Coronavirus:

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    The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. TOP OF THE HOUR: —CDC advisory urges residents of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut to refrain from non-essential travel for the next 14 days. —Subways, long-distance train service reopened in Wuhan, China. —New Zealand reports first death from coronavirus. — Italy’s COVID-19 deaths down slightly from previous day. ___ ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Federal health authorities in Pakistan report the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 is increasing, raising the country's total number of confirmed patients to 1,495. They also report another death of a man in the country's commercial hub, Karachi, increasing the death toll to 12. A breakout shows the largest Punjab province has 557 patients, and southern Sindh province has 469. Southwestern Baluchistan, which borders Iran and Afghanistan, has 133, and Khyber Pakhtukhwa, which borders Afghanistan, has 188. The Gilgit Baltistan region has 107 patients, while the federal capital, Islamabad, has 39. Pakistan controlled Kashmir has two confirmed cases. The count shows there is increase of 87 cases, with seven of the patients stated to be in critical condition. ___ WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand has reported its first death from the new coronavirus. Health authorities said Sunday the victim was a woman in her 70s, They said she was admitted to a West Coast hospital last week with what they initially thought was influenza, and hospital staff did not wear full protective equipment. As a result, 21 staffers have been put in self-isolation for two weeks. The country has reported 514 cases of COVID-19. Last Wednesday, New Zealanders began a strict four-week lockdown. ___ WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence has tweeted that the CDC is urging residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut “to refrain from non-essential travel for the next 14 days.” The advisory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came after President Donald Trump backed away from calling for a quarantine for coronavirus hotspots. Instead, Trump directed Saturday night that a “strong Travel Advisory” be issued to stem the spread of the outbreak. The notion of a quarantine had been advocated by governors, including Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who sought to halt travelers from the heavily affected areas to their states. But it drew swift criticism from the leaders of the states in question, who warned it would spark panic in a populace already suffering under the virus. Trump announced he reached the decision after consulting with the White House task force leading the federal response and the governors of the three states. He said he had directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 'to issue a strong Travel Advisory, to be administered by the Governors, in consultation with the Federal Government.” He added: “A quarantine will not be necessary.” ___ BEIJING — The city at the center of China’s virus outbreak has reopened subways and long-distance train service in another step toward ending restrictions that confined millions of people to their homes. Subway passengers in Wuhan in the central province of Hubei were required to wear masks and be checked for fever after service resumed Saturday, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. It said signs posted in subway cars tell passengers to sit with empty seats between them. Most access to Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, was suspended Jan. 23. Bus and subway service within the city was suspended. Restrictions have gradually been relaxed. The last controls that block residents of Wuhan from leaving Hubei are due to be lifted April 8. Also Saturday, more than 12,000 passengers arrived by high-speed train as the Wuhan train station reopened, Xinhua said. Meanwhile, the first cargo train to Europe since the start of the outbreak left for Germany on Saturday carrying auto parts, electronic productions, optical communication fiber and medical supplies, Xinhua reported.
  • Health authorities urged millions of residents of the New York City region to avoid non-essential travel due to surging coronavirus infections there as deaths in the United States and Europe rose and countries including Russia and Vietnam tightened travel and business restrictions. The travel advisory late Saturday came after the number of confirmed American deaths passed 2,000, more than double the level two days earlier. It applies to the 8.6 million people of New York City, the hardest-hit U.S. municipality, and others in the states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The advisory cited “extensive community transmission” in the area and urged residents to avoid travel for 14 days. Worldwide infections surpassed 660,000 mark, with more than 30,000 deaths as new cases, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The United States leads the world with more than 120,000 reported cases. Five other countries have higher death tolls: Italy, Spain, China, Iran and France. Italy has more than 10,000 deaths, the most of any country. The disease has spread to major U.S. cities including Detroit, New Orleans and Chicago and into rural America, where hotspots erupted in Midwestern towns and Rocky Mountain ski havens. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said defeating the virus will take “weeks and weeks and weeks.” The United Nations, which has its headquarters in New York City, donated 250,000 face masks to the city. Cuomo postponed the state's presidential primary from April 28 to June 23. The travel advisory by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said employees of trucking, food supply, financial services and some other industries were exempt. It said governors of the three states had “full discretion” over how to carry out the advisory. Earlier, Cuomo and governors of the other states rejected a suggestion by President Donald Trump that he might impose a quarantine on the region. Cuomo said that would be illegal, economically catastrophic and unproductive since other areas are already seeing a surge. Elsewhere, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin ordered his country's borders closed on Monday. Diplomats and residents of the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea were exempt. Vietnam cut back domestic airline flights and closed restaurants and other businesses for two weeks from Saturday. Gatherings of more than 20 people were banned and the government urged companies to allow employees to work from home if possible. Vietnam has quarantined nearly 60,000 people who entered the country from virus-infected nations or had contact with infected people, according to the Health Ministry. Canada's most populous province, Ontario, prohibited gatherings of more than four people in an emergency order Saturday. In Poland, President Andrzej Duda said the May 10 date for a presidential election may not be realistic under anti-virus restrictions. The opposition in parliament has called for postponing the vote, but the ruling party said it sees no reason for delay. Parliament approved changes Saturday to the election law to allow sick, elderly and quarantined people to vote remotely. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and lead to death. More than 135,000 people have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University. In Detroit, which has a large low-income population, the death toll rose to 31 with 1,381 infections as of midday Saturday. “The trajectory of Detroit is unfortunately even more steep than that of New York,” said Dr. Teena Chopra, the medical director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiology at the Detroit Medical Center. Chopra said many patients have ailments including asthma, heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. “This is off the charts,” she said. “We are seeing a lot of patients that are presenting to us with severe disease, rather than minor disease.” Some U.S. states began to try to limit exposure from visitors from harder-hit areas. Rhode Island National Guard troops were instructed to go door to door in coastal communities to find New Yorkers and advise them about a mandatory 14-day quarantine for people from the state. In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered anyone arriving from neighboring Louisiana to self-quarantine and said law enforcement officers would set up checkpoints to screen cars from the state. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot closed popular lakeshore parks after people ignored an order to stay home and urgings to avoid each other in public. The governor of Kansas has ordered the public to stay home starting Monday as the the virus takes hold in more rural areas where doctors worry about the lack of intensive care unit beds. A cluster of three counties in rural Indiana have surging rates of confirmed cases. One of them, Decatur, population 26,000, has 30 cases with one confirmed death and another suspected, said Sean Durbin, the county’s public health emergency preparedness coordinator. The county health department has run out of personal protective equipment, Durbin said. The last supply from the federal stockpile arrived more than a week ago and contained just 77 N95 masks and two dozen face shields. “I wish there was a stronger word for disappointed,' he said. 'I’m calling on them to do better.” Blaine County, Idaho, a scenic ski haven for wealthy tourists, now has about 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the highest rate per capita outside the New York City area. Two people have died. European governments including Italy, Spain and France have imposed lockdowns that left normally bustling city streets empty. Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte signed a decree freeing up 400 million euros ($440 million) for coupons and packages of food aid to be delivered door-to-door if necessary. Italy has almost completed a three-week lockdown. In Spain, where stay-at-home restrictions have been in place for nearly two weeks, the death toll rose to 5,812. Another 8,000 confirmed infections pushed that count above 72,000 cases. The rate of infection is slowing and figures “indicate that the outbreak is stabilizing and may be reaching its peak in some areas,' said Spain's director of emergencies, Fernando Simon. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called for a more vigorous response from the European Union. Spain, Italy, France and six other members have asked the union to share the burden of European debt, dubbed coronabonds in the media, to help fight the virus. But the idea has met resistance from other members, led by Germany and the Netherlands. “It is the most difficult moment for the EU since its foundation and it has to be ready to rise to the challenge,” Sanchez said. As others tightened controls, China eased more restrictions following the ruling Communist Party’s declaration of victory over the coronavirus in the country where it emerged in December. Subway and bus service resumed Saturday in Wuhan, the city of 11 million people at the center of the outbreak. Restrictions that bar Wuhan residents from leaving Hubei province end April 8. ___ Associated Press journalists around the world contributed to this report. ___ Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó called Saturday night for the creation of a 'national emergency government' of diverse political leanings to fight the spread of the coronavirus with the assistance of $1.2 billion in international loans. Speaking in a video released on Twitter, Guaidó said the unity government would not be headed by Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela's socialist leader who was indicted this week in the U.S. on narcoterrorism charges. “Those who surround Maduro need to understand the gravity of the accusations,” Guaidó said. “It’s absolutely impossible under his usurpation to have any type of solution for the country or our families.” But in a show of reconciliation, Guaidó, who is recognized as Venezuela’s lawful leader by the U.S. and almost other 60 countries, said opponents of Maduro need to be “realistic” and be prepared to share power. As an incentive to members of the military and Venezuelans who still support Maduro, he said international financial institutions are prepared to support such a power-sharing arrangement with $1.2 billion in loans so Venezuela can fight the pandemic. He said the loans would be used to directly assist Venezuelan families who are expected to be harmed not only by the spread of the disease but also the economic shock from a collapse in oil prices, virtually the country's only source of hard currency. “The consultations we’ve already made allow us to affirm that this is absolutely possible if we form an emergency government,” Guaidó said. The International Monetary Fund recently rejected a similar $5 billion request from Maduro, saying there was a lack of clarity among its 189 members on whether Maduro or Guaidó is the legitimate leader of Venezuela. Guaidó last September made a similar gesture, proposing a transitional government headed by neither him nor Maduro. The proposal went nowhere. But with the already bankrupt country running out of gasoline and seeing bouts of looting amid the coronavirus, calls have been growing for both the opposition and Maduro to set aside their bitter differences to head off a nightmare scenario. There was no immediate comment from Maduro about the video. But in recent days he has said he is willing to work with the opposition, if not Guaidó specifically, to address the coronavirus emergency. 'You say you don't recognize me,” Maduro said. “I don't care that you don't recognize me. What matters to me is that we work for Venezuela toward reaching an agreement for the benefit of Venezuela.' The United Nations said Venezuela could be one of the nations hit hardest by the spread of the coronavirus, designating it a country for priority attention due to a health system marked by widespread shortages of medical supplies and lack of water and electricity. The coronavirus has so far claimed two victims and left another 119 people infected in the South American country.
  • North Korea on Sunday fired two suspected ballistic missiles into the sea, South Korea and Japan said, continuing a streak of weapons launches that suggests leader Kim Jong Un is trying to strengthen domestic support amid worries about a possible coronavirus outbreak in the country. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected the projectiles flying from the North Korean eastern coastal city of Wonsan into the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan on Sunday morning. The projectiles flew about 230 kilometers (143 miles) at a maximum altitude of 30 kilometers (19 miles), the statement said. The military described the launches as “very inappropriate” at a time when the world is battling the coronavirus outbreak. It urged North Korea to stop such military action. Japan’s Defense Ministry said that presumed ballistic missiles were believed to have splashed into the sea outside of Japan's exclusive economic zone. “Recent repeated firings of ballistic missiles by North Korea is a serious problem to the entire international community including Japan,” a ministry statement said. In recent weeks, North Korea has fired a slew of missiles and artillery shells into the sea in an apparent effort to upgrade its military capability amid deadlocked nuclear talks with the United States. Those weapons were all short range and capable of striking South Korea, but didn’t pose a direct threat to the U.S. homeland. Some experts say the latest North Korean launches were likely designed to shore up unity and show that leader Kim Jong Un is in control in the face of U.S.-led sanctions and the global pandemic. Kim “wants to show he rules in a normal way amid the coronavirus (pandemic) and his latest weapons tests were aimed at rallying unity internally, not launching a threat externally,” said Kim Dong-yub, an analyst at Seoul's Institute for Far Eastern Studies. “North Korea doesn’t have time now to spare for staging (external threats).” North Korea has been engaged in an intense campaign to prevent the spread of the virus that has infected more than 660,000 worldwide. It has called its campaign a matter of “national existence” but has steadfastly denied there has been a single virus outbreak on its soil. Many foreign experts question that claim, warning an epidemic in North Korea could be dire because of its chronic lack of medical supplies and poor health care infrastructure. A week ago, North Korea said President Donald Trump sent a personal letter to Kim, seeking to maintain good relations and offering cooperation in fighting the outbreak. A North Korean state media dispatch didn't say whether Trump mentioned any of the latest weapons tests by the North. Kim Jong Un has vowed to boost internal strength to withstand what he calls “gangsters-like” U.S.-led sanctions that are stifling his country’s economy. His nuclear diplomacy with Trump faltered after the American president turned down his calls for broad sanctions relief in exchange for a limited denuclearization step during their second summit in Vietnam in early 2009. North Korea hasn’t carried out nuclear or long-range missile tests since it began talks with the United States in 2018. A resumption of a major weapons test by North Korea risks completely disrupting the negotiations. ___ Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.
