Compiled by Mary Lou Masters
Carter Best started the show off with a brief overview of the severe storms. Last night, storms swept across the South affecting 10 states and killing at least 19 people. Mississippi was particularly affected as 11 have been confirmed dead and the governor declared a state of emergency last night due to tornados and extreme weather. Around 750,000 lost electricity in areas ranging from Texas to West Virginia.
According to the Associated Press, six deaths were reported in Georgia. A Louisiana airport reported damages totalling $30 million dollars. While the storms have largely abated, there are still fallen trees, damaged power lines and punctured roofs to contend with.
Michael Doti reported on how UGA’s theatre department is being affected by the coronavirus. This pandemic has affected all 37 acres of the University of Georgia and has brought a sudden end to everything that was supposed to be planned for the remainder of March, April and beyond. One of the many departments hit hard was the theatre department. Due to the risk of this virus, UGA’s Performing Arts Center was one of the first things to say goodbye.
Eliana Marianes and her cast were getting ready to perform “The Penelopiad (Penelopyad)” shortly after the original end of spring break before the University System of Georgia decided to suspend face-to-face instruction. Marianes said she was really excited for this one because this was going to be her first directed play.
Additionally, Marianes said both she and the play are of Greek origin, so it would have been special to do it since it was close to home.
“The cast was so fired up about the show,” Marianes said. “I felt that my job almost became to quell a revolution in the sense that I kept saying ‘I want to see this show hit the stage, but we need to be patient and just see what happens.”
Another show that cancelled was “Into the Woods” by James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim. Emma Ruth Matthews was supposed to graduate in May of this year and her role of Cinderella in this play was going to serve as her going away party. With the show now cut, she said she will no longer get that special moment.
“It just feels so unfinished,” Matthews said. “Once I figure out my plans for next year and start working with other theaters I’m sure I will get that feeling (of closure), but right now I just feel like there’s a giant piece missing from my life.”
Jamie Baker then provided some updates on COVID-19 pertaining to the state of Georgia. Today the Georgia Department of Health reported that there are 12,550 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the state. Approximately 20.3% of these cases have resulted in hospitalization. The Georgia death toll is now at 442.
The Department of Health also reported that 61% of Georgia COVID cases are patients ages 18-59, while residents 60 and over make up a smaller 35% of cases.
On Sunday, Governor Brian Kemp announced that the state plans to convert part of the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta into a 200-bed hospital. The makeshift hospital will treat patients with mild coronavirus symptoms, while serious cases will continue to be treated at other hospitals.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the state is preparing for April 26, which is the projected peak date for COVID-19 cases in Georgia. Governor Kemp’s office confirmed that a staff member at the Governor’s mansion had tested positive for COVID-19. According to Governor Kemp’s aids, neither Kemp nor his family were exposed to the staff member.
Next, Michael reported on the financial state of the country. All of the promising signs from last week seem like a distant memory now as stocks continued to fall this morning. Dow Jones fell 2.6%, The S&P 500 fell 2.5%, and the Nasdaq Composite fell 1.4%. Out of all the stocks in the Dow, Caterpillar was hit the hardest, dropping over 8%.
With that being said, however, Dr. Anthony Fauchi said yesterday that he was “cautiously optimistic” about the future of the economy since cases of the coronavirus finally started to slow down. He also gave a timetable predicting that businesses can start reopening as soon as next month. These reopenings cannot and will not all happen at once due to the concerns of a second wave of coronavirus cases.
After hearing the news, Mark Chaikin of Chaikin Analytics said, “With the timing of the reopening of the economy now being debated and the economic effects of the engineered shutdown still to be determined, we urge investors to remain wary but watchful as events unfold.”
Another result of this economic turmoil led to OPEC cutting down on the production of 9.7 million barrels per day which is a new record. President Trump tweeted his support of this idea that he said will “save hundreds of thousands of energy jobs in the United States.”
Mary Lou Masters elaborated on the breaking news story concerning the south’s severe weather situation. According to the Associated Press, “Many people spent part of the night early Monday sheltering in basements, closets and bathroom tubs as sirens wailed to warn of possible tornadoes.”
In Mississippi, 11 people were killed. In Georgia, six people were killed, and in both Arkansas and South Carolina, one person was killed.
In Georgia, a tornado completely lifted a house and threw it into the middle of a road. Five of the deaths were from two severely damaged mobile home parks and one of the deaths was from a tree falling on a house.
In Tennessee, 150 homes and buildings were severely damaged, but luckily there were no deaths. In Louisiana, 200 to 300 homes were damaged, a metal airplane hangar was ripped apart, but no one died. Alabama also had no deaths, although lightning caused damage to a church’s roof and steeple.
