Friday, April 17, 2020   
Freshman and transfer orientation to be offered virtually at Mississippi State
Mississippi State University announced Thursday that Freshman and Transfer Student Orientation will be held virtually for summer 2020. Summer orientation will be offered at a discounted rate. Anyone who had already paid the full price will receive a refund. A spokesman for the university said activities and information sessions will be provided for students and their families. Students will be asked to complete a pre-orientation course through Canvas in their MyState portals, before their scheduled orientation session. Live interactive sessions with orientation leaders and MSU staff will be held on Facebook and WebEx. Students are reminded they still need to be registered for an orientation session. Students will sign up for classes based on the date of the scheduled orientation session.
MSU Extension Service: Shop local to support community vitality
Many small business owners temporarily closed their doors and sent their employees home amid efforts to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. But that does not mean they are closed for business. "It is vital that we support our local businesses now," said Rachael Carter, an Extension economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service Center for Government and Community Development. "These businesses need our support now to stay in business so that we can enjoy them later. Our communities also need these businesses and the tax revenues they generate to continue to provide local citizens with services, such as roads, water and recreation." Dollars spent at independently owned, local businesses can have a high recirculation rate in the local economy. That means much of the money spent at locally owned businesses stays in the community if the business employs locals and buys or produces the goods it sells from local or regional sources. These dollars impact the community in three ways, Carter said.
African Americans in Mississippi disproportionately affected by COVID-19
As of Wednesday evening, African Americans made up 56 percent of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state and 66 percent of the state's COVID-19 deaths, data from the Mississippi State Department of Health shows. But the ethnic group accounts for only 38 percent of Mississippi's population, according to the latest estimate from the U.S. Census Bureau. The racial disparity is emerging not only in Mississippi but also among other southern states and across the nation. Exacerbating these problems is a mistrust among African Americans of institutions, said David Buys, state health specialist at Mississippi State University. "(That) maybe leads African Americans to ... wait until they are further along in the disease process before they show up for testing and for treatment," Buys said. To raise awareness among Mississippians, Buys said community leaders and local officials can help "put the word out." Trusted local leaders matter, and using the network of those "local champions" may help dispel rumors and spread accurate, useful information, Buys said.
Starkville drive-thru testing site moves as numbers slow
OCH Regional Medical Center will move its drive-thru testing site to a new location beginning today as daily testing numbers in Oktibbeha County continue to trend in a positive direction. Dr. Cameron Huxford, whose clinic on Strange Road has conducted the lion's share of testing locally, said despite the death toll rising for Oktibbeha, the number of confirmed cases continues to slow, along with the number of those being tested. The entire week has been slow for the clinic, with Huxford telling the Starkville Daily News that only four tests were conducted Thursday -- down dramatically from previous weeks. "It's definitely a trend," he said. The new site will be in the parking lot of the OCH Center for Sleep Medicine at 305 Hospital Road. Those being tested must have a referral from a primary care physician.
3 new COVID-19 deaths in Golden Triangle
The Lowndes and Oktibbeha county coroners confirmed three deaths from the COVID-19 coronavirus Thursday, bringing the death toll in the Golden Triangle up to four. A man at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle died of COVID-19 Thursday morning, marking Lowndes County's first death from the virus. Lowndes County Coroner Greg Merchant did not identify the individual but said he was an "elderly" man. He did not immediately release further details. Oktibbeha County Coroner Michael Hunt confirmed Thursday afternoon that two men at OCH Regional Medical Center were the second and third COVID-19 deaths in the county. One man, age 62, died Wednesday night and had come to OCH from a long-term care facility, Hunt said. The second man was 63 years old and died Thursday morning. Both men had underlying medical conditions. An 89-year-old woman died at OCH on April 5 and was the first COVID-19 death in both Oktibbeha County and the Golden Triangle.
