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National Govt & Politics
Trump 2019 budget proposal makes no headway on a balanced budget

Trump 2019 budget proposal makes no headway on a balanced budget

Trump 2019 budget proposal makes no headway on a balanced budget
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

Trump 2019 budget proposal makes no headway on a balanced budget

President Donald Trump on Monday sent Congress a $4.4 trillion budget proposal for 2019 which all but waves the white flag on efforts to hold down on federal deficits, as the White House is predicting that the deficit will hover just below $1 trillion in four of the next five years, estimating that Mr. Trump would see over $7 trillion added to the debt if he served two terms in office.

"In Washington, empty rhetoric about fiscal responsibility is about to be swept aside by the reality of trillion-dollar deficits," said Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who last week lectured his colleagues on rising deficits.

The White House predicted the deficit in fiscal year 2018 would be $832 billion, and then stay just below $1 trillion for the next four years - never getting anywhere close to being in balance.

But the budget is about much more than how much money comes in each year in revenues, and how much goes out in spending (known as outlays) - so here's a few nuggets from inside the Trump budget plan:

1. The Trump budget is already dated. Little did the White House budget experts know that just a few days before the 2019 budget was proposed, the Congress would cut a two-year budget agreement, meaning this document is based on assumptions for lower spending than provided for in that agreement. The White House added on an extra letter to explain some of the differences. In that note, the Trump Administration says the budget deal will add an additional $680 billion to the federal deficit over 10 years. Remember that number.

2. Infrastructure plan gives states new power for highway tolls. Released along with the budget, President Trump's new $200 billion infrastructure plan would encourage states to come up with new ways to fund the construction of roads and bridges - and one of those ways is by letting states put tolls on interstates. I'm old enough to remember a lot of interstate tolls, but that's been limited for many years. "Tolling restrictions foreclose what might otherwise serve as a major source of revenue for infrastructure investment," the White House says. Democrats had a different description - Trump Tolls.

3. Another push to get rid of small federal agencies. Again this year, President Trump is asking Congress to take the budget ax to some popular and lesser-known parts of the federal government. The Trump budget would zero out funding for public television, a move that seems unlikely to gain Congressional approval. It was also do away with things like the "Progress Food Aid Program," rural water and wastewater grants, the Economic Development Administration, the "McGovern-Dole International Food for Education" program, and small commissions like the Denali Commission and the Delta Regional Authority.

4. White House wants to sell Washington's water supply. For a second straight year, the President's budget includes a provision which would have the federal government sell the system which supplies water to the nation's capital and much of its suburbs. Created by an act of Congress in 1859, the water authority acts as what the feds describe as "a potable water wholesaler," as they sell water to local jurisdictions in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. The sale of this U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continuous project would net an estimated $120 million. Just as Congress ignored this last year, one would think this plan goes nowhere again in 2018.

5. Repeal and Replace is still a priority. The President's budget again calls on Congress to do away with the Obama health law, something the GOP was unable to do in 2017, though Republicans did make some changes through the tax cut package that was approved in December. Liberal activists were raising red flags about other details of the Trump budget, which would reduce spending on Medicaid by $1 trillion over ten years, reduce Medicare spending by $554 billion, and institute a new plan to hold down on the level of automatic yearly benefit increases linked to inflation. In all, the Trump health care plans would save $674 billion over ten years.

6. Farm interests would see new fees, program cuts. With lawmakers ready to start work on a new Farm Bill, the Trump budget for 2019 unveiled a series of plans which would limit eligibility for farm payments to those who have Adjusted Gross Income over $500,000. "In 2013 (a year of record-high farm income), only 2.1 percent of farmers had AGIs in excess of this amount," the White House stated. The budget also would establish a series of new fees for agricultural interests, for marketing, inspection, health inspection, and a new packers and stockyards fee.

7. No balanced budget - and a lot of red ink. White House estimates in the 2019 budget proposal show President Trump would run up $6.5 trillion in deficits over his eight years in office. That would be slightly less than the $7.2 trillion in deficits added during the Obama Administration. But remember my note from above - where the White House says the new budget deal adds $680 billion to the deficit? Well, take $6.5 trillion, and add $680 billion - that's almost $7.2 trillion. In other words, even the White House right now predicts that President Trump would run up as much in deficits as President Obama. This is the deficit projections made by the White House (these are not Congressional Budget Office numbers):

To give some context, here is the list of deficits under the Obama Administration, followed by figures for the Trump Administration - 2017 is an actual deficit - the later years are estimates.

2009 deficit - $1.41 trillion

2010 deficit - $1.29 trillion

2011 deficit - $1.3 trillion

2012 deficit - $1.09 trillion

2013 deficit - $679.5 billion

2014 deficit - $484.6 billion

2015 deficit - $438.4 billion

2016 deficit - $584.7 billion

2017 deficit - $665.3 billion

2018 estimate- $832.6 billion

2019 estimate- $984.4 billion

2020 estimate- $986.9 billion

2021 estimate- $915.9 billion

2022 estimate- $907.8 billion

2023 estimate- $778.5 billion

To get more information about the Trump budget - click here for the basic overview of federal spending at various departments.

If you want very detailed budget plans by agency, then use this link.

If you are a numbers cruncher, go here for all sorts of spreadsheets on past and future federal spending, revenues and more.

And then there is even more information in what is known as the Analytical Perspectives document.