  • The world changed remarkably this past week — yet again, just as it did the week before, as the coronavirus marched across the world. No corner of the planet was safe, it seemed: If the virus itself wasn't upending lives, it was the isolation that spread as the world locked down or the economic repercussions of the fight. Associated Press journalists across the planet chronicled it. This guide to some of their words and images is a diary of a world at once on pause and in the middle of the biggest fight of its generation. More than perhaps anyone, front-line medical professionals are seeing the virus' effects up close — and taking the biggest risks. This series of portraits from Italy, showing some of them up close, puts faces with the facts. And in Iran, another hard-hit area, belief in a false treatment that was poisonous killed hundreds. New York City became a terrifying epicenter of the virus in the past week as a “cacophony of coughing” overran emergency rooms and health care workers worried they might be next. And as more was asked of Americans, an important question emerged: Are they ready for a once-in-a-generation kind of sacrifice? In addition to covering breaking news, the AP is focusing on several overall areas in its coverage. Here's a look at some of the most significant work from those areas over the past week. HEALTH AND SCIENCE: THE VIRUS, AND FIGHTING IT Scientists are scrambling to find ways to protect people from the coronavirus including collecting the blood of recovered patients to harvest the antibodies they’ve already produced to fight the virus. The excitement about treating the new virus with a malaria drug now used against lupus and rheumatoid arthritis along with an antibiotic is raising hopes, but the evidence that it works is thin. With capacity also stretched thin, U.S. hospitals are rushing to find beds for a coming flood of patients, opening older closed hospitals and repurposing other medical buildings. And in the world's most densely populated cities, how do you practice social distancing? The distancing rules are affecting U.S. seniors in nuanced ways. Some are resilient and say the coronavirus crisis reminds them of World War II rationing and past disease epidemics. Others are isolated and lonely in senior homes that have imposed visitor bans. Those struggling with mental illness and substance abuse face challenges, too, from a pandemic that requires distancing and isolation. And in Europe, political leaders are hailing a potential breakthrough in the fight against COVID-19: simple pin-prick blood tests or nasal swabs that can determine within minutes if someone has, or previously had, the virus. The tests could reveal the true extent of the outbreak, but some scientists have challenged their accuracy. THE ECONOMY: RECESSION LOOMS The effects of the pandemic reverberated through the world economy. Businesses shut down, millions of people lost jobs, and governments scrambled to put together aid packages. Feel like you had whiplash? You’re not alone. Never before have economies screeched to such a sudden, violent stop. Some economists see a downturn that could rival the Great Depression. The U.S. reported astronomical unemployment figures, quadrupling the previous record for claims, set in 1982. Congress passed a $2.2 trillion emergency relief package, which led to examinations of the ways that might help people stay afloat and answers about the one-time checks for most Americans and enhanced unemployment benefits included in the package. President Donald Trump vowed that the U.S. economy would be open for business by mid-April, but experts warned that it’s not as easy as flipping a switch. In Europe, the crisis is already challenging farmers, with closed borders preventing seasonal workers from showing up to harvest crops. And in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak, we started to get a sense of how things might look when restrictions ease, with millions of people heading back to work as authorities began lifting the last of the controls that confined them to their home. In places just starting lockdowns, people whose jobs could continue came to terms with the realities of working from home, admiring each others’ kitchen cabinets on video conference calls and dealing with interruptions from kids and pets. And in a bit of brighter news, volunteers around the world banded together to sew masks for hospital workers facing shortages of protective equipment. GOVERNMENTS: ARE THEY ACCOUNTABLE? Questions of accountability are at the core of the coronavirus saga. Who is doing what, and are they doing right? Are abuses of power taking place? Where can — and should — nations, government and businesses do better to protect people? From Washington, a $2 trillion legislative package to shore up the economy was carefully written to prevent President Donald Trump and his family from profiting from the fund. But the fine print reveals that businesses owned by Trump and his family still may be eligible for some assistance. The nation's governors are trying to get what they need from Washington, and fast. But that means navigating the disorienting politics of dealing with Trump, an unpredictable president with a love for cable news and a penchant for retribution. The Pentagon was racing to shield vital missions even as it faced urgent calls for help on the civilian front. And for prisons around the United States, plagued for years by violence, misconduct and staffing shortages, the coronavirus pandemic throws gasoline on the fire. The Federal Bureau of Prisons has a scattershot policy on COVID-19 safety, and both advocates and even prison guards are calling for quick reform. INEQUALITY: THE STRUGGLING The world is getting used to a new normal of curfews, economic devastation and deep travel restrictions. For the people of Gaza, Sarajevo, Lebanon and other places that have known war and siege, this is all too familiar. Recalling life under siege in Kashmir, one man remembers: “It helped us to rediscover the family and social talk.' Overlooked people and communities everywhere are struggling with the new coronavirus. There are the Americans who’ve had their water shut off in an age when hand washing could save your life, and the smaller communities that are dealing with the crisis. Two families in San Francisco, one rich and one poor, face very different struggles as they navigate this frightening time. In this view from rural America, we meet people and communities filled with fear that, despite the natural social distancing there, the pandemic is coming. And in Europe, the mostly deserted streets of virus-riddled Spain are still populated with homeless people, as documented in a sobering photo essay. THE RIPPLE EFFECT: SOCIETY AND CULTURE As the virus spreads, life changes — for right now and, maybe in some cases, for the long term as well. People stuck at home changed entire family configurations, leading to some couples trying to figure out new challenges — and some partners and children becoming potentially more vulnerable to abuse. Other families drew closer, some by taking walks in their neighborhood, as seen in this profile of a Virginia community. More restaurant- and takeout-focused diners turned to — or turned back to — cooking. And laughter, long a go-to expression in tough times, was bursting forth in unusual, virus-specific ways. In Lebanon, COVID-19 managed to do what a string of wars could not: shut down nightlife. In France, where going out for the morning baguette is an irrepressible part of life, the push to isolate was creating new conversations about it. And an American milestone, baseball's opening day, passed without a single crack of a bat in ballparks that were empty and desolate. 'ONE GOOD THING' AP’s new daily series “One Good Thing” is designed to tell stories about the kindness of strangers and those individuals around the world who sacrifice for others during the outbreak. That means a sailmaker in Maine making masks and university veterinary departments loaning ventilators to ill-equipped hospitals. And in Berlin, “United We Stream” was dreamed up as a way to keep the moribund nightlife financially healthy while entertaining a quarantined city. GROUND GAME: INSIDE THE OUTBREAK Tune in daily to the virus edition of AP's “ Ground Game ” podcast, where host Ralph Russo taps the expertise of AP's global team covering the coronavirus story. ___ Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • President Donald Trump has backed away from calling for a quarantine for coronavirus hotspots in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, instead directing Saturday night that a “strong Travel Advisory” be issued to stem the spread of the outbreak. Trump's talk earlier Saturday of what he called a quarantine for those hard-hit areas raised questions whether the federal government had the power to do so. Vice President Mike Pence has since tweeted federal health officials are urging residents of the three states “to refrain from non-essential travel for the next 14 days.” The United States has more confirmed coronavirus infections than any other country. Cities including Detroit, Chicago and New Orleans are growing as hot spots of infection, while New York City continues to be pummeled. Nurses there are calling for more masks and other gear to safeguard themselves against the virus that has so far sickened more than 52,000 people and killed over 700 in New York state, mostly in the city. Italy's death toll from the coronavirus pandemic is the highest in the world, with 10,000 fatalities. Here are some of AP's top stories Saturday on the world's coronavirus pandemic. Follow APNews.com/VirusOutbreak for updates through the day and APNews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak for stories explaining some of its complexities. WHAT'S HAPPENING TODAY: — The coronavirus continued its