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Health Headlines

    The Trump administration’s new strategy for coronavirus testing puts much of the burden on states while promising to provide supplies such as swabs and material to transport specimens. The plan, which was delivered Sunday to members of Congress, drew harsh criticism Monday from Democrats. In a joint letter, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. and Washington Sen. Patty Murray said the administration “still does not have a serious plan for increasing testing to stop the spread of the virus.” The report comes as the U.S. death toll from the pandemic is approaching 100,000. President Donald Trump, who has been eager to revive the economy by loosening coronavirus-related restrictions, vowed Monday, “Together we will vanquish the virus and America will rise from this crisis to new and even greater heights.” The 81-page document from the Department of Health and Human Services says, “State plans must establish a robust testing program that ensures adequacy of COVID-19 testing, including tests for contact tracing, and surveillance of asymptomatic persons to determine community spread.” It says the federal government will “ensure that States have the collection supplies that they need through December 2020.” To that end, the administration plans to acquire and distribute 100 million swabs and 100 million tubes of viral transport media. The HHS document, which The Washington Post first reported, recommends that all states “have an objective of testing a minimum of 2 percent of their population in May and June.” The Democratic lawmakers, who released the HHS report along with their joint letter, said it “confirms that President Trump’s national testing strategy is to deny the truth that there aren’t enough tests and supplies, reject responsibility and dump the burden onto the states.” “The Trump Administration still does not take any responsibility for ramping up our nation’s testing capacity, instead pushing the burden onto the states — forcing states to compete with each other to procure vital supplies to administer tests from the private market,” the lawmakers wrote. They also called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to act on the $3 trillion virus release package passed earlier this month by the House, saying it would “deliver a clear strategy and $75 billion for the testing and contact tracing necessary to stop the spread of this vicious virus.”
  • Employees of a major group of French nursing homes on Monday took part in protests across France to call for better pay amid the coronavirus crisis. Protesters gathered outside homes owned by the Korian group in Paris, Lille and other French cities in response to a call from several far-left unions. The government is formally opening on Monday two months of talks with health care workers over changes to France's public health system, which has suffered from decades of cuts. Korian is one of the market leaders in the provision of care for older adults. It has more than 850 facilities in Europe, employing more than 53,000 people and caring for 300,000 people in France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands and Spain. In France, where Korian manages nearly 300 care homes, the group is facing several lawsuits filed by families who have lost loved ones during the coronavirus pandemic. Prosecutors have opened police investigations. France has recorded more than 14,000 COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents, accounting for nearly half of the country’s total of more than 28,300 deaths. Facing anger from health care workers, President Emmanuel Macron promised a “massive” investment plan for France’s public health sector. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe acknowledged there had been “a lot of criticism” over how the government had prepared French hospitals in the years leading up to the coronavirus pandemic, as he launched initial talks to prepare the new health plans on Monday. Philippe pledged that health workers would see a “significant” salary raise rise in what he promised to be a “radical” review of the French health care system. Further details will be unveiled in July. Philippe said coronavirus had made it clear a “change of pace” was needed with regard to the system. The government said that all staff working in public hospitals and nursing homes in the regions hardest hit by the virus will get a 1,500-euro ($1,632) bonus from the state. Doctors and nurses have long denounced low salaries, staffing shortages and overwhelmed services in hospitals. Before the virus crisis, emergency room workers held strikes and protests for months demanding more hiring and funding. ___ Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • Gucci and Saint Laurent are two of the highest profile luxury fashion houses to announce they will leave the fashion calendar behind, with its relentless four-times-a-year rhythm, shuttling cadres of fashionistas between global capitals where they squeeze shoulder-to-shoulder around runways for 15 breathless minutes. The coronavirus lockdown, which has hit luxury fashion houses on their bottom lines, has also given pause to rethink the pace of fashion, offering the possibility to return to less hectic, more considered periods of creativity and production — and perhaps consumption. Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele imagines a twice yearly appointments — one in the fall and one in the spring — to present co-ed collections, getting away from the hyped-up calendar which has come to require pre-season collections before the major women’s and men’s runway shows and a one-off cruise collection, increasingly in exotic locations. “Two appointments a year are more than enough to give time to form a creative thought, and to give more time to this system,” Michele said in a video conference Monday, expanding on an idea he launched over the weekend in a series of Instagram posts from his own lockdown diaries. The virus-imposed shutdown — while stopping production and consumption that feed the fashion cycle — also recharged creativity among those who found new time for reflection. 'It is a great gift that our planet gave us, a great gift that cannot be discarded,’’ Michele said. Michele said he hopes that a new calendar and new rhythms would be decided within the fashion system and in cooperation with other designers. It has been clear for the last few years that the fashion world has been suffering under the current pace: More luxury houses have been combining men’s and women’s shows as genderless and even seasonless dressing becomes a global theme; it hasn't been unheard-of for major brands to skip a season or to venture away from their fashion cities to expand their audience. Saint Laurent hasn’t articulated its intentions, but said in a statement last month that it would “take control” of the fashion schedule “conscious of the current circumstances and its waves of radical change.” Luxury fashion was one of the first industries to show suffer from coronavirus, first with the China shutdown that closed boutiques and blocked travelers already in January from a region responsible for a third of global luxury. And the pandemic appeared in Europe just as Fall-Winter 2020-21 shows were underway in Milan and then Paris. Illustrating just how vulnerable the show system is in the face of a fast-spreading global virus, Giorgio Armani showed his collection in a closed theater on Feb. 23 — just two days after Italy became the first Western country with a coronavirus outbreak. Armani also has called for a major rethink of changes in luxury fashion during his 45 years as a stalwart of Milan fashion. In a letter to Women’s Wear Daily last month, Armani said he found it “immoral” for luxury fashion to adopt the pace of fast fashion — the drive to deliver more in pursuit of profits “yet forgetting that luxury takes time, to be achieved and to be appreciated.” That has included moves toward see-now, buy-now capsule collections by some brands, running in direct opposition to his notions of “timeless elegance.” “It makes no sense for one of my jackets or suits to live in the shop for three weeks before becoming obsolete, replaced by new goods that are not too different,” Armani said. Armani, who opened his Milan boutiques last week as the Italian economy slowly reopens, said he would keep summer collections in stores until September — running counter to recent practice that put linen dresses in stores in winter and Alpaca coats in the summer. The British Fashion Council and the Council of Fashion Designers of America also have endorsed resetting “the way in which we work and show our collections.” They encouraged brands “to slow down,” and reconsider how much merchandise they produce. The Italian Fashion Chamber is promoting three days of online presentation of men’s and women’s collections in July to substitute the regular June calendar. Gucci will participate with a collection called “Epilogue,” to represent the end of an era. When the fashion communication rebirth that Michele envisions will happen remains to be seen. He said September is too soon, while Saint Laurent only said it wouldn't participate in any previously scheduled events this year. Fashion chamber president Carlo Capasa can’t say when live shows might return to the agenda — but he says they are irreplaceable. “I believe that the digital experience is important, but it should be tied with a physical experience,” Capasa told AP. “Whoever has been to a fashion show knows the importance of the setting and the emotions.” ___ Thomas Adamson reported from Leeds, England. ___ Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • Turkey’s health minister announced 29 new deaths from COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 4,369. Fahrettin Koca also tweeted Monday that 987 new infections were confirmed in the past 24 hours. The total number of infections has reached 157,814. More than 120,000 people have recovered and people needing intensive care continued on a downward trend, according to the health ministry statistics. The ministry has said its treatment protocol includes the early use of antivirals hydroxychloroquin and favipiravir, as well as the antibiotic azithromycin, along with high frequency