Thursday, April 9, 2020   
 
For Mississippi State farms, hands-on work continues
As many Americans transition to work from home, farmers don't have the option to log on remotely. At Mississippi State University, life on the farm marches on amid the COVID-19 pandemic as a team of scientists and agricultural technicians prepare for planting season. On campus, the university's Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, or MAFES, has three farms: R. R. Foil Plant Science Research Center (North Farm), the H. H. Leveck Animal Research Center (South Farm) and the Bearden Dairy Research Center. Off campus, the experiment station has 16 branch stations, all dedicated to providing solutions for farmers, ranchers and home gardeners. Across the Magnolia State, while life has been temporarily shifted due to the shelter in place order issued by Gov. Tate Reeves, MAFES personnel continue critical research that is essential for feeding and clothing the world today and in the future while following university directives.
 
Taylor Machine Works helps convert battery ventilators in pandemic
Louisville-based Taylor Machine Works was working last week in conjunction with Mississippi State University to convert over 550 ventilators from battery power to AC power so they can be used in the state's medical response to the COVID-19 coronavirus. Taylor Machine Works assisted with sourcing parts for the ventilators and converting them. MSU's Paul B. Jacob High Voltage Laboratory was contacted by the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning this week to discuss converting the battery-powered ventilators, which are designed to fill temporary needs in the aftermath of emergencies like hurricanes. Once converted to AC power, which will allow for easier long-term use because they can be plugged into a wall, the ventilators will be sent to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. "I am proud that our talented researchers can put their expertise to use as Mississippi continues the battle against COVID-19," said MSU President Mark E. Keenum.
 
Nutrition, exercise help older adults stay healthy
As people reduce trips to the grocery store to help slow the spread of the new coronavirus, older adults should pay special attention to what they put in their pantries. "As we age, we don't need as many calories, but we still need the same amount of nutrients or more of certain nutrients," said Qula Madkin, an Extension instructor of nutrition in the MSU Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion. "Maintaining a nutritious diet helps our body systems work properly, including our immune system." Exercise is also an important part of staying healthy. Regular physical activity helps decrease depression, boosts the immune system and improves strength and balance, said David Buys, health specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. "While we're in this period of social distancing, we need to take stock of what's around us and consider how we might get in some physical activity," he said.
 
Aldermen enact 13-day citywide curfew
Starkville aldermen approved a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew on Tuesday in response to the escalating COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The curfew is effective immediately and makes an exception for essential travel. The Oktibbeha supervisors enacted a countywide curfew Monday with many of the same parameters, but City Attorney Chris Latimer said the order was not enforceable within the city limits without a separate order by the board of aldermen. "I don't think statutory authority existed for the county to act unilaterally to bind the city with a curfew," Latimer said. The Oktibbeha County Sheriff's Office "had no intention of enforcing" the county curfew in the city limits, and the Starkville Police Department did not have the power to enforce a county order, so the city needed to pass its own, Latimer said. Starkville Police Chief Mark Ballard said the city curfew should clear up any public confusion and make it easier for the police department to "manage public safety in balance with this pandemic."
 
Neshoba County Fair still on schedule despite ongoing pandemic threat
While well aware pf the dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Neshoba County Fair Association Board is planning for the 2020 Fair which is scheduled to start July 24. "As of today, the Fair is still on," said association President Gilbert Donald. "We are certainly aware of what is going on (with the COVID-19) and will be making decisions as time goes by." The 2020 Fair will mark the 131st year of Neshoba County Fair, known as Mississippi's Giant House Party. As of this publication date, the opening date is three months and 16 days away. Donald said that preparations are under way. Entertainment acts have to be signed months in advanced. Donald also reported that nine cabins are expected to be taken down and rebuilt in the coming months. In its history, the only time the Fair was not held came during World War II.
 
The Bolivar Commercial to close its doors
Lee Walls, president and CEO of Walls Newspapers and owner of The Bolivar Commercial, announced this week that The Bolivar Commercial would cease publication and operations at the end of April. "It is a sad thing to have to announce, and it is something I've spent years and a great deal of money, trying to avoid," Walls said. "My grandfather used to say that a community gets the newspaper it is willing, or able, to pay for," said Walls. "I'm sure there are people and businesses in Bolivar County and Cleveland who are willing to pay for a local newspaper, through subscriptions and advertising, but history has taught me there are not enough." The Bolivar Commercial has served the community for 104 years.
 