unrelenting spread across the U.S. with fatalities doubling in two days to more than 2,000 and authorities saying Saturday an infant who tested positive died in Chicago. Elsewhere, Russia announced a full border closure and prevention measures turned violent in parts of Africa, with Kenyan police firing tear gas and officers elsewhere seen on video striking people with batons. — Health experts say U.S. prisons and jails are a potential epicenter for the coronavirus: Social distancing is nearly impossible, medical services behind bars have long been substandard and even hand sanitizer is deemed contraband in some because of its alcohol content. — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomohas delayed the state's presidential primary from April to June to keep people from gathering during the coronavirus pandemic. More than a dozen states have delayed some elections, in some cases including their presidential primaries. — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to board domestic flights or intercity trains. Trudeau's wife tested positive for the virus but she said Saturday she has recovered. — Census workers in the U.S. have to take a different approach to collecting information. Nonprofits and civic organizations leading census outreach efforts are pivoting to digital strategies. — Brazil's president is being sharply criticized for downplaying the pandemic, even suggesting Brazilians have a natural immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19. — U.S. child welfare agencies are confronting new challenges. Many agencies, seeking to limit the virus’s spread, have cut back on in-person inspections at homes of children considered at risk of abuse and neglect. — More than a fifth of Detroit’s police force is being quarantined after two officers died from the virus and at least 39 tested positive, including the chief. — The coronavirus pandemic is defining for the globe what's “essential” and what things we really can't do without, even though we might not need them for survival. ___ WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover. Here are the symptoms of the virus compared with the common flu. One of the best ways to prevent spread of the virus is washing your hands with soap and water. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends first washing with warm or cold water and then lathering soap for 20 seconds to get it on the backs of hands, between fingers and under fingernails before rinsing off. You should wash your phone, too. Here’s how. Misinformation overload: How to separate fact from fiction and rumor from deliberate efforts to mislead. TRACKING THE VIRUS: Drill down and zoom in at the individual county level, and you can access numbers that will show you the situation where you are, and where loved ones or people you’re worried about live. ___ ONE NUMBER: 2.2 MILLION: More than 2.2 million people are imprisoned in America, more than any other place in the world. Health experts say prisons and jails are a potential epicenter for America’s coronavirus pandemic. ___ IN OTHER NEWS: PORTRAITS FROM THE PANDEMIC: The doctors and nurses on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic in Italy are almost unrecognizable behind their masks, scrubs, gloves and hairnets — the flimsy battle armor that is their only barrier to contagion. ___ Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • Another member of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Cabinet has developed symptoms of COVID-19, as the number of people with the coronovrius to die in the U.K. passed the 1,000 mark Saturday. Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said he had symptoms of the disease and was self-isolating a day after the prime minister and Britain's health secretary revealed they tested positive for the virus and were experiencing mild symptoms. Johnson. 55. is the highest-profile political leader to have contracted the virus. Jack sat beside him in the House of Commons on Wednesday before Parliament shut down until at least April 21 to reduce the risk of infections. Business Secretrary Alok Sharma said Johnson continues to show only 'mild symptoms' of coronavirus. “He continues to lead the government's effort in combating Covid-19,'' Sharma told reporters, 'This morning he held a video conference call and he will continue to lead right from the front on this. 'What this has reminded us is that no one is immune and that is precisely why we ask people to follow the Government advice in terms of staying at home where they are able to do that,'' Sharma said. Johnson has been accused of failing to follow the British government's distancing measures after he, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, 41, and the chief medical officer of England began self-isolating with symptoms Friday. The medical officer, Dr. Chris Whitty, has been advising the prime minister during the virus pandemic and not said if he was tested. The editor of the respected British medical journal The Lancet published a scathing editorial Saturday that criticized the government for doing too little, too late to protect public health and leaving the U.K.'s public health system “wholly unprepared for this pandemic.” Lancet editor Richard Horton wrote that despite numerous warnings, Britain's strategy for containing the virus failed, 'in part, because ministers didn't follow WHO's advice to 'test, test, test' every suspected case. They didn't isolate and quarantine. They didn't contact trace. “These basic principles of public health and infectious disease control were ignored, for reasons that remain opaque.” Horton said. Keith Willett, the National Health Service's strategic incident director for COVID-19, disputed the editorial’s conclusions. He said the NHS freed up 33,000 beds for virus patients - a third of all hospital capacity -and enabled 18,000 nurses and doctors to return to practice. Three new makeshift hospitals are being built. “In respect of our NHS responsibilities and response, the facts clearly speak for themselves,' Willett said. NHS employees have begun getting tested for the virus, a move seen as helping get self-isolating staff members back on the job. The issue of health workers going into self-isolation has proved to be a big problem for the NHS because workers are sometimes in that position because they have an ill family member, not because they themselves are infected. Meanwhile, authorities released photos of the inside of the ExCel center, an exhibition space which is being converted into a makeshift hospital. It will have two wards, and ultimately have a capacity of 4,000. Initially, however, it will house some 500 beds with ventilators and oxygen. The U.K. had 17,300 confirmed virus cases as of Saturday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. British officials reported that the number of deaths increased by 260 from a day earlier, bringing the country's total for virus-related deaths to 1,019. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. ___ Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • Guinea has voted to change its constitution, according to provisional results from a referendum that could see the West African country's president remain in power for two more terms. Nearly 92% of voters on March 22 supported the change, according to the head of Guinea’s electoral commission, Amadou Salifou Kebe, who gave the results late Friday. The proposal would keep a two-term limit on presidencies, but increase the length of each term from five years to six. President Alpha Conde, whose second and final term ends in December, has implied that his previous terms served would not count, meaning the 82-year-old could remain in office for another 12 years. A coalition of opposition and civil society groups, the National Front for the Defense of the Constitution, demonstrated against the proposal and boycotted the referendum. Opposition parties said at least 10 people were killed in violence surrounding Sunday’s vote, while the government said 4 died. Despite the boycott, violence and fears surrounding the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, the turnout was 61%, according to Kebe. Guineans also voted for National Assembly seats.
  • Police fired tear gas at a crowd of Kenyan ferry commuters as the country’s first day of a coronavirus curfew slid into chaos. Elsewhere, officers were captured in mobile phone footage whacking people with batons. Virus prevention measures have taken a violent turn in parts of Africa as countries impose lockdowns and curfews or seal off major cities. Health experts say the virus’ spread, though still at an early stage, resembles the arc seen in Europe, adding to widespread anxiety. Cases across Africa were set to climb above 4,000 late Saturday. Abuses of the new measures by authorities are an immediate concern. Minutes after South Africa’s three-week lockdown began Friday, police screamed at homeless people in downtown Johannesburg and went after some with batons. Some citizens reported the police use of rubber bullets. Fifty-five people across the country were arrested. The country leads Africa with more than 1,000 cases. In an apparent show of force on Saturday, South Africa's military raided a large workers' hostel in the Alexandra township where some residents had defied the lockdown. In Rwanda, the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to impose a lockdown, police have denied that two civilians shot dead Monday were killed for defying the new measures, saying the men attacked an officer after being stopped. And Zimbabwe, where police are widely criticized by human rights groups for deadly crackdowns, is set to enter a three-week lockdown on Monday. The country's handful of virus cases already threatens to overwhelm one of the world's most fragile health systems. In Kenya, outrage over the the actions of police was