Coronavirus:

What You Need To Know

On Air Now

Listen Now

Weather

cloudy-day
76°
Mostly Clear
H 79° L 56°
  • cloudy-day
    76°
    Current Conditions
    Mostly Clear. H 79° L 56°
  • clear-day
    79°
    Today
    Mostly Clear. H 79° L 56°
  • cloudy-day
    82°
    Tomorrow
    Partly Cloudy. H 82° L 62°
Listen
Pause
Error

News on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

Traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

Weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

    How does a traditional German restaurant comply with the untraditional demands of the coronavirus era? Thomas Metzmacher was faced with the prospect of having to shut down his Frankfurt restaurant specializing in a traditional tart hard cider due to German regulations prohibiting groups of people from gathering amid the coronavirus pandemic. So he came up with a novel solution. After toying with the idea of a delivery service, he instead turned his half-timbered restaurant into a makeshift drive-thru. Now he is serving up schnitzel, fried potatoes and other German favorites — of course the tasty Aeppelwoi cider — to customers waiting in a long line of cars. “The restaurant had to close, nobody was allowed to sit inside anymore, so it was either give up or fight,” he said. “And I decided to fight.” Metzmacher’s Zum Lahmen Esel restaurant, which has been in operation since 1807, normally seats 200 people inside and another 200 in an outdoor garden. Now, cars drive up to a small booth in front of the restaurant, where one of Metzmacher’s 36 employees takes their order, and then pushes a plastic tub down a makeshift slide to the car’s window to take payment at a safe distance. Driving ahead, the customer gets their order in another tub pushed to their window. “It’s going great,” says Metzmacher. “My regulars are supporting me, they’re really happy I’m open.” Without people sticking around for a few more of the signature ciders, profit margins are low but Metzmacher says it’s better than nothing. “At least we’re carrying on and we’re continuing to work,” he says.
  • Europe is seeing further signs of hope in the coronavirus outbreak as Italy's daily death toll was at its lowest in more than two weeks and health officials noted with caution Sunday that the infection curve was finally descending. In Spain, new deaths dropped for the third straight day, But the optimism was tempered by Britain's jump in coronavirus deaths that outpaced the daily toll in Italy. Angelo Borrelli, the head of Italy's Civil Protection agency on Sunday, said there were 525 deaths in the 24-hour period since Saturday evening. That’s the lowest such figure in the country since 427 deaths were registered on March 19. Italy now has a total of 15,887 deaths and nearly 129,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases. A day shy of one month under a national lockdown that the Italian government ordered, the lower count of day-to-day deaths brought some encouragement. The number of intensive care unit beds occupied by COVID-19 patients has also showed a decrease in the last few days, including in northern Lombardy, Italy’s most stricken region. Borrelli also noted with a measure of satisfaction that the number of those hospitalized but not in ICU beds also has decreased. Italy recorded 4,316 new cases Sunday. Earlier in the outbreak, daily increases in caseloads topped the 6,000 mark. “The curve, which had been plateauing for days, is starting to descend,″ national health official Silvio Brusaferro told reporters, referring to graphs indicating daily numbers of confirmed cases. But Borrelli warned: “This good news shouldn’t make us drop our guard.' For days, anticipating a possible downward slope in the curve, government and health authorities in Italy have cautioned that restrictions on movement would likely last in some form for weeks. The virus causes mild to moderate symptoms in most people, but for some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause severe pneumonia and lead to death. As warm, sunny weather beckoned across Europe, Queen Elizabeth II appealed to Britons to exercise self-discipline in “an increasingly challenging time.' Britain recorded 708 new coronavirus deaths Saturday while Italy reported 631 deaths that day. With 621 more deaths reported on Sunday, Britain has 4,934 virus deaths overall among 47,806 cases. Those coming down with the virus in the U.K. include Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the health secretary, England’s chief medical official and Prince Charles, heir to the British throne. There are wide fears that Johnson’s Conservative government didn't take the virus seriously enough at first and that beautiful spring weather will tempt Britons and others to break social distancing rules. Restrictions on movement vary from country to country. In Germany and Britain, residents can exercise and walk their dogs, as well as go to the supermarket and do other essential tasks. Swedish authorities have advised the public to practice social distancing, but schools, bars and restaurants are still open. Spain announced 6,023 confirmed new infections Sunday, taking its national tally to 130,759 but down from an increase of 7,026 infections in the previous day. Spain’s confirmed new virus deaths dropped for the third straight day, to 674 — the first time daily deaths have fallen below 800 in the past week. “We are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said. ___ Danica Kirka in London, David Rising in Berlin, and Joseph Wilson in Barcelona, Spain, contributed to this report. ___ Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • Every day, grocery workers are restocking toilet paper, eggs, produce and canned goods as fast as the items fly off the shelves. They disinfect keypads, freezer handles and checkout counters as hundreds of people weave around