Friday, July 17, 2020   
COVID-19 halts sales on Mississippi's catfish
Cash flow challenges are the latest struggle for Mississippi catfish producers, as product sales to their biggest consumers -- restaurants -- are way down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "Even though prices are relatively stable, it has no meaning when producers are unable to sell their products," said Ganesh Kumar, an agricultural economist at Mississippi State University's Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville. "Sales lost due to COVID-19 related closures are irrecoverable. "Sales lost to restaurants has a downward effect on the supply chain. Eventually, fish inventory builds up in ponds, and producers spend more money on maintenance feeding, increasing the cost of production," he continued. Catfish packed for sales to restaurants are difficult to repackage for sales to grocery stores and other retail outlets. This problem made it difficult to quickly tap the increasing demand at the retail sector, resulting in processing sales significantly lower in April and May of 2020. Jimmy Avery, Extension aquaculture specialist with the MSU Thad Cochran National Warmwater Aquaculture Center, said Mississippi continues to lead the country in catfish production, with 35,300 acres of catfish ponds as of June 30. The majority of these ponds are in the Delta, but about 8,000 water acres are in east Mississippi.
Mississippi sees new record bump in reported COVID-19 cases
Mississippi on Thursday had a record single-day increase in new coronavirus cases reported by the state Health Department, with numbers jumping by more than 1,200 from the day before. It was the fourth time the state has had a day-to-day increase of more than 1,000 cases, and the first time the number had topped 1,200. "COVID-19 continues to take a bigger slice of our hospital capacity," the state health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, said Thursday on Twitter. Dobbs has said this week that several hospitals have no beds or very few beds available in their intensive care units. He and other health officials are imploring people to take precautions such as wearing masks in public, avoiding large crowds and keeping distance from others. The head of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Dr. LouAnn Woodward, posted Wednesday on Twitter: "No vacancy. Help us, Mississippi!"
Mississippi sets record for new COVID-19 cases as hospitalizations, deaths spike
The state health department reported 1,230 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, the most reported in a single day for Mississippi. The previous record for new cases was 1,092, reported on June 25. The rolling seven-day average for new cases is now at 887, also a new high for the state. In four out of the last five days, the seven-day average has broken the state's previous record. In what's called its "illness onset" data, MSDH tracks the day that patients report experiencing symptoms. As of Wednesday, the agency's website shows a record of 1,075 people becoming sick on July 6, the Monday after the Fourth of July holiday. The next-most illnesses reported in a day is 694. As Mississippi's top health officials attested to a week ago, the state's hospitals and ICUs are under increasing stress. MSDH's latest numbers show 855 confirmed hospitalizations from COVID-19 on Wednesday, a 90 percent increase from exactly a month ago.
Coronavirus hospitalizations put strain on healthcare workers
Hospital beds are filling up with coronavirus patients, and emergency rooms are giving up space to assist with the high demand for advanced medical care. Thursday saw 1,200 new coronavirus cases in Mississippi, the highest reported in a single day. Over the past 8 days, coronavirus hospitalizations have continued to climb to a record 855. Dr. Andy Willhelm is Director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. He says COVID-19 patients need more than just a ventilator. "What we're also seeing is kidney failure, so they're on dialysis. Heart failure, so they're on medicine to keep their heart-squeezing," says Dr. Willhelm. "We're seeing strokes, inflammation of the brain that can cause them to act funny in a delirious sort of way. It's a multi-organ disease that requires multi-organ support. And I'd say that is life support." Dr. Willhelm says some of these ICU stays can last upwards of a month before patients can return to standard medical care.
Coast lawmaker Manly Barton was on a ventilator with COVID-19 after Legislature outbreak
State Rep. Manly Barton, R-Moss Point, is suffering from COVID-19 in the intensive care unit at Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula but seems to be improving. His daughter said Wednesday on Facebook that Barton, also a former Jackson County supervisor, was on a bi-level ventilator to help with his breathing. State Rep. John Read, R-Gautier, said Barton was off the machine Thursday but still receiving oxygen. "He's alert and communicating," Read told the Sun Herald. "That's much better than he was last night." The Mississippi State Department of Health has reported at least 30 legislators and 11 others recently working at the state Capitol in Jackson have tested positive for COVID-19. State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said earlier this week that two of the legislators were hospitalized. Testing was done on 270 legislators and staff members in Jackson after House Speaker Philip Gunn announced July 5 that he had tested positive for the virus. But some legislators got tested when they returned home, and Dobbs was unsure if all of them had reported their results to MSDH.