Coronavirus in Mississippi: Nine new deaths, 257 cases reported Thursday
The Mississippi State Department of Health announced 257 new cases of coronavirus In Mississippi Wednesday and nine additional deaths, bringing the state's total cases to 2,260 with 76 deaths. Statistics show African Americans make up more than 50% of positive cases in the state and more than 70% of the deaths to date. The MSDH also reported data on outbreaks in long-term care facilities or nursing homes Thursday. According to the department, "Even one case of COVID-19 in these facilities among residents or employees is considered an outbreak." There are 44 outbreaks in nursing homes in 31 counties across the state. As of Thursday, the state health lab had conducted 6,967 coronavirus tests with 713 positive results. More than 14,000 tests have been conducted by other providers.
 
Rev. Stanely Searcy tells governor he will not hold Easter service
The Rev. Stanley Searcy Sr., pastor of New Hope the Vision Center Missionary Baptist Church in Adams County, announced during Gov. Tate Reeves' Wednesday afternoon press conference that he will not hold an in-person Easter Sunday service. Searcy, who held an in-person Palm Sunday service with 250 attendees two days after Reeves issued a statewide shelter-in-place order through April 20 that forbids gatherings of 10 or more people, was Reeves' guest during a Wednesday press conference at which Reeves invited Searcy to offer the prayer. Reeves noted that in a Monday press conference a reporter asked him about Searcy having held his in-person Palm Sunday church service with 250 people in attendance. "I was asked about Bishop Stanley Searcy's church in Natchez and whether we had the right to shut it down," Reeves said. "I don't believe that I do and frankly I'm glad to live in a country where that is true, and I'm proud to live in a state where that is true, but I do have the right to call the bishop, man-to-man and let him know what we are seeing from the data. I can ask him as a fellow Christian to take this extra step to protect the community. That's what I did, and he has graciously agreed to ensure that he would come before us today."
 
Black Mississippians Suffered 72% of COVID-19 Deaths; Many Tests Don't Track Race
More than half of all Mississippians currently diagnosed with COVID-19 and nearly three-fourths of the virus' current casualties are African American, the Mississippi State Department of Health revealed Wednesday. The race demographics confirm fears that the impact of the virus will be disproportionately distributed amongst the state's black communities. Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus Chairwoman Sen. Angela Turner-Ford, D-West Point, called for sustained action to arrest the spread of COVID-19 across the state. "I'm almost speechless. As quickly as we can, we need to try to intervene to slow the trend," Turner-Ford said in an interview with the Jackson Free Press, adding that without a more aggressive testing regime, the state's current understanding of the spread of COVID-19 may speak more to pre-existing health disparities than the virus' actual extent.
 
Black Mississippians at greater risk: 72% of deaths, 56% of state's COVID-19 cases
Despite African Americans making up less than 40 percent of Mississippi's population, black Mississippians represent 56 percent of the state's known COVID-19 infections and 72 percent of deaths, newly released demographic data from the state health department show. The data showing the pandemic's disproportionate impact on black Mississippians mirrors findings in other locations reporting racial demographic data and the disparate effects on African Americans. The health department states that these rates are based on cases where full information is known and may not include all cases. The new health department demographic information is statewide and not broken down by county. The state does report the overall number of cases for each county, however. Though the most cases in the state are following population and clustered in Hinds and DeSoto counties as well as the Gulf Coast, rural areas are also impacted.
 
Hundreds of young Americans have now been killed by the coronavirus, data shows
Two weeks after her husband died alone in an intensive care unit in Fort Myers, Fla., Nicole Buchanan is quarantined at the home they shared with their 12-year-old daughter, wrestling not only with grief but also with why and how the coronavirus could steal someone so young and healthy. "My husband didn't have diabetes, he didn't have asthma, he didn't have high cholesterol. He didn't have anything," Buchanan said. "There's just so much I'll never know, that I'll never get the answers to." Conrad Buchanan, who died at 39 on March 26 after battling the infection for nearly two weeks, was creative and goofy. A professional DJ, he could entertain huge crowds with his music. He also was among at least 759 people under age 50 across the United States who have perished amid the deepening pandemic, according to a Washington Post analysis of state data. These deaths underscore the tragic fact that while the novel coronavirus might be most threatening to the old and compromised, no one is immune. Jean-Laurent Casanova, an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and physician at Rockefeller University Hospital, suspects vulnerability to the virus among some young people may be partly encoded in their DNA.
 