them, sometimes standing too close for comfort amid the coronavirus pandemic. Some work for hours behind clear plastic barriers installed at checkout counters, bulwarks against sudden sneezes or coughs that can propel germs. They aren't doctors or nurses, yet they have been praised for their dedication by Pope Francis, former U.S. President Barack Obama and countless people on social media, as infections and death counts rise. From South Africa to Italy to the U.S., grocery workers — many in low-wage jobs — are manning the frontlines amid worldwide lockdowns, their work deemed essential to keep food and critical goods flowing. Some fear falling sick or bringing the virus home to vulnerable loved ones, and frustration is mounting as some demand better workplace protections, including shorter hours to allow them to rest, and “hazard” pay for working closely with the public. “Everyone is scared everywhere, here in South Africa and everywhere in the world,' said Zandile Mlotshwa, a cashier at Spar supermarket in the Johannesburg suburb of Norwood. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, and the vast majority survive. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can be more severe, even causing pneumonia or death. In the U.S., a handful of states — Minnesota and Vermont were the first — have given grocery workers a special classification that allows them to put their children in state-paid child care while they work. Unions in Colorado, Alaska, Texas and many other states are pressing governors to elevate grocery workers to the status of first responders. “The government's responsibility is to step up in these moments,” said Sarah Cherin, chief of staff for the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union in Seattle, the first U.S. epicenter of COVID-19. The union, which represents about 23,000 grocery workers and 18,000 health care workers, won early concessions for higher pay. “We have always been a group of people who come to work when others stay home,' Cherin said. “Our workers need the same protection others get.” U.S. grocery and food delivery workers are insisting employers pay them more and provide masks, gloves, gowns and access to testing. Whole Foods workers called for a recent “sickout” to demand better conditions, including double pay. A group of independent contractors for the Instacart grocery delivery service walked out to force more protections. Some of the biggest employers in the U.S. are responding. Kroger, the nation's largest grocery chain, said it will give all hourly employees a $2-an-hour “Hero Bonus' through April 18. That follows temporary $2 pay bumps by Walmart, Target and others. Walmart’s raise is just for hourly employees in distribution centers, but it’s also giving bonuses to full- and part-time workers. Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, and Target will provide masks and gloves to front-line workers and limit the number of customers in stores. Walmart is taking the temperatures of its nearly 1.5 million employees when they report to work. “Most will see it as a welcome relief,” Walmart spokesman Dan Bartlett said of the new measures. But that doesn't alleviate the fear when shoppers won't follow the rules, including social distancing. Jake Pinelli, who works at a ShopRite in Aberdeen, New Jersey, said customers don't stay 6 feet (2 meters) away from others and typically don't wear masks or gloves. Staffers have protective gear, but the younger employees often give it to older co-workers or those they know have health conditions. “Most of us are terrified,” Pinelli said. But he stays on because he wants to help. 'I have not only bills to pay, but it's the only way right now I feel like I can do anything for my community and help out,” Pinelli said. Some have fallen sick. The Shaw's supermarket chain told workers last week at six stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont that one of its employees had been diagnosed with COVID-19. The company reminded workers to wash their hands regularly and stay home if they don't feel well. At the Organic Food Depot in Norfolk, Virginia, cash is no longer used. Customers can't bring reusable bags. Children under 16 are banned. “If somebody fell sick in the store, the store is most likely going to shut down,” manager Jamie Gass said. Gass, 47, said his wife has asthma, which means she would be more vulnerable to the coronavirus. Yet he feels pride going to a job that helps ensure people get fed in a crisis. “Am I scared that I could catch this? Absolutely,” Gass said. “But I’m sure everybody is in that position. I’m just taking as many precautions as I can, so I don’t have to worry as much.” In Italy, where more than 14,000 people have died of COVID-19, consumers seem to prefer smaller, family-run stores and markets. One of them, the Innocenzi grocery store in Rome, was established in 1884 by Emanuela Innocenzi’s grandfather. Its wooden shelves, marble entrance steps and cherished custom of clerks waiting on each customer hearken back to another era. The small store now allows in only two customers at a time. A dentist’s office provided masks, which employees wipe down with alcohol each day and reuse. Emanuela Innocenzi shrugged off the pope’s praise. “The doctors, the nurses have special training,' she said. 