'This is real folks': Another state representative hospitalized with COVID-19 complications
Another Mississippi representative has been hospitalized due to COVID-19. Rep. Earle S. Banks of District 67 was admitted with coronavirus complications, confirms Rep. Tom Miles. "Please be in prayer for my dear friend & colleague Representative Earle Banks who's been admitted to the hospital with complications from COVID-19," Miles wrote on Twitter. "Representative Banks is a great friend that loves his family, friends, & State." Miles also wrote, "This is real folks, if you aren't paying attention!" Representative Manly Barton has also been admitted after testing positive for COVID-19.
New election law leaves voters with few alternative ways to vote in November
With a presidential election only four months away, a new state law revises absentee voting procedures in light of an ongoing global pandemic while falling short of policies requested by the secretary of state. Republican Gov. Tate Reeves signed House Bill 1521 into law on July 8. This new statute allows registered voters to cast an absentee ballot if they are under a physician-imposed quarantine or if they are taking care of someone under quarantine because of COVID-19. The law also gives voters more time to cast an absentee ballot. Voters can mail an absentee ballot to their circuit clerk's office as late as the date of the election, as long as the ballot is postmarked on or before the date of the election. Absentee ballots will be counted by election officials as long as they arrive in the mail within five days after the election. However, the law, which was largely worked out in a conference committee, still requires voters to provide a qualifying excuse when voting absentee. Some legal reasons for voting absentee include being a college student, being away from one's town on an election day or being over 65. The COVID-19 related excuses are now an available option as well.
Here's how Mississippi plans to run its election during a pandemic
Many states have dramatically expanded vote-by-mail access during the pandemic, but not Mississippi. Magnolia State voters still must either show up to their polling place in November or swear to one of several excuses to obtain a mail-in ballot. Lawmakers did make several tweaks to the state's election system before leaving the Capitol earlier this month, including adding an excuse for voters under quarantine for COVID-19. But Sen. David Blount, a member of the Elections Committee, criticized the legislation as a "totally inadequate response" as the virus rapidly spreads around the state. He had advocated for more sweeping changes to the state's vote-by-mail and early voting procedures. Mississippi is one of a small handful of states still requiring an excuse to obtain an absentee ballot, and it recently received a "D" grade from the Brookings Institution for its vote-by-mail access during the pandemic.
Gov. Tate Reeves confident state can deal with hurricane during pandemic
In case some have forgotten amid COVID-19 fears, we're still in hurricane season, and emergency managers are here to remind us. "So, it is hurricane season," said FEMA administrator Pete Gaynor. "We're coming up on the 15-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina." "We certainly have not seen the worst of this hurricane season," added MEMA Director Greg Michel, "and if the statistics are right and the data's right, we could be very much in for a rough ride this year. I hope that's not the case." Gov. Tate Reeves toured the Coast beginning at Waveland's Ground Zero Museum with local, state and federal leaders to get the message out on all-natural disasters and to see the results of about $4 million in federal grants going directly to emergency response and emergency management on the Coast. After more than a month into the season, the big question is, are we ready?
To Study: Alcohol distribution could be moving toward privatization
Mississippi might be close to transforming its wine and liquor distribution system, but it still lags in the level of privatization exhibited in some of its neighboring states. The state could take a step toward privatization if a newly created study commission makes a positive report on creating a new state-chartered corporation to run the alcohol distribution warehouse. Right now, Mississippi is one of 17 control states, which means that a state agency governs the sale of alcohol by functioning as a wholesaler. The state Department of Revenue's (DOR) Alcohol Beverage Control division serves as the state's wholesaler for wine and liquor, using a contractor to ship products to customers. The 211,000 square foot warehouse located in Gluckstadt handles about three million cases of wine and spirits annually. Beer wholesale distribution is handled by private entities. One obstacle to privatization is that Mississippi would lose about $80 million annually in revenue from wine and liquor distribution.
After Trump campaign swap, questions -- and Jared Kushner -- remain
President Donald Trump's long-in-coming campaign shakeup rearranged some big job titles but isn't likely to change the identity of the person truly in charge of day-to-day operations: Jared Kushner. Kushner wields his influence quietly and is rarely a presence in the campaign's suburban Washington headquarters. Fittingly, he was nowhere to be seen Thursday when, in an emotional changing of the guard meeting, campaign manager Brad Parscale surrendered his title to onetime deputy Bill Stepien. Facing strong electoral headwinds, it was Trump who demoted Parscale and elevated Stepien. But Kushner, the president's son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, is expected to remain the driving force behind a political operation built to respond to Trump's instincts and give him another four years in office.
