Wednesday, March 18, 2020   
Mississippi State University restricts travel, group activities
In accordance with updated CDC guidelines and the President's Coronavirus Guidelines, Mississippi State University is restricting all domestic travel at this time -- both in state and out of state. No travel reimbursements will be approved unless the travel is deemed essential and approved in advance by the employee's respective Vice President. The previously issued ban on international travel remains in place. Additionally, no meetings, functions, activities, or other events may be hosted by Mississippi State University with more than 10 people in attendance. Please make use of internet based meeting platforms, conference calls, etc., for meeting needs. Additionally, please remember to practice social distancing in any and all meetings and interactions. At the current time, these restrictions will extend through May 10, 2020, however, this date could change at any time. Please continue to monitor email or for additional information.
MSU courses online for spring semester, commencement postponed
In compliance with guidance from Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, Mississippi State University announced today that the university will deliver online or other remote instructional course content for the remainder of the 2020 spring semester. That decision is based on national and state public health protocols established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH). Information on laboratory courses will be communicated to students by their instructors. Additionally, current CDC and MSDH guidelines preclude MSU from holding any large public gatherings. Consequently, IHL recommendations are that traditional commencement exercises be indefinitely postponed. Plans to appropriately honor MSU graduates will be discussed and revealed when the national emergency is concluded. Commencement is one of MSU's most meaningful and cherished traditions, one that our students and their families have earned. As an institution, MSU remains committed to celebrating our graduates at a safe and appropriate time.
Mississippi State to switch to online classes for rest of spring semester, postpones commencement
Mississippi State University on Tuesday announced it will begin delivering online or other remote instructional course content for the remainder of the 2020 spring semester, while also postponing graduation ceremonies. The move comes in compliance from guidance from Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, also referred to as the novel coronavirus. MSU said in a press release that information on laboratory courses will be communicated to students by their instructors. The university also said it plans to honor MSU graduates, which will be discussed and revealed once the national emergency has concluded.
MSU postpones commencement, moves to online classes for remainder of semester
Mississippi State University has moved to online classes for the remainder of the spring semester and postponed commencement in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. University officials announced the move in an email Tuesday, saying the decisions are in accordance with guidance from Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning and based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Mississippi State Department of Health. University officials plan to discuss and hold events honoring MSU graduates once the national emergency is over. "Commencement is one of MSU's most meaningful and cherished traditions, one that our students and their families have earned," the email said. "As an institution, MSU remains committed to celebrating our graduates at a safe and appropriate time."
Mississippi State postpones commencement due to coronavirus
Mississippi State University is postponing its commencement ceremony due to the coronavirus outbreak. The school also announced it will finish the rest of the 2020 spring semester via online classes or other remote content. The school is moving forward with these changes at the suggestion of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Mississippi State Department of Health. Those recommendations include avoiding large public gatherings; therefore, the university's commencement is postponed indefinitely. The school plans to hold the commencement ceremony at a later time when the national emergency has subsided.
Mississippi State University postpones commencement exercises
The impacts of the coronavirus continue to disrupt daily life at all levels, including life for college students, their families and faculty. Mississippi State University announced commencement exercises will be postponed and also announced classes will be held either online or remotely for the remainder of the spring semester. Here's the full statement from the university: In compliance with guidance from Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, Mississippi State University announced today that the university will deliver online or other remote instructional course content for the remainder of the 2020 spring semester. That decision is based on national and state public health protocols established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH). Information on laboratory courses will be communicated to students by their instructors. Additionally, current CDC and MSDH guidelines preclude MSU from holding any large public gatherings. Consequently, IHL recommendations are that traditional commencement exercises be indefinitely postponed. Plans to appropriately honor MSU graduates will be discussed and revealed when the national emergency is concluded. Commencement is one of MSU's most meaningful and cherished traditions, one that our students and their families have earned. As an institution, MSU remains committed to celebrating our graduates at a safe and appropriate time."
Mississippi State University postpones commencement
Mississippi State University announced it is postponing spring commencement. The university said it is following recommendations from the Institute of Higher Learning that traditional commencement exercises be postponed indefinitely. Plans to honor MSU graduates will be discussed and announced when the national emergency has ended. MSU said it remained committed to celebrating graduates at a safe and appropriate time.
MSU student reflects on graduation being postponed
Mississippi State University is postponing its spring graduation ceremony due to the coronavirus pandemic. Scottlin Williams' senior year and life on campus at Mississippi State is wrapping up a lot faster than she wanted all thanks to COVID-19 concerns. Coronavirus had other plans for colleges all over the country as many seniors wrap up their final year, including Williams. "Not being able to return of course, no one thought that at all, if you told me this would be happening I would've said you were crazy," said Williams. The IHL has recommended graduation be postponed indefinitely. "As a senior we are missing a lot of our 'lasts' like saying good bye to our friends, teachers, and doing things for the last time in Starkville," said Williams. "We no longer get to do that." She may not be walking across the stage right away once her coursework is complete, but Williams looks forward to when they can see each other once again.
Local restaurants feel impact of COVID-19 as dine-in customers dwindle
It was a question Shannon McPherson couldn't answer, at least not with numbers. McPherson, the marketing director for Eat With Us Group -- which owns restaurants in Columbus and Starkville, such as Harvey's, Sweet Peppers and The Grill -- was asked about the impact of the COVID-19 virus on the company's businesses. "We can't really track it," McPherson said. "We've recently installed a new POS (point of sale) system and we haven't quite gotten to the point where we can know the numbers. That said, (the virus) has definitely had an impact. We know that." McPherson said the effects of the virus for her company have been particularly noticeable in Starkville, due to a combination of canceled Mississippi State sporting events and the extension of MSU's spring break. With both national and state emergency orders asking people to avoid groups of 10 or more, the dine-in portion of restaurants is likely to continue to fall. Restaurant owners have already been preparing to shift more of their sales from dine-in to carry-out or delivery.