oxygen. The World Health Organization on Monday said it was temporarily dropping hydroxychloroquin — the anti-malarial drug U.S. President Trump is taking — from its global study into experimental COVID-19 treatments to review its safety. Turkey ranks ninth in a tally by Johns Hopkins University but experts believe the number of infections globally could be much higher than reported. Turkey’s 83 million citizens are on the third day of a four-day nationwide lockdown. ___ Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • The World Health Organization said Monday that it will temporarily drop hydroxychloroquine — the anti-malarial drug U.S. President Trump says he is taking — from its global study into experimental COVID-19 treatments, saying that its experts need to review all available evidence to date. In a press briefing, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that in light of a paper published last week in the Lancet that showed people taking hydroxychloroquine were at higher risk of death and heart problems, there would be “a temporary pause” on the hydroxychloroquine arm of its global clinical trial. “This concern relates to the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in COVID-19,” Tedros said, adding that the drugs are approved treatments for people with malaria or autoimmune diseases. Other treatments in the trial, including the experimental drug remdesivir and an HIV combination therapy, are still being tested. Tedros said the executive group behind WHO's global “Solidarity” trial met on Saturday and decided to conduct a comprehensive review of all available data on hydroxychloroquine and that its use in the trial would be suspended for now. Dr. Michael Ryan, WHO's emergencies chief, said there was no indication of any safety problems with hydroxychloroquine in the WHO trial to date, but that statisticians would now analyze the information. “We're just acting on an abundance of caution based on the recent results of all the studies to to ensure that we can continue safely with that arm of the trial,” he said. WHO said it expected to have more details within the next two weeks. Last week, Trump announced he was taking hydroxychloroquine although he has not tested positive for COVID-19. His own administration has warned the drug can have deadly side effects, and both the European Medicines Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned health professionals last month that the drug should not be used to treat COVID-19 outside of hospital or research settings due to numerous serious side effects that in some cases can be fatal. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are approved for treating lupus and rheumatoid arthritis and for preventing and treating malaria, but no large rigorous tests have found them safe or effective for preventing or treating COVID-19. ___ Maria Cheng reported from London. ___ Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • Germany's federal government and state governors squared up Monday for a battle over plans to end pandemic-related restrictions despite fresh clusters of cases across the country. The country has seen a steady decline in the overall number of COVID-19 cases thanks to measures imposed 10 weeks ago to limit personal contacts. But as restrictions have slowly been lifted there have also been case spikes across Germany linked to slaughterhouses, restaurants, religious services, nursing homes and refugee shelters. The country's current raft of coronavirus measures is due to expire on June 5. Over the weekend, the governor of the state of Thuringia, Bodo Ramelow, said he hopes to lift the blanket rules on social distancing on June 6 and replace them with more targeted measures. Germany's 16 states are responsible for imposing and lifting restrictions and all currently have physical distancing requirements and an obligation to wear masks on public transit and shops. Thuringia’s new approach would raise pressure on other states to ease their rules further. Government spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told reporters that Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to continue “bravely, and carefully” with easing restrictions, but pushed back against the idea that all measures will be lifted. “We want to hold onto the fundamental rules for distancing, hygiene and contact restrictions,” he said, adding that Merkel favors “binding orders.' Seibert cited recent outbreaks following a Baptist service in Frankfurt and at a restaurant in the country’s northwest as examples of what can happen if rules aren't followed. Following Ramelow's announcement, the neighboring state of Saxony said Monday that it, too, is aiming for a “paradigm change” on pandemic rules from June 6 if infections remain low. At the same time, the interior minister of Bavaria, the state that has seen the most coronavirus infections and borders Thuringia to the south, called Ramelow's plans “irresponsible.” “We will certainly not stand by and watch Ramelow carelessly destroy great successes in the fight against the highly dangerous coronavirus,” Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann told the Funke media group. Merkel is due to hold talks with governors Wednesday. Federal and state officials agreed earlier this month that restrictions would be re-imposed if there are more than 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in a city or county within a week. As it stands, Germany's public health agency, the Robert Koch Institute, said Monday that several states reported no new cases overnight, and that the overall total grew by only 289. The seven-day reproduction factor, defined as the mean number of people infected by an infected person, remained under 1 at 0.93, indicating a contraction of new cases. Health Minister Jens Spahn cautioned, however, against giving the impression that the pandemic is over. Spahn told tabloid paper Bild that “on the one hand we are seeing whole regions where there are no new reported infections for days. And on the other hand local and regional outbreaks in which the virus is spreading quickly again and immediate intervention is required.” As the pandemic ebbs, officials across Europe are on the lookout for any spike in the number of infections that could indicate a second wave. There have been several clusters of COVID-19 among slaughterhouse workers in Germany in recent weeks, prompting a government pledge to crack down on conditions in the industry. Many workers in German abattoirs are migrants from Eastern Europe employed by subcontractors. They often live in shared housing and are transported to and from the slaughterhouses by shuttle bus, increasing the likelihood of infection. On Monday, Dutch regional health authorities said tests showed 147 of 657 employees at a meat processing plant across the border in the Netherlands were positive for COVID-19. They said 79 of those infected live in Germany, while 68 are residents of the Netherlands. In other, non-connected outbreaks in Europe, a mine in the Czech Republic stopped work after tests of about 2,400 people revealed 212 with the coronavirus, mostly miners and their family members. And across the continent in Portugal, health officials said tests of 346 people at the warehouse near Lisbon returned 121 positive cases. Wary of a new resurgence of the coronavirus, authorities said they are carefully monitoring the outbreak at the warehouse, a national distribution center for supermarket goods. ___ Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • British leader Boris Johnson’s powerful chief aide insisted Monday that he wouldn't resign for driving the length of England while the country was under strict lockdown — a trip he made without informing the prime minister first. The government is facing a tide of anger from politicians and the public over the revelation that Dominic Cummings traveled more than 250 miles (400 kilometers) from London to his parents' home in Durham, northeast England at the end of March. Cummings says he traveled so that extended family could care for his 4-year-old son if he and his wife, who had suspected coronavirus, both fell ill. He said the three of them stayed in isolation in a building on his father's farm. His trip came after the government imposed a strict “stay home” order, and Cummings is being accused of flouting the rules he expected the rest of the country to follow. Many Britons have taken to social media and radio phone-ins to recount how the lockdown had prevented them from visiting elderly relatives, comforting dying friends or attending the funerals of loved ones. In a televised news conference in the garden of 10 Downing St. — all but unheard of for an unelected adviser — Cummings tried to quash the controversy with a detailed but unrepentant account of his movements. Cummings insisted that “the rules … allowed me to exercise my judgment” and that his need to ensure childcare for his son was an “exceptional situation.” The government's stay-at-home rules, introduced March 23, said people with children should comply ”to the best of your ability.' Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries later said that “if you have adults who are unable to look after a small child, that is an exceptional circumstance.” She said in that case people without child care or family support should contact their local authority for help — something Cummings didn't do. “I don’t regret what I did,” Cummings said, though he acknowledged that “reasonable people” might disagree with his actions. Cummings said he didn't tell the prime minister, who had just been diagnosed with COVID-19, about his decision to leave London, because “he was ill himself and he had huge problems to deal with.” “Arguably this was a mistake,' Cummings said. Johnson has stood by Cummings, saying he “followed the instincts of every father and every parent.” “Of course I do regret the confusion and the anger and the pain that people feel,” Johnson said at the government's daily news briefing. “That’s why I wanted people to understand exactly what had happened.” A self-styled political disrupter who disdains the media and civil service, the 48-year-old Cummings has been essential to Johnson’s rise to power. He was one of the architects of the successful campaign to take Britain out of the European Union, and orchestrated Brexit champion Johnson’s thumping election victory in December. Five months on from that triumph, Johnson’s government is facing criticism for its response to a pandemic that has hit Britain harder than any other European country. Britain’s official coronavirus death toll stands at 36,914, the second-highest confirmed total in the world after the United States. The coronavirus laid low a swath of senior U.K. officials, including Cummings, Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Johnson himself, who spent several days in intensive care at a London hospital in April. The U.K. is gradually easing its lockdown, initially by allowing more outdoor recreation. The government plans to reopen schools starting on June 1, and Johnson said Monday that the vast majority of shops in England will be able to open two weeks later, as long as they can become “COVID-19 secure.” Some scientists said Cummings' behavior would make it harder to enforce continued social distancing. Stephen Reicher, a social psychologist who sits on a group advising the government, said “more people are going to die” because the episode would undermine adherence to the lockdown rules. The opposition Labour Party said the government's message was that there was 'one rule for Boris Johnson’s closest adviser, another for everybody else.” Ominously for Johnson, some Conservative lawmakers also expressed unease. Member of Parliament Paul Maynard said the aide’s actions were “a classic case of ‘do as I say, not as I do,’' The conservative Daily Mail newspaper, usually supportive of Johnson, blared “What planet are they on?” in a headline about Cummings and the prime minister.' Cummings, who usually exerts power from the sidelines, looked uncomfortable but didn't admit fault during a live media grilling that lasted more than an hour. He said that people felt “understandable anger,” but insisted much of it was “based on reports in the media that haven't been true.” However, he confirmed most of the details in media reports of his travels, including the journey to Durham and an April 12 drive to a scenic town half an hour away — taken, Cummings said, to check whether his eyesight, which had been affected by illness, had recovered enough for him to drive. “I don’t think there is one rule for me and one rule for other people,” he said, insisting he had done what he thought was right at the time. He said he hadn't considered resigning. Asked whether Johnson should consider sacking him, Cummings said: “That’s not for me to decide. It’s up to him to decide.” ___ Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • Americans settled for small processions and online tributes instead of parades Monday as they observed Memorial Day in the shadow of the pandemic, which forced communities to honor the nation’s military dead with modest, more subdued ceremonies that also remembered those lost to the coronavirus. On the weekend that marked the unofficial start of summer, authorities warned people heading to beaches, parks or backyard barbecues to heed social-distancing rules to avoid a resurgence of the disease that has infected 5.4 million people worldwide and killed over 345,000, including nearly 100,000 Americans, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Memorial Day commemorations were canceled or toned down across the country. Veterans, along with nursing home residents, have made up a significant portion of those who died in the U.S. outbreak. Frank Groblebe and his wife placed lilacs on several graves at Mountview Cemetery in Billings, Montana, including those of his mother and father, who served in the Philippines as a Navy Seabee during World War II. Groblebe said he approved of plans to curtail the ceremony, which included a motorcycle procession and moments of quiet remembrance. “This is our freedom. This is our history. It’s what they fought for,” Groblebe said, briefly choking up with tears. “Anything that shows respect for it is all right with me.' Sharon Oakland placed mums on the grave of her father, also a Navy veteran in World War II. She watched from a distance as the motorcycles rolled by. “What they’ve done is remarkable given what’s going on with the virus,” she said. The day looked different across the U.S. The 37,000 American flags traditionally placed on the Boston Common to honor Massachusetts military members who died in service were replaced with just 1,000 flags, to limit volunteers and onlookers. In Minneapolis, several bagpipers and drummers lined up outside the Minnesota Veterans Home and played as a parade of cars drove past. The city of Woodstock, Georgia, held its ceremony online. American Legion Post 316 Commander Julian Windham recognized service members who helped in the global fight against COVID-19. “Even when the enemy is an invisible virus or a microscopic germ, the sacrifices made are just as meaningful,” Windham said. The ceremony, which included readings, vocal performances and gunshots from a ceremonial rifle team, were filmed over a series of days last week and edited together, Windham said. In Chicago, a neighborhood group that’s been holding a parade for more than a half century also moved its event online, with video clips from previous years and messages from special guests, including veterans and Mayor Lori Lightfoot. In the suburb of Lisle, a convoy of vehicles from fire departments and VFW posts drove silently through village streets. Fallen military members were honored in New York City with car convoys and small ceremonies. “It’s something we’re upset about, but we understand,” said Raymond Aalbue, chairman of the United Military Veterans of Kings County, which usually puts on a parade in Brooklyn. There’s “no reason to put anybody in harm’s way,” he said, adding “it’s really cutting quick to the heart of all the veterans.” On Long Island, a small group of veterans saluted, wearing masks and spaced several feet apart, as a parade of cars passed beneath a large American flag. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo joined a private ceremony at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in Manhattan, with both the sacrifices of military members and the challenge of the coronavirus on his mind. “Over 100,000 Americans will lose their lives to this COVID virus. How do we honor them? We honor them by growing stronger together,” he said. “We want to make sure we remember them and thank our heroes today.” Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden made his first in-person appearance in more than two months by laying a wreath at a veterans park near his Delaware home. He wore a face mask as he and his wife bowed their heads in silence. He saluted and could be heard saying “Never forget.” Biden told reporters, “I feel great to be out here.' He also yelled to a group standing nearby, “Thank you for your service.” After two days of playing golf, President Donald Trump visited Arlington National Cemetery, where he laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which overlooks rolling hills dotted with white tombstones. He later spoke at Baltimore's historic Fort McHenry, noting that tens of thousands of service members and national guard personnel are currently “on the front lines of our war against this terrible virus.” Trump said brave warriors from the nation’s past have shown that “in America, we are the captains of our own fate.” Tens of thousands of Americans still headed outdoors over the weekend to shake off some pandemic restrictions. Missouri’s health director issued a dire warning Monday after photos and video showed weekend revelers partying close together. One video posted on social media showed a crammed pool at Lake of the Ozarks. Many of those seen in the video were young people, who may not experience symptoms. “When they then carry the virus and transmit it to a more vulnerable person, this is when we tend to see the long-lasting and tragic impact of these decisions that are being made,” said Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director Randall Williams. St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson called such high-risk behavior “irresponsible and dangerous.' ___ Forliti reported from Minneapolis. Associated Press writers Sara Burnett in Chicago and R.J. Rico in Atlanta also contributed to this report. ___ Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.
  • A key indicator of German business outlooks bounced upward in May as more businesses and activities re-opened — but the index remained far below normal readings as Germany faced a long journey toward full recovery from the coronavirus downturn. Revised official figures released separately Monday showed the economy has now recorded two straight quarters of falling output, meeting a commonly used definition of recession. The Ifo institute index based on surveys of businesses rose to 79.5 from 74.2 in April, a strong increase but still far below normal. “The gradual easing of the lockdown offers a glimmer of hope,” said Ifo President Clemens Fuest. Carsten Brzeski, chief eurozone economist at ING, said in a research note that “today’s Ifo index echoes more real-time signals that economic and social activity has started to pick up significantly since the first lifting of the lockdown measures in late April.” He said the upturn from historic lows was “highly welcome” but “no reason for complacency or even hubris.” He said the German economy is unlikely to return to its pre-crisis level before 2022 even if there is no second wave of the virus outbreak. Official statistics released Monday confirmed an earlier reading that the German economy shrank by 2.2% in the first quarter of the year compared with the same period in 2019. That was the biggest quarterly decline since the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. The more detailed figures in the second release showed that private consumption and exports were the hardest hit. Investments in the engineering sector, construction and public expenditure helped prevent an even bigger downturn. The figures revised growth for the last quarter of 2019 to minus 0.1%, meaning the country has recorded two straight quarters of falling output. Figures for the second quarter should show an even deeper downturn since the first-quarter figures only captured part of the lockdowns.
