Wednesday, March 11, 2020   
Starkville-MSU PRAM Chapter announces 2020 Board of Directors
Photo: The Public Relations Association of Mississippi (PRAM) Starkville-MSU Chapter announces its 2020 Board of Directors. The board is (left to right) Member at Large Frank Chiles, State Farm; Vice President of Communication Bethany Shipp, marketing and communication coordinator, Mississippi State University's Office of Public Affairs; President-Elect Laura McPhail, communications manager, MSU's National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center (NSPARC); Vice President of Programs Christie Lawrence, president and chief consultant, Surge Advisors, LLC, and lecturer, MSU; Member at Large Dominique Lewis, technical writer, MSU's NSPARC; President Diane Godwin, publications and PR manager, MSU's High Performance Computing Collaboratory; Immediate Past President Sasha Steinberg, news writer, MSU's Office of Public Affairs; Vice President of Membership John Clark Packer, Children's Miracle Network coordinator, Batson Children's Hospital; and Secretary/Treasurer Wanda Clark (not pictured), president, WHC Creative, LLC. For more than 25 years, the Starkville-MSU PRAM Chapter has served the public relations professionals and students of Starkville and MSU by providing expertise, inspiration and professional development opportunities.
Most Mississippi insurers to cover coronavirus testing; 20 tested with zero confirmed cases
Mississippi is ramping up protections and preparations for the coronavirus as neighboring states confirm new cases. Officials have tested 20 people for the virus with zero cases confirmed as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the Mississippi Department of Health, which began testing for the virus that causes COVID-19 in its own laboratory last week. As insurers waive fees, most Mississippians shouldn't receive bills for coronavirus testing, according to the state's insurance department. "The MID has communicated with most health insurance carriers in Mississippi and each carrier has a contingency plan in place to deal with increased claims, member questions, and other communications," said Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney on Monday in a statement. So far Mississippi doesn't have any confirmed cases out of the 20 samples tested.
Tourists still head to South Mississippi despite coronavirus concerns
On Sunday, the federal government warned Americans not to travel on cruise ships due to risks associated with the coronavirus. This could mean an increase in tourism for Coastal Mississippi. Dean Huebner and his wife LeeAnn are some of those people avoiding cruise ships, but the two drove from Pennsylvania to Biloxi to see the beach. "Reality is -- us traveling right now -- we try to live in a state of not living in fear, even though society tries to put us there today," said Dean Heubner. "You know I'd much rather live my life and get on with life." Coastal Mississippi CEO Milton Segarra expects more travelers like the Huebners to visit the Coast. "The experts are saying that people will want to continue to travel, but they will do more road trips," said Segarra. "If that happens, and that is a trend, we have a phenomenal opportunity." According to Segarra, 80 percent of the people that visit the Coast drive from home.
2019 Flood caused negative economic impact of more than $20 billion
The 2019 Mississippi River flood caused a negative economic impact of more than $20 billion across 19 states in the Missouri, Arkansas and Mississippi river watersheds, according to a report by the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative. The MRCTI is an organization of mayors of cities along the Mississippi River whose purpose is to protect, develop, and enhance the natural attributes and economic vitality of the main stem of the Mississippi River. According to the organization's report, the $20 billion impact includes total direct losses like crop damage and livestock, damage to infrastructure like levees, roads, bridges and dams, and damage to homes, businesses and vehicles. "I'm glad the River Towns Initiative helped us with keeping up with the data related to the economic impact of the devastation so we will be able to continue to quantify to the congressional delegation of the cost impact to us, because they're (floods) coming to every year," Mayor George Flaggs Jr., an executive committee member, said. Although present indications suggest the 2020 flood season will be less severe than 2019, the Mississippi River corridor still faces significant risk.
Major Blight Frequent and Longer-Lasting Floods are Devastating to the South Delta
A repeat of the type of catastrophic Mississippi River flooding seen a year ago would be extremely devastating to families, farms and businesses still struggling to recover from the flooding that inundated hundreds of thousands of acres of prime cropland during most of the growing season in 2019. Clay Adcock, a Holly Bluff area farmer, had been trying to be optimistic about the unlikelihood of catastrophic flooding two years in a row. But he was alarmed by the amount of rainfall in February. "Our concern would be a repeat of this past year," says Adcock. "It would be really devastating having it two years in a row. Building the Backwater Pumps would help reduce flooding in the South Delta tremendously. Chief Engineer Bruce Cook of the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta Levee Board said the Delta will not fully realize the full benefits of flood control without having a completed flood control project.