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  • NASCAR driver Ryan Newman, who was involved in a horrific crash during the final lap of the Daytona 500, was hospitalized after Monday’s race. Newman, 42, has 18 Cup wins, including the 2008 Daytona 500 and 2013 Brickyard 400. He was battling for the lead with Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin on the final lap of the 2.5-mile track at Daytona International Speedway when he crashed. Newman was in the lead coming into the final turn with Blaney and eventual winner Hamlin in close pursuit, NASCAR.com reported. Closing in on the finish line, Newman attempted to block Blaney, who was in second place. The impact of the cars touching sent Newman’s car airborne and into the wall. Newman’s car flipped several times and was hit head-on by Corey LaJoie, who sent Newman skidding across the track upside down Newman’s No. 6 Ford crossed the finish line engulfed in flames, ESPN reported. An ambulance departed Daytona International Speedway’s front stretch at 8:10 p.m. Newman was taken to an area hospital. His condition was unknown. 'I think we take for granted sometimes how safe the cars are, and No. 1, we are praying for Ryan,'' Hamlin said. “I hope he’s all right,” Blaney told reporters. “I was trying to push him to the win. I don’t like saying that things just happen because I feel really bad about it. It was a close one. I just hope Ryan is all right.” “I was hoping he would kind of bounce off the fence to the left, but he didn’t and I hit him,” Lajoie said. “I don’t know exactly where I hit him. I haven’t seen a replay. It was some scary stuff.” Newman, who led 15 laps, was credited with a ninth-place finish. “We ask that out of respect for privacy that you please do not speculate on Ryan Newman’s condition until an official statement has been issued,” Roush Yates Engines tweeted. Kelley Earnhardt, the daughter of Dale Earnhardt Sr., tweeted, “Please let @RyanJNewman be ok!” Dale Earnhardt Sr. died in a final-lap crash at the Daytona 500 in 2001. Newman, born Dec. 8, 1977, in South Bend, Indiana, was named Winston Cup rookie of the year in 2002, beating Jimmie Johnson, according to his NASCAR biography. Nicknamed “Rocket Man,” Newman graduated with honors from South Bend La-Salle High School in 1996. He studied engineering at Purdue University but at the same time, continued to race. Newman was a champion midget racer when he was 17, ran USAC sprint cars and won that division’s Silver Crown championship in 1999.
  • Denny Hamlin won his second consecutive Daytona 500 and third overall Monday, edging Ryan Blaney in a photo finish with Ryan Blaney at Daytona International Speedway, It was the second-closest finish in the history of the “Great American Race,” according to NASCAR.com. Hamlin’s 0.014 margin of victory over Ryan Blaney was the second closest in the race’s 62-year history, ESPN reported. The race ended dramatically, as Ryan Newman crashed on the final lap, ESPN reported. Newman’s car flipped several times and crossed the finish line on its roof, engulfed in flames. Newman was taken to an area hospital for treatment. His condition was not known. Hamlin became the first driver in 25 years to win the Daytona 500 in consecutive seasons; Sterling Marlin went back to back in 1994 and 1995. Hamlin joins six Hall of Famers who have won at least three Daytona 500 races: Richard Petty has won the event seven times, Cale Yarborough took the checkered flag four times, and Dale Jarrett, Jeff Gordon and Bobby Allison won three times.
  • The death toll attributed to the 2019 novel coronavirus continues to rise, with thousands of people sickened and hundreds of others killed by the virus, mostly in China. Here are the latest updates: Chinese officials revise numbers: 98 more deaths, 1,886 new cases  Update 8:05 p.m. EST Feb. 17: Chinese officials reported 1,886 new virus cases and 98 more deaths in its update Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.  A total of 72,436 cases have been reported in mainland China as of Tuesday, according to the AP. Officials learned Americans tested positive for coronavirus shortly before flights back to US Update 3:20 p.m. EST Feb. 17: U.S. officials learned that 14 Americans tested positive for coronavirus as they were evacuating a group of more than 300 U.S. citizens from the Diamond Princess cruise ship back to the U.S., according to officials and The New York Times. State Department officials said they learned of the positive results about two or three days after the tests were administered. By then, the evacuees had already disembarked the cruise ship and began traveling back to the U.S. The Times reported that officials with the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo told Diamond Princess passengers that no one determined to be infected with the 2019 novel coronavirus would be allowed to board government-chartered flights back to the U.S. However, officials changed their plans after the test results came back, according to the newspaper. Officials said the 14 infected Americans traveled in a specialized containment area which kept them isolated from healthy passengers. State Department officials noted all 14 remained asymptomatic over the course of the flights. Diamond Princess passengers brought back to the U.S. will remain quarantined for 14 days to allow health officials to monitor for any signs of infection, officials said. CDC: Results pending for 60 Americans tested for coronavirus Update 12 p.m. EST Feb. 17: Officials with the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 60 possible coronavirus cases remain under investigation Monday. Officials have confirmed 15 cases so far of the 2019 novel coronavirus in a handful of states: eight in California, two in Illinois and one each in Washington, Massachusetts, Texas, Arizona and Wisconsin. A total of 467 possible coronavirus cases have been investigated by CDC officials since Jan. 21. Of those, 392 people have tested negative for the virus. 2nd flight carrying Americans from Diamond Princess lands in US Update 6:01 a.m. EST Feb. 17: A second flight carrying Americans from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship back to the United States has landed in Texas, officials said early Monday. According to CNN, the plane landed at Lackland Air Force Base just before 5 a.m. EST.  Flight carrying Americans from Diamond Princess lands in California Update 3:12 a.m. EST Feb. 17: A flight that transported a group of Americans from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship back to the United States has landed in California, officials said early Monday. According to CNN, the plane landed at Travis Air Force Base just before 2:30 a.m. EST. Coronavirus death toll rises in China Update 10:10 p.m. EST Feb. 16: Officials said 105 people died Sunday of the 2019 novel coronavirus in China, upping the death toll attributed to the virus to 1,775.  A majority of the deaths -- all but four -- have been reported in China.  Earlier in the day, CNN reported officials in China’s Hubei province had recorded 100 deaths due to coronavirus Sunday. Five other deaths were later reported in other parts of the country, according to the news network. Death toll rises to 1,770 worldwide  Update 7:05 p.m. EST Feb. 16: Numbers shared Monday local time in China’s Hubei province have brought the coronavirus death toll to 1,770 globally, according to the South China Morning Post and CNN.  Health officials in the province, the epicenter of the COVID-19 epidemic, reported 100 new deaths connected to the virus Sunday, the Morning Post reported.  The 2019 novel coronavirus has claimed 1,696 lives in China since it was discovered late last year in Wuhan, according to CNN and health officials. Four deaths have been reported outside of China: one in the Philippines, one in Taiwan, one in France and one in Japan. Charter planes carrying Americans evacuated from cruise ship leave Tokyo  Update 5:30 p.m. EST Feb. 16: Two planes chartered by the U.S. government for Americans who had been quarantined off the coast of Japan on the Diamond Princess cruise ship have left Tokyo, according to CNN.  