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Need2Know: Masks Off!, Pipeline Ransom & 'Friends' Reunion Date

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In this Thursday, April 8, 2021, file photo, Kent State University student Regan Raeth, of Hudson, Ohio, looks at her vaccination bandage as she waits for 15 minutes after her shot in Kent, Ohio. (AP Photo/Phil Long, File)
Here are the headlines you Need2Know for Friday, May 14, 2021:

NO MASKS IF VAXXED!

Vaccinated Americans no longer have to wear masks or socially distance in most scenarios, the CDC declared in a stark and sudden revision to its public health guidance. The caveats: even if you’re vaccinated, you still need to wear a mask inside hospitals, doctor’s offices, and nursing homes as well as on public transportation and in airports. The agency is deferring to local authorities and businesses on specific mandates and says it will have revised guidance for schools, summer camps and travel soon. President Biden called it a “great day for America” and credited the vaccination drive for making it possible. ABC NEWS

STATUS CHECK

The CDC made its reversal in response to data showing that the rate of vaccinations in the U.S. is accelerating the end of the pandemic. Several states are now going multiple days with zero or single digit COVID fatalities. New case numbers are at 35,000 and falling; hospitalizations are around 36,000 and falling; daily deaths are down to 600 or so -- and falling. The Cleveland Clinic says preliminary data shows the vast, vast majority of people now getting sick or being hospitalized have not been vaccinated. AKRON BEACON JOURNAL

MIDEAST VIOLENCE

Israel has massed troops at the border with Gaza and called up thousands of reservists, suggesting a possible ground invasion against Hamas could be imminent. Israeli artillery has been shelling targets inside Gaza while Hamas has continued to fire some 1,800 long-range rockets at targets deep inside Israel. The city of Lod in central Israel has become a flashpoint for some of the worst civil unrest in years, with Jewish and Arab mobs fighting each other in the streets despite a heavy police presence. AP

NYC MAYOR'S RACE

The eight Democratic candidates running to be mayor of New York City faced off in their first debate ahead of a June primary that will all but assure whoever wins will be elected in November. Andrew Yang is the front runner of the bunch and has been leading most polls since he announced his candidacy. Eric Adams, a former cop, is running close behind. Crime and public safety are becoming the defining issues of the race as the country’s largest city is dealing with a sustained uptick in shootings and violent crime. NY1

PIPELINE RANSOM

It turns out Colonial Pipeline did end up paying the ransom to get its fuel pipeline back up and running. The company reportedly handed over $5 million in cryptocurrency to Eastern European hackers hours after they issued their demands. In exchange, the hackers provided a decryption tool to restore the computer systems, but that tool was apparently so slow that Colonial ended up using its own backups to get the pipeline back online. Officials say it will take “several days” for gas supply to get back to normal. BLOOMBERG

LABOR SHORTAGE

AMAZON: Amazon is hiring 75,000 new employees and will sweeten the pot with $1,000 signing bonuses for many of them. The company is also bumping its starting hourly wage to $17 from $15 for the new gigs as it competes with other large employers in an extremely competitive 
labor market. WSJ
MICKEY D’S: McDonald’s is raising pay for about 37,000 hourly workers at its company-owned locations. The average increase will be about 10 percent over the coming months, with starting wages going up to a minimum of $11 to $17 an hour. Managers will make a minimum of $15 to $20. The move follows similar pay bumps at other restaurant chains like Chipotle as the industry struggles to find workers. Of the 14,000 McDonald’s in the U.S., 95 percent are franchisees, and those won’t be required to raise pay. YAHOO FINANCE

YANKEE COVID OUTBREAK

The New York Yankees have reported eight confirmed COVID cases this week, despite the team and staff having been vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson shot. Shortstop Gleyber Torres is the latest member of the team to test positive, the second time he’s been infected in less than a year. Seven of the eight cases were asymptomatic; only the third base coach showed mild symptoms, which speaks to the data showing that even people who do get infected post-vaccination tend to not get very sick. CNN

'FRIENDS' REUNION

We have a date for the highly-anticipated and long-delayed Friends special. Friends: The Reunion will debut on HBO Max on May 27. All six stars of the original show will appear for the reunion (reportedly for a fee of $2.5 million each). Here’s the first teaser trailer: WATCH

CELEB COUPLE ALERT

John Mulaney is reportedly dating Olivia Munn after splitting with his wife of six years, Anna Marie Tendler. Mulaney recently completed a 60-day stint in rehab before announcing the divorce. Tendler said this week she was “heartbroken that John decided to end our marriage.” PEOPLE

IN MEMORIAM: POST-IT INVENTOR

Spencer Silver, the scientist who accidentally invented the Post-it Note, has died. Silver was a chemist at 3M in the 60’s when he was trying to create a new kind of adhesive to be used for airplane construction. He never got it right, but in the process he invented a form of adhesive that was sticky enough to stay on a surface but could also be removed and reused. It took several years until another 3M inventor realized how Silver’s adhesive could be useful -- as a bookmark that could be peeled on and off -- and the yellow Post-it Note was born. 3M now sells more than 50 billion of them a year. Silver was 80 years old. OBIT
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