Starkville dials back garbage pickup to once weekly per route
Amid an "extraordinary last few days" where news and recommendations on how to respond to the COVID-19 is "changing by the hour," Mayor Lynn Spruill asked aldermen Tuesday to declare a local state of emergency and announced sweeping changes to how the city will operate in the coming weeks. Those changes include dialing curbside garbage pickup to one day per week for each route during the emergency, rather than twice weekly, and temporarily suspending curbside recycling altogether. Under that plan, the regular Monday/Thursday trash route will run each Monday and the regular Tuesday/Friday route will run each Tuesday, Spruill said. Emergency measures will remain in place until at least April 7, when the board of aldermen will meet again to consider extending the declaration. While the emergency gave the city power under state statute to enforce quarantines and place certain mandates on the private sector, Spruill said she is not yet prepared to do that. "I haven't reached a point where I am comfortable shutting restaurants down," Spruill told aldermen. "I feel in all candor that would be singling them out in a way that isn't necessarily fair to other retailers. I feel our restaurants have been very responsible in their response."
Engineers squabble over whether to rebuild Oktibbeha Lake dam
Oktibbeha supervisors voted 3-2 on Monday to use county operating funds for County Engineer Clyde Pritchard's to develop blueprints to replace the Oktibbeha County Lake dam. The board voted after a public hearing Feb. 24 to authorize Pritchard to draw up the plans with $250,000 from the county's $2.2 million allocation from the Office of State Aid Road Construction within the Mississippi Department of Transportation. The board has since learned they are not allowed to use state aid road funds for that purpose, District 3 Supervisor Marvell Howard said. Howard, District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer and District 5 Supervisor Joe Williams voted for the motion, and Board President John Montgomery of District 1 and Supervisor Bricklee Miller of District 4 voted against it. The vote came after strong disagreement between Pritchard and George Sills, a retired dam engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who shared his professional opinion with the board on what to do with the dam, which showed early signs of breaching in January.
Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen: 'Plenty of food in the supply chain.'
If you ask Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen about the potential for food shortages amid the new coronavirus outbreak that's spreading across America, he'll tell you what he and other retail executives told President Donald Trump on Sunday. "We asked President Trump and Vice President (Mike) Pence to let people know there's plenty of food and plenty of things in the supply chain," McMullen told The Enquirer. "And as long as customers just buy what they need and don't hoard, there will be no problems at all -- there's plenty of food in the supply chain." McMullen urges the public to remember that the grocery business deals in perishable goods and is set up to constantly ship and refill store shelves. Also, the company operates 37 of its own factories that produce everything from milk and dairy products to maple syrup and canned goods -- all of those factories are working overtime and around the clock. McMullen noted the supermarkets and other food and drug stores have remained open throughout the pandemic in even the hardest-hit countries so far, such as China, Italy and Spain.
Sanderson Farms outlines COVID-19 steps it's taking |
Sanderson Farms Inc. reported on Monday it is taking measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. "With so much uncertainty surrounding the novel coronavirus, and the changes we face in our daily lives, Sanderson Farms wants to reassure our customers, consumers and communities that we will continue to process and ship high-quality, safe and affordable poultry products," Joe F. Sanderson, chairman and chief executive officer of Sanderson Farms Inc., said in a release. "Currently, all 12 of the Company's poultry processing complexes and our prepared chicken plant, as well as our corporate headquarters, are operating normally." The Laurel-based company, the third-largest poultry processor in the nation, has had no reports that any of its personnel or contract growers have tested positive for the virus. Management is monitoring operations closely, however, and has consulted with infectious disease experts to adopt precautions throughout the company.
No need to hoard: There's plenty of food in the system
Don't be fooled by the barren grocery store shelves: There's plenty more food on the way. Meat, dairy and produce groups as well as federal regulators say the U.S. has an ample amount of products in cold storage to handle the unexpected demand for food and household products from Americans. The latest Agriculture Department data shows record-high stocks of frozen poultry, cheeses like American and Swiss and red raspberries, while frozen pork supplies are up 11 percent from last year. Rice producers, whose grains have been flying off of store shelves along with other inexpensive and long-lasting foods, say there's no shortage and those items are being "quickly replenished." "If you see depleted rice shelves in your local grocery store, it is not a supply problem; it is a signifier of changing logistics in the retail market," said USA Rice President Betsy Ward in a statement. The food industry, for its part, is urging consumers to remain calm and avoid hoarding, suggesting that fears of shortages are overblown.
Staying busy: Stores managing crush of shoppers
In the stockroom at the back of Todd's Big Star in Tupelo, there's plenty of water, canned goods and cleaning supplies. That's a good thing, considering how quickly those items have been flying off the shelves, with the coronavirus pandemic fueling the need for consumers to stock up on essentials. With President Donald Trump declaring the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency, the buying has only heated up, leaving shortages and empty shelves in some stores. "I'd say business is double what it usually is," said Todd's owner Clay Knight Monday morning. "But I can't be completely sure because I haven't had time to look up. We do have everything in stock, except hand sanitizer, which we just ran out of yesterday. We ran out of toilet paper this morning. But we're getting more in tomorrow." Knight said last Wednesday he could sense that people were about to hit stores hard for supplies. By Thursday, the first wave of customers came, and there's been little letup since. "I don't know that I've seen anybody stockpiling, because I've seen a lot of people who said they don't want to hoard -- they just want enough for themselves," he said.