Mississippi Fair Commissioner Stephen Hutton charged with promoting prostitution
Mississippi Fair Commissioner Stephen Hutton has been arrested and charged with promoting prostitution, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation announced Wednesday. Hutton, 45, of Madison, was charged Wednesday afternoon and booked into the Madison County Detention Center, where he remains in custody awaiting his initial appearance, according to a news release from MBI. MBI worked with the Madison Police Department to arrest Hutton, the release said. No further details were immediately available. Hutton was the head of the Mississippi Fair Commission, which oversees the Mississippi State Fairgrounds. On Wednesday, the Mississippi Fair Commission voted to terminate Hutton's employment, according to an emailed statement from Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce spokeswoman Paige Manning.
 
Farmers left to jockey for bite of rescue funds
The rush is on for farmers looking to stake their claim on a new trove of stimulus funds earmarked for agriculture. Congress authorized the Agriculture Department to spend billions to help struggling producers, with few strings attached. USDA officials are scrambling to figure out how to disperse aid across the vast farm economy as quickly and evenly as possible. Threading the needle is a tall order. USDA is sure to face heavy scrutiny, especially after some Democrats criticized the trade bailout over the last two years, saying it was unfairly tilted toward Southern states and wealthy farmers. Many commodity groups complained that their sector was shortchanged by the direct payment rates or excluded altogether. Even before any relief checks have gone out, the powerful American Farm Bureau Federation says more money will soon be needed from Congress. "We're going to find out very quickly that amount of money is not going to help sustain a lot of our farmers through this difficult time," said the group's president, Zippy Duvall. "The secretary was asking for a lot more."
 
Farmers Deal With Glut of Food as Coronavirus Closes Restaurants
Farmers and food companies across the country are throttling back production as the virus creates chaos in the agricultural supply chain, erasing sales to restaurants, hotels and cafeterias despite grocery stores rushing to restock shelves. American producers stuck with vast quantities of food they cannot sell are dumping milk, throwing out chicken-hatching eggs and rendering pork bellies into lard instead of bacon. Mississippi-based Sanderson Farms Inc., which last week said demand from its restaurant customers was down 60% to 65%, has begun breaking eggs rather than hatch them and raise the chicks for slaughter. Other poultry companies are taking similar steps, meat-industry officials said. "When you have panic in the marketplace, weird things happen," said Tanner Ehmke, who researches agricultural markets for farm lender CoBank.
 
Stocks rise as Federal Reserve provides $2.3 trillion to support economy
U.S. stocks advanced Thursday after the Federal Reserve said it would provide $2.3 trillion in support for the economy, an effort to further combat the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 450 points Thursday in a shortened holiday week. U.S. financial markets will be closed in observance of Good Friday. The Standard & Poor's 500 gained 1.8%. The broad index has jumped nearly 23% in the past two and a half weeks, driven by massive amounts of aid promised by governments and central banks for the economy and markets. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Thursday the economy can bounce back once the pandemic is contained and Americans return to work. "There is every reason to believe that the economic rebound, when it comes, can be robust," Powell said in a webcast speech to the Brookings Institution. "We entered this turbulent period on a strong economic footing and that should help support the recovery."
 
White House Announces New Guidance For How Critical Employees Can Return To Work
The federal government has released new guidelines regarding when people in critical infrastructure roles can return to work after being exposed to a confirmed or suspected case of the coronavirus. The guidance pertains to essential critical workers who have been exposed to COVID-19. The new guidelines were announced at the White House on Wednesday. The guidelines are part of the government's effort to "reopen" the country, which has been brought to an economic halt as a result of the coronavirus and the extensive measures introduced to stem its spread. President Trump said Wednesday that he believes the country can reopen "soon" and he'll consult with health experts in determining exactly when. "What the CDC has done is that we've really looked at the essential workforce, and how to maintain that workforce, particularly at this time as we begin to get ready to reopen, and have confidence in bringing our workforces back to work," said the CDC director, Dr. Robert Redfield.
 