'This is our work.” ___ Associated Press writers Ben Finley in Norfolk, Virginia; Michael Casey in Boston; Alexandra Olson and Anne D'Innocenzio in New York; Frances Demilio in Rome; Andrew Meldrum in Johannesburg; and video journalist Rodrique Ngowi in Quincy, Massachusetts, contributed to this report. ___ Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • In Montana, a father and son running a small oil business are cutting their salaries in half. In New Mexico, an oil truck driver who supports his family just went a week without pay. And in Alaska, lawmakers have had to dip into the state's savings as oil revenue dries up. The global economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic has devastated the oil industry in the U.S., which pumps more crude than any other country. In the first quarter, the price of U.S. crude fell harder than at any point in history, plunging 66% to around $20 a barrel. A generation ago, a drop in oil prices would have largely been celebrated in the U.S., translating into cheaper gas for consumers. But today, those depressed prices carry negative economic implications, particularly in states that have become dependent on oil to keep their budgets balanced and residents employed. “It's just a nightmare down here,” said Lee Levinson, owner of LPD Energy, an oil and gas producer in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “Should these low oil prices last for any substantial period of time, it's going to be hard for anyone to survive.' Crude prices recovered some ground, trading at around $28 a barrel Friday, after a week in which President Donald Trump tweeted that he expects Saudi Arabia and Russia will end an oil war and dramatically cut production. On Friday, he met with oil executives but there were no announcements, and prices remain well below what most U.S. producers need to stay afloat. Among the latest casualties is Whiting Petroleum, an oil producer in the Bakken shale formation with about 500 employees that filed for bankruptcy protection Wednesday. Schlumberger, one of the largest oilfield services companies, slashed its capital spending by 30% and is expecting to cut staff and pay in North America. And Halliburton, another major oilfield services provider, furloughed 3,500 of its Houston employees, ordering workers into a one-week-on, one-week-off schedule. “You will see a tremendous loss of jobs in this industry,” said Patrick Montalban, owner of Montalban Oil and Gas, based in Montana, who along with his son is slashing his salary in half and plans to cut the his remaining employees’ salaries by 25% and end their health insurance benefits. The impact is far-reaching. In Alaska, lawmakers recently passed a budget that sharply draws down a savings account that had been built up over the years when oil prices were higher. In New Mexico, where a third of the state's revenue comes from petroleum, the governor slashed infrastructure spending and will likely cut more in a special legislative session. In Texas, which produces about 40% of the country's oil and employs more than 361,000 people, the picture is especially bleak. Three weeks ago, Bobby Whitacre, vice president of Impala Transport in Plano, Texas, was looking to hire a well site supervisor for $200 a day with paid time off. Now he’s had to lay off many of his workers. “It’s dead. It’s dead as can be,” he said. While many industries paralyzed by the coronavirus pandemic received help from a recent $2 trillion congressional relief package, the energy sector was largely left out. The American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry's main lobbying group, has maintained its free market philosophy, saying it does not want direct financial assistance from government. But the group did ask the federal government to relax environmental rules. Some smaller producers would welcome financial relief. “If the federal government is going to do something to help small businesses nationwide because of the problem with the coronavirus, we certainly don’t want to be excluded from that,” said Dewey Bartlett, Jr., president of Keener Oil & Gas and former Republican mayor of Tulsa. Many oil producers big and small stopped the costly process of drilling new wells when prices plummeted, leaving all kinds of workers vulnerable to layoffs: drillers, attorneys, truckers who deliver sand or water for fracking and skilled tradesmen who make equipment for rigs, to name a few. It was only two weeks ago when Sergio Chavira, a 33-year-old truck driver in New Mexico, was advertising on Craigslist for other drivers to help him haul crude oil, writing that there was “plenty of work.” Not anymore. The husband and father of an 8 year old and a 5 year old hasn’t driven his truck for a week and is bracing for a drop in pay for what work is left. “Now everything is slowing down,” Chavira said. “They give us less loads to haul every day.” Checkers Inc., which administers drug and alcohol tests for oil industry employees in the heart of North Dakota’s oil patch, has seen its monthly screenings fall by more than half, said owner Janette McCollum, who reduced her full-time employees' hours to part-time in response. Along with the slowdown in clients, “companies are not wanting to pay their bills,” she said. The oil industry was already logging hundreds of bankruptcies before the coronavirus hit, as producers struggled with weak global oil demand and high debt loads. Then the pandemic shut down travel as country after country started restricting flights in an attempt to bring the contagion under control. World oil demand fell 7% in the first quarter, and is expected to fall 14% in the second quarter, according to IHS Markit. If that wasn't enough, OPEC and Russia couldn't agree on production cuts to prop up prices, so Saudi Arabia flooded the market with cheap oil. The kingdom slashed oil prices last month and vowed to ramp up production to more than 12 million barrels a day. Many American shale producers feel targeted by Saudi Arabia, which they suspect of trying to put them out of business. And it could be working. “We’re just burning through money down here,' said Levinson, LPD Energy’s owner. 'And how long we can last is anyone’s guess.” __ AP Writers Cedar Attanasio in El Paso, Texas; James MacPherson in Bismark, North Dakota; Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City and Becky Bohrer in Juneau, Alaska contributed to this report.
