Friday, March 6, 2020   
Mississippi State University Hosting Intellectual Property and Sports Law Seminar
Mississippi State University's Office of Technology Management and the Mississippi Bar's Intellectual Property, Entertainment & Sports Law Section will host "Challenges and Hot Topics in IP and Sports Law," a seminar on sports law and the use of intellectual property for starting and growing a business, on Friday, March 27, at MSU's Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems. Lawyers and entrepreneurs will discuss how to use intellectual property laws to protect products and grow companies. CAVS researchers will also demonstrate new sports and automotive technologies, and a sports panel will discuss legal challenges in college athletics. During the conference, MSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach Director Eric Hill will lead an interactive session for MSU student teams entering the 2020 MSU Startup Summit, which will take place from March 23-27. Participants will discuss ways to navigate potential legal issues with new companies. The seminar represents six hours of continuing legal education credit for lawyers.
SOCSD emphasizes importance of Census 2020
As the Census 2020 gets underway, it is important for several entitles that the count is as accurate as possible, among them the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District. For every student in the district not counted, the district stands to lose $2,700 per year, or $27,000 for the decade until the next census is taken. Superintendent Eddie Peasant also said the data gained through the census could help the district with eligibility for grants and other aid. "A part of what we're wanting to do is educate our students on the importance of the census to them, to their families, to their communities, and of course to our schools," Peasant said. "We just want to make sure that our families and our community understand. We're educating the community, and we're trying to inform all of its members of the importance to the community." He said the district was trying to make sure he community knew the impact to both the district and the larger community.
Economy adds booming 273,000 jobs in February as unemployment rate falls to 3.5% from 3.6%
The labor market turned its second straight strong showing in February as employers added 273,000 jobs despite a slowing economy, worker shortages and early coronavirus fears. The unemployment rate fell from 3.6% to 3.5%, matching a 50-year low, the Labor Department said Friday. Also encouraging: Job gains for December and January were revised up by a total 85,000. December's was upgraded from 147,000 to 184,000, and January's, from 225,000 to 273,000. Many economists said coronavirus concerns were unlikely to significantly affect the February jobs totals because the outbreak didn't begin to have a bigger impact on the economy and stock market until late February. The employment survey is conducted earlier in the month. The virus, however, could sharply reduce payroll gains in the months ahead. "Stock market selloffs, weakening global demand, strained supply chains, and heightened economic uncertainty will weigh on business sentiment and their ability to weather the storm," Morgan Stanley said in a research note.
Absentee voting 'slow' ahead of Saturday deadline
Mississippians will take to the polls next week to cast ballots in party primaries, but the window to vote absentee before the March 10 election will still be open into the weekend for registered voters. In an effort to boost overall turnout, the Oktibbeha County Circuit Clerk's office and other offices around the state will open at 8 a.m. on Saturday until noon for absentee voting. Elections Deputy Clerk Sheryl Elmore said as of Thursday afternoon, her office had received 316 absentee ballots. "It's been really slow, but this week it's picked up some," she said. She also said while Wednesday marked the deadline to register to vote in the event of a runoff, registration is still available for those who wish to vote in the November General Election. In order to vote in Tuesday's primary, voters will have had to register 30 days prior to the election. "Just remember to bring a photo ID," Elmore reminded voters.
Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann does not support citizenship check for voters
Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann told reporters on Thursday he would likely kill a bill that would give the secretary of state authority to purge voter rolls if officials suspect voters are non-U.S. citizens. The bill, pushed by Secretary of State Michael Watson and passed by two Senate committees earlier this week, would allow state election officials to use state and federal databases -- including from the FBI and ICE -- to determine whether registered voters could be flagged as possible non-citizens. If individuals under scrutiny do not prove their citizenship within 30 days, they would be removed from voter rolls. Watson told senators on Tuesday that he has "reason to believe there were actual registered voters who were here illegally" but could not offer specifics when pressed in committee meetings. But Hosemann, who previously served three terms as secretary of state, said in a press conference on Thursday that the problem Watson suggested is "virtually nonexistent."
Oxford lawmaker's bill on communication disorder decals passes Mississippi Senate
The Mississippi Senate on Thursday unanimously approved a bill filed by a Northeast Mississippi lawmaker that would allow people with communication disorders to use a special car tag decal to ease potential encounters with law enforcement. The primary author for Senate Bill 2764 is freshman state Sen. Nicole Boyd, a Republican from Oxford, who has long said she would try and introduce legislation that would improve the lives of citizens with developmental disorders. The intent of the special decals is to alert law enforcement of a potential encounter with some who may have some difficulty communicating. The bill now heads to the Mississippi House of Representatives, where the Speaker of the House will assign the bill to a committee. In order for the bill to become law, it must pass the full House. Boyd told the Daily Journal in a telephone interview that she was pleased the legislation passed the full Senate.