Severe storms and tornadoes could hit the South again on Sunday, forecasters warn
A week after the deadly and devastating Easter Sunday tornado outbreak, another round of severe weather is forecast for Sunday across portions of the South. Severe storms are most likely Sunday across the Gulf Coast states, the Storm Prediction Center said. "The greatest threat appears to be from Louisiana to Georgia, with significant severe storms expected including tornadoes and damaging winds. Large hail is likely as well," the center warned. Adding to the danger will be the risk that some of the tornadoes could be wrapped in rain or may occur after dark, AccuWeather said. Cities within the greatest risk area include Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Jackson, Mississippi; and Montgomery and Mobile, Alabama. However, the overall setup does not look as favorable for as numerous and intense tornadoes as was seen across the South on Easter Sunday and Monday, the Weather Channel said.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves extends statewide stay-home order amid virus
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said Friday that he is extending his statewide stay-at-home order by one week to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The order has been in place since the evening of April 3, and it originally was set to expire Monday morning. The extension expires April 27. "We need one more week to break the back of our enemy," Reeves said during a news conference Friday morning. He thanked people for their strength, courage and perseverance. "You have saved lives every hour you stayed home, every time you've used common sense, every gathering you've missed," Reeves said. He said he will allow lakes and beaches to open starting Monday, but people will not be allowed to go in large groups. He also said that starting Monday, businesses that have been deemed "nonessential," such as florists and clothing stores, can open for drive-up sales. He also said salons, for example, can do drive-up sales of shampoo and other supplies.
Gov. Tate Reeves on Mississippi coronavirus shutdown: 'I have to ask you for one more week'
Gov. Tate Reeves announced Friday that he is extending his statewide stay-at-home order by one week. The order was set to expire Monday. "I have to ask you for one more week. One more week of vigilance. One more week of sheltering in place," Reeves said. "...We need one more week to break the back of our enemy." Reeves said that Mississippi has seen the greatest increases in new coronavirus cases and deaths this week. Meanwhile, he repeatedly stressed his desire to reopen the economy as soon as possible during Friday's press conference. Reeves framed the issue as imperative for working class Mississippians and small business owners who are struggling during an unprecedented economic crisis. "We are looking in the eyes of the greatest economic crisis in our memories. Not because our economy failed," Reeves said, but because of a virus "unleashed from China." The week-long extension comes a day after President Donald Trump said that states could make their own decisions about how and when to reopen their states.
Economic woes from virus are 'insane,' Mississippi gov says
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said Thursday that economic problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic are "insane" as the state -- like other parts of the U.S. -- continues to see steep increases in the number of people filing for unemployment benefits. Mississippi processed more than 129,500 unemployment claims between March 14 and April 11, according to numbers released Thursday by the U.S. Employment and Training Administration. Reeves has said the usual number is no more than 1,000 a week. "It's now a 14,000% increase in lost Mississippi jobs. Many more still can't get through because of the surge," Republican Reeves said Thursday on Twitter. "This is insane -- the bleeding has to stop. Lives depend on this as well. Please pray for wisdom as we consider all options. Our people can't take much more."
Sanderson Farms remains focused on quality service
The current health concerns are accompanied by economic concerns as businesses remain closed and the stock market takes a beating. As the third largest poultry producer in the country and the only Fortune 1000 company headquartered in Mississippi, Sanderson Farms has been proactively reassuring customers, bankers and investors. CEO Joe Sanderson and Vice President Mike Cockrell shared some of the steps the company is taking to deal with the COVID-19 crisis. The poultry industry has been designated by the Federal Government and the states in which Sanderson Farms operates as an essential business. "I think our employees understand that when they make the decision every day to get up and go to work, they are supporting not only themselves and their families but also their neighbors, their state and the nation," Sanderson said. Sanderson stressed that the company's focus is to serve customers.
Choctaws make urgent plea for members to take COVID-19 seriously as infections surge
As the deadly COVID-19 virus spreads rapidly on the Choctaw Indian Reservation, Chief Cyrus Ben and several Tribal Council members remain quarantined after being exposed to a person who tested positive, officials said. In a note to Council Members Thursday night, Ben said he was concerned about the rapid spread and urged members to practice social distancing and other CDC guidelines. "I had hoped that the partial shutdown that was accomplished through Executive Order 2020-01 on March 20th, 2020, would help to flatten the curve of incidence of COVID-19 here on the Reservation," he said. "Unfortunately, we are now seeing a rise in positive tests. It is evident that if we are to protect Tribal members from further spread of the disease, we must do more." The Tribe reported Thursday 61 people have been tested through Choctaw Health Center and that eight have tested possible across the eight Tribal communities. On Monday, four had tested positive. Ben stressed that cooperation from community members is very critical.
