Thursday, October 15, 2020   
Mississippi State educates students on how to recognize, prevent domestic violence
The Mississippi State University Health Promotion and Wellness Department held their first teddy bear drive for survivors of domestic violence on Wednesday. MSU Health Promotion and Wellness is using the month of October, Domestic Violence Awareness month, to remind students how serious this problem is and how it can happen on campus. "Not all homes are safe for everyone," Health Promotion and Wellness Assistant Director Santee Ezell says. More than 1 in 3 women in America experiences some form of violence or stalking from an intimate partner during their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "When people hear of domestic violence, they only think of the physical, when really, it's much more than that," Ezell cautions. Ezell says people between the ages of 16 and 24 in particular are significantly impacted by domestic violence. Campus police say Mississippi State does not often deal with those types of serve incidents. However, violence can take different forms. "Stalking, sexual harassment, any type of sexual misconduct, revenge porn, digital abuse, financial abuse, and of course emotional and physical abuse," Ezell said, listing various manifestations of domestic violence.
Why does she stay? Fear, finances, isolation, love among reasons
Megan Stubbs-Richardson, an assistant research professor at the Social Science Research Center at Mississippi State University, and H. Colleen Sinclair, an associate professor in MSU's Department of Psychology, write for The Meridian Star: According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, based on a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults through telephone surveys, 1 in 4 women experience intimate partner violence (sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking) while 1 in 5 suffer from sexual violence, and 1 in 6 are subjected to stalking. Many of the risk factors for the violence, such as disadvantaged structural conditions, discrimination, and reduced economic opportunities, also are some of the reasons why she stays. To escape, resources are needed, including financial resources and shelters, support from family/friends, and from police, courts or other professionals. It starts with reshaping the common cultural question -- "why does she stay?" -- conflating her with blame for her situation to -- "how do we help her leave?" It starts with us.
Domestic violence: Escaping abuse takes resources, support
Megan Stubbs-Richardson, an assistant research professor at the Social Science Research Center at Mississippi State University, and H. Colleen Sinclair, an associate professor in MSU's Department of Psychology, write for The Clarion-Ledger: There are five key reasons for why most survivors of intimate partner violence stay in abusive relationships. She fears for her or her children's lives. She is financially dependent. She is isolated. As part of the violence cycle, the abuser begins to isolate her from friends and family. She loves him. She holds strong feelings for him. She distrusts the criminal justice system. While these five factors certainly help explain the cycle of intimate partner violence, problems can be compounded for marginalized victims, such as women of color and other groups who face issues that may further complicate their quest for safety. So, what can we do to improve responses to intimate partner violence? As a society, we can begin rethinking our collective stance on relationship abuse.
Economists explore COVID-19 impact on beef prices
COVID-19 disrupted supply chains and emptied store shelves. Meat products were among the products disappearing from shelves, in part because workers in meat processing plants were becoming sick with COVID-19 and unable to work, forcing plants to close. Restaurants closed or went to take-out only and schools closed, reducing demand. In an article, "Beef Cattle Markets and COVID‐19," in Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, Charles C. Martinez, Joshua G. Maples and Justin Benavidez explore the impact of the pandemic across all sectors of the cattle industry. Martinez is an assistant professor and Extension economist in the Department of Agricultural Resource and Economics at the University of Tennessee. Maples is an assistant professor and Extension economist in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Mississippi State University. Benavidez is an assistant professor and Extension economist in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M University.
Lowndes, Oktibbeha each have contested election commissioner race on November ballot
For Greg Fulgham, helping Americans vote runs in the family. Fulgham, a Republican who has served as District 1 Election Commissioner in Oktibbeha County for 10 years, replaced his grandmother, Margie Fulgham, in 2010. Margie had been the commissioner for 17 years, he said, and his mother and aunt were both poll workers. "I've grown up around it," he said. "It's sort of a thankless job. Most people don't realize there even is a position of election commissioner until they have something wrong." But this year, Greg is running to remain in his position. Along with many of his fellow commissioners, Greg is running for the position unopposed during the Nov. 3 general election. A flurry of election commissioner races are taking place in the Golden Triangle, with only two competitive races in the area -- District 5 in Lowndes County and District 4 in Oktibbeha County. In Oktibbeha County, Mississippi State University professor Anastasia Elder is running as a nonpartisan candidate to unseat Joe Baker, who serves as District 4 election commissioner. Elder, who has lived in Starkville for 21 years, said she will advocate for voter education, including informing voters of the deadline and the process.
Coronavirus cases in Mississippi spike: 1,322 new cases, 12 deaths reported Thursday
The Mississippi Department of Health has reported 1,322 new coronavirus cases and 12 new coronavirus-related deaths Thursday. According to state records, the total number of positive cases in Mississippi stands at 108,139. The total number of deaths is 3,152. The state's highest number of deaths reported in a single day was 67 on Aug. 25. The highest number of cases reported in a single day was 1,775 on July 30. The number of long-term care facility outbreaks stands at 128. The number of cases reported at long-term care facilities is 6,422, according to numbers released Thursday. The number of deaths in long-term care facilities is 1,273. As of Tuesday, the latest information available, 500 people were hospitalized with confirmed infections, with 143 in ICU and 72 on ventilators. Hinds County continues to have the highest number of reported cases in the state with 7,619, followed by DeSoto County with 6,401, Harrison County with 4,600 and Jackson County with 4,193. Residents between the ages of 25-39 represent the largest portion of the infected population, with 24,528 cases reported Thursday.
