Coronavirus:

What You Need To Know

On Air Now

Listen Now

Weather

cloudy-day
70°
Chance of Rain
H 75° L 65°
  • cloudy-day
    70°
    Current Conditions
    Chance of Rain. H 75° L 65°
  • heavy-rain-day
    75°
    Today
    Chance of Rain. H 75° L 65°
  • heavy-rain-day
    74°
    Tomorrow
    Chance of Rain. H 74° L 66°
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

Health Med Fit Science
The Latest: Protesters rally at California state Capitol
Close

The Latest: Protesters rally at California state Capitol

The Latest: Protesters rally at California state Capitol
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Cuneyt Dil
Protesters gathered outside the "Liberty Fest" rally in front of California State Capitol, Saturday, May 23, 2020, in Sacramento, Calif., to protest Gov. Gavin Newsom's Stay At Home Order to stem the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Cuneyt Dil)

The Latest: Protesters rally at California state Capitol

The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

TOP OF THE HOUR:

— Protesters gather outside California’s state Capitol to rally against stay-at-home orders.

— North Carolina farmers euthanizing 1.5 million chickens.

— Iraq sees spike in coronavirus cases as the holy month of Ramadan comes to an end.

— New York state records 24-hour death total under 100.

___

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Hundreds of protesters rallied outside California’s state Capitol on Saturday to protest stay-at-home orders even as residents entered the Memorial Day weekend with newly expanded options for leisure.

California Highway Patrol officers closed the Capitol lawn to demonstrators, so speakers addressed the crowd from the back of a flatbed truck as an airplane flew above towing a banner with a picture of Gov. Gavin Newsom and the words “End his tyranny!”

Protesters waved dozens of flags and signs, many in support of President Donald Trump. Few people wore masks and there was little room for social distancing.

The protest came as restrictions eased across much of the state. Some 45 of 58 counties have received permission to reopen most stores and many public spaces by meeting state standards for controlling the novel coronavirus.

Authorities continue to warn people to practice social distancing and other anti-virus measures, noting that the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths continues to rise.

___

HAGATNA, Guam — The Department of Agriculture in Guam has invited hunters to participate in a pig-hunting derby to provide food for families in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Pacific Daily News reported that the department announced that the two-day derby is scheduled to begin next Saturday. The department released a statement saying the derby is intended to feed families, foster familial hunter development and reduce the feral pig population.

Event organizers are working with mayors to distribute pigs whole and unprocessed to residents within their villages and provide safe handling guidelines.

___

RALEIGH, N.C. — Coronavirus outbreaks at meat processing plants are forcing North Carolina farmers to euthanize 1.5 million chickens, according to a state official.

Assistant Agriculture Commissioner Joe Reardon told The News & Observer that this is the first time during the pandemic that farmers in the state have had to euthanize their animals. Roughly a third of the 1.5 million chickens already had been killed, Reardon said.

Chicken and hog farmers in other states also have been euthanizing millions of animals during the COVID-19 pandemic. North Carolina hog farmers have not taken steps to euthanize their animals, Reardon said.

___

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — Eighteen soldiers assigned to the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division have returned to Fort Campbell after spending more than a month in New Jersey helping with COVID-19 response operations.

Fort Campbell officials say the soldiers deployed April 14 to help provide logistical support for the response to the new coronavirus outbreak throughout the Northeast. The troops helped receive, process and move supplies, equipment and personnel in critical areas affected by the virus outbreak.

The soldiers will undergo a precautionary quarantine under medical supervision. An official welcome-home event is being planned, officials said.

The Fort Campbell Army post is located along the Kentucky-Tennessee border.

___

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz is scrapping his 10-person limit on group gatherings and allowing churches to open at 25% occupancy if certain safety guidelines are met.

Walz’s decision comes after the state reported a record number of COVID-19 cases. He says the issue has been “a challenging one” because large gatherings raise the risk of spreading the virus.

