WBRZ https://www.wbrz.com/ WBRZ News News en-us Copyright 2020, WBRZ. All Rights Reserved. Feed content is not avaialble for commercial use. () () Thu, 9 Apr 2020 HH:04:ss GMT Synapse CMS 10 WBRZ https://www.wbrz.com/ 144 25 Researcher says droplets carrying COVID-19 can travel up to 27 feet https://www.wbrz.com/news/researcher-says-droplets-carrying-covid-19-can-travel-up-to-27-feet/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/researcher-says-droplets-carrying-covid-19-can-travel-up-to-27-feet/ News Wed, 8 Apr 2020 8:31:07 PM WBRZ Staff Researcher says droplets carrying COVID-19 can travel up to 27 feet

CAMBRIDGE, MA.- A professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says 6 ft. is simply not enough distance between people to avoid catching COVID-19.

Lydia Bourouiba, associate professor at MIT, has researched the dynamics of exhalations such as coughs, sneezes, and yawns for years at The Fluid Dynamics of Disease Transmission Laboratory. Studies show exhalations cause gaseous clouds that can travel up to 27 feet.

Bourouiba's research could have implications for the global COVID-19 pandemic, though measures called for by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization call for six and three feet of space.

“There’s an urgency in revising the guidelines currently being given by the WHO and the CDC on the needs for protective equipment, particularly for the frontline health care workers,” Bourouiba said.

Her research calls for improved measures to protect healthcare workers and potentially, more distance from infected people who are coughing or sneezing.

She said current guidelines are based on large droplets as the method of transmission for the virus and the idea that those large droplets can only go a certain distance.

"Peak exhalation speeds can reach 33 to 100 feet per second and currently used surgical and N95 masks are not tested for these potential characteristics of respiratory emissions," Bourouiba said.

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CDC issues new guidance for essential workers https://www.wbrz.com/news/cdc-issues-new-guidance-for-essential-workers/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/cdc-issues-new-guidance-for-essential-workers/ News Wed, 8 Apr 2020 7:53:22 PM Associated Press CDC issues new guidance for essential workers

WASHINGTON — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has new guidance for essential workers as it takes a small step toward reopening the country.

The guidance applies to essential workers, such as those in the health care and food supply industry, who have been within 6 feet of a person who has a confirmed or suspected case of the new coronavirus.

CDC Director Robert Redfield says the employee can return to work as long as they take their temperature before they go to work, wear a face mask at all times and practice social distancing while they are at work.

Redfield said the employees should continue to stay home if they are sick.

He also said employers in those critical industries should take the temperatures of a worker before allowing them to come back to work.

Redfield announced the new guidance during the daily White House briefing on the U.S. efforts to stop the spread of the virus.

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Wednesday's Health Report https://www.wbrz.com/news/wednesday-s-health-report-129868/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/wednesday-s-health-report-129868/ News Wed, 8 Apr 2020 6:24:41 PM WBRZ Staff Wednesday's Health Report

Watch the 2 Your Health Report for Wednesday, April 8, 2020.

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Outcry over racial data grows as virus slams black Americans https://www.wbrz.com/news/outcry-over-racial-data-grows-as-virus-slams-black-americans/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/outcry-over-racial-data-grows-as-virus-slams-black-americans/ News Wed, 8 Apr 2020 5:59:43 PM WBRZ Staff Outcry over racial data grows as virus slams black Americans

As the coronavirus tightens its grip across the country, it is cutting a particularly devastating swath through an already vulnerable population — black Americans.

Democratic lawmakers and community leaders in cities hard-hit by the pandemic have been sounding the alarm over what they see as a disturbing trend of the virus killing African Americans at a higher rate, along with a lack of overall information about the race of victims as the nation’s death toll mounts.

Among the cities where black residents have been hard-hit: New York, Detroit, New Orleans, Chicago and Milwaukee.

“Everywhere we look, the coronavirus is devastating our communities,” said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP.

Of the victims whose demographic data was publicly shared by officials — nearly 3,300 of the nation’s 13,000 deaths thus far — about 42% were black, according to an Associated Press analysis. African Americans account for roughly 21% of the total population in the areas covered by the analysis.