Banking industry trying to recruit more young people
Like other business sectors, the banking industry is struggling to recruit and retain young people. Between the financial crisis of 2008 and negative headlines about ethical missteps, it's become harder to attract the next generation of professionals to banking. Mississippi Bankers Association president and CEO Gordon Fellows said the banking industry faces plenty of challenges when it comes to recruiting and retaining talent. "From a generational standpoint, today's college graduates grew up in an economy damaged by the (2008) housing crisis," he said. "We've reminded them, however, that (banking) is a really good career field and giving back to your community or hometown through a banking career is a great path to success." Enter the Mississippi Young Bankers 70th annual Study Conference & Convention March 7-11 at The Grand Hotel in Point Clear, Alabama. The conference is expected to welcome 150 Mississippi young bankers and 300 other registrants, including vendors and spouses.
Complete Count chairman covers what will, won't be asked on Census
When Giles Ward was chosen as Mississippi's Complete Count chairman for the 2020 U.S. Census last year, former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour gave him a call. Barbour, who had been the Complete Count chairman in 1970, told Ward a story as a sort of introduction to the role, and Ward relayed the same story to a joint meeting of the Lowndes County Republican Women and Columbus Rotary on Tuesday. During the 1970 Census, Barbour had visited a nursing home and talked to the administrator to collect some information for the count. He asked the administrator if she could give him a list of the home's residents, "broken down by sex," for him to pick up the next day. "The woman frowned," Ward said, "then after a moment said, 'I'm certain it's true that we've had a few residents broken down by alcohol, but I don't think we've had any broken down by sex.'" Ward used the anecdote to make a point about the Census that always seems relevant. In his role as the state's Complete Count chairman, Ward travels the state speaking to groups to raise awareness of the Census and its importance. He also uses those appearances to clear up misconceptions about the Census.
Mississippi could have 2 medical marijuana items on ballot
The Mississippi House voted Tuesday to put a second medical marijuana proposal on the statewide ballot this year. But people who petitioned to get the first one there say the second is designed to split the vote and kill both proposals. More than 200,000 people signed petitions to put Initiative 65 on the November ballot. It would amend the Mississippi Constitution to allow the prescription of up to 5 ounces of marijuana per month for a person with a debilitating medical condition. On Tuesday, the Mississippi House voted to put an alternative medical marijuana proposal on the same ballot. Republican Rep. Trey Lamar of Senatobia said the alternative would allow local zoning regulations that would prevent pot shops from springing up on main streets. The alternative would restrict the smoking of prescribed marijuana to people with terminal illnesses, although people who are ill but not dying could use oils or other forms of the drug.
Chip Mills ready to get to work on the bench
The last 10 days have been a blur for Fulton's Chip Mills after the country attorney was appointed a circuit court judge. He was sworn into office last Friday and will take the bench next Monday when he installs a grand jury in Lee County. Gov. Tate Reeves appointed Mills March 2 to fill in the seat vacated by the retirement of Judge James Roberts. He will serve until a special election can be held in November 2021. The winner of that contest will serve the final year of Roberts' term. After passing the bar in 2009, Mills quickly set to work as a prosecutor, first with the District Attorney's office and later as the Itawamba County prosecuting attorney. He provides the same service for the cities of Fulton and Mantachie while operating a private practice. "I am extremely blessed to have the practice and lifestyle that the good Lord blessed me with," Mills said. "People think the idea of the old country lawyer is outdated, but somebody has to do it. It's never the same thing."
Mike Espy wins Mississippi US Senate race; will face Cindy Hyde-Smith
Former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy won the Democratic nomination for a U.S. Senate seat in Mississippi on Tuesday, setting up a rematch with Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, an outspoken ally of President Donald Trump. Republicans hold most major offices in Mississippi, which hasn't had a Democrat in the U.S. Senate since 1989. Hyde-Smith was unopposed for the Republican nomination this year. She is the first woman to represent Mississippi in either chamber of Congress. Espy told reporters Tuesday night that he is better prepared for this election. "We're going to build the greatest coalition of voters -- white and black; rural and urban; male, female -- that Mississippi's ever seen," Espy said.