The governor, the quarterback and the concussion discussion
Brett Favre, a Mississippi native and former NFL star had an economic development idea for his home state. All too familiar with the devastating, lasting effects of sports-related head injuries, Favre was an investor and spokesman for a company that conducts research and develops pharmaceutical treatments for concussions, according to news reports. Favre hoped the Florida-based company, Prevacus, would locate and manufacture its drug in Mississippi, which produces some of the best athletes in the country. He turned to then-Gov. Phil Bryant. Recruiting businesses to the state is typically the work of the Mississippi Development Authority. In this case, officials at the Mississippi Department of Human Services, which administers large federal welfare grants, took a meeting at the request of Favre and Bryant to discuss concussion research, according to a calendar invitation Mississippi Today obtained through a public records request.
Rep. Steven Palazzo faces 3 Republicans in south Mississippi primary
Four men are hoping their message will be stronger than their opponents' in Mississippi's Republican primary for the District 4 Congressional seat on March 10. Incumbent Steven Palazzo, businessman Carl Boyanton, lawyer Robert Deming III and Samuel Hickman are hoping voters choose them to represent them at the nation's capital. No Democratic candidates filed for the office. At 61, Carl Boyanton is the oldest of the candidates seeking the nomination. But with age comes experience and experience leads to job creation, which in turn spurs economic growth. Robert Deming, 43, holds degrees law and economics. He was elected in 2013 to Biloxi City Council, where he was named president and served as interim mayor in 2015. In addition to being a practicing lawyer, Deming runs several other businesses. He is concerned about the state of the country's finances. Samuel Hickman earned a political science degree and interned in Washington, D.C., with Rep. Trent Kelly. At 24, he is the youngest of the four candidates, but outside of the incumbent has the most experience when it comes to D.C. politics.
Republican Congressional candidate James Tulp visits Meridian ahead of primary election
Republican candidate James Tulp visited Meridian Thursday to talk about the race for Mississippi's 3rd Congressional District. Tulp is on the ballot against Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Michael Guest, who previously worked as the district attorney for Hinds and Rankin Counties. Mississippi's primary election will be held on March 10. Dorothy "Dot" Benford and Katelyn Lee are on the Democratic ballot in the race. "I am running to put America first, to put citizens over elites and to make sure that Mississippi is leading the fight for life, for our 2nd Amendment, for strong borders and for President Trump's agenda," Tulp said. He said he also wants to focus on bringing back manufacturing jobs and investing in infrastructure. Tulp has taken his campaign from Starkville to the southwest corner of the state, he said. He also pledged to hold regular town hall meetings.
Analysts discuss Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders' chances in upcoming Mississippi primary election
Mississippi's primary election day is less than a week away. Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are on the hunt for delegates. Sanders has cancelled his plans for a Friday visit to Jackson just more than 24 hours out. There is a historical point of reference if you look at Mississippi's 2016 primary results. Hillary Clinton took 82.6 percent while Bernie Sanders received 16.5 percent. "He may actually look at that and see it as a predictor of what might be to come," said Jackson State political science professor Dr. D'Andra Orey. Joe Biden's plans to visit the capital city are still in play. New Hope Baptist Church in Jackson tells us Biden will be in attendance at their Sunday morning service. And the campaign says Vivica A. Fox will campaign with Biden at an event later that afternoon. "Momentum is a powerful factor in politics and the perception is now that he is on a roll," said Dr. Glenn J. Antizzo, associate professor of political science at Mississippi College. The latest Mason-Dixon polls show Republican Donald Trump winning out in a Mississippi match-up with either Biden or Sanders.
Bernie Sanders canceling Mississippi campaign stop
Sen. Bernie Sanders is canceling a Friday visit to Jackson to instead campaign in Michigan, his campaign said on Thursday. The Sanders campaign had announced a Friday afternoon event at the Two Mississippi Museums, four days before Mississippians vote in the Democratic presidential primary Tuesday. In an email, the Sanders campaign said, "Bernie 2020 will continue to campaign in Mississippi and is sending senior campaign staff members and surrogates to represent the senator ahead of the state's primary..." Several other states, including Michigan, are also holding their primary the same day. Jackson Mayor Choke Antar Lumumba endorsed Sanders late last month. U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson announced on Thursday that he was endorsing former Vice President Joe Biden.
As Bernie Sanders Pushed for Closer Ties, Soviet Union Spotted Opportunity
The mayor of Burlington, Vt., wrote to a Soviet counterpart in a provincial city that he wanted the United States and the Soviet Union to "live together as friends." Unbeknown to him, his desire for friendship meshed with the efforts of Soviet officials in Moscow to "reveal American imperialism as the main source of the danger of war." That mayor was Bernie Sanders, and the story of his 1988 trip to the Soviet Union has been told before. But many of the details of Mr. Sanders's Cold War diplomacy before and after that visit -- and the Soviet effort to exploit Mr. Sanders's antiwar agenda for their own propaganda purposes -- have largely remained out of sight. The New York Times examined 89 pages of letters, telegrams and internal Soviet government documents revealing in far greater detail the extent of Mr. Sanders's personal effort to establish ties between his city and a country many Americans then still considered an enemy despite the reforms being initiated at the time under Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the Soviet general secretary.
