More State, City Jobs Lost in Two Months Than During Recession

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In the past two months, states and cities have cut more jobs than they did after the last recession.

Even as businesses hired employees back as much of the nation started reopening, the number of workers on state and local government payrolls fell by 571,000 to 18.3 million in May, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Friday. That pushed the number of job cuts to about 1.5 million over the past two months, roughly twice as many as were ushered in after the last economic contraction over a decade ago.

Many of the job losses may be reversed when idled employees are called back as states reopen schools and their economies. But the steep cuts underscore the deep financial strain on usually slow-to-act states and cities, which are facing massive budget deficits after surging unemployment and business closures decimated their tax collections.

“The main take away is that this is happening because of intense shortfalls on the state and local levels,” said Wesley Tharpe, deputy director of state research at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “A lot of the decline we may be seeing may be furloughs, but without additional aid from federal policy makers a lot of those furloughs will become permanent layoffs because states have to balance their budgets.”

Most of the public sector losses where from schools with 373,200 jobs cut last month, which are likely to reverse when students return to classrooms. Outside of education, states cut 20,700 jobs and local governments eliminated 176,900 positions.

Such job cuts, if maintained, could exert a drag on the recovery. States alone are expected to face a $765 billion shortfall over the next three years based on projections by the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities. U.S. cities and towns are projected to lose about $360 billion of revenue through 2022, according to the National League of Cities.

Michigan is requiring state employees to take two days off every two weeks from May 17 to July 25, in order to cut payroll costs by $80 million. The state is expecting a budget gap twice what it suffered during the last recession. New Jersey may have to cut half of its 400,000 state and local employees if the federal government doesn’t help make up a $10.1 billion revenue shortage through June 2021, Governor Phil Murphy said.

Congress hasn’t passed direct aid to states and cities to address their budget shortfalls, with a Democrat-backed plan to provide some $1 trillion stalled.

“It’s going to be a very incomplete recovery, even at the end of 2021, if we don’t deal with the state and local sector,” said Josh Bivens, director of research at the Economic Policy Institute, in an interview this week.

— With assistance by Amanda Albright

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What is a Strawberry Moon – meaning of tonight's rare lunar event

THERE will be a full Moon in the sky tonight and it's called a Strawberry Moon.

The sweet name is actually more to do with the fruit than the Moon itself, as Nasa has explained on its website.

Nasa wrote: "The Maine Farmer's Almanac first published "Indian" names for the full Moons in the 1930's.

"According to this Almanac, as the full Moon in June and the last full Moon of spring, the Algonquin tribes called this the Strawberry Moon.

"The name comes from the relatively short season for harvesting strawberries in the north-eastern United States."

An almanac is an annual publication that lists events.

People across the globe should be able to see the Moon looking vast and potentially pinkish.

June's full Moon is always particularly low in the sky, this can make it shine through more of the atmosphere than at other times in the year.

It won't technically be pink or red but, according to Nasa, its low position can sometimes give the full Moon a reddish or rose colour.

Similar to when a rising or setting Sun appears pinkish or red.

So its fruit-based name isn't technically anything to do with its colour but it may still look pinkish if you catch it as it rises or sets.

Try catching a glimpse after sunset to see if you notice any pinkness.

Another name given to the phenomenon is Mead Moon or the Honey Moon – a time when honey is ripe and ready to be harvested, potentially to be turned into mead.

The 1500s term "honeymoon" may be linked to this full Moon, referring to the first month after marriage.

The full Moon this evening will also coincide with a penumbral eclipse, which shows up as a slight shadow on the Moon's face.

Stargazers in parts of Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia mat be able to spot the penumbral lunar eclipse if they look closely.

The UK won't have the best view and North America isn't expected to see it.

The subtle eclipse is caused by the Moon passing through part of Earth's shadow.

