Tuesday, March 31, 2020   
Existing biosecurity measures keep poultry industry operating
The strict biosecurity measures already practiced in Mississippi's $2.7 billion poultry industry allow this "essential critical infrastructure workforce" to continue business as usual during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mary Beck, head of the Mississippi State University Department of Poultry Science, said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has declared poultry one of the food and agricultural businesses that must remain operational during the outbreak. Tom Tabler, poultry specialist with the MSU Extension Service, said the poultry industry has remained unchanged during the COVID-19 outbreak. "Contract growers are still raising chickens on their farms, hatcheries are still hatching baby chicks, feed mills are still manufacturing and delivering chicken feed, processing plants are still processing chickens, and processed chicken is still being shipped and delivered to the grocery stores," Tabler said. He said the biosecurity measures poultry industry workers were already required to follow equipped this industry to better understand what Americans are being asked to do in efforts to limit the spread of this virus. The poultry industry has been practicing social distancing for years as part of their biosecurity measures.
COVID-19: A Public Health Perspective: Dr. Jerome Goddard shares his thoughts about the coronavirus pandemic
Dr. Jerome Goddard, extension professor of medical entomology at Mississippi State University, is a frequent speaker at industry educational events and a well-known figure throughout the pest management industry. Goddard's prior work (1989-2008) as a medical entomologist for the Mississippi State Department of Health's Bureau of Environmental Health took up the majority of his professional life to-date. However, he also has served as an affiliate faculty member in the department of medicine at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine in Jackson. In his current professor role, Goddard teaches classes, serves on graduate student committees, performs written and oral entomological and educational outreach activities statewide, and participates in medical research. While COVID-19 is not an insect-borne disease, we wondered what Dr. Goddard thought of the all too real-global pandemic that has caused thousands of deaths and shaken financial markets around the world. That's because we recalled several speeches in the not-too-distant past where Goddard addressed the topic of a global pandemic at various industry educational events. Perhaps you do too?
SHS seniors work to memorialize a historic time in high school yearbook
High school is shaping up to have an unusual ending for the 291 members of the Starkville High School senior class, but 23 of them face a specific challenge. The SHS yearbook, Jacket Buzz, was mostly finished before school closed due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, and the staff will now finish the yearbook remotely. They are also coming up with new ideas and assignments to fill the remaining pages, about one-fourth of the complete product. Those pages were supposed to be dedicated to spring sports and the senior class, and now they will focus on digital learning, the timeline of the spread of COVID-19 and other information about how the pandemic affected SHS, yearbook adviser Angela Hobart said. "That section is going to be more like a history book of what's happening right now, so in 30 years they can look back and show their children what they went through as the class of 2020," she said.
VIP Cinema plant in New Albany closed for good, hundreds laid off
IP Cinema Holdings Inc., after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month, has closed for good. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the company told its remaining employees that because of the coronavirus pandemic, it could not get the financing it needed to restructure. VIP, which was founded in 2008, had grown to become the largest provider of the chairs with 70% of the market. But it said it had been hurt by a slowdown in the number of screens, a drop in box office sales and a longer replacement cycle of the chairs. When it filed for Chapter 11 in February, the company had 373 employees. VIP had hoped to emerge with about $150 million less debt, according to WSJ. H.I.G. Capital, a Miami-based private equity firm, invested $62.5 million in VIP in 2017 and bought out its former owners. It would have kept a share of the company after restructuring, but according to the Wall Street Journal, backers of the strategy had second thoughts as theaters around the country closed in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Essential workers fear going to work puts them at risk
As state and local governments shut down nonessential businesses, larger manufacturing and agricultural companies are rarely on the list. Americans still need food and daily essentials, but Pine Belt plant workers we interviewed are worried they aren't safe. Employees are worried people close to them may have the virus and with so many people working close together it will spread rapidly. We spoke with Joe Sanderson, chairman and CEO of Sanderson Farms about how they're trying to keep workers safe. "Every weekend we have an outside crew come in and sanitize the plant," Sanderson said. "If they have any symptoms, flu-like symptoms, [we tell them] not to come to work. Stay home and we're paying people for staying at home." Sanderson Farms also started taking the temperature of all employees and sending anyone with a temperature over 100 degrees home.
The Coronavirus Challenges Facing U.S. Farms: Get Workers, Keep Them Healthy
Farms and orchards across the country are scrambling to ensure a steady supply of workers -- and keep them healthy -- as the coronavirus pandemic highlights a critical vulnerability in America's food chain: labor. Produce giants like Driscoll's Inc. that grow, pack and ship the nation's fruits and vegetables are trying to secure enough agricultural workers to plant and pick this year's crops amid disruptions to travel from countries like Mexico. To prevent the virus's spread, companies are delivering groceries to workers each week, reconfiguring fieldwork and funding overtime work at local health clinics. Farm-labor contractors -- who recruit, transport and house seasonal workers -- said they are working to find ways to protect them, searching for additional buses to carry fewer workers on each run from Mexico to the U.S., and potentially contracting with nursing firms to monitor workers' health and care for ill employees.