Mississippi Businesses Face Challenges From Coronavirus
As the coronavirus spreads across the state, the manufacturing, retail and hospitality industries are concerned about their survival. Scott Waller with the Mississippi Economic Council says small businesses are going to struggle with a lack of customers. "It's gonna be a difficult situation I'm afraid. I think that we're all concerned about making sure that we're able to do the things that we have to do to keep our businesses up and running, and for small businesses, but I think that the overall impact is just, it's way too early to have any inclination of what that may end up being." During the lunch rush at Roosters restaurant in Jackson, about 20 people are eating. But according to General Manager Ashley Laskin, there are usually more than 100 people in the restaurant. She says concerns about the coronavirus are changing the way they do business. "We are just looking forward to pushing curbside to-go, because of food travels really well, and so we're just gonna push that and hope that that will be good for us."
Mississippi coronavirus total hits 34
Mississippi's total of presumptive cases of COVID-19 now stands at 34 after the Mississippi Health Department reported 13 newly identified cases on Wednesday morning, including one in DeSoto County. The newly reported cases are in the following counties: Bolivar, Coahoma, DeSoto, Hancock, Harrison, Madison, Pearl River, Perry. DeSoto County was the only northern Mississippi county among the new cases reported Wednesday. Since testing began, Northeast Mississippi has only one case found thus far, in Monroe County. On Tuesday night, the city of Hernando Police Department announced that a city employee had tested positive for the new coronavirus. "The employee is currently undergoing treatment. We at the Hernando Police Department will continue to follow CDC recommendations regarding best practices for minimizing exposure and transfer," the department announced in a statement posted to Facebook.
Mississippi senators pass paid leave for government employees, depart Capitol
Mississippi lawmakers began at least a two-week hiatus Wednesday in the face of the growing COVID-19 outbreak, hoping to avoid the spread of the virus among dozens of legislators and staff who often work in close quarters. The Senate quickly passed two coronavirus measures Wednesday morning before departing. House Bill 1647 allows local governments and school districts to grant their employees paid leave in the coming weeks. House Resolution 65 allows legislators to suspend the session for at least two weeks, and possibly longer. Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and House Speaker Philip Gunn will decide when to return. The House had already departed Tuesday afternoon, a sore subject for many senators. The Senate was also forced to pass the House version of both coronavirus bills, despite having already passed their own iterations Tuesday. "Would it be fair to say the House outfoxed us on this one?" asked John Horhn, D-Jackson, before senators voted. Senate Democrats did not make the same last-minute push --- but Sen. Derrick Simmons, D-Greenville, urged his colleagues to consider legislation to help struggling private sector workers once legislators return.
Mississippi focuses on worker pay amid coronavirus concern
Mississippi legislators decided Tuesday to suspend their session because of the coronavirus pandemic, but they first worked to ensure teachers and employees of city and county governments would be paid even if they are told to stay home. Mississippi reported 21 confirmed cases of the virus as of Tuesday, up from 12 on Monday. Republican Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann said many in Mississippi live paycheck-to-paycheck, and he knows times could be tough as people are asked to isolate themselves from others to curb the spread of the virus. "These changes are temporary, but our persistence is permanent," Hosemann said. "We are asking you to just put a pause button on where we are and just give us a buffer, a break," Gunn told his colleagues Tuesday in a mostly empty Capitol.
Mississippi Legislature set to temporarily suspend legislative session
As the novel coronavirus continues to spread throughout the state, lawmakers will temporarily suspend the 2020 session of the Mississippi Legislature and will likely allow school districts and local governing authorities to give their employees paid leave during the virus outbreak. "We are asking you to just put a pause button on where we are and just give us a buffer," House Speaker Phillip Gunn told other House members. According to the latest data from the Mississippi State Department of Health, the state now has 21 total presumptive cases of the virus and 389 people have been tested for the virus. The House passed a resolution and a law that would allow counties, municipalities and school districts the option of granting paid leave to their employees during an emergency situation, such as the virus outbreak. State Rep. Robert Johnson, a Democrat from Natchez, attempted to amend the resolution to grant private employees relief if they were laid off because of an emergency, but was ultimately blocked by Republican legislators.
Coronavirus in Mississippi: Legislature to suspend session, works to ensure protections for local government workers
Moments after House Speaker Philip Gunn stood at the speaker's well on Monday afternoon and informed his members that the legislative session would go on as normal despite coronavirus fears, Gunn's Chief of Staff Trey Dellinger approached the well and whispered in his boss' ear. Dellinger had just received a call from state health officer Thomas Dobbs, who suggested that the session be suspended, despite previous suggestions that the session could go on -- a message Gunn took to heart as pressure mounted from members in both chambers to postpone. At that time Gunn, R-Clinton, did not inform members of the change in advice from the health officer, but asked for a recess and then immediately went to the office of Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, who presides over the Senate, where talks commenced on suspending the session as soon as possible. Those talks began hours of deliberation between the leaders and their staffs about how, exactly, the Legislature would postpone their time in Jackson.