'Put a doctor in the House': Campaigning on pandemic's front lines
When Christine Mann comes home from work, she undresses in her garage and immediately puts her clothes in the washer. As the designated employee at a central Texas medical practice testing patients for the novel coronavirus, Mann is concerned about infecting her husband, who has a compromised immune system due to diabetes. Roughly 1,400 miles away, in central Virginia, Cameron Webb does the same. Webb, an internist, and his wife, an emergency room doctor, take turns distracting their kids, so whichever parent was working that day can safely undress and avoid exposing them. Webb has volunteered to staff a clinic that will treat patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. For both Mann and Webb, the work doesn't stop when they come home. Both are also Democrats running for Congress, and they are among the handful of candidates in both parties who are campaigning while working on the front lines of a pandemic. Balancing a full-time job with a campaign is a difficult task even in normal times. And these candidates' day jobs are becoming more complicated and potentially more dangerous. But they say the current crisis has only strengthened their resolve to run for office, and it proves why health care professionals are needed in Congress. "My message has always been: Put a doctor in the House," Mann said.
 
Easter, Passover, Ramadan come with coronavirus restrictions
Health officials are urging people across the country not to travel and gather in groups this month when observing Easter, Passover or Ramadan, as the U.S. enters what's expected to be the deadliest stretch of the coronavirus outbreak. April brings with it major religious events for the largest practicing groups in the U.S. Passover began Wednesday evening and extends through April 16; most Christians will celebrate Easter on Sunday, with Orthodox Easter the following week; and in about two weeks, the holy month of Ramadan will begin. But for families across the country who are accustomed to traveling to gather with loved ones or hosting nearby friends and family, this year will look a lot different. About 95 percent of Americans are under stay-at-home orders of some kind, with domestic and international travel discouraged as well. State health officials are also reminding residents to maintain social distancing and stay at home during this month's religious holidays.
 
MUW announces alternative grade options
In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, Mississippi University for Women announced it will allow students the option for alternative grades for the spring semester. The option allowed students to focus on learning outcomes and successful course completion. The Academic Council approved the COVID-19 Emergency Grade policy to allow students flexibility as classes moved online. The temporary policy does not retroactively include First Term classes but does apply to both Full Term and Second Term courses that are currently in progress. The temporary policy allows students to choose an assignment of PE (Pass Enhanced), PS (Pass Satisfactory) and NP (No Pass) grades for the spring 2020 semester only. Once the grade assigned by the teacher is assigned, students can choose to invoke the option between Tuesday, May 5 and noon Tuesday, May 12. The option is available for individual courses. For any student failing to meet the deadline, there will be an appeal process to request invoking this option for a short period of time following the deadline.
 
UMMC opens mobile clinic for respiratory patients
Health officials are creating new ways to treat patients among the COVID-19 outbreak. At the University of Mississippi Medical Center they're transferring some services to a parking garage. Keeping COVID patients separated from other patients is high priority. That's why now they've built a clinic in the bottom of a parking garage to assist respiratory patients. Dr. Johnathan Wilson said, "The set up in our clinic, everything is spread out you have dividers between the patients. We have disaster hospital beds. Y'all see we'll have mobile X-ray, a point of care lab. A full lab for blood draws if appropriate, as well as oxygen should a patient require it." This clinic will help ease pressures on their emergency room and physicians where they want only the most vulnerable COVID patients, avoiding the spread of coronavirus. Dr. Alan Jones said, "What we would like to do is avoid that cold mingling because you do know there is infectious disease that is carried in respiratory droplets and there's a potential for contamination when you have a patient with COIVD and Non-COVID in the same area."
 
Meet your new UM ASB president: Joshua Mannery
Joshua Mannery knew he wanted to be the Associated Student Body president since the moment he stepped foot on the University of Mississippi campus, and on Tuesday evening, he succeeded. With a voter turnout of 3,130 students, Mannery won 54% of the student vote in the first campus election to be held entirely online. Any other year, roars of celebration from the winning campaign would follow the announcement, and Mannery would have rushed to Business Row to paint "Joshua Mannery IS ASB President" on his campaign sign. Because of the global COVID-19 pandemic, shelter-in-place orders across the nation and the university's choice to shift school-associated activities online through the end of the summer, election night played out differently. Mannery and his family watched the ASB announcement live on Facebook from their living room in Jackson, and his campaign of about 100 students held a "Zoom watch party" on the video conference platform. Mannery is now the sixth African American student to become ASB president at the university.
 