President Trump stares down a ticking economic time bomb
It's crunch time for the key issue President Donald Trump's aides and advisers believe will determine his fate this November. A stretch of critical decisions from mid-July until Labor Day will lay the foundation for what the U.S. economy will look like in October before voters make their final decisions. And White House officials are scrambling to prevent a dangerous pileup. Governors must tame raging Covid-19 outbreaks across the South and West to avoid another lurch into a deeper recession. Whether cities and states reopen their schools on schedule will determine whether many of their parents can return to work. And congressional leaders are starting to debate a fourth economic rescue package to prop up a shaky recovery -- while the president monitors cues from the stock market, one of his favorite barometers of success. Trump in recent weeks has publicly aired ideas including more direct payments to taxpayers, liability protections for workers and businesses, infrastructure spending and targeted state and local aid for Covid-19 response efforts.
University Press of Mississippi receives grants from NEH CARES Act
The University Press of Mississippi is a recipient of the National Endowment for the Humanities CARES Act grant. The NEH CARES grant awarded $94,097 to the University Press of Mississippi to provide partial salary support for six full-time employees. This will allow the press to continue its work on the approximately 85 new humanities books they plan to publish. "The University Press of Mississippi was one of ten university presses to receive NEH CARES grants," The pandemic is said to have placed financial stress on cultural organizations and universities across the country, including nonprofit presses. "The NEH funds are going towards salary expenses, which will free up the Press to invest our sales revenue in new books," Craig Gill, the director of the University Press of Mississippi, said. "The Press receives great support from our eight state universities, but with the drop in sales, we need to maximize revenue from any and all sources, including grants such as this one. We also received a CARES grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council to help with salary expenses in May and June. These two grants together have allowed us to remain fully operational with no delays or cancellations."
Antibodies and COVID-19: What you should know
If you have a reasonably functioning immune system, your body regularly recruits and trains an army to fend off the invading pathogens it encounters. That is also the case for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. "Antibodies work to keep the virus from infecting new cells," said Dr. Gailen Marshall, R. Faser Triplett Chair of Allergy and Immunology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Clinicians use serology testing to show if someone has antibodies specific to a particular pathogen, such as the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. So, what does it mean if your COVID-19 antibody test comes back positive? It tells you if you have antibodies or not, Marshall said, but nothing about the level of protection they provide. "Having these antibodies does not make you bulletproof," Marshall said. "It does not mean that you are completely immune to this virus," adds Dr. Ritesh Tandon, associate professor of microbiology and immunology. "It does not mean that you can go out in public without a mask." There is still a lot we do not know about the antibodies humans make in response to SARS-CoV-2.
UMMC doctors give grim description of toll COVID-19 takes on its victims
Doctors at the University of Mississippi Medical Center say while COVID-19 cases in the state are surging, there is no room to treat those with the virus. Doctors said, initially, they thought they were dealing with a virus that targeted older adults and people with preexisting medical conditions. "We know now that it can affect anybody -- younger people with obesity, younger people with diabetes," said Dr. Andy Wilhelm, director, UMMC Medical Intensive Care Unit. Wilhelm said people with those co-morbidities seem to be exceptionally at high-risk for critical illness. The impact on the body of those with the virus can be devastating. It starts with the lungs in a critically ill patients. Doctors said patients end up on dialysis with kidney failure. They'e seen patients suffer strokes and internal bleeding in the head. Multiple organs can shut down, then heart attacks and heart failure. "Multiple things can happen, and all of those things can occur quickly, all within a matter of 24 to 48 hours. You may see it coming, you may not," Wilhelm said.
Inside UMMC's COVID units, emotional toll weighs on health care workers as state's hospital system struggles
Inside the University of Mississippi Medical Center's COVID units, one can easily see the measures doctors and nurses take to stay safe, donning gowns, face shields, gloves and masks repeatedly to protect against the coronavirus. What's harder to spot are the physical and emotional tolls the pandemic has inflicted. "These patients require a lot of care, and then a lot of them don't do well, so by the time you work so hard on people and they continue to die, it's emotionally exhausting," said Dr. Andy Wilhelm, who serves as the director of UMMC's Medical Intensive Care Unit. Further compounding the stress is the isolation, both for the patients and the health care professionals themselves, with doctors and nurses self-isolating because they, too, might be exposed to the coronavirus. "They're not staying with their families, so that's difficult. When we leave work, we don't have the same kind of emotional support that we would have if we could hug our friends and socialize, so that sort of social isolation contributes to the stress and the burnout at work," said Dr. Risa Moriarity, the executive vice chair of emergency medicine for UMMC.
