Here are the headlines you Need2Know for Friday, July 24, 2020:

4 MILLION U.S. COVID-19 CASES: There are now more than four million known cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and the death toll has risen to more than 144,000 people as the South and Sun Belt of the U.S. continue to battle surging numbers of cases. Amid surging cases in Florida, President Trump also announced on Thursday that Republicans have canceled convention activities in Jacksonville. A pared-down event will now take place in Charlotte, N.C. NBC

PAYROLL TAX CUT CUT: The payroll tax cut, a major demand from President Trump for inclusion in the next coronavirus relief package, was dropped, according to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Objections to the planned cut came from fellow Republicans who were concerned that it would further balloon the already staggering budget deficit. The opening bid for a COVID-19 rescue bill by the Senate GOP is estimated to cost $1 trillion, far short of the approximate $3 trillion in spending the House Democrats have already passed. AP

AOC SOUNDS OFF: New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called out Florida Rep. Ted Yoho on the floor of the House for publicly calling her a name that can't be repeated here. Yoho had gotten into it with her on the steps of the Capitol earlier this week, but when he had the chance to apologize for his behavior, AOC said he declined to do so, instead, resting on his laurels as a father and a husband. To that, she said, "I am someone's daughter, too."  WATCH

CHINESE CONSULATE DEADLINE: The State Department has given the Chinese consulate in Houston until Friday afternoon to shut its doors after alleging U.S. intellectual properties are at risk. Chinese agents have reportedly attempted to steal medical research from Texas A&M and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, according to the State Department. Spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said, "The United States will not tolerate [China’s] violations of our sovereignty and intimidation of our people…" China retaliated by ordering the closure of the U.S. consulate in Chengdu within 72 hours. WAPO  

TIKTOK TO PAY UP: After tense conversations and near litigation earlier this year, TikTok and the National Music Publishers’ Association have inked a deal, giving artists and songwriters the opportunity to license their work to the popular social site. Under the deal, artists will also be compensated for past works used on the platform. The news comes as TikTok’s presence in the U.S. hangs in the balance amid security concerns over the app. VARIETY

TRUMP FIGHTS TO TEXT: President Trump’s re-election campaign is pulling out all the stops to secure his stay in the White House, including spamming your text inbox with unsolicited campaign messages. The campaign is fighting major mobile carriers like AT&T and Verizon over third-party tools used to stop those campaign messages, which his team says suppresses political speech. BUSINESS INSIDER

MICHAEL COHEN RELEASE…AGAIN: A federal judge has ruled that ex-Trump lawyer, Michael Cohen, will be re-released to home confinement after ruling that he had been sent back to prison as retaliation for writing a tell-all book about the president. Cohen sued the Justice Department and Bureau of Prisons following the decision to send him back to prison. He’s set to be released from Otisville Federal Prison by 2 p.m. today. USA TODAY

MLB'S FAKE FANS: With Major League Baseball underway once again, albeit much later in the year than usual, Fox Sports announced a novel approach to broadcasting the games with stadiums that are empty due to the pandemic: "virtual fans" in the stands. The network even touted that the computer-generated attendees will cheer, boo, and do The Wave. @FOXSports

T-SWIFT’S SURPRISE DROP: Swifties were gifted with a surprise release of Taylor Swift’s 8th studio album Folklore. The Shake It Off singer said the surprise album was the result of all her summer plans being canceled — likely due to the coronavirus pandemic. The big reveal includes a video for the lead single Cardigan. WATCH IT 

A LOOK AHEAD: T-Swift’s surprise drop could set up a potential runoff for Billboard’s number one spot with rival Kanye West, as he reportedly gears up to release Donda, his 10th studio album. ROLLING STONE

LEFTOVERS:  WHAT'S IN A NAME? Two pro sports teams revealed new names and they're both headscratchers. Washington D.C.'s NFL franchise is dropping its name, which has been largely panned as racist, but hasn't come up with a final replacement yet. So for the time being they'll be known as Washington Football Team. Meanwhile, Seattle’s new NHL team has trekked down a more mythological path and will be known as the Kraken. A play on Seattle’s already ominous and overcast feel, the Kraken is an enormous sea-monster, known for terrorizing sailors. ESPN

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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