2020 shrimp season going pretty well for many
In between dodging tropical storms and hurricanes, it appears that Mississippi's 2020 shrimp season has gone pretty well for those who make a living on the water. Lucky Bui, spent time on the docks working on his dad's shrimp boat. Wednesday, he was very busy as several boats hauled in lots of white shrimp, which are in season right now. "Now with the colder weather in here in October and November, the white shrimp are coming in and that's good," Bui said. "This is my dad's boat, so he's been doing pretty good every night so far." And a good night on the water means a good morning for everyone involved. "I've been coming down about twice a week," said Pam Harper. "I have a little catering company, and they want shrimp, so I just bought $50 dollars worth down on this end. The price of this is even better." As the whole summer is concerned, shrimpers said it's obviously better than 2019. But many people would be surprised to know that shrimpers' biggest inconvenience is moving the boats back and forth due to storm threats in the Gulf.
Phase two of The Quarter in Jackson will be 138 apartments
Work on the second phase of the revival of The Quarter near the eastern border of Jackson is well underway. Completion of the 138-unit luxury apartment addition, The Quarter House, at 1501 Lakeland Blvd., is anticipated for next summer. The architecture departs from the New Orleans style of the first phase. It is a traditional "clean and classic design," Justin Peterson, vice president and general counsel for the State Street Group, said in an interview. "We're reviving this classic Jackson landmark for today's modern Southerner," Peterson said. The four-story complex will rise above and from behind the two-story Quarter, which fronts Lakeland. The News Orleans French Quarter-style shopping area was built in the 1970s, before the Easter Flood of 1979 ravaged it and much of Jackson. The intent is to create a more "residential" look than two recent projects: the Meridian on the western end of Lakeland in the middle of the medical community, Peterson said. The other project is the Lofts at Eastover.
Census abrupt end, low response, could mean millions lost per year
Mississippians who haven't submitted their 2020 census information have until 11:59 tonight to do so. Tuesday, The U.S. Supreme Court allowed the Trump administration to end the count early. That, after a lower court extended the deadline to October 31. Mississippi Census 2020 reports the response rate for the state is 60 percent as compared to the national rate of 66. The population count is used by the federal government to fund states for education, roads, hospitals, and other services. For every child or adult not included in the count, Mississippi loses $5,000 which could add up to millions per year. Republican Senator Joey Fillingane of Sumrall says the state relies on federal support. For instance, for every one dollar the state pays for Medicaid, Mississippi receives $3. "It's important not only for the state government of Mississippi to make sure everyone is counted, it's also very important for the localities, for the municipalities, for the counties, a lot of their dollars are also divided up based on the number of person's living in that particular geographical area," said Fillingane.
Expanded Voting Access Still Off Table For Mississippians
As October unfolds, Mississippi State Sen. David Blount, D-Jackson, is watching the rising case numbers in what threatens to be the third spike in Mississippi's COVID-19 pandemic, and he fears for the worst. In the waning days of the nearly endless 2020 legislative session, Blount was part of a last-ditch effort to expand access to absentee voting this year. His bill, aimed at reducing packed polling places in November, did not make it to the floor. Dying with it were Mississippi's chances to challenge its reputation for the strictest laws regulating absentee voting in the nation. "To me it's a complete no-brainer, and a total failure on behalf of the legislative leadership and Republicans," Blount told the Jackson Free Press in a recent interview. Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson does not appear to share Blount's concerns. "Our plan is good, our plan is safe," he announced on Oct. 2, joining a small pool of reporters for an update on election safety.
Inside an at-risk Mississippi Delta voter's journey to ensure safe voting conditions
Jackie Lucas has never missed a vote. The state of Mississippi has never made it so difficult for her to do so. That is, until the pandemic hit. Lucas, a Black senior citizen with diabetes, did not feel safe voting in her small, enclosed voting place at Mound Bayou's city hall. Her town is known for its civic engagement; it's not unusual for folks to sit shoulder-to-shoulder while waiting to cast a vote. According to precinct voter population estimates based on the 2010 census, Mound Bayou's voting precinct serves 1,965 people, which is about 70% higher than the state's average precinct. "We just don't have space there to do any kind of distancing," Lucas said. She also didn't feel confident that the president wouldn't try to undermine her absentee vote. The most logical solution she saw was to work with her elected officials to move the voting location from the small city hall to the spacious high school gym less than half a mile away. She eventually prevailed, but not without jumping through multiple hoops and first hearing from every elected official she asked that there was nothing they could do.
Mike Espy: Cindy Hyde-Smith 'disrespecting' Mississippi by not debating
Democratic challenger Mike Espy on Wednesday criticized Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith for not accepting invitations to debate him. Espy said the incumbent senator is depriving Mississippi voters of a chance to make a direct comparison between them on issues. He said, for example, that he supports keeping the Affordable Care Act that then-President Barack Obama signed into law in 2010. Hyde-Smith, who campaigns as a supporter of President Donald Trump, has said the health care law needs to be repealed. "The people of Mississippi -- she's disrespecting them. ... She's taking this for granted," Espy said during a news conference in Jackson. "She's sending signals that she does not have to earn their vote." Hyde-Smith has spoken to Republican groups the past several days in Madison, Columbus and Tupelo. She told WCBI-TV on Tuesday in Columbus that she would be open to debating Espy. "I don't mind it at all, we're just working very hard. I'll be back in D.C. on Monday. But I'd probably enjoy it more than I need to enjoy it," Hyde-Smith said.
'She's ignoring Mississippi': Mike Espy rips Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith for low-profile Senate campaign
Democratic challenger Mike Espy said incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith is hiding from and disrespecting Mississippians by refusing to debate him and running a low-profile campaign with few open-to-the-public appearances. "She's doing the same thing the rest of the country often does -- ignoring Mississippi," Espy said in a Wednesday press conference before he hits the campaign trail for the final weeks before the Nov. 3 election. "... She's running a lazy campaign, taking voters for granted. You don't do that in Mississippi." Hyde-Smith's campaign did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday. On social media, she posted: "You have a choice this election, so I encourage you to dig into both of our records..." with a link to one of her campaign ads. Hyde-Smith, in a rematch with Espy for a seat that most prognosticators consider safely Republican in one of the reddest states in the country, has done little public campaigning and has declined invitations to debate. The Mississippi race is one of few Senate contests across the country where candidates are not debating.