Mississippi Department of Transportation faces revenue hit
Road work continues, but the Mississippi Department of Transportation is bracing for a decline in revenues linked to COVID-19. MDOT is funded through taxes collected on gasoline sales. But with social life largely on halt, some businesses closed and others shifting to remote work, there are far fewer vehicles on the road. And that means fewer gallons of gas sold. John Caldwell is the elected transportation commissioner for northern Mississippi. He said MDOT leadership knows that a revenue drop is inevitable. "There are a lot of road miles, a lot of fuel consumption that is not going to be there," said Caldwell. "It will definitely impact our budget. It will impact our ability to do as much as we want to do." Tax collections lag, so the hit has not happened yet, but Caldwell expects some kind of revenue dip to linger into the year. "It will impact us this construction cycle and into the summer and into the fall," Caldwell said. "And then we'll see."
Lt. Gov. Hosemann, Sen. Barnett visit Jasper County communities impacted by storms
On Thursday, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and State Sen. Juan Barnett visited areas in Jasper County impacted by Easter Sunday's tornado outbreak. During a tour of Bay Springs, Moss and Heidelberg, Hosemann met with local supervisors and talked to families that lost everything. Damage assessments continue in counties affected by the tornadoes. Hosemann discussed the support counties can expect to see from the state. "There are certain places you have to meet, one of them is $4 million in personal housing and stuff like that, and it's pretty obvious that we are going to get that from MEMA," Hosemann said. "The state pays for the first couple of days, whatever those expenses are and then the counties. We have to keep meticulous records about from there, because they'll get reimbursed for debris pick up that kind of stuff." Hosemann ensured the communities impacted that the state will be there to help rebuild following the devastating tornadoes.
Mississippi's only abortion clinic still open, but a legal battle could be on the horizon
The sole abortion clinic in Mississippi is open and accepting appointments while fully complying with state orders about COVID-19, according to an organization that represents the clinic in legal matters. The Jackson Women's Health Organization became a focal point of the state's coronavirus response this week after Gov. Tate Reeves signed an executive order banning all elective and non-urgent surgeries and procedures until April 27. Reeves said the move is intended to slow the spread of the virus and preserve protective gear for health workers. But the order raised questions about how elective surgeries are defined and whether that definition includes abortions. Meanwhile, as states across the U.S. started preserving hospital beds and personal protective equipment for COVID treatment, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology issued a statement urging states against lumping abortion care with other procedures.
Senators Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith to serve on President Trump's economic recovery task force
As conversations regarding the re-opening of the American economy ramp up, Mississippi's Senators will serve on President Trump's Opening Up America Again Congressional Group. Senators Roger Wicker & Cindy Hyde-Smith will each serve on the task force, which will focus on providing advice and counsel to the President on actions needed to safely open and restart the economy following the COVID-19 pandemic. A news release from the White House further defines the goal of the task force. "The dialogue between the President, senior Administration officials, and the bipartisan group of Members of Congress also included a range of topics, namely the need for additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, the international and domestic supply chains, ways to energize the economy, surprise medical billing, clarifying the difference between essential and non-essential workers, mental health, and relief for small businesses."
Exclusive: Trent Lott, frustrated with Congress partisanship, says, 'They need to act'
Mississippians continue to shelter-in-place as health professionals and government leaders try to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and his wife are no different. "If I had been isolated in Washington in a one bedroom apartment without my wife I'd have been a basket case," Lott joked as he spoke exclusively to Y'all Politics. The couple is at home in Jackson trying to make the best of their time together but apart from the rest of society. He is working from home, joining conference calls for a few hours a day, and then doing yard work, bush-hogging and weed eating. Lott was in Kansas for a speaking engagement with his business partner, former Louisiana U.S. Senator John Breaux, as the pandemic response began to shut down much of the economy and restrictions on travel were being implemented. He is thankful he made it back home to Mississippi, and he is even more thankful that he decided to step out of the politically spotlight when he did. "I thank the Good Lord that I had enough sense after thirty-five years to know it was time to retire when I did," Lott said. "The people of Mississippi were very good to me but there comes a point when you need to pass the baton on."