  • Greece restarted regular ferry services to its islands Monday, and cafes and restaurants were also back open for business as the country accelerated efforts to salvage its tourism season. Travel to the islands had been generally off-limits since a lockdown was imposed in late March to halt the spread of the coronavirus, with only goods suppliers and permanent residents allowed access. But the country’s low infection rate in the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the government to start the holiday season three weeks earlier than the expected June 15 date, as other Mediterranean countries — including Italy, Spain and Turkey — are grappling with deadlier outbreaks. At Bairaktaris restaurant on central Monastiraki Square in Athens, waiters and staff wearing purple face masks and some with plastic visors, sliced meat from the revolving gyros grill, arranged flowers on widely spaced tables and waited for customers, who remained cautious Monday. Spiros Bairaktaris, the exuberant owner, is carrying on a family business running for 140 years and has framed pictures on the wall of himself sitting next to supermodel Naomi Campbell, singer Cesaria Evora, and other past celebrity customers. He says he’s optimistic about the season despite the slow start. “This has never happened before,” he told the AP. “We normally sit 100 in the inside area, now it’ll be just 30. ... There won’t be any bouzouki music or dancing until we get the all-clear from the doctors. 'But I think people from all over Europe will come here because we have a low death toll, thank God.” Greece has had nearly 2,900 infections and 171 deaths from the virus. Italy has seen nearly 33,000 coronavirus patients die, Spain has had nearly 29,000 dead and Turkey has had 4,340 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Social distancing regulations and passenger limits have been imposed on ferries and at restaurants to ward off new infections. State-run health services to combat the coronavirus are being expanded to the islands, with intensive care units being placed on five islands: Lesbos, Samos, Rhodes, Zakynthos, and Corfu, along with existing ICU facilities on the island of Crete. Tourism is a vital part of the Greek economy, directly contributing more than 10% of the country’s GDP as Greece struggles to emerge from years of financial crisis. More than 34 million visitors traveled to Greece last year, spending 18.2 billion euros ($19.5 billion), according to government data. With a view of the Acropolis and padded lounge seating, it’s usually hard for cafe goers to find a spot at Kayak, but midday Monday it was still largely empty. “Eighty percent of our business is from tourism, and people in Greece are cautious, they fear they will lose their job,” owner Liza Meneretzi said. “I’ve been running the cafe for 30 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this. But I was born an optimist, so we’ll see how things go.” ___ Petros Giannakouris and Iliana Mier contributed to this report. ___ Derek Gatopoulos is on Twitter here: https://www.twitter.com/dgatopoulos ___ Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

Local News

  • The first week of work on Oconee County’s newest traffic circle is coming to a close: crews have closed a stretch of Malcom Bridge Road to construct a roundabout. The impacted area is between the 2400 block of Malcom Bridge to its junction with Mars Hill Road. It’s a project that is designed to facilitate traffic at the bus and staff entrance to Malcom Bridge elementary and middle schools in Oconee County. Work is expected to continue through the end of July.  This will be Oconee County’s second roundabout. The first opened last year at Mars Hill Road’s intersection with Malcom Bridge Road. 
  • Athens-Clarke County Police are searching for suspects in the reported armed robbery of an auto parts store on Hawthorne Avenue: workers in the store tell police they were made to lie on the floor by two men wearing surgical masks.  The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office says an Athens man arrested and booked into the Oconee County jail after allegedly shoplifting at a Wal Mart store on Epps Bridge Road was armed at the time of the crime. In addition to the theft charges, 24 year-old Shaquavion Adkins (pictured above) is facing counts related to the gun possession and the fact that had been previously convicted on felon charges and was thus not legally allowed to have the handgun.  A Newton County woman arrested after police say she shot her child’s father and his girlfriend is now facing a murder charge: police in Covington say charges for 22 year-old Dalanna Bailey were upgraded from aggravated assault after the death of 27 year-old La’Peachah Nash.
  • The system that runs Georgia’s 22 technical colleges introduced a plan to its board Wednesday that proposes furloughs and layoffs to meet the state government’s demand to cut its budget by 14% for the 12-month fiscal year that starts July 1. The plan does not specify how many employees would be laid off. The system said it still in the process of evaluating to determine an exact number Regarding furloughs, the system is planning a tiered approach that includes up to 12 days. The furloughs would begin July 1. The system’s commissioner, Greg Dozier, would participate in the furlough plan, a spokesman said. State officials earlier this month asked all departments and agencies to come up with the 14% cuts in response to revenue declines created by the coronavirus pandemic. The proposed 14% cuts total $52.3 million across the technical college system, with more than $46 million coming from general education programs and the rest from its adult education budget, administrative costs and other programs. Dozier told board members that some educational programs being done on multiple campuses would be consolidated, such as auto collision or fire services. Some adult education programs would have more students and more classes would be taught online. The system has metro Atlanta colleges in Cobb, DeKalb and Gwinnett counties and the city of Atlanta.
  • The Clarke County School District says links to virtual graduation ceremonies for seniors at Clarke Central, Cedar Shoals, and Classic City high schools will be available later today: the District says the events are not live and can be viewed on-demand. From the Clarke Co School District… Cedar Shoals High School Valedictorian – Paula Figueroa Ms. Paula Figueroa, the valedictorian of Cedar Shoals, is continuing her academic journey at Emory University. Active on and off-campus in student government, service clubs, and volunteer organizations, she also conducted research at the Tsai Lab Genetics Department, as part of the “Young Dawgs” program at the University of Georgia. Ms. Figueroa received accolades from the National Honor Society, National Hispanic Honor Society, and was named an AP Scholar and AP Scholar with Distinction. “My experience at Cedar Shoals was one I wouldn’t change. When I first started high school, I was new to the state, and I didn’t know anyone, but I came to realize how inviting, and inclusive the community was. I fell in love with my school’s diversity and its constant successful fights with adversity. Cedar Shoals is where I met my closest friends, where I learned how to speak up, lead, and, most importantly, how to grow and keep going when things get tough.” “Ms. Figueroa was a joy to have in our classrooms and school community – she is charismatic, humble, and brought a wonderful spirit to Cedar,” states Antonio Derricotte, principal.  Co-Salutatorian – Angela Ghimire Cedar Shoal’s co-salutatorian, Ms. Angela Ghimire, credits her involvement in the Freshman Academy Mentoring Program as having a significant influence on her future. Helping to impact the lives of other students motivated her to set higher goals and work to achieve academic success. “The diverse and open-minded environment of Cedar Shoals allowed me to build a foundation of excellence for myself and gave me countless opportunities to strive for greatness. Cedar Shoals introduced me to so many hard-working educators and supportive peers who all contributed to helping me to reach where I am today,” states Ms. Ghimire. Co-Salutatorian – Aaliyah Hill Ms. Aaliyah Hill, co-salutatorian at Cedar Shoals, recognized and valued how a school community could positively shape the entire student body. “Attending high school at Cedar makes you feel like you have a second family. Through the ups and downs, we always seemed to come together for the better,” states Ms. Hill. Active in extra-curricular activities as a varsity cheerleader and a member of the Senior Advisory Board, she was named to the National Honor Society and served as president of the Sigma Alpha Pi, the National Political Science Honor Society. Ms. Hill will attend Georgia State University, with plans to major in nursing or health sciences. “Ms. Hill was an advocate for fellow students, constantly campaigning on their behalf, and inspiring them to find their voice and seek answers. She’s a positive force and will be a success in whichever field she chooses,” states Antonio Derricotte, Cedar Shoals principal.Clarke Central High School Co-Valedictorian – Theron Camp Clarke Central’s co-valedictorian, Mr. Theron Camp, is attending the University of Georgia as a Foundation Fellow, after an accomplished high school career which included being named a National Merit Finalist and the Clarke County STAR Student. 'I have only positive things to say about the people at Clarke Central. I know people say this sort of thing all the time in these situations, but I don't think they entirely understand what it means or how uncommon it really is for people's high school experience (and, in fact, their entire school experience) to be defined by positive and productive interactions. Looking back, four years is an awfully short time, and though I'm ready to move on to the college part of life, I don't think I spent nearly as much time at Central as I might've liked.' Mr. Theron’s extra-curricular activities included competing with the cross country and track teams, creating art, serving as the team photographer for the DC Girls’ Baseball team, and being a founding player/member of Northeast Georgia Hockey Association. “Mr. Camp is an academically focused student-athlete who represented our school well,” states Dr. Swade Huff, principal of Clarke Central.  