Walz says he understands the toll the pandemic has taken on the spiritual health of residents. His new executive order applies only to religious gatherings and not receptions.

While the leader of the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis welcomed the change, the governor said parishes should not open if they don’t feel they can meet safety measures.

Archbishop Bernard Hebda said in a letter to parishioners that limiting gatherings to 10 people had “burdened the Church’s ability to fully meet the sacramental needs of our faithful.”

___

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A woman who raised questions about Florida’s COVID-19 data after being ousted as the data’s curator had been reprimanded several times for violating Health Department policy, including for posting political commentary about the information, state records show.

Rebekah Jones’ comments over the past week and a half in emails to researchers, interviews with a handful of media outlets, and blog posts have sought to sow doubt about the credibility of the data now that she is no longer in that role.

State health officials strenuously deny any issue with the information’s accuracy as Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis seeks to make a data-driven case for a step-by-step reopening of the state’s battered economy following safer-at-home orders.

Jones has not alleged any tampering with data on deaths, hospital symptom surveillance, hospitalizations for COVID-19, numbers of new confirmed cases, or overall testing rates. She has, however, suggested Health Department managers wanted her to manipulate information to paint a rosier picture and that she pushed back.

___

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A hairstylist served 84 clients over eight days while experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, Missouri health officials say.

Clay Goddard, director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, said in a news briefing that the stylist worked between May 12-20. All clients wore masks and will be tested, as will the stylist’s coworkers, the Springfield News-Leader reports.

The announcement Friday came just days after city officials announced plans to relax even more distancing requirements, and about a week after the health department started seeing an influx of new travel-related infections.

Goddard said health officials still had enough capacity to pinpoint the origin of infections and potential spread, although that could change.

The state health department reported 218 new confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, bringing the total to 11,558 since the pandemic began. That was the largest one-day total since 319 cases were reported May 1. Ten new deaths brought that total to 671.

___

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina has failed to change its election laws to ensure that voters can safely cast ballots during the COVID-19 pandemic, voting rights advocates claim in a federal lawsuit.

The nonprofit Democracy North Carolina and the League of Women Voters of North Carolina sued Friday on behalf of several elderly or disabled residents whose medical conditions make them more vulnerable to coronavirus.

The lawsuit alleges that several aspects of North Carolina’s absentee vote-by-mail requirements are unconstitutional because voters will have to risk exposure to COVID-19 to successfully vote.

For example, mail-in absentee voters are required to complete the ballot in the presence of two witnesses or a notary. State law also requires voters to submit their registration applications at least 25 days before the election or else register in-person at an early voting site, the suit notes.

The lawsuit says that will result in millions of state residents either losing their right to vote or being forced to compromise their health in order to cast a ballot. The state Board of Elections and other state officials are named as defendants.

___

STURGIS, S.D. — The mayor of Sturgis says city officials can’t stop people from coming to the annual motorcycle gathering in the Black Hills of South Dakota, regardless of the new coronavirus.

The 80th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is scheduled for Aug. 7-16. The City Council has said it would make an official decision in mid-June on whether to go forward with hosting the event, the Rapid City Journal reported.

Mayor Mark Carstensen said in a Facebook video that “tourism is coming” to the Black Hills and Sturgis. A manager with The Hotel Sturgis said all 22 rooms have been booked for the week of the rally and there is a waiting list.

___

DOVER, Del. — The University of Delaware says it is laying off more than 1,100 part-time employees, mostly students, in a move to cut costs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The News Journal reports that students account for 805 of the 1,146 part-time employees who were notified of their layoffs on Thursday.

An email to employees said the layoffs, which take effect on June 1, do not affect adjunct faculty, graduate students, work-study students or employees whose wages are paid through external funding.

But many adjunct professors will not have a teaching position in the fall due to a hiring freeze.