A promising 2020 presidential campaign for women falls short
At her home in suburban Detroit, Jill Warren spent Thursday morning glued to her phone, searching for news about the woman she fiercely believed should be the next president of the United States: Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Voter Warren had known that candidate Warren (no relation) was lagging badly and would likely drop out. Still, the news of the Massachusetts senator's departure from the presidential primaries was devastating -- not only because of how the senator's message had resonated with her but because the exit was a final blow to hopes, once so bright, that a woman would be chosen to face President Donald Trump in November. Elizabeth Warren's exit, coming after the one-time front-runner couldn't win a single Super Tuesday state, brought home a new and painful reality to some voters: If 2019 was the Year of the Woman, with a record number of women sworn into Congress and a record number launching presidential campaigns, 2020 was another Year of the Man in presidential politics.
It's back on: President Trump to visit CDC in Atlanta on Friday after all
President Donald Trump plans to visit the headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Preven...President Donald Trump plans to visit the headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta on Friday after all, resuming plans to travel to Atlanta after his staff initially scrapped the trip. The president is set to land at Dobbins Air Reserve Base around 3 p.m. after a trip to tornado-ravaged Tennessee. He's expected to return to the Marietta airfield to fly to a fundraiser in Florida later Friday afternoon. The visit was canceled Friday morning because, Trump told reporters, someone at the CDC suspected they had the virus. But the trip was restored to his schedule after the person was tested and it came back negative. The back-and-forth triggered confusion among state and federal officials who scrambled to figure out if he was actually set to arrive on Friday. Even high-ranking officials were left in the dark. Trump on Friday signed an $8.3 billion package of emergency aid for coronavirus response.
Trump's Gut Collides With Science on Coronavirus Messaging
President Trump is known to say what's on his mind, to go with his gut and accentuate the positive. That approach is now colliding with a public health emergency in the form of coronavirus. The challenge posed by Trump's breezy style was on full display Wednesday night in an interview in which he disputed the World Health Organization's recent coronavirus death rate estimate of 3.4%. "Well, I think the 3.4% is really a false number," Trump told Sean Hannity on Fox News. "Now, this is just my hunch, and --- but based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this, because a lot of people will have this, and it's very mild. They will get better very rapidly. They don't even see a doctor." "Personally, I would say, the number is way under 1%," Trump said. Public health experts have said there actually is a lot of uncertainty about the mortality rate of coronavirus because it is so new, testing remains limited and the severity of illness varies widely. They say the mortality rate could decrease as more is understood about the disease. It's a challenge for any politician to accurately convey public health messages: to encourage preparedness and avoid inciting fear without underplaying or overselling the risks. That challenge is particularly acute for Trump given his free-flowing communications style.
Trump administration allows 35,000 more H-2B seasonal worker visas for the year
The Department of Homeland Security announced Thursday that it would raise the visa cap for H-2B seasonal guest workers by 35,000 for the current fiscal year, an increase that would be tied to various anti-fraud measures. About 10,000 of the new visa slots will be designated for nationals from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, since these countries have worked "to stem the flow of illegal migration in the region and encourage lawful migration to the United States," DHS said in a statement. The visa program allows U.S. employers to temporarily hire foreign workers to fill nonagricultural jobs, such as seasonal work in the hospitality, seafood and landscaping industries. The companies are allowed to hire people through the program if they can prove they first tried to hire U.S. residents. While congressional lawmakers from both parties have been eager for DHS to release additional visa slots, some raised concerns about whether the increase will hurt U.S. employees.
Community College Faculty Seek Raises, More Funding
Faculty at Mississippi community college say they haven't had a state-funded raise in 12 years. Marilyn Ford is with the state's faculty association for community and junior colleges. She says instructors are leaving to teach at other institutions because they can make more money. "It's difficult to keep up with our universities counterparts or even our K-12 peers because of the lower salaries," said Ford. Ford says they still need faculty, staff and equipment to provide workforce development training, dual enrollment and GED programs. "Currently we are funded at only 7 cents of every educational dollar spent in our state, however we're constantly being tasked with doing more with less," said Ford. The governor's budget asks for $100 million in one time monies for workforce training. Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann says the Senate is considering raises. "We started out as you know with funding teachers and assistants and now we're going to fund Pre-K in Mississippi. The obvious next step is to look at our community college and university system," said Hosemann.