Southern Miss uses 3-D printer to make respirator masks during coronavirus outbreak
Medical professionals in the Pine Belt treating COVID-19 patients gained access to more than 250 respirator masks over the weekend thanks to a University of Southern Mississippi mathematics professor. The respirator masks -- in demand because of the coronavirus pandemic -- protect against inhaling infectious particles and are more germ-resistant than cloth masks. Anna Wan, director of the Southern Miss 3-D printing lab -- known as the Eagle Maker Hub -- is making about 350 masks a day. And she said she'll keep making them. "Until it meets all areas where there is a need, then I'll stop," she said. Wan started down this road when her friends asked her to come up with a 3-D respirator mask based on a pattern online. Wan had a better solution, with her expertise as a digital fabrication specialist and access to a dozen high-end 3-D printers. "We did significant design changes to the mask so it could conform to the face better," she said.
 
Joe Max Higgins: EMCC board blocks efforts to discuss terminated Lion Hills employees in executive session
Following the termination of four Lion Hills Club employees in early March and conflicting information on why they were let go, Lowndes County trustees on the board of East Mississippi Community College sought answers. But the attempts to discuss the firing with all board members were to no avail, said Joe Max Higgins, Golden Triangle LINK CEO and the latest appointee to the EMCC board. Higgins told The Dispatch he made several unsuccessful attempts to discuss the matter in an executive session during the board's April monthly meeting, which took place Monday night. The motion to enter a closed session, he said, fell short of votes. "I'm very disturbed," Higgins said. "I don't know what's going on and I was not allowed to know what's going on." Higgins' inquiries came after The Dispatch reported in March conflicting accounts over the firing of four Lion Hills Center employees, including the head chef, sous chef, event coordinator and assistant event coordinator. EMCC has owned the former Columbus Country Club since 2012.
 
Class of 2020 faces a senior year cut short
High school seniors in Northeast Mississippi are worried, but not just about COVID-19. When seniors left school the Friday before spring break, they had no idea they'd be missing out on memories with friends, completing classes via distance learning or having college plans disrupted. School is currently set to resume on Monday, April 20, but many seniors feel they may never walk the halls of their high school again. Seaonna Spratt, a Tupelo High School senior, worries about getting into the college of her choice after upcoming ACT test dates were canceled. She had hoped to retake the ACT in April to improve her score. "I feel like I could've done better, and I feel like when I submit my ACT score that I now have to submit, that's not my best," Spratt said. For Noah Watts, a senior at East Union Attendance Center in Blue Springs, his biggest concern is missing out on graduation in May. As valedictorian of his class, he is supposed to deliver a speech at his graduation ceremony. "I know there are bigger things out there in the world, but that's a terrible feeling knowing that you've worked 12 years of your life to have something possibly taken from you," Watts said. "It's probably one of the worst feelings I've ever had to deal with."
 
Mississippi's first appointed state superintendent, bridge to modern education era dies
In 1984, most believed a Mississippian would be selected by the newly minted Board of Education to serve as the state's first appointed superintendent of education. But a Mississippi State education professor from Ohio recommended that his friend -- Richard Boyd, a local superintendent in Ohio -- apply for the job. The first chair of the new Board of Education, Tupelo businessman Jack Reed, impressed with Boyd, convinced his fellow members that the Ohio native was the right person for the historic and pivotal post of leading Mississippi's public schools into a new era. Boyd, who died earlier this week at age 92 in a hospice in Cleveland, Ohio, close to his three daughters, was a bridge between the state's old-antiquated education system and the education reforms that began in the early 1980s.
 
U. of Alabama moves annual honors ceremony online
A University of Alabama tradition that dates back to the 1900s will move online this year. The Tapping on the Mound ceremony, which honors exceptional students and faculty members, will be held at 1:30 p.m. Friday on the UA Division of Student Life's Facebook page. The ceremony is traditionally held outdoors on the mound at the Quad, but the online ceremony is being held to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus. "We're saddened that we're unable to recognize our recipients via the in-person traditional manner on the mound that has been a staple of springtime at the Capstone for so long," said Rosalind Moore-Miller, executive director of student engagement with UA's Division of Student Life, in a news release. "However, in a time when our nation and world are challenged, it's more important than ever to highlight the hard work, determination and fortitude that have resulted in our students, faculty and staff receiving these top honors and accolades," she said.
 
