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  • After more than 20 books, Anne Tyler still finds ways to challenge herself. Her new novel, “Redhead By the Side of the Road,” is, of course, set in her longtime home of Baltimore and features the family and romantic entanglements and other narrative touches Tyler fans know well. But the story's main character, a self-employed tech consultant/repairman confronting the fallout of decisions made years before, pretty much came out of nowhere. “This is the first book I’ve written where I began with no idea,” Tyler, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist known for “The Accidental Tourist,” “Morgan's Passing” and “Breathing Lessons,” told The Associated Press in a recent email. 'I was wracking my brains for something to write about, and a single sentence popped into my head: ‘You have to wonder what goes through the mind of a man like ____ ____.' (I didn’t have a name for him yet.) I was baffled. Why should I have to wonder? I thought, and then up popped the next sentence: ’He lives alone; he keeps to himself . . . '” “The rest of the book was up to me, but at least I was on my way.” The computer man's name is Micah Mortimer. He lives alone and wonders if he's meant to be that way as he alienates his current girlfriend and unexpectedly reconnects with the woman he loved — and drove away — back in college. Tyler tries to minimize politics and topical references in her books, but is quite specific about locations, placing Micah in north Baltimore, in a three-story home near York Road, with an “incongruous front porch” and a “splintery front porch swing that nobody ever sits in.” During her recent AP interview, the 78-year-old Tyler discussed the mind of Micah, the book's tricky title, Baltimore and her life during the coronavirus outbreak. ___ On Micah, whom she describes in one passage as “narrow and limited” but still aware of the world's horrors, whether the 2018 at a Pittsburgh synagogue or the tragedies along the U.S.-Mexican border: “I found it easy to ‘be’ Micah, so to speak, throughout the book, but especially in that passage. We all have lonesome moments, after all; it’s no stretch to imagine those. But also the events that he’s reflecting upon here — the synagogue shooting, the plight of immigrant children — weigh so heavily on my mind these days, as I imagine they do on everyone’s, that I felt even Micah would have to be affected by them.” ___ On the book's title, based on a recurring hallucination of Micah's: “Several times I mistook the same object for another on my morning walk, although you’d think I would have learned after the first time. The experience started me thinking: How many other mistakes, more serious mistakes, do we repeat in the course of our lives? How often do we fail to realize that they were mistakes, even? I thought it would be fun to explore the issue.” ___ On life in Baltimore: 'I guess it’s no secret that Baltimore is going through a hard spell. And yet it’s such a kindhearted city, paradoxical though that sounds. Just about everyone here, across all classes and cultures, behaves with grace and patience. Watch some trying episode in, say, a supermarket checkout line — a customer taking too long counting coins or a cashier who doesn’t know his produce codes. Baltimoreans stand by quietly, or they try to help out if they can. Not even an eye-roll! I think this has an influence on my writing. In such surroundings, how could I possibly invent a mean-spirited character? ___ On how Micah would handle social distancing? “I think he would have handled it the way I have. First I thought, `Oh, well, never mind; I basically shelter in place anyhow, and I already know about working from home — how you have to be sure and change out of your pajamas.' But then after a few days I thought, `Oh. Wait a minute. I’m surprised at how often now I feel the need to step out on my front stoop and start a conversation with a passing neighbor.' ___ On how the book, completed well before the pandemic, might read now: “I haven’t read the book since the virus began. A friend asked recently, though, how I’d known to write pages 94-95, so I checked to see what she meant. Lo and behold, there was Micah on his early-morning run fantasizing, briefly, that the empty streets were due to some global disaster and he was the last person left alive. Then he comes upon two women talking up a storm together, and he’s extremely pleased to see them. I relate to that scene now much more than when I wrote it.” ___ On writing while sheltering in place: “For the first few days, I seemed to keep writing the same three pages over and over again. I just had a general feeling of distractedness. Eventually, though, I did sink back into my work. I happened to be writing about an Easter dinner with a lot of people attending, some of them behaving a bit snarkily with each other. I thought, Oh, now I remember why I write. I write because it makes me happy.” ``As for whether the virus will turn up in my next book: Well, generally I don’t think current events make for very good literature. They have to mellow for a while. We need a little distance to see them for what they are.