Restaurant owner in Tupelo among other businesses applying for small business loans
Businesses around the area are applying for small business loans to help with needed expenses as cases of the coronavirus continue to rise across the country. "It's been heartbreaking for us," Zell Long said. "We have had to lay off all of the employees that we've had." Long is the co-owner of the Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe location in Tupelo. She owns the restaurant with her son Jason Long. Both hope to hire their employees back once the restaurant opens again. The Community Development Foundation shared a "how-to" video on its Facebook page discussing the small business loan application process. "It's a very complicated process," Zell Long said. She said it took her son about three hours to complete it.
Coronavirus in Mississippi: 90 new cases. Deaths rise to 20
The state Health Department announced 90 new cases of the coronavirus in Mississippi Tuesday and four new deaths, bringing the state's total cases to 937, with 20 deaths. At 90 confirmed cases, Hinds County surpassed Desoto County Tuesday for the highest number in the state. Desoto currently has 84 confirmed cases. The deaths have been reported in Amite, Bolivar, Desoto, Hancock, Harrison, Holmes, Lafayette, Lee, Leflore, Montgomery, Panola, Perry, Rankin, Sunflower, Tippah, Tunica, Webster and Wilkinson counties. Tippah and Wilkinson counties have each reported two deaths. The state's first presumptive case, reported on March 11, was a Forrest County man who had traveled to Florida. The U.S. had more than 164,000 COVID-19 infections and more than 3,000 deaths as of Tuesday morning.
Governor issues shelter-in-place order for Lauderdale County, effective 10 p.m. Tuesday
Governor Tate Reeves has issued a shelter-in-place order for Lauderdale County, effective 10 p.m. Tuesday. It applies to each municipality in the county and will be in effect for two weeks, he said. The order requires all non-essential business to cease, but allows essential business operations to remain open, Reeves said. Reeves said he based the order on data and recommendations from the Mississippi State Department of Health. MSDH reported 90 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, bringing the state's total to 937.Lauderdale County now has 35 confirmed cases. Clarke County has 4 cases, Kemper County has 1 case, Neshoba County has 4 cases and Newton County has 2 cases. On Monday, Anderson Regional Medical Center said it was hospitalizing three patients who have tested positive for COVID-19. The patients are under strict isolation and close observation in accordance with Mississippi Department of Health and CDC guidelines, the hospital said.
No, Gov. Tate Reeves is not banning the sale of alcohol
Always check your news source. Or at least that is what Gov. Tate Reeves said in a Facebook post Monday as rumors of his banning the sale of alcohol spread through social media like wildfire. This lead to the governor himself having to clear things up. "As we fight the spread of the virus, we are also fighting the spread of disinformation," Gov. Reeves said. "Please check credible sources like your local news or government officials for accurate info." "We are not banning the sale of alcohol," the post continued. "Stay home. Stay safe."
State welfare agency offering emergency SNAP benefits to families
As thousands of Mississippians face layoffs or income cuts from the economic fallout of coronavirus, the state's welfare agency is taking action to support families on food assistance programs. The Mississippi Department of Human Services announced on Monday that recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, will begin receiving the maximum amount of SNAP funds allowable -- regardless of what they were entitled to receive under normal circumstances. A press release from the agency explained if a single person was currently getting $100 in SNAP benefits, that person will now automatically get the maximum monthly amount for a single person: $194. This emergency supplement will apply to March and April benefits, according to the release.
Social distancing ignored in some Mississippi clubs, beaches
Some Mississippi cities are taking steps to break up parties in nightclubs and on beaches as people ignore Gov. Tate Reeves's order to avoid gatherings to control the spread of the new coronavirus. One mayor, George Flaggs Jr. of Vicksburg, ordered child care centers in his city to close Monday for at least a week, setting a stricter standard than the one set statewide by the governor. Flaggs also ordered that liquor stores and convenience stores allow no more than 10 people inside at a time, including employees, and that gas stations allow no more than 10 people at a time in their outdoor areas. Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said Monday that he has heard about nightclubs remaining open. He said owners of such businesses face serious consequences. Ocean Springs officials are limiting parking along the city's gulfside beaches after groups of people were seen socializing in the sand during the weekend, some of them standing shoulder-to-shoulder. News outlets reported that police shut down parties.