USM enhancing engagement with renovated stadium plaza
Renovation is well under way on a highly visible and much-traveled area of The University of Southern Mississippi' that will create another level of engagement for students, faculty, staff and visitors. The University Union/Stadium Plaza on the west side of M.M. Roberts Stadium is being overhauled to enhance football game-day experiences at The Rock while providing an appealing courtyard for the campus community. The $2.4 million project, approved by the state IHL Board, is scheduled for completion by September. Dr. Denny Bubrig, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs at USM, said the plaza renovation project sprang from discussions within the university community regarding the need for an upgrade to the space. "This is an exciting project for the university. The renovation of this plaza will provide for a plethora of student engagement activities, create aesthetically pleasing outdoor seating and dining areas and enhance the Southern Miss gameday experience," said Dr. Chris Crenshaw, Vice President for Facilities Planning and Management. "I am really looking forward to our students, faculty, staff and fans being able to enjoy this courtyard once it is completed."
July bar exam in Mississippi amid coronavirus pandemic requires waiver of liability
An estimated 160 perspective lawyers scheduled to take the July bar exam in person to become licensed attorneys in Mississippi are being required to sign a form that won't hold the Board of Bar Admissions liable if they contract COVID-19 while taking the exam. As of now, the Mississippi Board of Bar Admissions, with the approval of the Mississippi Supreme Court, is going forward -- despite the coronavirus pandemic -- with the in-person exam July 28-29. The exam is being given at the Jackson Convention Complex to allow space for social distancing. Board of Bar Admissions chairwoman Marcie Baria said in a letter to the state Supreme Court that a decision was made to go forward with the exam after polling applicants and speaking with the deans of the two law schools in the state, Mississippi College School of Law and the University of Mississippi School of Law. Also, Baria said there was a strong desire on the part of applicants to proceed with the exam at the earliest date possible.
Auburn requires all students to get COVID test before returning to campus
In an effort to return students to campus safely this fall, Auburn University will require all students to be tested within 14 days prior to their return to campus. The news was announced Thursday in an email to students. Testing will be led by the Alabama Department of Public Health and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, with the costs of tests covered by CARES Act funding from the state of Alabama. "Testing students gives us a more complete picture of the health of our campus, which will in turn help us preserve the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff," said Auburn President Jay Gogue. "The data collected will inform health strategies in our community and give our state's public health officials information to help effectively combat the virus." Auburn's decision comes a day after Gov. Kay Ivey announced a statewide mask order which will be effective until the end of July. The former basketball arena, Beard-Eaves Coliseum will serve as Auburn's designated testing site.
U. of Arkansas alumni's tribute now crux of Fulbright debate
A University of Arkansas committee evaluating how the campus recognizes former U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright will seek insights from experts as well as ask for opinions online, said Todd Shields, dean of UA's arts and sciences college named after Fulbright. Shields said Thursday he'll serve as a facilitator for the committee being formed after criticism of Fulbright's record on civil rights. More than 6,000 have signed an online petition promoted by some Black student leaders that calls for a Fulbright statue on campus to be taken down and also remove his name from UA's arts and sciences college. Fulbright, a former UA president who represented Arkansas for 30 years in the U.S. Senate, is known for introducing legislation in 1945 creating the international exchange program bearing his name.
U. of Tennessee Medical Center warns that younger COVID-19 patients are requiring hospitalization
As Knox County's COVID-19 case count, number of hospitalizations and death toll continue to rise, health officials at the University of Tennessee Medical Center say new data is concerning. During Wednesday's Knox County Board of Health meeting, Dr. James Shamiyeh, a board member and critical care physician at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, provided members with data specific to the hospital that showed -- among other things -- increased hospitalizations of younger patients and longer hospital stays for COVID-19 patients. "(The data) shows that there is no question that we have been hospitalizing a significant number of younger people," he said. "And no one gets in the hospital just because. I mean, to reach the threshold of requiring hospitalization means that you had something significant going on." The increase in hospitalizations – across the county and at UT -- is particularly troubling, Shamiyeh said, because COVID-19 patients stay an average of eight days at UT -- roughly three days longer than a typical hospital stay.