  • Duran Duran's John Taylor is feeling better weeks after he tested positive for the novel coronavirus, he wrote Sunday in a post on the band's Facebook page. According to USA Today, the 59-year-old bass player said he was diagnosed three weeks ago and has since recovered. “After a week or so of what I would describe as a ‘turbo-charged flu,’ I came out of it feeling OK – although I must admit I didn’t mind the quarantine as it gave me the chance to really recover,” he wrote. “I am speaking out in answer to the enormous amount of fear being generated by the pandemic, some of it entirely justified, and my heart goes out to everyone who has had to deal with real loss and pain. But I want to let you know that it isn’t always a killer, and we can and will beat this thing.” >> See the post here Taylor added that he “cannot wait to be back onstage again, sharing new music, love and joy.” Several other celebrities, including Christopher Cross, Pink, Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Idris Elba and CNN’s Chris Cuomo, have tested positive for the virus. Read more here or here.
  • Singer-songwriter Christopher Cross has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, he said in an Instagram post Friday. 'I'm sorry to report that I am among the growing number of Americans who tested positive for the COVID-19,' he wrote in the post. 'I'm not in the habit of discussing medical issues on social media, but I do so in the hopes that this will help other people to understand how serious and how contagious this illness is. Although I am fortunate enough to be cared for at home, this is possibly the worst illness I have ever had.' >> See the post here Cross, 68, also urged his fans to take the virus seriously and stay home, wash their hands and avoid touching their faces. 'For those of you who still do not believe the COVID-19 virus is real, or think it is a 'hoax' or part of some conspiracy, my advice to you is to understand right now that this is a deadly illness spreading like wildfire throughout the world,' the Grammy Award winner wrote, encouraging followers to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website. He added that everyone should 'be kind to one another.' 'Only if we work together can we defeat COVID-19,' he wrote. Several other celebrities, including Pink, Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Idris Elba and CNN's Chris Cuomo, have tested positive for the virus. Read more here.
  • Country music’s biggest stars should have been on the carpet of the Academy of Country Music Awards on Sunday in Las Vegas, but like most of America, they were homebound because of the coronavirus. Still, the musicians played on, surrounded by spouses, kids and — in one case — a horse. “ACM Presents: Our Country,” a TV special aired on CBS in lieu of the delayed awards show, featured acoustic performances, special duets, clips from previous ACM Awards telecasts and a tribute to the late country icon Kenny Rogers. The country artists, spread out from coast to coast, shared details of their home lives, their hopes for the future and their best wishes for the emergency medical workers on the front lines. Keith Urban, the host for the awards show that now will air in September, started the special with an acoustic version of “Wasted Time” from his home studio, which he joked felt like his living room. The only thing missing was his wife and actress Nicole Kidman, who has been seen dancing in some of Urban’s social media videos lately. “Me, Nic, our girls, we all say thank you so much to all the first responders out there, everybody in the health care field all over. We thank you so much,” said Urban. “There’s an insurmountable amount of people who are out there on the front lines who are risking so much for so many.” Three-piece country group Lady Antebellum showed the new reality for many working-from-home parents when they were joined by their kids in their performance of “What I’m Leaving For.” Carrie Underwood, holding a glass of red wine sitting on a couch, sang an appropriately named song called “Drinking Alone,” finishing with a “Cheers!” and a sip. Canadian superstar Shania Twain did have a small audience for her performance of “Honey, I’m Home” and “Man, I Feel Like a Woman,” which included a sleepy dog and a curious horse, who at times blocked Twain’s face from the camera. The casual performances were filled with little impromptu moments. Brad Paisley’s wife, actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley, played the role of camera operator as Paisley and Darius Rucker played