Farm lenders want a retooled Paycheck Protection Program
Agricultural lenders see potential to ease growing financial pressures in farm country if Congress is willing to retool a now depleted forgivable loan program. Todd Van Hoose, CEO of the Farm Credit Council, said the Small Business Administration worked diligently to get financial institutions that are part of the Farm Credit System approved to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program. The program is designed to help small businesses meet payroll expenses while workers are idled in the effort to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Van Hoose said the Farm Credit System, encompassing four banks and 69 associations, generally doesn't participate in SBA programs. The council represents the national system of lending institutions that are owned by their farmer-rancher customers and overseen by the Farm Credit Administration, an independent federal agency. "Fundamentally, the SBA system is built for a much smaller universe and they had to add thousands of new lenders, including Farm Credit," he said in a phone interview with CQ Roll Call. "We feel like the rules were set up in a way, not intentionally by anybody, that disadvantaged agriculture." Agricultural-related loans accounted for just over 1 percent of all loans in the program, according to SBA records.
President Trump, aides float outlier theory on origins of coronavirus
President Donald Trump and some of his officials are flirting with an outlier theory that the new coronavirus was set loose on the world by a Chinese lab that let it escape. Without the weight of evidence, they're trying to blame China for sickness and death from COVID-19 in the United States. "More and more, we're hearing the story," Trump says. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo adds, "The mere fact that we don't know the answers -- that China hasn't shared the answers -- I think is very, very telling." A scientific consensus is still evolving. But experts overwhelmingly say analysis of the new coronavirus' genome rules out the possibility that it was engineered by humans, as some conspiracy theories have suggested. Nor is it likely that the virus emerged from a negligent laboratory in China, they say. Scientists say the virus arose naturally in bats. They say the leading theory is that infection among humans began at an animal market in Wuhan, China, probably from an animal that got the virus from a bat.
Joe Biden says he's already choosing a presidential transition team
Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden said Thursday that he has started assembling a presidential transition team and is considering whether to elevate an official tasked with addressing pandemics to his Cabinet. Speaking at a virtual fundraiser, Biden said the process has been underway for several weeks. The former vice president effectively clinched the nomination just last week, when Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) suspended his campaign. Discussions are underway about the prospect of elevating some White House offices to Cabinet-level positions, Biden said. Among those that will be under consideration for the Cabinet: The Office of Science and Technology Policy; the global health security pandemic office; and a separate climate change operation that "goes beyond the EPA," he said. Biden's campaign has focused heavily on the pandemic in recent weeks, as he has been forced by coronavirus restrictions to live-stream events from his Delaware home, where he installed a video studio in his basement.
Fed Up With Staying Home, Some Americans Push Back
Americans impatient with continuing stay-at-home orders and other coronavirus-related restrictions have descended on several statehouses this week to clamor for governors to ease up and reopen the economy. Some of the governors have rebuked the demonstrators, including in Kentucky, where Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear said during a briefing that reopening the state immediately "would absolutely kill people." The protests came as a record-shattering 22 million workers have sought unemployment benefits during a month of coronavirus-related shutdowns, and many employees and business owners have grown frustrated with forced shutdowns of businesses, especially those that don't require large gatherings. The events have ranged from the raucous rally in Lansing, which drew more than 3,000 people by police estimates, to a quiet picnic Thursday in Richmond, Va., that 40 people attended before authorities closed the gates to the square outside the state Capitol building.