The Moon – our closest neighbour explained

Here's what you need to know…

  • The Moon is a natural satellite – a space-faring body that orbits a planet
  • It's Earth's only natural satellite, and is the fifth biggest in the Solar System
  • The Moon measures 2,158 miles across, roughly 0.27 times the diameter of Earth
  • Temperatures on the Moon range from minus 173 degrees Celcius to 260 degrees Celcius
  • Experts assumed the Moon was another planet, until Nicolaus Copernicus outlined his theory about our Solar System in 1543
  • It was eventually assigned to a "class" after Galileo discovered four moons orbiting Jupiter in 1610
  • The Moon is believed to have formed around 4.51billion years ago
  • The strength of its gravitational field is about a sixth of Earth's gravity
  • Earth and the Moon have "synchronous rotation", which means we always see the same side of the Moon – hence the phrase "dark side of the Moon"
  • The Moon's surface is actually dark, but appears bright in the sky due to its reflective ground
  • During a solar eclipse, the Moon covers the Sun almost completely. Both objects appear a similar size in the sky because the Sun is both 400 times larger and farther
  • The first spacecraft to reach the Moon was in 1959, as part of the Soviet Union's Lunar program
  • The first manned orbital mission was Nasa's Apollo 8 in 1968
  • And the first manned lunar landing was in 1969, as part of the Apollo 11 mission

In other space news, it recently emerged that an asteroid obliterated early human civilisations in a catastrophic collision with Earth 13,000 years ago.

Scientists recently discovered a "Super-Earth" 31 light-years away that humans could one day colonise.

And, distant planets may host even more life than we have here on Earth, according to one shock study.

Are you an avid fan of the Moon? Let us know in the comments…

We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Tech & Science team? Email us at [email protected]

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U.S. Hiring Rebounds, Defying Forecasts for Surge in Joblessness

America’s labor market defied forecasts for a Depression-style surge in unemployment by rebounding in May, signaling the economy is picking up faster than anticipated from the coronavirus-inflicted recession.

A key gauge of payrolls rose by 2.5 million, trouncing forecasts for a sharp decline following a 20.7 million tumble the prior month that was the largest in records back to 1939, according to Labor Department data Friday. The jobless rate fell to 13.3% from 14.7%.

U.S. stocks jumped after the report, adding to weeks of gains in equities since mid-March. The figures were so astonishing that President Donald Trump said he would hold a news conference at 10 a.m. in Washington to discuss what he called a “Really Big” report.

Read more: Bloomberg’s TOPLive blog on the jobs report

While the overall picture improved, one key number in the report deteriorated. Unemployment rates declined among white and Hispanic Americans, but the level ticked up among African Americans to 16.8%, matching the highest since 1984. That comes amid nationwide protests over police mistreatment of African-Americans, which have drawn renewed attention to black people’s economic plight.

The unexpected improvement wasn’t limited to the U.S. figures. North of the border, Canadian employment rose 290,000 in May, compared with forecasts of a 500,000 slump, its statistics office reported Friday.

The data show a U.S. economy pulling back from the brink as states relax restrictions and businesses bring back staff, while supporting a rebound in the stock market. At the same time, the lack of an effective treatment for Covid-19 — which has already killed more than 100,000 in the U.S. — means infections may persist and possibly surge in a second wave, with the potential to further shake the labor market and extend the economic weakness.

“Clearly the labor market turned the corner in late April, early May. We’re seeing a rebound of labor-market activity,” said Michael Englund, chief economist at Action Economics, who had estimated a payrolls decline of 2 million, the second-closest estimate. He expects June economic and labor-market data to show further improvements and plans to revise up his forecast for second-quarter gross domestic product.

The latest figures may give a boost to Trump, who has fallen behind Democratic challenger Joe Biden in polls amid the pandemic, recession and now nationwide protests over police mistreatment of African-Americans. The numbers also come amid a debate over the timing and scope of additional stimulus, with Democrats and Republicans at odds following record aid approved by Congress to cushion the downturn.

Economist forecasts had called for a decline of 7.5 million in payrolls and a jump in the unemployment rate to 19%. No one in Bloomberg’s survey had projected improvement in either figure.

One caveat noted by the U.S. Labor Department: the unemployment rate “would have been about 3 percentage points higher than reported” if data were reported correctly, according to the agency’s statement. That refers to workers who were recorded as employed but absent from work due to other reasons, rather than unemployed on temporary layoff.

The broader U-6, or underemployment rate — which includes those who haven’t searched for a job recently or want full-time employment — fell to 21.2% in May from 22.8%. In February, it was 7%, with the main unemployment rate at a half-century low of 3.5%.

Read more:

  • U.S. Jobless Claims Slow While Underscoring Persistent Weakness
  • Fed Vow Boosts Debt Binge While Borrowers Cut Thousands of Jobs
  • One-Third of America’s Record Unemployment Payout Hasn’t Arrived
  • Next Wave of U.S. Job Cuts Targets Millions of Higher-Paid Workers
  • What Pandemic’s Toll Reveals About Jobs in America: QuickTake

The employment-population ratio rose to 52.8% from 51.3%. The participation rate — or the sum of employed and unemployed Americans as a share of the working-age population — advanced to 60.8% from 60.2%.