Second lawmaker forced to choose between pension, service resigns
Billy Andrews, R-Purvis, has become the second House freshman to resign after being prevented from receiving his public employee retirement benefits while serving in the House. Andrews, who represents District 87 in Lamar and Forrest counties, announced Monday in a letter to Gov. Tate Reeves that he is stepping down. The governor will have to call a special election to fill the spot. Ramona Blackledge, who previously served as Jones County tax collector/assessor, stepped down earlier this year from the House seat she was elected to in November. Blackledge and Andrews are two of four public employee retirees elected to the House in November. But House Speaker Phillip Gunn, R-Clinton, accused the four of "double dipping" and said the change in rules by the PERS Board conflicted with existing state law. Following Gunn's lead, first the House Management Committee and then Appropriations Committee refused to reduce the four lawmakers' legislative pay so they could continue to draw their pension.
White House removes Gulfport judge's name from consideration for Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
Sul Ozerden's confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has been short-circuited. The White House decided to remove the Gulfport judge's name from consideration for that post. WLOX News learned the Trump administration failed to renominate Ozerden in January when a new Congressional year started and it became obvious his nomination lacked the support it needed from key Senators. Ozerden will remain on the federal bench in downtown Gulfport. Earlier Monday, the White House announced Federal Judge Cory Wilson of Flora will attempt to be ratified by the Senate and fill an appeals court seat that's been vacant since 2017. "The elevation of Judge Cory Wilson's nomination to the Circuit Court of Appeals reflects President Trump's confidence in Cory's conservative judicial philosophy, legal knowledge, academic and public service. I've known Judge Wilson for many years. He is well qualified to serve on this court, and I will do everything I can to promote his confirmation," Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith said. "I am pleased that President Trump has selected Judge Cory Wilson for the Fifth Circuit," Sen. Roger Wicker said.
'That's just not true.' GOP Gov. Hogan contradicts Trump claim that testing problems are fixed
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, said Tuesday on NPR's Morning Edition that President Donald Trump was incorrect in saying coronavirus testing problems had been resolved. "Yeah, that's just not true. I mean I know that they've taken some steps to create new tests, but they're not actually produced and distributed out to the states." Hogan said, when host Rachel Martin asked him about Trump's assertions. "No state has enough testing." In a coronavirus task force briefing Monday, Trump said America's coronavirus testing was better "than any country in the world." The Maryland Republican, who also chairs the National Governors Association, said he was listening to the "smart team" in the White House like coronavirus task force leader Deborah Birx and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci who were giving accurate information. Hogan, who issued a statewide stay-at-home order on Monday, had a grim outlook for states' pandemic preparedness. "There's nobody in America that's prepared," he said.
Judges block 3 states from enforcing abortion bans pegged to pandemic
Federal judges on Monday lifted restrictions Texas, Ohio and Alabama imposed on abortion during the coronavirus pandemic in decisions that could have repercussions for several more Republican-led states that have deemed the procedure non-essential during the crisis. In Texas, District Court Judge Lee Yeakel sided with abortion clinics and granted a temporary restraining order through April 13 while arguments on the underlying legality of the state's order play out. Iowa, Mississippi and Oklahoma are among the other states that recently moved to suspend access to the procedure as the pandemic intensified, arguing it would preserve desperately needed medical supplies. Texas' order was one of the strictest, threatening a $1,000 fine or 180 days of jail time on abortion providers who violated the ban.
Former Fed chairwoman warns 'prolonged recession' possible
Janet Yellen, the former chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, warned Monday that the longer the economy is locked down, the worse the recession will be. But she added she was encouraged by the actions of the Fed and the Congress to support the economy. "It's impossible to know at this point how deep the recession will be," said Yellen, who served as chairwoman of the Fed from 2014 to 2018. "It depends critically on how long the period of social distancing lasts." Speaking as part of an online panel hosted by the Brookings Institution, Yellen said the hope is that the "lockdown" can be lifted in May and economic activity will begin to return to normal in early summer. "But a longer period of confinement certainly seems possible," she said, adding "there could be a second wave of infections after activity resumes." Yellen, a distinguished fellow at Brookings, praised the Fed, saying she has "never seen a more rapid Fed response, and they're giving it their absolute all, they're throwing everything they possibly can into responding quickly." She also expressed support for the $2.3 trillion economic package passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump last week.
CDC considering recommending general public wear face coverings in public
Should we all be wearing masks? That simple question is under review by officials in the U.S. government and has sparked a grass-roots pro-mask movement. But there's still no consensus on whether widespread use of facial coverings would make a significant difference, and some infectious disease experts worry that masks could lull people into a false sense of security and make them less disciplined about social distancing. In recent days, more people have taken to covering their faces, although it remains a scattershot strategy driven by personal choice. The government does not recommend it. That may change. Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are considering altering the official guidance to encourage people to take measures to cover their faces amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a federal official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because it is an ongoing matter of internal discussion and nothing has been finalized.