Co-Valedictorian – Elena Gilbertson Hall Ms. Elena Gilbertson Hall, Clarke Central’s co-valedictorian, parlayed her high school success into acceptance from 14 post-secondary institutions (and almost $700,000 in scholarship offers), deciding to attend the University of Chicago, with the intent to study political science and mathematics. “Clarke Central has given me so many opportunities, including amazing teachers, classes, clubs, and extraordinarily supportive staff members and administrators,” states Ms. Gilbertson Hall. “My favorite thing about CCHS is the diverse student body, and I have learned so much from my peers over the past four years. Although our senior year didn't end as expected, I am grateful for the years I have gotten to spend with the class of 2020, and I wish all my classmates the best in the future.” Ms. Gilbertson Hall’s high school highlights include Editor-in-Chief of the ODYSSEY Media Group, 2020 Georgia Champion Journalist, Legislative Fellow for State Representative Spencer Frye, Founder of the Equal Test Prep Initiative, President of the CCHS Young Democrats Club, CoPresident of the CCHS Women in STEM Club, Winner of the National Merit Scholarship, Co-Founder and Vice-Chair of the Athens Mayor's Youth Commission. “Ms. Gilbertson Hall is a talented ambassador of Clarke Central who advocated for others through her thoughts and actions, as evident with her Equal Test Prep program to prepare students for the ACT/SAT,” states Dr. Swade Huff, principal.  Salutatorian – Lucy Yeomans Ms. Lucy Yeomans acquired accolades in the classroom, on the concert stage, and as a recordsetting athlete. As a scholar, she was named Cumulative “All-A” Honor Roll, AP Scholar with Distinction, Georgia Certificate of Merit, and National Merit Commended Scholar. A school recordholder in swimming and track and field, Ms. Yeomans led teams to state competitions, earning region and state honors. As a member of the Clarke Central Orchestra, she was named Most Valuable Player, Most Dedicated Player, and designated Concertmaster. Ms. Yeomans will attend the University of Richmond. 'I wouldn't trade my experience at Clarke Central for anything. It is such a diverse, unique school that has afforded me many opportunities,' states Ms. Yeomans. Clarke Central’s principal knows Ms. Yeomans will be successful going forward. “She worked hard as a student-athlete and positioned herself to continue finding success in both roles at the collegiate level,” states Dr. Swade Huff.Classic City High School Valedictorian – Joseph Ferdina Thoyi Le Le Walker Along with his high school diploma, Classic City’s top student, Joseph Walker, received a Technical Certificate of Credit for Video Game Design Specialist, prompting aspirations to enter the field of animation after college. “After starting school in Oregon then moving from Mississippi to Athens, my educational experience took a different turn. I came to Classic City to get ahead with my credits. I remained focused and even took advantage of academic opportunities to gain college credits,” states Mr. Walker. “The experiences I had going to a non-traditional school made it worth my while because attending Classic City and taking college courses through Athens Tech at ACCA gave me real-world practice for my future in college and life. I had the opportunity to feel the freedom and responsibility that comes with having entire sections of the day where I had no classes. The friends I made came from different grade levels and experiences, and we were all able to connect as equals. I wouldn't change it for the world. As a result of taking a non-traditional route, putting in hard work, and making genuine connections, I know that my future in animation will be bright.” “Joseph is one of a kind. His thinking is atypical of students his age – he thinks outside of the box but has realistic visions. Joseph takes advantage of opportunities to encourage others and is on the right track to accomplish future goals. I know success is in his future and can’t wait to see how he brightens up the world,” states Katrina Daniel, principal of Classic City. Salutatorian Melissa Campbell Classic City’s salutatorian decided to go to Classic City to experience a different educational environment, seeking smaller class sizes and an accelerated pace. Ms. Melissa Campbell utilized Classic City’s college and career resources to help her decide to continue her education and train to be a medical assistant. “Classic City allowed me to open up more and be myself. If it weren't for the amazing teachers, I would not be in this position today to graduate a year early. They all continued to encourage me, along with my wonderful mother,” states Ms. Campbell. “I am proud to be the salutatorian of Classic City's Class of 2020!” “Melissa is honest, caring, and very compassionate about doing her best,” states Katrina Daniel, Classic City principal. “She worked hard and accomplished her goal by finishing a year ahead of schedule – proving when you stay focused, set goals, and work hard, all things are possible.” 
  • The landfill on Lexington Road near the Clarke-Oglethorpe County line is reopening for Saturday service starting tomorrow, but Athens-Clarke County officials say you will have to make an appointment.From the Athens-Clarke Co government website… In addition to Monday-Friday, ACC Landfill will re-open for residential customers on Saturdays beginning May 23, 2020 by appointment only. ACC Landfill residential customers must make an appointment online at www.accgov.com/landfill before visiting the Landfill.  Operations have been adjusted to allow a manageable flow of customers while keeping staff safe. Face masks and social distancing are highly encouraged. Residents can pay via water business account or check ONLY.  Oglethorpe Construction & Demolition Landfill will also re-open on Saturdays from 8-11:45 am. Face masks and gloves are required for all Oglethorpe landfill customer

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS Social media has never played a bigger role in sports than it has the past 2 1/2 months with college sports sidelined on account of the coronavirus. For better and sometimes for worse, fanbases have relied heavily on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for their sports takes of late. Certainly, social media had a field day on Sunday after watching 'The Match ll' on television featuring Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. There was key insight into the Georgia football program to be found on Twitter, too. More social media buzz is schedule for Tuesday, when UGA star pitcher Emerson Hancock holds a 10 a.m. Zoom press conference to announce his future intentions with the Major League Baseball Draft approaching. On Wednesday, UGA athletic director Greg McGarity joins DawgNation at noon for the On The Beat program. The show moved from its customary 7:30 p.m. Monday slot on account of Memorial Day. Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean appeared last week. The Bulldogs have a reloaded team that looks to break more records next season. RELATED: How Tom Crean plans to turn Georgia basketball into a winner Here are three social media blasts worth noting from the Memorial Day weekend: Monty speaks up and out Georgia senior Monty Rice has yet to make first-team All-SEC, and he's hardly a household name even in his home state of Alabama. But the feeling here is Rice has evolved into the leader and player Kirby Smart knew he could be two years ago when he tabbed him to step in Roquan Smith's shoes at linebacker. Rice echoed his head coach's Sugar Bowl post-game sentiments when he called out himself and teammates on Memorial Day, setting a tone that's sure to roll into workouts when UGA players return on June 8. WATCH: Kirby Smart sends stern message after Sugar Bowl win It's one thing for a coach to say it, but another when a team leader like Rice is sending the message in the locker room when the coaches aren't around. I've been on a defense that was supposed to be dominant and we weren't. Wanna know why? 1word complacency #ripshotime #lastyeardontmatter Monty Rice (@RiceMonty) May 25, 2020 It's worth noting Georgia led the nation in scoring defense and rushing defense last season and ranked third in total defense and eighth in pass efficiency defense. It's also worth pointing out that it was Rice throwing a fit in the postgame of the Auburn game. While many others celebrated a 21-14 win, Rice was aggravated UGA gave up its first rushing TD of the season. WATCH: Monty Rice more evidence of invisible progress during COVID-19 break And, from the sounds of it, incoming freshmen like Kelee Ringo will see to it returning starters can't afford to get complacent. RELATED: Kelee Ringo trains with NFL star, could make sudden impact at cornerback Peyton tees off Former Tennessee standout and five-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning is perhaps the greatest pitch man in football history, so he was right at home being mic'd up for 'The Match ll' golf event with Brady, Woods and Mickelson. Manning hilariously explained why he wouldn't match the signature red and black colors worn by his golf partner, Woods. 'I'm mot wearing black and red, that's Georgia Bulldog colors, I mean, I just can't do that,' Manning said. 'If you want me to get sick on the first hole I'll do it. 'I'm not gonna let Kirby Smart get a picture of me in black and red for their social media account.' #Georgia fans take note: social media matters, even Peyton conscientious of Kirby Smart https://t.co/xNX3jz8bIJ MikeGriffith32 (@MikeGriffith32) May 24, 2020 Tennessee has elevated its program image through social media throughout the offseason like no other program, trumpeting a No. 2 recruiting ranking that currently hinges more on volume than average player rating. To boot, the Vols social media account is promoting fictitious cartoon 'Coach Duggs' playing video games, celebrating the animated action as though it was real. Gametime Back where it all began Tennessee @ Toledo Starts Now -> https://t.co/MzqHRTGM0Z pic.twitter.com/2so1jP0swO Big Cat (@BarstoolBigCat) May 25, 2020 RELATED: Vols rewriting recruiting playbook Jake's belated farewell Celebrated Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm slipped away from the Bulldogs' program via a social media farewell on Jan. 8. RELATED: Jake Fromm drops surprising decision on Georgia, ends decorated career It seemed odd that a player so highly regarded and accomplished as Fromm would choose to bid his program and fan base farewell via a social media post rather than an in-person press conference. The personable Fromm is as celebrated a home-state hero as one will find. From his heroic Little League World Series days in Warner Robins, to his fascinating and fun character reveal as a star of the Netflix QB1 Series. Fromm, now in the role of NFL underdog quarterback as a rookie with the Buffalo Bills, took time to share his sentiments for Georgia through the school's football account on Saturday. Most everyone knew how Fromm felt about the Bulldogs, but to finally hear him acknowledge the legacy he leaves behind had to leave UGA fans feeling fulfilled Fromm shared some of his favorite memories, concluding, 'What's not to love about it? Everything, honestly . I loved every minute of it, I wouldn't trade it for anything in the entire world. 