Obesity Linked to Severe Coronavirus Disease, Especially for Younger Patients
Obesity may be one of the most important predictors of severe coronavirus illness, new studies say. It's an alarming finding for the United States, which has one of the highest obesity rates in the world. Though people with obesity frequently have other medical problems, the new studies point to the condition in and of itself as the most significant risk factor, after only older age, for being hospitalized with Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Young adults with obesity appear to be at particular risk, studies show. The research is preliminary, and not peer reviewed, but it buttresses anecdotal reports from doctors who say they have been struck by how many seriously ill younger patients of theirs with obesity are otherwise healthy. The new findings about obesity risks are bad news for all Americans, but particularly for African-Americans and other people of color, who have higher rates of obesity and are already bearing a disproportionate burden of Covid-19 deaths. High rates of obesity are also prevalent among low-income white Americans, who may also be adversely affected, experts say.
Penn State researchers find significant economic losses due to soybean diseases
Economic losses due to soybean diseases in the United States from 1996 to 2016 amounted to more than $95 billion, according to a team of researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences who examined the long-term impact of soybean diseases on production in the U.S. The findings are significant because the U.S. is the world's primary soybean producer and second-largest exporter, noted Paul Esker, assistant professor of epidemiology and crop pathology in the Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology. "Soybeans are among the most economically important crops in the U.S.," said Esker, who pointed to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics that show soybean was cultivated on more than 70 million acres during the 2019 growing season, with total production exceeding 97 million metric tons. However, quantitative information on crop losses is scarce, hard to obtain, seldom standardized and a challenge to compile and compare across states, agroecosystems and regions, he explained. Also involved in the research were Carl Bradley, of the University of Kentucky, and Tom Allen, of Mississippi State University.
Regions Bank and UMMC announce up to $50,000 matching gift to support COVID-19 relief
Regions Bank on Thursday announced a contribution of up to $50,000 to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in support of UMMC's comprehensive work to serve patients, families and communities affected by COVID-19. These funds will be used as part of a matching gift option designed to help increase financial support for immediate needs across the Medical Center. For every dollar raised in support of UMMC's COVID-19 response efforts, Regions Bank will provide a dollar-for-dollar match up to $50,000. "We are grateful to community partners like Regions for their generosity in stepping up to assist UMMC, our providers and our patients during this time of uncertainty, suffering and loss," said LouAnn Woodward, Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and Dean of UMMC's School of Medicine. "As we face this challenge together, this financial commitment from Regions will help us meet real human needs in real time." As Mississippi's only academic medical center, UMMC is helping lead the state's response to the pandemic.
Delta State University to send students refunds for spring
Delta State University will be providing refunds and credits for room, board and parking as a result of the disruption to campus life caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Students were away for spring break when Mississippi began making moves to address the crisis. Students and faculty have not been able to return to campus and all instruction has shifted to online-only in an effort to prevent a mass gathering of people, which would facilitate virus transmission. Delta State President William LaForge provided the announcement in his campus update last Friday. "Based on guidelines approved today by the Mississippi's Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees, Delta State will issue prorated refunds or credits on housing, meal plans, and parking to eligible students due to the COVID-19 pandemic," wrote LaForge. "I appreciate the patience of the Delta State family as we have worked with our governing board and sister state universities to develop an overall refund policy that is fair and equitable."
Committee chooses new president for Hinds Community College
An educator from Kentucky will become the next president of Hinds Community College in Mississippi. A search committee at Hinds announced Thursday that has chosen Stephen Vacik to begin the job July 1. He will succeed Clyde Muse, who is retiring after 42 years as president. Vacik is president of Maysville Community and Technical College in Maysville, Kentucky. He was president of Colby Community College in Colby, Kansas, from 2011 to 2015. Before that, Vacik worked seven years as chief instructional officer at East Mississippi Community College in Scooba. He earned a doctorate of education in higher education administration, a master of arts in history and a bachelor of arts in English from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
East Central Community College to receive student relief grant
The Mississippi Community College Foundation has received a grant of $310,000 from the Woodward Hines Education Foundation to help qualifying Mississippi community college students impacted by COVID-19 stay on track towards graduation. East Central Community College in Decatur will receive $20,000 of that grant to aid qualifying ECCC students. The grant will establish student relief funds at all 15 Mississippi community colleges. Money can be used to help students with the costs associated with in-home internet access, fuel cards, credential fee stipends, to establish campus tablet or computer loan programs, or other costs that may be a barrier to college completion. ECCC President Billy Stewart said that his college is working through its Foundation to determine the best way to distribute the funds to its students in need.