  • Home testing for the new coronavirus may sound like a good idea, but U.S. regulators say it's still too risky. They've stopped companies that quickly launched home-testing kits until they can show their products can accurately detect the virus. For now, the only way Americans can get tested is at hospitals, clinics or drive-thru sites, with a doctor's order. After a botched rollout, testing in the U.S. has ramped up thanks to high-volume testing machines and new rapid tests. Last week, federal officials said total tests topped 1.4 million, and labs are processing nearly 100,000 tests daily. That's the threshold many experts say is needed to track the virus. Still, testing continues to be constrained by shortages of medical supplies like gloves, masks and swabs. And the widespread drive-thru testing proposed for parking lots at chains like Walmart, Walgreens and Target has barely gotten off the ground. Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration is aggressively pushing new options onto the market. FASTER RESULTS Genetic tests are the gold standard for detecting COVID-19 infections. New, quicker ones are replacing the original laboratory tests that have to be manually mixed and developed. The idea behind both tests is the same: chemical solutions are used to isolate the virus from the patient sample, grab its genetic material and then reproduce it millions of times until it's detectable with a computer. New rapid tests such as the one by Abbott Laboratories automate the process, cutting the time from four to six hours to about 15 minutes. “Essentially all of the reactions are squeezed into a little cartridge, so it's a very nice, self-contained system.” said Dr. Bobbi Pritt, lab director at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota The cartridges from Abbott and other companies run on small, portable electronic machines found in thousands of U.S. hospitals, clinics and doctor's offices. That's expected to increase testing beyond large universities, government and commercial labs. Abbott said it plans to begin shipping 50,000 tests per day this month. U.S. officials said they'd go first to remote areas with less access to labs. For now, only a health care professional can order a coronavirus test. Under current guidelines, priority is given to people with COVID-19 symptoms who fall into several high-risk groups, including hospitalized patients, health care workers and the elderly. “If you’re not sick, you don’t need to be tested,” has been the mantra for weeks. DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME Accurately testing for coronavirus involves several steps, including carefully swabbing the nose or throat to collect a sample, placing it in a sterile tube, storing it below 46 degrees Fahrenheit and then shipping it to a lab within three days. Health officials warn a number of things could go wrong if consumers try to swab, store and ship their own samples, potentially resulting in testing errors and undetected infections. The FDA is talking to companies working on at-home kits, but they'll be required to show that their results are comparable to those of people under professional care, agency spokesman Jeremy Kahn said in a statement. Many of the proposed at-home tests aren't like home pregnancy tests — they won't provide instant results. The samples still need to go to a lab. After several companies began shipping test kits last month, the FDA quickly intervened. No home tests have been approved and the products sent to U.S. consumers were frauds, regulators said. Several companies were caught off guard including San Francisco startup Nurx, which initially built its business around prescribing birth control drugs via brief online consultations. On March 20, the company announced plans to ship 10,000 testing kits to customers for $181 each. Within 24 hours, the FDA warning went out and Nurx's plan was off. UPCOMING OPTIONS Simpler, cheaper blood tests could also have a role in tracking the virus — and possibly expanding testing to the home. The FDA is permitting companies to launch certain types of finger-prick tests that can detect whether people may have recently been infected. Instead of detecting the virus itself, these tests detect proteins called antibodies that the immune system generates to fight COVID-19. Public health experts hope that mass screening with antibody tests could eventually help track how the virus spreads and who might have built up immunity. “We have this massive epidemic on our hands and if we really want to control it through testing we need to have it more readily available and on a repeated basis — potentially every week to know who is truly positive and negative,” said Harvard University’s Dr. Michael Mina. Because the blood test is easy to perform and can be developed in 15 minutes — without laboratory equipment — some companies think it could become a viable home-testing option. Scanwell Health is seeking approval for a home test using one developed by Chinese manufacturer Innovita and deployed by the Chinese government. People who meet criteria through an online questionnaire would receive a test kit in the mail, take a blood sample and scan the test with a smartphone app. Next is an online consultation with a health professional who will deliver and interpret the results. “The entire testing process happens within the home— nothing needs to be shipped back,” said Scanwell executive Dr. Jack Jeng. ___ AP business writers Tom Murphy in Indianapolis and Anne D'innocenzio in New York contributed to this report. ___ Follow Matthew Perrone on Twitter: @AP_FDAwriter ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