swift. “We were horrified by excessive use of police force” ahead of the curfew that began Friday night, Amnesty International Kenya and 19 other human rights groups said in a statement issued Saturday. “We continue to receive testimonies from victims, eyewitnesses and video footage showing police gleefully assaulting members of the public in other parts of the country.” The tear gas caused hundreds of people trying to reach a ferry in the port city of Mombasa ahead of the overnight curfew to touch their faces as they vomited, spat and wiped away tears, increasing the chance of the virus’ spread, the rights groups said. Even some health workers reported being intimidated as they tried to provide services after the 7 p.m. curfew. The police actions were unacceptable and “brutal,” the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops' Justice and Peace Commission said in a separate statement. “I am appealing to our people to make it very unnecessary for them to engage with police by staying at home,” Kenya's Cabinet secretary for health, Mutahi Kagwe, said. “I am also urging the police that people must be treated humanely.” The country has 38 virus cases. Kenya’s interior ministry on Saturday replied to criticism in a statement saying the curfew 'is meant to guard against an apparent threat to public health. Breaking it is not only irresponsible but also puts others in harm’s way.” Kenya's government has not said how many people have been arrested. Because courts are also affected by virus prevention measures, all but serious cases will now be dealt with at police stations, the government has said. That means anyone detained for violating curfew faces time in crowded cells. The Law Society of Kenya will go to court to challenge the curfew on the grounds that it is unconstitutional and has been abused by police, president Nelson Havi said in a statement. The penalty for breaking a curfew is not corporal punishment, he added. “It is evident that COVID-19 will be spread more by actions of police than of those claimed to have contravened the curfew,” Havi said. For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. If Kenya goes further and imposes a lockdown, “there is bound to be violence,” said James Shikwati, an economist. People in poor neighborhoods of cities like the capital, Nairobi, will need a way to access food, water and sanitation. “It will mean for the first day, maybe, they stay indoors,' he said. “Then the second day, when they are hungry, they will move out.” ___ Tom Odula in Kenya and Nqobile Ntshangase and Jerome Delay in Johannesburg contributed. ___ Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak ___ The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
  • China sent a plane loaded with medical personnel and supplies Saturday to help Pakistan fight the spread of the coronavirus in one of the world's most populous nations. Across the Middle East and elsewhere, the outbreak has raised concerns that health systems strapped by multiple wars, refugee crises and unstable economies won't be able to handle a growing numbers in cases. Iran is battling the worst outbreak in the region and state TV said Saturday another 139 people had died from the virus. That pushed the total fatalities in Iran to 2,517 amid 35,408 confirmed cases. China has sought to portray itself as a global leader in the fight against the outbreak, which began a few months ago in its Wuhan province. The plane carrying aid to Pakistan was met at the capital's airport Saturday by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureishi, who greeted the arriving Chinese doctors and officials. China had previously sent ventilators and masks to Pakistan, a key link in China's ambitious multi-billion-dollar One Road Project linking south and central Asia with China. China is also a key military supplier for nuclear-armed Pakistan, having supplied the country with missiles capable of carrying atomic weapons. Pakistan, with a population of 220 million, has 1,408 confirmed cases of the virus, including 11 deaths from the illness it causes, COVID-19. Most of the infected people there were travelers returning from neighboring Iran. Most people infected by the virus only experience mild symptoms, such as fever and cough, and recover within a few weeks. But the virus can cause severe respiratory illness and death, particularly in older patients or those with underlying health problems. Pakistan has closed its borders with both Iran and Afghanistan, but has come under widespread criticism for its initial lax response to the virus. Even as the pandemic spread to the country, Pakistani authorities allowed tens of thousands of Islamic clerics from around the world to congregate for three days outside the eastern city of Lahore. Some 200 of the clerics are now quarantined at the site of the gathering, a sprawling compound belonging to an Islamic missionaries group, Tableeghi Jamaat. Many of the visiting clerics at the conference returned to their home countries, some of them carrying the coronavirus. The first two reported cases in the Gaza Strip attended the three-day gathering in Pakistan, and are now under quarantine in Gaza. Other linked cases have emerged elsewhere in the Middle East and Central Asia. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has refused to impose a countrywide lockdown saying it would devastate the country's poor, but ordered non-essential businesses closed, including restaurants, money changers and wedding halls. As of Saturday, the government still had not ordered mosques closed nationwide, instead relying on recommendations to worshippers not to gather for weekly Friday prayers. Pakistani officials are reluctant to defy local hard-line Islamic leaders, who can whip up mobs to protest any perceived insults to religion. Some of these clerics have taken to social media to urge the faithful to fill the mosques, saying it is their religious obligation. Pakistan's federal health authorities say the outbreak is so far concentrated in Punjab province, with 490 confirmed cases there, and Sindh province, which has 457 confirmed infections. Other cases are spread throughout several other regions, including the capital, Islamabad. Health authorities in the country's northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province reported one additional death Saturday, a woman in the district of Dir. Ajmal Wazir, a spokesman for the provincial government, said the woman fell sick after returning from a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, before dying in a government hospital where she tested positive for the coronavirus. In Iran, officials have repeatedly insisted they have the outbreak under control, despite concerns it could overwhelm the country's health facilities. Iran's government has faced widespread criticism for not acting faster to contain the virus. Only in recent days have authorities ordered nonessential businesses to close and banned travel between cities — long after other nations in the region imposed sweeping lockdowns. In Egypt the country's chief prosecutor warned that anyone convicted of spreading “fake news and rumors” about the coronavirus could be fined or sentenced to up to five years in prison. Public prosecutor Hamada el-Sawy's statement came just days after Egypt expelled a correspondent for The Guardian newspaper over a report citing a study that challenged the official count of coronavirus cases in the Arab world’s most populous country. Egypt's Health Ministry has confirmed 576 cases of the virus and reported six additional fatalities, bringing the number of dead to 36. U.S. Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland on Saturday urged the country's warring groups to suspend fighting in and around the capital, Tripoli, as “an absolute necessity' to allow public health officials across the divided country to contain the epidemic. Libya's health system is near the point of collapse after years of civil war. It has so far reported three confirmed cases of coronavirus. Authorities in Gaza, which has been under an Israeli and Egyptian blockade since the Hamas militant group seized power there in 2007, have reported nine confirmed cases. Gaza's health care infrastructure has been severely eroded by years of conflict and isolation. A major outbreak in the territory, which is home to more than 2 million Palestinians, could be extremely difficult to contain. Organizers of weekly demonstrations along the Gaza-Israel frontier said they would cancel a rally that was scheduled for next week to abide by guidelines to avoid the spread of the virus. Khaled al-Batsh, head of the Great March of Return committee, said the rally was to mark the second anniversary of the protest movement. ___ Associated Press writers Sarah El Deeb in Beirut, Fares Akram in Gaza and Samy Magdy in Cairo contributed to this report.

Local News