In April, the university announced that it faced a $65 million budget shortfall due to pandemic’s financial toll, including revenue lost from prorated housing and canceled athletic events.

The university hopes to reopen campus in phases starting June 1 with certain research facilities.

___

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s Health Ministry is reporting the steepest single-day spike in confirmed coronavirus cases since the government began recording cases in late February.

The ministry reported 308 new cases Saturday, one day ahead of celebrations to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Curfew hours had been relaxed during the month of fasting, which contributed to higher daily rates of infection.

According to ministry figures, more than 4,200 people have tested positive for the virus in Iraq. At least 152 people have died.

Roads have been clogged with traffic and supermarkets and shops have been packed with people preparing for the celebrations, likely contributing to the increase in infections.

___

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York state reported its lowest number of daily coronavirus deaths in weeks in what Gov. Andrew Cuomo described Saturday as a critical benchmark.

The daily death tally was 84 after a peak of 799 on April 8.

Reducing the state’s daily death count to fewer than 100 seemed almost impossible several weeks ago, the Democratic governor said. That figure has remained stubbornly high even amid other signs of encouragement.

“In my head, I was always looking to get under 100,” Cuomo said. “For me, it’s a sign that we’re making real progress.”

The number of hospitalized patients in the state that has been the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S. continued to fall, dropping to over 4,600.

Cuomo also announced that the region along the Hudson River north of New York City and south of Albany is set to begin reopening Tuesday, and that Long Island could follow suit Wednesday.

___

ATHENS — Two fatalities from COVID-19 were reported in Greece during the most recent 24-hour period, bringing the death toll to 171, health authorities announced Saturday.

Another three new infections have been recorded since Friday afternoon, raising the nation's total to 2,876. The number of patients on ventilators stands at 20, while 99 have left intensive care.

Greek authorities say they have performed 152,998 tests for the disease.

___

ROME — Italy on Saturday registered 669 new cases of COVID-19, two-thirds of them in the northern region of Lombardy, which has been the hardest-hit since the outbreak began.

Figures from the most recent 24-hour period since Friday evening saw 119 deaths registered. Officially, Italy has 32,735 deaths from COVID-19.

According to Health Ministry data, the latest cases raised the nation’s overall tally of confirmed coronavirus cases to 229,327. All of Italy’s regions, with the exception of Lombardy, registered no more than a few dozen new cases each on Saturday, and many regions had numbers of new infections in the single digits.

Eager to revive tourism, the government has said people will be allowed to resume travel between regions starting June 3, but travel restrictions could remain if there’s an uptick of infections.

Italy eased many stay-at-home restrictions on May 18, including allowing public Masses to be held and restaurants and cafes to serve sit-down customers.

___

ISTANBUL — Turkey’s health minister announced 32 new deaths from COVID-19, bringing the country’s death toll to 4,308.

Fahrettin Koca also tweeted Saturday 1,186 confirmed infections in the previous 24 hours, the highest number of the week. The total number of infections has reached 155,686. The testing number also was the highest, with more than 40,000 performed.

Turkey’s transport minister said some intercity trains will resume limited operations on Thursday as the country readies to restart domestic tourism. Passengers will be required to obtain a travel certification code from a government phone application. Those above 65 and under 20 will also need to get an additional travel permit as a full curfew imposed on those age groups continues, except for a few hours each week.

Turkey’s minister of youth and sports announced all quarantine measures for Turkish citizens coming from abroad had been completed. Some 77,441 people were placed in mandatory quarantines in dormitories since March to curb the disease’s spread.