State pressed to do more to prevent the coronavirus in prisons, jails
Civil rights groups in Mississippi are urging Gov. Tate Reeves "to immediately develop evidence-based and proactive plans" to prevent and manage the spread of the novel coronavirus in prisons and jails, they wrote in a letter Monday. The letter is signed by multiple groups in the state, including the Mississippi Prison Reform Coalition, the Mississippi Center for Justice and the state NAACP chapter. The groups list multiple critical issues to be addressed, including compliance with national standards by officials and organizations including the Center for Disease Control and Prevention; educating people in custody and facility staff; releasing medically fragile and older adults and children; creating adequate staffing plans; screening and testing people in custody; and providing hygiene supplies.
White House coronavirus plan aims to send $2,000 to many Americans, includes $300 billion for small businesses
White House officials are working with congressional Republicans on an emergency stimulus package that could send two $1,000 checks to many Americans and also devote $300 billion towards helping small businesses avoid mass layoffs, according to two senior administration officials and a Treasury Department fact sheet. No final decisions have been made and talks with Republican leaders remain fluid, but the growing scale of the $1 trillion rescue plan is coming into sharper focus. The Treasury Department is circulating a two-page sheet of priorities that it wants to see in the final deal. As part of it, the White House seeks to create a $50 billion "airline industry secured lending facility" that would allow it to make direct loans to "U.S. passenger and cargo air carriers." The White House is also sending Congress a separate emergency funding request for $46 billion for "ongoing preparedness and response efforts" to the coronavirus.
Public health experts worry about spread of COVID-19 misinformation
Public health experts worry that the spread of COVID-19 could be exacerbated by misinformation, and some say federal agencies should do more to stamp out misconceptions. Experts worry that false or even dangerous information about what can protect individuals during the pandemic is being disseminated at an alarming rate. Last month, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned about the potential onslaught of fake information related to the new coronavirus-based illness known as COVID-19. "We're not just fighting an epidemic; we're fighting an infodemic," he said. "We call on all governments, companies and news organizations to work with us to sound the appropriate level of alarm, without fanning the flames of hysteria." Tech companies like Apple and Google have taken steps to censor COVID-19-themed apps not run by health organizations or government agencies, and some state attorneys general have put out warnings about false COVID-19 claims regarding cures, but experts are looking for more action to prevent individuals from being duped.
The prepared pantry
We have all had a lot thrown at us in the past week or so. Each family is making temporary adjustments. Some are now working from home for a while; others unexpectedly have the kids home from school. For all of us who anticipate being "at the house" more than usual, that means having extra food on hand. Being prepared does not mean being panicked. It does mean shopping smart. It helps to make a plan, and yes, some items on your list may be out of stock. The next truck unloaded at your grocer's may remedy that, but expect to make some substitutions. First, it makes sense to look for nutrient-dense ingredients with long shelf-life. Remember, eating healthier also boosts the immune system. "Peanut butter, honey, pasta, spaghetti sauce, tuna and canned goods are easy pantry staples," says Chef Mary Helen Hawkins, chef instructor at the Mississippi University for Women Culinary Arts Institute. "And fresh vegetables like onions, potatoes, carrots and winter squash have a long shelf life."
Oxford aldermen move to close restaurant and bar dining rooms for 15 days due to COVID-19 pandemic
On a night where bars and restaurants around Oxford were primed to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, the City of Oxford made a decision that will alter business for the foreseeable future. During their regular meeting on Tuesday, the Board of Aldermen approved a resolution to declare a civil emergency in the City of Oxford due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The resolution adopts emergency measures, including the closure of all restaurant dining rooms in Oxford, shifting them to utilize drive-thru, curbside pick-up or delivery methods for 15 days. The resolution takes affect at 6 a.m. on March 18 and will run for 15 days, which would conclude on April 2. This measure includes all bars that serve food as well. "There is no rule book, obviously and unfortunately," Mayor Robyn Tannehill said. "The general consensus is that our daily lives have altered, beginning now. Things are changing absolutely by the minute." Other options that are included in the resolution include giving Tannehill the authority to close all retail liquor stores and the "discontinuance of intoxicating liquor and/or beer."
USM upgrades response status; no commencement ceremonies in May
The University of Southern Mississippi upgraded its COVID-19 response status from yellow to orange on Tuesday. The change means the "University has converted institutional functions to remote formats wherever possible and limited operations and access at all locations." As a result, Southern Miss commencement ceremonies will not take place in May as previously scheduled. The school said on its website it is working to identify a possible alternative date, though "it is unlikely they will be held prior to the latter part of the summer, given the ongoing evolution of COVID-19." Southern Miss will remain open for limited business operations and continue essential functions for students, such as campus housing and dining services. Public access for visitors remains suspended, and students, faculty and staff should have their USM ID on them at all times. According to the announcement, supervisors are in the process of communicating with individual employees to set work arrangements based on USM's work assignment guidelines. The University hopes to have made arrangements by Wednesday, but factors could influence the timeline of some employees.
Coronavirus: Kansas Becomes 1st State To End School Year -- But May Not Be Last
The school year has come to an abrupt end for students across Kansas. Gov. Laura Kelly announced that she has ordered classes K-12 to be closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, citing fears about the spread of the coronavirus disease COVID-19 and the "unprecedented emergency" it presents. "This was not an easy decision to make," Kelly said in a statement issued Tuesday. "It came after close consultation with the education professionals who represent local school boards, school administrators and local teachers," she explained. "These unprecedented circumstances threaten the safety of our students and the professionals who work with them every day and we must respond accordingly." Kelly's executive order makes Kansas the first state to shut down its public schools for the remainder of the school year -- an extraordinary step that other states so far have been reluctant to take, despite a raft of temporary class closures across the U.S.