together via video conference. Dierks Bentley’s stomps on his porch in Colorado jiggled the camera and an off-camera crow cawed at him. Thomas Rhett’s home security alarm chimed in his video. In the midst of the pandemic, the country music community has been hit hard with the death of Rogers, who personified “The Gambler,” as well as the deaths of Grand Ole Opry stars Jan Howard, 91, and Joe Diffie, who died at the age of 61 after contracting the virus. Country folk songwriter, John Prine, has been hospitalized with coronavirus symptoms. Paisley and Rucker started the tribute to Rogers with a performance of “Lucille” and “The Gambler,” followed by Luke Bryan who sang “Coward of the County.” Lionel Richie, who wrote one of Rogers’ biggest hits, “Lady,” delivered the night's final memory of Rogers. “Not only did we have a hit record, but I found one of the greatest friends I’ve ever had my whole life,” Richie said. Artists debuted new songs as well, including Eric Church, who played “Never Break Heart,” and Kane Brown and John Legend, who sang together via a video phone call on their new duet, “Last Time I Say Sorry.” “The important thing to remember is to not fear, to be brave and to endure,” Church said. Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani planned to play their duet, “Nobody But You,” at the ACM Awards, but instead they performed the song in front of a bonfire at their home in Oklahoma, bundled up in plaid and camouflage clothes. Miranda Lambert was accompanied by a bubbling stream on her Tennessee farm in her performance of “Bluebird.” “I want to remind everybody to lean into your music,' Lambert said. “Lean into your guitars and your pianos and your voices and let that heal you.” ___ Online: ACM Awards: https://www.acmcountry.com/ ___ Follow Kristin M. Hall at http://twitter.com/kmhall
  • Shirley Douglas, the impassioned Canadian activist and veteran actress who was mother to actor Kiefer Sutherland and daughter of Canada medicare founder Tommy Douglas, died Sunday. She was 86. Sutherland announced his mother’s death on Twitter, saying she succumbed to complications surrounding pneumonia. He said it was not related COVID-19. “My mother was an extraordinary woman who led an extraordinary life,” said Sutherland. “Sadly she had been battling for her health for quite some time and we, as a family, knew this day was coming.” A native of Weyburn, Saskatchewan, Douglas worked with directors including Stanley Kubrick ('Lolita') and David Cronenberg ('Dead Ringers'), and she won a Gemini Award for her performance in the 1999 TV film “Shadow Lake.” She tirelessly supported a variety of causes throughout her life, including the civil rights movement, the Black Panthers and the fight to save Canada's public health care, pioneered by her politician father. In 1965, Douglas married Canadian actor Donald Sutherland, with whom she had two children before they divorced — twins Rachel, a production manager, and Kiefer, who became a film and TV star in his own right. Douglas had another son, Thomas, from a previous marriage. Born on April 2, 1934, Douglas showed an early interest in the arts as well as politics as she journeyed on the campaign trail with her father, who became premier of Saskatchewan, a national leader in the New Democratic Party and a socialist icon. She attended the Banff School of Fine Arts and went on to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in England, where she acted in theater and TV and participated in anti-nuclear marches. In the ’60s and ’70s, while living in California, Douglas campaigned against the Vietnam War and protested for various causes. She helped to establish a fundraising group called Friends of the Black Panthers. Her support for the group brought controversy — she was refused a U.S. work permit and charged in 1969 with conspiracy to possess unregistered explosives. The courts eventually dismissed the case and exonerated her. She also was a co-founder of the first chapter in Canada of the Performing Artists for Nuclear Disarmament. Douglas, though, was foremost a champion for Canada's medicare system. She would speak of the importance of a universal health care system at virtually any opportunity and lobbied government officials. Douglas, who had lived in Toronto since 1977, was nominated for two other Canadian arts Geminis: in 1998 for her leading role in the series “Wind at My Back” and in 1993 for starring in the film “Passage of the Heart.” She was also an Officer of the Order of Canada, one of the country's highest honors, and an inductee into Canada’s Walk of Fame.

