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Juneteenth holiday, Gulf Coast weather, Olympics track and field trials: 5 things to know Friday

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Federal employees take the day to celebrate Juneteenth, the country’s newest holiday

Most federal employees are off work this Friday in honor of Juneteenth, which commemorates the day in 1865 that the final enslaved people in the Confederate states learned about the end of slavery. President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law Thursday, flanked by Vice President Kamala Harris, the nation’s first Black vice president. “This will go down for me as one of the greatest honors I will have as president,” Biden said. Long observed among Black Americans, Juneteenth has gained higher prominence in recent years after racial justice movements increased interest in the holiday and more states and cities have passed legislation commemorating emancipation. Biden praised the holiday as a way to help  heal divisions and bring about racial justice. More than 460 companies are observing Juneteenth, with many offering a paid day off or holiday pay, according to HellaCreative, a San Francisco initiative.

Gulf Coast bracing for Tropical Storms, heavy rain 

An ominous weather system slowly rolling toward the Gulf of Mexico Thursday was threatening to strengthen into Tropical Storm Claudette before slamming onto shore across four states. The National Hurricane Center issued a tropical storm warning for southeast Louisiana to the Alabama-Florida border. Coastal Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Florida panhandle could face heavy rains and flooding Friday and into the weekend.  AccuWeather meteorologists pinpointed late Friday to Saturday as the most likely time frame, and the Louisiana coastline is the most likely place for landfall, though it may occur anywhere from near the Texas-Louisiana border to the western part of the Florida Panhandle. 

Ohio governor to end COVID emergency declaration 

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced the end of the state’s COVID-19 emergency declaration will come Friday. “We’ve come to the conclusion it really does not impact what we need to do in this pandemic based on this point” in time, DeWine said. The governor had declared the emergency on March 14, 2020, which allowed the state to suspend competitive bidding, draw down assistance and make emergency rules, among other provisions. DeWine said state requirements on visits to nursing homes, such as limiting the number of visitors, will also be lifted Friday. Most of the state’s health orders, including the state mask mandate, ended June 2.

Who to look out for during the Olympics track and field trials

The U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials are taking over Eugene, Oregon, starting Friday. The meet will feature former gold medalists, NCAA champions and young professionals across a packed eight-day schedule. One of the most anticipated races will be the women’s 400-meter hurdles, which will see world record holder Dalilah Muhammed face off against Sydney McLaughlin, who holds the second-fastest time ever in the event. The men’s short sprints will also be competitive. Noah Lyles, a two-time gold medalist at the 2019 World Championships, is a favorite to qualify in both the 100 and 200-meter dash. Several athletes are right on his tail. The trials will also serve as a breakout opportunity for many young athletes looking to make the team for the first time. 

Disney+ releases its newest Pixar flick, Luca

The newest animated feature from Pixar, “Luca,” premiered on Disney+ Friday morning. Two young sea monsters visit a town on the Italian Riviera for gelato, pasta and a heartwarming story of friendship and acceptance. The two leads, voiced by Jacob Tremblay (“Good Boys,” “Room”) and Jack Dylan Grazer (“Shazam!”), can appear as human boys out of the water. While in town, they quickly bond with a quirky girl, voiced by Emma Berman, take on the local bully, train for a triathlon and also tackle their own fears and insecurities in a very Pixar way.

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