Espy wants a debate. Hyde-Smith doesn't. Will voters get to see the candidates before Nov. 3?
A campaign season tradition --- the candidate debate --- almost certainly won't happen in the high-profile race between Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and Democrat Mike Espy. Hyde Smith told the Clarion Ledger on Wednesday she doesn't plan to debate, citing a busy schedule and "stark, drastic" differences between herself and Espy that she believes voters already know about. She similarly declined to debate him and other challengers before her 2018 special election, though eventually agreed to one before the runoff against Espy, which she won by about eight points. "To be honest with you, the debate about debates, that is something that losing candidates and reporters care about," Hyde-Smith said in a phone interview. She said Mississippians are more interested in the issues themselves, such as the economy and coronavirus response, not hearing about whether a debate will occur. At a news conference earlier in the day, Espy slammed Hyde-Smith for refusing to debate. Marvin King, an Ole Miss political science professor, said Hyde-Smith may fear giving Espy's campaign too much oxygen that could come along with a strong debate performance by him, or weak performance by her, so late in the race.
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith: 'The Only People Interested in Debates Are Reporters and Losing Candidates'
U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith signaled Wednesday that she does not plan to join her Democratic opponent, former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy, for a debate. "The only people interested in debates are reporters and losing candidates. We've already debated. Nothing's changed," the Republican senator told WAPT News reporter Scott Simmons, repeating the same answer verbatim two times during an interview. Hyde-Smith last joined Espy for a 50-minute debate in a special-election runoff in November 2018, when she was running to be elected to the seat to which then-Gov. Phil Bryant had appointed her after former Sen. Thad Cochran retired earlier that year. A debate this year, though, would likely include topics that would not have been discussed in 2018, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the year's ongoing national reckoning on race or the Supreme Court case that could decide the fate of health care for millions next month. Elected Mississippi incumbents often decline to debate challengers in re-election years. Before Hyde-Smith's 2018 debate, the last time a sitting U.S. senator in the state debated a challenger was in 2008, when Sen. Roger Wicker, a Republican, debated Democrat Ronnie Musgrove, who served as Mississippi's governor from 2000 to 2004.
Senate Judiciary lines up Oct. 22 vote on Amy Coney Barrett's nomination
The Senate Judiciary Committee officially set an Oct. 22 vote on Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation to the Supreme Court, with Republicans voting to move forward without Democrats on a timeline that could put her on the court by the end of the month. Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois was the only Democrat who showed up to a committee business meeting Thursday morning to consider the nomination, which under the letter of committee rules meant there were not two members of the minority party to form a quorum to conduct business. Chairman Lindsey Graham responded with a motion to hold the vote at 1 p.m. on Oct. 22, which Republicans backed. And the South Carolina Republican suggested Democrats would be able to do the same if Republicans tried to stop committee work. "We've had this problem in the past, we're dealing with it the way we are today," Graham said. "If we create this problem for you in the future, you're going to do what I'm going to do, which is move forward on the business of the committee."
President Trump 'ready to sign' stimulus
President Trump on Thursday reissued his call for Congress to pass stimulus legislation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, claiming in a tweet that he was "ready to sign" a bill. In an early morning message, the president took aim at Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), claiming that she "couldn't care less about the American People or the great American Worker" and urging her to "approve needed STIMULUS now." "Republicans are ready to go, I am ready to sign!!!" the president added. Trump has sought to cast blame on Pelosi and House Democrats for failing to reach another deal with Republicans amid the ongoing pandemic, which has shuttered businesses across the country and left many Americans struggling to afford food and rent. Advocates of a new COVID-19 stimulus bill have called for immediate aid to low-income Americans, including a second round of $1,200 checks to every American. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday cast doubt on the prospects of getting another COVID-19 relief package deal approved before Election Day.
U.S. layoffs remain elevated as 898,000 seek jobless aid
The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose last week to 898,000, a historically high number and evidence that layoffs remain a hindrance to the economy's recovery from the pandemic recession that erupted seven months ago. Thursday's report from the Labor Department shows that the job market remains fragile, and it coincides with other recent data that have signaled a slowdown in hiring. The economy is still roughly 10.7 million jobs short of recovering all the 22 million jobs that were lost when the pandemic struck in early spring. The recession has disproportionately hurt in-person service industries, especially restaurants, hotels, travel companies and entertainment venues. The damage to those industries has left millions of people unemployed, likely for an extended period until they are either finally recalled to their previous jobs or switch to new careers. Economists have warned that without further aid, families across the country will struggle in coming months to pay bills, make rent, afford food and avoid eviction.
NBC faces backlash after agreeing to Trump town hall adjacent to Biden's ABC town hall
NBC News faced a sharp backlash to its decision to host President Donald Trump for a town hall Thursday in direct competition with ABC's event with Democrat Joe Biden, including a social media call to boycott the network. MSNBC's biggest star, Rachel Maddow, made two oblique references to the matter on her show Wednesday. During an interview with Biden's running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, Maddow asked whether she was "as mad as everybody else" about the Trump town hall. "I'm not touching that," Harris replied. In a second reference to the town hall as her show ended, Maddow spoke as the words "Apparently They Are Not Kidding" were shown on the screen behind her. NBC said it agreed to set up the dueling town hall after Trump was administered a coronavirus test Tuesday by the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Anthony Fauci and NIH clinical director Dr. Clifford Lane reviewed the test and Trump's medical records, concluding with a "high degree of confidence" that the president was not shedding infectious virus.