UM suspends travel to countries affected by coronavirus, student abroad returns home
As concerns about the coronavirus grow with each new reported case, the University of Mississippi announced on Wednesday that it is canceling or suspending all university-related travel to China, Italy, Japan, Iran and South Korea --- countries under varying levels of government warning. In a campus-wide email detailing the travel restrictions, Provost Noel Wilkin also requested that students abroad in the prohibited countries return home immediately. Addie Perkerson, a junior finance major, has spent spring semester studying at Florence University of the Arts, but she returned home to the United States on Thursday. She said Florence was "almost apocalyptic" after returning from a trip to Switzerland last weekend. "When we got back to Florence that night, every single pharmacy had big signs on the door saying 'No Masks, No Hand Sanitizer,'" Perkerson said. "So that was almost kind of terrifying. We had no way to have anything preventative." Coronavirus is not an immediate threat to Mississippians, but an increasing amount of person-to-person cases are expected in the coming days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The best way to prevent the spread of coronavirus is to practice heightened flu-prevention techniques.
USM's Bower Academic Center receives donation
The Bower Academic Center and Financial Literacy Program at the University of Southern Mississippi received a donation of $150,000 from The First, a National Banking Association. The money will be used to help complete the construction of the school's academic center, which is currently being built in the Cook Library on school's Hattiesburg campus. In addition, The First will begin a financial literacy program for all Southern Miss student-athletes. Jeremy McClain, Director of Athletics, says that teaching the students about their personal finances is one of their top priorities. "The objective we have for our student athletes is to try to help them be prepared for life, it's not just about wins and losses, it's not just about even GPAs or graduation, it's about how to invest their money, how to spend wisely," said McClain. "I think all those things are important in the development of our student athletes and so we're very thankful for the opportunity to move the needle in that regard." When completed, the Bower Academic Center will include 18,000 square feet, up from 3,500 square feet in its current location from the West Side of M.M. Roberts Stadium.
'This is huge economics for Mississippi': 2020 census critical to public schools, hard to count neighborhoods
Mississippi students soared on kindergarten readiness exams, third-grade reading "gate" tests, graduation rates and reading and math assessments, outperforming the nation. Carey Wright, state Superintendent of Education, said at a Mississippi Delta high school last week that the state could do even more with additional dollars from the federal government. Wright spoke to a group of middle and high school students in the Rosa Fort High School gymnasium -- filled with colorful posters and handmade signs -- to highlight the 2020 census count and its importance to youth and rural communities across the state, communities deemed "hard to count" populations, or areas likely to not have an accurate count. Other at-risk populations include low-income and black and Native American households. "These funds are sent to our state to pay for special ed, teacher professional development, technology, student lunch assistance, Head Start, after school programs," Wright said. "And if they don't have accurate data then Mississippi doesn't get accurate dollars sent to us in a timely way."
East Alabama Medical Center, Auburn University prepping for virus spread
East Alabama Medical Center physicians say it's not a matter of "if" COVID-19 -- the coronavirus dominating world headlines -- will hit locally, but "when." Hospital officials held a news conference Thursday morning to address the community's growing concern over the virus, which originated in China last November, and the pace at which it is spreading throughout the United States and the world. Brooke Bailey, EAMC's Infection Prevention director, explained that going forward in dealing with the virus, they want to put emphasis on publicly communicating their efforts to control the infection's spread and their work with local municipalities and Auburn University. Dr. Fred Kam, a physician at Auburn University's medical clinic, echoed Maldonado's statements. Kam added that he and other physicians in the area are in "a state of readiness" to care and treat any potential cases.
U. of Arkansas System gets virus emergency options in order
The University of Arkansas System is prepared to move classes fully online should any of its campuses need to close because of the coronavirus outbreak, trustees learned at a special meeting Thursday. President Donald Bobbitt also announced that testing for the new virus, which causes the illness covid-19, will be covered with no out-of-pocket costs for more than 35,000 employees and dependents on the system's health plan. "We certainly don't want anyone who feels they've been exposed to this to be inhibited from testing," he said. "That's how we prevent the spread." At a meeting detailing contingencies if the virus arrives in Arkansas, UA chancellors and Bobbitt described plans to use web-based learning, if needed, to limit transmission and continue the semester. It would be challenging, they said, but an existing virtual learning system and processes hashed out during recent mumps infections at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville would facilitate classes.
Report foreign travel, UGA tells students, staff, faculty
The University of Georgia is asking students and staff who travel abroad on spring break to register any foreign travel with the university, according to a Thursday message to UGA students and workers. Next week marks spring break for nearly 40,000 UGA students. "Remember, the status of countries or regions regarding coronavirus may change while you are traveling and affect airport or other travel processes," according to a memo distributed on the university's ArchNews messaging system from UGA President Jere Morehead, Provost Jack Hu and Garth Russo, the executive director of UGA's University Health Center. UGA recently shut down spring semester study abroad in China, South Korea and Italy as the new respiratory virus spread in those countries. The U.S. Department of State also advises people not to travel to Iran, and for older people and those with chronic diseases to avoid Japan. And any students, faculty or staff who travel to one of the four countries for which federal officials have issued travel advisories should not return to a UGA campus or facility until they've had 14 symptom-free days from the time they enter or re-enter the United States.