Mississippi primary: Mike Espy, incumbents win in congressional races
Three incumbents easily won Mississippi's U.S. House primaries on Tuesday, as the favorite in the Democratic U.S. Senate race, Mike Espy, dominated two opponents and will now brace for a November rematch with Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith. Incumbent Republican Rep. Michael Guest of District 3 beat James Tulp, a 28-year-old conservative talk radio host, garnering about 90% of votes. Republican Rep. Steven Palazzo of District 4 also defeated three challengers, winning more than 65% of the vote. Mississippi's only Democrat in Congress, Rep. Bennie Thompson of District 2, dispatched challenger Sonia Rathburn of Clinton with more than 90% backing. Thompson was in Jackson over the weekend campaigning for former Vice President Joe Biden's presidential bid. The only uncontested races were the House District 1 primaries. Incumbent Republican Rep. Trent Kelly will face Democrat Antonia Eliason, an Ole Miss law professor, in the November general election.
Biden defeats Sanders in Mississippi Democratic primary; Hyde-Smith, Espy set to face off again
Democrats Joe Biden and Mike Espy both earned substantial victories in Tuesday's Democratic primary in Mississippi, and the state's four incumbent congressmen cruised to decisive victories in their primaries. Biden, the former vice president, received strong support in the African American community as he easily outdistanced U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the presidential primary. Tuesday's results mark the second straight presidential election where Sanders struggled mightily in Mississippi. In the 2016 Democratic primary for president, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also buoyed by strong support in the African American community, captured 83 percent of the vote against Sanders. President Donald Trump easily carried the GOP vote and the state in the Republican primary. In the congressional races, all four incumbents -- Democrat Bennie Thompson of the 2nd District and Republicans Trent Kelly of 1st District, Michael Guest of the 3rd District and Steven Palazzo of the 4th District -- advanced to the general election with no runoffs.
Mississippi Democrats back Joe Biden to try to bump out President Trump
Former Vice President Joe Biden easily won Mississippi's Democratic presidential primary Tuesday, outdistancing Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders as many voters said they saw Biden having the best chance to unseat Republican President Donald Trump in November. "Anybody who can beat Trump, I'm voting for him," said retired federal government employee John Walters, 63, who voted for Biden at a church in the northern Mississippi town of Southaven. Walters said he likes Biden's record as a longtime senator and as vice president -- and he thinks Biden can win the general election: "What I know about him, he's a decent guy, and he's for the working class." Patricia Ponton said Sanders earned her vote with his promises of big change, particularly his support for universal health care. "He has a lot of radical ideas, but we need a big change," said Ponton, who also voted in Southaven.
The coronavirus stimulus plan for ag, trade
President Donald Trump and Congress are negotiating an economic stimulus plan in response to the coronavirus crisis, and several nutrition and trade provisions are in the mix. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said Congress could consider reviving a pandemic food stamp program as part of the package. Perdue on Tuesday said Congress could consider rebooting the Pandemic Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or P-SNAP, as part of the stimulus package that lawmakers are negotiating this week, reports Pro Ag's Catherine Boudreau. The program was last authorized, but not operated, during the global H1N1 virus in 2009. A USDA spokesperson said P-SNAP gives households with children who are eligible for free and reduced-price school lunch additional funds on an Electronic Benefit Transfer card when schools are closed. The Agriculture Department has enough money on hand to launch the program, which is designed to ensure low-income Americans have access to food during a crisis, but USDA officials would need congressional authority to deploy it, Perdue said. States, businesses and schools increasingly are taking "social distancing" steps to avoid spreading the virus. But that leaves millions of low-income children at risk of missing meals provided by their schools, while hourly workers could be forced to stay home without any income -- potentially spiking demand for nutrition benefits.
Trump's coronavirus tax cut hits rough patch as lawmakers talk stimulus
President Donald Trump's push for some form of payroll tax holiday is stumbling out of the gate as lawmakers and the White House try to cobble together a quick stimulus package to help those adversely affected by the COVID-19 virus. The president wants to cut the Social Security payroll tax, currently 6.2 percent paid by workers and employers on the first $137,700 in wages, to as low as zero through Dec. 31, according to a senior administration official. The White House is also looking at an option to cut only the employee share of the Social Security tax to 2 percent, so clearly the parameters are still the topic of debate. But under the Constitution, the House must originate any revenue bill, and Democratic leaders there quickly ended the payroll tax cut conversation Tuesday. "That's not on the table for us," said Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal, D-Mass. The top House Republican also didn't appear ready to embrace a broad new tax cut yet. "Well, we're looking at a number of measures," Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Tuesday.