Hiring in May was broad-based, with hard-hit restaurants rebounding along with retail and health care. But state and local government workers were hammered for a second month, with 571,000 job cuts.

“The bounceback started earlier than most expected, but don’t get too excited about this one month of data,” said Nick Bunker, an economic-research director at jobs website Indeed. “Sectors hit hardest by the coronavirus are the ones seeing the largest bounceback in employment.”

Manufacturing payrolls rose by 225,000, following a 1.32 million decline in April.

The share of the unemployed on temporary layoff fell to 73% from a record-high 78.3%. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. economists said before the report that if job losses remain concentrated in furloughs, “it would increase the scope for a more rapid labor market recovery.”

Average hourly earnings for employed private workers rose 6.7% in May from a year ago, following 8% in April, as the return of low-wage workers skewed pay figures back downward a bit.

— With assistance by Edith Moy, Chris Middleton, Elizabeth Dexheimer, and Benjamin Purvis

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Wintergreen Essential Oil Recalled As Packaging Was Not Child Resistant

Two companies have recalled Wintergreen Essential Oil saying the lack of child resistant packaging as required carries the risks of poisoning children, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission stated.

Waldo, Wisconsin – based Capstone Holdings LLC is calling back about 2,935 units of Simply Earth Wintergreen Essential Oil that were manufactured in the United States.

Rowland Heights, California-based Tim Trading LLC is also recalling about 900 units of Emori Wintergreen 100% Pure Essential Therapeutic Grade Oil manufactured in China.

The products contain the substance methyl salicylate, which should be in child resistant packaging. But, the recalled products’ packaging failed to comply with this, posing a risk of poisoning, if children swallow them.

However, both companies haven’t reported any incidents or injuries related to the recalled products till date.

Capstone’s Simply Earth Oil is in 15 mL amber glass bottles with black caps. They were sold online at and the Simply Earth store in Glendale, Wisconsin from September 2016 through September 2019 for about $12.

Tim Trading’s Emori Wintergreen Oil is in 10 mL amber glass bottles with black continuous thread closure. They were sold online at and from September 2017 through March 2020 for about $7.

Simply Earth offered a free child-resistant replacement cap, while Emori offers a full refund or replacement with a similar product.

In May, citing lack of child resistant packaging, Doral, Florida-based Sanvall Enterprises had recalled around 5,400 units of Rapid Alivio Pain Relieving Roll-On; Viva Doria recalled about 520 units of Viva Doria Wintergreen Essential Oil; and W8 Distributing recalled about 6,400 units of Jade Bloom Wintergreen and Birch Sweet Essential Oils.

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Ghost from the past does not haunt Maggi anymore

In 2019, the growth in sales of the Maggi brand of products surpassed the pre-ban level of 2014, in terms of both volume and value. While, Nestle raised prices of Maggi products by an average 3.1 per cent, its volume rose by 9.6 per cent year-on-year.

In 2019, Nestle sold some 264,000 mt of Maggi products, compared to 254,500 mt in 2014.

The country’s largest food company, Nestlé India, has finally managed to exorcise the ghost of the Maggi crisis that bogged it down four years ago.

In 2019, the growth in sales of the Maggi brand of products surpassed the pre-ban level of 2014, in terms of both volume and value.

Data sourced from its annual report for the year 2019 show it sold around 264,000 tonnes of Maggi products during the year, compared to 254,500 tonnes in 2014.

In value terms, the firm had already surpassed the pre-ban level in 2018 at Rs 3,105 crore, compared to Rs 2,961 crore in 2014.

In 2019, it sold Maggi products worth Rs 3,500 crore.

The company follows a calendar year format for financial reporting.

The Maggi fiasco in 2015, when it was banned by the food regulator, had taken a toll on all its four broad business categories.

While, it managed to recover sales (by volume and value) in the other three categories, Maggi sales had lagged.

The crisis had also impacted its total volume uptake in the intervening years.

This was addressed by the recovery in sales of Maggi, which contributes the largest chunk to the firm’s volume uptake and is the second largest segment in terms of revenue, as total offtake in 2019 stood at 478,400 tonnes – higher than the 458,600 tonnes in 2013.

The firm, however, failed to grow all its categories.