'The fans are amazing, and that's what makes Georgia football fun, the whole state of Georgia and DawgNation gets on board.' . An Experience Unlike Any Other | @FrommJake takes us back to some of his favorite memories as a Dawg #ATD #GoDawgs pic.twitter.com/mYjAS6y94A Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) May 23, 2020 DawgNation Georgia football offseason Kirby Smart shares thoughts on June 8 return to campus Jamaree Salyer one of the big offseason winners for Georgia Rival programs looming on recruiting trail for Bulldogs Podcast: George Pickens should ease Jamie Newman transition WATCH: Jamie Newman gets offseason work with Justin Fields The post 3 Georgia football social media blasts from Monty Rice, Peyton Manning and Jake Fromm appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia has arguably the best secondary in the nation returning, but there's talk incoming freshman Kelee Ringo is so good he might ultimately win a starting job this season. Ringo, no doubt, has the mindset and approach along with talent to make a sudden impact for the Bulldogs. WATCH: Early takeaways on newcomers, Kelee Ringo leads No. 1 class The No. 1-ranked cornerback prospect in the country certainly isn't resting on his laurels, as his recent workout at Ford Sports Performance indicated. NFL trainer Tracy Ford post pictures on his twitter account of the young and gifted Ringo working out with 5-time NFL Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman on Saturday. Ford said Ringo, the No. 4 overall player in the nation per the 247Sports composite, was 'getting the words of wisdom.' The #1 rated HS corner in the country in 2020 @KeleeRingo getting the words of wisdom today from the Best Corner in the @NFL @RSherman_25 during today's on field session. The knowledge is priceless when the vision is clear and the people are Pure! #FSPCulture #WeJustWorking pic.twitter.com/efzQdQiEoF Tracy Ford (@TFordFSP) May 24, 2020 There's sure to be plenty more of those from Georgia secondary coach Charlton Warren, one of the more celebrated position coach hires of the Smart era last summer. RELATED: What Kelee Ringo's decision to attend Georgia means for future Fact is, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Ringo will arrive in Athens in June with NFL prototype size. 'Everybody that first sees him goes he is probably a safety right?' said Ringo's Saguaro High School coach, Jason Mohns. 'You're not used to seeing corners that are that big and that physical. But the kid is a 10.4 state champion in the 100 meters. He's a back-to-back 100 meters champion in the state of Arizona. He ran the fastest time in the state last year. So why do you need to move him?' 'He's got great feet. He's got great hips. He's got tremendous speed. He's got great length. He's got the instincts of a great cornerback. He's what I have heard described as a unicorn. They don't make them like Kelee.' Indeed, but a ton of experienced competition awaits Ringo in Athens. Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy was commenting last week on how much experience the Bulldogs bring back from a secondary that ranked No. 8 in the nation in pass efficiency. Eric Stokes, D.J. Daniel and Tyson Campbell all have multiple starts under their belts, and safety Richard LeCounte has the look of a preseason All-American. Hard to imagine any team having more upperclassmen DB talent than @GeorgiaFootball. Seniors DS Richard LeCounte and CBs D.J. Daniel & Mark Webb are all next-level players. RS junior CB Eric Stokes is also a @seniorbowl candidate if he grads in December. #TheDraftStartsInMOBILE pic.twitter.com/Sow4qhykez Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) May 18, 2020 Lewis Cine shined in place of safety J.R. Reed in his Cotton Bowl start, and then there's all sorts of talented depth in the defensive backs room. RELATED: J.R. Reed says UGA defense won't be no name' much longer Senior Mark Webb has the inside track at the star position but sophomore Tyrique Stevenson impressed in the spring of 2019 and appears poised to make an impact. Redshirt sophomore Divaad Wilson, junior Ameer Speed, junior Christopher Smith, junior William Poole and junior Latavious Brini are all considered in the mix. RELATED: 3 parting shots from dominant Sugar Bowl win over Baylor Georgia signed some other talented defensive backs, too, including early enrollees Major Burns and Jalen Kimber. But Ringo, the sentiment is, could be a difference-maker. The fact he was willing to travel up to Washington to work out before reporting to Georgia is merely more evidence of just how special of an addition Ringo could be. DawgNation Georgia football offseason Kirby Smart shares thoughts on June 8 return to campus Jamaree Salyer one of the big offseason winners for Georgia Rival programs looming on recruiting trail for Bulldogs Podcast: George Pickens should ease Jamie Newman transition WATCH: Jamie Newman gets offseason work with Justin Fields The post Georgia freshman Kelee Ringo works out with NFL All-Pro, preparing for greatness appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Now comes the hard part. So says Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity with the return of college football underway across the country. 'We have one chance to get this right and we all know what happens if we don't get it right, it certainly pushes us back to the way things are right now,' McGarity said on the Bulldogs Game Day program. RELATED: Kirby Smart discusses Georgia's return to campus 'So we've got to be careful, we've got to do our due diligence, we've got to do a tremendous educational job not only for our staff, but our student athletes, for his new world.' SEC commissioner Greg Sankey announced that the league's new world on campus can begin as early as June 8 with voluntary workouts on campus. RELATED: SEC presidents' vote, what it means for Georgia football The football coaches will not be allowed to oversee the workouts, but the programs' strength and conditioning staff will be permitted to supervise. What next? DawgNation Friday Night Mike 1. Uniform football start College programs' return to campus for workouts vary, but the start date for football practices overseen by coaches is expected to be uniform. The Big Ten is allowing its schools to return to campus at their own discretion, Nebraska among the early returners on the first eligibile date, June 1. The SEC has announced a June 8 date, and the Big 12 schools can return as early as June 15. The conference commissioners have agreed on a six-week training camp in effect by mid-July with an on-time season start date in mind. UGA officials have discussed among many possibilities quarantining the coaches and players on campus during a two-introductory phase. McGarity pointed out there is much to be determined. 'It's only the first step and there are many details still to be determined on every campus,' McGarity said. 'We'll certainly be driven by the medical community and our sports medicine staff led by (director of sports medicine) Ron Courson.' The NCAA oversight committee had recommended the six weeks of preparation before the season. 2. Fans in the stands The most fluid element of college football's return also figures to be the most controversial, with impassioned fans holding their collective breath as in-person attendance remains in limbo. Georgia, like every other program, has been considering several models with any sort of final decision still weeks way and almost completely at the mercy of the status of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ohio State announced last week it was considering a social-distanced model of 20,000 to 22,000 fans in its 102,000-seat football coliseum. Georgia is considering several attendance models that would take into consideration various COVID-19 conditions and circumstances, using a similar formula to Ohio State from approximately 18,000 on up. The question is, how would the tickets be distributed beyond essential personnel needed for sideline and stadium operations? Major donors, parents of players, recruits and students would seem to be at the forefront of the line in terms of ticket priority. Many scenarios and models are being worked on. 3. Georgia athletes' testing The SEC provided minimum guidelines for its 14-member schools upon announcing the league's June 8 start date with coaching restriction. SEC provides blueprint for team's return A league-appointed 'Medical Guidance Task Force,' which includes top pubic health, infectious disease and sports medicine professionals from across the league, plans a 3-stage screening process and testing symptomatic team members. Georgia's plan, however, takes it a step further and involves COVID testing and the medical evaluations on all student-athletes. The obvious question is what happens when a player or players test positive? How will the quarantine process work? McGarity said early on the key words would be 'testing, tracing and treatment,' but until it plays out, there are questions. Players who test positive will likely have their identities withheld by the school under HIPAA guidelines. The value of the UGA sports scholarship has never been more evident, as the programs need not cut any corners because of the $105 million available in the schools' reserve fund. Only 41 percent of FBS programs have a reserve fund, and many have announced cuts and furloughs, some schools eliminating athletics programs. DawgNation College Football Offseason SEC presidents make it official, looking ahead to June 8 return RELATED: 5 keys, NCAA vote on Wednesday includes pivotal provisions College football return takes turn out West NCAA president Mark Emmert discusses issues with return to campus Les Miles says college football set for return, expert says no fans in stands Return of college football critical to fans' psyche, pocketbooks UGA president Jere Morehead employs 9 research groups for optimal return NCAA advances ball on name, image, likeness player compensation States opening equates to flickering light for college football return Greg Sankey hasn't ruled out a CFB season without all conferences Three keys amid college football return process, from Greg Sankey NCAA board of governors votes unanimously in favor of NIL compensation The post WATCH 3 things: What's next for college football return appeared first on DawgNation.