  • UPDATE [7 p.m.]: The Georgia Department of Public Health on Friday night reported one more death due to COVID-19 since noon, bringing the state’s toll to 65. The state had topped 2,000 cases at noon, and the DPH recorded an additional 197 cases since then, bringing the total to 2,198. Of those patients, 607 are hospitalized, which is about 27.6% of all cases. Friday’s update was the first time the DPH had released data on where people died. Dougherty County led the count with 13 deaths, followed by Fulton with 12 and Cobb and Lee each with five. Nearly 10,000 tests have been conducted across the state. About 22.2% of those returned positive results. Chattahoochee and Hart counties recorded their first cases Friday, bringing the number of counties affected to 104. Habersham had its only case removed, and it’s unclear whether that was a false positive or if it was moved to a different county’s count. Fulton County saw the largest increase in new cases with 40, followed by DeKalb at 38 and both Cobb and Gwinnett with 19. Fulton still leads the state in cases with 347. As of 7 p.m. Thursday, there were 219 cases in DeKalb, 163 in Cobb, 121 in Gwinnett, 107 in Bartow, 53 in Clayton, 50 in Cherokee, 44 in Henry, 32 in Douglas, 30 in Hall, 22 in Fayette, 21 in Forsyth, 16 in Rockdale, 15 in Newton and 13 in Paulding. Patients between the ages of 18 and 59 make up the majority of cases at 56%, while those 60 and older make up 34% of cases. The DPH does not release compiled data on how many patients have recovered. For the full update, click here. ORIGINAL STORY [noon]: The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Georgia surpassed 2,000 Friday as the death toll continues to climb. At 2,001, the cases reported by state health officials have increased 150% since the start of this week. On Monday, the number of confirmed cases across the state was fewer than 1,000. At least 64 Georgians have died as a result of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, according to the latest data from the Georgia Department of Public Health. Eight more deaths were reported since late Thursday night.   Of those infected, less than one-third are hospitalized across the state, according to health officials.  » COMPLETE COVERAGE: Coronavirus in Georgia For most, COVID-19 causes only mild or moderate symptoms. Older adults and those with existing health problems are at risk of more severe illnesses, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover in a matter of weeks. » DASHBOARD: Real-time stats and charts tracking coronavirus in Georgia » MORE: Map tracks coronavirus globally in real time The virus has now affected two-thirds of the counties in the state, with the greatest impact to those in metro Atlanta. Georgia ranks 10th nationally in number of confirmed cases. It is sixth in number of deaths caused by COVID-19, according to the latest available data. About 3.2% of Georgians who have tested positive have died. » AJC IN-DEPTH: In hard-hit Georgia, virus expected to linger Habersham County reported its first case Friday and Upson reported its first two, further widening the gap between counties affected by the virus and those untouched. Only 56 of Georgia’s 159 counties do not currently have coronavirus cases.   The situation in Dougherty County is worsening. The southwest Georgia county of about 90,000 people reported 29 new cases since late Thursday night, according to health officials. Its total of 193 confirmed cases falls behind the much larger Fulton County but ahead of all other metro Atlanta counties. Considering the latest figures, Dougherty has the state’s highest concentration per capita of patients known to be infected with COVID-19.  » MORE: City under siege: Coronavirus exacts heavy toll in Albany Of the metro Atlanta counties, there are now 307 cases of the virus in Fulton, 181 in DeKalb, 144 in Cobb, 102 in Gwinnett, 98 in Bartow, 55 in Carroll, 46 each in Cherokee and Clayton, 40 in Henry, 27 in Douglas, 24 in Hall, 16 in Rockdale, 15 in Newton and 12 in Paulding. The number of confirmed cases has multiplied rapidly as the virus spreads and testing capacity has ramped up. As of Friday, nearly 10,000 tests had been conducted across the state, and about 20% of those returned positive results.  As numbers balloon, Gov. Brian Kemp has renewed his call for Georgians to stay home and practice social distancing. At a town hall broadcast Thursday night, Kemp urged residents to heed directives to avoid more restrictive measures, like a statewide stay-at-home mandate. » RELATED: Kemp urges Georgians to heed virus warnings but balks at drastic steps Bars and nightclubs remain closed across the state, many public gatherings are banned, and the elderly and medically fragile are ordered to shelter in place. » PHOTOS: Metro Atlanta adjusts to shifts in daily life amid coronavirus crisis Many Georgia cities, including several in metro Atlanta, have issued their own stay-at-home orders to residents, shutting down nonessential businesses and imposing curfews. On Thursday, Kemp extended the closure of public schools into late April. » MORE: Georgia families brace after Kemp extends closure of schools Those who believe they are experiencing symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19 are asked to contact their primary care doctor or an urgent care clinic. Do not show up unannounced at an emergency room or health care facility. Georgians can also call the state COVID-19 hotline at 844-442-2681 to share public health information and connect with medical professionals.  — Please return to AJC.com for updates.
  • The University of North Georgia says it will adopt a distance-learning model for the remainder of this year’s spring semester classes.   From the UNG website… The University System of Georgia (USG) has determined that all 26 institutions, including UNG, will move to online instruction for all courses for the remainder of the semester with extremely limited exceptions. This action comes following last week’s decision to suspend instruction for two weeks to ensure business and instructional continuity, and to allow further state assessment of COVID-19. In the end, we want to ensure that our faculty, staff and students are safe; that we do our part to help stem the spread of the coronavirus in Georgia; and that we fulfill our mission to graduate our students even in the face of these challenging times.  Based on the March 16 announcement from the USG                  , students will not be allowed to return to campus until they receive permission from the university, which will be forthcoming soon. Additionally, residence halls will be closed, with minimal exceptions for students unable to return home or who cannot find housing elsewhere. We will make every effort to accommodate those students who are unable to depart campus.  We will send specific instructions to students regarding when they can return to campus to retrieve their belongings from residence halls. Students will be expected to follow those instructions. We will provide additional information on refunds for housing, dining, and other services, as we receive additional guidance from the USG. Students should wait for university officials to contact them.  The university will remain open, with minimal staff physically on-site, to ensure continuity of certain services.  We know that students, faculty and staff will have many questions based on this announcement. We will be providing more detailed information to you frequently in the days ahead. 
  • With schools in Athens and around the state not re-opening until April 27 at the earliest, the Clarke County School District continues to provide meals for students.  From the Clarke Co School District… The CCSD will provide free meals for students beginning Tuesday, March 17. Meals will be available for pick up during weekdays at two locations (Hilsman Middle and Oglethorpe Ave. Elem) and delivered to select neighborhoods via school bus (along existing bus routes).  Click here to view community food resources. Pick-up Locations (Hilsman Middle and Oglethorpe Ave. Elementary) Meals will be available for pickup between 8:00 a.m. – Noon at the following locations:  Hilsman Middle School – 870 Gaines School Rd, Athens, GA 30605  Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary School – 1150 Oglethorpe Ave, Athens, GA 30606 Bus Delivery Routes to Select Neighborhoods (along existing bus routes) - Updated 3/26/20 Following are links to the delivery schedule to select neighborhoods. A CCSD school bus will make scheduled stops to deliver meals. Click on a neighborhood location to view the bus delivery routes:  Route 1: BETHEL HOMES, PARKVIEW, ROCKSPRINGS & BROAD ACRES  Route 2: VINE & HERMAN ST., NELLIE B., SPRING VALLEY ESTATES, HALLMARK MHP  Route 3: HIGHLAND GREENS MHP, PINEWOOD MHP, & COUNTRY CORNERS MHP  Route 4: PINEWOOD APTS, CLARKE GARDEN APTS, TOWNE VIEW PL  Route 5: ATHENS GARDEN, DEER PARK, FIREWOOD, & BIG OAK CIR  Route 6: KNIGHTS BRIDGE MHP, STONEHENGE, CREEKSIDE MANOR, INTOWN SUITES, & OGLETHORPE ELEM  Route 7: COLUMBIA BROOKSIDE, UNIVERSITY GARDENS, SYCAMORE DRIVE  Route 8: SOUTH RIDGE, ROLLING RIDGE, & KATHWOOD  Route 9: HIGHLAND PARK & COLLEGE GLEN  Route 10: WESTCHESTER & TALLASSEE  Route 11: KNOLLWOOD APTS, OLD HULL RD. & FOURTH ST.  Route 12: SPRING VALLEY MHP, SARTAIN DR,& WINTERVILLE RD  Route 13: GARNETT RIDGE, CHATHAM PARK, VINEYARD  Route 14: BURKLAND DR, DANIELSVILLE RD., FOREST ACRES, FREEMAN DR.  Route 15: CREEKSTONE, NORTH BLUFF, SLEEPY HOLLOW MHP  Route 16: CAMPBELL DR., NELLIE MAE DR. Service Guidelines To ensure the safety of all our students, we request the following guidelines be followed:  Students must be present to get their meals.  At this time, adult meals are not available for purchase.  Students must take the entire meal – choices will not be provided.  Follow the directions of the meal service monitor. Be patient as a line may develop, but we will serve students in a timely and safe fashion.  Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.  Avoid close contact with people who are sick.  Cough or sneeze into an elbow or use a tissue and place immediately in the trash.
  • Athens-Clarke County has been served the lawsuit filed by Athens gun shop owner Andrew Clyde. Clyde, who is a candidate for Congress in Georgia’s 9th District, has filed suit seeking an injunction of enforcement of a 24-7 shelter in place order issued by Athens-Clarke County Commissioners last week. His attorney says the coronavirus-inspired measure is vague and overly broad and, even though it does not appear to order the closure of gun shops, is adversely impacting Clyde’s business on Atlanta Highway in Athens. Attorney Mo Wiltshire says lawyers are trying to arrange a hearing via video conference, and he says other Athens business owners are also expressing concerns about the County’s coronavirus ordinance. 