Maroon Typhoon Marching Band welcomes first service dog member
The Jones College Maroon Typhoon Marching Band has a new member. She doesn't play an instrument, but she does assist on the field. "In my 21 years of teaching in our state, this is the first service animal that I've had with a band student," said Ben Burge, director of bands. "So, having Laurie here has been a really neat experience for me and our students." Laurie, a 3-year-old golden retriever, is baritone saxophone player Sara Beth McKellar's service dog. McKellar, a sophomore at Jones College, experienced her first major seizure in high school and was diagnosed with epilepsy. In April, after fundraising for a year, she adopted Laurie. "Having Laurie on the field puts us at ease that there is like a safety net," McKellar said. "Luckily, I haven't had a seizure while I've had Laurie. So, Laurie's more of like a precaution for me." The golden retriever has already performed in her first football game. "We joked about even getting her a little uniform to wear at times, you know, but she really is a part of our family and I'm grateful that we have her here," Burge said. "With Sara Beth and her needs, I think it's awesome that we have a way to ensure her safety on campus and look out for Sara's health as well, so it all works well."
MGCCC lineman program partners with industry to get workers on poles
It's not the job for those with a fear of heights, but it is always in demand, and people are always happy to see you after a storm. A program at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College George County Center has been training linemen for 21 years, making sure there is never a shortage. "It is such a successful program, and we are so tied in with industry that they find that they can come here for that one semester and go straight to work," said Lisa Rhodes, Administrative Dean of the George County Center. "They are in high demand." The program's success is largely thanks to all of the regional power companies that serve on the program's advisory board, donate equipment, and most importantly, hire the graduates. About 700 students have completed the program and entered the workforce. "It's a real rewarding class to teach," said instructor Hildred Ivey. "Because you see them go out into the world, get a job." Ivey worked for Singing River Electric for 35 years before he became an instructor. "It's hard work, but it's fun doing it," he said.
Auburn University research team tackles devastating cotton virus
Since a potentially devastating cotton virus was first detected in Alabama fields in 2017, a group of Auburn University researchers and Alabama Extension specialists have been working tirelessly to learn everything they can about it so farmers can minimize their risks. The team has worked so diligently, in fact, that Auburn has been designated as a USDA Center of Excellence for its focus on the virus -- cotton leaf roll dwarf virus, or CLRDV. This effort began in earnest with a call in October 2018 from Extension Plant Pathologist Austin Hagan, who had just seen extreme symptoms of the virus in a Baldwin County cotton field. First symptoms of the virus can be drooping leaves that eventually become crinkled. "His exact words were, 'Holy cow!'" said Jenny Koebernick, assistant professor and cotton breeder in the College of Agriculture's Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Science. Koebernick invited researchers from the University of Georgia, University of Florida, Louisiana State University, Mississippi State University, University of Tennessee, Cotton Inc., USDA and private seed company representatives to see first-hand the damage caused by CLRDV.
Auburn University reports 16 new COVID-19 cases
Auburn University reported adding 16 new COVID-19 cases this week, according to data released by the AU COVID-19 Resource Center on Tuesday afternoon. This past week, ending on Oct. 11, follows a trending decline in cases that began with the week ending Sept. 6. All 16 cases were located on the main Auburn campus. The GuideSafe Sentinel Testing program conducted 399 tests, returning a 0.25% positivity rate. This is an increase over the 0.0% positivity rate during the week ending Oct. 4. Dr. Fred Kam, director of the Auburn University Medical Clinic, said he feels "really confident about where the numbers are" in a weekly update video from the University, but predicts another rise in cases before the end of the fall semester. "I think that we can have a bit of an uptick or a spike starting in the next week or two and continuing definitely after Halloween," Kam said. "I hope that I'm wrong like I was wrong after Labor Day. It is all going to depend on personal accountability and what people do, how they act and what their interactions are that will determine how successful we are."
UA-Huntsville president: Campus police will change after Black teen was allegedly asked if he had crack, dead prostitute
The president of the University of Alabama at Huntsville on Wednesday condemned the actions of a campus police officer following an Oct. 3 traffic stop. "The words and actions by UAH police during a traffic stop on October 3, 2020, do not represent who we are as an institution. I have spoken with the family of the young driver to offer my sincere apologies and address the family's thoughts, ideas and concerns," UAH President Darren Dawson said in a statement Wednesday. "We are continuously looking for ways to improve our service to the UAH and Huntsville communities. We will use this as a learning and training opportunity." The statement came two days after the mother of 17-year-old Caleb Crutcher, Chanda Mills Crutcher, posted allegations on Facebook about a Saturday night traffic stop involving Caleb. UAH, which did not respond to an email or phone call requesting additional information, including whether the campus officer was disciplined, said it will make changes to its police force.
Tom Galligan has 'got the bug' and says he'll apply to be LSU's permanent system president
The LSU Board of Supervisors, who initially were going to start looking for a new leader after Christmas, finally announced Thursday they'll start looking to permanently replace F. King Alexander, who moved to head Oregon State University last year. Over the past 10 months, LSU has struggled with the COVID-19 pandemic, a more intense look at the flagship's racist past, and concern about whether to separate the jobs of system president and chancellor of the Baton Rouge campus. In fact, the first task the 20-member committee will be doing is preparing a "position description for the presidency" that the full board will consider on Oct. 23. Thomas Galligan Jr., dean of LSU's Paul M. Hebert Law Center, was brought in Jan. 1 as an interim and told he would run things temporarily for six-to-nine months. Initially, Galligan was looking forward to returning to the law school and teaching. "I got the bug," Galligan said Wednesday, adding he'll apply for the job no matter how it is structured.
U. of South Carolina won't punish new law school dean who mass emailed private bar exam grades
The University of South Carolina will not punish its new law school dean who emailed private bar exam grades to all students, faculty and staff last week. William Hubbard, a longtime USC trustee and legal leader in the state who became the school's law school chief in August, said he did not realize the confidential scores were attached to an email he received from the S.C. Office of Bar Admissions. He shared the email with 760 recipients when he received word Friday that close to 83 percent of USC graduates passed the exam from July -- the highest in a number of years. "I've never been more sorry for anything in my life," he told The Post and Courier. "This is very painful. I'd give anything to take it back." Hubbard said he first sent apologies to each of the alumni who did not pass the exam and were outed in the email. USC administrators will not sanction Hubbard for the information breach. He made an "honest mistake," acknowledged the error quickly and is installing safeguards, school spokesman Jeff Stensland said. Hubbard said the administration has been "incredibly supportive and encouraging."