  • Americans are seeking unemployment benefits at unprecedented levels due to the coronavirus, but many are finding more frustration than relief. State websites and phone lines across the country have been overwhelmed with applicants — causing sites to crash, phone lines to ring busy and much-needed payments to be delayed. While many states are doing their best to respond — adding staff, updating technology and streamlining the process — it’s tough to keep up with the pace of demand. About 10 million people applied for unemployment benefits in the two weeks ended March 27. “There's no hospital system in the world that's designed to handle what we're dealing with,” Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted told reporters. “Our unemployment compensation system's the same way.” Ohio handled twice as many claims in the past two weeks than it had over the past two years. The state has increased its online capacity for processing claims 20 times, added hundreds of workers, yet users might still encounter delays. New York’s Department of Labor said its phone system recorded more than 8.2 million calls last week, compared with 50,000 in a typical week. Its online filing system received 3.4 million visits during that time, compared to the usual 350,000. The site has crashed several times in recent weeks under the burden. To handle the influx, New York has added 20 servers, hundreds of staff and expanded its hours of operations. It’s also trying to reduce the surge— as are Colorado, Kentucky and Michigan — by asking people to file on different days based on the first letter of their last name. “It is not working as smoothly as I would like to see it,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “It’s compounding people’s stress.” It's a problem playing out across the nation. “Financially stressed Americans should not have to spend hours on the phone waiting for someone to process their application or answer their questions,” Senators Chuck Schumer, Ron Wyden and Bernie Sanders said in a letter Monday to the U.S. Department of Labor. They urged Secretary Eugene Scalia to ensure states get funding quickly for administrative support that they’ve been granted under recent legislation. The Department of Labor did not comment in response. Congress has passed a massive relief package that expanded who is eligible for unemployment benefits — adding gig, contract and other part time workers who wouldn’t normally qualify. Benefits are open to others who've been impacted, such as workers who were quarantined, left work due to risk of exposure or to care for a family member. It’s welcome aid for suffering Americans, but it adds to the volume and confusion for administering benefits. New Mexico’s Workforce Solutions Department said that is was deluged with more than a half-million calls in one day — in a state of 2 million residents — as the government began expanded eligibility guidelines, but it was too soon at that time for the state to process those claims. The crush on the system is leaving some Americans in need frustrated and empty handed for now. Duane Shepherd, 53, tried to file for unemployment for this week after getting laid off from his oil-and-gas servicing job in rural Vernal, Utah. He gave up after the online system barred him from backing up to fix a minor error. The online-chat function was unavailable and phone calls were rejected because of high volume. He considered visiting a local office in person, but heard he'd be routed back to the phone system. Shepherd plans to try to file again, and hopes to live on his small savings as he looks for work. “The system is broken, it’s absolutely broken. I don’t know how people aren’t climbing the walls with frustration,” he said. Those filing for unemployment are being encouraged to keep at it and be patient. It takes time to process an application, typically two to three weeks, said Michele Evermore, a senior policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project. But benefits are retroactive — meaning people will be reimbursed for the full period of unemployment, not just from when their claim is approved. “The unemployment lines (although virtual) now are like the lines for toilet paper have been,' Evermore said. “People are just going to have to keep trying for a while.' The eligibility and process varies by state so workers should check the local rules. In general though, applicants should try to file online unless they must call. And consider trying websites at off-hours when traffic is lower. Be prepared with contact information for all their employers for the past 18 months, as well as proof of income. Double-check all your information as even minor errors can slow a claim. Keep track of your efforts and if you are denied, you can appeal. ____ Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus, Ohio; Michael Hill in Albany, N.Y. and Lindsay Whitehurst of Salt Lake City, Utah contributed to this report.
  • Saudi Arabia sharply criticized Russia on Saturday over what it described as Moscow blaming the kingdom for the collapse in global energy prices, showing the tensions ahead of an emergency meeting of OPEC and other oil producers. Oil prices sharply fell after the so-called OPEC+ group of countries including Russia failed to agree to production cuts in early March. A price war began soon after, with Saudi Arabia threatening to pump at a record-breaking pace to seize back market share even as the coronavirus pandemic saw demand sharply drop as airlines worldwide halted flights. International benchmark Brent crude fell to around $24 a barrel, compared to prices of over $70 a year ago. Prices slightly have rebounded with President Donald Trump tweeting and talking about the need for a production cut, but rancor between Saudi Arabia and Russia could imperil a deal emerging from a planned teleconference Monday. That anger could be seen early Saturday in two critical statements released by the kingdom's state-run Saudi Press Agency. The first came from Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan under the headline: “ Statements Attributed to One of Russian President’s Media Are Completely Devoid of Truth.” “Russia was the one that refused the agreement, while the kingdom and 22 other countries were trying to persuade Russia to make further cuts and extend the agreement,” the prince said. He also said an alleged Russian contention that “the kingdom was planning to get rid of shale oil producers” was false as well. U.S. shale producers have made America one of the world's top producers, but they've been hurt badly by the price collapse. Trump has met with concerned producers about that. Prince Faisal did not identify the story, nor the outlet he was critiquing. A second statement came from Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, one of King Salman's sons. The prince criticized Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak by name for suggesting Saudi Arabia wanted to cut out shale producers. The prince “expressed his surprise at the attempts to bring Saudi Arabia into hostilities against the shale oil industry, which is completely false as our Russian friends recognize well,” the statement said. Saudi Arabia's statements likely seek to defuse any possible confrontation between the kingdom and Trump, who tweeted Thursday that Moscow and Riyadh “will be cutting back approximately 10 Million Barrels” without elaborating. Trump's tweets and public comments have affected oil prices in the past.