  • The latest numbers from the state Labor Department do not reflect the impact of Athens’ coronavirus-inspired economic lockdown: the February jobs report shows a 3.3 percent unemployment rate for Clarke, Oconee, Oglethorpe, and Madison counties. The metro-Athens jobless rate was 3.1 percent in January. From the Ga Dept of Labor… According to preliminary data, the four-county metropolitan statistical area (MSA) also showed a jump in employment for the month and the year.    In Athens, the unemployment rate increased 0.1 percentage points in February, reaching at 3.3 percent. A year ago, the rate was 3.7 percent.    The labor force increased in February by 967 and ended the month with 100,244. That number is up 510 when compared to February of 2019.    Athens ended February with 96,600 jobs. That number increased by 700 from January to February, but went down by 300 when compared to the same time last year.    Athens finished the month with 96,973 employed residents. That number increased by 889 over the month and is up by a significant 883 when compared to the same time a year ago.    The number of unemployment claims went down by about 25 percent in February. When compared to last February, claims were up by about 41 percent.   The four-county MSA includes Clarke, Madison, Oconee, and Oglethorpe counties.

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS Georgia quarterback D'Wan Mathis was back in his home state of Michigan over spring break when the coronavirus pandemic began to take effect. Some of the Bulldogs' players would end up staying home when UGA suspended and then canceled face-to-face spring semester classes. But not Mathis. 'D'Wan came back on spring break and told me he loves where he is from, but that he needed to go back to Georgia,' Terence Mathis told DawgNation on Friday. 'He said, Daddy, I love you, but I'm leaving.' 'For us, we're just happy he was granted the exemption to stay near campus where they have the best doctors in the world keeping up with him.' The former Ohio State quarterback commit from metro Detroit has had a challenging rehabilitation period after an emergency brain surgery procedure last May 23 put him in the ICU unit at Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center. 'I want the public to know this, please write this: Georgia could have given up on my son,' Terence Mathis said. 'But instead, Kirby and his staff have treated D'Wan as though he was their own son. They've used every possible resource to stay behind him and keep him engaged with the team after saving his life.' RELATED: Georgia saved my son's life, medical director Ron Courson praised Indeed, Coach Kirby Smart made it clear last May that Georgia would not rush Mathis' comeback, and they planned for a complete recovery. 'We are expecting a full recovery, and the timeline is the least of our concerns,' Smart said at SEC spring meetings. Mathis' comeback has come in stages. He was cleared to run and lift last July. By the start of the 2019 season, he was participating in limited drill work. By last November, Mathis running the scout team offense and playing with such passion that coaches and doctors had to reel him in and remind him to use some restraint. Mathis was cleared to go through spring football drills, though it's important to note he's not yet been cleared for game action. There's an MRI test scheduled for May that could provided the all-important clearance for total contact (UGA doesn't tackle its quarterbacks in spring drills). More good news came on Friday, when the SEC added some provisions for coaches to instruct players. Mathis, along with fellow Georgia football quarterbacks Jamie Newman, Caron Beck and Stetson Bennett, has the benefit of chalk talks starting at 1 p.m. next Monday. RELATED: SEC moves toward resuming football preparations Terence Mathis maintains the football will take care of itself. He said the most important thing to the Mathis family is how D'Wan has been accepted into the Georgia football community. 'I'm indebted to Georgia, they have extended this incredible opportunity to D'Wan,' Terence Mathis said. 'Especially during these tough times, and you know it's bad up here in Michigan. 'It means everything to us as a family for him to now have the opportunity to be involved with the football planning while still pursuing academics. 'Coach (Todd) Monken has reached out to me and let me know that D'Wan is having positive progress.' Mathis' upside was obvious to all who watched last year's G-Day Game. The 6-foot-6, 205-pounder was 15-of-28 passing for 113 yards and provided one of the biggest highlights of the Georgia football spring game. Mathis, who ran a 10.8-second time in the 100 meters in high school, showed his speed when he caught a double-reverse pass from Matt Landers for a 39-yard touchdown. TRICK PLAY ALERT #GDay #GoDawgs pic.twitter.com/3Qc6Opb85L Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) April 21, 2019 'D'Wan, he's explosive,' Jake Fromm said of his former understudy. 'I think he converted three or four first downs in a row with his legs. 'The guy can run the ball, he can throw it 70 yards, he's going to be a great player.' The strong performances in spring drills kept Mathis going during the dog days of last summer and into the season. But there were also frustrating times when D'Wan Maths didn't know what to do without football, unable to travel to away games. That's when Georgia came up biggest, according to his father. 'As frustrated as he got, the more they wrapped their arms around him,' Terence Mathis said. 'Those coaches could have said they were too busy trying to win the SEC East again and play for another league title. But they didn't say that. 'They believed in D'Wan, and they have stayed behind him, and the DawgNation fans have stayed behind him, too.' There is no timetable for college football to return at the time of this publication (March 28). The coronavirus has put all group activities around the world on hold. But Terence Mathis said his son will remain in Athens. 'That's what he considers his home now,' he said, 'and it's where we believe he belongs.' DawgNation D'Wan Mathis stories Mind Game: D'Wan Mathis ready to compete for starting job Mathis tipped by social media Ohio State misled him on Justin Fields D'Wan Mathis recovering after emergency brain cyst surgery Jake Fromm shares observations of D'Wan Mathis The post Georgia quarterback D'Wan Mathis continuing comeback home' in Athens, granted exemption appeared first on DawgNation.
