Monday, March 16, 2020   
Coronavirus information: Operating guidelines and procedures for the week of March 16-20
Mississippi State University is monitoring the outbreak of COVID-19 constantly and asks that all employees and students continue to monitor their email as well for further announcements and/or changes. Please check your email frequently. Follow, and MSU social media for updates.
Coronavirus update: Local schools, events, sports grind to halt as state of emergency declared
The spread of COVID-19 prompted Governor Tate Reeves to declare a state of emergency Saturday, even as school districts cancel classes, communities postpone sporting events and other gatherings and shoppers clear grocery stores of toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Reeves' declaration came a day after President Donald Trump declared a national emergency. By mid-day Saturday, the traffic at Starkville grocery stores appeared normal until shoppers reached the areas where things such as toilet paper and hand-sanitizers are usually shelved. Quinn Cooley, a night manager at Vowell's, said her store was out of disinfectants such as GermX and Lysol, with no idea when new stock of those items would come in. "It's been crazy," she said. Walmart locations in both Columbus and Starkville were out of toilet paper and hand sanitizer Saturday, as were Kroger locations in both cities.
Different meal options planned for students impacted by school closings
Area schools will now be closed for the week, which prompted fears that many local students who depend on their school day for nutrition may go hungry. The Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District says it is working on a plan for grab-and-go meal services for breakfast and lunch. The school district also said in a media release it will provide additional details about the service on Monday, with the initiative expected to begin on Tuesday, March 17. The release went on to say the effort will be similar to the district's Summer Feeding Program, where children are allowed to eat for free while adults can get a meal for a nominal fee. In another announcement, Vowells Market Place said many of its locations will start providing free breakfast snacks and a free sack lunch to students impacted by the closures. The grocery store chain said breakfast will be distributed from 7 a.m. until 8 a.m. during the week, while lunch will be from 1 p.m. until 2 p.m. The Starkville Daily News will also accept donations of dry goods, canned food, toiletries other non-perishable items to then stock any of the free, unmanned food pantries in the area.
Libraries to open under precautions today, but close for rest of week
Schools around the state will mostly be closed through the week, leading many public libraries to follow suit. The Starkville-Oktibbeha County Public Library System announced on Sunday that its locations in Starkville, Maben and Sturgis would be open to the public today, but will close for the rest of the week beginning on Tuesday. While the libraries will be open today, as a response to concerns over COVID-19, commonly referred to as the novel coronavirus, there will be no access to public computers and all programming has been canceled. The library system says it will reassess the situation over the coming weekend.
Get Starkville Area Arts Council summer scholarship applications now
A long running tradition, Starkville Area Arts Council awards scholarships each summer to youth ages 11-18 for extracurricular art and art education programs. This includes a wide range of disciplines, such as performing arts, choral music, instrumental lessons, applied arts, visual arts, and creative writing. Funds may be used for summer lessons, camps, auditions, and more. The past two years have shown record numbers of applications. More than $7,000 was awarded in summer 2019 for students attending programs at MSU Summer Scholars OnStage, MS Lions Band, Controllers 4-H Club Summer Camp, American Ballet Theatre and Southeastern Summer Theatre Institute. As interest and demand grows, SAAC hopes to support more talented youth in 2020. This year's scholarships are funded in part by grants from SOAR and Wal-Mart Community Grant Store No. 112 (Starkville). Rules and applications are online at Students must be residents of Oktibbeha County, between ages 11 and 18, and currently attending public, private or home schools.
Golden Triangle Regional Airport spreading the word about new ID requirements for air travel
Starting in October, airline passengers must have a special designation on their driver's licenses in order to go through airport security checkpoints and board planes for travel. On Friday, Golden Triangle Regional Airport Director Mike Hainsey joined Kim Jackson, security director for Mississippi Transportation Safety Authority in a press conference about the new policy, which was passed by Congress in 2005 but has yet to be implemented -- something it calls "Real ID." If passengers don't have a Real ID designation on their licenses, they must have some other approved form of identification -- primarily a passport or military ID. "Beginning Oct. 1, 2020, TSA estimates that every day as many as one million people will come to TSA checkpoints without a compliant ID," Jackson said. "At that point, it's pretty simple: No compliant ID, no air travel." Jackson emphasized that Real ID will be required not just at airports, but at every federal facilities where ID is required, including military installations such as Columbus Air Force Base.
Pilgrimage canceled amid coronavirus outbreak
Columbus, Mississippi Spring Pilgrimage, one of the city's largest annual festivals that draws in thousands of tourists each year, is canceled this year amid the COVID-19 outbreak, said Nancy Carpenter, CEO of the Columbus-Lowndes County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The CVB board voted unanimously to cancel the event after receiving recommendations to cancel large gatherings from the Mississippi Department of Health and the Mississippi Development Authority, Carpenter said. MSDH issued a statement Friday morning recommending that citizens avoid gatherings of 250 or more in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. There are six presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Mississippi, according to MSDH. Hotels and restaurants in Columbus are already feeling the negative impact of the cancellation of the NCAA basketball tournaments, Carpenter said. The loss of Pilgrimage this year adds to that pressure, she said. "We are all saddened by this, but the No.1 priority is the health and wellbeing of ... our community, our citizens and, certainly, our guests," Carpenter said. "We really had no choice."
Mississippi governor declares emergency to fight coronavirus
Mississippi's governor declared a state of emergency to help fight coronavirus in the state and said he will work from home for two weeks after returning Friday from a family trip to Spain. "I urge all Mississippians to use caution," Tate Reeves said in a video released Saturday. "This is not a time to panic. We are acting calmly and steadily." The Republican governor, only two months into his first term, said the state of emergency would give health officials and other administrators the tools they need to fight the disease. Reeves said everyone in his family is "healthy and strong" but said he was trying to set an example. "I'll be voluntarily working from home for 14 days out of an abundance of caution and care for those around us," he said. Reeves urged state employees to work from home if possible and said the state would close driver's license offices to avert possible spread there.
Public Service Commission temporarily suspends utility disconnections in response to COVID-19
The Mississippi Public Service Commission decided Sunday to temporarily suspend disconnections of all water, sewer, electricity and gas services for 60 days. This action comes in response to the state of emergency declared by Gov. Tate Reeves on March 14 regarding the spread of COVID-19, with directions given to examine any statutes, rules or regulations that may be temporarily suspended or modified if they would hinder or delay action necessary to cope with the outbreak. The PCS coordinated with the Mississippi State Department of Health and Mississippi Emergency Management agency throughout the weekend to implement protocols that ensure all Mississippians have access to essential utility services during the spread of COVID-19. This is a temporary suspension of disconnection. Utility customers should continue to pay outstanding bills and pay for services provided during the 60 days.
Legislation to require online retailers to collect tax could boost state revenue
Mississippi legislators, needing funds in the current session to pay for a teacher pay raise and a possible state employee salary hike, could be boosted by an additional $50 million in revenue thanks to a proposal pending to place more of a burden on online retailers to collect the 7 percent tax on retail items. The 7 percent tax is paid by the purchaser, but collected for the state by the retailer. The Marketplace Facilitator Act would require behemoth online retailers such as Amazon or Walmart to collect the 7 percent tax on items they sell for other companies. Amazon and other large online retailers already collect the 7 percent use tax on items they sell that they own. But the online retailers also sell on their site items owned by other companies. Mississippi is one of five states that do not require the online retailers to collect the use tax on the items they sell for the other companies. State Revenue Commissioner Herb Frierson said the estimate is that collecting the tax from the third party online sellers would generate $50 million annually. "It is not about the revenue," said Frierson. "It is about having fairness in the marketplace."
Analysis: Special needs vouchers could live on, with limits
Mississippi's state Senate is proposing a significant overhaul of the program that provides state money for special education students to attend private schools. Now it's the House's turn to consider its future. Parents whose children have special education needs can apply for education scholarship accounts that provide $6,500. The program was created in 2015 by Republicans who argued that students with specialized learning needs should be able to seek alternatives to public schools. It will expire after this school year unless lawmakers agree to extend it. The more restrictive version won wide Senate support, including three Democratic supporters in the 40-9 margin. Now the bill awaits action in the House. Richard Bennett, a Long Beach Republican and the Education Committee chairman there, has been a clear skeptic in the past. But with some public education advocates mollified by the Senate measure, a modified program may live on.
Former corrections chief takes job with state's prison phone contractor
Former Mississippi Corrections Department commissioner Pelicia Hall is now working for the state's prison phone contractor. Hall resigned from the Mississippi Department of Corrections in mid-January amid increased public scrutiny over in-custody deaths and conditions inside facilities. Her LinkedIn profile says she started working as the "Senior Vice President of Reentry" at Global Tel*Link Corp. this month. "With over eight years of corrections experience, both as legal counsel and most recently as Commissioner of Mississippi, Pelicia brings extensive experience to her role as Senior Vice President of Reentry at GTL," wrote Randy Brown, a GTL spokesperson, in an emailed statement. "We welcome her to the team where she will focus on furthering our goal to improve outcomes for both incarcerated individuals and correctional facilities with a specific focus on preparing individuals for life after incarceration." GTL did not provide further details of Hall's role or respond to a request to interview Hall directly.
Lauderdale County Chancery Court judge shot outside courthouse
A Chancery Court Judge was shot Monday morning outside the Lauderdale County Courthouse. Judge Charles E. Smith, the family court and Chancery Court judge for Mississippi District 12, was taken to a hospital in critical condition with a gunshot wound near his abdomen, Meridian Police Lt. Rita Jack said. Police believe one shot was fired, Jack said. The Meridian Police Department is investigating the shooting, which occurred in the parking lot of the west side of the Lauderdale County Courthouse. Meridian police and Lauderdale County Sheriff's personnel responded to the scene around 7:15 a.m. and closed off 20th Avenue between 5th Street and 4th Street. There is no suspect or vehicle description, Jack said.
Trump urges no hoarding as coronavirus panic strains grocery stores
The Trump administration and grocery industry leaders say the U.S. food supply chain is holding up despite heavy strain amid worries over the coronavirus outbreak, which has cleared out shelves of nonperishable foods, household cleaners and essentials. On Sunday, President Donald Trump held a phone call with food industry executives to discuss how they're managing the growing crisis. Grocers have been reducing hours, deep-cleaning their stores and offering disinfectant wipes to shoppers. They are also limiting purchases per customer of hand sanitizers, toilet paper and other high-demand products. During a news conference Sunday evening, Trump said grocery firms had urged him to communicate the message to consumers to avoid panic-buying. "You don't have to buy so much," he said. "There's no need for anybody in the country to hoard essential food supplies."
CDC recommends no events of more than 50 people for next eight weeks
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Sunday called for the cancellation of in-person events of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks to try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The agency issued new guidance as governors across the country directed bars and restaurants to close down with the exception of carryout or delivery business. Arizona, Ohio and other states have shuttered schools for weeks to try to limit transmission of the virus. "Events of any size should only be continued if they can be carried out with adherence to guidelines for protecting vulnerable populations, hand hygiene, and social distancing," the CDC said. "When feasible, organizers could modify events to be virtual." The guidance does not apply to large organizations such as schools, universities or businesses, the CDC said, though many of those institutions have implemented telework or online classes. The advisory does not supersede direction from state and local officials.
Coronavirus Pushes States To Revamp Voting Places Ahead Of Tuesday Primaries
The coronavirus outbreak has already led Georgia and Louisiana to postpone upcoming primary elections but leaders in the four states, Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio, that hold vote on Tuesday say they will continue as planned. "We're asking [voters] to be very, very careful," said Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine Sunday on NBC's Meet The Press. Some states are considering whether it's possible to send mail-in ballots to every eligible voter for contests in April and beyond in order to reduce in-person voting and reduce the possibility the virus the could be transmitted at polling places. "It's going to be a state-by-state question on whether or not people can ramp up in time," said Tammy Patrick, a former election official from Arizona now with the Democracy Fund. She says some states are in a much better position than others because they already do a lot of vote-by-mail. But that option wasn't open to the quartet of big states voting Tuesday given the speed with which the coronavirus became a national public health emergency.
Fed cuts interest rate to near zero to support markets
The Federal Reserve on Sunday said it would cut its key interest rate nearly to zero, buy hundreds of billions of dollars in bonds to provide more liquidity to the financial market, ease reserve requirements on banks, and lower the cost of borrowing from the central bank in a series of efforts to ward off the economic dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic. The announcements, which came as Asian markets prepared to open Monday, are an indication of the Fed's worry about the economy as COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, leads to widespread disruption. The Fed had previously cut its benchmark federal funds rate by half a percentage point less than two weeks ago. Both rate moves came outside of a scheduled Fed monetary policy meeting. The next scheduled one is Tuesday and Wednesday. The Fed's actions, which were partly coordinated with other central banks, also follow Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's comment Friday on CNBC that he would be asking Congress to give the central bank authorities taken away by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul that followed the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent recession. "We'll be going back to Congress for authorities that they took away that we think we need," Mnuchin said.
What zero rates, sub-1% bond yields mean for your mortgages, student loans and credit cards
There's a silver lining in the economic anxiety Americans face: Interest rates are at unprecedented lows and benchmark bond yields have dropped below 1% for the first time in history, conditions that are expected to cut borrowing costs even further on everything from mortgages to student loans. The Federal Reserve lowered borrowing costs to near zero Sunday in an emergency move to combat the economic shocks from the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, the 10-year Treasury yield, a key benchmark that influences borrowing costs on houses and auto loans, slumped further to historic lows this month as virus fueled worries stoked fears of an economic slowdown. But experts say borrowers are poised to benefit from the combination of lower rates and a drop in bond yields in the coming months.
Government official: Coronavirus vaccine trial starts Monday
The first participant in a clinical trial for a vaccine to protect against the new coronavirus will receive an experimental dose on Monday, according to a government official. The National Institutes of Health is funding the trial, which is taking place at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. The official who disclosed plans for the first participant spoke on condition of anonymity because the move has not been publicly announced. Public health officials say it will take a year to 18 months to fully validate any potential vaccine. Dozens of research groups around the world are racing to create a vaccine as COVID-19 cases continue to grow. Importantly, they're pursuing different types of vaccines -- shots developed from new technologies that not only are faster to produce than traditional inoculations but might prove more potent.
Ole Miss students leaving dorms amid coronavirus concerns
Some Ole Miss students got an early start to cleaning out their dorms after the university asked them to leave campus amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The university announced they are extending spring break and will hold online classes only staring on March 23rd. They also encouraged students to return home and avoid returning to campus to minimize the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus. Students said this was an understandable, but drastic move by the university. "It definitely threw off some plans that were going on," said freshman Daniel Everhart. He said he and his mom didn't expect to make the 300 mile trip from Waveland to repack his dorm so soon into his first year. Other students said they hope the new online classes don't impact their learning experience. "I'm mostly worried about my labs and stuff for chemistry because just for me personally it's way easier to learn," said chemistry major Tekeyra Shelton.
UMMC, JSU students test positive for coronavirus
Students at Jackson State University and the University of Mississippi Medical Center are among 10 people in Mississippi who had been reported by Sunday as testing positive for the novel coronavirus. Both students are being isolated at home, officials said. The UMMC student recently returned from an out-of-state spring break trip and began feeling symptoms related to the virus. DNA samples taken from the student and tested by the state Public Health Laboratory were found to be positive for COVID-19. The student has not visited the UMMC campus since returning from the trip, a hospital staff memo said. "The safety of everyone associated with UMMC – faculty, staff, students, patients, visitors -- is our top priority. We continue to make every effort to reduce any exposure or community spread," said Dr. Jonathan Wilson, UMMC Chief Administrative Officer. "The health and safety of our students and campus community is our top priority," acting JSU President Thomas K. Hudson said. "We are working closely with officials from the (state Health Department) for guidance to ensure the continued safety of our campus community."
Southern Miss begins extended spring break due to coronavirus outbreak
The Southern Miss community began an extended spring break Saturday, due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. Some students have gone home for the break, but others have stayed in the Hub City area. That's good news for restaurants like Fuzzy's Taco Shop, that may see a drop in business when students are away. "So far, business has held up pretty good and we'll be here as long as it's safe to be here," said Trey Ziegler, co-owner of Fuzzy's Taco Shop. Some students like Bryce Foxworth say, so far, they aren't afraid to go to public places. Foxworth, a senior from Florida, had lunch at T-Bones Records and Cafe Saturday. "Some students are a little worried, but I see a lot of them still going out, living their lives, doing what they usually do," he said.
Students in Auburn's residence halls share how coronavirus is upending housing
As part of the University's announcement of a transition from on-campus instruction to remote delivery, Campus Safety and Security stated that all dining facilities, libraries and residence halls will be closed through April 10. But some students expressed concern at potentially being unable to retrieve personal items after the unexpected closure of campus. "I panicked a lot because all of my books and everything I need for school are in my dorm ... which they are closing," said Camille Preston, sophomore in neuroscience and Aubie Hall resident in the Village. "Not to mention, all of my clothes and everything that I need to have with me at my home if I am going to be out of school for a month." Limited exceptions are made for those who need to remain in their residence halls -- international students, those who are unable to return to their home country if it's been hard-hit by the virus and those who don't have a home or a safe home.
Auburn University employees to work remotely until at least April 10
All Auburn employees who can work remotely have been asked by the University do so, according to an email from Executive Vice President Ron Burgess. Burgess stated that faculty and staff should begin working remotely "no later than close of business" on Monday. Burgess said supervisors should communicate with employees "as soon as possible" about the implementation of working remotely.
U. of Florida students talk college affordability, 2020 presidential candidates
The issue of college affordability is personal for Amy Abuqawod. Abuqawod, a 21-year-old UF criminology senior and member of UF Students for Bernie, works two jobs to help pay for school. She was awarded the Pell Grant, which is given to certain college students depending on their financial needs. But she said her student loans still accumulate interest each day. "The price for one class is just so outrageous," Abuqawod said. "When I'm looking for a presidential candidate, I want someone who is willing to cancel student loans because I think it is not a legitimate form of debt." UF reported in its 2017-2018 fact book that its undergraduate students owed $21,713 on average. This figure is about $10,000 less than the national average of $32,731, according to Forbes. But despite the cut, students are still concerned about debt and tuition costs -- and it's affecting how they cast their ballots this election season.
Texas A&M outlines plan for online classes amid coronavirus concerns
Texas A&M University Provost Carol Fierke outlined faculty online training schedules, staff guidance for in-person and telecommuting and campus services on Friday afternoon. The statement comes one day after the university said it will cancel classes next week and continue online only beginning March 23. Campus resource facilities such as dining halls and dorms will remain open. In the announcement, she said there is a respiratory clinic with a separate entrance at the A.P. Beutel Health Center. All students need to pre-screen regardless of health concerns to decrease the spread of respiratory illness, the statement says. Pre-screenings can be arranged via the Student Patient Portal. The message states that there will be resources and training on campus and on the ZOOM online platform next week for instructors to learn how to move their courses online. Professors are encouraged to use the resource to get tips on moving courses to digital formats before attending training sessions.
U. of Missouri goes online; preps plan to house virus cases
The University of Missouri is planning for possible use of a residence hall as a coronavirus isolation facility if the pandemic illness requires additional space to be kept under control. No final decision and no construction work to prepare has been done, sources said. Contacted Saturday, MU spokesman Christian Basi said he could not confirm nor disclose details of contingency plans, citing safety concerns. "As part of our emergency plan we have been reviewing the various resources we have on campus that could be used should this pandemic get much worse or have a significant impact on the Columbia community," Basi said. So far, no student or employee of the university has tested positive for COVID-19 and there are only four likely or confirmed cases in Missouri, none in Columbia. The UM System is converting coursework to online instruction at all four campuses starting Monday and will continue with that program at least until the end of the spring term.
Mizzou Alternative Breaks shuts down 42 spring semester volunteer trips
Kira Smith was sitting in a friend's dorm scrolling through Twitter on Wednesday when the University of Missouri announced that classes before spring break would be taught remotely as well as cancellation of all university-sponsored travel. The reason? Concerns about COVID-19. Smith planned to take part in her first spring break trip, to Columbia, South Carolina, through Mizzou Alternative Breaks. But after reading the tweet, she wondered whether it would still be possible. "All the people in my group were in the GroupMe texting ..., 'Do you guys know if it's going to be canceled or not? Is it going to be postponed? Will it be refunded?'" Smith said. Mizzou Alternative Breaks answered Smith's question Thursday, announcing cancellation of all spring semester volunteer trips. That includes 42 spring break and weekend trips that will affect 300 student participants, MU spokesperson Christian Basi said.
Consumer groups say student loan borrowers need more help during coronavirus crisis
While they applauded President Donald Trump for indefinitely waiving the interest on federal students loans during the coronavirus crisis, consumer groups said the move doesn't go far enough in helping borrowers survive the economic fallout from the pandemic. "Freezing interest will keep balances from growing during this time, and that's important," Persis Yu, National Consumer Law Center staff attorney, said in a statement. "However, many borrowers are going to experience income shocks and urgent expenses that will impede their ability to make their regularly scheduled payments ... Moreover, people need the confidence to know that, if they are sick or medically vulnerable or need to care for children, that they can stay home and not face the draconian consequences of defaulting on their student loans." Democratic lawmakers in the U.S. House and Senate, meanwhile, agreed some borrowers should get a reprieve on making student loan payments, particularly if their academic terms are disrupted by closings. House Democrats on Friday night formally introduced a bill identical to one Senator Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the Senate's health and education committee, proposed earlier in the day, which would provide a temporary exemption for students from repaying Pell Grants or student loans if their terms are disrupted.
Labs go quiet as researchers brace for long-term coronavirus disruptions
Evolutionary biologist Richard Lenski at Michigan State University spends a lot of time thinking about how microbes grow. Since 1988, his team has watched populations of Escherichia coli bacteria grow and evolve in the lab through more than 73,000 generations. So when cases of COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, appeared in the United States, he knew to expect exponential growth -- these first cases were just a hint of what was to come. This week, as research institutions around the world brace for a surge in COVID-19 cases and consider their staff and students' roles in slowing the virus' spread, Lenski decided to freeze his bacteria and pause the 32-year experiment. "I didn't want people responsible for doing this daily work [of maintaining the bacteria] to feel a pressure to come in when they might not be feeling well," he says. This is "a tiny perturbation" in the scheme of the experiment, which can simply be resumed by unfreezing the bacteria. But that disruption is itself the tip of an iceberg. Countless labs in a variety of research fields are reconsidering their planned studies -- and not all projects can be easily put on ice.
Colleges develop strategies for recruiting students without a campus visit
Texas Christian University has created a webpage for admitted applicants in light of coronavirus fears. On the top it says, "There's nothing like being on campus, but taking a virtual tour of TCU is a close second!" Videos follow, with the campus tour and specialized information for the newly admitted -- on orientation, roommates, getting involved on campus. A parent question-and-answer section leads off with information on whom to contact with questions but then attempts to answer a number of them on the timing and substance of admissions decisions. The coronavirus situation is forcing colleges to teach online for a few weeks or the rest of the semester. Budgets are tight. People are stressed. But for admissions, the timing is just as colleges are rolling out their days for admitted applicants. Most colleges have canceled these days (along with most student activity on their campuses) and are left to recruit students without what for most of them is one of their best assets: their physical campuses. This is a crucial time of year for many students. Anci noted that Kenyon has several events -- since scrapped -- on campus for high school juniors. But it's the high school seniors -- next year's freshmen -- who are the particular focus.
Universities now face tens of billions in losses for university endowments
The screens before him pulse with worrisome financial news, but Tom Heck exudes Midwestern calm. That's particularly impressive considering that Heck, in his role as chief investment officer for the Ball State University Foundation, oversees the public university's $255 million endowment. As attention has been focused on classes being canceled and students being sent home because of the coronavirus, another threat to U.S. universities and colleges is looming: tens of billions of dollars in potential endowment losses stemming from the market meltdown following the virus outbreak and a global price war over oil. "The timing of this particular situation is difficult because a lot of us are going through a budget process," Heck said. "So suddenly we're dealing with a lot of very negative investment returns just as we're planning a budget." Three-quarters of the $630 billion in endowment funds at U.S. universities and colleges is invested in equities, or stocks, according to the most recent available accounting, at a time when share prices have plummeted since the start of the coronavirus.
Stemming the flow of international students could cost US colleges $41 billion
Many international students are not able to come to the U.S. and that could cause a significant disruption in our college system. For years, there has been a major influx of students studying in this country, particularly from China. In fact, one-third of all the international students in the U.S. come from China -- more than any other nation, both in sheer numbers and as an overall percentage, according to the Institute of International Education. Prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus, the number of Chinese students in America was roughly 370,000, according to the latest data. But those numbers had been falling more recently due to more restrictive student visa policies in the U.S. and changing attitudes abroad about studying here. The coronavirus outbreak "throws fuel on the fire," said Hafeez Lakhani, the president of New York-based Lakhani Coaching. International students in the U.S. contributed nearly $41 billion to the national economy in the 2018-2019 academic year, according to NAFSA: Association of International Educators. (By other accounts, the number is even higher.)
As Coronavirus Drives Students From Campuses, What Happens to the Workers Who Feed Them?
The University of Texas at Austin announced on Friday that it would suspend operations in response to the coronavirus pandemic and Covid-19, the disease it causes. The university suspended campus visits and in-person admission events, as well as all university-sponsored international and domestic travel through at least April 30. In doing so, Texas joined the ranks of institutions like Rice University, which has elected to suspend operations on its campus, in Houston, for the rest of the semester. But those suspensions, accompanying shifts from in-person to online classes, have raised concerns about the effects on nonacademic workers and those employed by independent contractors. Industry watchers, though, say that despite the chaos experienced by faculty members and students as campuses close, there has not been a rush to issue pink slips to those workers. "At this time, we are not aware of any planned employee layoffs," said Andy Brantley, president and chief executive of the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, in a written statement. "In fact, we are hearing stories from across the country that emphasize how our higher-education leaders are working to continue services, create teleworking plans, and expand leave options to help employees bridge any gaps that temporary Covid-19 closures will create."
College in the Coronavirus Era: Wistful Goodbyes and a Sense of Loss
When Cornell University administrators emailed students last week, sobs were heard in libraries and labs. People wiped tears from friends' faces -- then slathered on hand sanitizer. After spring break, the email said, they should not come back. The school would start to close dorms after March 28, and students were to go home; courses would be held online for the rest of the semester. Schools across the country followed suit, taking similar measures to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, which began to appear in more college populations this weekend. A few days later, Cornell suspended classes altogether, for three weeks, to allow students to focus on getting home. Separating people is, of course, precisely what such drastic measures are intended to do. But at ground level, they bring confusion and pain.
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. says in-person classes to continue
Even as many colleges and universities closed in response to the coronavirus threat, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. went on Fox News on Friday morning to suggest the virus was a plot to undermine President Trump and to say his school would open as usual when students return from spring break on March 23. Falwell's announcement that in-person classes would resume following spring break did not sit well with some students at the Christian evangelical university in Lynchburg. "I think it's gross," said Elizabeth Lake, 22, a senior math major. "We're supposed to be taking preventative action, and he's not doing that because of his political views." Lake said she didn't have any issue with Falwell's support of Trump but thought he was making a poor decision to keep the school operating as normal. Scott Lamb, a spokesman for Falwell, declined an interview request.
Social distancing comes with social side effects -- here's how to stay connected
To fight the spread of coronavirus, government officials have asked Americans to swallow a hard pill: Stay away from each other. In times of societal stress, such a demand runs counter to what evolution has hard-wired people to do: Seek out and support each other as families, friends and communities. We yearn to huddle together. The warmth of our breath and bodies, of holding hands and hugging, of talking and listening, is a primary source of soothing. These connections are pivotal for responding to and maximizing our survival in times of stress. Priority number one is to follow the recommended social distancing guidelines to control the virus. The cure is definitely not worse than the disease – experts' projections of disease spread and mortality without strong intervention make this clear. But as with any pill, there are side effects. As psychological scientists at the University of Washington's Center for the Science of Social Connection, our lab studies social connectedness, why it is important and how to maximize its benefits. Our clinical and research experiences help us understand the side effects of social distancing and suggest strategies for addressing them.
Musgrove-Wicker 2008 contest provide bad omens for Espy in 2020 Senate race
Bobby Harrison writes for Mississippi Today: In the 2008 general election, former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove garnered 560,064 votes in his quest to capture a seat in the United States Senate -- the most votes ever received by a Democrat not named Barack Obama in Mississippi. Musgrove still lost by more than 123,000 votes or 10 percentage points to Republican Roger Wicker. The Senate election, of course, was a special election to replace long-time senator Trent Lott, who had unexpectedly resigned. While the Mike Espy versus Cindy Hyde-Smith contest in 2018 also was a special election, to replace long-term Sen. Thad Cochran who resigned for health reason, the Espy-Hyde-Smith rematch this November might be more compatible to the Musgrove-Wicker 2008 special election.

Exclusive SDN Q&A: Mississippi State Athletic Director John Cohen
When it comes to dealing with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it's uncharted waters for everyone. That of course includes those involved in athletics. The Southeastern Conference has already announced it has suspended all athletic activities of any kind until at least April 15. The NCAA has already canceled all winter/spring championship events. Things seem to be changing rapidly and no one really knows what is next. In the midst of all the uncertainty, Mississippi State Athletic Director John Cohen talked with the Starkville Daily News for a brief, exclusive interview. Here is the full transcript of Cohen's remarks, slightly edited in some spots for clarity.
How the 1918 Mississippi A&M football team battled a pandemic and wartime to play its season
Mississippi State sports have come to a historic standstill. Following the Southeastern Conference's announcement Thursday that all spring sports will be canceled due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, the 2019-2020 athletic season at MSU has come to an abrupt close. And while the stands at Dudy Noble Field, Humphrey Coliseum and Davis Wade Stadium will remain bare for the foreseeable future, it's not without precedent. In 1918, the Mississippi A&M (MSU's previous name) football team saw its season delayed due to a global influenza pandemic, but the Aggies marched to a 3-2 record in a season marred by sickness, uncertainty and war. "Never before have conditions been so unfavorable for football at A&M as during the season of 1918," read the 1919 edition of The Reveille, the university yearbook.
MHSAA suspends high school sports competition in Mississippi because of coronavirus
The Mississippi High School Activities Association released a statement Monday suspending all practices and events for high school sports effective immediately. Here's the MHSAA statement in its entirety "To protect the health and safety of our students and communities, the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) is suspending all sanctioned contests and activities due to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Mississippi. This policy was put in place after a conference call with the MHSAA Executive Committee on Monday morning. The Executive Committee is made up of 15 school administrators from around the state. Effective immediately, March 16, all MHSAA interscholastic sports and fine-arts activities competition and practice is suspended through March 29 and until further notice. This suspension applies whether or not a school is open or closed during this timeline. Contingency plans for continuing regular-season competition and return to play are being formulated.
Southern Miss baseball coach: 'Some things are bigger than baseball'
For the first time in his 36-year coaching career, Scott Berry sent his players home for a full spring break. The Southern Miss head baseball coach said he has seen canceled games and postponed dates but never anything like this. The remainder of the 2020 college baseball season is in limbo. The NCAA canceled its winter and spring championships last week. Conference USA has also suspended all games and spring practices until April 5. "It is frustrating the fact that I'm supposed to be coaching a baseball game today," Berry said on Saturday. "But you know with everything in life, in how this coronavirus is, I think certainly you cannot question the decisions that are made because this is bigger than baseball. This is bigger than any person." Berry said the life lesson is that things can come to an end quickly. He said he told his players the situation was out of his control, and it's a part of life. He also told them to remember the people who are ill and fighting for their lives. "They would give anything to be a college baseball player who had their season on hold," Berry said.
MUW athletics suspended indefinitely due to coronavirus concerns; resumption this spring 'highly unlikely'
All athletic programs at the Mississippi University for Women have been suspended indefinitely due to concerns about COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, athletic director Jason Trufant has announced. "The health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, staff, and everyone involved with our athletics program is the absolute top priority," Trufant said in a statement. "We will continue to seek guidance from university leadership, health care experts, and local, state, and federal authorities in making decisions going forward." The suspension includes all athletic practices and competitions, and Trufant noted it is "highly unlikely" that the school will return to competition this spring. "We are working closely with our intercollegiate governing bodies on eligibility and seasons of competition impacts and will provide that information when available," Trufant said. "Trust that your best interest and the best interests of this university are front and center."
SEC's Greg Sankey thanks fans in coronavirus statement: 'An unprecedented experience for us all'
Instead of crowning an SEC basketball tournament champion on Sunday, the commissioner of the SEC sent a lengthy message to student-athletes and fans, via Twitter. Greg Sankey indicated 280 characters just isn't enough to convey his message. "The days and weeks ahead will certainly require more decisions, but each is being made with the best available information as a guide," Sankey tweeted. "Thank you for the many encouraging messages." He attached the following message: "In the past few days we have moved from the certainty of a men's basketball tournament championship game today to a circumstance where many things in our world feel uncertain. Needless to say, this is an unprecedented experience for us all. We take very seriously each decision made related to coronavirus/COVID-19. We all care about sports, but we care more deeply about the people involved in our sports. For them, I can only imagine, the shock, disappointment, anger and frustration that comes from learning your season, your championship, your opportunity to be with your team, and your desire to pursue your passion have been disrupted. For our fans, thank you for your loyalty during these extraordinary times. And, please know the leadership of the Southeastern Conference, including myself, our presidents and chancellors and the SEC's athletics directors, will consider carefully the manner in which we move forward."
Mark Emmert: Rudy Gobert's positive test was 'exclamation point' for NCAA tourney hopes
On Wednesday, NCAA president Mark Emmert believed college sports' governing body would still be able to stage men's and women's basketball tournaments without fans in attendance. But over the next 18 hours or so, Emmert and other NCAA officials came to understand the growing coronavirus outbreak and its threat to student-athletes, coaches and other people who would be in attendance at tournament sites around the country. The NBA's suspending its season after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 was the "exclamation point" for the NCAA, according to Emmert. In a wide-ranging interview with ESPN on what was supposed to be Selection Sunday, Emmert said concerning medical reports, the lack of testing for student-athletes, coaches, their families and other personnel, and decisions made by state and local governments to curtail mass gatherings to try to contain the pandemic forced the NCAA to cancel the basketball tournaments and championship events for spring sports.
Federal officials lengthen recommendation for sports hiatus
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday extended the time frame that it recommends sporting events be closed to the public. The latest guideline from the CDC recommends that large mass gatherings, which it defines as more than 50 people, be canceled or postponed for at least eight weeks to slow the spread of coronavirus. Exemptions would be made for schools and businesses. If sporting leagues act in accordance with the CDC recommendation, it would bar fans from attending -- and potentially keep suspended -- sporting events well into the month of May. All major U.S. professional and college sports are on hiatus until at least next month. The NBA and NHL have suspended their seasons, and MLB postponed its opening day. The SEC Tournament championship game would have been played Sunday, followed by the selection show for the NCAA Tournament. Instead, networks filled their air time with game replays from past seasons throughout the weekend, and most college athletes were away from their teammates to be in accordance with individual conference mandates.
Shut down: How LSU sports was put on hold amid coronavirus concerns, what comes next
The football players cracked crawfish open on long wooden tables next to the LSU practice fields, a Last Supper of sorts Friday evening, considering they wouldn't be allowed to officially meet on such a field again for at least a month. Earlier in the day, the Southeastern Conference had extended its suspension of play amid concerns of the spread of coronavirus, switching the final date of its timeline from March 30 to April 15. In a jarring and solemn blow, the league also banned all organized team activities: practices, meetings, team workouts, on- and off-campus recruiting. The suspensions were effective Friday. "There's nothing more important than the health and well-being of our student-athletes, our staff and community," LSU athletic director Scott Woodward said in a statement. "This decision did not come lightly for anyone. This is an extraordinary measure, but a necessary one for the greater good."
With the sports world shutting down for coronavirus, here's why one college wrestling tournament decided to keep going
The Allen Event Center was host to the only show in town. And not just this town, but town after town, possibly the ZIP code, the county and the state. Heck, maybe even the country. Sporting events are canceled because of efforts to contain the coronavirus. Churches are closing, casinos are being shuttered, TV shows have banished studio audiences, and states have enacted prohibitions on large gatherings. That didn't stop the National Collegiate Wrestling Association National Championships from occurring, with hundreds of athletes scheduled to participate under one roof and in close contact. Athletes who will soon travel back to home states as far as Washington and New York. Giunta noted the precautions being taken by the NCWA. There were many signs posted around the facility about best practices to prevent COVID-19. While Giunta claimed the event followed social distancing protocols, athletes in the waiting area were in tight quarters. And those in the stands didn't proactively try to maintain space from one another.
Aftermath of NCAA cancellations
No bracket busters. No watch parties or pregaming. No upsets or underdogs; no storming the court. Alumni fan clubs, student cheering sections and campus bars will be quiet for the next three weeks and perhaps even the remainder of the spring semester as U.S. colleges move into unseen territory -- the absence of intercollegiate athletics. The coronavirus pandemic that has upended the daily lives and routines of college students around the world has also wiped out one of the most unifying features of campus and community life in the United States. The recent decision by the National Collegiate Athletic Association to cancel all remaining championship competitions for the winter and spring seasons to help reduce the spread of coronavirus and promote social distancing has only compounded the disappointment students are feeling about the unprecedented changes taking place on their campuses. They describe the cancellations in emotional terms, using words such as "tragic" and "traumatic." Student athletes and graduating seniors for whom this was the last opportunity for an irreplaceable college experience are dealing with multiple levels of grief, said Susan Krauss Whitborne, a psychology professor at the University of Massachusetts who studies athletes and sports fandom. On top of suddenly being forced to take classes online or move away from campus, the cancellations of sporting events will have a psychological impact on students, especially those who were involved in winter or spring sports, marching band or cheerleading, Krauss Whitborne said.
No. 1 Gamecocks, Dawn Staley left wondering what might have been after coronavirus ends season
The worst part is they'll never truly know. South Carolina is the No. 1 women's basketball team in each of the major polls. The Gamecocks (32-1) have won 26 straight games and dominated the SEC regular season and SEC Tournament, crushing a top-10 Mississippi State squad it beat by only two points in the regular season 76-62 in the tournament championship game. They were a sure top seed in the NCAA Tournament and probably a favorite to win the championship. By playing four games in their home state (two in Columbia at Colonial Life Arena and two in Greenville, the same location where they wiped out the competition at the SEC Tournament), they had a clear path to the Final Four. But it's over. The outbreak of coronavirus, known as COVID-19, forced the NCAA to cancel its postseason tournaments. "It's so very hard to have the bottom just drop out. I have 12 players, they were amped up," USC coach Dawn Staley said on ESPN this week.
Mississippi wildlife agency: Nearly 100 turkeys poached, 4 charged
At least four people were arrested following an 11-month investigation that determined nearly 100 turkeys had been poached, according to wildlife officials in Mississippi. The group was believed to have trespassed on 15 properties in Claiborne, Copiah, Franklin, Jefferson, and Lincoln counties, according to a news release from the state Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks. About 280 wildlife violations were issued to 14 individuals, the agency said. Of the four people arrested and named in the news release, Kenneth Ray Britt, 39, had been charged with the most violations -- 142. It was unclear whether he had an attorney who could comment on his behalf. The investigation determined the illegal hunt during the 2019 season wasn't constrained to Mississippi. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was probing the illegal out-of-state hunts, the release stated.
Florida legislators send college-athlete name, image bill to governor
The Florida House of Representatives on Friday night gave the final legislative approval of a bill that would help college athletes in the state make money from their name, image and likeness, beginning July 1, 2021. The House's action -- by a 98-14 vote -- sends the measure to Gov. Ron DeSantis, who announced in October that he supports such a proposal. The Senate approved the bill earlier this week by a 37-2 margin. If DeSantis signs the bill, Florida will join California in having this type of a law -- but Florida's would take effect 18 months before California's. That could prompt lawmakers in California to revisit their measure, and it puts further pressure on the NCAA as its executives, school presidents and athletics administrators consider the issue. Various NCAA groups have been studying the issue with an eye toward putting proposals before the association's top governing boards by late April and having rules changes ready for votes at the NCAA convention in January 2021. Meanwhile, the NCAA has asked for help from Congress as it faces the possibility of state-by-state action on name, image and likeness (NIL).

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