U. of Alabama System creates campus safety task force
Much about our coronavirus world remains up in the air, such as when schools, stores, restaurants, churches, bars, stadiums, arenas, theaters and other common gathering places can once again swing wide their doors. Even as the curve flattens, threats of infection will linger, so also firmly lodged in the uncertainty file is exactly how the post-social-distancing world will look and operate. Down on the ground and working upward to clear the air, the University of Alabama System has created a task force to not only adapt to conditions and turn the three campuses -- University of Alabama, University of Alabama at Birmingham and University of Alabama in Huntsville -- into the "gold standard" for safe and sanitary practices, but to guide two- and four-year colleges and universities that may not have such rich research resources to draw on. "On the health and medical side, everybody in the state and a lot of people in the country have been looking to UAB for its expertise," said Clay Ryan, UA Systems' vice-chancellor for governmental affairs and economic and workforce development. The UAB Health System, also known as UAB Medicine, is one of the largest academic medical centers in the United States.
Auburn engineering adapts software for remote instruction
Many Auburn University engineering students have had to make multiple adjustments to their school schedule since the COVID-19 epidemic changed almost everything about life on the Plains. Joey Hoke, senior in mechanical engineering, talked about some difficulties facing engineering students, like the ability to access the necessary software to get his work done so he can graduate in May. "[The University] offered us two solutions," Hoke said. "One was to download the proper engineering software for free [on our home computers] online since we are Auburn students. The other solution is to use some other software to screencast the campus computer software on our own." Hoke said the software may not work for some laptops that students own, and for that reason, students may have to "screencast" the software, meaning that the computers on campus run the programs and share their screen to students' home computers. Hoke said engineering students "would be able to do nothing without it," referring to the software. Some students need software that was already hard to use even before Auburn transitioned to remote instruction.
Coronavirus could leave a lasting mark on U. of South Carolina, and by extension Columbia
As goes the University of South Carolina, so goes Columbia. Long after the coronavirus pandemic fades from the daily lives of S.C. Midlands residents, COVID-19-induced changes at the Palmetto State's largest school could have lingering effects, according to surveys, experts, USC officials and more. Likely changes at USC include fewer out-of-state and international students, more online classes and a disrupted student housing market. They, in turn, could have strong effects on what it's like to live in Columbia. USC President Robert Caslen is aware that the school will be forced to adapt to coronavirus and is working on a plan to protect students, then lead the university to financially rebound once coronavirus dies down, he told The State in an exclusive interview. Though relatively few people at USC -- 53 students, faculty and staff total -- have been infected with coronavirus, the indirect effects of coronavirus are likely to affect everyone in the roughly 50,000-person university system.
Colleges Are Handing Out Billions in Coronavirus Stimulus Funding to Students. Can They Do It Fairly?
One week after the federal government announced it was "immediately" distributing more than $6 billion for colleges to disburse to their students, administrators are wrestling with how to quickly identify the students who need help the most without leaving anyone behind. The Department of Education announced last week that it was sending out its first batch of money from the coronavirus stimulus law -- the Cares Act -- enacted last month. By law, those first funds must go to direct aid for students who may have lost jobs, gotten sick, or needed to buy remote-learning technology as a result of the pandemic. (Money that colleges can use for institutional needs will go out later.) Colleges have wide latitude to decide which students get the cash. In a letter to colleges, Betsy DeVos, the secretary of education, wrote that she wanted "to encourage the leadership of each institution to prioritize your students with the greatest need" while trying "to ensure that these funds are distributed as widely as possible." Those goals may be hard to meet.
College librarians prepare for looming budget cuts, and journal subscriptions could be in for a trim
In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, library budgets were hit hard. Cuts were widespread and ran deep. Staff, collections, equipment and facilities at even the wealthiest institutions were affected. While tough economic times call for all areas of an institution to tighten belts, libraries seemed to be particularly adversely impacted by the recession. Library budgets as a percentage of total institutional spending shrank, and in some places they never fully recovered. Now, librarians are preparing for another wave of cuts, this time prompted by the economic contraction tied to the global pandemic. Mary Lee Kennedy, executive director of the Association of Research Libraries, said many librarians are thinking about "ways they can deliver even more value" as they plan out possible scenarios for the next fiscal year. "A big trend that we're seeing is a continued focus on supporting online learning," said Kennedy. Libraries are playing a vital role in helping instructors track down materials they need to teach, she said. Supporting the continuation of research is also a priority, said Kennedy.