___

Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

Read More

News

  • Dozens of tombstones dating from the 19th century were found near a North Carolina neighborhood. A Piedmont Natural Gas worker told WSOC-TV that he found dozens of what appeared to be decades-old tombstones in a wooded area behind the Crestdale Crossing neighborhood. The stones appear to be from the 19th century and have what looks like dates and initials carved in them. The discovery piqued the interest of local historian Jeff Houser who said burial grounds are often lost to developments. Houser believes they are footstones created for a family grave. “These were either pulled up from someplace and set into the woods for some reason,” he said. He said the stones might have never been used, but it would take some time to uncover the truth. “We’d like to know why are these are here, how they got there and who are they for,” Houser said. Historians are working to compare the initials on the stones with census records from that time. Houser said that as of now, there is no official record of a cemetery in the area.
  •  A restaurant owned by rapper 2 Chainz has been cited by the state for violating social distancing guidelines. According to an incident report from the Department of Public Safety, a manager for Escobar Restaurant and Tapas was cited after public safety officials received complaints that there were too many people inside the restaurant and bar, violating the state’s executive orders over the coronavirus. DPS said it responded to the first complaint early Saturday after people called them saying that the restaurant and bar were too full. “When I enter the establishment, the entire facility was full of patrons, shoulder to shoulder, and was unable to enter safely,” the DPS officer wrote in the incident report. The public safety officer said he gave a warning to the manager on duty that night and the manager had everyone leave for the evening. The next night, DPS said it received another social distancing complaint about Escobar. “Once I entered the facility, I observed the same violations as I did when the warning was issued,” the officer wrote in the incident report. The on-duty manager, Rasheed Gaines, had security personnel make everyone leave, and the DPS officer cited Gaines for violating the state’s executive order. “When speaking to Mr. Gaines, he was aware of my previous warning as he was at the location the time it was given,” the DPS officer wrote in the report. Escobar Restaurant and Tapas, owned by Tauheed “2 Chainz” Epps and Mychel “Snoop” Dillard, is in Atlanta’s Castleberry Hills neighborhood near Mercedes-Benz Stadium and State Farm Arena. Epps delayed the reopening of the restaurant when Gov. Brian Kemp originally announced that dine-in service could restart. He originally was going to reopen at that time but opted to hold off. He also contacted Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to tell her about the decision. Bottoms spoke about it on the Tamron Hall Show last month. “I know that 2Chainz and his wife, Keisha, have a loving heart for a community which is unparalleled. For them, you’re talking about laying off 80% of his employees,” Bottoms said. “I was so glad that he reached out to me and told me that he would not be opening because he is listening to reason and logic. What he is saying is, ‘I’m not going to risk putting my employees in harm’s way because we are opening up too soon.’” Instead of reopening right away, Epps helped feed the area’s homeless. The restaurant later reopened after Kemp signed a new executive order that said restaurants could have limited dine-in service and allowed up to 10 people at one table. The order also said occupancy was limited to 10 people for every 300 square feet inside the restaurant. According to its website, Escobar features “a beautiful bar, elegant lounging, and a menu featuring a choice wine and champagne selection, innovative cocktails, craft beers and undoubtedly the most desired tapas and entrees.”
  • An inebriated man passed out on a raft and floated 7 miles down an Indiana river before he was rescued by authorities as he approached a dam. The man, who has not been identified, was passed out with a bottle of rum on his lap, MLive reported. Department of Natural Resources officers first found the man but were unable to awaken him while they shouted and blew a whistle from an embankment along the Blue River. Officers later used a boat and set up a tagline in order to stop the man from going over the Milltown Dam. However, the man had washed ashore a few miles before the dam. Authorities found the man. After a medical evaluation, he was arrested. Charges were not released.