  • He ran marathons on every continent, including Antarctica — 83 of them in all, many followed by a visit to an obscure craft brewery. Last year, he watched 365 movies — most of them in theaters. And Anick Jesdanun made sure — always — that when millions of people read his coverage of the internet and its ripples, they got all the facts and the context they needed. Jesdanun, 51, deputy technology editor for The Associated Press, died in New York City on Thursday of coronavirus-related complications, his family said. For more than two decades, Jesdanun helped generations of readers understand the emerging internet and its impact on the world. And while his work may have been about screens and computers and virtual networks, Jesdanun’s large life was about the world and exploring all of the corners of it that he could, virtual and physical alike. “Before people knew the internet was full of falsehoods, he was the guy who said, `We’d better check that,’” said his colleague, AP technology writer Michael Liedtke. Jesdanun, known as Nick, was the first AP reporter to be given the “internet writer” byline two decades ago, when the world was less than 10 years into using the network widely. His early work focused on how the internet was changing everything: dating, reading, photography, democracy, access to health care. In 2000, he wrote about how internet-connected devices would be tracking our locations — something that was still years in the future. By example, conversation and hands-on editing, Jesdanun, working from a desk renowned for its messiness, taught a generation of AP journalists how to cover technology in ways that were understandable and accessible but unparalleled in their depth. “Nick was the steady bulwark of AP’s tech team for two decades,” said Frank Bajak, AP’s first technology editor. “He had the deepest institutional memory of AP’s tech coverage and patiently educated dozens of novice colleagues in all things digital.” As the internet grew and its pitfalls become more evident, Jesdanun wrote about everything from Facebook’s privacy travails to government regulations. He also found time to cover things closer to his heart, one of which appeared under this headline in February: “How to binge on Oscar movies in cinemas for cheap.” “There’s still no substitute for a movie theater,” he wrote in a first-person story last year. Quick with a smile, Jesdanun sometimes let his sillier side loose in AP’s “Tech Tests.” These often included video shorts in which he would run new gadgets through the paces (and occasionally give his nieces cameo roles). When the iPhone’s face-recognition model came out in 2017, he filmed a mostly deadpan video of him trying to stump it with everything from a Santa beard to a fake nose and mustache. While Jesdanun could seem reserved to those who didn’t know him, his colleagues talked of an embrace of the world that he carried into his work and that ensured his technology journalism was grounded in what people cared about. “His depth of knowledge was unmatched,” said his boss, current AP technology editor David Hamilton. And tech writer Mae Anderson, whose office desk was by Jesdanun's, remembered how they'd visit tech industry events and Jesdanun wouldn't relent until his sources produced the information he was looking for. “He always kept asking questions and pressing people to answer questions,' she said, 'much past the point I ever would. And it made the subsequent stories much better.” Jesdanun’s running, which he embraced “later in life,” was part of that commitment to engaging with his surroundings, said his cousin, Risa Harms. “It was a life force for him, a way for him to see the world and to meet people,” she said. “He’s a doer. He’s not somebody who felt comfortable being a recreational tourist. He visited a place and wanted to have something to do there. So he did a marathon.” She added: “I feel fairly confident that there was nothing on his bucket list. There was nothing he wanted to do that he didn’t have a chance to do.” Jesdanun, a Pittsburgh native who grew up in New Jersey, was a 1991 graduate of Swarthmore College. He worked in AP bureaus in Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Washington before moving to New York. When he left Philadelphia for Harrisburg in 1993, he sublet his apartment to a colleague and left behind only a few pieces of furniture and, hanging from the ceiling, a glittering disco ball. “Do what you want with the rest,” Jesdanun told his tenant, “but the disco ball stays.” Barbara Ortutay, an AP tech writer and Jesdanun’s close friend, spent countless nights over the past 15 years hanging out with him at outdoor philharmonic concerts and movies around New York City. He was serious about photography and “was always documenting everything,” she said. “He loved Chinese pork buns and always bought some for the rest of us in the office,” Ortutay said Friday. “One of our last texts was about pork buns, and I thought he’d turned a corner because he said he wanted one.” Jesdanun is survived by his parents, Adisak and Orabhin Jesdanun; a brother, Gary Jesdanun; and several nieces, nephews and cousins. The AP, the only employer Jesdanun ever worked for, is planning a virtual memorial service at some point to give colleagues and friends the opportunity — in an undesired but perhaps appropriate forum — to remember its first internet writer. “Nick was a kind and gentle colleague who was deeply admired by everyone he worked with,” said AP deputy managing editor Sarah Nordgren, who oversees technology news. “He loved the AP and his work, and it showed every day.”
  • The coronavirus pandemic may have slowed the economy down, but it has caused an uptick on the number of deals available for people in the market for a new or used vehicle. Money expert Clark Howard says car prices keep falling to the point where “the deals being offered right now are better and better.” Clark’s Take: Should You Buy a Car Right Now? The truth is that until things improve on the global health front, you can expect to see more steep discounts from automakers and dealerships. “Because vehicle-buying activity, depending on where you live in the United States, has slowed a meaningful amount or collapsed, it means that there’s a lot of unsold inventory,” he says. “Car sales have fallen off a cliff, likely down 50% or more!” Clark says. But the decision of whether or not to buy a car is not just one based on enticements and convenience. For most, it’s primarily about personal finances. The questions you must consider are two-fold: Do I really need a car right now? What is my financial situation projected to be for the life of the loan? “Even with [the great deals], buying a vehicle is a major decision,” Clark says. “It is the second-biggest expense most of us have.” So should you buy a car right now, with all that’s going on? Here is Clark’s advice: “If you are a lucky person who has a job that is secure and you were planning to buy either a new or used vehicle, this is a great time to buy.” Clark says you should use the internet to car shop for a new or used vehicle . It’s never been more convenient than it is presently. “Since almost everyone is set up to negotiate and complete a deal online, the ability to shop with multiple sellers is extra-easy right now,” he says. Furthermore, dealers have come up with safe ways to get vehicles delivered to people, Clark says. “They are even equipped to do a ‘touchless’ sale where you have no potentially dangerous contact with individuals from the dealership,” he adds. Indeed, vehicle marketplaces like Carvana are doing touchless delivery to ensure that car shoppers can conduct business without having to physically interact with sales associates right now. Final Thoughts So, just to reiterate, if you’re less than confident about your financial situation, this is not the time to take on big consumer debt.  On the other hand, if you feel secure about your job and your finances and you’d already planned on buying a vehicle, then it makes sense to take advantage of the deals out there right now. More Content From Clark.com: How to Buy a New Car in 5 Steps How to Buy a Used Car in 7 Steps Coronavirus & Your Finances: What to Know and Do This article was originally published on Clark.com The post Ask Clark: Should I Buy a Car Right Now? appeared first on Clark Howard.