U. of Missouri to set up bias hotline
A bias reporting hotline will be in place for the University of Missouri by mid-August, the school revealed Thursday during a virtual panel discussion in which participants also discussed efforts that have been made toward inclusion since 2015. The Concerned Student 1950 protests led by Black students that year had negative effects on enrollment, including enrollment of minority students. Black student enrollment at MU dropped by 29% between 2015 and 2019. The bias hotline will allow students, faculty and staff to anonymously report acts of discrimination and racism. "The bias hot line helps us identify areas we need to direct immediate attention," said Maurice Gipson, MU's new vice chancellor of inclusion, diversity and equity. He started his job Wednesday. Other new initiatives include mandatory cultural competency training, bystander and civil discourse training, and a review of the MU Police Department's use of force policy and de-escalation tactics.
UT-Austin prepared a list of scenarios that would lead to a shutdown this fall. One trigger: a student dying of COVID-19.
Texas universities planning for students returning to class this fall in the midst of a global pandemic are already preparing for the possibility that they could have to abruptly shut down campus again if conditions worsen. Earlier this month, the University of Texas at Austin laid out a list of scenarios that could trigger a mid-semester closure. Prominent on the list: a student's death. The acknowledgment that a student on campus could die from the coronavirus served as a grim reminder to the UT community of the risks people will be facing when thousands of students file into classrooms, dormitories and dining halls this August at a time when all Texans are being told to space out and stay home when possible. UT-Austin is something of an outlier nationally for so clearly identifying benchmarks that would trigger another shutdown. Chris Marsicano, a professor of higher education policy at North Carolina's Davidson College who heads the newly formed College Crisis Initiative out of Davidson, is studying institutional response to the pandemic. He said he has not yet heard of a similar phased approach to shutting down from any other university.
Colleges Prepare to Test Thousands of Students for Covid-19
In April, just a few weeks after the spring semester pivoted unceremoniously to digital, Catherine Klapperich, a biomedical engineering professor at Boston University, was thinking about the fall. The Boston area had been inundated with Covid-19 cases, and at the time, tests remained scant. But the university had come to her with an unfathomable question: In four months time, how would they test students and staff when they returned to campus? The university didn't have its own testing lab. So Klapperich, who studies medical diagnostics, was tasked with designing one. That testing is at the center of a strategy to aggressively monitor the school for outbreaks, with "isolation dorms" on a remote patch of campus for anyone who gets sick, contact tracing staff, and apps to let students report symptoms and stay up-to-date on tests. Universities have become a microcosm of the pandemic strategy the government has largely failed to enact. "We're all the federal government now," Klapperich says.
Trump-connected college to host in-person graduation, despite state limits on gatherings
Hillsdale College is expected to host more than 2,000 people for an in-person graduation ceremony this weekend, despite a Michigan law that restricts the size of gatherings because of the coronavirus pandemic and criticism from the state attorney general's office. The tiny Christian college that accepts no federal funds has multiple ties to the Trump administration. Hillsdale President Larry Arnn was a prominent conservative backing President Donald Trump in 2016, and Arnn was said to be considered a candidate for secretary of education. The ceremony was initially scheduled for May 9, but was rescheduled due to the virus. Hillsdale offered graduating seniors a travel stipend to return to campus for the in-person commencement, a somewhat rare event this year after colleges shut down to limit outbreaks. The college, in a press release, said "Hillsdale College's Commencement is an 'expressive activity' protected by the First Amendment." So far, the college still intends to put on the ceremony.
Liberty University sues New York Times for defamation over coronavirus coverage
Liberty University sued The New York Times for defamation on Wednesday, accusing the paper, and a reporter of crafting a "clickbait" story intended to mislead the public about a coronavirus outbreak at the school's Lynchburg campus. In a 55-page complaint filed in Lynchburg Circuit Court, the university takes aim at a March 29 story in which The Times reported about a dozen students living on campus were sick with symptoms suggesting COVID-19. The lawsuit argues that reporter Elizabeth Williamson deliberately misrepresented a Liberty- affiliated physician who the school claims told the paper that nearly 12 students only showed signs of "upper respiratory infections." The Times' story was initially titled "Liberty Brings Back its Students, and Coronavirus, Too" when it was published online at 3 p.m. but later was changed that evening to "Liberty Brings Back its Students, and Coronavirus Fears, Too" -- a sign the paper recognized the claim was false, according to the suit. Liberty faced a flood of criticism this spring after University President Jerry Falwell Jr. invited students to return to campus dorms at the end of spring break, even as classes moved online due to the public health threat.