Trump administration wants hundreds of thousands of federal workers to be ready to telework full time
The Trump administration is racing to develop contingency plans that would allow hundreds of thousands of employees to work remotely full time, an extreme scenario to limit the coronavirus that would test whether the government can carry out its mission from home offices and kitchen tables. The Office of Personnel Management, which oversees policy for the workforce of 2.1 million, has urged agency heads in recent days to "immediately review" their telework policies, sign paperwork with employees laying out their duties, issue ­laptops and grant access to computer networks. The administration has not issued a widespread mandate, but some offices already have acted. The Securities and Exchange Commission late Monday became the first federal agency in Washington to clear 2,400 employees from its headquarters after discovering that an employee might be infected.
Elbow bumps, Spock salutes: How Congress is dealing with coronavirus
The Capitol's attending physician reached for a pop culture reference as he advised a packed room of House Democrats on how to protect themselves from the coronavirus: Be like Spock. The noncontact greeting -- known as the Vulcan salute -- is just one piece of advice that lawmakers are getting as they seek to protect themselves and their staff from contracting the coronavirus. Concerns about the virus's spread within the Capitol have sparked days of tensions, and a notable decrease in handshaking, in a building where members keep close quarters with thousands of tourists and visitors. While lawmakers are publicly shooting down talk of drastic action, they say they are being more careful in their own routines. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has stepped up his own hand-washing and canceled an overseas trip to Brussels and London next week. "I think we all ought to be aware. ... I wash my hands a lot, a lot," he said, jokingly backing away from a group of reporters who were standing closer than the recommended 6 feet.
President Trump endorses Tommy Tuberville over Jeff Sessions in Alabama Senate race
President Trump endorsed ex-Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville over former U.S. Attorney General and erstwhile U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, tweeting that Tuberville "will be a great senator for the people of Alabama." Tuberville and Sessions will square off in a March 31 runoff election after they were the top two votegetters in the Republican Senate primary on March 3. Trump's tweet was a blow to Sessions, who has campaigned on being the candidate most aligned with the president's values, pointing out that he was the first sitting senator to back then-candidate Trump's campaign. But the former attorney general stepped down from his Trump administration post after the president was angering over Sessions recusing himself from the Russia investigation, which paved the wave for the special counsel probe led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller. Conversely, Trump's endorsement is a boon to Tuberville's campaign and came hours after a new poll showed the football coach with a double-digit lead over Sessions.
U. of Mississippi urges faculty to prepare for online courses amid COVID-19 outbreak
n an email sent last Friday, Provost Noel Wilkin asked that all university faculty begin thinking about how they would teach the remainder of a semester online if the university decides to suspend in-person classes amid growing concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. In the email, Wilkin wrote that "now is a good time to begin planning for how you (faculty) would respond to the potential impacts of COVID-19, if it becomes necessary." He added that a committee to "address the continuity of academic planning" has been formed and will be chaired by Tony Ammeter, associate provost and director of outreach and continuing studies. The email also contains a link to a university web page that provides faculty with resources on how to teach classes online. Among the areas of assistance are "shifting content online, delivering lectures online and collecting assignments online." Wilkin could not be reached at the time of publication.
USM tightens travel restrictions amid growing coronavirus outbreak
The University of Southern Mississippi has issued new travel restrictions and guidance for faculty and staff as the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. continues to swell. Late last month, the university announced it would not authorize travel to countries with Level 3 or Level 4 travel advisories from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Southern Miss Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Steven Moser announced Monday that USM is suspending all university-sponsored international travel for students and faculty and discouraging any personal travel outside the country. USM is also suspending university-sponsored travel within the U.S., with the exception of student athletes. Moser said some exception may be granted by himself, a dean or vice president, but no exceptions will be made for undergraduate university-sponsored travel. Moser said university residence halls will remain open during spring break, which runs from March 11 to March 15, for students who wish to remain on campus.
Former JSU president pleads not guilty in prostitution case
Attorneys for former Jackson State University President William Bynum Jr. have entered a not guilty plea to charges related to a prostitution sting. Bynum was not in court in Clinton Wednesday. His trial date was set for July 8 on charges of procuring the services of a prostitute, false statement of identity and simple possession of marijuana. Bynum resigned as JSU president after his arrest last month at a hotel in Clinton. Shonda McCarthy, another former JSU employee, also entered a not guilty plea Wednesday. The former director of the JSU art galleries is charged with procuring the services of a prostitute and possession of marijuana while operating a motor vehicle, police said. McCarthy's trial is set for June 24. Bynum and McCarthy were among 17 arrested during the two-day operation in February, Clinton police said.