U. of Tennessee identifies COVID-19 cluster from ROTC meetings held over the weekend
A new cluster of COVID-19 cases has been announced related to the Army ROTC program at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. The cluster stems from Army ROTC field training exercise planning meetings that took place in Hoskins Library on Oct. 10, according to the university. A cluster is defined as at least five positive cases or 20 close contacts coming from one event or location. As of Oct. 13, there are 62 active COVID-19 cases and 341 people in isolation at UT. This is the tenth cluster identified at UT this semester, although no clusters have been identified in over a month. The last cluster was identified in part of White Hall on Sept. 10. Clusters are considered active for 14 days. UT has increased the amount of broad testing taking place on campus. Wastewater from each dorm, fraternity and sorority house is being tested regularly for the presence of COVID-19. Students living in dorms are also being asked to participate in pooled saliva testing, where they will provide a saliva sample that will be tested.
COVID numbers reported by UGA increase, but still well below the August peak
The number of COVID-19 cases reported by the University of Georgia rebounded this week, though the numbers are still far from their peak in August. The tracking page at the UGA University Health Center lists 92 cases of COVID-19 infection in the week ending Oct. 9, including 80 students and 12 employees. That's up from the previous week, when 68 students and employees either tested positive at UGA or reported having tested positive somewhere else, but still much lower than UGA's peak in the week ending Aug. 31, when the university reported 1,490 cases. The number of UGA students and employees who volunteered to be tested at Legion Field increased over the previous week to 1,944. That was the second-highest weekly total since UGA began its fall semester Aug. 20 with a goal of testing up to 500 people a day. Of those volunteers, 28, or just 1.4%, tested positive -- the lowest positivity rate so far at UGA.
Texas A&M offers free COVID-19 testing for all at walk-up kiosks
Texas A&M will now offer free COVID-19 testing at three walk-up locations on campus. Anyone can be tested at the kiosks, including individuals not affiliated with the university. Testing at the kiosks are the same oral swabs used at the Student Health Services tent. Appointments are not required for testing, walk-ups will be registered on site. Registration and appointment scheduling can be completed in advance, however, at A&M's COVID-19 testing website. The tests are being supplied by the Texas Division of Emergency Management. Once an individual is checked in at the kiosk, an attendant provides a collection tube and instructions. The person will then return the completed test tube, a press release states. "Results are typically delivered within two days of testing, but could be a little longer depending on time of day a person tests," said Dr. Martha Dannenbaum, director of Student Health Services, in a press release. According to a press release, the kiosks were piloted at several universities in California.
Report: Enrollment Continues to Trend Downward
The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center has bad news. Again. Its latest fall 2020 enrollment report continues to show downward trajectories nearly across the board in higher education. As of Sept. 24, undergraduate enrollment is now 4 percent lower than it was last fall -- a 1.5-percentage-point decrease from earlier this semester. This latest report includes data from more colleges. It's based on reporting from about 54 percent of postsecondary institutions, or data for 9.2 million students, compared to 22 percent of institutions earlier this fall. The next update is scheduled for Nov. 12. The largest declines of all are in first-year students. Just over 16 percent fewer freshmen have enrolled this fall compared to last year. Graduate enrollment was trending upward earlier. While it's still an increase over last year, that gain has slipped by 1.3 percentage points. "For the most part, things are worse by almost half," said Douglas Shapiro, executive director of the clearinghouse. "But we really don't have a way to know whether that is likely to continue." Somewhat surprisingly, public and private nonprofit four-year institutions are doing relatively well, he said during a webinar presenting the report.
'We Haven't Begun to Feel the Real Economic Damage'
Two-thirds of institutions responding to a new survey by The Chronicle reported drops in undergraduate enrollment this fall, with community colleges experiencing the steepest declines during a semester of pandemic-fueled challenges. The survey of enrollment managers and registrars provides a look at enrollment shifts and spring-planning decisions at institutions representing a broad cross-section of Carnegie classes. The Chronicle undertook the project in collaboration with the course-scheduling firm Ad Astra and Davidson College's College Crisis Initiative. The responses to the survey reinforce some of the top-level findings of recent studies by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center and the American Council on Education: Declining enrollment, increased operating costs, and state budget cuts are inflicting deep financial pain on nearly every sector of higher education. But among the injured, community colleges stand out. According to The Chronicle's survey, nine out of 10 suffered enrollment declines this fall compared to the previous year. More than half of the two-year colleges reported that enrollments dropped by 10 percent or more.
Graduate Enrollment Grew in 2019
First-time enrollment in graduate programs increased by 2.5 percent between fall 2018 and fall 2019 even while the number of applications to graduate programs dipped slightly, by 0.6 percent, according to a new survey conducted by the Council of Graduate Schools and the Graduate Record Examinations Board. The survey found notable increases in first-time graduate enrollment among members of racial minority groups. First-time graduate enrollment increased by 5.7 percent among Hispanic/Latinx students, 5.5 percent among Black/African American students, 5.3 percent among Asian students and 3.5 percent among American Indian/Alaska Native students. First-time enrollments declined by 3 percent among Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. Collectively, students from underrepresented minority groups -- American Indian/Alaska Native, Black/African American, Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander and Hispanic/Latinx -- accounted for about a quarter (24.8 percent) of all U.S. citizens and permanent resident students newly enrolled in graduate education, up from 24.1 percent the year before. The report on the survey notes however that students from these groups "remain particularly underrepresented in science, engineering, technology, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The survey results reflect a pre-pandemic enrollment landscape.