The AP’s analysis is one of the first attempts to examine the racial disparities of COVID-19 cases and deaths nationwide. It involved examining more than 4,450 deaths and 52,000 COVID-19 cases from across the country, relying on the handful of state and local governments that have released victims’ race.

A history of systemic racism and inequity in access to health care and economic opportunity has made many African Americans far more vulnerable to the virus. Black adults suffer from higher rates of obesity, diabetes and asthma, which make them more susceptible, and also are more likely to be uninsured. They also often report that medical professionals take their ailments less seriously when they seek treatment.

“The rate at which black people are dying, compared to whites, is really just astounding,” said Courtney Cogburn, an associate professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work. “There are patterns at this intersection of race and socioeconomic status that make it very clear this is just not a story about poverty.”

President Donald Trump and the government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, acknowledged the higher death rate among African Americans during Tuesday’s White House briefing. The president called it a “tremendous challenge,” and suggested that federal health officials could release national racial and ethnic COVID-19 data within days.

For its analysis, the AP made requests of COVID-19 racial breakdowns in states, cities and counties nationwide, ultimately gathering data from eight states, six major U.S. cities, including New York City and the District of Columbia, and six of Florida’s largest counties.

The data collected ranges from New York to Illinois to Alabama to San Diego, California, and covers an area that represents 82 million Americans, nearly 43% of whom are nonwhite. Other minority groups’ cases and deaths are fairly in line with their demographics, although those among Hispanic individuals in some hot spots are still high.

The data came mostly from large, racially diverse cities and states, but even in states where nonwhite populations are large, the impact of COVID-19 was outsized, particularly on the black community. The effect was so large that even if the 1,200 death cases that the AP excluded from its analysis because they were recorded as “race unknown” turned out to be white patients, blacks still would be overrepresented in the share of cases — and even more so in the share of deaths.

For instance, Louisiana tracked demographic data in 512 deaths and found 70% of victims were black, despite African Americans comprising just 32% of the state’s population. In Michigan, more than half of the deaths where race data was collected were black residents; the state’s population is 14% black.

Illinois’ population is 17% Hispanic and 14% black yet, as of Monday, 63% of its caseload of more than 9,000 COVID cases with racial data recorded were nonwhite residents, and at least 40% of the state’s 307 victims were black.

ZIP code data in New York City released last week showed that black, brown and immigrant communities are disproportionately represented among the diagnosed virus cases and deaths. On Wednesday, the city’s Department of Health released racial data showing 27.5% of the victims whose race is known are black, although blacks are only about 22% of the population.

“It’s sick. It’s troubling. It’s wrong,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “and we are going to fight back with everything we’ve got.”

The scattered release of data comes as the Centers for Disease Protection and Control is under increasing pressure to be more transparent about the toll of the virus on communities of color.

The agency has not publicly reported racial or ethnic demographic data for COVID-19 tests performed across the country, though its own standardized form required for reporting COVID-19 tests and cases includes a section for indicating the race or ethnicity of those tested. On Wednesday, the CDC did release racial data for March hospitalizations in 14 states that showed a third of patients were black.

Of the entities that released racial data to the AP, much of it remained sorely lacking. Overall, more than a third of the caseload records did not include race and, in some places, such as Virginia and parts of Florida, that number was more than a half.

Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told the AP it would be “indefensible” if the federal government was concealing any testing and treatment data. The committee, along with hundreds of medical professionals, sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Monday urging him to ensure his agency will “collect, monitor, and disseminate racial data” for the coronavirus.

African Americans and members of some ethnicities share an additional vulnerability: They are overrepresented among workers like nurse aides, grocery store clerks, emergency dispatchers and public transportation employees who cannot telecommute. That forces them out into the general public at a time when others are under strict stay-at-home orders.
“All one has to do is stand on a platform and you’ll see that the trains are filled with black and brown and low-income people going into communities to service those who are able to telecommute,” said Eric Adams, president of New York City’s Brooklyn borough.

Milwaukee community organizer Sylvester Jackson, who was recently diagnosed with COVID-19, lives on the city’s predominantly black north side, home to a concentration of cases. “It is unbelievable that people on one side of this city are dying like this,” he said.

Each loss leaves a ripple, forever altering families and communities.