  • It's been interesting to see how the newspapers I read regularly have chosen to deal with the lack of sports during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Athens Banner-Herald has done away with its sports section for the duration; what sports stories it runs (mostly about what the future holds for the UGA football program), are in the news pages. USA Today has kept its sports section, spending a lot of time discussing what the sports landscape might look like later this year. And, the AJC also has kept its sports section, much of which has been devoted to nostalgic looks back at local teams' triumphs, like the Braves' World Series-winning season. The AJC also has been running a series of columns from its various sports staffers, in which they recount the five most memorable games they have covered in their careers. The articles have been fun reading, covering quite a wide variety of sports (with Georgia football well represented). That put me to thinking about the five most memorable games I've attended. I won't say 'covered,' because, although I've been blogging about Georgia football for 15 seasons, that's always been as a fan, not a reporter. I wasn't a sportswriter during my career with the AJC, and I only ever participated in covering one football game in my career, for The Red & Black student paper at UGA. That was the Sept. 15, 1973, season opener in Athens against the Pitt Panthers. The Dogs were a 17-point favorite, but the Panthers had a running back making his collegiate debut that day named Tony Dorsett, and he rushed for 101 yards as the two teams played to a 7-7 tie. I'd been managing editor of The Red & Black that summer, and all of the paper's student staff wasn't back yet, since school hadn't started (UGA began classes much later in those days), so the sports editor asked me to help out with the coverage. It was the only regular season game I've ever watched from the press box, an experience I didn't particularly enjoy, since you weren't supposed to cheer. After the game, I did the locker room interviews with a disappointed bunch of Dawgs. 'We just never could get going,' my old Athens High classmate Andy Johnson told me. 'We didn't underestimate them. We knew they would be good, but I don't know, I guess we just weren't ready.' So, yeah, it was one of the most memorable games ever for me, in terms of how I experienced it, but not a great outcome. Likewise, the Oct. 22, 1977, homecoming game certainly was one of the most memorable ever, with Prince Charles in attendance (the Georgia student section chanted 'Damn good prince!') and James Brown performing with the Redcoats at halftime (with my brother Jonathan underneath the stage, bracing it with his back as the Godfather of Soul did his splits). But, the game itself was one of the worst ever in Athens, a 33-0 loss to Kentucky. (I believe that might have been the game where an irate Vince Dooley pushed over a row of lockers at halftime in frustration.) The 21-10 win to end the losing streak against Tennessee in 2000 also was memorable. The atmosphere was unforgettable, as the Sanford Stadium crowd sensed victory and massed around the field, but while fans taking down the goalposts after the game was understandable, the fact that some of them then trashed their own stadium, ripping up the hedges, was an act so mindless that I still don't understand it. So, that one stays off the list. I also was at the basketball game in the Georgia Coliseum on March 8, 1969, when 'Pistol Pete' Maravich scored 58 points. With LSU ahead by 8 in the second overtime, Maravich dribbled around Bulldogs defenders for about a minute, putting on a show, then launched a 35-foot hook shot at the buzzer for a 90-80 win. Georgia fans, appreciative of the amazing performance they'd just seen, mobbed him on the floor. But, again, it was a Georgia loss. So, stipulating that I want my five most memorable games to be Dawgs wins, that sent me back to a listing of the greatest games my brothers and I ever have attended. We first compiled it shortly after I started the Junkyard Blawg in 2005, and I updated it in 2009 and 2017, to add additional games. The most recent version offered a baker's dozen of the greatest games I'd seen, and, believe me, it was tough narrowing it down to those. Picking the five most memorable? Even tougher. Still, here goes, ranking them in ascending order, like the AJC series did. (Keep in mind, this is limited to games I saw in person. My list doesn't include some of Georgia's greatest wins games that I watched on TV or listened to on radio, including the upset of Michigan in Ann Arbor, 'Run, Lindsay!' in Jacksonville, the national championship win over Notre Dame in New Orleans and the 'hobnail boot' game in Knoxville.) 5. Georgia over Georgia Tech, 30-24, Nov. 28, 2009:Frankly, I was dreading attending this one when my son Bill decided to take me to my first game at Grant Field in decades, but the lightly-regarded Dawgs ran it down the throats of a Jackets team that ended up winning the ACC Championship. This was the original 'We run this state' game. The looks on the faces of the Tech fans on the walk back to the North Avenue MARTA station afterward were priceless. 4. Georgia over Clemson, 27-12, Oct. 5, 1991:Recently replayed on WSB radio, this was one of the high points of the Ray Goffyears (and there weren't many), as the Dawgs upset the No. 6 Tigers, who went on to win the ACC Championship, in a night game on national TV. Key plays were Georgia safety Mike Jones stripping the ball after a Clemson back had run 54 yards, and quarterback Eric Zeier setting up a TD with a 59-yard bomb to Arthur Marshall. This also was the day the Braves clinched the division title that began their celebrated run under Bobby Cox.When the Braves score was announced after the football game, Georgia and Clemson fans chopped and chanted together. Unforgettable. 3. Georgia over Auburn, 45-20, Nov. 10, 2007:The first 'Blackout' game. I don't think I've ever seen a Sanford Stadium crowd as excited as when the Dawgs burst through that banner in those black jerseys. Still, the Tigers made it a game, taking a 20-17 lead, before a Georgia team featuring Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno scored 28 unanswered points, and wound up dancing to Soulja Boy. 2. Georgia over Alabama, 21-0, Oct. 2, 1976:The outcome of the game between the No. 6 Bulldogs and the No. 10 Crimson Tide never really was in question, and the Sanford Stadium crowd smelled the Bear's blood from the start. This was the loudest I ever heard a Sanford crowd until they enclosed the east end of the stadium. Matt Robinson and Ray Goff alternated running Georgia's veer option offense, and Erk Russell's Junkyard Dogs defense held Bama's vaunted wishbone attack to just 49 yards rushing. Manhandling Bama, which was coming off five straight conference crowns, just wasn't done in those days. This game was one of the toughest tickets ever in Athens. Folks camped out overnight on the tracks, and my Dad had to watch from the Sanford Drive bridge. The postgame celebration in Athens was wild, with police having to close Milledge Avenue. 1. Georgia over Alabama, 18-17, Sept. 18, 1965: This was back during a period when Alabama was our opening game, and the last time the Dogs had won was during the 1959 SEC championship season with Fran Tarkenton. After that, the whippings by the Tide had become somewhat expected. N ot many folks gave the Dawgs much of a chance against the defending national champion Tide at the beginning of Dooley's second season. But, the Dawgs were hanging tough and behind only 17-10 in the fourth quarter. I'd gone to get a Coke and was walking back to my seat when I heard a guy I knew casually from school say to his father, 'The Bear better do something, or Bama could lose this thing.' I'm not sure if he was happy or sad about that, but, sure enough, moments later came the legendary flea-flicker pass from Kirby Moore to Pat Hodgson to Bob Taylor. And then, with the 2-point play pass to Hodgson, Georgia had one of its most unexpected wins ever, especially considering the Tide went on to take another AP national title that year. So, those are five memorable games I've seen in person. Are they the most memorable? Well, yeah, but, ask me tomorrow, and you might get a slightly different listing. After all, they don't come much more memorable than the 2013 UGA-LSU shootout featuring former roomies Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger (the loudest game I've ever experienced at Sanford Stadium) or the butt-kicking of Nick Saban's defending national champion LSU Tigers in 2004 (featuring f ive touchdown throws by David Greene ) or that spine-tingling moment last