Its beverages portfolio, represented by brands like Nescafe and Nestea, shrank by 2.3 per cent and 1.4 per cent, respectively, by volume and value.

Its largest category by value – milk and nutrition – that contributes nearly 46 per cent to its top line, registered 9 per cent growth with a steep 7.5 per cent average price hike.

While, it raised prices of Maggi products by an average 3.1 per cent, its volume rose by 9.6 per cent year-on-year.

According to Edelweiss Securities analysis, in 2019, Nestle steadily “continued its nutrition, health and wellness journey through strong volume and mix-led growth.

“The company stayed in its path of growth, by investing in cutting-edge science and innovation and taking decisive steps towards renovation”.

The 71 new products that Nestlé introduced under brands like KitKat, Maggi, EveryDay, Cerelac, among others, contributed 3.4 per cent of its sales in 2019, it observed.

“By driving greater agility and rapidly adapting to the changing preferences of consumers, Nestlé brought meaningful differentiation, by improving taste, convenience and nutritional qualities of its products, which saw an increase in consumer trust,” said Abneesh Roy, executive vice-president, institutional equities, Edelweiss Securities.

Nestlé leads in seven of the eight market categories it is present in.

Cerelac (infant cereals), Nan and Lactogen (infant formula), EveryDay (tea creamer), Maggi noodles (instant noodles), Maggi pasta (instant pasta), KitKat, MilkyBar, and Munch (confectionary), and Nescafe (instant coffee) – are market leaders in their respective categories.

Maggi ketchup is second only to Hindustan Unilever’s Kissan, in the domestic market.

Experts said a slew of measures adopted in the past two years paid off.

Apart from strengthening urban distribution and services for all its brands, the firm focused on the rural market.

To add new consumers, the focus has been on improving penetration – adding new outlets and encouraging sampling by launching smaller pack sizes and pushing its products through region-specific promotional schemes.

As a result, the rural market share in Nestle’s sales surged to 25 per cent by end-2019 from about 10 per cent in 2015. It is now looking to generate 35 per cent of total sales from the rural market by 2022.

Another factor that helped was moving the organisation from a pan-Indian framework to a cluster one, dividing the country into 15 clusters.

This strategy of offering localised solutions also entails increased use of local media.

From banking on national media, the company has started using regional media vehicles.

The company credits the power of data analytics for much of its recent success.

Consequently, the India unit, which was already one of the 15 large markets for the Swiss food major, was the fastest growing one in 2019, Nestlé India’s chairman and managing director Suresh Narayanan said earlier.

Photograph: Shailesh Andrade/Reuters

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Savers facing ‘summertime of sadness’ can still build financial safety net

Savers have been warned that they face a “summertime of sadness”, with banks and building societies continuing to slash the interest rates they pay on accounts.

The financial information firm Moneyfacts said that since the Bank of England cut the base rate to only 0.1% in March, the average rate on an easy access account had halved to a record low of 0.3%. Meanwhile, returns on one-year fixed-rate savings bonds were on the verge of a new low, at an average of 0.92%.

However, it said the full fallout from the Bank cut may not have been felt and more cuts could be on the way.

Don’t look away: how to face your finances in lockdown – whether you are furloughed, unemployed or saving

The reductions come at a time when some households are finding they have spare money to put into savings and want to build up a financial safety net.

Research by Aviva found that while a quarter of adults felt they were unable to save, many households could have extra money to put aside as a result of a drop in spending during the coronavirus crisis. It said the typical UK household could have cut their outgoings by £171 a week.

Anna Bowes, a co-founder of the Savings Champion website, said although savers may feel things are “hopeless and there’s nothing they can do”, it could still be worth shopping around.

Some high street banks have cut rates to as little as 0.01% and there are better deals to be found. Among the deals savers could consider are:

NS&I’s income bonds. This is an easy access account that pays out monthly interest – it is currently still paying 1.15% before tax. The minimum investment is £500 and you can hold up to £1m. Your money is backed by the Treasury. The rate is not fixed.

Variable rates are still vulnerable to further cuts, so some may prefer to tie up at least some of their money in fixed-rate bonds, Bowes says. She says the best one-year account is with Ikano Bank, paying 1.21%. That needs a minimum deposit of £1,000. Up to £85,000 in savings is currently protected under the Swedish deposit protection scheme (from 1 January 2021 people’s money will be protected up to the same level by the official UK deposit protection scheme).