To Fight Coronavirus, States Call on Retired Medical Staff and New Graduates
Steven Lay's last shift in the emergency room was on New Year's Eve 2016. Since then, he has been enjoying retirement and staying healthy by swimming 3,000 yards three times a week. Now the 61-year-old retired doctor from Gulfport, Fla., is again donning a mask and gown, this time to take swabs through car windows at a BayCare Urgent Care drive-through testing site in St. Petersburg. Dr. Lay is among thousands of retired and inactive doctors and nurses who are returning to the field to help as the number of coronavirus patients surges, inundating health-care facilities across the U.S. In heavily hit New York, 76,000 health-care workers, many of them retired, had volunteered to help as of Sunday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. In addition, some medical schools are starting to graduate students early so they can jump into the fray. The push to bring aboard newly minted medical-school graduates is forcing some young people to grapple with whether they are ready to enter hospitals in what could be combat-like conditions.
Here's how area colleges and universities are operating during COVID-19 outbreak
Here's a look at how local colleges and universities are operating during the COVID-19 outbreak: At the University of Mississippi, all course content is being delivered online or via other remote methods, and that will be the case through at least August. That means no in-person instruction for the May, first summer, second summer, full summer or August terms. At Mississippi State University, classes are being resumed via online or alternative formats for the remainder of the semester. The University's learning management system, Canvas, can be used on both computers and mobile devices. Northeast Mississippi Community College is continuing its semester through online classes via Canvas while dorms remain closed. NEMCC is currently planning to allow career technical classes and health science classes to meet in small groups. Itawamba Community College is offering its academic courses through a combination of online instruction and, when approved, small group meetings.
U. of Mississippi announces all 2020 summer sessions will be held remotely
Students will not be walking about the University of Mississippi's Oxford campus for the remainder of the spring, and now it may be late August before they return. Provost Noel Wilkin sent a letter out to the Ole Miss faculty, staff and students announcing all summer sessions will be conducted remotely through online or other alternative methods. The remainder of the spring semester shifted to remote instruction on March 23, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "I'm confident that we will get through this," Wilkins said in a letter to students. "We will come to develop a greater appreciation for those things that seemed so simple, and we will emerge a stronger community of scholars." Registration options for the Fall 2020 semester have not changed at this time, according to Wilkin's email. The fall semester is scheduled to begin on Aug. 24.
Southern Miss announces new dates for commencement ceremonies
The University of Southern Mississippi has tentatively rescheduled its spring commencement ceremonies for Aug. 20-22. The plans are subject to change, pending future public health guidance as COVID-19 circumstances continue to evolve, university officials announced Monday on the Southern Miss website. Students who completed their degree requirements during Spring 2020 or Summer 2020 semesters will have the option to participate in the August or December ceremonies. The new graduation dates are: Aug. 20: Graduate students based on the Hattiesburg campus. Aug. 21: Undergraduate students based on the Hattiesburg campus. Aug. 22: Graduate and undergraduate students based at coastal operations. Students who are eligible for graduation will receive information from the Office of the Registrar via email in the coming weeks, the university reported.
Southern Miss reports subcontractor employee has coronavirus
A mechanical subcontractor's employee working in a construction zone at Cook Library has tested positive for the coronavirus, the University of Southern Mississippi announced Monday night on its website. "The construction worker has not been on campus for 10 days and was working in an isolated construction zone in Cook Library, with limited interactions with others in the building," the university reported. "USM has suspended the construction project in accordance with recommended public health guidelines." Employees who work in Cook Library were notified and advised to continue following public health guidance for prevention and protection. Last week, some students at the university and others around the state were on campus to retrieve their belongings from their respective dormitories. "We haven't fully closed (campus housing)," said Dee Dee Anderson, vice president of student affairs, in an earlier story. "If a student has a demonstrated need to stay we would allow them to stay on campus."
WCU student reacts to not walking in graduation ceremony
Universities have postponed or even canceled graduation ceremonies due to the coronavirus outbreak. Merritt Blackwell, a contemporary worship ministries major at William Carey University, was preparing to walk in May, until he received an email telling him that the spring graduation commencement was canceled. "It's a hard thing to kind of come to reality with," Blackwell said. "Because it almost feels you push so hard and so long for that moment of having your family and your friends see you walk across the stage and get a diploma and your cap and gown. I think it's one of those moments that everybody looks forward too. "So to not have that moment with your friends and your family, it's kinda of a hard thing to put into words, but I think that it's something that over time that will get easier," Blackwell added. "But I think that right now it's weighting heavy on my heart." Although it's an unknown time for everyone, Merritt thinks this time apart can be used in a beneficial way. "I think my advice would be to slow down and just to know that, this is an opportunity for us to spend time with family and spend time working on ourselves and to just unplug," Blackwell said.
Hinds Community College employee tests positive for coronavirus
A Hinds Community College employee tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19). According to officials at the college, they learned about the diagnosis on March 30. This is the only confirmed case among the staff at this time. The employee has not been on campus since March 11.