Carter had the latest international news as attention turned to Britain last week after Prime Minister Boris Johnson had to be transferred to an ICU due to infection by the coronavirus.
Today, according to AP News, Johnson has officially tested negative for COVID-19 but remains in convalescence to fully recover. Amidst the uncertainty of when the prime minister will officially return to work, the U.K. finance minister recently discussed predictions that the British national economy could shrink up to 30% in this quarter.
Death tolls continue to rise in the U.K., making prospects of an end to social distancing measures anytime soon seem less than likely. Over 10,000 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported by hospitals across the nation and there is mounting fear that the U.K. could become the worst-hit country in Europe.
As many global economies are facing the consequences of nearly a month of severely restricted activity, decision-makers across the world are wrestling with the choice between prioritizing health or the economy. In the U.K., only 1.4% of small businesses that had submitted requests for funding have actually received assistance, highlighting the delivery problems with government rescue packages promised to ease their burden at a time when sales are plummeting.
Jamie brought an update from the Georgia Department of Labor, which will be bringing relief to many unemployed Georgia residents. As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, the department announced it is updating systems to distribute unemployment funds.
The Department of Labor will update the state’s unemployment application to better recognize residents who are eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or P.U.A.. The P.U.A. will provide unemployment relief to people who are not typically eligible for state unemployment benefits. This includes non-profit employees, church employees and independent contractors, among other jobs.
Mary Lou next brought the latest entertainment news. After over a month of not airing, NBC’s Saturday Night Live came back this weekend. A virtual quarantine version of the show was attempted on Saturday, hosted by Tom Hanks, who has recovered from the COVID-19, along with Cold Play lead singer Chris Martin as the musical guest.
According to the Associated Press, the new era of Zoom calls became a prominent joke of the evening. Larry David came on for his recurring impersonation of Bernie Sanders, due to his recent withdrawal from the Democratic primary.
Chris Martin sang an acoustic version of “Shelter From the Storm” by Bob Dylan. The “Weekend Update” segment was carried out as usual by Colin Jost and Michael Che.
Adam Sandler, Tina Fey, and Bill Hader paid tribute to the show’s previous music producer, Hal Willner, who died last week.
Carter also had the story about a prediction concerning the spread of COVID-19.
In an interview with NBC’s Today Show, director of the CDC Robert Redfield said that the U.S. could reach the peak of its outbreak sometime this week.
The United States is the country with the largest number of fatalities from the virus totalling over 22,000 as of today. For the last four days in a row, there have been about 2,000 deaths per day, with most of these occurring in and around the New York City area, according to Reuters.
Yesterday, a Trump administration official mentioned that May 1 could be the potential date in which restrictions are eased. Trump himself has expressed frustration with the economic effects of the restrictions and recently retweeted a former Republican congressman’s tweet with the hashtag Fire Fauci, referring to the nation’s top infectious disease expert and now famous figurehead in the U.S. response to the coronavirus.
Fauci has at times contested President Trump’s comments surrounding the virus and in a recent interview with the New York Times expressed that more lives could have been saved with an earlier shutdown, while acknowledging that there were many factors that make such a political action extremely complex. Trump’s retweet has fueled speculation that he may fire Fauci in the coming days or weeks, though the White House has yet to comment on the matter.
Michael closed out the show with the latest addition of our “Weirdest of the Week” segment. Our final and weirdest story this week brings us to the state of Florida, where the coronavirus has made its impact on the legal system. Brent Smith was making violent threats towards his own mother. He was holding her hostage with a butterknife and when she tried to call for help, Smith snatched her phone. This still did not stop a sheriff’s deputy from stepping in and Smith was arrested.
According to the report, Smith “coughed, blew, and spit at the arresting deputy, and promised to bash his head with a hammer.”
The deputy was unprotected at the time of the arrest, not expecting to receive all of Brent Smith’s germs. Once controlled and in the police car, Smith then threatened the deputy, saying, “I hope you catch corona. I hope the coronavirus, I hope it latches on to you.”
Sheriff Mike Chitwood heard about the arrest and took to Twitter where he criticized Smith’s actions. He wrote, “If any of my deputies get sick after this, I’m going to hold this scumbag personally responsible. Can’t say I’m surprised a grown man with such little respect for his mother would also show this much hatred for law enforcement. Maybe they will teach him to cover his mouth in jail.”
According to the report, Smith was supposedly intoxicated when he was being arrested, and he faces additional charges including battery on a person 65 or older, tampering with a witness and a probation violation when he once committed aggravated battery on a pregnant woman.