A Generation Defined by the Pandemic
Uncertainty, instability and self-doubt have been common themes in the lives of college students during 2020 as their education and career plans shift due to the coronavirus pandemic. These were the general feelings expressed by about 450 college students and recent alumni who responded to a small, open-ended survey conducted by a pair of 2020 graduates, and reiterated on a larger scale in a new nationally representative survey of 4,000 undergraduates by the Strada Education Network, a national organization focused on improving education and career pathways. The various responses show that heightened stress and anxiety -- whether about achieving academic success, finding future employment or paying for the next meal -- is currently dominating the student psyche. The respondents frequently alluded to mental health challenges they're experiencing. Some students shared stories of dropping out of four-year institutions to attend local community college or taking a year off because of their strong "aversion to online learning."
Reporting Live From Quarantine U.
American colleges have become a major source of coronavirus infections in recent weeks. As outbreaks have grown, campuswide quarantines have been tried at institutions large and small, from the sprawling University of Arizona in Tucson, which issued a two-week shelter-in-place request on Sept. 15, to green-lawned Grand Valley State in western Michigan, where students were told to stay in their homes for 14 days starting on Sept. 17. Some schools promised harsh penalties for violators. But other colleges have done little to keep students away from bars and late-night parties. Their quarantine instructions allowed exceptions for a wide range of activities, including classes, work, medical appointments, grocery shopping and takeout. Still, on some campuses, the Hail Mary appears to have worked: Caseloads there have come down. To find out what life is really like at colleges that tried to squelch socializing and slow the virus's spread, we enlisted journalists from five schools to tell the story.
Children From Immigrant Families Are Increasingly the Face of Higher Education
An extraordinary demographic shift is sweeping through U.S. university campuses as immigrants and children of immigrants become an ever-larger share of student bodies, with implications for the future of the country's work force, higher education and efforts to reduce racial and economic inequality. A new study released on Thursday found that more than 5.3 million students, or nearly 30 percent of all students enrolled in colleges and universities in 2018, hailed from immigrant families, up from 20 percent in 2000. The population of so-called immigrant-origin students grew much more than that of U.S.-born students of parents also born in the United States, accounting for 58 percent of the increase in the total number of students in higher education during that period. These students, most of them nonwhite, are the offspring of Indians who came to study in the United States and stayed; the children of Latin Americans who crossed the border for blue-collar jobs; and some whose families fled civil wars around the world as refugees. Studies have shown that college graduates earn $1 million more over their lifetime than those with a high school degree. They also have better health outcomes, are more civically engaged and have an overall better quality of life.
Fewer Students Hold Debt as Cost to Attend Medical School Rises
The Association of American Medical Colleges released a report Wednesday that details the state of medical education debt for recent graduates and the costs of attending medical school. Last year, 73 percent of medical school graduates reported having education debt from both medical and premedical education, down from 86 percent in 2012, the report shows. The median medical education debt was $200,000. Dozens of medical colleges have opened since 2012, and 16 of them have had a graduating class, the report states. The median cost to attend a four-year medical school has grown to $272,000, up from $243,000 in 2012. Dollar figures are adjusted for inflation. "Medical education has become increasingly expensive, and many students will face the challenges of assuming significant debt during their education," David Skorton, AAMC president and CEO, said in a press release. "Although the prospect of debt at this level is daunting and may deter some students and families from even considering a medical education, the AAMC will continue to work with students to address this concern with clear information and guidance."
What's at Stake for Higher Ed in the Election?
Shortly after the 2016 election, the New York University sociologist Eric Klinenberg wrote: "It's hard not to see Trump's triumph as a repudiation of everything that universities stand for: free speech, open inquiry, inclusion, and civility; logic, reason, and the relentless pursuit of truth and wisdom." Four years later, Donald Trump's presidency continues to shake higher ed. The man who as a candidate pledged his affinity for "the poorly educated" has, as president, flouted the views of experts, embraced conspiracy theories, and made more than 20,000 false or misleading claims, according to The Washington Post. Meanwhile, conservatives have come to distrust higher education at unprecedented rates -- they see it as increasingly beholden to the idiosyncratic orthodoxies of the cultural left. Issues surrounding speech, race, and gender are especially contentious and have become fodder for the Trump campaign. With the 2020 election approaching, amid a pandemic that shows no signs of abating, we reached out to scholars and academic leaders from across the political spectrum to ask: What's at stake for higher education in the election? Here's what they told us.
President Trump has shown little respect for U.S. science. So why are some parts thriving?
Disastrous. Damaging. Catastrophic. Those are just some of the more polite terms that many U.S. scientists use to describe the policies of President Donald Trump. His handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, his repeated public dismissals of scientific expertise, and his disdain for evidence have prompted many researchers to label him the most antiscience president in living memory. Last month, that sense of betrayal led two of the nation's preeminent scientific bodies, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine, to issue an uncharacteristically harsh rebuke. Although the 24 September statement did not name Trump, it was clearly aimed at the president. Although many U.S. scientists share those sentiments, other aspects of the administration's overall record elicit a more positive response. Ask researchers how federal funding for their fields has fared since Trump took office in January 2017, and they might acknowledge sustained support and even mention new opportunities in some areas. Inquire about what they think of the appointees leading the federal agencies that fund their work, and they will offer some good -- even glowing -- reviews. Those seemingly contradictory responses reflect the complexity of an $80-billion-a-year system that remains the envy of the world.

Mike Leach: Mississippi State players have 'renewed sense of commitment'
Mississippi State isn't giving up on the 2020 season. Not yet. The Bulldogs aren't riding high by any means after back-to-back losses to Arkansas and Kentucky, but all it takes is one win to get back on track. And what a win it would be if Mississippi State (1-2) could knock off No. 11 Texas A&M (2-1) on Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium. There are ebbs and flows in any college football season. Mississippi State is dealing with the former at the moment, but the Bulldogs are trying to right the ship and get it back flowing. Coach Mike Leach said that has been evident this week. "I think the last couple practices, we've got kind of a renewed sense of commitment," Leach said during Wednesday's SEC Media Teleconference. A lot had been made of Leach's comments that there are "malcontents" and "fence riders" within the program that need to search within themselves to figure out if they're cut out for what Leach is trying to do at Mississippi State. The consensus is that while they do probably exist, they are few and far between.