LSU offering pass/no credit option instead of letter grades since classes have shifted online
LSU is allowing students to select a "pass/no credit" option instead of traditional letter grades for the current semester, which has shifted to online classes because of the coronavirus crisis. "We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic has created significant disruption for LSU students, faculty and staff," university spokesman Ernie Ballard III said in a statement Wednesday announcing the new grading options. He said students can choose them on a class by class basis. "There are potentially significant implications, including: negative effects on academic standing, probationary status, financial aid and scholarships and even graduation," officials said in a statement. "Each student will make their own informed decisions, and we encourage you to seek guidance from your academic advisor if there are questions or concerns."
 
U. of Arkansas System board delays rise in tuition, fee costs
University of Arkansas System trustees have stalled tuition and fee increases and voted to allow system schools to reimburse or credit students for unused room and board, even as the institutions face lower revenue and financial uncertainty. System campuses won't raise tuition or fees this fall to help students and their families cope with financial uncertainty related to the covid-19 outbreak, trustees decided Wednesday. That doesn't apply to the spring semester. Current students may also get a reprieve on their room and board cost burdens if their campuses have closed housing during the pandemic. Trustees approved a resolution authorizing campuses "to provide prorated credits or adjustments to students for room and board costs." For graduating students, the resolution authorizes "prorated distributions for room and board costs."
 
Some U. of Arkansas dining workers 'temporarily' laid off
Changes to University of Arkansas dining services have led to "many" temporary layoffs of Chartwells workers, the dining services company said Wednesday. No total was given, but the workers are keeping health benefits, company spokeswoman Kristin Frazier said. Frazier said the covid-19 outbreak led to "many colleges and universities," including UA, moving classes online and having most students return home, resulting in temporary adjustments to dining hours and to the closing of several UA campus dining locations. Limited dining service continues, as some students -- a UA spokesman has said fewer than 200 -- continue to live on campus because of need. "To keep our associates and guests safe, we have become cashless, removed chairs, are practicing social distancing by marking every 6 feet on the floors, as well as not allowing self-service," Frazier said.
 
UF-led ventilator design clears first FDA review
A ventilator envisioned by a University of Florida engineer and built with do-it-yourself parts gained first-step FDA authorization this week, offering hope that it could be in use within weeks at hospitals around the world where COVID-19 patients have overwhelmed supplies of traditional medical equipment. The ventilator, composed of parts readily available for less than $250, can be assembled in less than an hour. UF has made plans and software available free over the internet. "The testing is obviously important right now because the worst-case scenario is that a patient will need three weeks of ventilator support, so we want to make sure this will run non-stop for three weeks," said Samsun Lampotang, a professor of anesthesiology in the UF College of Medicine, who led design of the device. "Our fear is that the surge will overtake us. But in Florida it looks like we'll be able to finish our testing, which will end not this Friday but next Friday," Lampotang said Wednesday.
 
U. of Tennessee buildings have history of being used in times of pandemic and war
The University of Tennessee's old Reese Hall transformed into a makeshift infirmary more than 100 years ago to treat soldiers sick with the Spanish flu. Now, as Knoxville grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, university facilities again have been considered for possible emergency use. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, at the direction of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, evaluated Thompson-Boling Arena, Pratt Pavilion and the Tennessee Recreation Center for possible use in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has resulted in at least 4,362 confirmed cases in Tennessee and 79 deaths in the state as of Tuesday. Throughout the university's 225-year history, its facilities have been deployed for reasons beyond their intended use during times of pandemic and war. The measures Knoxville took to combat the Spanish flu compare to protocols enacted in response to coronavirus. The local chapter of the Red Cross converted UT's old Reese Hall to an infirmary equipped with cots and medical supplies. The Reese Hall infirmary housed 47 patients sick with the Spanish flu, the Knoxville Journal and Tribune reported on Oct. 6, 1918.
 
Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp discusses COVID-19's impact on students, enrollment and the system budget
Texas Tribune higher education reporter Shannon Najmabadi sat down with Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp for a discussion on how the novel coronavirus outbreak in Texas has impacted higher education institutions and the students they serve. Here's a look at some of Sharp's responses to questions during the interview. Sharp said that roughly 5,400 students remain on campus across the university system. He says that for many of these students, "this is home," and that if they were not able to remain on campus they would not have the proper support and resources to continue their education. These include international students and students who live in rural areas with limited or no access to online resources, among other things.
 