News

  • More than 1.27 million people worldwide – including more than 337,000 people in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. Officials are attempting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. as hospitals brace for unprecedented patient surges. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Monday, April 6, continue below:  533 new coronavirus cases reported in Indiana Update 11:05 a.m. EDT April 6: Officials in Indiana announced 533 new reported coronavirus cases Monday, raising the state’s total number of cases to 4,944. Officials also reported a dozen new fatal COVID-19 cases. Statewide, 139 people have died of coronavirus. Open Championship golf tournament canceled for 1st time since WWII Update 11 a.m. EDT April 6: Organizers on Monday announced the cancellation of golf’s oldest championship tournament due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The R&A announced the decision to cancel The Open Championship based on guidance from the U.K. government, health officials and others. Officials said the 149th Open will be played July 11 - July 18, 2021. Coronavirus cases among active duty military members tops 1,000 Update 10:35 a.m. EDT April 6: The Pentagon said the number of COVID-19 cases in the active duty force topped 1,000 over the weekend. There are a total of 1,132 confirmed cases as of Monday morning. The total was 978 on Friday. There also have been 303 cases among members of the National Guard. Among the military services, the Navy has the most cases, with 431. That includes more than 150 among the crew of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. Restaurant Employee Relief Fund to take applications beginning Monday Update 10:25 a.m. EDT April 6: The National Restaurant Association has set up the Restaurant Employee Relief fund to give grants of $500 full- or part-time restaurant employees struggling as the coronavirus pandemic shutters restaurants nationwide. Officials with the National Restaurant Association said the fund was supposed to open for applications earlier, but the server hosting the application process was overwhelmed shortly after opening. “We are deeply humbled by and grateful for the opportunity to provide support to restaurant employees. Almost immediately after opening the application process, extremely high user volume overwhelmed the application platform. We are continuing to upgrade our system to improve site functionality and expand capacity,' the group said on the application website. Stocks rise on signs of progress battling COVID-19 Update 9:50 a.m. EDT April 6: Stocks jumped in markets around the world Monday after some of the hardest-hit areas offered sparks of hope that the worst of the coronavirus outbreak may be on the horizon. U.S. stocks climbed more than 3% in the first few minutes of trading, following similar gains in Europe and Asia. In another sign that investors are feeling more optimistic about the economy’s path, the yield on the 10-year Treasury was headed for its first gain in four days. Oil prices fell after a meeting between Russia and OPEC aimed at defusing a price war was pushed back a few days. Wells Fargo closes application window for Paycheck Protection Program Update 9:35 a.m. EDT April 6: Officials with Wells Fargo announced Monday that the bank will no longer be accepting applications for a new federal program aimed at helping small businesses retain and pay workers amid the coronavirus outbreak.  In a statement Sunday, bank officials said they aimed to distribute $10 billion in loans under the government’s Paycheck Protection Program. Funding for the program was included in a $2.2 billion economic relief package to help Americans struggling in the pandemic.  Wells Fargo officials said Monday in a statement that they expected to “fill the company’s capacity to lend under the program” with the applications they’ve already received. The application window had opened Friday.  “Given the exceptionally high volume of requests we have already received, we will not be able to accept any additional requests for a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program,” company officials said in a notice posted Monday. “We will review all expressions of interest submitted by customers via our online form through April 5 and provide updates in the coming days.” Without precautions ‘we could have another peak in a few weeks,’ US official says Update 9:10 a.m. EDT April 6: Admiral Dr. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said Monday that people need to continue to take social distancing and other measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus. “Everyone is susceptible to this and everyone needs to follow the precautions that we’ve laid out,” Giroir said during an appearance on NBC’s “today” show Monday. “If we let our foot off the gas and start doing things that are ill-advised, we could have another peak in a few weeks. ... We have to completely keep our efforts going.” Officials recommend that Americans stay home as much as possible and keep at least 6 feet of distance from other people. They’ve also urged that people wear cloth face masks in public to stymie the spread of the virus. UK prime minister says he’s in ‘good spirits’ after hospitalization Update 8:55 a.m. EDT April 6: Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom said in a tweet Monday morning that he’s “in good spirits” after being hospitalized with coronavirus symptoms. Ten days before his hospitalization, Johnson had tested positive for COVID-19. “Last night, on the advice of my doctor, I went into hospital for some routine tests as I’m still experiencing coronavirus symptoms,” Johnson said. “I’m in good spirits and keeping in touch with my team as we work together to fight this virus and keep everyone safe.” Britain’s Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, out of isolation Update 7:55 a.m. EDT April 6: Britain’s Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, is no longer in self-isolation, ITV and other news outlets are reporting. Although the 72-year-old, who is married to Prince Charles, tested negative for coronavirus, she went into self-isolation for two weeks because her husband had tested positive for COVID-19. Charles, 71, spent seven days in quarantine after displaying mild symptoms and left self-isolation March 30. Camilla and Charles have been staying in Scotland, ITV reported. Death rates in Spain, Italy appear to be slowing Update 7:21 a.m. EDT April 6: The rates of coronavirus deaths in Spain and Italy, the two European countries hit hardest by the coronavirus outbreak, appear to be slowing. According to CNN, Spanish health officials said Monday that 637 people died from the virus in the past day, an increase of 5.1% from the number of deaths reported Sunday. That marks “the lowest daily rise, percentage-wise, since early March,” CNN reported. Meanwhile, Italian officials on Sunday reported that 525 people died from the virus in the past 24 hours, marking the country’s “lowest death rate in two weeks,' according to CNN. As of Monday morning, Spain had reported the second-highest number of infections worldwide, with 131,646 cases and 12,641 deaths, while Italy had reported the third-highest number of infections, with 128,948 cases and 15,887 deaths, Johns Hopkins University reported. Only the United States had reported more overall cases. London’s West End theaters cancel all shows through May 31 Update 6:23 a.m. EDT April 6: London’s West End theaters are canceling all shows through May 31 amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Society of London Theatre announced Monday. The theaters previously had announced a shutdown through April 26, according to the Hollywood Reporter. “We are now canceling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen,” the society said in a statement. As of Monday morning, at least 48,440 coronavirus cases and 4,943 deaths had been reported in the United Kingdom, according to Johns Hopkins University. Read more here. FedEx pilots removed from duty following ‘inconclusive’ COVID-19 test results Update 5:14 a.m. EDT April 6: FedEx flew some pilots back to the United States after they received inconclusive test results for COVID-19. According to WHBQ in Memphis, Tennessee, the pilots were removed from service and are self-isolating while follow-up testing and evaluation is being performed, according to FedEx. The exact number of pilots removed is unclear. The company released a statement Sunday: “Some FedEx pilots were flown back to the U.S. after receiving inconclusive test results for COVID-19. They have been removed from duty and are self-isolating while follow-up testing and evaluation is performed. All areas where these team members worked are being thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. The safety and well-being of our employees remains our first concern. FedEx continues to take all necessary precautions and follow guidance from the FAA, CDC and other public health organizations related to reporting and containment of COVID-19. We continue our operation in China and remain committed to providing the best possible service to our customers.