiana, Illinois and Massachusetts.

ISPs pledge to keep people connected

Dozens of internet service providers will refrain from disconnecting service to small businesses and individuals over unpaid bills and let late payment fees slide for the next 60 days, as well as creating public hotspots for Wi-Fi access, as part of the Keep Americans Connected Pledge that the Federal Communications Commission created. The ISPs also pledged to open public hot spots to those who need them.

Senate could impede $2T infrastructure measure
The Hill

President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have supported including a $2 trillion infrastructure package in a stimulus bill, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has pushed back. Trump cites zero interest rates as a good reason to proceed with infrastructure projects as part of a pandemic relief package, but McConnell and other Senate Republicans have advocated for a bill narrowly focused on economic relief.

Very thin substances could be the future of manufacturing

Extremely thin two-dimensional materials such as molybdenum disulfide and graphene hold promise for the manufacturing of phones, headphones, solar cells and more. They can also be combined into three-dimensional blocks and deposited on silicon wafers for experiments.

Travel activity dwindles amid coronavirus

Data from the Transportation Security Administration shows a steep slowdown in travel across the US, with record low numbers of passenger passing through security screenings. State and federal governments have issued stay-at-home orders in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Feds: Airlines obligated to provide cash refunds

The US Transportation Department reached out to airlines after receiving an increasing number of complaints to say that cash refunds must be given for flight cancellations due to the coronavirus. The agency says the refunds represent "a longstanding obligation" of airlines and that it may take enforcement action if necessary.