Here are the headlines you Need2Know for Monday, May 24, 2021:


The U.S. hasn’t seen numbers this good since last summer. By all metrics, the pandemic is on the way out, at least here. The national daily caseload is clocking in under 30,000 for the first time since last June. Average daily deaths are down to about 550. More than 61 percent of adults are at least partially vaccinated, and the number is still growing by one or two percentage points a week. India has become the third country to cross 300,000 deaths after the U.S. and Brazil, but the worst outbreaks in cities like Mumbai and Delhi are starting to recede. AP


Researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology became sick enough in November 2019 that they had to be hospitalized, according to a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report. The three scientists reportedly had symptoms consistent with COVID-19 a month before the first coronavirus cases were reported in Wuhan, giving support to the theory that the virus may have escaped from that lab. China has strongly denied the “lab leak” theory on how the virus originated. WSJ


Two of China’s top marathoners were among 21 people who were killed in extreme weather during a 62-mile mountain race. According to Chinese media reports, runners competing in the grueling ultramarathon in Gansu Province were around the 12-mile mark when the weather turned on a dime. Temperatures plummeted, rain turned to hail and gale-force winds blew in just as the runners, in short sleeves and shorts, were caught on a dangerous mountain pass. Race organizers are facing questions about why they didn’t account for the possibility of severe weather. CBS NEWS


The government of Belarus scrambled fighter jets to intercept a civilian European airliner flying though the country’s airspace, forcing it to land so that a dissident journalist on board could be seized. The Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania made an emergency landing in Minsk, where authorities snatched Roman Protasevich, a 26-year-old critic of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, a puppet leader of Vladimir Putin who is known as “Europe’s last dictator.” The incident has prompted outrage around the world. BLOOMBERG


The crypto sell-off continued through the weekend with Bitcoin’s price falling below $32,000 at one point before rebounding a bit. Bitcoin is now down 50 percent from its peak in mid-April but still up close to 20 percent on the year. Ether and Doge are down 60 percent from their all-time highs. MARKETWATCH


Snap is still betting that augmented-reality glasses are the future, even though consumers haven’t seemed to want them. The camera company formerly known as Snapchat is paying $500 million for WaveOptics, a maker of AR displays. Snap also recently previewed its fourth-generation Spectacles glasses with the latest AR technology, though they aren’t for sale yet. Apple and Facebook are also working on AR glasses. THE VERGE


Phil Mickelson became the oldest golfer to win a major with his victory at the PGA Championship. Mickelson, who will be 51 in a few weeks, overcame a dominant Brooks Koepka to claim his sixth major and first since 2013. ESPN


The Italian glam-rock band Maneskin won Eurovision on Saturday, beating out acts from 39 countries in the annual international song competition. The band’s win is being overshadowed by a viral video appearing to show lead singer Damiano David snorting cocaine on live TV as the group awaited the results. David says it’s all a big misunderstanding;  he was really just reacting to his bandmate breaking a glass under the table and will take a drug test to prove it: SEE FOR YOURSELF


...Pink’s 9-year-old daughter, Willow, performing in an aerial act alongside her mom at the Billboard Music Awards: WATCH

… Aidy Bryant, Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon and Kenan Thompson -- the longest-tenured cast members on SNL -- delivering an emotional cold open for the season finale, leading to speculation they won’t return to the show in the fall: WATCH


A Florida high school is facing criticism from parents and students alike after dozens of female students noticed that their yearbook photos were photoshopped to cover up their chests and arms. About 80 girls at Bartram Trail High School near Jacksonville had their photos digitally -- and crudely -- altered to cover exposed skin, but no boys’ photos were changed, including one showing the swim team in their Speedos. The controversy has opened up the age-old debate about whether school dress codes are inherently sexist and outdated. NBC NEWS

Listen to the N2K Podcast! Looking for more context and analysis on the big stories of the day? Check out our podcast! Hosts Jill and Carlo break down the headlines, every weekday morning Listen on Apple or Spotify, or watch on YouTube, and send us your feedback!

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