“ Dozens of Massachusetts firefighters test positive for COVID-19 Update 4:32 a.m. EDT April 6: At least 87 firefighters in Massachusetts have tested positive for coronavirus as of Sunday, according to The Professional Fire Firefighters of Massachusetts. Boston’s WFXT reports that 1,814 firefighters have a documented exposure to COVID-19, 831 have been tested for the virus and 583 are currently under quarantine. In Taunton, nine firefighters have tested positive for coronavirus. “These numbers are alarming, but firefighters across Massachusetts and the United States will continue to answer your calls for service,” the labor union posted on Twitter on Sunday night. “Please help us help you – Stay home.” >> See the tweet here The numbers encompass 201 locals representing 11,106 members, which account for 97% of the union’s membership. On Sunday, a coronavirus testing site for only first responders opened at Gillette Stadium. Duran Duran’s John Taylor recovers after testing positive for COVID-19 Update 3:30 a.m. EDT April 6: Duran Duran’s John Taylor is feeling better weeks after he tested positive for the novel coronavirus, he wrote Sunday in a post on the band’s Facebook page. According to USA Today, the 59-year-old bass player said he was diagnosed three weeks ago and has since recovered. “After a week or so of what I would describe as a ‘turbo-charged flu,’ I came out of it feeling OK – although I must admit I didn’t mind the quarantine as it gave me the chance to really recover,” he wrote. “I am speaking out in answer to the enormous amount of fear being generated by the pandemic, some of it entirely justified, and my heart goes out to everyone who has had to deal with real loss and pain. But I want to let you know that it isn’t always a killer, and we can and will beat this thing.” >> See the post here Taylor added that he “cannot wait to be back onstage again, sharing new music, love and joy.” Singer-songwriter Christopher Cross tests positive for COVID-19 Update 2:35 a.m. EDT April 6: Singer-songwriter Christopher Cross has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, he said in an Instagram post Friday. “I’m sorry to report that I am among the growing number of Americans who tested positive for the COVID-19,” he wrote in the post. “I’m not in the habit of discussing medical issues on social media, but I do so in the hopes that this will help other people to understand how serious and how contagious this illness is. Although I am fortunate enough to be cared for at home, this is possibly the worst illness I have ever had.” >> See the post here Cross, 68, also urged his fans to take the virus seriously and stay home, wash their hands and avoid touching their faces. “For those of you who still do not believe the COVID-19 virus is real, or think it is a ‘hoax’ or part of some conspiracy, my advice to you is to understand right now that this is a deadly illness spreading like wildfire throughout the world,” the Grammy Award winner wrote, encouraging followers to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website. He added that everyone should “be kind to one another.' “Only if we work together can we defeat COVID-19,' he wrote. Several other celebrities, including Pink, Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Idris Elba and CNN’s Chris Cuomo, have tested positive for the virus. Delta announces changes to SkyMiles, Medallion programs Update 1:49 a.m. EDT April 6: The coronavirus pandemic has brought the airline industry nearly to a halt. In March, Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines announced that its revenue fell by $2 billion due to the spread of COVID-19 and a drop in demand for air travel. On Sunday, Delta Air Lines has begun notifying its flyers about changes to its well-known SkyMiles program due to the sudden drop in air travel. “On behalf of all of us at Delta, I want to thank our customers for your continued loyalty during these unprecedented times. While our focus is on keeping customers and employees safe and healthy today and always, you are a part of the Delta family and we know how important these benefits are to you,” said Sandeep Dube, Delta’s senior vice president of customer engagement and loyalty, and CEO of Delta Vacations. “That’s why as coronavirus continues to dramatically impact travel across the globe, you don’t have to worry about your benefits – they’ll be extended so you can enjoy them when you are ready to travel again.” Here are the changes: Medallion Members: All Medallion Status for 2020 will be automatically extended for the 2021 Medallion Year. All Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) from 2020 are being rolled over to 2021 to qualify for 2022 Medallion Status. Delta Sky Club Individual and Executive memberships with an expiration of March 1, 2020, or later will receive six additional months of Delta Sky Club access beyond their expiration date. Delta SkyMiles American Express Card Members: If you have one of the following in your SkyMiles profile “My Wallet” that is valid now or has expired since