If you would prefer to tie your money up for longer, the rates are a little better. Ikano Bank is also paying the best rate over two years: 1.31%.

Among the best-paying easy access accounts highlighted by the Savers Friend website is Family building society’s market tracker saver, which pays a rate that is the average of the top 20 no-notice accounts available. The variable rate is currently 1.13%, although the society warns that it will fall below 1% in July. The minimum deposit is £500. 

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What is a penumbral lunar eclipse and is it safe to look directly at it? – The Sun

TONIGHT stargazers will be able to spot the June 2020 penumbral lunar eclipse around dusk.

But what exactly is a penumbral lunar eclipse and is it safe to look at?

What is a penumbral lunar eclipse?

In a penumbral lunar eclipse only the outer shadow of the Earth, which is called the penumbra, falls on the earth's face.

It's not the most obvious eclipse as it's quite hard to spot, unlike a total eclipse which can turn the entire moon red.

The most people will see is a dark shadowing on the moon's face, but you have to be actively looking for it.

For tonight, we will need the skies to be clear to be able to see the eclipse.

It's best to view where there is less light pollution.

Is it OK to look directly at?

A lunar eclipse is fine to look at but solar eclipses are only safe to look at when the sun is completely obscured by the moon.

Staring at it before then, even briefly, can cause irreparable eye damage, according to scientist Bill Nye.

He said: "The danger is simply that an eclipse is so fascinating, that we are tempted to stare right at the Sun for minutes at a time, much longer than we would even consider on any other day."

What's the difference between a lunar and a solar eclipse?

A solar eclipse happens when the moon gets in the way of the sun's light and casts its shadow on Earth.

This kind of eclipse happens around every year and a half somewhere on Earth but not everyone experiences every solar eclipse.

The moon’s shadow on Earth is not very big, so only a small portion of places on Earth will see it.
The same spot on Earth only gets to see a solar eclipse for a few minutes about every 375 years, according to Nasa.


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Musk Says ‘Time To Break Up Amazon,’ Fueling Feud with Bezos

Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said it’s “time to break up Amazon” in a tweet Thursday, escalating a rivalry with Inc. CEO Jeff Bezos, another billionaire investing in space exploration.

“Monopolies are wrong,” Musk tweeted while tagging Bezos, the world’s wealthiest man. The online retailer is among tech companies being scrutinized by federal regulators and lawmakers for the increasing size and the scope of its business.

Musk’s post came in response to a tweet from a writer who said his book titled “Unreported Truths About COVID-19 and The Lockdown” was being removed from Amazon’s Kindle publishing division for violating unspecified guidelines.

An Amazon spokeswoman said the book was removed in error and is being reinstated. “We have notified the author,” she said in an email.

Last year, a Space Exploration Technologies Corp. executive said Amazon’s effort to build a constellation of broadband internet satellites was years behind the closely held company. Musk founded SpaceX eight years before Bezos started rival manufacturer Blue Origin.

With more than 35 million followers, Musk is a prolific tweeter. He has been criticized in the past for his posts on various subjects ranging from the coronavirus outbreak to Tesla’s stock price.

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Universal Credit UK: Concern over policy which could be ‘detrimental to tenants’

Universal Credit provides millions across the country with the valuable support they need with the cost of living, and the benefit has become increasingly relied upon in recent weeks. The lockdown measures within the country have driven many people to claim the benefit to provide them with additional support during this time. Additional financial support for claimants can include the Alternative Payment Arrangement (APA), which can be relieving for those who are worried about eviction.


  • Retail worker faces eviction in lockdown rent crisis – Citizens Advice

If a claimant is facing hardship or is behind on rent, arrangements can be made by their landlord to ease their burden.

APA can:

  • Get the rent paid directly to the landlord
  • Allow the claim to be paid more frequently than once a month
  • Split the payments if a claimant is part of a couple

The APA system has been praised for allowing landlords and tenants to request the housing section of Universal Credit be rerouted to the landlord directly without the need for paperwork. 

A new online system has provided particular assistance during lockdown and social distancing measures implemented across the UK.

However, concern was sparked by recent comments made by the current Work and Pensions Secretary, Thérèse Coffey.

Ms Coffey appeared to pour water on the hope that APA could become commonplace within the Universal Credit system.

Taking questions from the Economic Affairs Committee, Ms Coffey discussed the economics of Universal Credit, and how the system has been functioning. 