  • DawgNation has four staffers who cover Georgia football from every angle: Beat, live streams, photos, podcasts, recruiting, etc. The 'Cover 4' concept is: 1) Present a topic; 2) Offer a reasoned response; 3) Share a brisk statement on that opinion. 4) Pepper the page with photos for the big picture. For this edition, we discuss what Georgia fans would have been talking about now had COVID-19 not put our way of life on hold. DawgNation continues with the 'Cover 4' concept. The focus is always a timely look with each of our guys manning the secondary on a pertinent topic. We're looking at our now useless Georgia spring practice schedule from earlier this year. It makes us wince. Poof. All of that is gone. But football will return. Someday. Hopefully soon. That schedule says the 2020 Bulldogs would have been six practices deep into their spring drills after today. What would have DawgNation been talking about right now? We closed our eyes and imagined what that would have looked like. It resulted in another 'Cover 4' discussion of four different aspects of the team. It was fun to do amidst a time of great renewal for the Georgia program. Well, except for a salty defense which should be the best of the Kirby Smart era in Athens. The quick in-and-out game remains. The Cover 4 is designed to come out as quick as everyone is to try to maintain their social distancing these days. What would have been the big Georgia football spring practice storyline right now? Brandon Adams: Jamie Newman The 'why' from 'DawgNation Daily' here: 'The quarterback is almost always the biggest story, and this certainly would've been the case with Newman. The absence of spring practice only increases our anticipation to see Newman's debut this fall .' Mike Griffith: The offensive line The 'why' from 'On the Beat' here: 'This is the area Kirby Smart is most concerned about, and he'll say it. There will be discussion about different players lining up in different places, and injury updates . ' Connor Riley: Todd, Todd, Todd Monken The 'why' from 'Good Day UGA' here: ' Between Smart and some offensive players, we'd have gotten to hear more about working with the new offensive coordinator and what he brings to the table, as well as the working dynamic with Smart.' Jeff Sentell: The need for more playmakers at receiver. Again. The Intel here: 'Kirby Smart made it clear last spring he didn't have enough playmakers at receiver. He wanted to see what Dominick Blaylock, Lawrence Cager and George Pickens could add to the unit. It would have been the same chorus this year. The only differences between the receivers practicing last spring would have been the subtraction of veterans J.J Holloman and Tyler Simmons and the addition of Pickens and Justin Robinson. The Bulldogs will again await the arrival of Jermaine Burton, Marcus Rosemy, Ladd McConkey and Arian Smith with great anticipation. When they hit the field, that's when we will get a glimpse of where Monken's new offense can take Georgia this fall.' The post Georgia football: What would have been the talk of spring practices by now? appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia and its new quarterback will be among the favorites when college football resumes, per the latest online odds from sportsbetting.ag. Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman is ranked fifth among the Heisman Trophy contenders without having even taken his first snap for the Bulldogs. To boot, Newman along with the rest of SEC players has just now gotten approval to receive online 'chalk talk' instruction from quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Todd Monken starting at 1 p.m. on Monday. Former Georgia quarterback Justin Fields is the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy at Ohio State (+450), followed by Clemson's Trevor Lawrence (+475), Oklahoma's Spencer Rattler (+1000), Texas' Sam Ehlinger (+1200) and then Newman (+1400). Other SEC quarterbacks among the favorites include Florida's Kyle Trask, who is tied for ninth with USC QB Kedon Slovis (+2500), Alabama QB Mac Jones and North Carolina QB Sam Howell. Tailback Zamir White is tied for 25th among the Heisman Trophy contenders listed (+6600). But White, like Newman, has yet to secure the starting spot at his position entering into what will be a unique yet still very competitive offseason. SEC teams are currently suspended from any on-campus activities and are social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic. Once play resumes, Georgia figures to be in as good as shape as any program in the nation. RELATED: 4 reasons why Georgia football set for title run in 2020 The Bulldogs, as a team, rank fourth among the national championship contenders, per the online odds. Clemson is the favorite to win the national championship (+275), followed by Ohio State (+350), Alabama (+550) and then Georgia (+900). LSU is No. 5 on the preseason odds list (+1000), with Florida No. 6 (+1200), Oklahoma No. 7 (+2000) and Auburn, Notre Dame, Oregon, Penn State, Texas and Texas A&M tied at No. 8 (+2500). Georgia football offseason reads WATCH: Monty Rice shows proof of 'invisible progress' at Georgia The post Georgia football, Jamie Newman stand tall among preseason favorites in updated odds appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS SEC administrators took the first step toward resuming football-related activity, giving the OK for online instruction beginning at 1 p.m. (EDT) on Monday. It's a small step, but it shows the intent for preparation leading into the 2020 season, even as some have become skeptical amid the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic. 'What they will be allowed to do now is what they could have been doing in campus football meetings, from an instruction standpoint,' Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity told DawgNation on Friday. 'Coaches are obviously not able to provide any physical delivery of information, or conduct any physical activity,' McGarity said, referring to the current SEC policy which runs through April 15. 'But if you want to sit down online with a group of wide receivers and show vide0, and teach and have chalk talks, all that is fine.' Big for Georgia Obviously it's key for Georgia football, which has a new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in Todd Monken and is replacing three-year starter Jake Fromm at quarterback. Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman is the favorite to assume controls of an offense that will have RPO and Pro Style principles. The modification for online instruction applies to all sports. There remains a strong likelihood the SEC's ban on team activities on campus will be extended beyond April 15, with schools finishing their spring academic courses online. The Big Ten announced on Friday itwill extend the previously announced suspension of all organized team activities through May 4. Student-athletes who have not yet enrolled in school will not be eligible for the online chalk talk interaction, per the modifications' stipulations. Georgia true freshman quarterback Carson Beck was an early enrollee, so he will be eligible. AJC.com reported on Friday there have been 2001 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Georgia, including 29 in Clarke County, home to the University of Georgia. RELATED: Coronavirus dashboard, real-time stats in Georgia of cases Timeline in place? Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said on ESPN that he considers July 1 a deadline of sorts, as far as getting the players engaged in physical activity leading into the season. 'There's going to be a day where we all, as college football administrators and coaches, come up with a date where, from a player safety standpoint, we have to say this is the date that we can live with to get these young men physically ready to go into camp,' Kelly said earlier this week on SportsCenter. 'If you can't start training your football team by July 1 .the realistic goal is minimum of four weeks of conditioning before you put them in camp,' Kelly said. 'College football is going to be affected if we're not playing in 90 days, in terms of the conditioning element and getting these young men ready.' Georgia coach Kirby Smart has yet to issue a public statement on his thoughts about the return to football, other than a video. RELATED: UGA Kirby Smart releases coronavirus-related video SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said the league meetings and annal SEC Media Days remain on schedule. RELATED: Greg Sankey full steam ahead' approach amid coronavirus uncertainty SEC Memo The new allowance permitting the 'online chalk talks,' so to speak, comes with stipulations outlined in an SEC memo first obtained by 247Sports and confirmed by McGarity: 1. All required physical athletic activities (e.g., strength and conditioning workouts, sport- specific workouts) shall be prohibited. This prohibition includes both in-person involvement, and any virtual involvement by institutional staff such as remotely watching, directing, or reviewing physical workouts. 2. Required virtual film review, chalk talk, etc. that does not include physical activity shall be permissible. Any required activity of this nature shall be limited to two (2) hours of activity per week in all sports, shall be scheduled in accordance with the institution's established Time Management Policy, and shall not interfere with required class time for online instruction. These activities may not include a review by or live monitoring of film/video of a student-athlete engaging in workouts or physical activity occurring after March 13, 2020. Institutions may not suggest or require a student-athlete to make film/video of his/her workouts or physical activity available by other means (such as social media). 3. Prospective student-athletes may not be involved in any way in such required, countable activities conducted by the institution. 4. Only countable coaching staff members may be involved in providing technical or tactical instruction to student-athletes as part of such virtual activity. 5. Student-athletes may continue to be provided strength and conditioning workouts and/or sport-specific drills; however, coaches and other athletics staff may not observe the activity (virtually or in-person). Student-athletes may not be required to workouts and/or drills, nor may they be required to report back on such activity to any athletics staff member. 6. These modifications shall be effective as of 12:00 pm Central/1:00 pm Eastern on Monday, March 30. 7. Further assessment of off-season and/or summer activities will occur in the coming weeks. 8. Athletics programs are expected to comply with public health directives governing workplace activity and limitations on gatherings. This policy does not impact the Conference's earlier statement that you may continue to 'provide student-athletes with care and support in the areas of academics; medical care; mental health and wellness; and housing, as needed.' Consistent with normal practice, violations of this SEC policy are to be reported to the Conference office and will be subject to penalties at the discretion of the Commissioner. If you have any questions, please contact our office. In the meantime, Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning made it clear the Bulldogs' assistant coaches will continue to spend time with family, practice social distancing and encourage fans and players to wash their hands. Hunker Down! #GoDawgs @GeorgiaFootball pic.twitter.com/30tCcYlLVw Dan Lanning (@CoachDanLanning) March 27, 2020 The post SEC steps toward resuming football preparations, approves online chalk talks appeared first on DawgNation.
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