Academic honor society names new members at Meridian Community College
One hundred and sixteen Meridian Community College students were selected for membership in the Nu Upsilon Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the international academic honor society for community and junior college students when the MCC chapter hosted its annual celebration to congratulate the honorees. To become a member of Phi Theta Kappa, students must have completed at least 12 hours of coursework and have a grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale. Sharing words from television icon Fred Rogers of the Mr. Rogers fame, Terry Dale Cruse, associate vice president and head of campus for Mississippi State University-Meridian, and keynote speaker at the celebration, said to the members leadership inspires people to follow. "And inspiring people to follow you requires you to develop a relationship with them. And developing relationships require humility," Dr. Cruse said. He added, "every person is of value. Seek to find the value in each of them."
Brent Gregory named president of East Central Community College
Brent Gregory was named the new president of East Central Community College on Tuesday, succeeding Billy Stewart, who will retire on June 30. Gregory, a 1996 ECCC graduate, will serve as the college's ninth president. His duties start on July 1. The Nanih Waiya native has a bachelor's degree in physical education and a master's degree in workforce training and development from the University of Southern Mississippi and a doctorate in community college leadership from Mississippi State University. "My goal was never to be a college president, my goal was to be the president at East Central Community College," Gregory said following the announcement Tuesday. Gregory said he aims to build on the school's workforce development programs so residents won't have to leave the area for jobs. Gregory has been vice president for student services at Southwest Mississippi Community College since 2017. Gregory also served seven years as associate vice president for enrollment management at Mississippi Delta Community College in Moorhead.
East Central Community College names new president
Warrior alumnus Dr. Brent Gregory has been named the ninth president of East Central Community College. Dr. Gregory said he is excited to take over the role later this year. "I see this job as something that has the opportunity to take what has been done by the previous presidents and board of trustees and move forward with those opportunities," said Dr. Gregory. Dr. Gregory, a 1996 graduate of ECCC will replace Dr. Billy Stewart, who is retiring in June. Gregory said he hopes to tackle recruitment and retention numbers and much more as president. "We're also going to be focusing on workforce development. I'm going to be out in the county with supervisors, meeting with economic development councils, determining what the needs are and how we can work hand in hand to make a better place in this district," said Dr. Gregory. Dr. Gregory is a native of Nanih Waiya.
Coronavirus update: U. of Alabama says no plans to close; issues domestic travel advisory
The University of Alabama says it has no plans on closing due to coronavirus. In a question and answer posted to its website, UA said it will remain open and will not be "canceling courses or moving to online-only courses after Spring Break. "Our campus has a number of comprehensive plans to address emergencies and a variety of contingencies. We continuously review and keep those plans updated," UA said. UA's spring break is March 16-20. The university has also issued guidance advising against any "non-essential domestic travel," especially to "large conference with attendees from multiple states or locations that have declared at state of emergency due to the virus." Faculty, staff and students are "encouraged to use good judgment" when making travel decisions, and teleconference or live stream official events if at all possible.
How the coronavirus is impacting Asian students at Auburn University
The coronavirus is causing fear for many across the world. In Auburn, it's no different. In Auburn, some Asian students told The Plainsman that they are experiencing racist interactions. While many Asian students told The Plainsman that they haven't experienced any such incidents, the ones who did experience it said the incidents made them feel unwelcome. Some Asian students told The Plainsman that they haven't experienced any racist incidents and have seen no difference in the way they're being treated since the coronavirus outbreak. Hannah Hong is a freshman in pre-business from Vietnam. She said she hasn't experienced any racist incidents and has been treated fairly. "My American friends are cautious while we're talking about this," Hong said. "I think it is because I have nice American friends, and they know that it might hurt my feelings."
Robins & Morton donates $1.3 million to Auburn for new lab
Birmingham construction firm Robins & Morton was represented this month at the dedication of a new lab that bears the firm's name. Auburn University's College of Architecture, Design and Construction dedicated the Robins & Morton Construction Field Laboratory, which was made possible by a $1.3 million donation by the company. A facility of the CADC's McWhorter School of Building Science, the lab will advance hands-on education and research by recreating an active construction site. It features a classroom that resembles a project office, and indoor and outdoor spaces to be used in demonstrating building processes. The field lab will also provide opportunities for visiting tradespeople to offer demonstrations to students, while the field lab will be used for faculty research and to support community service project such as Habitat for Humanity.