Auburn University doesn't expect COVID-19 to disrupt research
Most research within Auburn University will continue and the COVID-19 campus closure will not cause many disruptions, according to James Weyhenmeyer, vice president for research and economic development. "We would like to emphasize that most of our current operations are electronic and we do not expect any disruption in our operations," Weyhenmeyer said in a letter. "While much of our work through April 10 will be conducted remotely, we will work to ensure that deadlines will be met." Auburn University Libraries' three buildings will be closed to the public, but the libraries' faculty and staff will still attempt to "make access to library resources as seamless as possible," Weyhenmeyer said. Electronic resources including subscription databases and e-books will be accessible. Research and Instruction services via Zoom will also be available, and faculty can still email or call 334-844-1737 during regular university business hours if they have further questions. Subject librarians can also still be contacted, Weyhenmeyer said.
U. of Florida graduations off, governor closes bars and nightclubs
Four University of Florida students have tested positive for COVID-19, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday. Though he did not mention details, he said at least one of the students who tested positive had traveled internationally. Shortly after the announcement, UF President Kent Fuchs sent a memo to students and said classes will remain online-only for the rest of the semester. Santa Fe College officials followed suit later in the day. Commencement ceremonies in May also have been called off for Florida's 12 state universities, per order by the Board of Governors and State University System. Each school has been asked to create an alternative to traditional graduation ceremonies. UF officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the students' positive diagnoses. But in a statement on Twitter, UF told students that classes would be online for the rest of the semester and urged them to go back home "if possible." The school also "strongly encouraged" employees to work remotely.
UGA cancels spring commencement
University of Georgia officials announced Tuesday in an email to faculty, students and staff that the spring commencement ceremony would be canceled. The email stated the University System of Georgia instructed its 26 member schools for "all public events for the remainder of the spring semester" to be canceled. UGA commencement was set for May 8, 2020. "We realize that the cancellation of many of these activities is extremely disappointing -- particularly the cancellation of Spring Commencement on Friday, May 8, 2020," the email stated. "Therefore, we are exploring other ways to honor our graduates and will communicate when those plans are known. These decisions are not made lightly, but with the best interests of our campus community and our students' families and loved ones in mind." The university added that although there will be no graduation ceremony, students would be graduating, "consistent with academic standards."
Texas A&M postpones spring graduation ceremonies, moves finals online
Texas A&M University is making more changes to its spring calendar due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The university's spring graduation ceremonies will be postponed due to restrictions on event sizes announced by the White House. A&M's spring graduation ceremonies were scheduled to be held from May 7 to May 9 at Reed Arena. A&M says it plans to deliver diplomas in the mail, with shipping costs waived, and is considering in-person ceremony options later this summer for May graduates wishing to partake in one. A&M says this won't impact August in-person ceremonies. All of A&M's spring final exams will be taken online or through other mechanisms for assessment. A&M says college deans and faculty are still collaborating about this and will announce plans in the near future.
Survey finds numerous fears of enrollment leaders in the coronavirus era
Admissions officers are deeply worried about the potential impact of the coronavirus on enrollment, a new survey suggests. Asked to rank their prospects for the yield -- the percentage of admitted applicants who will enroll -- 43 percent of enrollment leaders answered 5, on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the worst. And 32 percent answered 4. Those are among the answers to a survey released by EAB on Tuesday on admissions in the era of the coronavirus. EAB released answers from 257 four-year colleges, 64 percent of them private, and not all of them EAB clients. The colleges are roughly an even split among selective, most selective and least selective institutions. A large majority of those answering -- 87 percent -- worry that future visits to the campus by potential students will decline. This year, 36 percent saw a decline in visits, 50 percent saw no decline and 15 percent were unsure. Many colleges have been adding online programs for newly admitted applicants or other potential applicants in light of this year's health issues.
How institutions are approaching scientific research during COVID-19
Move them online: colleges and universities have been giving professors clear guidance on what to do with their classes during COVID-19, if not quite how to do it. But the directives on what to do with scientific research and equipment-heavy lab work have been much less clear, leaving faculty members, students and some staff members scrambling to adapt to social distancing measures. "I think there's a lot of angst, unknowns and anxiety, given that these labs rely on people -- students, postdocs and research assistants," said Tobin Smith, vice president for policy at the Association of American Universities. "What do you do in an environment where people are essentially being encouraged to stay home and telework?" Smith has spent this week collecting questions from colleges on scientific research and initial response measures in order to share them with the federal agencies from whom institutions are seeking further guidance. Concerns abound. Among them: Will graduate students working on federal grants still be paid if they can't do the specific research they're contracted to do? Will international students working outside their labs maintain their student status? Who will care for live lab animals? What about ongoing experiments involving cultures and other active or sensitive materials?
University Labs Head to the Front Lines of Coronavirus Containment
The stakes were so high, and the need so great, that last week a University of Washington lab issued an extraordinary call for help. The medical-school dean, Paul Ramsey, wrote in an email to university researchers that he was seeking volunteers -- grad students, postdocs, lab techs, anybody --- who could spend a week processing tests for Covid-19, the deadly disease sweeping the globe. Not everything had been worked out -- for instance, how much the volunteers would be paid. "In order to meet the demand for testing," Ramsey wrote, "we need to rapidly and immediately add staff for this work." The new coronavirus, which causes Covid-19, had already been circulating in the Seattle area for weeks, with 488 confirmed cases as of Monday, and 43 deaths. Meanwhile, the U.S. health-care system has struggled to keep up with the demand for coronavirus tests. Such tests, typically supplied by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, remain in short supply relative to the scope of the outbreak in the United States, hampering public-health officials' understanding of the virus's spread, and how to respond. University medical centers have stepped in to fill the void, taking matters into their own hands and in some cases designing Covid-19 tests of their own.