Colleges implement curriculum, dedicate funding to combat racial inequities
Colleges are announcing new curriculum and resources to improve the experience of Black students on campus and help dismantle structural racism in higher ed. Institutional leaders are also following through on promises made last month to help promote racial equity in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and nationwide protests about racial injustice. Beyond the symbolic and long-demanded removal of statues and names of historical figures with ties to the Confederacy and racist ideologies, colleges are also developing new antiracism courses and requiring all students to take courses on diversity, equity and inclusion. Some colleges are exploring ways to better financially support Black students, to alleviate the vestiges of discriminatory Jim Crow-era policies and, more recently, the coronavirus pandemic. which has disproportionately impacted the health and income of people of color.
For the first time, Latinos are the largest group of Californians admitted to UC System
In a historic shift, Latinos are the leading group of prospective freshmen accepted into the University of California for fall 2020, part of the system's largest and most diverse first-year class ever admitted, according to preliminary data released Thursday. Latinos slightly eclipsed Asian Americans for the first time, making up 36% of the 79,953 California students offered admission. Asians made up 35%, whites 21% and Black students 5%. The rest were American Indians, Pacific Islanders or those who declined to state their race or ethnicity. About 44% of admitted students were low-income while 45% were the first in their families to attend a four-year university. Overall, the UC system's nine undergraduate campuses offered admission to a record number of students: 119,054 freshmen, up from 108,178 last year. "This has been an incredibly challenging time as many students have been making their college decision in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic," said UC President Janet Napolitano. "UC continues to see increased admissions of underrepresented students as we seek to educate a diverse student body of future leaders. The incoming class will be one of our most talented and diverse yet, and UC is proud to invite them to join us."
Another Revenue Hit For Colleges: Canceled Summer Camps
Every summer, about 250 middle and high school students gather at the University of Michigan for the MPulse Summer Performing Arts Institutes. The lecture halls and stages on the Ann Arbor campus come alive with young musicians and dancers and the sounds of string instruments, percussion and student voices singing to the beat of contemporary Broadway. This year, those lecture halls are empty and the stages silent. MPulse is one of countless college summer programs canceled or moved online by the coronavirus pandemic. Despite virtual alternatives, many colleges and universities, like Michigan, are losing millions of dollars in revenue. "Any school that relies heavily on summer revenue is going to have a hard time making ends meet," says Chris Marsicano, an assistant professor of the practice of higher education at Davidson University. "The pain is still going to be real for even the wealthiest of institutions." Broadly, colleges are financed in three ways: from state appropriations, tuition and fees, and from endowments. But there's also auxiliary revenue, which Marsicano says comes from summer camps, dining services and special events.
As the Virus Deepens Financial Trouble, Colleges Turn to Layoffs
Hammered by mounting coronavirus costs and anticipating lost revenue from international students, fall sports and state budgets gutted by the pandemic, colleges and universities nationwide have begun eyeing what until now has been seen as a last resort -- thinning the ranks of their faculty. The University of Akron this week became one of the first schools in the country to make deep cuts in the number of full-time professors on its staff, with the board of trustees voting on Wednesday to lay off about a fifth of the university's unionized work force to balance its budget, including nearly 100 faculty members. The cuts underscore the growing financial crisis sweeping across higher education, which in recent years has struggled with shrinking state support and declining enrollment amid concerns about skyrocketing tuition and the burden of student debt. The coronavirus and signs of declining fall enrollment have only accelerated the financial trouble everywhere including at large state research universities and small liberal arts schools.
Rescission of international student policy directive leaves unresolved questions about new students
The unexpected reversal earlier this week by the Trump administration of a policy that would have prohibited international students from taking an exclusively online course load was good news for current students, but it leaves unresolved questions about new international students seeking to attend colleges operating in online or hybrid formats. The decision by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to rescind the July 6 directive -- which came in response to a lawsuit filed by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- reverts the guidance back to an original policy issued in March that suspended requirements prohibiting international students from taking no more than one online class at a time. The suspension gave institutions significant flexibility to adjust the mode of instruction in response to the changing course of the pandemic without putting their current international students at risk of violating their immigration status. Brad Farnsworth, vice president for global engagement at the American Council on Education, said the higher ed sector now must turn its attention to new questions. "If the July 6 memo is rescinded, what are we going to do about new international students?"