The planes are bound for Kelly Field/Lackland Air Force Base in Texas and the Travis Air Force Base in California, respectively, CNN reported.  Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell told The New York Times that once the planes land in Texas and California, passengers will undergo a 14-day quarantine, as required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Singapore confirms 3 new coronavirus cases  Update 4:20 p.m. EST Feb. 16: Officials with Singapore’s Ministry of Health have confirmed three new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 75.  Health officials linked two of the cases, involving two men ages 43 and 29, to a church in central Singapore. The third cases, involving a 71-year-old woman, is a relative of someone who had been placed under quarantine, officials said Sunday in a statement.. 44 Americans on Diamond Princess tested positive, official says Update 1:23 p.m. EST Feb. 16: Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told The Washington Post on Sunday that 44 Americans who were traveling on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan have been infected with the coronavirus. Hundreds of U.S. citizens who have been quarantined on the ship were evacuated Sunday evening, the newspaper reported. They were taken by bus to a nearby airport, where two chartered planes are scheduled to return them to the United States. Taiwan reports first death; fourth outside mainland China Update 11:53 a.m. EST Feb. 16: Taiwan officials reported the island’s first fatality from the coronavirus Saturday, as a 61-year-old man who had a history of diabetes and hepatitis B died, The New York Times reported. The man was admitted to a hospital Feb. 3 after he developed a cough a week earlier, Taiwan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare said in a statement. The man did not have a known history of traveling to mainland China, and health officials were investigating how he became infected, the newspaper reported. This death is the fourth reported coronavirus fatality to take place outside mainland China. Holland America confirms case in former Westerdam passenger Update 8:43 a.m. EST Feb. 16: The company that owns the Westerdam cruise ship issued a statement Sunday acknowledging one of its passengers tested positive for the coronavirus. In a statement, Holland America said, “The guest departed Westerdam (on) Feb. 14 and later reported feeling ill at the Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia airport. The guest was taken to the hospital and is reported to be in stable condition. The guest’s traveling companion tested negative.” Italy plans to evacuate 35 from Diamond Princess cruise ship Update 7:01 a.m. EST Feb. 16: Italy will be evacuating 35 passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan, according to CNN. Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio issued a statement Sunday about the evacuation. A flight will bring the Italian passengers home, he said. No further details were immediately available. More Diamond Princess cruises canceled through April 20 Update 3:43 a.m. EST Feb. 16: Princess Cruises announced early Sunday that it is canceling more voyages for the Diamond Princess ship docked in Japan. “Based on the prolonged quarantine period, and the anticipated time to prepare the ship to return to service, we unfortunately must cancel additional Diamond Princess voyages through the April 20 voyage,” the cruise line tweeted.  See the full list of scheduled changes here. Fatality rate remains stable in China at 142 new deaths  Update 8 p.m. EST Feb. 15: China reported a drop in new virus cases for a third straight day.  There are 2,009 new cases in mainland China, bringing its total number of confirmed cases to 68,500, according to the country’s National Health Commission.  The fatality rate remained stable with 142 new deaths. The death toll in mainland China from COVID-19, a disease stemming from a new form of coronavirus, now stands at 1,665. Fourth coronavirus fatality outside mainland China, first in Europe confirmed  Update 6:05 a.m. EST Feb. 15: A Chinese tourist has died in France from the novel coronavirus, marking the first recorded fatality from the disease outside Asia.  French Health Minister Agnès Buzyn confirmed to the BBC early Saturday that the victim was an 80-year-old woman from China’s Hubei province who arrived in France Jan. 16 and was quarantined in a Paris hospital on Jan. 25.  Although more than 1,500 people have died from the virus since the outbreak began, only three – one each in Hong Kong, the Philippines and Japan – had occurred outside mainland China prior to the fatality in France.  France has previously confirmed 11 cases of coronavirus, and six remain hospitalized, the BBC reported.  New coronavirus cases confirmed in Malaysia, Thailand  Update 6 a.m. EST Feb. 15: Malaysian officials confirmed early Saturday two new novel coronavirus cases, while officials in Thailand confirmed a medical worker has become that nation’s 34th case, CNN reported.  Both Malaysian patients are Chinese nationals and bring that country’s total cases to 21. According to CNN, a 27-year-old businessman from Guangzhou presented with symptoms during a Friday screening at the Bukit Kayu Hitam Customs, near the border with Thailand. The second patient is a 32-year-old Malaysian woman who visited China between Jan. 22 and Jan. 30.  The infected Thai medical worker is a 35-year-old woman whom health authorities confirmed had close contact with another confirmed patient. Of Thailand’s 34 confirmed cases, CNN reported, 14 have been discharged and 20 remain hospitalized.  67 new coronavirus cases confirmed aboard Diamond Princess cruise ship  Update 5:55 a.m. EST Feb. 15: Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato confirmed early Saturday that an additional 67 people aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship moored off the coast of Japan have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, CNN reported.  The latest figures bring the total number of confirmed cases aboard the ship to 286. That figure, combined with the 39 cases confirmed elsewhere across Japan, brings the country’s total recorded infections to 325, the highest concentration of cases reported outside mainland China, the network reported. Email to passengers outlines chartered flight, stateside quarantine plans  Update 4:13 a.m. EST Feb. 15: In an email to American passengers aboard the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship, officials with the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo said a chartered flight will arrive Sunday evening to retrieve any of the roughly 380 U.S. citizens aboard the ship who have not yet tested positive for or exhibited symptoms of the novel coronavirus, the New York Times and CNN reported.  The ship, carrying more than 3,700 passengers and crewmembers, has been quarantined off the coast of Japan in Yokohama Bay since Feb. 4, after a man who disembarked in Hong Kong was diagnosed with the virus. To date, at least 218 cases have been confirmed aboard the ship, including at least 40 Americans who have been transported to medical facilities for treatment, the Times reported.  Per the email shared by CNN, buses will transport evacuating U.S. citizens from Yokohama to an undisclosed airport.  “Passengers will be screened for symptoms and we are working with our Japanese partners to ensure that any symptomatic passengers receive the required care in Japan if they cannot board the flight,” the email reads.  The plane is scheduled to first land at California’s Travis Air Force Base, before transporting remaining passengers to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.  “We will provide information about your final destination prior to boarding the plane,' the embassy told passengers, noting a new 14-day quarantine of all evacuees will begin once transport is complete.  “We understand this is frustrating and an adjustment, but these measures are consistent with the careful policies we have instituted to limit the potential spread of the disease,” the email reads.  Disembarkation of passengers not voluntarily evacuating on Sunday’s charter flight, will begin Feb. 21 and last several days, CNN reported.  More than 8,000 recovered coronavirus patients discharged from hospitals  Update 4:10 a.m. EST Feb. 15: China’s National Health Commission confirmed early Saturday a total of 8,096 patients have been declared recovered from the novel coronavirus and discharged from medical facililties.  According to the most recent data available, 67,097 cases have been reported worldwide with 66,492 cases confined to mainland China. While only three coronavirus-related deaths have been confirmed outside China, the illness has claimed 1,523 lives within the country. Meanwhile, 605 confirmed cases have been reported outside China, including 15 in the United States, CNN reported. Report: The State Department organizing evacuation of Americans from Diamond Princess cruise ship Update 9:30 p.m. EST Feb. 14: The State Department is planning to evacuate at least 380 Americans quarantined on Diamond Princess cruise ship near Japan, according to the Wall Street Journal. China reports major drop from higher numbers after broader diagnostic method implemented Update 8 p.m. EST Feb. 14: The number of new deaths rose slightly to 143, bringing the total fatalities in mainland China to 1,523. The total number of confirmed cases in the country now stands at 66,492, according to a notice from China’s National Health Commission. China has implemented unprecedented measures in a sweeping campaign to contain the virus. At the outbreak’s epicenter in the central province of Hubei, cities with a combined population of more than 60 million have been placed under lockdown, with outbound transportation halted and virtually all public activities suspended. 1st coronavirus case confirmed in Egypt Update 1:35 p.m. EST Feb. 14: Officials Egypt have confirmed the country’s first case of coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization. Officials said in a statement posted on Twitter that the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population confirmed the case, which involves a foreign national who appeared to be asymptomatic. The man has been hospitalized in stable condition, according to WHO officials. The case marks the first in Africa since COVID-19 was first discovered in Wuhan, China, late last year, according to The Guardian. Tens of thousands of cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in 26 countries. A vast majority of the cases were reported in China. CDC: 81 possible coronavirus cases under investigation in US Update 12:30 p.m. EST Feb. 14: Officials with the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 81 possible coronavirus cases remained under investigation Friday. Officials have confirmed 15 cases so far of the 2019 novel coronavirus in a handful of states: eight in California, two in Illinois and one each in Washington, Massachusetts, Texas, Arizona and Wisconsin. A total of 443 possible coronavirus cases have been investigated by CDC officials since Jan. 21. Of those, 347 people have tested negative for the virus. WHO team to land in China over weekend Update 11:15 a.m. EST Feb. 14: A team of World Health Organization experts is set to touch down over the weekend in China to help health officials dealing with the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in the country. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO, said at a news conference Friday that the group of 12 experts would work with an equal number of their Chinese counterparts to “understand the application and impact of response activities at provincial and county levels, including urban and rural settings.” “The goal of the joint mission is to rapidly inform the next steps in the COVID-19 response and preparedness activities in China and globally,” Tedros said. “Particular attention will be paid to understanding the transmission of the virus, the severity of disease and the impact of ongoing response measures.” According to WHO, Chinese laboratories have confirmed 47,505 cases of coronavirus in the country as of Friday. In the Hubei Province, 16,427 coronavirus cases have been clinically confirmed. Officials with WHO said they were investigating Friday to ensure those reports didn’t erroneously include other respiratory illnesses, such as influenza. Outside of China, 505 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in two dozen countries. Health officials said 1,383 people have died of the coronavirus, with all but two of the deaths in China. Japan confirms 3 new coronavirus cases, Singapore confirms 9 Update 9:30 a.m. EST Feb. 14: Officials in Japan and Singapore have confirmed several new coronavirus cases, according to CNN and health officials. Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare announced a Japanese citizen who recently returned on a government charter from China’s Wuhan Province tested positive for the coronavirus, according to CNN. Two men, one in his 60s from Aicha Prefecture and the other in his 50s from Hokkaido, were also confirmed to have the virus. Neither of the latter two men had visited China, CNN reported. The new cases bring the total number of coronavirus cases in Japan to 257. Officials with Singapore’s Ministry of Health said Friday in a statement that nine new cases of coronavirus had been confirmed in the country. Six of the cases were linked to a church in central Singapore and one other was linked to a previous case. Health officials said Friday that they were still investigating the causes of the other two cases. The new cases bring the total number of coronavirus cases in Singapore to 67. Quarantine break threatens public health in Russia  Update 7:20 a.m. EST Feb. 14: A Russian woman might have outsmarted health care workers observing her for evidence of novel coronavirus exposure in a St. Petersburg hospital, but her escape did not go unnoticed.  Health authorities have filed a lawsuit against the unidentified woman for endangering the public after she short-circuited the electronic lock on the door to her Botkin Hospital for Infectious Diseases ward, CNN reported. The woman had returned from China in February.  Read more here.  Hong Kong confirms 3 new cases, Japan confirms 4  Update 7:15 a.m. EST Feb. 14: The citywide total reached 56 on Friday after health officials confirmed three new cases of novel coronavirus in Hong Kong, CNN reported  Chuang Shuk-Kwan of the Center for Health Protection said during a Friday press conference the patients include a 70-year-old woman in critical condition who visited mainland China in January and a 61-year-old woman who has been hospitalized with fever and breathing problems since Feb. 3.  Health officials confirmed 36 suspected cases have been reported in the past 24 hours, while 114 people are already hospitalized with the virus. Of those confirmed cases, five are listed in critical condition and four are in serious condition, CNN  reported.  Meanwhile, four additional cases – none of which are associated with the Diamond Princess cruise ship – have been confirmed in Japan, the country’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare reported Friday.  The new cases bring Japan’s total number of infected patients to 254, including 219 linked to the Diamond Princess. A woman in her 80s is the country’s only known fatality associated with the virus to date, CNN reported. 6 medical workers in China have died, more than 1,700 infected Update 4:50 a.m. EST Feb. 14: A total of 1,716 medical workers in China have contracted the novel coronavirus, including six who have died of COVID-19, health officials confirmed Friday.  Zeng Yixin, vice minister of China’s National Health Commission told reporters in Beijing the figures are current through Feb. 11, CNN reported.  Zeng also said steps have been taken to reduce future infections among medical personnel such as beefing up the equipment needed to treat patients and ensuring healthcare workers have access to better conditions for rest and recuperation, the network reported.  High-risk cruise ship passengers await transfers to shoreside quarantine facilities in Japan  Update 4:45 a.m. EST Feb. 14: Diamond Princess Captain Stefano Ravera told passengers that 11 of them will be moved to shoreside quarantine facilities Friday afternoon because the Japanese Ministry of Health says they meet the criteria for being at high risk if infected with the novel coronavirus, CNN reported.  The ship, slated to remain under a 14-day quarantine until Feb. 19, is docked off the coast of Yokohama, Japan, and 219 cases of the virus have been confirmed aboard the vessel.  China seeks plasma donors to help develop antibody treatment  Update 4:40 a.m. EST Feb. 14: A senior health official in China is urging patients who have recovered from the novel coronavirus to donate blood plasma, in hopes their naturally-produced antibodies could spur development of treatment, the New York Times reported.  Dr. Zhang Dingyu, director of the Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan, China, issued his plea to the public late Thursday.  According to the Times, China National Biotec Group, a state-owned company under the Ministry of Health, announced Thursday it has determined that administering a round of human antibodies from the survivors to more than 10 critically ill patients reduced inflammation levels significantly after 12 to 24 hours of treatment. Virus expected to linger ‘beyond this year’ Update 1:55 a.m. EST Feb. 14: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is leaning heavily on the latter portion of its name and entering what Director Robert Redfield called “aggressive containment mode” to limit the novel coronavirus’ spread, CNN reported. 'We don't know a lot about this virus,' Redfield told CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta, adding, “This virus is probably with us beyond this season, beyond this year, and I think eventually the virus will find a foothold and we will get community-based transmission.'  The containment phase, he told the network, is a tactic to buy time.  'The containment phase is really to give us more time. This virus will become a community virus at some point in time, this year or next year,' Redfield said.  Officials blame ‘duplication’ for initially higher fatality reports, revise down death toll Update 1:50 a.m. EST Feb. 14: China’s National Health Commission clarified early Friday that duplications detected in “data collection and recording” inadvertently inflated infection and fatality figures reported earlier in the day.  Although initial figures released Thursday out of Hubei province indicated the total number of infections reported globally had eclipsed 65,000, the revised figures suggest about 1,200 fewer confirmed cases, CNN reported. According to the commission, the current number of mainland China infections increased by 5,090 cases in 24 hours to 63,851, resulting in 1,380 deaths. The global totals have been adjusted to 64,435 cases and 1,383 deaths, the New York Times reported. There are now at least 585 confirmed cases of the virus in 27 countries and territories outside mainland China, CNN reported. Cruise ship Westerdam passengers begin disembarking  Update 1:45 a.m. EST Feb. 14: The first of hundreds of passengers stuck onboard the Westerdam cruise ship in southeast Asia began disembarking the beleaguered ship late Thursday.  Officials with the Holland American Line tweeted confirmation of the departures in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. The ship had been turned away by Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines due to fears of potential COVID-19 infections, but no cases were detected onboard after docking in Cambodia, CNN reported. Limited availability of charter flights, however, could mean it could take several days to complete the departures, the network reported. 2nd coronavirus death outside China reported in Japan Update 12:40 p.m. EST Feb. 13: The second death attributed to COVID-19 outside of China has been reported in Japan. Officials said the coronavirus claimed the life of an 80-year-old woman living near Tokyo, according to Reuters. The woman became ill in January, but it wasn’t until after her death that health officials determined she had coronavirus, Reuters reported, citing Japan’s health minister. The virus has claimed more than 1,360 lives in China since it was discovered late last year in the city of Wuhan, CNN reported. In the Philippines, one person has died of coronavirus. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases spiked in China on Thursday because of a change in the way the virus is diagnosed and reported. In China’s Hubei province, medical professionals are now able to diagnose suspected coronavirus cases using chest imaging instead of awaiting laboratory confirmation, according to the World Health Organization. Laboratory confirmation is still required in the rest of China and the rest of the world, said Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme. 15th coronavirus case confirmed in Texas Update 10:35 a.m. EST Feb. 13: Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday that the 15th case of coronavirus has been confirmed in the U.S. The case involved a person who was placed under a federal quarantine order with a group at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas. The person had flown to the U.S. on a flight chartered by the U.S. State Department on Friday. Officials with the CDC said the person was receiving medical care Thursday at a nearby hospital Fourteen other people have been confirmed as having been infected with coronavirus: eight in California, two in Illinois, one in Washington, one in Massachusetts, one in Arizona and one in Wisconsin. Cruise ship Westerdam allowed to dock in Cambodia Update 7 a.m. EST Feb. 13: The Holland America Line announced Wednesday that a cruise ship barred from docking in Thailand, the Philippines, Japan and Taiwan amid coronavirus fears has been authorized to dock in Cambodia and let passengers off the ship, The Associated Press is reporting. The ship’s operators said nobody on board the cruise, which began in Singapore, has the virus, according to the AP. Nearly 50,000 cases confirmed in province at center of outbreak Update 2:52 a.m. EST Feb. 13: Almost 50,000 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in China’s Hubei Province, The New York Times is reporting. Officials said Thursday that they have confirmed 14,840 more cases of the illness, raising the total in the region to 48,206, according to the newspaper. At least 1,310 people there have died from the virus, authorities said. 44 more cases on quarantined Diamond Princess ship Update 11 p.m. EST Feb. 12: Japan’s health ministry said 44 more people on the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo have tested positive for the virus that causes the new disease known as COVID-19. The ship, which is still carrying more than 3,500 passengers and crewmembers, has 218 people infected with the virus out of 713 people tested since the ship returned to the Yokohama Port on Feb. 3. 2nd case in San Diego Update 7:30 p.m. EST Feb. 12: Another person has tested positive for coronavirus in California bring the total of confirmed cases in the United States to 14, according to the CDC. The CDC said in a release that there will likely be additional cases “in the coming days or weeks.” At least 195 were discharged from quarantine yesterday but more than 600 who returned to the U.S. on chartered flights from Wuhan remain under the federal quaranantine. Test kits sent by CDC flawed, officials say Update 4:25 p.m. EST Feb. 12: Some of the coronavirus test kits sent by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to states and at least 30 countries have proved to be flawed, CDC officials said Wednesday at a news conference. Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters Wednesday that some laboratories reported issues after receiving coronavirus diagnostic test kits from the CDC. “Some public health labs in states were getting inconclusive results,” Messonnier said. “What that means is that test results were not coming back as false positive of false negatives, but they were being read as inconclusive.” The issues were discovered while scientists were verifying the tests worked correctly, Messonnier said. Officials believe the issue is tied to one of the reagents used to verify the test. “We think the issue in these states can be explained by one reagent that isn’t performing as it should consistently,” Messonnier said. “That’s why we’re re-manufacturing the reagent.” Messonnier stressed that the issue was not unusual. “This is part of the normal process and procedure and redoing the manufacturing is the next step,” she said. Officials with the CDC began sending test kits last week to laboratories in the U.S. and internationally. New coronavirus case confirmed in UK Update 3:55 p.m. EST Feb. 12: Health officials in the United Kingdom confirmed Wednesday that a new case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in the country, bringing the total number of people infected by coronavirus in the country to nine. “The virus was passed on in China and the patient has now been transferred to a specialist (National Health Service) center at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ in London,” Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said in a statement. More than 45,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed globally since the virus was first detected late last year in Wuhan, China, according to the World Health Organization. More than 1,110 people have died of the virus. More than 45,000 cases of COVID-19 confirmed worldwide Update 1:55 p.m. EST Feb. 12: More than 45,000 cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus have been confirmed globally, with a majority reported in China, according to the World Health Organization. As of 6 a.m. Geneva time Wednesday, 44,730 cases of coronavirus had been confirmed in China. In two dozen other countries, a total of 441 other cases have been confirmed. “The number of newly confirmed cases reported from China has stabilized over the past week, but that must be interpreted with extreme caution,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said Wednesday. “The outbreak could still go in any direction.” In China, 1,114 people have died after being infected with the coronavirus, WHO officials said. One person has died of coronavirus in the Philippines. Illinois becomes first state with ability to test for coronavirus Update 11:40 a.m. EST Feb. 12: Illinois has become the first state able to test for COVID-19, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. “The ability to do this testing will mean we will be able to detect any new cases of novel coronavirus earlier and prevent any possible spread,” IDPH Assistant Director Evonda Thomas-Smith said Tuesday in a news release. “We understand there is concern about this new virus, which is why having test results back quickly can help reduce some of those concerns.” Previously, the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had the only lab able to test for the 2019 novel coronavirus. Last week, CDC officials began sending out diagnostic test kits to laboratories in the U.S. and internationally. Singapore confirms 3 more coronavirus cases Update 10:45 a.m. EST Feb. 12: Officials with Singapore’s Ministry of Health said Wednesday that three new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the country, bringing the total number of cases there to 50. Health officials said the new cases involved three Singaporean men, ages 34, 49 and 62, who had no recent history of travel to China. Fifteen people have been discharged from hospitals in Singapore after recovering from coronavirus. Health officials said 35 people remained hospitalized Wednesday, most improving or in stable condition. Testing ongoing for coronavirus vaccine Update 10:05 a.m. EST Feb. 12: Scientists worldwide continue work to develop and test a vaccine for the 2019 novel coronavirus, including a San Diego lab which developed a possible vaccine in just three hours, according to multiple reports. Biotechnology company Inovio Pharmaceuticals previously developed vaccines for the Zika virus and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, a coronavirus related to COVID-19. On Tuesday, Trevor Smith, director of research and development at Inovio Pharmaceuticals, told KFMB-TV that company scientists had developed a vaccine for COVID-19 hours after beginning work with a genetic sequence released by Chinese scientists. “We have an algorithm, which we designed, and we put the DNA sequence into our algorithm and came up with the vaccine in that short amount of time,” Smith said according to KFMB-TV. The lab is collaborating with Philadelphia’s Wistar Institute and others to test the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The newspaper noted that testing is expected to take months. Last month, Inovio Pharmaceuticals announced the company was working with Beijing Advaccine Biotechnology Co. in order to run human trials of the vaccine concurrently in China and the U.S. More than 45,000 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus worldwide, mostly in China. The virus has killed over 1,100 people since it was first discovered late last year in Wuhan, China. In the U.S., health officials said 13 people had been diagnosed with the virus in California, Washington, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Arizona and Illinois. 50th coronavirus case confirmed in Hong Kong Update 6 a.m. EST Feb. 12: A 50th confirmed coronavirus case has been reported in Hong Kong, authorities announced Wednesday. According to CNN, the latest patient is a 51-year-old man who worked with the city’s 37th patient. 3 coronavirus patients discharged in South Korea Update 2 a.m. EST Feb. 12: Three people in South Korea who were confirmed to have coronavirus have been discharged from the hospital, health officials said Wednesday. The South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said all three recovered from the illness, according to CNN. The news comes days after officials discharged another patient in South Korea last week, the news outlet reported. Two dozen coronavirus patients remain hospitalized in South Korea, authorities said. China’s new virus cases fall again Update 10 p.m. EST Feb. 11: China reported another drop in the number of new cases of a viral infection and 97 more deaths, pushing the total dead past 1,100 even as the country remains largely closed down to prevent the spread of the disease. The National Health Commission said that 2,015 new cases had been reported over the last 24 hours, declining for a second day. The total number of cases in mainland China is 44,653, although many experts say a large number of others infected have gone uncounted. The 97 additional deaths from the virus raised the mainland toll to 1,113. Japan’s health ministry: 39 new cases confirmed on cruise ship Update 9 p.m. EST Feb. 11: Japan’s health ministry said that 39 new cases of a virus have been confirmed on a cruise ship quarantined at a Japanese port. The update brings the total found on the Diamond Princess to 174 cases. The ministry also said the virus was confirmed in a official who participated in the initial quarantine checks the night the ship returned to Yokohama Port near Tokyo on Feb. 3. The quarantine official is being treated in the hospital. The U.S.-operated Diamond Princess had completed a 14-day tour during which it stopped at Hong Kong and several other Asian ports before returning to Japan. WHO: More evidence shows link between COVID-19, bats Update 3:50 p.m. EST Feb. 11: Officials with the World Health Organization said Tuesday in a situation report that mounting evidence is showing a link between the 2019 novel coronavirus and bats. Officials said the virus appeared to be linked to bats of the Rhinolophus sub-species, which are abundant in southern China and across Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe, officials said. However, it remained unclear Monday how the virus passed from bats to humans. As of Tuesday, more than 43,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed worldwide, with a vast majority reported in China. Officials with WHO said the virus has claimed 1,017 lives in the country so far. One person has also died of coronavirus in the Philippines. Germany confirms two more cases of coronavirus Update 2:45 p.m. EST Feb. 11: Two new cases of the coronavirus, COVID-19, have been confirmed by authorities in Germany, The Washington Post reported. The illnesses, which were connected to automotive supplier Webasto, bring the total number of coronavirus cases in Germany to 16, according to the Post. Officials with Webasto said last month that a 33-year-old Chinese employee from Shanghai tested positive for coronavirus after visiting China and returning to Germany, according to Reuters and the Post. The company temporarily closed its headquarters after learning of the employee’s diagnoses. Officials told Reuters they planned to reopen the building near Munich on Wednesday. American Airlines extends suspension of flights to and from China, Hong Kong Update 2:15 p.m. EST Feb. 11: American Airlines officials announced the company is extending its suspension of flights to and from mainland China and Hong Kong due to reduced demand amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. Airline officials said flights bound to mainland China from the company’s Dallas-Fort Worth and Los Angeles hubs would be suspended until April 24. Flights from Los Angeles to Hong Kong were expected to resume the same day. Flights between Dallas and Hong Kong were expected to resume April 23. WHO: Vaccine for coronavirus could be ready in 18 months Update 12:05 p.m. EST Feb. 11: Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said Tuesday that a vaccine targeting the coronavirus could be ready in 18 months, according to Reuters. “So, we have to do everything today using available weapons,” he said. Tedros on Tuesday asked that countries be “as aggressive as possible” in the fight against COVID-19. “If the world doesn’t want to wake up and consider the virus as public enemy number one, I don’t think we will learn from our lessons,” he said, according to The Guardian. “We are still in containment strategy and should not allow the virus to have a space to have local transmission.” Death toll rises to 1,018 Update 10:45 a.m. EST Feb. 11: The World Health Organization said just over 42,700 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in China as of 6 a.m. Geneva time Tuesday. Nearly 400 cases have been confirmed in two dozen other countries. Coronavirus has killed more than 1,017 people in China and one person in the Philippines, according to health officials. WHO names new coronavirus outbreak Update 10:40 a.m. EST Feb. 11: The World Health Organization on Tuesday announced the name for the deadly new coronavirus: Covid-19. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO, said the new name was aimed at preventing “the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing.” Singapore confirms 2 more coronavirus cases Update 9:40 a.m. EST Feb. 11: Officials with Singapore’s Ministry of Health said Tuesday that two new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the country, bringing the total number of cases there to 47. Health officials said the new cases involved a 35-year-old Singapore permanent resident and a 39-year-old Bangladesh national, neither of whom had recently traveled to China. Both new patients were being treated in isolation. Coronavirus a ‘very grave threat’ for world, WHO director-general says Update 8:45 a.m. EST Feb. 11: Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, called the 2019 novel coronavirus “a very grave threat' Tuesday.  His comments came at the start of the global research and innovation forum aimed at addressing the coronavirus. Last week, Tedros told a WHO executive committee that “panic and fear” was the biggest threat posed by the coronavirus, according to The Washington Post. At the time, only 146 cases of coronavirus had been reported outside China. As of Monday, WHO officials said 319 people in 24 countries had been diagnosed with the coronavirus. First case of coronavirus reported in San Diego  Update 8:52 p.m. EST Feb. 10: Officials in San Diego have confirmed its first case of coronavirus in the Southern California city, KGTV reported. A Centers for Disease Control spokesman confirmed Monday evening that an individual taken to the University of California at San Diego Health hospital was infected with the virus, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.K KGTV, citing an anonymous source, said the patient was aboard the first flight from Wuhan, China, to Miramar. It was unclear whether the adult patient was a man or woman, the television station reported. China reports 1,011 deaths, including 103 Monday Update 7:07 p.m. EST Feb. 10: Officials with China’s Hubei health authority now report 1,011 dead, including 103 on Monday, The Washington Post reported. There have been about 42,000 cases of coronavirus, with more than 6,000 patients in critical condition, authorities told the newspaper. British businessman may have spread coronavirus to people in 3 countries Update 3:10 p.m. EST Feb. 10: Authorities are investigating reports that a British businessman might have spread coronavirus to several Britons in three countries, according to multiple reports. The man, who was not identified, is believed to have been exposed to coronavirus during a sales conference last month in Singapore, The Guardian reported. Following the conference, the man traveled to France and then back to the U.K., according to the newspaper. The man is suspected of being what scientists call a “super spreader,” a person who spreads a disease at a faster rate than the average. Trump: People think coronavirus threat will end in April Update 12:25 p.m. EST Feb. 10: President Donald Trump claimed without evidence that people believe the deadly 2019 novel coronavirus “will go away in April.” “A lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat,” Trump said Monday during an address of governors held at the White House. “Typically, that will go away in April. We’re in great shape though.” Previously, Trump said on Twitter that Chinese President Xi Jinping was hopeful that he would successfully counterattack the coronavirus, “especially as the weather starts to warm & the virus hopefully becomes weaker, and then gone.” Since the coronavirus was first detected late last year in Wuhan, China, more than 40,500 cases of the virus have been confirmed globally. An overwhelming number of the cases were reported in China, where 909 people have died of the disease as of Monday morning, according to the World Health Organization. One person has died of coronavirus in the Philippines, health officials said. In the U.S., a dozen people have been confirmed as having been infected with coronavirus: six in California, two in Illinois, one in Massachusetts, one in Arizona, one in Washington and one in Wisconsin. WHO: 910 killed, 40,500 sickened by coronavirus Update 10:30 a.m. EST Feb. 10: Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said Monday that health officials are continuing to see a rise in confirmed coronavirus cases with 99% of illnesses being reported in China. About 2% of the cases have proved deadly, he said. According to WHO, more than 40,500 cases so coronavirus have been confirmed globally as of 6 a.m. local time (12 a.m. EST). A majority of those -- 40,235 -- were reported in China, where 909 people have died of the virus. Officials said 319 cases were confirmed in 24 other countries, including the Philippines, where one person died last week. Death toll hits 908 The death toll in mainland China has risen to 908 with more than 40,000 cases diagnosed, NBC News reported. Chinese officials said of the 40,000 diagnosed with the coronavirus, 27 of them are foreigners and two have died. There are another 23,589 possible cases of the illness, NBC News reported. On Sunday, 97 people died in China from the virus, the biggest daily death toll, The New York Times reported. The number of those killed by the virus has passed the number of people killed in the 2002-2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak. At that time, 774 people died from SARS, The Associated Press reported. Despite the number of people who died, officials are hopeful, since, for more than 10 days, the number of people recovering is higher than those who have died, the Times reported. Return to work As the numbers continue to