Coronavirus will harm America's international students -- and the universities they attend
With the growing outbreak of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, universities around the U.S. are canceling in-person classes, clamping down on travel, and sending students home. Protecting the health of students and staff, and limiting community transmission, is the most important priority. After taking care of emergency measures, universities need to be making administrative and financial decisions over the next few weeks that depend on projections about what's going to be happening three to six months from now. Economists call this "dynamic programming," but that's just a fancy name for thinking ahead. While there are many issues that require thinking ahead, here I'm going to focus specifically on issues involving international students, and the complications that arise due to international travel restrictions imposed indefinitely to counter the further spread of the coronavirus.
From polio to influenza to COVID-19, nation's history offers lessons in perseverance
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: As a child in the mid-1960s, I remember standing in a line out the door and into the parking lot of the school building where my twin sister and I received our oral polio vaccine. We stood with hundreds of rural Mississippians in the hot sun, waiting on that magic sugar cube. The oral polio vaccine was delivered on sugar cubes, which we liked. But had they offered the vaccine on cube of dried cow manure, most children of my generation would have grimaced and taken it. Why? Because poliomyelitis was a highly infectious viral disease of the brain and spinal cord that could cause disability or death. Last summer at the Rotary International Convention in Hamburg, Germany, I joined thousands of fellow Rotarians in celebrating our service organization's contributions to all but the eradication of polio around the world. ... If viral beasts like polio can be nearly eradicated by courageous science, people of good will, and global generosity, then certainly COVID-19 can likewise be overcome. But "flattening the curve" of the spread of COVID-19 will require sacrifice, changes in our routines, and that most First World and American of maladies -- boredom.

Southeastern Conference cancels all regular season competition due to COVID-19 concerns
COVID-19's effect on college sports continued Tuesday as the Southeastern Conference announced it is canceling all regular season competition for the 2019-20 athletic year. The cancellation also includes spring football games and pro days. "This is a difficult day for all of us, and I am especially disappointed for our student-athletes," SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said in a news release. "The health and well-being of our entire conference community is an ongoing priority for the SEC as we continue to monitor developments and information about the COVID-19 virus." Beyond Tuesday's news, team and individual practices, meetings and other organized gatherings -- both voluntary and involuntary -- will remain suspended through at least April 15. "Mississippi State Athletics fully supports the SEC's decision announced today," MSU Athletic Director John Cohen added in an official statement. "While we are deeply disappointed for all our hard-working coaches, student-athletes, staff and devoted supporters, the top priority is everyone's health and safety, and helping slow the spread of this virus."
SEC cancels remainder of spring season
Spring sports are a wrap in the Southeastern Conference. The SEC office announced on Tuesday afternoon that it is canceling all regular-season and non-conference competitions -- including spring football games and pro days for NFL scouts -- for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year due to the coronavirus. The SEC was the last of the "Power Five" college conferences to cancel all competition. The Atlantic Coast Conference made a similar move earlier in the day. On Monday, Ole Miss athletics director Keith Carter hinted at the likelihood of complete cancellation by the SEC. He told reporters his department's focus is now on summer and fall activities. SEC teams remain suspended from team and individual practices, meetings and other organized gatherings -- whether mandatory or voluntarily -- through April 15. "Mississippi State Athletics fully supports the SEC's decision announced today," said Mississippi State director of athletics John Cohen. "While we are deeply disappointed for all of our hard working coaches, student-athletes, staff and devoted supporters, the top priority is everyone's health and safety, and helping slow the spread of this virus." Both MSU and Ole Miss were off to successful starts in baseball, both ranked among the nation's top 20 teams.
Ole Miss, Mississippi State 2020 spring seasons over, SEC announces
The Southeastern Conference announced on Tuesday afternoon that all athletic competitions will be canceled through the end of the 2019-20 academic year. As the world continues to adjust to the spread and growing threat of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, the SEC is taking precautions. The cancellations include all conference and non-conference competitions, football pro days, conference championships and spring football games. In a statement released shortly after the SEC's announcement, Mississippi State athletic director John Cohen voiced understanding with the league's decision. "Mississippi State athletics agrees with the SEC's decision announced today," Cohen said. "While we are deeply disappointed for all of our hard-working coaches, student-athletes, staff and devoted supporters, the top priority is everyone's health and safety and helping slow the spread the virus."
Mississippi State to refund baseball tickets
The Mississippi State Athletic department rolled out a system Tuesday to reimburse ticket holders for baseball games that were canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. If interested, season ticket holders may receive a prorated refund for the remaining games on the schedule, put the ticket toward a prorated rate for the 2021 season or convert ones Bulldog Club seat donation into a tax-deductible gift to the 2020 Bulldog Club Scholarship Fund. Those interested in prorating tickets toward next season must notify the MSU Ticket Office by March 31, while patrons who would like to convert their tickets into a gift are asked to contact The Bulldog Club by phone or email by the same date. Individual game tickets will also be refunded. All refunds are to be processed by May 1.