  • U.S. long-term mortgage rates fell this week for the second straight week as anxiety has spiraled over devastation to the economy from the coronavirus pandemic. Home-loan rates have been hitting all-time lows. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average rate on the benchmark 30-year loan dipped to 3.33% this week from 3.50%. A year ago the rate stood at 4.08%. Freddie Mac said demand from prospective homebuyers has weakened in response to economic concerns. The average rate on the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage declined to 2.82% from 2.92%. The recent declining trend in mortgage rates has been driven by investors shifting money out of the stock market and into the safety of U.S. Treasurys as the crisis in confidence caused by the global viral outbreak has worsened. The number of cases confirmed worldwide crossed the grim milestone of 1 million this week. Long-term mortgage rates tend to track the yields on the 10-year Treasury note, so they typically fall in tandem. Financial markets have shuddered amid a cascade of job losses and shutdowns across the globe due to the COVID-19 virus, as a severe global recession looms closer. Wide swaths of the U.S. economy have ground closer to a standstill as authorities ask Americans to stay home to slow the spread of the virus. The U.S. lost a stunning 701,000 jobs in March, the worst since the depths of the Great Recession in 2009, the government reported Friday. And it's just a small indication of what's to come. Economists expect as many as a record 20 million losses in April and an unemployment rate of around 15%, the highest since the 1930s. Stocks fell in U.S. trading Friday after the release of the unemployment report. Losses accelerated after New York's governor announced the biggest daily jump yet for deaths caused by the virus in the country's hardest-hit state. Deaths from COVID-19 in the state were estimated at nearly 3,000.

News

  • An Atlanta-area family is thankful for an act of kindness during the chaotic coronavirus pandemic. In 2013, Jamie McHenry was killed in a car crash during spring break in West Palm Beach, Florida, WSB-TV reported. Every year since his death, McHenry’s parents make the trip from their home in North Fulton County to St. George Island on the Florida Panhandle to pay their respects to their 13-year-old son at a memorial. This year, they could not go because of the coronavirus pandemic. But that didn’t mean the memory of their teen son was forgotten. A random stranger in the area heard the family’s story and decided to step in and make sure Jamie McHenry’s memorial was still decorated. The kind stranger, who posted a photo of the good deed on Facebook, wrote: “Christine and the McHenry family … we were sad to read that due to this pandemic your annual trip to SGI was canceled and you will miss visiting the memorial brick for your son Jamie. Wanted to know we are watching over it for you today and he is in our thoughts. God bless.”
  • Amoco and its parent company, BP, announced their gasoline stations will offer a 50-cent discount per gallon to first responders, doctors, nurses and hospital workers during the coronavirus pandemic. “Thank you for being on the front lines and keeping our communities healthy and safe,' the company said on its website. 'We are honored to be supporting you and helping you get where you need to go,” the company said on its website.The discount, which eligible customers can sign up for, will allow the health care workers to take the discount the next time they fill up, BP said on its website. People who want to take advantage of the discount must verify their status through ID.me, a website that “simplifies how individuals prove and share their identity online.”
  • Can’t get enough of “Tiger King”? Don’t despair. Netflix is releasing an extra episode next week, Variety reported. “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness,” is a true-crime docuseries about wild animal owners in the United States. The documentary focuses on the self-proclaimed Tiger King, Joe Exotic, aka Joseph Maldonado-Passage, who keeps hundreds of wild animals in cages at his G.W. Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma, Entertainment Weekly reported. Current zoo owner Jeff Lowe broke the news in a Cameo video posted on Twitter by Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Justin Turner. “Netflix is adding one more episode. It will be on next week. They’re filming here tomorrow,” Lowe said in the video. Lowe joined later episodes of “Tiger King” as Exotic’s business partner, Entertainment Weekly reported. It is not clear if the new episode will be a follow-up to the show’s seven-episode run or a reunion, Variety reported. Maldonado-Passage, 57, is currently serving a 22-year sentence in federal prison for two counts of murder-for-hire, eight counts of falsifying wildlife records and nine counts of violating the Endangered Species Act. The murder-for-hire charges stem from a plot to have a hitman kill Carole Baskin of Tampa, Florida, and the wildlife crimes are related to Maldonado-Passage’s killing of five tigers and falsifying of paperwork. Netflix did not respond to a request for comment about a new episode, the magazine reported.