climb, workers return to their jobs after the extended Lunar New Year holiday that kept many people home. Shoppers are also heading back to markets and stores despite the threat, the AP reported. They are taking precautions of wearing face masks as they go about their day. “We just need to have a little more sense of self-protection,” Iris Ke told the AP. “Life goes on anyway. How come we stop going outside or stop working simply because of fear of disease? We can’t do that.” But business is still slow, with some shop owners saying it’s about half as busy as normal. China’s leader Xi Jinping made an appearance at a hospital and government offices in Beijing, about five miles north of his residence in the Forbidden City, The New York Times reported. He made no public statement during the appearance. He also had a video conference with workers at a hospital in Wuhan, the town that is ground zero for the illness, the Times reported. There are rules that have been established to help stop the spread. In some areas, business owners must know if their employees have traveled to areas where there are large outbreak numbers. They’re also being told by the government to check the workers’ temperatures and have hand-washing protocols, the Times reported. And despite the return to normalcy, some business continues to be on hold. Airbnb has suspended all bookings in Beijing amid the outbreak, CNN reported. Illness continues to spread outside China A cruise ship is quarantined in Yokohama, Japan. There were 70 cases of coronavirus on the Diamond Princess at the time of the quarantine, but that number has increased, with another 66 people testing positive, the AP reported. That brings the number up to 136 confirmed cases, the Times reported. Japanese government officials may test all 3,711 passengers and crew on board. They’re also trying to get medicine to more than 600 passengers who have requested it, the AP reported. There are 11 Americans among those who have tested positive on the Diamond Princess, The Washington Post reported. Four more patients in England have tested positive, bringing the total there to eight, officials in the UK said. The newest diagnosis was from people who had contact with others who were diagnosed with the virus. The country’s department of health said that people diagnosed with coronavirus could be forcibly quarantined. Two hospitals have been set up as isolation facilities, the AP reported. In the United States, there are 12 confirmed cases, CNN reported. And flights from China are going to only 11 airports in the U.S., the AP reported. So far, there are six confirmed cases in California, two in Illinois and one each in Massachusetts, Washington, Wisconsin, and Arizona, CNN reported.
  • Country singer Darius Rucker was named an official ambassador for South Carolina for 2020, WCIV reported Monday. The former frontman for Hootie & the Blowfish, who has embarked on a successful solo career, will work with the state’s Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism, the television station reported. “We’re thrilled with the opportunity to work with a well-known Southern voice to promote South Carolina,” Duane Parrish, director for the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism, said in a statement. “Darius Rucker is a homegrown star with a genuine love of his state. His story and talent are attractions themselves. We are looking forward to working with him this year.” Rucker, 53, is a native of Charleston who is coming off a rousing concert during prerace ceremonies at the Daytona 500 on Sunday. He will share his music and name recognition to help strengthen the state’s tourism, WMBF reported. Rucker also will make appearances at major tourism events statewide and will be featured on advertising for the state’s DiSCover campaign. “Whether he’s singing about his hometown or talking about his life experiences, you can tell Darius Rucker is proud of where he’s from,” Parrish said in his statement. “Our partnership is a natural fit.”
  • A Texas woman snapped a photograph of a rare sight -- a pink grasshopper that her son found in her garden. Alison Barger told KXAN the grasshopper was spotted by her 3-year-old son, Brooks. According to Victoria Hillman of National Geographic, the rare species is a genetic mutation. “We believe these funky individuals to be a rare morph of the common meadow grasshopper,” Hillman wrote in a blog for the magazine. Hillman said the mutation is called erythrism, and it’s caused by a recessive gene similar to the one that affects albino animals, KXAN reported. “This mutation results in one of two things happening or even a combination of the two; a reduce or even absence of the normal pigment and/or the excessive production of other pigments,” Hillman wrote in the National Geographic blog.
  • Golfing legend Mickey Wright, a Hall of Famer who won 82 LPGA titles and 13 championships during her career, died Monday of a heart attack, her attorney said. She was 85. Wright’s attorney, Sonia Pawluc, told The Associated Press that Wright had been hospitalized for the last few weeks after suffering injuries in a fall. The LPGA confirmed the news of Wright’s death. Born in San Diego, Mary Kathryn Wright maintained a private life after retiring from golf and moved to Port St. Lucie, Florida, in 1974, where she spent the final years of her life, TCPalm reported. “We are deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Mickey Wright,” LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan said in a statement. “We lost a legend, but we may also have lost the best swing in golf history today. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.” Wright’s smooth golf swing was envied by golfers worldwide. She learned her swing when she was 15 from California golf instructor Harry Pressler, traveling 250 miles round trip every Saturday for two years, Golfweek reported. “She had the finest golf swing I ever saw,” PGA legend Ben Hogan said. Wright broke into the LPGA in 1955. According to her LPGA biography, Wright is the only player in LPGA history to hold all four major titles at the same time. She captured the U.S. Women’s Open -- an event she would win four times -- and the LPGA Championship in 1961 and completed the Grand Slam run by winning the first two majors of 1962, the Titleholders Championship and the Western Open. Wright won 44 times in a four-year run (1961-64), according to the Golf Channel. In 1963-64, Wright served as the LPGA’s president and was voted Associated Press Woman Athlete of the Year. She was inducted into the Hall of Fame of Women’s Golf in 1964, the LPGA Tour Hall of Fame when it was created in 1967 and the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1976, according to the LPGA. “At my best I would go into what I called a ‘fog.’ I never thought of it as the ‘zone’ you hear about today, though maybe it was something like that,” Wright told Golf Digest in a 2017 interview. “It was a mental state where I could concentrate really well and play with a greater confidence than usual. I had it when I shot 62 at Hunting Creek in Louisville in 1964. It was elusive, but that’s when I played my best.” Wright retired as an active player in 1969, when she was 34. She won $368,770 during her career, according to the LPGA. Wright was named Female Golfer of the Century by The Associated Press in 2000. Kathy Whitworth, who holds the LPGA’s all-time record with 88 career wins, said Wright was the best player she’d ever seen, Golfweek reported. “The PGA of America is deeply saddened by the passing of Mickey Wright, who will forever be one of the greatest to play our game. Her swing put the greats in awe & we are forever thankful for her efforts to advance women’s golf.” PGA President Suzy Whaley said in a statement. “There’s got to be golf in heaven,” Wright told Golf Digest in 2017. “I hope I get there and that it’s just me and my 2-iron. Or maybe a couple of angels will be looking on. Everything will look like Sea Island Golf Club did in the old days, sedate and beautiful. I’ll be facing that shot to a well-trapped green again, trying to duplicate that shot from 1957. If it’s really heaven, I’ll pull it off.”