Auburn theatre students see productions canceled by pandemic
"Bodies in Motion," "Anon(ymous)" and "Marion Bridge," the last three shows presented by Auburn University Theatre, were all canceled due to the University's switch to remote instruction to protect against the COVID-19 outbreak. "Bodies in Motion" was a dance concert that was conceived and directed by Jeri Dickey. According to Auburn University Theatre's website, it "explores the realm of human experience and expression through movement." The show had been set to open on March 19 and continue until March 22. "When I got news that the production was being cancelled, I was heartbroken," said Anna Vu, sophomore in theatre management and the stage manager of "Bodies in Motion." "We had been working on this show since January, and it saddens me that all the hard work of the dancers, choreographers and designers could not be shown to an audience. I was especially heartbroken for seniors who couldn't perform in their last dance concert."
Georgia university students asking for pass-fail grades in COVID-19 digital shift
Thousands of University System of Georgia students have signed a petition calling for pass-fail grading as classes resume online after a two-week hiatus. However, university system officials so far are saying they'll keep traditional grading in place to maintain high academic standards. The University System of Georgia is the state's network of public colleges and universities, which includes the University of Georgia, the University of North Georgia and 24 other schools. As of early Monday afternoon, more than 5,000 students had signed a petition asking the system to allow opt-in pass-fail grading. Another 500 law students from the system's two law schools, at UGA and Georgia State University, have filed a similar petition. The system released this statement Monday: "The University System of Georgia is aware some institutions around the nation have decided to shift to pass/fail grading after transitioning to remote education. We are confident our students will rise to the challenge, and the USG will do everything in its power to help them do so. We trust our faculty to teach and grade students effectively."
Louisiana colleges address grades, cheating as classes go online after coronavirus closures
Toni Weiss set the laptop on a red picnic table and watched her students pop up one after another, 160 total, until their faces crowded her computer screen in 25-person clusters. One student was shirtless. Some were slouched in bed. Others were sitting with notebooks as if this were any other normal setting, not a digital classroom within an online chatroom. Welcome to "Intro to Macroeconomics," a course Weiss has been teaching at Tulane University since 2006. Normally, the professor would be standing at the front of an auditorium; but this is the age of the new coronavirus, the sickness that has spread globally and chased communities into mass quarantine and isolation. Instead, Weiss hosted Monday's 10 a.m. lecture in her backyard in New Orleans, the city considered the epicenter of Louisiana's COVID-19 crisis. Less than 10% of students remain on the campuses of the UL, LSU, Southern and Tulane institutions, according to reports provided by school officials, and those institutions are all answering how they'll reimburse students for on-campus housing. LSU issued an official release to its students on Monday that its students will not be charged any additional fees for proctoring services.
Arkansas state scholarships' GPA terms waived; students' lives disrupted, official says
Students in college receiving Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarships will have minimum grade-point average requirements waived as part of the state's response to the covid-19 outbreak, a spokeswoman for the state Division of Higher Education said Monday. "With some institutions moving forward with a Credit/No credit type of grading, we want to be fair to all students who might have found themselves in a position to not earn a letter grade," spokeswoman Alisha Lewis said in an email. More than 30,000 students received the Academic Challenge Scholarship in fiscal 2019. Lottery proceeds help pay for the scholarship awards, which normally require college students to maintain a cumulative grade-point average of 2.5 to remain eligible for the aid. The change is part of a suspension of most continuing eligibility requirements for state scholarships, Lewis said.
Tennessee universities, colleges put 3D printers to use to churn out needed medical supplies
Pellissippi State Community College and University of Tennessee students are using their schools' 3D printers to help make much-needed medical supplies during the coronavirus pandemic. They have lofty goal they're trying to reach together: Build 10,000 face shield headbands in a just few weeks. The process began on Saturday, with both schools continuing to print all week. "We're all feeling such a strong desire to help anywhere we can," said Andrew Polnicki, director of the MegaLab at Pellissippi State. School across the state are trying to alleviate the shortage of personal protective equipment, like face shields that health care providers wear when they're working with infectious diseases. "In unprecedented times, Tennessee higher education is united in doing our part to support the state's brave health care professionals," said Tennessee Higher Education Commission Executive Director Mike Krause. "Our colleges and universities have always been incubators for innovation, and this is a perfect example of the ingenuity and dedication of that work."
