Coronavirus crisis, cruise ships' arrival, Storytellers Project: 5 things to know Thursday

Editors, USA TODAY

Michigan governor to hold coronavirus town hall

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will hold a live town hall Thursday to give viewers a chance to ask questions about the coronavirus pandemic. Commercial and public TV stations in the Detroit area are teaming up to produce the show, which will be telecast from 7 to 8 p.m. EDT. Michigan is one of the states hit hardest by the coronavirus, with 259 deaths among more than 7,600 cases reported. Last week, President Donald Trump said he asked Vice President Mike Pence not to call governors he says have not been "appreciative," including Whitmer, whom he referred to only by gender. "Don't call the woman in Michigan," Trump said. Whitmer replied on Twitter that "right now, we all need to be focused on fighting the virus, not each other."

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Florida governor to accept state residents off cruise ships

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said his state was willing to accept Floridians on board two Holland America cruise ships seeking to disembark in Florida after more than 190 guests and crew reported flu-like symptoms, including eight passengers who tested positive for COVID-19.  State officials, DeSantis said, are "working on a solution" to disembark other passengers, including foreign nationals, in a way that does not drain resources in South Florida, the state's epicenter of COVID-19 cases. There are 24 guests from Florida on the MS Zaandam and 25 on the MS Rotterdam.  The ships, currently carrying a total of 1,200 passengers including 304 Americans, are set to arrive in Fort Lauderdale early Thursday. Carnival Corp., Holland America's parent company, reported in a recent SEC filing that approximately 6,000 passengers still aboard its ships are expected to disembark by the end of April. 

Storytellers Project: Tune in for a live storytelling show

Now more than ever, Americans want to feel connected. So the Storytellers Project is launching a series of national virtual storytelling nights as part of the USA TODAY Network's response to the novel coronavirus. This live show will air on network websites and social channels, including Storytellers Project's YouTube channel and Facebook page, at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET on Thursday. Organizers hand-picked the best stories from more than 1,000 to be told live. Five Americans from across the country will tell a true story that affirms our most deeply held values — hope, perseverance, compassion and love.

Lindsey Braun tells her story during the Des Moines Register Storytellers Project at Hoyt Sherman Place on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, in Des Moines.

Unemployment claims could set record amid millions of new layoffs

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg estimate a Labor Department report Thursday will show 3.5 million Americans filed initial applications for unemployment insurance last week, up from the record 3.3 million who sought benefits the prior week. Some expect a far bigger total, such as Bank of America expecting 5.5 million unemployment claims. The numbers could mark just the initial wave of a punishing couple of months. Several factors likely pushed the count higher last week, analysts say, including a flood of applications delaying claims and more layoffs and furloughs nationally.

Dolly Parton wants to read you and your kids a bedtime story

Beloved pop culture icon Dolly Parton will begin a weekly web series Thursday called "Goodnight With Dolly," where she'll read a bedtime story. Parton will read stories, pulled from her international book donation program Imagination Library, each Thursday at 8 p.m. EDT for the next 10 weeks. She'll read books "specifically chosen for their appropriate content at this unique time." The singer said that this project is something she had been wanting to do for a while, "but the timing never felt quite right." Viewers can watch the web series on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus crisis, cruise ships' arrival: 5 things to know Thursday