The pastor of a black church in Baton Rouge was one of Louisiana’s first confirmed coronavirus deaths, followed days later by the loss of a Shreveport clergyman known for his street ministries. The virus claimed one of the state’s most revered musicians, Ellis Marsalis, along with a popular New Orleans DJ who was a leading figure in the city’s bounce music scene.

In Detroit, the deaths include Gloria Smith, a fixture at the city’s African World Festival, who died within a week of her husband, and educator and playwright Brenda Perryman.

Marsha Battle Philpot, a writer and cultural historian known as Marsha Music, said a Facebook memorial page is flooded daily with stories of loss among black people in Detroit.

“I think this is going to be a collective loss that is going to reverberate through generations,” she said.

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Local nurse sending care packages to health care workers fighting virus head-on https://www.wbrz.com/news/local-nurse-sending-care-packages-to-health-care-workers-fighting-virus-head-on/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/local-nurse-sending-care-packages-to-health-care-workers-fighting-virus-head-on/ News Wed, 8 Apr 2020 5:27:38 PM Bess Casserleigh Local nurse sending care packages to health care workers fighting virus head-on

BATON ROUGE - Nurse Oreal Perkins may not be working on the front lines, but she's doing what she can here at home to help those who are. 

"Everybody is thinking about the physical, but nobody is thinking about the mental health of those taking care of us," Perkins said. 

While many people are donating much needed PPE, Perkins wanted to send her fellow nurses the things that they might not need but definitely want. 

"So if they could get something to just say 'hey look, this is what we know you need, so we're sending masks, gloves and hand sanitizer, but we also want to send you a candle, some body scrub and some body butter. So tonight when you take your shower or bath, I just want you to take some time for you."

As a nurse herself, Perkins knows exactly what health care professionals really want during this time. 

"But now that people have been there for two weeks, it's like, 'yeah thank y'all for the food and stuff like that. But man if I could just get some bath salts, I would be amazing.'"

All of the products inside the boxes are made by local small business owners, including Perkins' own line of vitamins. 

So far she says she has sent out 15 care packages to nurses across the country but hopes to send many more. 

"This is the most selfless thing that you guys could have done. We definitely appreciate you, we love you, we care about you, we support you. Just know that we're here for you, and I am doing my best to show you guys we care," Perkins said.

You can help Oreal continue to send care packages through her GoFundMe page here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/essential-relaxation-stat-pack-and-masks?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cf+share-flow-1

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Senator Cassidy says stimulus checks should arrive by the end of the month https://www.wbrz.com/news/senator-cassidy-says-stimulus-checks-should-arrive-by-the-end-of-the-month/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/senator-cassidy-says-stimulus-checks-should-arrive-by-the-end-of-the-month/ News Wed, 8 Apr 2020 5:17:07 PM Tristen Land Senator Cassidy says stimulus checks should arrive by the end of the month

BATON ROUGE- Financial help is on the way for millions of Americans affected by the coronavirus pandemic. 

In a virtual town hall meeting with the Advocate newspaper, U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy explains how the federal stimulus bill will help Louisiana bounce back from the crisis.

"We're trying to help businesses and individuals through this rough patch until the stay at home orders are eased. You go back to work, and as you go back to work you're positioned to keep on going."

Cassidy says within three weeks, Americans will start receiving stimulus checks up to $1,200 per person.

Others who filed their taxes and received a direct deposit could see their money sooner than that.

"$1,200 for an individual earning less than $75,000 a year, $2,400 for a couple making less than $150,000 in a year, and $500 per child. It phases out per head of household a little bit above those amounts I just gave," Cassidy explained.

During the interview, Cassidy also addressed relief for small businesses. 

"Under the definition we included for small businesses, it was for your traditional small business, your 501c3. So, think of your local church or food bank, or environmental organization as well as GIG employees."

For those who do not necessarily need the money at this time, Cassidy says donate it to an organization that does. 

"There are homeless shelters right now that are really struggling except for the generosity of fellow Americans. So, consider that as we care for each other. We're in this together."

The government is launching a portal on the IRS website in the next few days if your tax information needs to be updated.

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Millions of dollars worth of unclaimed money on the way to people in Louisiana https://www.wbrz.com/news/millions-of-dollars-worth-of-unclaimed-money-on-the-way-to-people-in-louisiana/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/millions-of-dollars-worth-of-unclaimed-money-on-the-way-to-people-in-louisiana/ News Wed, 8 Apr 2020 5:00:10 PM Chris Nakamoto Millions of dollars worth of unclaimed money on the way to people in Louisiana

BATON ROUGE- Millions of dollars in unclaimed money that belongs to Louisiana residents began going out to them two weeks ago. State Treasurer John Schroder said 45,000 checks were mailed and are showing up in people's mailboxes. 
"Let's face it, hardly anybody is working, especially those in restaurants and hotels and the service industry, "Schroder said. "They are all home so to send 45,000 people checks, is just unbelievable. It was like Christmas morning for me."
Unclaimed money is lost money. It comes to the state treasurer's office because a company lost track of you based on a change of address. Almost $800 million is owed to citizens according to Shroder. He said just yesterday his office was flooded with at least 500 phone calls with people wondering if the checks were legitimate. 
"If it has the treasury seal, my signature... it's real," Schroder said. "Take it to the bank, the bank won't cash it if it's fake."
Despite the good news of people getting money in the mail, there is controversy. Some of that money is the focus of pending litigation. In February, Governor John Bel Edwards filed a lawsuit against Schroder to get him to turn over some of that unclaimed money to the state. In the past, state treasurers turned it over to be spent by the state and lawmakers, but not this time. 
"I don't see anywhere in the law where it says it should go to the general fund," Schroder said. "At the end of the day, the more money we return to the citizens of Louisiana, that's less money when this settles that government is going to get. I don't believe they should get any of it."
The lawsuit that was filed in February was still ongoing but court dates that were upcoming have been delayed due to the coronavirus crisis. We asked whether he was concerned about jumping the gun in sending out the money before a judge can make a ruling. 
"No, here is the bottom line, this money does not belong to the State of Louisiana," Schroder said. "I will go to my grave with that."
Schroder added the litigation does not stop his office from doing what they're supposed to be doing anyway. 
"If we give all the money out, we don't have any money," Schroder said. "My goal is to give back every penny. We're well on track to hit over $50 million this year which is outstanding. We typically give back $25-$27 million a year."
In addition to the money hitting mailboxes now, Schroder said his office just received word that they will be able to send out another batch soon. 
We reached out to Governor John Bel Edwards's office for a comment on money that they are suing for being returned to citizens by the State Treasurer. 

“Since the inception of the Unclaimed Property program four decades ago, it has always had sufficient funds to pay claims and to have the excess funds transferred to the State General Fund as the state constitution requires," the Governor's office told WBRZ.

"Even after the payment of these recent claims, Treasurer Schroder is holding on to tens of millions of dollars that could be used now to provide needed funds for health care providers or to provide assistance to our schools. I am happy that the Treasurer is meeting his obligation to return these funds to the people of Louisiana. The remaining funds should be used, as required by law, to meet the needs of all of the people of Louisiana in this emergency.”

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WATCH: Drew Brees appears on 'Ellen' to talk virus's effect on Louisiana https://www.wbrz.com/news/watch-drew-brees-appears-on-ellen-to-talk-virus-s-effect-on-louisiana/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/watch-drew-brees-appears-on-ellen-to-talk-virus-s-effect-on-louisiana/ News Wed, 8 Apr 2020 4:27:12 PM WBRZ Staff WATCH: Drew Brees appears on 'Ellen' to talk virus's effect on Louisiana

NEW ORLEANS - Saints quarterback Drew Brees spoke live with Ellen DeGeneres Wednesday to discuss Louisiana's battle with the coronavirus outbreak.

DeGeneres, a Metairie native, talked to the future hall of famer and his wife Brittany via a video call Wednesday. Among the topics the three discussed were the Brees family's $5 million pledge to the state of Louisiana.

"We felt like, just from talking to many people, that the biggest need were meals," Brees said. "We're being able to feed kids on meal programs, feeding seniors, getting them meals. Feeding front line health care workers."

Brees also shared an optimistic message for everyone suffering across the country.

"We're going to get through this. But we need to get through it together... We all need to lean on one another."

You can see the full interview below.

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Downtown library final change order completed, working through punch list https://www.wbrz.com/news/downtown-library-final-change-order-completed-working-through-punch-list/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/downtown-library-final-change-order-completed-working-through-punch-list/ News Wed, 8 Apr 2020 3:49:53 PM Brittany Weiss Downtown library final change order completed, working through punch list

BATON ROUGE - Believe it or not, there is still work to do at the River Center Branch Library downtown Baton Rouge. Before the coronavirus stay-at-home order the library was scheduled to open this week, but the date has been pushed back a little further.

Inside the library, books and DVD's are organized on shelves, new seating areas are set up on the front patio, and signage on the building says it will be opening this spring. Now that spring opening date is unknown because of the virus and late deliveries.

"Some deliveries have not taken place as you see all over, not only the city, the state, the region, the nation," said Asst. Library Director Mary Stein. "Furniture hasn't come in, glass boards haven't come in."

While the library is waiting on those deliveries, there's an important update at Wednesday's virtual Metrocouncil meeting. Up for approval is the last change order to the library valued at $410,440.02. 

That remediation and repair work covered recoating the vapor barrier and expired adhesive costs, fourth-floor balcony roof repairs, additional main roof repairs, and window wall repairs.

The City-Parish says it executed the planned structural remediation with these change orders as soon as possible to mitigate costly delays with the continuance of construction and project completion. The City-Parish is moving forward to recover and all funds from the responsible parties and a legal suit is still pending.

In April 2018, a critical support beam snapped, stalling construction. The City-Parish has sued the architecture firm, contractor, and construction firm.

While all the major items are now complete, Stein says crews are working through the punch list.

"Places that need repainting, touch-ups, places where maybe something got bumped, places where the molding is not quite level," said Stein.

The $14.5 million project ended up costing about $18 million.

The library is still scheduled to open this spring, but a date has not been announced.

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'You think we'll play football?' Coach O, LSU Doc talk team effort https://www.wbrz.com/news/you-think-we-ll-play-football-coach-o-lsu-doc-talk-team-effort/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/you-think-we-ll-play-football-coach-o-lsu-doc-talk-team-effort/ News Wed, 8 Apr 2020 3:16:06 PM WBRZ Staff 'You think we'll play football?' Coach O, LSU Doc talk team effort

BATON ROUGE - LSU Head Coach Ed Orgeron and team Doctor Brent Bankston talked about the possibility of losing the 2020 football season. Dr. Bankston thinks we might see the Tigers in Death Valley again in 2020, if we all play our part.

Check out the conversation below:

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Vets advise cat owners to keep them indoors to limit spread of coronavirus https://www.wbrz.com/news/vets-advise-cat-owners-to-keep-them-indoors-to-limit-spread-of-coronavirus/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/vets-advise-cat-owners-to-keep-them-indoors-to-limit-spread-of-coronavirus/ News Wed, 8 Apr 2020 3:08:56 PM WBRZ Staff Vets advise cat owners to keep them indoors to limit spread of coronavirus

Cat owners who are self-isolating or have COVID-19 symptoms should consider keeping their pets indoors to stop them from carrying the virus on their fur, a veterinary body has advised.

Animals can act as fomites, which are objects that can become contaminated with infectious organisms, and could hold the virus on their fur if they are pet by someone who has contracted the virus, The British Veterinary Association said.

"For pet owners who have COVID-19 or who are self-isolating we are recommending that you keep your cat indoors if possible, during that time," the BVA said in a statement. "The virus could be on their fur in the same way it is on other surfaces, such as tables and doorknobs."

The BVA says the most important thing for pet owners to do at this time is to practice good hygiene.

There is a small number of incidents in which animals have tested positive for COVID-19, including a tiger in Bronx Zoo, but even in those cases, there is no evidence that animals can pass the virus to humans.

"It is very important that people don't panic about their pets. There is no evidence that animals can pass the disease to humans," the BVA said. "From the small number of cases, it appears that dogs do not show symptoms, but cats can show clinical signs of the disease."

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LIVE UPDATES: Wednesday afternoon traffic https://www.wbrz.com/news/live-updates-wednesday-afternoon-traffic/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/live-updates-wednesday-afternoon-traffic/ News Wed, 8 Apr 2020 2:08:29 PM WBRZ Staff LIVE UPDATES: Wednesday afternoon traffic

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LSU giving students pass/no credit grading option for spring semester https://www.wbrz.com/news/lsu-giving-students-pass-no-credit-grading-option-for-spring-semester/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/lsu-giving-students-pass-no-credit-grading-option-for-spring-semester/ News Wed, 8 Apr 2020 12:54:01 PM WBRZ Staff LSU giving students pass/no credit grading option for spring semester

BATON ROUGE - LSU is giving students the option to change their grading format for the spring semester after the school was forced to move all of its classes online because of the coronavirus.

The university announced Wednesday that students can have their final grades reported on their transcript as a either "pass" or "no credit" instead of the usual letter grade scale. 

Those who earn between an A+ and a C- will receive a “P” on their official transcript, and those who earn between a D+ and an F will receive an “NC” on their transcript. Graduate students will need at least a B- to earn a "P" grade.

A “P” on a transcript will indicate the student passed the course and received the established number of credit hours, while “NC” means the student was enrolled and completed the course, but will not receive credit for it. Neither the “P” nor the “NC” will affect the student’s GPA. 

Students are being allowed to choose the new grading option on a class-by-class basis rather than having to change the grading for all courses. Students may still elect to use the conventional +/- letter grade system.

This option is not available to students in the LSU Online Program, the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine and the LSU Law Center.

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Man in Ireland uses old movies to unite his community under lockdown https://www.wbrz.com/news/man-in-ireland-uses-old-movies-to-unite-his-community-under-lockdown/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/man-in-ireland-uses-old-movies-to-unite-his-community-under-lockdown/ News Wed, 8 Apr 2020 11:45:44 AM WBRZ Staff Man in Ireland uses old movies to unite his community under lockdown

The global health crisis has been devastating to families and communities throughout the world. But even in times of grief, glimmers of hope that speak to the strength of the human spirit shine like beacons in the dark- or like the glow of a projector as it displays old movies on an old brick wall.

A movie buff in Cork, Ireland is using his projector and love of film to bring his community together during his area's stay-at-home mandate.

Scott Duggan has been projecting classic movies against the wall of a nearby building for everyone in his community to enjoy in the evenings. 

They can hear the audio of each film by grabbing a radio and tuning in to an FM station. 

His neighbors love the ingenuity of his idea and report enjoying the feeling of togetherness that comes from watching Hollywood classics from their balconies every evening.  

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CDC considers loosening guidelines for some exposed to virus https://www.wbrz.com/news/cdc-considers-loosening-guidelines-for-some-exposed-to-virus/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/cdc-considers-loosening-guidelines-for-some-exposed-to-virus/ News Wed, 8 Apr 2020 11:22:59 AM Associated Press CDC considers loosening guidelines for some exposed to virus

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering changing its guidelines for self-isolation to make it easier for those who have been exposed to someone with the coronavirus to return to work if they are without symptoms.

The public health agency, in conjunction with the White House coronavirus task force, is considering an announcement as soon as Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence said.

Under the proposed guidance, people who are exposed to someone infected would be allowed back on the job if they have no symptoms, test their temperature twice a day and wear a face mask, said a person familiar with the proposal under consideration. The person was not authorized to publicly discuss the draft because it had not been finalized and described the proposal on the condition of anonymity.

The new policy is aimed in particular at workers in critical jobs. But it also comes as the Trump administration is eyeing what it calls a “stabilization” in infection rates and looks toward rolling back some of the restrictive social distancing guidelines and restarting the stalled economy.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, said Wednesday that even as death rates rise, the administration has been working on plans to eventually reopen the country amid “glimmers of hope” that social distancing is working to stop the virus’ spread.

“If, in fact, we are successful, it makes sense to at least plan what a reentry into normality would look like,” he said on Fox News Channel.

“That doesn’t mean we’re going to do it right now,” he added. “But it means we need to be prepared to ease into that. And there’s a lot of activity going on.”

Dr. Deborah Birx, a leader on the White House’s coronavirus task force, called the upcoming CDC guidance “a very important piece.”

“It looks at degree of exposure and really making it clear that exposure occurs within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes, so really understanding where you shouldn’t be within 6 feet of people right now,” Birx told CBS on Wednesday.

The proposed guidance would follow recommendations made by the CDC that eased self-isolation requirements for front-line medical workers who were exposed to the virus. Under CDC guidance, medical workers who have been exposed to the virus without protective equipment but who have no symptoms can return to work with a mask and temperature checks after 14 days.

Pence on Tuesday said the White House is focusing on the “point of need” for the current situation but also is operating on another track to consider future recommendations for the public.

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. In the United States, there have been about 400,000 cases and about 13,000 deaths.

In fashioning the recommendations, the administration appeared to be trying to balance political concerns about wanting to preserve as much normalcy as possible with public health concerns that some infections are being spread by people who seem to be healthy.

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Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter, commits $1 billion towards virus relief work https://www.wbrz.com/news/jack-dorsey-the-founder-of-twitter-commits-1-billion-towards-virus-relief-work/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/jack-dorsey-the-founder-of-twitter-commits-1-billion-towards-virus-relief-work/ News Wed, 8 Apr 2020 11:20:49 AM WBRZ Staff Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter, commits $1 billion towards virus relief work

Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter and the payment app called 'Square' announced plans to donate 28% of his wealth to virus relief efforts. 

Dorsey tweeted the news Tuesday, saying he will fork over $1 billion to help relieve the effects of novel coronavirus. 

The 43-year-old explained that he will use shares he owns in Square to fund the donations, which will be distributed through the Start Small Foundation.

He went on to say once the relief efforts have served their purpose, any remaining money will be used to support girls health and education as well as research into universal basic income.

The tech industry billionaire is following in the footsteps of his colleagues who've made similar announcements.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg publicly committed $30m, the bulk of which is focused on efforts to create a treatment.

Meanwhile, Amazon's Jeff Bezos informed the public that he's donated $100m to U.S. food banks and Apple's chief executive Tim Cook announced the company would donate medical supplies to Italy, which has been hit hard by the virus.

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Senator Bernie Sanders ends his bid for the presidency, clearing the way for Joe Biden https://www.wbrz.com/news/senator-bernie-sanders-ends-his-bid-for-the-presidency-clearing-the-way-for-joe-biden/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/senator-bernie-sanders-ends-his-bid-for-the-presidency-clearing-the-way-for-joe-biden/ News Wed, 8 Apr 2020 10:40:09 AM WBRZ Staff Senator Bernie Sanders ends his bid for the presidency, clearing the way for Joe Biden

Senator Bernie Sanders has suspended his bid for the presidency.

According to CNN, the Vermont Senator ended his presidential campaign on Wednesday, essentially clearing Joe Biden's path to the Democratic nomination and to an eventual showdown against President Donald Trump in November.

Sanders made the announcement in a call with his campaign staff, his campaign said.

Sanders' exit follows Biden's gradual rise to the top that began back in February, with a blowout victory in South Carolina. 

The contest ends now as the country continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, which halted in-person campaigning for both Sanders and Biden and has led many states to delay their primary elections.

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Entergy, other local companies dole out $290k in relief efforts and provide healthcare workers with food https://www.wbrz.com/news/entergy-other-local-companies-dole-out-290k-in-relief-efforts-and-provide-healthcare-workers-with-food/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/entergy-other-local-companies-dole-out-290k-in-relief-efforts-and-provide-healthcare-workers-with-food/ News Wed, 8 Apr 2020 10:23:54 AM WBRZ Staff Entergy, other local companies dole out $290k in relief efforts and provide healthcare workers with food

BATON ROUGE - As Louisiana residents ride out the coronavirus pandemic along with the rest of the world, Entergy is proving that it's willing to do even more than keep the lights on for its customers.

The company has partnered with the Baton Rouge Area Foundation (BRAF), ExxonMobil, LMOGA Foundation, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation and Humana to provide up to $290,000 in much-needed relief funds for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of special note is Entergy's support of healthcare workers who remain on the frontlines in the battle against COVID-19.

Entergy Louisiana is making sure these workers receive nutritious meals by donating $100,000 to a specialized BRAF fund called Fueling the Fight.

Fueling the Fight covers the cost of food and labor associated with providing meals to front-line hospital workers and nonprofit organizations. 

The company will also match individual donations up to $50,000 and has asked other corporations in the area to give as well. 

So far, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation and Humana have each pledged an additional $50,000. 

ExxonMobil Baton Rouge and the ExxonMobil Pipeline Company are together donating a total of $40,000 in the first wave of contributions. ExxonMobil is also supporting local relief efforts by providing gas card donations to area hospitals and nonprofits.

 “As one of the largest businesses in the Baton Rouge area, this is simply us doing the right thing,” said Phillip May, president and CEO of Entergy Louisiana. “We pride ourselves on being there when our communities need us, and this is us simply answering that call. Through this donation, we’re able to help out such a wide array of people, and I’m thrilled our business partners are pitching in to do the same.”

Meals will be provided by restaurants associated with the Better Together Restaurant Coalition, and will serve the dual purpose of helping to keep individuals in the restaurant industry employed while feeding people and organizations directly involved in fighting health issues and nutritional needs associated with COVID-19. 

Individuals wishing to give can do so online at BRAF.org. 

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Church continues its mission to feed the hungry despite battling arson-related fires https://www.wbrz.com/news/church-continues-its-mission-to-feed-the-hungry-despite-battling-arson-related-fires/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/church-continues-its-mission-to-feed-the-hungry-despite-battling-arson-related-fires/ News Wed, 8 Apr 2020 10:02:40 AM WBRZ Staff Church continues its mission to feed the hungry despite battling arson-related fires

BATON ROUGE - Even as their church became the target of an arsonist, officials and congregation members affiliated with Broadmoor United Methodist Church are determined to carry out their mission to feed the hungry.

During the week of March 30, buildings on Broadmoor Methodist's property were utterly devastated by two fires, erasing years of memories.

Despite the ensuing challenges, church officials are continuing their Red Stick Together ministry, which was designed to provide free food to the community.

Church officials say the program is now expanding its nights of free meals to include Mondays and Fridays.

It's their hope to help area residents affected by job loss or food shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Meals are prepared fresh and served hot in to-go boxes outside of the building while volunteers follow Gov. John Bel Edwards’ orders and CDC guidelines for food service during this pandemic. One meal is given per person, on a first-come, first-served basis.

Anyone interested in picking up a meal should go to 9620 Florida Blvd, Suite 500 in Baton Rouge, LA (this is in the Broadmoor Shopping Center, two doors down from the Hi Nabor Supermarket) every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 6 p.m.

Church officials say the red and white Red Stick Together signs will be visible, letting interested ones know they're in the right area.

Click here for more information. 

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Prominent River Parishes area attorney passes away following lengthy battle with leukemia https://www.wbrz.com/news/prominent-river-parishes-area-attorney-passes-away-following-lengthy-battle-with-leukemia/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/prominent-river-parishes-area-attorney-passes-away-following-lengthy-battle-with-leukemia/ News Wed, 8 Apr 2020 9:25:11 AM WBRZ Staff Prominent River Parishes area attorney passes away following lengthy battle with leukemia

LAPLACE, La. — A prominent trial lawyer in the River Parishes area has passed away; WWL-TV reports that Daniel "Danny" Becnel Jr., died Tuesday after a lengthy battle with leukemia. 

Becnel, who played a role in dozens of major lawsuits over the years, became seriously ill in late 2015, shortly after an unsuccessful campaign to become St. John the Baptist Parish's President. 

While wrestling with his own illness, he underwent surgery to donate a kidney to his brother Robert, who is also a lawyer. 

Though Becnel had retired from his law practice, which handled included personal injury and class action cases, he was still known as “the king of torts.” Over the years, his targets included the tobacco industry, chemical companies and major corporations.

Becnel led class-action lawsuits following the 2010 BP oil disaster and the 1988 explosion at Shell’s Norco refinery. He also represented Saints quarterback Drew Brees in a 2013 lawsuit over tax credits and Saints head coach Sean Payton, and dozens of other plaintiffs, in a 2010 over tainted Chinese drywall.

Following Hurricane Katrina, he was a lead lawyer in a $330 million settlement against Murphy Oil over a tank spill during the storm that unleashed more than 1 million gallons of oil in several St. Bernard Parish neighborhoods.

The well-known attorney was 75 years old when he passed away. 

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