Georgia universities preparing online coursework if coronavirus spreads
Several Georgia colleges and universities are making preparations, such as offering online classes, if campuses must close for any period of time because of the coronavirus outbreak. Georgia State University, which has the largest enrollment of any school in the state, sent a message Wednesday to faculty with instructions about how to teach online and to test the plans in the next week. The instructions include information about recording a lecture and posting it online and grading coursework. Georgia State has nearly 54,000 students. "Hopefully, it's not necessary, but if it is, we will have the foundation in place to continue courses," Georgia State Provost Wendy Hensel said in a telephone interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday. Georgia State would take such action if determined necessary by public health officials, Hensel said.
U. of Florida student dining service to buy from local beef ranchers
As part of a University of Florida push for sustainability, the school's student dining service provider, Gator Dining Services/Aramark, will begin sourcing its beef locally from Florida Cattle Ranchers, a cooperative of 16 Florida ranchers. Anna Prizzia, director of UF's Field and Fork campus food program, said she's been working with Gator Dining Services for several years to promote local food use. She found out from a farmer that Florida Cattle Ranchers had wholesale capabilities and helped the university and cooperative develop a program. "It's among the things we need to include," she said. "It increases the economic development of the state and helps local business." Soon, Florida-raised beef will be available to students on campus chowing down on burgers, carne asada, beef-tip entrees and roast beef, to the tune of about 30,000 pounds annually. Other local and regional foods served at UF dining locations include Sweetwater Organic coffee, romaine lettuce from Traders Hill Farm in Hilliard, meat from the UF/IFAS meat processing center and pork sausage from Nettles Sausage in Lake City.
Nashville tornadoes: U. of Tennessee launches relief fund, raises nearly $7K in first day
The University of Tennessee-Knoxville has launched a disaster relief fund after deadly tornadoes devastated Middle Tennessee earlier this week. The Middle Tennessee Disaster Relief VOLstarter will accept donations and distribute them to relief organizations. The goal is to provide both "immediate and long-term assistance," according to a news release. Two tornadoes tore across Middle Tennessee on Tuesday, killing more than two dozen people in Nashville and nearby counties. The tornadoes started about 80 miles west of Nashville late Monday night, and continued through Nashville, Mt. Juliet and Putnam County into Tuesday morning. In all, five counties were affected by the storm. Putnam County was the hardest hit, with the tornado reaching speeds of 175 mph in Cookeville. Gov. Bill Lee has declared a state of emergency in Tennessee and President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit on Friday. UT is not currently accepting material donations, only financial donations. As of Thursday afternoon, nearly $7,000 has been raised.
Exploration Day lets Texas A&M donors see what funds have accomplished
More than 600 of Texas A&M's top donors descended upon the Hall of Champions on the west side of Kyle Field on Thursday morning for the second annual Exploration Day. Organizers described the event as an opportunity for the Texas A&M Foundation to showcase the university's research, impact and innovative programming to its prominent financial backers. Tyson Voelkel, president of the foundation, said for this year's event, the foundation chose to feature national security and service-related work taking place at A&M. Donors received a tour of the ship simulator used by Aggies at the Texas A&M Maritime Academy in Galveston and observed a vivid mini-reenactment of the Health Science Center's recent Disaster Day simulation, an annual event that gives students in health fields opportunities to test their training and education. Voelkel said that the Texas A&M Foundation provided the university with nearly $110 million in 2019 for scholarships, professorships, endowed chairs, building projects and more.
U. of Missouri tops goal for $1.3 billion fundraising campaign
A University of Missouri fundraising campaign that stumbled soon after its public launch in 2015 has achieved its $1.3 billion goal. The Mizzou: Our Time to Lead campaign has exceeded the goal by $42 million so far and will be closed with a major celebration still in the planning stages, MU Chancellor Alexander Cartwright said in an interview. Cartwright, who started in his job almost two years after the public launch of the campaign in October 2015, said the effort has shown him the depth of feeling for MU. "I continue, personally, to be amazed at how much the people who are affiliated with this university really care about it," Cartwright said. The campaign began in 2011 and was handled quietly for four years. The public launch took place during Homecoming week in 2015, which was also when the Concerned Student 1950 protesters first made their presence known on campus by blocking then-President Tim Wolfe's car during the Homecoming parade.