March 1, 2020, we are extending the expiration dates to give you additional time to enjoy your benefits: SkyMiles Members: If you have one of the following in your SkyMiles profile “My Wallet” that is valid now or has expired since March 1, 2020, we are extending the expiration dates to give you additional time to enjoy your benefits: The updates will happen automatically over the coming weeks, with no action needed from customers, Delta said. “We are continuously monitoring how coronavirus impacts travel and will make additional adjustments to support our customers’ needs as the pandemic evolves,” said Dube. Read more here. U.S. cases soar past 337,000, including more than 9,600 deaths Update 12:43 a.m. EDT April 6: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States soared past 337,000 across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands early Monday. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 337,620 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 9,643 deaths. Worldwide, there are 1,274,923 confirmed cases and 69,479 deaths from the virus. U.S. cases outnumber those in any other nation, including the 131,646 reported in Spain and the 128,948 confirmed in Italy. Of the confirmed deaths in the U.S., 4,159 have occurred in New York, 917 in New Jersey, 617 in Michigan and 477 in Louisiana. In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the hardest-hit with at least 123,160 confirmed cases, followed by New Jersey with 37,505, Michigan with 15,718 and California with 15,154. Five other states have each confirmed at least 10,000 novel coronavirus cases, including: • Louisiana: 13,010, including 477 deaths • Massachusetts: 12,500, including 231 deaths • Florida: 12,350, including 221 deaths • Pennsylvania: 11,589, including 151 deaths • Illinois: 11,259, including 274 deaths The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • The Good Hands People plan to put money back in their customers’ hands. Insurance giant Allstate announced Monday that it would return more than $600 million in auto insurance premiums to customers, who have been driving less as states have implemented stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders to battle the coronavirus. The company announced on its website that customers who own Allstate, Esurance and Encompass auto insurance policies will receive 15% of their monthly premiums in April and May. Customers will receive the money through a credit to their bank account, credit card or Allstate account, the company said. In a news release, Allstate said the fastest way to receive the payback is to use the company’s mobile application. 'Allstate has been helping customers overcome catastrophes for 89 years since our purpose is to make sure they are in Good Hands. We have learned to move quickly and put people first,” Tom Wilson, Allstate’s CEO, said in a statement. “This crisis is pervasive. Given an unprecedented decline in driving, customers will receive a Shelter-in-Place payback of more than $600 million over the next two months. 'This is fair because less driving means fewer accidents. We are also providing free identity protection for the rest of the year to all U.S residents who sign up, since our lives have become more digital.”
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its guidance late Friday concerning the wearing of cloth face masks while out in public. The CDC, according to President Donald Trump, said that people, when going to public locations, should now wear “non-medical, cloth face coverings.” The action is voluntary, Trump said in his afternoon press briefing. Since the beginning of the battle against COVID-19, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had said that people didn’t need to wear masks unless they were sick and coughing, The New York Times reported prior to Trump’s announcement. Thursday evening, Trump had said his administration would have regulations when it came to the general population and the wearing of masks. Some opportunities for wearing masks while in public would be when going to pharmacies and grocery stores, the Times reported. Many people may now be looking for ways to make their own personal protective equipment or to make PPE for those working the front lines. There are many designs to make, from no-sew options to ones that need some needle and thread. No Sew Supplies: A bandanna or piece of finished cloth Hair elastics Sewn versions Supplies: Paper, to make a pattern Cotton fabric Fusible interfacing Elastic Pins Sewing machine The New York Times has an alternate pattern. Click here for step by step instructions. Kaiser Permanente has also shared a design approved by the health system for donation to hospitals, The Washington Post reported.