Coronavirus Travel Ban Exempts Students From Europe, Says State Department
Foreign students coming from Europe, along with some au pairs and family members of visa holders in the U.S., are exempt from the Trump administration's various travel bans imposed during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a memo the State Department sent to Congress on Thursday. The Trump administration has said that the array of travel and visa restrictions enacted since January were intended to slow the spread of the virus and block classes of foreign workers to open jobs for unemployed Americans. The restrictions affected China, Europe and Brazil, and people holding a range of visas, including the prized H-1B for high-skilled workers. According to the memo, students in European countries who already have visas to study in the U.S., but were blocked by the March travel ban, will be able to come to the U.S. for classes in the fall. Students who can get a visa can also come. The exemption doesn't extend to students in China and Brazil, who face similar travel restrictions. It also doesn't affect new students awaiting interviews at U.S. consulates for their visas.

What K.J. Costello's high school coaches and opponents say about Mississippi State's newest grad transfer quarterback
Bruce Rollinson has mentored his share of collegiate quarterbacks. In 30 years as the head coach at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California, Rollinson's previous understudies include former USC signal-callers Matt Leinart, Todd Marinovich and Matt Barkley. 2007 Heisman finalist and record-setting Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan is also part of the fraternity of strong-armed signal callers to come through the program. And while Rollinson's own track record with quarterbacks is one few in the nation -- let alone in talent-rich California -- can parallel, it was a 45-14 win over Santa Margarita during the 2015 season in which Eagles quarterback and Stanford graduate transfer K.J. Costello caught his eye. "I remember he could throw all the balls," Rollinson told The Dispatch. "You know, the deep ball. He had touch. He had the intermediate ball. He was accurate." As Costello heads into his final year of eligibility as the front-runner for the starting quarterback job that was previously split by Penn State import Tommy Stevens and sophomore Garrett Shrader in Starkville should football be played, those who remember him fondly as a prep standout still believe he's a future NFL talent.
Summer baseball league in Meridian serves as practice for college players after canceled spring season
Bo Gatlin took the field Thursday sporting a different-colored jersey than his teammates. While eight members of the Blue Rocks took their positions wearing powder blue uniforms, the Meridian Community College freshman jogged over to shortstop in navy blue. He had been traded. At the Honor the Game Wood Bat League, exchanges like this are common. Created by East Coast Sox, a baseball organization based in Columbus that provides coaching and clinics to youth players, the summer league has provided an opportunity for college players to train through live games after having their spring seasons shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "I'm just happy to be out here, with the season getting canceled," Gatlin said. He's taking on some stiff competition as well, as the league is heavily composed of Division I players from the Southeastern Conference. In addition to five Mississippi State baseball players participating in the league, 63 Division I student-athletes, including 25 from the SEC, are also participating, according to East Coast Sox President Greg Sykes, as well as 18 players originally slated to take part in the Cape Cod Baseball League, which was canceled in April.
Millsaps AD reacts as Southern Athletic Association decides to cancel all fall sports
The Southern Athletic Association (SAA), which Millsaps College in Jackson is a longtime member of, has officially announced the cancellation of all sports for the fall semester. Millsaps Athletics Director Aaron Pelch told News Mississippi that he agrees with the conference's decision, yet, as a former college athlete himself, he feels for the students and coaches who were getting ready for their fall season. "What the SAA has done, I think it's the right thing," Pelch said. "I think today is a really tough day for our campus community, our student-athletes, and all of our coaches." The SAA stretches across seven states -- Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas -- creating safety concerns that the conference couldn't overcome. Although there will be no SAA sports this calendar year, Pelch expects all fall sports teams to be able to compete come spring of 2021, even if that means trying to convince the NCAA to delay their fall championships for one semester.
NCAA announces latest coronavirus 'return-to-sport' guidelines
The NCAA announced its latest round of "return-to-sport" guidelines Thursday as the organization attempts to conduct fall sports during the coronavirus pandemic in the coming months. Among the most notable recommendations are testing and results within 72 hours of games, "universal masking" on sidelines and daily self-health checks. These are the third round of recommendations from the NCAA, and the announcement came with a sobering graphic of the situation involving the coronavirus pandemic. The NCAA posted a graph to Twitter -- it was also featured in an NCAA Sport Science Institute release titled "Resocialization of Collegiate Sport: Developing Standards for Practice and Competition" -- featuring the curve of new confirmed coronavirus cases per million residents for the United States, Europe, Canada and Japan. The U.S. has seen a spike in cases over the past month, while the other three areas have been relatively stable. "This document lays out the advice of health care professionals as to how to resume college sports if we can achieve an environment where COVID-19 rates are manageable," NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a release. "Today, sadly, the data point in the wrong direction. If there is to be college sports in the fall, we need to get a much better handle on the pandemic."