At some HBCUs, enrollment rises from surprising applicants
Fahad Alharthi didn't know what a historically black college and university (HBCU) was before he applied to one. He grew up in Saudi Arabia and, after 18 months of intensive English-language courses in California, he applied to Tennessee State University. It's an HBCU in Nashville. "I think 90 percent -- if not 100 percent -- of Saudi students, when they come to TSU, they didn't come because it's an HBCU, Alharthi said. "I think they come because of what they've heard about it." What they've heard about Tennessee State University is the growing number of other Saudi students there. Tennessee State University is just one HBCU that's put a lot of effort into recruiting international students, especially from Saudi Arabia. In 2008, international students there numbered just 77. Eight years later, it was up to 549. At TSU, 70 percent of international students are from Saudi Arabia. Delece Smith-Barrow is a senior editor at the Hechinger Report. She says some HBCUs have turned around significant declines in enrollment over the last few decades by recruiting more international students and more students who aren't black. And she's written about how the schools are working to hold onto their campus culture and curriculum as the make-up of their student bodies change.
U. of Washington Cancels In-Person Classes, Becoming First U.S. Institution to Do So Amid Coronavirus Fears
The University of Washington's flagship Seattle campus announced on Friday that it would cancel all in-person classes and move them online for at least the next few weeks. In doing so, the university became the first major U.S. campus to take such drastic action amid rapidly growing fears of the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, Covid-19. The university said in a message Friday morning that the campus would remain open in other capacities, and that it planned to resume normal operations on March 30, when the institution's next quarter begins. A university staff member has tested positive for Covid-19, and the Seattle area has seen the site of the most intense outbreak of the virus in the United States so far, with at least 51 cases reported in King County, Wash., as of Friday. Other campuses across the country have shuttered study-abroad programs in nations affected by the virus, canceled university-sponsored travel, and imposed 14-day self-quarantines on students returning from affected countries.
CDC, American College Health Association and Education Department issue guidance on responding to COVID-19
Colleges looking for expert advice on how to prepare for possible coronavirus cases have a whole new suite of resources to turn to. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College Health Association both released guidance this week on how to prepare for emergence of the new coronavirus, which causes the respiratory illness COVID-19, on college campuses. The Department of Education also issued guidance Thursday about compliance with federal financial aid requirements in the event of related disruptions and campus closures. The CDC guidance includes information on reviewing and updating emergency operations plans; sharing informational resources with faculty, students and staff; making decisions on whether and when to suspend classes or cancel events in coordination with state and local public health officials; and ensuring continuity of safe housing and provision of meals. The CDC has also separately released guidance suggesting that colleges consider canceling study abroad and exchange programs and bring students back to the U.S.
Hunting for a coronavirus cure, scientists mapping proteins that cause COVID-19 at Argonne Lab
In a secure lab about 25 miles southwest of Chicago, a powerful X-ray beam is pointed toward a crystal grown from a coronavirus protein. Stuck on the end of what looks like a long needle attached to a robot arm, the crystal is barely visible to the naked eye. Nearby, scientists hover around computer screens, looking at the magnified crystal along with brightly colored 3-D models of the coronavirus protein. The researchers have come to Argonne National Laboratory from the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Purdue University and other academic research institutions to unravel the mysteries of this newest strain of the coronavirus, which causes a disease called COVID-19. The data they gather could be used to develop drugs to fight the virus, but any treatment could be at least a year away. The X-ray beam at Argonne, a lab in Lemont owned by the Department of Energy, is powerful enough to show researchers the atomic structure of coronavirus proteins. Figure out the structure of the proteins, and scientists can figure out how the virus infects cells in the body. Then, researchers can find a way to treat it before the virus becomes severe.
Race is on for a coronavirus vaccine among military, government and private labs
Military and government researchers are working on separate vaccines for the coronavirus -- but the successful product will still take a year or more to reach the public, officials said Thursday. As one effort at the National Institutes of Health makes its way to human trials, the Army is experimenting with a potential vaccine on mice, several Army scientists told reporters. Army researchers working on a potential vaccine have obtained a coronavirus sample from a patient in Washington state and have focused their effort on the "spokes" of the fast-spreading pathogen, hoping to develop a way for humans to block it from entering humans and attaching to cells. "From the first day that the sequences of this virus were published, we were working on the vaccine," Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, director of emerging infectious diseases at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, said. The military effort comes as another potential vaccine, produced by scientists at Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), received authorization for clinical trials on Monday by the Food and Drug Administration.
6 Ways Colleges And Universities Are Responding To Coronavirus
So far just a few U.S. higher education students have confirmed exposure to COVID-19, mainly through contact with patients in hospitals. There are no outbreaks centered on campuses, and young people as a group appear less susceptible to the disease. But higher education in the United States is more of an international community than ever, and that means the impacts of the coronavirus have been felt broadly across the country already. On Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said colleges should "consider" canceling both study-abroad and foreign-exchange programs, which could potentially affect hundreds of thousands of students. Almost 1 million of the nation's more than 19 million higher education students come from overseas, according to the Institute of International Education. At the same time, 342,000 students from the U.S. study abroad each year, according to IIE. The second-most popular destination is Italy, which, because of widespread community transmission there, now carries a CDC travel warning.