Mississippi State coaches react to Alabama coach Nick Saban's COVID-19 positive test
The czar of SEC football has tested positive for COVID-19. Alabama coach Nick Saban learned of his positive coronavirus test Wednesday afternoon and immediately left the facility to begin his quarantine period. He coached the Crimson Tide's practice from home via a Zoom call. That could be reality for any coach at any program in the country at any point in time. "It's always like, 'Well, it could be me,'" Mississippi State wide receivers coach Dave Nichol said. "Easily, based off all kinds of stuff. We've done a good job I think as coaches and players kind of being smart in who we're around. It's just a crazy year. "But it always enters your head when a certain buddy or a certain coach or family member (tests positive), you always go, 'Wow, that easily could be me.' Just got to keep trying to do the right things." During a Wednesday evening press conference held over Zoom, Saban said he has been diligent in wearing a mask and following protocols to prevent himself from getting sick. And though he said he has not shown any symptoms, a positive test is a positive test.
Three matchups to watch when Mississippi State plays No. 11 Texas A&M
Mississippi State is in a tailspin. In just three weeks, the Bulldogs went from the highs of an upset of then-No. 6 LSU in Baton Rouge to lowly outputs in losses to Arkansas and Kentucky. Now facing a Texas A&M streaking in its own right following a win over No. 4 Florida last week, MSU is in desperate need of a turnaround against another top-15 foe. With that, here are a few matchups to watch Saturday when the Bulldogs and Aggies meet at Davis Wade Stadium: MSU's quarterbacks vs. Texas A&M pass defense. Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond vs. MSU secondary. MSU and Texas A&M vs. the turnover battle.
Mississippi State women's golf renames fall tournament in honor of Ally McDonald
The Mississippi State University women's golf program is honoring one of its most decorated alumnae in a unique and prestigious way. Their yearly fall tournament at Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point will now be called The Ally in honor of Fulton native Ally McDonald. While at MSU, McDonald rewrote the record book. When she graduated in 2015, McDonald held the top spot in eight individual records and is still at the top for most. In all of her four seasons at MSU, she led the team in stroke average and won five career events with 21 top-five finishes. The multi-year All-American and All-SEC golfer won the prestigious North and South Women's Amateur and is also a two-time winner of the Mississippi State Women's Amateur. The Ally will be played next week, October 19-21 with a strong field, all 14 Southeastern Conference schools and the University of Southern Mississippi playing.
Steve Robertson in Meridian introducing latest book on MSU-Ole Miss rivalry
Best-selling author Steve Robertson was in Meridian Wednesday signing copies of his latest book as the MSU Bulldog Shop. "Alpha Dawgs, More Dawg Tales from the Rivalry with Ole Miss" is Robertson's second book on the heated rivalry between the Bulldogs and Rebels. The book contains a lot of hot button issues, previously unpublished missives, interviews with legends, riveting history and much more. "A lot of it is respect and that's a bit of a surprise," said Robertson, who has covered MSU football and recruiting for over 20 years. "A lot of people think that it's always so bitter. Those games always mean so much to the participants and the coaches and the fans of both teams. It's one of those things too that it's not just enough to win the ball game but you want to win the state, have momentum and be the cool school in your state."
How Ole Miss, Mississippi State coach salaries stack up against SEC
Even after bringing in high-profile coaches this offseason, Mississippi State and Ole Miss still rank among the middle and bottom of the pack in the SEC with regards to head football coaching salaries. Based on information gleaned from this year's USA TODAY Sports coach salaries database, Mississippi State coach Mike Leach is the seventh-highest paid coach in the SEC and Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin is the 12th-highest paid coach. This list does not include Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason because Vanderbilt is a private university and does not disclose employee salary details. Leach makes $5,000,000 per year, the same value as Kentucky coach Mark Stoops. In normal years, Kiffin makes $3,900,000 but in response to the COVID-19 pandemic Kiffin was subject to a $135,750 reduction. This reduction actually dropped Kiffin from No. 11 in the conference in annual pay to No. 12, as Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt has a lower base salary figure in his contract but was not subject to a salary cut.
UM game days bring larger crowds to the Square, less compliance with guidelines
Bars on the Square have adopted many new health and safety regulations, but University of Mississippi football game days are still attracting bigger crowds and the evermore common issue of enforcing the new rules. "People will be walking around without masks, (and) there would be more than six people at a table," Sandra Savage, a senior dietetics and nutrition major, said. "Sometimes (bar staff) would come up to your table and be like, 'Hey, you can't sit here. There can only be six people.' But they would never enforce it." Savage said she frequents the bars on weekends and periodically on weekdays like many other students. The changes made to her usual nights out originally bothered her, but now she has warmed up to the restaurant-like required seating and table service that many bars have adopted. Social distancing and mask regulations can be difficult to enforce, even with reduced capacity at restaurants and bars, and Savage believes there is room for some of the bars to improve. With the cancellation of tailgating in the Grove and other pregame activities, Oxford residents and students are looking for other places to spend their time on game days. As a result, bars have a higher demand than ever.
Ole Miss having 'issues' with COVID-19 for first time since fall camp
COVID-19 has affected several Southeastern Conference teams this week, and Ole Miss is the latest to be added to the list. During his Wednesday press conference, head coach Lane Kiffin said his team is having what he called "issues" with COVID-19 for the first time since fall camp. The football program went four weeks without a new positive test before this week. "For the first time, we are having issues with that," Kiffin said. "We have a number of guys out. I'm not going to get into numbers. We have not had that in-season. We had that during camp. This is the first time dealing with it in the season." The Rebels' game in Fayetteville against Arkansas on Saturday is still on as of Wednesday afternoon. Kiffin said they could "play today," but they will have to keep those players healthy and avoid further positive tests for a few more days. A decision to postpone and reschedule the game would have to come sometime before Friday, when the team would presumably travel to Arkansas.