U. of Missouri's Summer Welcome orientation program to operate virtually this year
Summer Welcome, MU's orientation program for incoming freshmen and transfer students, will be modified to operate virtually this summer, according to a Wednesday email sent by the Office of New Student Programs. Dates of the program's two-day sessions throughout the summer, for which thousands of incoming students signed up, will remain the same, according to the email sent to parents who had signed up for Summer Welcome sessions. The first day will be dedicated to "divisional orientation," focused on the incoming student's degree program. The second day will feature a meeting with the student's academic adviser to sign up for classes. The office is providing refunds to those who purchased guest meal plans or overnight accommodations, according to the email. The programming change is the latest in a slew of cancellations and remote operations for MU in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
Survey shows potential impact of coronavirus on enrollment
One in 10 high school seniors who had planned to go to a four-year college prior to the coronavirus is likely to change their direction as a result of the outbreak, and another 4 percent are very likely to do so. And 10 percent say it's too soon to say. Those are among the results of a survey by the marketing and research firm SimpsonScarborough, released Wednesday. The survey's results may be notable for several reasons. The survey was conducted March 26-30, after some earlier surveys and when the full impact of COVID-19 was more clear. But the survey was also only of students who planned to go to a four-year college; 573 students responded. Elizabeth Johnson, chairman of SimpsonScarborough, said a reduction of even 10 percent, let alone 24 percent, would be "devastating" to higher education. The survey also asked these students if the college (that they plan to attend) is providing enough information about how the coronavirus is changing the institution. Forty percent of students said they are not receiving enough information. Johnson said that finding was striking in that most surveys of high school students indicate that, for the vast majority of students, the last thing they want is more email from their colleges.
 
The class of 2020 is graduating into a recession. Congress might defer student loans
Many college graduates in 2020 will likely face bleak job prospects as the coronavirus pandemic drives the economy in recession. Combine that predicament with high rates of student loan debt -- which many have to start paying as soon as they graduate, regardless of whether they have an income to pay the debt -- and new grads are potentially in for a world of financial hurt. Some members of Congress want to make those students a priority. California Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pennsylvania, are introducing a bill this week to allow college students graduating in 2020 who took out federal student loans to defer payments on their debt for at least three years. Depending on the length of the coronavirus pandemic, the Secretary of Education could extend eligibility to graduates in 2021 and 2022.
 
Americans are losing income and preferring online education
Six in 10 Americans have lost jobs, hours or income from the coronavirus pandemic, according to results of a new survey from Strada Education Network, a nonprofit that researches and funds education and employment pathways. These results are the second weekly batch in a multiweek longitudinal study. The share of respondents who have lost income is up 15 percentage points from the previous week's results. Strada's data suggest that degrees and credentials are not insulating Americans from the economic effects of the pandemic. Two-thirds of associate or vocational degree holders and 63 percent of bachelor's degree holders reported lost income, compared to only 54 percent of participants with some college experience but no degree. "Although this is hitting everyone really hard, in some ways that population was a little bit less impacted by losing jobs or income," Nichole Torpey-Saboe, Strada's director of research, said in reference to the participants with some college credit but no degree, noting that in the future the organization may want to look at the industries where those respondents are employed.
 
Early-career scientists at critical career junctures brace for impact of COVID-19
Over the past 4 weeks, Amol Pohane -- a postdoc at the University of Massachusetts (UMass), Amherst -- learned that he's no longer in the running for several faculty jobs. It's not his fault. Four universities informed him that they were canceling or postponing job searches because of COVID-19 disruptions. He'll have the option of reapplying -- or having his original application reviewed -- next year, the universities told him. But that's little comfort for Pohane, who was banking on landing a faculty job this year. As a citizen of India, his visa is set to expire in September. He harbors dreams of landing an academic position in the United States. But if he can't find a job by August, he'll have to leave the country and bring the rest of his family with him. Compounding the problem, Pohane can't complete his ongoing experiments because UMass started to ramp down all nonessential research in mid-March. The disruptions are going to shake up the careers of researchers at all seniority levels, says Lisa Feldman Barrett, a professor at Northeastern University. But they'll likely have the greatest impact on early-career scientists, she notes.
 
Public state universities seeking more funds in next relief bill
The coronavirus pandemic has already cost public universities in Illinois about $224 million, nearly $100 million more than they expect to receive from Congress' $2.2 trillion relief package. In a letter, the presidents of the state's public universities urged the state's U.S. senators and representatives to include more higher-education funding in its next relief package. The relief package includes $14 billion for higher education, but the university leaders said they support the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities' request for an additional $47 billion. They're also asking for public institutions to be eligible for the same assistance that private employers received in a separate law enacted last month to provide expanded paid sick- and family-leave benefits. The universities said they've already incurred significant costs, including from refunding room and board; transitioning to online education; expenses related to mitigating the impact of COVID-19, such as cleaning campuses and safely ramping down research activities; and lost revenue from canceled programs and events, closed facilities and delayed grants.