Planning for the Future
Angela Farmer, an assistant clinical professor in Mississippi State University's Shackouls Honors College, writes: While the introduction to 2020 has generated tsunami-like waves of change for students across the nation, the fall of 2020 still offers the promise of a potential to return to normal. Rather longing for friends to visit or looking forward to learning new concepts, students' return to school will likely be met with a renewed enthusiasm and a refreshing embrace of the old ways. Educators across the nation have been called upon to recraft, reimagine, and reengineer the delivery and feedback system for their students. Much like a military call to arms, most teachers have embraced this unexpected challenge with enthusiasm and dedication. If ever one held in question the creativity or dedication of teachers, they have summarily outpaced and outperformed anything asked of them. As a matter of fact, many children have commented how much fun they have had with their teachers' new ideas! Rather it's embracing new technology to connect or taking time to allow for alternative paced lessons for those needing supplemental time, educators across the nation have risen to the call.

How Mississippi State chose Nikki McCray-Penson to be its next coach
Mississippi State athletic director John Cohen starts the process the same way, scouring a worn-out note card filled with 30 characteristics. Cohen has used the card to find 10 head coaches in three and a half years as Mississippi State's AD. Coaches come and go, but Cohen's card always sticks around. The card says Cohen is looking for someone with strong ties to the SEC. He's looking for someone who will understand the unique family environment exuded within Bulldog athletics. He's looking for someone who has been universally lauded by colleagues. The list goes on and on. In this case, the card led Cohen to Nikki McCray-Penson. The 48-year-old native of Collierville, Tennessee, said in her introductory press conference that she plans on combining everything she has learned at her prestigious women's basketball stops into one distinguished product in Starkville. The toughness from Tennessee, the finesse from USA Basketball, the pounding of the post from South Carolina. "We're going to have an identity when we step out on the court, and teams are going to know that," McCray-Penson said. "It's going to be a fun, exciting brand of basketball."
Mississippi State's Tyre Phillips earns academic recognition
Mississippi State senior offensive lineman Tyre Phillips received recognition from the National Football Foundation Hampshire Honor Society for his academic efforts. To qualify for the NFF Hampshire Honor Society, a football player must maintain a 3.2 or higher grade point average during their college careers. Phillips graduated in December with a degree in human development and family sciences and was a two-time SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll selection. The 6-foot-5, 345-pounder from Grenada also started all 13 games at left tackle for the Bulldogs this past season and played a team-high 821 snaps. Phillips also graded out higher than any other MSU offensive lineman at 80.1 according to Pro Football Focus.
NCAA doubles allowed virtual meeting time for Division I teams
Starting Monday, the NCAA is allowing Division I coaches to have additional hours for virtual team meetings and film review, the NCAA announced on Thursday afternoon. The weekly limit has been raised to eight hours, which is double the previous allotted time of four hours per week. The additional virtual time will run through May 31. The increased team time applies to all Division I sports teams, meaning teams at all 12 Division I schools in Louisiana can take advantage of the new rules. Student-athletes must be given at least one day off per week from virtual team activities, and all team-sanctioned physical activities remain banned because of the NCAA regulation that a sports-certified staff member be present during workouts.
UGA football staffer who battled coronavirus released from hospital to cheers
Georgia football coach Kirby Smart joined hundreds at Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center on Thursday to cheer an athletic department employee who went from being critically ill with the novel coronavirus to being released. UGA football video coordinator Jeremy Klawsky needed to be intubated after being hospitalized, and doctors and nurses at Piedmont Athens Regional cared for him during his five-week stay. Among the hundreds who celebrated his discharge at about noon were hospital employees inside as he came through the hall and UGA athletic staffers outside including AD Greg McGarity, director of sports medicine Ron Courson and other coaches. "We are just thrilled that he is home," his mother Sherry Klawsky said from his Athens townhouse. "The hardest part, when he was on the ventilator, is over. He's home now and he can start to get stronger and really move forward."