Roundup of this week's news about colleges and the coronavirus
This week U.S. colleges grappled with the initial impacts of the novel coronavirus outbreak in this country, even as they continued to deal with complications over international travel and to prepare for a dizzying array of likely disruptions in coming weeks and months. More than 210 U.S. cases of the virus had been confirmed by Thursday afternoon, with 12 deaths. Most of the cases were on the West Coast, and almost all the deaths have been in the Seattle area. So far California, Washington and Florida have declared states of emergency due to concerns over the coronavirus. Some college officials have begun preparing for limitations on domestic travel. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was among the first to restrict university-affiliated travel for students, faculty and staff members to locations in the U.S. where a state of emergency has been declared related to the coronavirus. The university also strongly discouraged personal travel to these areas.
College readiness translated
Angela Farmer, an assistant clinical professor in Mississippi State University's Shackouls Honors College, writes: As high school students across the nation actively pursue their studies, most have a common short term goal: to graduate. However, in 2020 graduating from high school is but one of a series of steps toward achieving the skills and knowledge necessary to find and maintain a job with a wage adequate to establish a comfortable life. While there are varying degrees of comfort, it is clear that receiving a wage allowing one to provide a safe and secure home is paramount. Furthermore, adequate wages also help ensure that one can afford reliable transportation, quality food and clothing items, and substantial healthcare. Clearly, it is paramount that students make good career pathway choices. In order to ensure that students not only make positive plans but are able to follow the plans to fruition, they must be prepared for their next steps along the way. Educators often phrase this preparedness as "college ready" or "career ready."

Georgia Southern hires Mississippi State administrator Jared Benko as athletic director
Georgia Southern University announced Thursday that it has hired Mississippi State Deputy Director of Athletics and Chief Financial Officer Jared Benko as the school's new athletic director. Benko spent the last four years at Mississippi State assisting Athletic Director John Cohen with strategic planning, marketing, public relations and personal decisions as well as supervising the athletic department and serving as an administrator for the Bulldogs' football program. "I am humbled and honored to serve the Georgia Southern University family," Benko said in a news release from Georgia Southern. "The passion and pride of Eagle Nation is unmatched, and I am excited and deeply committed to bringing a hard-working and innovative culture to our coaches, staff and student-athletes. Thank you to President (Kyle) Marrero and the search committee for entrusting me with this critical leadership position. Georgia Southern's best days are ahead for me and my family, and I look forward to joining the Statesboro community."
LSU women move on to SEC quarterfinals, will face Mississippi State after win vs. Florida
Everything went LSU's way Thursday night as the Tigers advanced in the Southeastern Conference women's basketball tournament with a romp over Florida. LSU, the No. 7 seed, reached the 20-win plateau for the season with the 73-59 victory over No.10-seed Florida. In fact, if the Tigers were getting a grade, it would be 90 and counting. The Tigers shot an astounding 90.9% from the field in a breakout second quarter, making 10 of 11 shots, and they never looked back. LSU also made the most of 20 turnovers by Florida in the game, and the Tigers made 18 of 20 free throws, also 90 percent. "This group is believing in each other. When you have 19 assists and 11 turnovers, that's a team that's playing together," LSU coach Nikki Fargas said. They'll need every ounce of that belief in themselves and then some Friday. Next up for LSU is Mississippi State, the tournament's No. 2 seed. The Bulldogs (25-5, 13-3) will be rested after receiving byes in the first two rounds in Greenville.
Unsung heroes: An inside look at the Mississippi State women's basketball team's male practice players
It's a cool day in mid-January as Kortland Jordan makes his way down the bleachers on the south side of Humphrey Coliseum. With a wiry pair of white earbuds poking out from beneath his blue hoodie and his orange Nike basketball shoes clenched in his right hand, Jordan steps onto the maroon and white emblazoned hardwood and heads toward the home bench. Fresh off a packed morning that included biology II, epidemiology and exercise weight control classes, the lectures still run through his head. "I just made my schedule to where it's all morning classes so I can be here every day," Jordan told The Dispatch. At 2:42 p.m., 20 minutes after Jordan arrived, the Mississippi State women's basketball team spills onto the playing surface. Coach Vic Schaefer follows 17 minutes later. As the players stretch and Schaefer barks out orders, Jordan and fellow practice players Logan Pierce and Alex Hyatt step to the side until called upon. Part of a 19-person contingent of student volunteers who work out with the MSU women's team, Jordan, Pierce and Hyatt show up daily for a job that pays in sweaty T-shirts and sore muscles but rewards in selfless pride.
Mississippi State redshirt junior Abdul Ado named to SEC community service team
Mississippi State redshirt junior forward Abdul Ado was named to the 2020 Southeastern Conference community service team, the league announced Thursday. Ado was the Bulldogs' representative, as each of the 14 SEC schools had one player named to the list. The redshirt junior volunteered at the Palmer Home for Children Summer Camp in Columbus, teaching and playing basketball with foster children. He also spent time with Camp Rising Sun, geared toward children who are or have been cancer patients. Mississippi State will close its regular season by hosting Ole Miss at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Humphrey Coliseum.