year when the stadium was lit-up all red at the beginning of the fourth quarter of yet another Georgia win over Notre Dame, or Yeah, I've seen a lot of memorable games. The post It's not easy to narrow down my five most memorable UGA games appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Tom Crean is well known for his Xs and Os and uptempo teams, and Georgia's 2020 basketball recruiting class makes it clear there are no plans to slow down. The Bulldogs are coming off a 16-16 season that saw the team peak the final night with an 18-point win over Ole Miss in the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament in Nashville. RELATED: Georgia pounds Ole Miss, aims for Florida in SEC tourney The next day, March 12, the college sports world shutdown amid the coronavirus pandemic. Crean and his team were left wondering what might have been. The Bulldogs have made just one NCAA tournament appearance the last nine years (2015). Crean, who rebuilt Marquette into a Final Four team and rebuilt Indiana into a two-time Big Ten champion knows UGA remains a work in progress. Crean inherited a mess two years ago. A vacuum existed among six returning seniors after star Yante Maten took his leadership and scoring with him to the NBA. Three other players served disciplinary suspensions or have been dismissed from the program. The sole shining star was Nicolas Claxton, and he improved so much under Crean in one season that he went to the NBA following his sophomore year. This rebuild is such that just one player remains from that 2018-19 team. RELATED: Tom Izzo shares insight into his former assistant, Tom Crean UGA appears to be a refreshed and recharged program moving in the right direction. Georgia has a solid nucleus to build around with players like freshman assists record holder Sahvir Wheeler, junior guard Tye Fagan and sophomore power forward Toumani Camara returning. The players are eligible to return to campus as early as June 8 after the SEC presidents voted on Friday to give the green light to players wanting to return to practices for voluntary workouts. The basketball team's plans are currently being evaluated. Look back The 2019-20 campaign saw Georgia set a single-season attendance record in Stegman Coliseum that included marquee home wins over Tennessee and Auburn. On the road, Crean's Bulldogs scored only the second non-conference road victory over a Top 25 team in program history, beating Memphis. And now, another reload is underway, with projected NBA lottery pick Anthony Edwards moving on. RELATED: Georgia's 'Antman' declares for NBA draft, stock soaring Junior power forward Rayshaun Hammonds also elected to leave early, though his professional status is considerably less certain. Crean is looking forward, his roster now void of any players recruited by former coach Mark Fox. 'What I want is a team that can switch, a team that can play multiple ways,' Crean told DawgNation during the Ingles On The Beat show last Monday night. 'We don't need to get anyone that will slow us down or clog that lane. We have to get to the basketball, but we have to be able to run.' No doubt, Georgia has scored 90 or more points 11 times in Crean's two seasons. Prior to his arrival, the Bulldogs had scored 90 or more points in 11 times in 11 seasons. 'We were second in the country in transition points, we were third in the country at points at the rim, and yet we shot 30 percent from three,' Crean points out. 'You look at some of the games we had, if you had another 3-point make, or two more 3-pointers and I'm not talking about manufacturing threes, I'm talking about making the open threes that we had that's four or five more wins right there.' Georgia could be that close to the bubble again the season, but they'll need to rely on newcomers once again. Experienced recruits Once season after reloading with 10 newcomers and the No. 5-ranked signing class in the county, the Bulldogs are poised with seven more new players. Georgia most recently added Andrew Garcia, a 6-foot-5, 228-pound shooting guard who figures to add scoring punch and muscle to a team that will need to grow up in a hurry. Garcia is the second graduate transfer in the class, joining George Mason transfer Justin Kier (6-4, 197) on what looks to be another very versatile team. '(Kier) is gonna be a combination guard that can handle it and that can score,' Crean said. 'He'll be comfortable bringing the ball up the floor, or be comfortable having the ball thrown ahead to him.' Crean said this Georgia team will need to grow up fast, and that's likely why he's adding two graduate transfers and two junior college transfers, as well. Jonathan Ned is a 6-9 inside-out forward from Eastern Florida State junior college that shot 48-percent from beyond the 3-point line last season. 'We need Jonathan to come in and make threes,' Crean said. 'We need him to drive the ball, rebound and defend his position, but we also need him to make open jump shots.' Mikal Starks (6-0 guard) is another Eastern Florida State junior college transfer 'I think he's a highly competitive leadership guy, he's a winner, he competes, he fights, he's quick and he can get to the basket,' Crean said. 'I think he's going to be a good shooter for us, and I think that's important.' Georgia also has a commitment from Tyron McMillian, a 6-8, 225-pounder from Kilgore, Texas. McMillan is ranked the No. 11 junior college player in the nation. Incoming freshmen K.D. Johnson is a 6-1, top 100 signee out of Hargrave Military Academy High School the Crean believes will have an immediate impact. 'K.D. is a high, high level competitor,' Crean said. 'He's a two-way guy that picks the ball up full court, he'll hawk you, he'll fight you. 'He plays with a high motor, he plays to win, and I love his fearlessness.' Crean said Johnson will take on anybody at the rim, though he expects the talented prospect will quickly adjust to the SEC competition level. 'Sometimes he thinks he's going to go score on the 6-10, 6-11 guy, and I think he's going to have to make the growth of how to get to the other side of the rim and make the kick out (pass),' Crean said. 'But he passes the ball well, when he's locked in and stepping into his shot he's making it consistently. 'I love his track mentality, and I love the fact that he loves the game. Anthony Edwards is like that. You want guys that want to be in the gym making themselves better.' Josh Taylor is another incoming freshman, a 6-8, 195-pounder out of Norcross. 'Josh works around the bucket and he's a very good rebounder,' Crean said. 'He wants to get better as a shooter and driver but he rebounds the ball, he runs both ends and he wants to compete.' Future profile Crean plans to keep with his uptempo style, and he's hoping to develop more toughness and see leaders step up in tight games. That was something that was missing at times the past two seasons. 'Some of those games last season, we couldn't stop the runs because we couldn't stop the bleeding,' Crean said. 'We couldn't go in and get a bucket inside, or we couldn't just say we're going to get an And One. ''We had some maturity leadership issues with that when it was time to get it settled down.' Crean said it's something he needs to recruit to, and he feels good about what Georgia has in the works with a class currently ranked No. 29. 'You can't put a value on people that can settle your team down and bring them confidence on the floor,' Crean said. 'And it isn't always the point guard, and it isn't always the oldest guy. 'Anybody can change momentum inside a game, but very few can bring a lot of confidence every day to a team. Your job as s coach is to develop it and recruit it, and it's imperative you find those people.' Tom Crean May 18, 2020 DawgNation Georgia basketball Bulldogs upset Ole Miss in SEC tourney opener LSU beats Georgia in regular-season finale Georgia basketball goes cold in loss to Florida Anthony Edwards takes over final minute, UGA topples Arkansas WATCH: Georgia celebrates like crazy after Vandy win Bulldogs score resounding win over No. 13 Auburn Georgia basketball drops close one at Texas A&M, Anthony Edwards ill Georgia suffers deflating defeat at Florida UGA snaps four-game losing streak with Texas A&M win Perplexing loss for Georgia basketball at Missouri Georgia comes up short in hard-fought loss at Kentucky Freshman Anthony Edwards discloses injury, status Sahvir Wheeler on clutch game-winner, 'been there a ton of times' Anthony Edwards lights up Michigan State for 37 in 93-85 loss Rayshaun Hammonds wrecks Georgia Tech Anthony Edwards draws standing ovation in opener The post WATCH: Georgia basketball look ahead, how Tom Crean's building another winner appeared first on DawgNation.