SPORTS
 
'Something's been built there that's really substantial': How the national media views the Mississippi State women's basketball head coaching vacancy
Mississippi State women's basketball is far from the program Vic Schaefer took over in 2012. After two national title appearances, an Elite Eight and a Sweet 16, Schaefer elevated the Bulldogs to new heights. But as MSU hopes to parlay its 27-6 campaign into a deep NCAA Tournament run next season, it will have to do so without the architect of its success. With 221 wins in Starkville under his belt, Schaefer landed the head coaching gig at Texas last weekend -- leaving the Bulldogs at an impasse that could alter the trajectory of the sport not only in Starkville but nationwide. Speaking with The Dispatch this week, four national women's college basketball reporters shared their thoughts on the massive hole Schaefer left at MSU. And while each voiced varying conjectures on the opening, the general consensus remained that the job is among the nation's elite. "Something's been built there that's really substantial," ESPN's Mechelle Voepel told The Dispatch. "I hope and I think everybody who follows women's basketball hopes that it can continue because it's meant a lot to the sport in general for Mississippi State to have the elevation that it's had."
 
In new Ed Orgeron PSA on coronavirus, an LSU question: 'Think we'll have football season?'
Ed Orgeron is back with a brand new PSA, bringing up a question that could soon be held by many LSU fans the coronavirus pandemic rages on. "Hey doc," Orgeron says. "Do you think we'll have football season?" The question is answered from the other end of a videoconference by LSU team doctor Brent Bankston. The 30-second PSA was shared Wednesday afternoon from LSU football's official Twitter account along with the hashtag "#StayHome." "That's a good question, coach," Bankston replies before adding that it's imperative all Louisianans follow guidelines from the CDC regarding handwashing, social distancing and other instructions from state and local officials. "If we do that now," Bankston says, "we can save football season in the fall." The clip is the most recent informational spot featuring Orgeron
 
Texas A&M's cancellor says 13-game college football season possible even with late start
Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp said Wednesday that officials believe a 13-game college football schedule would be possible even if the start of the season was delayed until October because of the new coronavirus. The season is scheduled to begin with seven FBS games Aug. 29 before the majority of teams open the following week. Speaking in a live video discussion with the Texas Tribune, Sharp addressed the football season in answering a question about the university system's lost revenue because of college sporting events which have been canceled because of the COVID-19 virus. "In some conversations with SEC officials and NCAA, I think they've come to the conclusion that you can probably start football as late as October and still have a 13-game schedule," Sharp said. Sharp then added that there are many unknowns about football season because of the pandemic that has killed thousands and shut down sports across the globe.
 
Nick Saban's newest frontier: email
Nick Saban has already discussed the trouble that comes with trying to run the University of Alabama football program during the COVID-19 epidemic. It means a lot of meetings on Zoom and other convoluted means of communication between players and assistant coaches, strength and conditioning coaches and academic support staff. It's also forced Saban into a different technological form of communication, one that may be new to Saban but isn't new to almost anyone else: email. Saban joined ESPN's Maria Taylor on an Instagram Live chat on Wednesday, revealing in the chat that he now has an email address. "The one positive of this for me is now I have an email. I've come a long way," Saban said. "They were sending them all to Miss Terry," Saban said of his wife. "She fired me and said, 'I'm not dealing with your stuff anymore,' so I had to do it on my own."
 
UGA reports new batch of NCAA secondary violations
Georgia reported seven secondary NCAA violations since the start of 2020 including two each from football and gymnastics. The two football violations occurred this fall during recruiting visits -- one on campus and another off campus -- before the current NCAA ban on such interactions. The NCAA is not permitting any on or off campus recruiting through at least May 31 due to the spread of COVID-19. One reported football violation was reported on Oct. 30, according to Georgia's compliance summary. A coaching staff member inadvertently had recruiting contact with two junior recruits at their high school when they approached the coach in the school's front lobby and had limited dialogue. The other football violation involved a current player giving a hooded sweatshirt to a recruit during a recruiting visit on Oct. 25. Those involved were given "rules education," and the recruit repaid the value of the sweatshirt to charity.



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