US university groups demand more money for Covid-19
University groups in the United States have said a $2 trillion stimulus package approved for dealing with Covid-19 does not go far enough to support higher education, putting at risk research efforts for tackling the pandemic. Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, said that the $14 billion set aside for universities and colleges in the package "falls far short of what is needed". "The bill does not provide funding to help pay for graduate students, postdocs and others who can't get into the lab as well as...for winding down and eventually ramping up research activity," McPherson said. He warned that higher education institutions are facing a "huge financial hit" and that more funding was needed to "maintain a robust scientific enterprise, which is at the forefront of searching for cures and treatments". Mary Sue Coleman, president of the Association of American Universities, agreed. "We need additional funding now for research into the cures, treatments, and vaccines that America and the world badly need," said Coleman.
Student parents are hit doubly hard by coronavirus
This has been a nerve-racking time for Chelsea Callender. The 22-year-old junior at Bowie State University in Maryland had to switch her 3-year-old daughter from a childcare center to an in-home daycare last week, after the childcare center closed down due to concerns around the coronavirus. She was in the process of moving from one job to another when her old job shut down and left her without her last week of pay. The job she was planning to move to -- teaching children how to swim -- is also now shut down due to the coronavirus. She's now relying on a second, part-time job teaching children about art. Her job hasn't yet been shut down but is giving out fewer hours because people are canceling appointments. Meanwhile, Callender had been planning to take classes in the summer after taking this semester off to work through financial aid issues and work extra hours. She needs to turn in a financial aid appeal in May and doesn't know whether someone will be there to approve it. Callender isn't unique in all of this. About one-quarter of today's college students are also parents, and they've been hit with a double whammy by this pandemic.
As Liberty University Reports First Covid-19 Case, Students and Parents Grapple With Conflicting Information
Calum Best spends most of his day at Liberty University inside his dorm room, taking breaks from his accounting and finance studies to spritz with Clorox and scrub with hand sanitizer. Looking out his window on Monday, he reported seeing four clusters of students, "some practicing social distancing, some not." The senior, one of hundreds of students remaining this week at the evangelical university in Lynchburg, Va., said Liberty's president, Jerry Falwell Jr., hadn't done enough to impress upon students the seriousness of the pandemic. And while Best is staying on campus to avoid potentially exposing his parents to the virus, he believes too many students are sticking around because the university has overstated its ability to keep them safe. On Monday, as Virginia's governor issued a statewide stay-at-home order through June 10 and Liberty reported its first positive test for Covid-19, students and parents were responding with varying degrees of confusion and concern to the mixed messages they say they've been receiving from the university, the news media, and local governments.
Breaking contracts over coronavirus: Can you argue it's an 'act of God'?
The coronavirus pandemic has prevented countless people from fulfilling their contracts, from basketball players to babysitters. Could all of these people be sued for breach of contract, or are they excused due to this extraordinary event? What about payments made in advance, such as tickets bought for a concert that has now been canceled or a dorm room leased at a college that is now closed? Wars, floods and other pandemics have undermined innumerable contracts over the years. In response, U.S. courts have established a fairly clear set of legal rules to answer these questions. As a contracts law professor, I help future lawyers think through how these rules apply in a wide range of situations. That includes what the law says about contracts that are impossible to meet during pandemics.

Mississippi State AD John Cohen 'very hopeful' college football season will happen
When they held the athletic director position at Mississippi State, Larry Templeton, Scott Stricklin and Greg Byrne never hesitated to salt away money for a "rainy day" when the athletic department might sorely need it. Now, as the storm clouds have begun to darken the horizon, John Cohen is thankful for the wisdom of his predecessors. In the midst of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Cohen and the Bulldogs' athletic department have had to face the fact that the fall college football season may suffer serious delays -- or may not happen at all. "Quite frankly, if we don't have football, it will very much be a 'rainy day' situation that we will have to figure out," Cohen said Monday afternoon in an address to the Starkville Rotary Club, delivered via the Zoom video conferencing app in the interest of social distancing. Make no mistake: Cohen is "very hopeful" the football season will continue as planned. But he knows the consequences his school will face if Davis Wade Stadium sits empty this fall. "Football is related to everything you do athletically, especially in the Southeastern Conference," Cohen said.
Mississippi State coach Mike Leach gives advice on Paul Finebaum Show
Mike Leach is like all of us. The Mississippi State head coach is at home with tons of free time on his hands when he should be at his workplace conducting spring practices and evaluating the on-field product that he inherited when he became the man in charge of the Bulldogs nearly three months ago. Monday afternoon, Leach spent some of that free time speaking to SEC Network talk show host Paul Finebaum. The two talked about how strange these last few weeks have been during the coronavirus crisis and what the future might look like as far as college football is concerned. Leach has spent his time away from Mississippi State's football facilities reading more books, watching more enthralling television shows and taking care of his health. He said he has taken time to prepare proper meals and has even squeezed in a much-needed daily exercise allotment. He tries to hop on his bike once per day. At first, Leach was glued to cable news. Now he restricts himself to one hour of it per day so he can stay informed while still leaving opportunities to be productive in other ways. He's called his parents and children more times than he normally would at this time of year.