How much U. of Tennessee could lose if 2020 football season is canceled
Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer is optimistic that football and fall sports will take place in the wake of cancellations due to the coronavirus. But if the college football season was canceled or shortened, Tennessee faces the loss of a hefty revenue stream. Tennessee football generated an average of $100.4 million revenue in the past five fiscal years, starting in 2015 and ending in 2019. "So much depends on the next couple of months and how that looks and how we get through it," Fulmer said on "The Paul Finebaum Show" on Tuesday. "But none of us have the answer, and somebody would be lying to you if they said they did. "We all want it to turn out well and us all to get back to normal, but there's those challenges in front of us and this is unprecedented." It is unclear what portion of revenue would be lost if the college football season was affected by the coronavirus, which led to the cancellation of spring sports across the country and halted winter NCAA championships. Ticket sales, game day revenues such as parking and concessions, bowl game payouts and similar sources would likely be wiped out.
Games with no fans a hard sell for Hogs' AD Hunter Yurachek
In separate interviews Thursday, the athletic directors at Arkansas and Notre Dame said it would be hard to envision college football games played in stadiums without spectators this fall. The idea has been floated in football circles as a way to play the 2020 season while states gradually roll back social-distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of covid-19, which has killed more than 30,000 people in the U.S. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said this week it is unlikely sporting events can happen this summer with large crowds in attendance. Playing games in empty stadiums includes potential roadblocks. In a radio interview, University of Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek expressed his concern over the safety for players if attending games is deemed unsafe for fans. "If it's not safe enough for our fans to be in the stands, somebody would really have to sell me on what protocol is in place that it is safe enough for those young men on both lines of scrimmage, one foot apart, sweating on each other, spitting on each other, sharing a football -- how it's safe for them," said Yurachek, whose son Jake is a linebacker for Arkansas.
Eliah Drinkwitz, Cuonzo Martin among Mizzou coaches taking voluntary pay cut
Six of the highest-paid Missouri athletics staff members are taking voluntary pay cuts from May 1 to July 31, the school confirmed Thursday night. The list includes head football coach Eliah Drinkwitz, head men's basketball coach Cuonzo Martin, athletic director Jim Sterk, head women's basketball coach Robin Pingeton, head wrestling coach Brian Smith and head baseball coach Steve Bieser. The university announced this week that it plans for unit budget cuts of up to 15%. Top administrators are taking a 10% pay cut as the four-campus system looks for ways to cut costs during the coronavirus pandemic. Around 20 MU athletics staff members, made up of both coaches and staff, received an email from university leadership asking for participation in the 10% pay reduction that Mun Choi, UM System president and interim chancellor of the Columbia campus, and other leaders have agreed to take. Other top-level athletics employees have until Tuesday to accept the cuts.
Alabama football mentioned during Trump coronavirus update: 'We want 110,000 people there'
Alabama football came up during President Trump's coronavirus task force address. Unveiling a phased approach to reopening the country, Trump said sporting events may return without fans -- at least at first. The doors would then be open to some fans before a return to full capacity. While games will be different, Trump said he hopes things will soon return to normal once the virus is eradicated. "Our normal is if you have 100,00 people in an Alabama football game or 110,000 to be specific," Trump said. "Normal" is not going to be a game where you have 50,000. We want 110,000 people there. We want every seat occupied. Normal is not going to be a game where we have 50,000" people. Trump was at UA's Bryant Denny stadium, capacity almost 102,000, last year for the Alabama/LSU game. The Tide is set to start its season Sept. 5 vs. USC in Arlington, Texas.

The Office of Public Affairs provides the Daily News Digest as a general information resource for Mississippi State University stakeholders.
Web links are subject to change. Submit news, questions or comments to Jim Laird.
Mississippi State University  •  Mississippi State, MS 39762  •  Main Telephone: (662) 325-2323  •   Contact: The Editor  |  The Webmaster  •   Updated: April 17, 2020Facebook Twitter