Tyson Carter 'disappointed' about SEC tournament cancellation, looks to the future
Before Tyson Carter left Humphrey Coliseum for the last time, he went to center court, dropped to push-up position, and kissed the M painted on the floor on March 7 against Ole Miss. It was the Starkville native's own way of saying farewell to Mississippi State after a productive four year basketball career. "That was truly special," an emotional MSU coach Ben Howland said of Carter's gesture after a 69-44 victory against the Rebels in the regular season -- and eventually season -- finale. It was universally accepted that was likely the 6-foot-4 guard's final appearance wearing a Mississippi State uniform in Starkville. But for that to potentially be the final college game he ever played without ever having a final say of his team's postseason fate? No one could have scripted an ending that cruel. Nevertheless, that ill-fated result may hold true. Carter found out along with the rest of the team five days later the SEC tournament had been canceled amid concerns about COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The Bulldogs were on a bus late Thursday morning headed to practice at Belmont University in Nashville, then pandemonium broke out moments later as the news trickled in.
How Tyson Carter made the most of his senior season at Mississippi State
There were 7,569 fans at Humphrey Coliseum for Mississippi State's final game of the season on March 7, but that total might as well have been one tick higher. Before the Bulldogs blew out the Ole Miss Rebels in what nobody knew would be the final 40 minutes of their season, Tyson Carter took the court for a pre-game senior day ceremony. The Starkville native was escorted to the center-court MSU logo by his mom, his sister and his two daughters. Carter's father was missing, but he was there in spirit. "During the ceremony, I was on FaceTime with his best friend watching the whole thing from the sideline," said Greg Carter, Tyson's father and the head coach of the Starkville boys basketball team. "It was almost like I had a front-row seat." That Saturday showed that the Carters are a basketball family indeed. Both Greg and Tyson Carter got what they wanted.
Mississippi State baseball's Spencer Price, softball's Mia Davidson earn SEC weekly awards
Although their spring seasons are now officially over as of Tuesday, two Mississippi State student-athletes in spring sports picked up honors from the Southeastern Conference this week. Graduate Spencer Price of the Bulldogs' baseball team was named the SEC pitcher of the week Monday, and junior catcher Mia Davidson of the softball team was named SEC co-player of the week Tuesday. Price earned saves in both of Mississippi State's games against Texas Tech at MGM Park in Biloxi as the Bulldogs earned the two-game sweep. Davidson's honor continued a string of awards for Mississippi State, which earned a share of all three major SEC awards March 2 when outfielder Chloe Malau'ulu was named SEC co-player of the week, Annie Willis was named SEC co-pitcher of the week, and shortstop Madisyn Kennedy was named SEC co-freshman of the week.
Mississippi football coach Reggie Harris in Italy amid COVID-19 pandemic
A former Mississippi State football player, who is now a coach in Italy, is adjusting to life in the new epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. Reggie Harris played for the Bulldogs with 16 WAPT's Marcus Hunter and is a Noxubee County native. Harris lives in downtown Florence, one of the biggest tourist cities in the world. He said there are normally a lot of people wherever he goes, but that's no longer the case because the country is on lockdown. "The only time you can really go outside is if you are going to get some groceries or if you are buying something important," Harris said. While the new lifestyle is an adjustment, Harris said most people are taking it in stride. "Everybody is standing 3 feet apart. They are letting a certain amount in the store, so everybody can keep their distance," Harris said. "There is nobody complaining. There is nobody acting a fool. There is nobody trying to hoard all the stuff. People are getting what they need and they get out." Harris said there is plenty of toilet paper at the stores in Florence and enough hand sanitizer to go around.
Southern Miss braces for financial impact from shutdown of sports due to coronavirus
Pete Taylor Park at Southern Miss will fall quiet for the rest of the spring and there will be no Conference USA baseball tournament title trophy handed out at Biloxi's MGM Park on Memorial Day weekend. C-USA announced Monday night that it is canceling all competition for spring sports, meaning sports like baseball, softball and women's rowing will be put to a halt due to the new coronavirus outbreak across the U.S. The decision was made following a unanimous vote by the Conference USA Board of Directors. After holding conversations with officials across C-USA over the weekend, USM athletic director Jeremy McClain said that it quickly became apparent that the league was ready to shut down spring competition. Every Div. I program will deal with the financial fallout of canceled games, but few programs will take a bigger blow than USM, which has a total budget of just north of $24 million to among the smallest in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The baseball program is one of the school's bigger draws, pulling in an average of about 3,000 fans a game. For fans who have questions about tickets they've purchased for the spring, the USM athletic department plans to reach out soon.
SEC cancels all remaining spring sports
Spring sports in the SEC have officially come to an end this year. The SEC announced Tuesday it will cancel all remaining sporting events through the spring semester, including those sports like baseball that play into the summer months. With the announcement, college sports are effectively on hiatus in the U.S. until August. "This is a difficult day for all of us, and I am especially disappointed for our student-athletes," said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. "The health and well-being of our entire conference community is an ongoing priority for the SEC as we continue to monitor developments and information about the covid-19 virus." "It has become readily apparent that with the current situation and what would be required to do so that any kind of resumption of competition would be highly unlikely," said Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek.