  • Many restaurant workers have found themselves out of a job as the country continues to practice social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. But with restaurants going dark while everyone stays home, either by choice or by order of their state government, those workers were suddenly without pay. The National Restaurant Association has set up the Restaurant Employee Relief fund to give grants of $500 per person to anyone who is eligible and applies. But not all is going as planned. The server hosting the application process couldn’t take the traffic and was quickly overwhelmed, according to a message on the group’s Twitter page. “We are deeply humbled by and grateful for the opportunity to provide support to restaurant employees. Almost immediately after opening the application process, extremely high user volume overwhelmed the application platform. We are continuing to upgrade our system to improve site functionality and expand capacity,' the group said on the application website. To be eligible, workers had to work either part-time or full-time for at least 90 days in the past year with their primary income coming from the restaurant industry. They had to either have a decrease in wages or job loss on or after March 10. The money can be used for rent or mortgage payments, car payments or other transportation costs, utilities, child care, student loans, groceries or medical bills, the group said on its website. The association said those in need of help should check back at noon EST Monday for an update. Guy Fieri is one of the restaurant owners and operators trying to give back to industry workers. He said the goal of the group is to get $100 million in donations, ABC News reported when his participation was announced last week. Experts say five to seven million restaurant workers could be out of work over the next three months, according to ABC News.
  • Working out at the gym has been impossible because of the coronavirus pandemic, but an Ohio man found a way to solve that weighty problem. He built a gym in his yard. Zachary Skidmore, who lives east of Cincinnati, took matters into his own hands and built what he calls a “lumber jacked gym,' WCMH reported. Skidmore posted a video to his Facebook page, showing off his homemade his gym -- complete with a treadmill, leg press, shoulder press and dumbbells, the television station reported. Skidmore created his gym out of wood. “So my gym closed. So, I grabbed a chain saw and went to work,” Skidmore wrote on Facebook. “I managed to satisfy my hunger to work out.” Skidmore said it took him 60 hours over a two-week period to build his makeshift gym. It looks like he is going to keep in shape with no problem.
  • Pro Football Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell, the first African American to play for the Washington Redskins, died Sunday, the team announced. He was 84. Mitchell, who played 11 seasons in the NFL, led the league in receiving yards twice and caught 65 touchdown passes during his career, which began in Cleveland in 1958 and ended with the Redskins in 1968. He finished with 14,078 total yards and 91 career touchdowns, including 18 rushing. After his retirement, Mitchell served as a Redskins scout and front office executive for 41 years, The Washington Post reported. “I was extremely saddened to hear the news about the passing of the great Bobby Mitchell,” Redskins owner Daniel Snyder said in a statement. “Bobby was a Hall of Fame player and executive and represented the Washington Redskins organization with integrity for over 50 years. His passion for the game of football was unmatched by anyone I have ever met. Not only was he one of the most influential individuals in franchise history, but he was also one of the greatest men I have ever known. He was a true class act and will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Gwen and the entire Mitchell family during this time.” Mitchell, born June 6, 1935, grew up in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and attended the University of Illinois. He was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the seventh round of the NFL draft and played halfback, sharing running duties with Jim Brown, ESPN reported. Mitchell was traded to Washington with Leroy Jackson for Ernie Davis in 1962 and led the league in receiving for the first of two consecutive seasons. He made the Pro Bowl during his first three seasons in Washington. He also tied an NFL record with a 99-yard touchdown catch against the Browns, ESPN reported. Mitchell was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1983. In 2002, he was named one of the 70 greatest Redskins as part of the team’s 70th-anniversary celebration, the Post reported. Mitchell, along with Jackson and John Nisby, integrated the Redskins in 1962, as Washington was the final NFL team to break the color barrier. Redskins owner George Preston Marshall had said many fans preferred watching white players and would reject the Redskins if they had blacks on the roster, ESPN reported. He was wrong. In a 2003 interview with the Post, Mitchell said he wanted not only to be remembered as a trailblazer, but also as a great player. “I have to live with people always talking about me as the first black player against all my exploits,” Mitchell told the newspaper. “I’ve always been very upset that people always start with that. I don’t want to hear that, and yet I have to hear it constantly, and it overshadows everything I’ve done in the game.” 'The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Bobby Mitchell,” David Baker, the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s president, said in a statement. “The game lost a true legend today. Bobby was an incredible player, a talented executive and a real gentleman to everyone with whom he worked or competed against. His wife Gwen and their entire family remain in our thoughts and prayers. The Hall of Fame will forever keep his legacy alive to serve as inspiration to future generations.”