As part of these comments, Ms Coffey told MPs she does not wish to see a return to the widespread use of direct rent payments to landlords with tenants in receipt of housing benefit.

This is despite the fact Ms Coffey praised the new online Alternative Payment Arrangement system.

Ms Coffey stated reintroducing the default payment which existed before the invention of Universal Credit would “add too much complication” to the system.

Government officials including Ms Coffey, and Neil Couling, Universal Credit Director-General, indicated this system should be set aside for those who are facing particular hardship.

Landlords could face £30,000 fines as new rules come into force [INSIGHT]
Property panic: UK facing EVICTION CRISIS if PM doesn’t act [REVEALED]
Universal Credit UK: DWP launches new online rent payments system [INSIGHT]


  • Universal Credit UK: Important information about benefit repayment

The APA online system was developed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) alongside Caridon Landlord Solutions, who expressed concern over Ms Coffey’s statements.

The organisation described the comments as disappointing for landlords, but stressed this would also be detrimental for tenants in receipt of Universal Credit.

Sherrelle Collman, Managing Director of Caridon Landlord Solutions said: “We fully understand that one of the key objectives of the introduction of Universal Credit was to simplify the system and make work pay, giving those in receipt of Universal Credit a monthly payment, mimicking how many people in full-time employment receive their salary and preparing them to manage their finances.

“However, we know from experience that rent arrears have not only increased since the introduction of UC, but also a large proportion of claimants are falling into arrears within the first couple of months. 

“Whilst it is important to empower tenants and provide support into independent living, making direct payments to landlords more difficult to access puts the most vulnerable tenants at greater risk.

“Without the confidence to let to tenants in receipt of Universal Credit, landlords will turn their backs on this sector and a time when there is a record number of people in receipt of Universal Credit and rising unemployment as a result of the global pandemic, we should be doing all we can to help make managing finances easier.”

Those who are interested in starting an application for an APA are advised to speak to their work coach.

This will enable them to discuss the options which are best suited to their personal circumstances. 

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Supreme Court Justice Blocks Order to Move Inmates Facing Virus

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor temporarily blocked a judge’s order that would require federal prison officials to move hundreds of inmates out of an Ohio facility where nine people have died from the coronavirus.

Acting Thursday on a Trump administration request, Sotomayor stopped the transfers while the matter goes before a federal appeals court that will hear arguments Friday. She gave no explanation in her one-sentence order.

The administration said it would have had to start transferring inmates from the Elkton Federal Correctional Institution on Friday, when 128 prisoners finish a two-week quarantine. The administration asked the Supreme Court to revisit the dispute after the justices refused to intervene last week.

The Elkton prison has become a hot spot for Covid-19. More than 570 inmates have tested positive, though the Trump administration says the outbreak has subsided dramatically in recent weeks. The low-security facility in western Ohio houses more than 2,300 prisoners in dormitory-style units that make social distancing difficult.

After four prisoners sued, U.S. District Judge James Gwin ordered the prison to prepare to move about 840 vulnerable inmates who either are over 65 or have health conditions that make them vulnerable if they contract Covid-19. Gwin told officials to consider compassionate release, home confinement or transfer to a different prison.

Gwin’s April 22 order was the subject of the administration’s first request to the Supreme Court. In rejecting that bid, the court left open the possibility of intervention later, and pointed to a follow-up order the judge issued May 19.

‘Poor Progress’

Gwin issued the second order because of what he said were the prison’s “limited efforts” to reduce the Covid-19 risks and “poor progress” in moving inmates. The May 19 order requires the Bureau of Prisons to provide an individualized explanation for each inmate who isn’t granted home confinement, compassionate release or transfer to another facility.

U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco told the high court that the Bureau of Prisons is trying to focus its resources on minimizing transmission within each institution.

“The wide-scale inmate transfers ordered by the district court as a means to combat the Covid-19 pandemic are highly disruptive of sound prison administration, and would be all the more so if other courts imposed similar orders,” Francisco argued.

Lawyers for the suing inmates said prison administrators “only dug in their heels” after the first order, categorically barring groups of prisoners from even being considered for home confinement and giving minimal explanations as to why inmates weren’t given compassionate release.

The inmates “face a severe risk of contracting Covid and dying, in a facility where fully one-quarter of inmates have already been infected, and they cannot possibly protect themselves from community contagion,” the prisoners’ legal team at the American Civil Liberties Union argued.

The case is Williams v. Wilson, 19A1047.

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