SEC cancels remainder of spring slate
The Southeastern Conference canceled the remainder of the spring athletic schedule, including spring football games and NFL pro days, because of concerns over COVID-19. "Obviously, we are saddened for our student-athletes, our coaches and all staff who work hard to prepare our teams to compete at the highest level at Texas A&M," Texas A&M Director of Athletics Ross Bjork said in a statement. "There is a mission that overshadows our desire to compete and that relates to the safety of those we are entrusted to serve. Unprecedented times call for these measures, and we are navigating through unfamiliar territory. A lot of thought and discussion went into making difficult decisions that impact all our sports in some way, but as the SEC, we stand together as one. We will continue to monitor this fluid situation and look forward to the day we can announce a return to preparation for competition." A&M's spring football game had been scheduled for April 18.
AD Phillip Fulmer: No Vols athletes have tested positive for coronavirus, but protocol change coming
Tennessee has had "no positive tests" among its athletes for the coronavirus, UT athletic director Phillip Fulmer said Tuesday when asked if any athletes had been tested. But in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, UT is establishing a screening protocol to monitor the health of its athletes. "Our medical professionals athletically are setting up a protocol as we speak to test our young people when they come here," Fulmer said. "That is not the coronavirus test, but it is a protocol that would indicate a fever or indicate any sickness. At that point, they would be quarantined and followed closely." The SEC announced earlier Tuesday the cancellation of all regular-season athletic competitions and postseason tournaments through the academic year due to concerns over the spread of coronavirus. "I think some of us will find out we can live without watching sports," men's basketball coach Rick Barnes said. Fulmer praised the response and the unity of Tennessee's coaches in a meeting last week, feeling that "everybody felt the greater good" was the top priority. He said he is heartbroken for athletes that had "their athletic goals interrupted in such an unexpected way."
Programming VP talks immediate future of ESPN: 'We need to replicate that dynamic 24 hours a day'
With no sports due to the coronavirus comes no content for all-sports television networks. Since COVID-19 has caused the shut down of every sports league in the country, the folks at ESPN have been scrambling to fill the void. Burke Magnus, ESPN's executive vice president for programming acquisitions and scheduling, spoke to Front Row to provide a look at what's developed at the network since live sports is on hiatus. "The challenge is that now we need to replicate that dynamic 24 hours a day, seven days a week across multiple networks," he said. "That's what is in front of us in terms of long-range planning." He said fans have reached out about replaying games -- in their entirety. One of the issues, however, for all broadcast media companies is securing rights to broadcast such events. "We are working with the leagues themselves to free up the possibility to show encore presentations and discussing how we can present them," Magnus said. "In some instances, we aren't even the original rightsholder, which is the case for the men's NCAA basketball tournament, for example."
Ed Orgeron says on Fox News that people need to take coronavirus 'seriously'
LSU coach Ed Orgeron appeared as a guest on Fox News on Tuesday afternoon, delivering his second public warning against the dangerous spread of coronavirus. On "Watch Your World with Neil Cavuto," Orgeron said he didn't know whether the NCAA's cancellations of athletic events would ever extend to the football season, and he said people needed to take the sickness "seriously." "We need to have confidence," Orgeron said. "We're a strong country. Just like our team, we're one team, one heartbeat. We're going to overcome adversity, but the key is to follow the plan and for everybody to take this very seriously, pull together, pull the same side of the rope. We will come through this, and when we come through this, we're going to be stronger." Cavuto asked Orgeron if he played the U.S. stock market, which plunged 12% Monday for its worst day in more than decades, a reduction that Wall Street experts have said could be leading the economy into a recession "Oh yeah, I got a lot of money in it," Orgeron said, chuckling. "I don't blink. It's in there for a long time. I have confidence that the right things going to happen. I don't blink."
UGA updates football season ticket renewal plans, refund info for cancellations
Georgia has added some extra days for football season ticket holders to renew for 2020 and has started processing refunds for sports events canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak. Hartman Fund donors will now have until April 6 instead of the original date of April 1 to re-up their season tickets. "Should the current extenuating circumstances impact your decision-making process on purchasing football season tickets, please email to receive a phone call from a UGA Athletics Association representative to discuss flexible payment options," fans were instructed in the latest "McGarity Minutes," update from athletic director Greg McGarity. McGarity said that Georgia typically follows up with patrons every year for those that don't meet the season ticket renewal deadline. "We go to that effort anyway," McGarity said. This time fans will be renewing at a time when there is concerns nationally about the pandemic and "economics in the country right now," he said. Georgia plans to go forward with its season ticket and parking selection process in May.
Athletic directors planning for NCAA being unable to cover financial losses of canceled March Madness
Major-college athletics directors are planning on the NCAA not being able to cover all of the revenue it will lose because of the cancellation of the Division I men's basketball tournament due to the coronavirus outbreak, six ADs and college sports administrators have told USA TODAY. That is likely to result in a reduction of the association's scheduled distribution of $600 million to Division I schools and conferences this spring, the ADs and administrators said. How much of a reduction is still to be determined, and that will depend on the association's ability to tap its reserves and borrow money. The ADs and administrators spoke on the condition of anonymity because the financial details are still being worked out. "The economics of all this could definitely be extensive," one AD said. The association has $250 million to $275 million in business-interruption insurance connected to the tournament, the ADs and administrators have been told, but it is unclear how quickly that money would come to the NCAA -- or how much.

The Office of Public Affairs provides the Daily News Digest as a general information resource for Mississippi State University stakeholders.
Web links are subject to change. Submit news, questions or comments to Jim Laird.
Mississippi State University  •  Mississippi State, MS 39762  •  Main Telephone: (662) 325-2323  •   Contact: The Editor  |  The Webmaster  •   Updated: March 18, 2020Facebook Twitter