SEC monitoring the coronavirus ahead of basketball tournament in Nashville
The SEC said Thursday it is continuing to monitor developments related to the coronavirus with the league scheduled to hold its men's basketball tournament next week in Nashville. Gov. Bill Lee announced Thursday that the first confirmed case of the coronavirus has been detected in Tennessee. It is the first time the infectious virus has been found in the state. The patient is a 44-year-old man and resident of Williamson County who recently traveled out of state. He is quarantined at home with mild symptoms. The SEC men's basketball tournament is scheduled for March 11-15 at Bridgestone Arena. The women's tournament is already underway in Greenville, South Carolina. The SEC in a statement to USA TODAY Network-Tennessee said that "we are aware of today's development in Williamson County. "The SEC remains in regular communication with local, state and national public health officials, including the Tennessee Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as our member schools and tournament hosts in Nashville. At this time, the Conference has not modified any scheduled events related to next week's SEC Men's Basketball Tournament, while reminding everyone to be attentive to everyday preventive actions identified by the CDC."
Mississippi State baseball notebook: JT Ginn out for season after elbow surgery; Tanner Allen also out
The Mississippi State baseball team will officially be without two of its best players for significant periods of time. Head coach Chris Lemonis announced to media Thursday that sophomore right-hander JT Ginn underwent elbow surgery and will not return this season. Junior outfielder Tanner Allen had surgery for a broken bone in his hand, Lemonis announced, and there is no timetable for his return. "Very crushing, in some ways, as their coach -- not for our team as much as for these guys who've worked really hard and put so much time and effort into it," Lemonis said. Ginn felt soreness in his pitching arm before a bullpen session Feb. 18 and hasn't pitched since the Bulldogs' season opener Feb. 14. After meeting with doctors and seeking second opinions, Ginn had surgery on his elbow Wednesday. Lemonis did not specify the nature of the surgery, but's Kendall Rogers reported that Ginn underwent Tommy John surgery for a torn ulnar collateral ligament. Allen, who had recently returned from a knee injury he suffered in the season opener, underwent surgery Tuesday after he broke a bone in his glove hand in a fall suffered Sunday during the Bulldogs' series against Long Beach State.
East Central Community College introduces new football facility
East Central Community College officially opened its new football facility in a Thursday afternoon ceremony at the Decatur campus. The opening of the 12,300-square foot facility, which is located in the north end zone at Bailey Stadium, is the culmination of years of work and planning by East Central administration and football staff. The new facility contains a new locker room for the East Central football team along with new offices for the coaches and a team meeting room. It also houses a state-of-the art training too with a hydrotherapy pooled that will be used by student athletes in all nine sports at East Central. East Central president Dr. Billy Stewart welcomed a packed house of local dignitaries, former and current players along with financial supporters of the $2.6 million facility. Since arriving in Decatur seven years ago, ECCC football coach Ken Karcher has moved the program in a positive direction. In 2014, the school installed an artificial turf surface at Bailey Stadium and renovated the stadium, including the front entrance. In 2015, the Warriors went 8-3 season and won the C.H.A.M.P.S. Heart of Texas Bowl.
UK bans woman who directed racial slur at Tennessee fan from all athletics events
Mitch Barnhart promised "consequences" for a Wildcats fan shown in a couple of videos yelling a racial slur at a Tennessee fan this week. On Thursday afternoon, the University of Kentucky's athletics director delivered on that promise in a Twitter post: "We have permanently revoked ticket privileges for all UK Athletics events from the person who made the abusive remark at Tuesday night's game, effective immediately," Barnhart's post said. "This misconduct is unacceptable, unwelcome at the University of Kentucky and not reflective of our values." The athletics director's tweet did not describe how the ban would be enforced, but the message was clear. Barnhart tweeted that the school has reached out to the fan who was the victim of this "abusive and inexcusable language" to apologize personally. He added, "That's not who we are as an athletics department."
Citadel ups spring game fun with XFL rules, player-coaches
Citadel football coach Brent Thompson has definitely increased the fun factor in his team's spring game, with XFL rules, player-coaches and an intra-squad draft turning things up a notch. Bulldogs quarterback Brandon Rainey will coach the Navy squad, and linebacker Willie Eubanks III will lead the White team in the game, set for noon Saturday at Summerall Field on the military school's campus. The game will use XFL rules regarding kickoffs and extra points, and Rainey and Eubanks chose their respective squads via a draft earlier in the week. "It's something different and brings a different style to the game," said Eubanks, the 2019 Southern Conference defensive player of the year. "I think the players are excited about it, and I'm excited about it as well." Thompson, offensive coordinator Lou Conte and defensive coordinator Tony Grantham have pledged to take a "hands-off" approach to the game.

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