Texas A&M offensive line hasn't allowed sack in almost 100 straight pass attempts
The Texas A&M football team more than held up against back-to-back top 10 teams because its offensive line held up. The 11th-ranked Aggies (2-1) haven't allowed a sack in 95 pass attempts, their longest stretch since the end of the 2018 season and start of the '19 season when they went 104 snaps keeping the quarterback upright. The improved offensive line play allowed quarterback Kellen Mond to have 300-yard passing games against both second-ranked Alabama and fourth-ranked Florida. Mond was at his best in the 41-38 victory over Florida on Saturday with 338 yards passing, three touchdowns and no interceptions in earning Southeastern Conference co-offensive player of the week honors. A&M's offense faces a stiff test Saturday at Mississippi State. The Bulldogs (1-2) have been struggling on offense after opening the season with a 44-34 win at LSU, but the defense has been solid. MSU ranks 12th in total defense nationally, allowing 285.7 yards per game.
LSU at Florida game Saturday postponed because of COVID-19
There is going to be no football in what now will be an eerily silent and empty Swamp on Saturday afternoon. Florida's 4 p.m. game with SEC rival LSU has been postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak that has hit the UF football program this week. The game is tentatively rescheduled for Dec. 12. The postponement was announced by the SEC after the football team underwent another round of COVID testing Wednesday morning that revealed more positive tests among the players. "Due to a significant number of COVID cases, we are unfortunately announcing a postponement of the Florida/LSU game that was scheduled for Saturday," UF athletic director Scott Stricklin said on a Zoom call with the media. "We have worked with Scott Woodward the athletic director of LSU along with the SEC office, Charlie Hussey, Mark Womack and, of course, Mr. (Greg) Sankey to tentatively have rescheduled again for December 12, which was a date put in the late schedule for circumstances like this because we anticipated there might be issues as we went through the season."
Nick Saban to coach Alabama football from afar after COVID-19 test
Thus far, not much has changed for Nick Saban. He's still watching every rep of practice, he's still typing up reports on game situations, he still asks for plays to be repeated when a player misses his assignment. All that's different is he's doing it from home, as opposed to his office and the practice field. Saban began working from home just before Wednesday's practice after he tested positive for COVID-19. After informing the team of his positive test via Zoom, he led practice remotely as UA continued to prepare for Saturday's game against Georgia. He had a manager on the phone relaying requests to repeat plays when he deemed necessary. "I can do absolutely everything here that I can do," Saban said. "I'll have the same exact routine. The first thing I do on Thursday mornings is watch the defense's practice, then we get into two-point plays, then I watch what we did against each other with the offense, then I'm gonna watch the offensive practice and then I'll watch special teams. I usually do a little write-up for two-minute and two-point plays for the team. I'll do those things exactly like I always do it." Saban said multiple times that he has been asymptomatic.
Inside Mizzou's decision to forge on with Homecoming festivities -- without a game
Homecoming was always going to look different this year for Missouri --- the pandemic made sure of that. Several months have passed since the city of Columbia ended its stay-at-home order, and many citizens are no longer quarantining, but the lingering threat of the coronavirus left many questions. In the end, the virus couldn't stop the Tigers from their yearly celebration of Missouri's proudest tradition. A virtual spirit rally kicks off this week's festivities at 6 p.m. Thursday. That's what makes Missouri special, according to Todd McCubbin, the executive director of the Mizzou Alumni Association. "We are so blessed to have a great tradition," McCubbin said. "Homecoming is a big deal on our campus and it's not just an alumni association thing ... Everyone knows how important it is for us to be able to celebrate in some form or fashion."
Tennessee football hasn't had positive COVID-19 test for 3 weeks, coach Jeremy Pruitt says
Tennessee football has not had a positive COVID-19 test in three weeks, coach Jeremy Pruitt said Wednesday. "I think our players and our staff and everybody in our program is working hard to follow the CDC guidelines and wear your mask," Pruitt said. In accordance with SEC rules, Tennessee will be tested Thursday for its third weekly test before the No. 17 Vols (2-1) host Kentucky (1-2) on Saturday (noon ET, SEC Network). "As you can see, it can change in one day," Pruitt said. The SEC has had a difficult week handling the pandemic. Two games -- Vanderbilt at Missouri and LSU at No. 9 Florida -- were postponed by the SEC after Vanderbilt and Florida had issues with the virus. "It is tough times," Pruitt said. "But one thing I will say is with the leadership of Greg Sankey and everybody at the SEC office, we have continued since March to find solutions to find the answers to the problems and to give these student-athletes an opportunity to do something they love to do and to try to do it in the safest way possible."
NCAA moves forward with historic reforms for athletes on name, image and likeness, as well as transfers
Athletes in major college sports this week moved another big step closer to being able sell their own signatures, endorse certain products and even join other football and basketball teams without penalty -- a series of freedoms that promises to disrupt the old-fashioned notion of amateurism in college sports. For the first time ever, the NCAA's Division I Council introduced legislation that would unlock the chain of amateurism rules that previously prevented such athletes from profiting off their name, images and likenesses. The Council also introduced a separate measure that would allow college football, basketball and baseball players to transfer to other colleges one time without onerous restrictions, potentially giving them freedom of movement to go with better access to the free market. The historic moves by the Division I Council now put these rule changes on course for a final vote at the NCAA Convention in January, subject to membership feedback in the meantime. "The timing was right to contemplate these things," the chair of the Council, M. Grace Calhoun, told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday. "We have been moving toward more freedoms and flexibilities and heightened focus on student-athlete rights for many years now."

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