Tennessee suspends out-of-state travel over coronavirus concerns, but sport teams excluded
The University of Tennessee-Knoxville has canceled all domestic travel because of growing concerns about the coronavirus, the university announced on Tuesday. Last week, the university canceled all international university-sponsored travel because of coronavirus concerns. There are still no cases of the coronavirus reported on campus at this time. The domestic travel suspension includes all out-of-state travel, but does not include travel for sport teams, said Chris Cimino, senior vice chancellor for finance and administration. This also includes travel for faculty who may be attending out-of-state conferences. UT has also been making preparations to take classes online, but that move has not been made yet, said Provost David Manderscheid. In an email to faculty, Manderscheid encouraged them to prepare to move to online classes as a precaution. "We do not feel it's necessary at this time," Manderscheid said.
U. of South Carolina will extend spring break a week to 'mitigate the spread' of coronavirus
The University of South Carolina will extend spring break another week to ease risks of possibly spreading the coronavirus that has struck nine South Carolinians. "In the interest of protecting our community and based on the best information available, extending spring break for a week and preventing the return to campus of 32,000 students at the same time is the best measured approach to prevent a high risk situation and is an attempt to mitigate the spread of the virus," USC President Bob Caslen says in a message that will be shared with the campus Wednesday and obtained by The Post and Courier. USC is extending spring break that started Monday through March 20, according to Caslen's letter. No classes will be held and all campus events are canceled. The university will allow students to return to campus and keep dorms and food service open. There are no changes to scheduled USC sports events, including the first two rounds of the NCAA women's basketball tournament that will be held at Colonial Life Arena will start March 20 or 21.
Texas A&M delays return of students from spring break
Texas A&M University officials announced Tuesday that they are delaying the return of classes after this week's spring break in response to COVID-19. Classes were set to resume Monday, but students now will not need to return to campus until March 18, according to an update posted on the university's website. The delay at Texas A&M will "allow for planning and logistics to ensure the provision of all university services in the most efficient, effective and safest way" in an effort to stem the spread of the new coronavirus, the announcement said. Dining, transportation, health, counseling and other services will be available on a normal schedule Monday and Tuesday, according to the update. The decision follows an announcement Monday that all university-sponsored travel outside the United States has been canceled through May 1.
U. of Missouri group attended conference with person who later tested presumptively positive for COVID-19
A person who attended NICAR20, a data journalism conference in New Orleans this past weekend, has tested presumptively positive for COVID-19. A group of at least two dozen University of Missouri students and faculty from the School of Journalism attended the conference. Investigative Reporters & Editors issued a statement confirming the positive test Tuesday night. It said the person with the illness has mild symptoms and is expected to make a full recovery. The attendee is self-quarantined at home for 14 days and is reaching out to people the person came into close contact with during the conference, at the recommendation of health professionals. There have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Columbia. MU Health Care said that there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at MU Health Care as of Tuesday night. The hospital has tested more than 10 patients for the virus, but a spokesperson said he could not comment on whether the results of any of those tests are outstanding.
Students, faculty dispersing for personal spring break travel create new challenges for colleges responding to coronavirus outbreak
As the coronavirus has spread to additional countries and American states, many colleges and universities are continuing to cancel all institutionally sponsored international travel, and some are restricting domestic travel by air. But the arrival of spring break at campuses across the United States will likely present new logistical, and possibly health, challenges for these institutions, as significant numbers of students, faculty and staff travel independently, leaving colleges reliant on them to self-report possible exposure to the virus. As a result, a wave of universities have announced plans to shift instruction online after the spring vacation, and some colleges have asked students not to return to campus after the break and to complete their classes remotely. Other institutions have urged students to reconsider traveling during the break. James R. Jacobs, a member of the American College Health Association's COVID-19 task force and the executive director of Stanford University's Vaden Health Center, said that while universities are dependent on self-reporting of personal travel, "our goal is well-informed collaboration, where all parties are committed to minimizing risk to individuals and communities."
Student activities at risk for spread of coronavirus
Campuses are quickly emptying as colleges opt to move instruction online and encourage social distancing to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. But for institutions that are still occupied and still have full residence halls, administrators and student leaders are working together to keep students from interacting too closely -- even though socializing is a large part of the college experience. Parties, talks by guest speakers, seminars and various other events that normally bring students together have all but disappeared on many campuses, helped in part by the arrival of spring break and decisions by a growing number of colleges to ask students not to return to their campuses after the break and to take classes online instead. On a national level, only a small number of colleges so far have put restrictions on large student organizations, such as sororities and fraternities, said Kevin Kruger, president of NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.