  • Georgians are still feeling the weight of the new coronavirus Sunday as the number of confirmed cases increased to 6,647 and the death toll rose to 211.  The Georgia Department of Public Health reports since Saturday 3 more Georgians have died due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel virus. The latest data released at noon shows 264 new cases since Saturday evening.  » COMPLETE COVERAGE: Coronavirus in Georgia Of Georgia’s overall cases, 1,283 patients remain hospitalized, a rate of about 19%, according to the noon figures. That number is up from 1,266 confirmed hospitalizations Saturday evening. The rate of Georgia patients who have died of COVID-19 is about 3.1%.  The number of COVID-19 cases in the state has tripled in just over a week. Health officials announced that Georgia surpassed 2,000 cases on March 27. A statewide shelter-in-place mandate went into effect at 6 p.m. Friday in an effort to limit residents’ travel and curb the spread of the virus. The order requires Georgians to remain in their homes for all but essential activities, which include buying food, seeking medical care, working in critical jobs or exercising outdoors. » RELATED: Confusion surrounds Georgia’s coronavirus lockdown The number of cases across the state is expected to spike even more in coming weeks as plans are put in place to increase daily testing capacity. Projections suggest the state could see thousands of new cases and hundreds more deaths before the virus is contained. On Sunday, 27,832 tests had been conducted across the state with about 23.88% returning positive results.  » DASHBOARD: Real-time stats and charts tracking coronavirus in Georgia Fulton County has the most cases with 962, followed by Dougherty County with 686, DeKalb County with 543, and Cobb with 456, according to the latest data. Fulton reported 21 new cases since Saturday evening while hard-hit Dougherty County reported 50 more. The southwest Georgia county of about 90,000 has lost 30 residents to COVID-19, more than any other county in Georgia. MORE: City under siege: Coronavirus exacts heavy toll in Albany So far, the oldest patient to die in the state was a 96-year-old Bibb County woman while the youngest was a 29-year-old woman from Peach County, according to the health department.  For most, COVID-19 causes only mild or moderate symptoms. Older adults and those with existing health problems are at risk of more severe illnesses, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover in a matter of weeks. Those who believe they are experiencing symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19 are asked to contact their primary care doctor or an urgent care clinic. Do not show up unannounced at an emergency room or health care facility. Georgians can also call the state COVID-19 hotline at 844-442-2681 to share public health information and connect with medical professionals. 
  • As you drive toward the Marietta Square, you’ll see it to your right – a “Heroes Work Here” sign display below the Wellstar Kennestone hospital sign. Go through two traffic lights and you’ll see homemade signs of support in the front yards of some homeowners along Church Street.   From Marietta to elsewhere in metro Atlanta, residents are now acutely aware of the burden on health care workers as the coronavirus crisis plays out … and with likely many more tough days ahead before it all gets better.  What public shows of support for health care workers are you seeing in your local community? What are you and/or others doing to support those most at risk on the coronavirus frontlines? Tweet at us to tell us with your words and pictures: @wsbradio. You can also share with us on the WSB Open Mic, via the WSB Radio app.    
  • Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has expanded the state’s coronavirus task force once again, now adding a committee focused on community outreach.  The governor’s office announced the members of the new 16-person Community Outreach Committee Sunday. COMPLETE COVERAGE: Coronavirus in Georgia Initially created in February before Georgia had a single confirmed case of the illness, the Governor’s Coronavirus Task Force panels were focused on addressing the disease’s impact on the economy, healthcare network, emergency preparedness and the needy, AJC.com previously reported. RELATED: Kemp expands Georgia’s coronavirus task force as pandemic spreads The creation of the new committee comes as the state continues to put measures into place to fight COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.  As of Sunday morning, the virus had sickened more than 6,000 Georgians and killed 200 more.  'Comprised of talented individuals from the public and private sectors, I am confident this committee will ensure that our state remains prepared in the fight against COVID-19,' Kemp said.  The members of the new committee are:   Bernice A. King, CEO of The King Center - Co-Chair  Leo Smith, Presidentof  Engaged Futures Group, LLC - Co-Chair  Santiago Marquez, President and CEO of Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce  Representative Calvin Smyre, Dean of the Georgia House of Representatives  Leona Barr-Davenport, President and CEO of Atlanta Business League  Nancy Flake Johnson, President and CEO of Urban League of Greater Atlanta  Reverend Tim McDonald III, Pastor of First Iconium Baptist Church - Moreland Avenue  Pastor Reggie Joiner, CEO and Founder of Orange  Tres Hamilton, CEO of Coastal Georgia Area Community Action Authority  Natalie Keng, Founder and CEO of Chinese Southern Belle, LLC  Jasmine Crowe, Founder and CEO of Goodr, Inc.  Dr. Wayne S. Morris - Internal Medicine/Geriatrics  Laura Mathis, Executive Director of Middle Georgia Regional Commission  Rodney D. Bullard, Executive Director of the Chick-fil-A Foundation  Jacob Vallo, Senior Director of Transit Oriented Development and Real Estate for MARTA  Sunny Patel, Operations Manager of the Office of the Governor In other news: