Compiled by Mary Lou Masters
Sam Perez opened up the show with some breaking news. Hawaii became the 49th state to report a death due to COVID-19 late Tuesday night. This leaves Wyoming as the only state without a coronavirus fatality, according to MSN.com. Health officials said the death was a male senior citizen who had pre-existing medical conditions. The Athens Journal News will continue to update you on this evolving situation.
Cason Smith had information regarding Athens’ state of emergency. The state of emergency currently in place in Athens-Clarke county is likely to be extended another month, according to Mayor Kelly Girtz.
“I can imagine us moving forward with a one-month extension,” he said Tuesday during a work session with the County Commission.
Next week the mayor will ask the commission to approve minor changes to the state of emergency ordinance that was originally set to expire on April 7. One of the problems the municipal government is trying to solve is how to efficiently, and legally, help the indigent and homeless during these times.
Among the ideas discussed was the possibility of a local Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps style work-program.
“Being able to pay for temporary shelter for families is quickly becoming a need,” Athens-Clarke County Manager Blaine Williams told commissioners.
The commission also discussed the uncertain outlook for the 2020-21 budget, as the government has already lost about $1 million water and sewer revenue in March just from the University of Georgia stopping most on-campus activities.
Cecil McIntyre reported on an amber alert in Macon. Early Wednesday morning, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation released an alert in Macon and surrounding areas. This came after Bibb County police officers answered a call to a house on Tuesday night. They found three residents shot and one child missing.
According to the sheriff’s office, “There was an altercation between 29-year-old Caesar Zamien Lamar Crockett Jr. and his child’s mother, 30-year-old Jamila Augustine French. During the altercation Crockett pulled a firearm and shot French’s mother and step-father and sister, killing them.”
Crocket is suspected of fleeing with his two-year-old son. Crockett is wanted for three counts of murder and one count of kidnapping. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Bibb County Officers are actively searching for Crockett and the two-year-old boy.
According to the alert, Crockett is six feet and one inch tall, weighs up to 200 pounds, and is driving a 2007 Pontiac G5. He was last seen wearing “a black long sleeve shirt, black shorts with red and white stripes on the side.”
Wood Smith had the latest national politics. The Department of Justice is now examining whether lawmakers traded on the stock market based on top secret briefings they received related to the coronavirus. As part of the inquiry, the FBI reached out to Republican North Carolina Senator Richard Burr, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.
Mr. Burr, who sits on two committees that have received detailed briefings on the growing epidemic, sold as much as 1.7 million dollars of shares on February 13. The lawmaker said the decision to sell shares was made based on public information at the time.
Mr. Burr is one of several members of Congress who sold hundreds of thousands of dollars in stock after attending closed-door briefings about the threat of coronavirus. The other senators who were actively trading before the markets plummeted were Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue of Georgia and James Inhofe of Oklahoma. The husband of California Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein also sold stock before the market downturn. It is not known whether any of these lawmakers are being investigated by federal law enforcement authorities.
Cason had the latest international news. The European Trade Union Confederation has revealed that at least one million people have lost their jobs in the past two weeks. That number is likely much higher due to freelancers and non-contracted workers not being included in the count.
“Thousands and thousands of small and medium enterprises that have been locked down will not be able to come back to the market because they are dying,” ETUC Secretary General Luca Visentini said. “And on the other side, we are witnessing at least one million workers that became unemployed across the different European countries because of the lack of short-time work arrangements or sick pay.”
Visentini went on to say that if the situation is not fixed by Easter through emergency measures, “the risk is that it will be triplicate, quadruplicate.” Spain, Italy, and France have called on the European Union to issue so-called “coronabonds” to underwrite the debt accumulated during the coronavirus crisis.
The idea would spread the financial hit throughout the 27 member states; however, this has been rejected by Germany, the Netherlands, Finland and Austria, which believe the system would punish countries who were more prepared to deal with the pandemic.
Michael White detailed the current impact the coronavirus is having on the U.S. economy. With all the uncertainty surrounding coronavirus and its impact on the economy and the labor force, a new grassroots labor movement might be forming. In 2019, union membership fell to an all-time low in America, but the sheer impact of the coronavirus might be changing that in certain job markets. Axios’s MIke Allen reports that auto workers, flight attendants and nurses have all leveraged their union power to enact change in their respective fields.
Whether it was the United Auto Workers forcing the Detroit automakers to close their factories or the Association of Flight Attendants ensuring that airline employees were included in the stimulus bill, unions have been flexing their muscles in the past few weeks.
Unions are typically viewed under the assumption that they ensure better working conditions and jobs for their members, and while improved working conditions are certainly a positive effect of unions, the latter opinion is actually opposite. Unions typically increase the wages of their members, but when looking at the labor market, this causes an increase in unemployment. As wages increase, more workers will enter the job market in search of those higher paying jobs.
On the flipside, employers demand less labor due to increased wages affecting their profitability. While no assumptions for the future economy can be made with any certainty right now, increased enrollment in labor unions could have an effect on the future job markets long after the coronavirus is cured.
Wood talked about an announcement from Governor Kemp. Kemp announced on Tuesday the deployment of more than 100 Georgia National Guardsmen to assisted-living facilities and nursing homes with coronavirus cases to help limit exposure to the disease among the most vulnerable residents. More than 30 long term care facilities have residents who tested positive for the virus, according to an estimate by the Georgia Health Care Association, Georgia’s largest long-term trade association.
Tuesday’s announcement expands the governor’s use of the National Guard to assist medical facilities. The guard has been assisting since last week in Albany at Phoebe Putney Medical Center, the largest hospital in Southwest Georgia and the current hotspot for coronavirus cases.
Kemp said the guard deployment is designed to take pressure off the state’s healthcare system during this critical time.
“If we can keep these populations as healthy as possible, we will be able to conserve precious medical supplies and hospital bed space in the coming days and weeks,” Kemp said.
Cecil gave the latest entertainment news. Yesterday was Trans Day of Visibility, and Variety magazine featured trans actors, writers and producers on its cover. In addition, Variety hosted a round-table discussion where individuals like Alexandra Billings revealed the difficulties of transitioning as early as the 1980’s. Laverne Cox of Orange is the New Black also discussed her transition during the discussion.
J.K. Rowling recently gave schoolteachers a creative commons license to read Harry Potter books out loud to their classes through streaming services. Usually recording or streaming a public performance of a work would violate JK Rowling’s rights as an exclusive copyright holder.
Athens has cancelled the 2020 AthFest due to financial concerns. The committee worries it will not be able to raise money in time to keep its foundation afloat for festivals to come. AthFest generally brings in thousands of dollars for local artists, vendors and businesses downtown. This year, the committee made a donation to Nuci’s Space to make up for the recording studio’s potential losses. The cancellation was made with long term plans to restore AthFest in mind.
Scotland became the next country to cancel its summer events. Art festivals in Edinburough, Scotland are some of the largest culture hubs of the year. Summer 2020 will no longer include fringe, Edinburough Arts Festival, the Edinburough International Book Festival and the royal Edinburough military tattoo festival.
City councillors said they would continue to fund arts and culture in the festivals’ absences. City council leader Councilman Adam McVey said the cancellations are “an incredibly difficult decision.”
With concert and festival cancellations coming to consumers left and right, we still haven’t heard the last from Coachella showrunners. Choura Events puts on events like Coachella and SXSW. With those no longer an option this year, they’re helping people on the frontline of the pandemic by building triangle tents in California.
As healthcare systems struggle to accommodate the massive influxes of COVID-19 victims, these temporary hospitals provide a massive relief. This is just one example of how the virus is changing markets worldwide and making producers more diverse.
Michael ended the show with the sports news updates. With sports being cancelled outside of the occasional Russian foosball tournament (it’s actually a thing) there’s not a whole lot of sports to talk about at the moment.
That being said, the NFL has offered avid sports fans a brief reprieve from the lack of sports in the world right now. The 2020 league year began on March 18 for the NFL, kicking off free agency.
Four key players from the 2019 Falcons were not re-signed due to a lack of cap space. Those players were TE Austin Hooper, Edge Vic Beasley and LB De’Vondre Campbell. Perhaps the biggest loss was Austin Hooper, as he was a key target for Matt Ryan over the middle, but was too expensive to retain.
Other cap casualties included both CB Desmond Trufant and RB Devonta Freeman. The writing was on the wall for these two former stars, as they have both dealt with injury issues and inconsistent play over the past few years.
Now turning to positive news, free agency started with a splash for the Falcons as they signed former Florida defensive end Dante Fowler, who spent the past year with the Los Angeles Rams. He was signed to a three year deal and is a former third overall pick of Jacksonville, and he is coming off a career-high 11.5 sacks.
The Falcons followed that signing with a trade with Baltimore for TE Hayden Hurst out of South Carolina. The former first round pick has two years remaining on his contract with a possible fifth year option.
Forced out of Baltimore due to Mark Andrews, Hurst will look to immediately fill the hole left by Hooper. All it cost the Falcons was the second round pick acquired in the Mohammed Sanu trade from mid-season. The final notable signing from the Falcons was the low-risk, high-reward signing of former University of Georgia Bulldogs star running back Todd Gurley.
At worst, Gurley will be a third down back who can catch the ball out of the backfield, but he has the opportunity, behind an improved offensive line, to have an explosive year with the Falcons.