Nashville's Belmont University extends spring break due to coronavirus concerns
Amid ongoing global concerns surrounding the coronavirus, Belmont University in Nashville has extended its spring break, the school announced Tuesday. Spring break has been extended until March 22. Beginning March 23, classes will resume online only for at least two weeks, the university said, with plans to resume in-person classes April 6. The university's president Bob Fisher said there were no confirmed cases on Belmont's campus, but because 75% of the student body consists of out-of-state students who will likely be traveling home during spring break, the university wants to limit potential exposure. The university athletics department announced Tuesday evening in a tweet that all athletic events, including practices and games, are continuing as planned. Vanderbilt University announced Monday it was canceling classes for the rest of the week and is considering moving classes online for the rest of the semester in response to rising concerns about the spread of coronavirus.
Coronavirus prompts Berea College to shut down for the year 'out of an abundance of caution'
Berea College President Lyle Roelofs announced Tuesday that the private college in Madison County will end the academic year Friday and send students home out of concern over the coronavirus. "Concluding, after careful analysis, that it will not be possible to adequately assure student and employee safety in the circumstance of a case of COVID-19 occurring on campus, we have decided that the College will cease instructional activities as of the end of the day on this Friday, March 13," Roelofs said in a letter to the college community. Berea spokesman Tim Jordan said there were no cases reported on campus and the action was being taken "out of an abundance of caution." Asked about Berea's decision, Gov. Andy Beshear said, "We have to give space for every institution, business or other entity to make what they believe is the best decision based on the information we have at the moment. "The administration is not currently recommending that universities or colleges shut down. Whatever they can do through the Internet, through teleclasses, we strongly suggest they consider that and look at its feasibility."
Why Coronavirus Looks Like a 'Black Swan' Moment for Higher Ed
Colleges by the dozen are canceling in-person classes and scrambling to create remote-teaching alternatives. Is it crazy to think that a new virus could be more of a catalyst for online education and other ed-tech tools than decades of punditry and self-serving corporate exhortations? Not in the least. What Hurricane Katrina was to colleges in New Orleans, the reverberations from coronavirus will be to all of American higher education: a reset moment that prompts colleges to rethink how they operate at every level. Sweeping predictions are dicey, especially considering that higher ed hasn't even begun to feel the full impact of the coronavirus crisis, or the financial havoc that will follow in its wake. But consider what's happened already: campuses shutting down and bringing thousands of study-abroad students back home, education associations calling off major conferences, colleges replacing visits for admitted new students with virtual programming, and alumni leaders talking about ways to remake large-scale reunion gatherings and commencement ceremonies. It seems safe to say that this will be not only enormously disruptive but also paradigm changing. The "black swan," that unforeseen event that changes everything, is upon us.
Biden, Sanders primary campaigns in Mississippi take on a decidedly national flavor
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: As the Democratic presidential primary came into focus in Mississippi over the weekend, it was interesting to observe just how closely the race in Mississippi mirrored the national narrative. Since former Vice President Joe Biden flipped the Democratic primary script in South Carolina with the help of African American U.S. Rep. James Clyburn and then went on to win major "Super Tuesday" victories nationwide, the Biden campaign has been solidly bolstered by endorsements from other establishment African American Democrats from across the nation. Unlike self-described Democratic Socialist and independent Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who scheduled then cancelled a campaign event here, Biden came to Mississippi to campaign directly over the weekend. Sanders instead sent campaign surrogate Danny Glover, the actor and activist who is familiar to Mississippians from prior treks.

Houston Harding shines, Landon Sims closes door as Mississippi State downs Texas Tech
Exiting the mound in the fifth inning of Mississippi State's (11-4) 6-3 win over No. 4 Texas Tech (16-2) on Tuesday, junior starter Houston Harding motioned toward the Mississippi State dugout. Flicking his left hand at the ground and yelling as he crossed the first base line, Harding barked his way back to the bench as his Bulldog teammates roared in approval. "Right here! This inning right here! This is the inning we're getting them!" he bellowed. Facing a Texas Tech squad that entered Tuesday's game at MGM Park in Biloxi ranked second in the country in batting average, slugging percentage, runs per game and doubles per game, Harding fooled the Red Raiders roster with a four-pitch mix of fastballs, changeups, curveballs and sliders. Using his high spin rate and changing velocities frequently, he backed up a middling first start in the maroon and white against Alcorn State two weeks ago with 5 2/3 innings of two-hit ball on just 76 pitches. "That felt good to get my feet wet in there," Harding said of his 1-2-3 first inning.