NCAA announces extra eligibility for spring athletes
Spring sport athletes at Mississippi State and beyond can breathe a sigh of relief. The NCAA announced Monday night that all spring athletes will be offered an extra year of eligibility and an extension of their eligibility period after their seasons were canceled due to the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 following a vote by the Division I Council. "The Council's decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decisions at a campus level," said Council chair and University of Pennsylvania Athletic Director M. Grace Calhoun said in a news release. "The Board of Governors encouraged conferences and schools to take action in the best interest of student-athletes and their communities, and now schools have the opportunity to do that." Of note, schools will not be required to match the aid returning seniors were offered during the 2020 season in an attempt to combat the financial uncertainty universities are facing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This stipulation and flexibility only applies to athletes whose eligibility would have been exhausted during the 2019-20 season. According to the release, the roster limit for Division I baseball teams have also been increased to include athletes impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.
NCAA spring athletes get extra year of eligibility
The NCAA will permit spring sport athletes -- such as baseball, softball and lacrosse players -- who had their seasons shortened by the coronavirus outbreak to use an additional year of eligibility. The NCAA Division I Council voted Monday to give spring sport athletes regardless of their year in school a way to get back the season they lost, but did not guarantee financial aid to the current crop of seniors if they return to play next year. Winter sports, such as basketball and hockey, were not included in the decision, declining to extend eligibility in sports where all or much of the regular seasons were completed. The Division I Council is made up of college sports administrators representing all 32 D-I conferences, plus two members of the student-athlete advisory committee. How much scholarship money will be made available to each athlete whose college career would have ended this spring will be determined by the athlete's school. The amount could range from nothing to as much the athlete received had been receiving.
Mississippi State's Ben Howland addresses situations regarding Perry, Woodard II, recruiting in a pandemic
Sunday, one big domino fell for the Mississippi State men's basketball team. Associated Press Co-SEC Player of the Year Reggie Perry declared for the NBA draft, leaving a gaping hole in the Bulldogs' frontcourt. "Reggie had a great season and two years with us," MSU coach Ben Howland told reporters in a Monday conference call. "Obviously, he was an outstanding player ... He got about every honor he could get and ultimately, he is going to be an NBA player and I have no doubt about it. He has the skill package to go with his great understanding of the game." Now, all eyes turn to sophomore forward Robert Woodard II, as the Columbus native has yet to decide if he'll enter the NBA Draft or return to school for his junior year. Woodard II averaged 11.4 points and 6.5 rebounds per game last season while shooting 49.5 percent from the field and 44.7 percent beyond the arc. "The thing I try to stress with Robert and his family is the importance of doing everything you can to be a first-round pick," Howland said. "When you look at the data over the last 20 years, the whole key to being an NBA player is longevity, being in the league for 10-plus years. That's how you make it a career, that's how you make it a livelihood."
What Mississippi State coach said about 5 transfers, new roster
The coronavirus has halted sports from proceeding as usual this spring, but it hasn't stopped the Mississippi State men's basketball roster from substantially turning over. Last week, five Bulldogs entered the transfer portal. Freshmen guards Devin Butts and Elias King, sophomore forward Prince Oduro, junior forward Keyshawn Feazell and senior E.J. Datcher are all on their way out of Starkville. Datcher was redshirted and was not on scholarship this past season in anticipation of allowing him to find another place to play for his senior season. Of the other four who decided to go elsewhere, none of them caught head coach Ben Howland by surprise. "I think they all did the right thing in terms of what it looks like for them down the road," Howland said. "I wish them all well." Reggie Perry joined the exodus when he announced Sunday that he will forego his final two years of eligibility and enter the 2020 NBA Draft. Departed senior Tyson Carter has played his last game in a maroon and white uniform, too. That makes seven players who are no longer at Howland's disposal. The task for Howland during this era of social distancing and working from home has become broadening his roster through virtual means.
With no games, local athletic trainers work as ER screeners
Athletic trainers are often the "first line of defense" for high school athletes who sustain injuries during games as they're immediately examined by trainers before either returning to action, sitting the rest of the contest or going to the hospital. With high school sports on hold amid the COVID-19 pandemic, local athletic trainers have taken up becoming a first line of defense for a different group of people by working as screeners at local emergency rooms. It's a different type of work, but the chance to recoup some of the salary lost due to sports shutting down and the opportunity to aid in the fight against the coronavirus makes it worthwhile, local athletic trainer Chad Acton said. Jason Davis, who is working as a screener at Rush Health Systems' ER, said local hospitals trained area athletic trainers to screen ER patients, guests and even hospital employees at the point of entry. Temperatures are taken and questions asked to determine if someone might have COIVD-19. Screeners are provided face masks and protective gloves for both their protection and the protection of patients and guests.