College football COVID-19 testing: Power 5, NCAA to have universal standards
College football players who test positive for COVID-19 this fall will be required to miss at least 10 days of competition, and that number is even higher---a full two weeks---for those who are found to have had contact with a person who tested positive. These requirements are part of a medical document the Power 5 conferences have drafted to add uniformity to virus testing protocols and response procedures. Sports Illustrated obtained a copy of a draft of the document from July 8. The document is not finalized, but is expected to be released soon by the Power 5 and the NCAA, which are working in concert to create universal, minimum testing standards. The six-page document outlines weekly in-season testing requirements, response protocols for positive tests, contact-tracing plans and considerations for game cancellations. "This document is meant to guide institutions in the minimum necessary requirements needed to participate in athletics in the coming year," the document reads.
Inside college football's coronavirus information war
Late one night in March, appearing on a little-discussed ESPN radio show, Kirk Herbstreit dropped a bombshell. "I'll be shocked if we have NFL football this fall, if we have college football," Herbstreit said. "I'll be so surprised if that happens." If Herbstreit, one of ESPN's most prominent personalities, had dropped that take on "Get Up" or "SportsCenter," his quotes would have been everywhere immediately. Instead, it took until the next day for the comments to disseminate. Once the aggregation cycle got cranking, though, the reaction was severe. College athletics leaders across the country were pissed. They couldn't believe the man who stars on College GameDay would make such a bold proclamation more than five months before the scheduled start of the season. Most of the anger stayed behind closed doors, but Missouri's Eliah Drinkwitz and Notre Dame's Brian Kelly both publicly blasted Herbstreit for his comments. Herbstreit's comments set off what became a months-long information war over how the coronavirus could affect college sports.
SEC patient with decisions, AD Hunter Yurachek says
University of Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek, conducting his first group video chat with reporters since May 27, updated the athletic department's latest covid-19 numbers, urged residents to follow coronavirus guidelines and said his optimism level for a full football schedule was "mediocre" on Thursday. Yurachek said as of July 6 the UA had brought more than 300 student-athletes back to campus in each of the school's 19 sports and less than 10 student-athletes and two staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus. Yurachek added all but one of those infected have returned to their workouts or workplace at this time, meaning the athletic department currently has one active case. He touted the department's return to campus plan, which he outlined with the media on May 27. "What I can tell you is that I truly believe that plan has worked very, very well," Yurachek said. In consultation with the Arkansas Department of Health, UA officials are nearing completion of a plan for projected attendance at football, volleyball and soccer games in the fall, Yurachek said.
Illinois football to ban tailgating, limit Memorial Stadium to 20% capacity and require masks: 'This is a positive step toward a return to sports this fall'
Illinois laid out plans Thursday for football game days, including requiring masks and banning tailgating. Athletic director Josh Whitman, Chancellor Robert Jones and associate athletic director for sports medicine Randy Ballard led a public video briefing to explain the decisions to increase safety as the nation grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic and the return of sports. In line with state guidance, Illinois will limit Memorial Stadium capacity to 20% with social distancing and reserved seating. Face coverings will be required in "public areas" and six-foot distancing observed in the concourses. A news release also noted tickets will be mobile only and concessions will be served as "grab and go" options in socially distanced lines with plexiglass barriers between servers and customers. "We're excited," Whitman said of the plans. "We think this is a positive step toward a return to sports this fall." Illinois has one of the lowest attendance rates in the Big Ten, but a dent in ticket sales is expected following state requirements for attendance reduction. Seats will be sold in groups that are socially distanced.
Atlantic 10 Conference Postpones Fall Sport Competitions and Championships
The Atlantic 10 Conference today announced the postponement of all scheduled fall contests in conference-sponsored sports and A-10 championships due to the continuing COVID-19 global pandemic. This includes men's and women's soccer, field hockey, men's and women's cross country and volleyball. The fall competitive schedules for men's golf, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's swimming and diving, and women's rowing will also be postponed, as will non-traditional competition seasons for baseball, softball and women's lacrosse. The league intends to conduct a competitive schedule for the fall sports in the 2021 spring semester. Details on the rescheduling of contests and championships will be announced at a later date. Safety, health and the well-being of student-athletes, coaches, administrators and the campus community at large is the primary concern and responsibility of the Atlantic 10 Conference and its member institutions. The conference and institutional leadership have agreed to a "look-in window" mid-September, allowing for a potentially truncated competitive schedule amongst conference opponents if the COVID-19 risk has substantially been reduced.

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