'He's incredible' Logan Tanner shows 'rare' skills as a Mississippi State freshman
Among positions the hardest to take on as a freshman starter in the nation's best conference, the SEC, catcher has to near the top of the list. With 13 appearances and 10 starts through the first 15 games of the season, former George County star Logan Tanner has proven up to the task for Mississippi State baseball. Tanner started against the No. 2 team in the nation, Texas Tech, on Tuesday night at MGM Park -- just an hour's drive from his hometown of Lucedale. In the batter's box and behind the plate, Tanner played a key role as the No. 13 Bulldogs picked up an important non-conference win, 6-3, over the Red Raiders (16-2). With plenty of family members making the trek from George County to be part of the crowd of 5,752, no MSU player had a bigger cheering section than Tanner. "I had a lot of family here. It was fun," he said. "The crowd was electric. It was like a mini 'Dude.' It was really fun playing on the Coast." Tanner was 1-for-4 at the plate with an RBI and answered all the challenges at catcher, digging up several pitches in the dirt to keep the Bulldogs (11-4) in the lead.
Mississippi State Bulldogs beat Texas Tech Red Raiders in Biloxi
Not all rallies are made the same. Some start with hits as flashy as the Hard Rock Café sign in the shape of a giant guitar blinking beyond left-center field at MGM Park. That wasn't the case for Mississippi State in one of the defining innings of its win over Texas Tech on Tuesday night. Sophomore Brad Cumbest blooped a single into the center field to get things going for the Bulldogs in the bottom of the fifth. It got even less invigorating from there, but it worked. Mississippi State crossed the plate three times in the frame despite Cumbest's bloop being the only ball to land in the outfield. Mississippi State took a two-run lead and never looked back on its way to a 6-3 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 5,752. The win is the biggest of the year for the No. 17 Bulldogs (11-4). The No. 3 Red Raiders (16-2) only had one loss to Tennessee on its resume before going down to the Diamond Dawgs. Mississippi State now boasts a win over Texas Tech in back-to-back seasons. MSU beat TTU 4-2 in last year's Frisco Classic.
Texas Tech baseball's win streak snapped by Mississippi State
Texas Tech was unable to come from behind for a third straight time in Tuesday's 6-3 loss to Mississippi State at MGM Park. The loss is just the second of the season for Tim Tadlock's team, which entered the game on a 12-game winning streak. The No. 4 Red Raiders to an early 1-0 lead in the third inning on a Bulldog throwing error that allowed Max Marusak to score from second base. Mississippi State answered with three runs in the 5th. After Mason Montgomery loaded the bases, John McMillon came in in relief but was unable to get out of the jam. The No. 17 Bulldogs tied the game one a Josh Hatcher RBI single to third then took a 2-1 lead on a bases loaded walk. Kamren James plated Rowdy Jordan on a sacrifice fly to center field to give the Bulldogs a two-run lead. Texas Tech got one back on a bases loaded walk in the top of the sixth, but Mississippi State added two more runs in the bottom of the inning. The Red Raiders wrap up the midweek series with the Bulldogs at 5 p.m. on Wednesday.
SEC basketball tournament closing locker rooms to media due to coronavirus concerns
The SEC office announced Tuesday that it is closing locker rooms to media for the upcoming conference men's basketball tournament, due to concerns about the ongoing coronavirus threat. Locker-room access will be limited to players, coaches and essential team personnel, with post-game interviews to take place in the traditional press conference and in "controlled auxiliary spaces." In the past, locker rooms had been open to media after each game following a "cooling-down period." "The health and well-being of student-athletes and teams is an ongoing priority for the SEC," conference officials announced in a media release. In addition, the SEC will provide "hospital grade disinfectant" to sanitize locker rooms before teams arrive and after departure. Game balls, team benches and band and cheerleader seating areas will also be sanitized before and after every game. Hand sanitizers will be provided in locker rooms, at the scorer's table and elsewhere throughout the arena.
The Brave New World of Betting on Athletes' Data
Minutes before the ball drops at an NBA game, you get a tip from a team insider that the star power forward is playing with a fractured wrist. Knowing this, you grab your phone and wager $1,000 that the injured player's team loses. Is that insider trading? A football running back is wearing a sensor monitoring his heart rate and wants to feed that information to a Vegas sportsbook in exchange for money. Does he own the data and have the right to sell it? Like coins shooting out of a slot machine, the booming sports betting market is bursting with legal questions. In the coming years, the hottest action in the industry might not be in casinos or betting apps, but in lawyers' offices, legislative chambers and courtrooms. Migrating from the smoky underworld to smartphone touch screens, the multibillion-dollar sports-betting industry is getting bigger, fast. Sports gambling is colliding with technology that enables real-time tracking of biometric data, raising thorny legal questions. Can the law keep up?

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