Southern Miss baseball senior Matthew Guidry honored on ESPN
Southern Miss senior Matthew Guidry was in his house with roommates Brant Blaylock and J.C. Keys playing Call of Duty before his phone began to buzz. Among the notifications was Southern Miss senior Hunter Stanley, who asked Guidry if he had checked Twitter. "No. What are you talking about," Guidry replied. "I think you're on ESPN," Stanley responded. Guidry couldn't believe it. The second baseman grew up in Hattiesburg watching "SportsCenter" with hopes of one day making the daily Top 10 plays segment. Guidry's debut on the show wasn't just one play, though. The veteran had his college career resume -- fifth-year senior, 72-game on-base streak, led his team to two NCAA appearances -- read on air by Scott Van Pelt as a part of his Senior Night segment. Van Pelt started the segment after the sports world came to a halt in response to the covid-19 pandemic. Every night, he acknowledged a group of high school and college senior student-athletes across the country who had their final season's suddenly postponed and, in a majority of the cases, canceled.
Nick Saban 'improvising' in current environment
For more than 50 years now, a Monday afternoon in late March has meant one thing for Nick Saban: football practice. Even in his NFL years, when this particular time period meant evaluating draft prospects, his time was spent on a field somewhere, as often as not. On this particular Monday, Saban didn't have a single player in sight. All athletic-related activities have been put on hold by the Southeastern Conference, all students sent home by the University of Alabama, where Saban's 14th season as head coach has started like no other. One thing remains constant. Saban looks forward, relentlessly. In a brief, socially-distanced telephone conversation, he spent no time complaining, "it's affecting everyone else the same way," he said -- or reminiscing about what other seasons were like. He has a plan for 2020, based on the limited and changing information at his disposal and is focused on working that plan, not griping about what he might like to do but can't. "Right now, we're just trying to do as much as we can," Saban said. "One positive was that at least when everything was called off, our players were here so we could put them on an academic program and provide them with a workout program. Those are still the priorities --- academics, conditioning and a little bit of football."
Rece Davis 'more optimistic,' says Kirk Herbstreit 'premature' on talk of college football season
Rece Davis is "more optimistic" than his ESPN colleague about the 2020 college football season in terms of the coronavirus pandemic. Last week, "GameDay" analyst Kirk Herbstreit made headlines when he questioned whether there would be a college football season in the wake of COVID-19. On Monday, Davis joined "First Take" and was asked about Herbstreit's opinion. "I'm far more optimistic and more hopeful than Kirk's quote there at this point," Davis said Monday. "I just think that's a little bit premature at this juncture while offering the caveat that there is so much unknown out there. Kirk's right based on everything I've read in terms of medical experts, in terms of the vaccine. I'm hopeful and optimistic that with so many people working on this that we're going to have, at least, some kind of treatment, some type of break over the next several weeks that will, perhaps, make it far more feasible to have football. At this point, I'm far more optimistic. Might there be adjustments in the schedule? Might things change a little bit in terms of how the business is conducted? Sure."
Sports betting without sports? Adapting to the age of coronavirus
It's been more than two weeks since American sports shut down in the wake of the coronavirus, which means that a significant -- and largely illegal -- business in Alabama has gone dormant: sports betting. Unless you want to bet on the adjectives President Trump uses in his daily news conference, or feel like digging into the details of Japanese sumo wrestling. Birmingham is regularly mentioned nationally as a hotbed of off-the-books gambling, mainly but not solely fed by college and professional football. March Madness is usually second only to the Super Bowl for the volume of sports betting nationally, and it didn't happen for the first time since the 1930s. Consider this - estimates had about 47 million Americans betting on last year's NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, to the tune of $8.5 billion. That absence of activity and commerce has hit many a bettor and bookmaker equally hard. The American Gaming Association, a group which lobbies for lifting gambling restrictions, estimates up to $150 billion is wagered illegally on sports every year, with most wagers placed on NFL and college football games.
New York to use parts of US Open tennis complex as hospital amid coronavirus
Tennis courts in Queens that are part of the U.S. Open complex will reportedly be turned into temporary hospitals as New York City hospitals manage an influx of patients due to the coronavirus pandemic. An indoor training area at the United States Tennis Association Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is expected to become a facility with 350 medical beds starting Tuesday, a U.S. Tennis Association spokesman told The Wall Street Journal. The beds will likely be for treating patients without COVID-19, a spokeswoman for the city told the Journal. New York City's emergency management commissioner Deanne Criswell said the city is looking to increase its capacity in Queens and Brooklyn. "It's going to take all of us working together to get as many up as quickly as possible as our hospitals continue to see more and more patients every day," Criswell told the Journal. The tennis complex's Louis Armstrong Stadium will also be used in response to the pandemic. The stadium will be converted into a commissary to create 25,000 meal packages a day, USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier told the Journal.

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