  • Veteran actor Richard Herd, who played Mr. Wilhelm on the television sitcom “Seinfeld,' died Tuesday at this Los Angeles home, Variety reported. He was 87. The cause of death was cancer-related, Herd’s wife, actress Patricia Crowder Herd, told The Hollywood Reporter. On “Seinfeld,” Herd played Mr. Wilhelm, the New York Yankees executive who was the boss of George Costanza (Jason Alexander), was who the team’s assistant to the traveling secretary. Herd was the second “Seinfeld” character actor to die this month. Comedian Jerry Stiller, who played Costanza’s father on the show, died May 11. Stiller was 92. Some of Herd’s movie credits include roles in “The China Syndrome” (1979) “F.I.S.T.” (1979), “The Onion Field” (1979), “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” (1987) and “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” (1997). He also starred as the Klingon L’Kor on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and Admiral Owen Paris on “Star Trek: Voyager” and “Star Trek: Renegades.”
  • U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s office has confirmed that the U.S. Department of Justice has closed an investigation into recent stock trades made on her behalf. The Wall Street Journal first reported that Loeffler is among the senators who are no longer under scrutiny. The others are Sens. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and Dianne Feinstein of California. U.S. Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina remains under investigation, according to that report. Loeffler’s portfolio came under scrutiny when a large amount of stocks that she or her husband owned were sold off shortly after she attended a senators-only briefing on the coronavirus and during the time that the virus began to spread across the country. She said that the Jan. 24 meeting included no private information and all stocking trading on her behalf is handled by financial advisers who act independently and without her input.  Loeffler denied that any trading on her behalf had broken laws or U.S. Senate rules. A campaign spokesman said Tuesday that the investigation has shown that the criticism was fueled by politics. “Today’s clear exoneration by the Department of Justice affirms what Senator Loeffler has said all along– she did nothing wrong,” spokesman Stephen Lawson said. “This was a politically-motivated attack shamelessly promoted by the fake news media and her political opponents. Senator Loeffler will continue to focus her full attention on delivering results for Georgians.” A spokesman for the Department of Justice declined to comment on the investigation. Loeffler initially refused to admit she was under investigation. Earlier this month, she said  she had turned over documents to federal investigators. But she would not say if she had volunteered or was asked to supply information or if she had been questioned.  Loeffler and her husband, Jeff Sprecher, have already taken steps to address the controversy about stock trading on their behalf during the COVID-19 pandemic. They directed their consultants to sell off stocks they own in individual companies. The only company’s shares they still own are Intercontinental Exchange, the conglomerate that Sprecher founded and now leads.  Loeffler worked for the company until she was appointed to the U.S. Senate. Although the threat of an investigation seems to be over, Loeffler should still expect to face questions about her portfolio on the campaign trail, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Doug Collins said. Collins is challenging Loeffler for her Senate seat in November’s special election. 'Her expensive lawyers might keep her from going to prison,” Collins spokesman Dan McLagan said, “but she's not going back to the U.S. Senate because we all know what she did.” This article was originally published on the ajc.com
  • The video is heartbreaking and chilling. Security footage from a Florida condominium complex shows the moment a woman, identified by authorities as 45-year-old Patricia Ripley, first tried to drown her son Thursday evening in a canal in West Kendall, an unincorporated area of Miami. Alejandro Ripley, 9, had severe autism and was nonverbal. Ripley holds Alejandro’s hand in the video, which was first obtained by Spanish-language television station Univision. She appears to caress his face and head and rub his back. Moments later, the footage shows Ripley take the boy by the arm and shove him into the canal, located behind the Kendall Acres Condominiums, before running away. She looks back several times over her shoulder as she vanishes out of the camera’s view. Watch the video of Alejandro Ripley’s near-drowning below, courtesy of Univision. Warning: The footage may be disturbing to some viewers. Several seconds later, she returns into the video frame with one of multiple bystanders who authorities later said rushed to Alejandro’s aid after hearing screaming. The man is seen lowering himself into the water to pull the boy to safety. Alejandro appeared unhurt, so no one called police or paramedics, authorities said. He and his mother walked away. About an hour later, Alejandro was dead. According to Miami-Dade County detectives and prosecutors, Ripley took the 9-year-old to a second canal near the Miccosukee Golf & Country Club and, with no witnesses to save him that time, shoved him once again into the water. Alejandro’s body – clad in a blue Captain America T-shirt and a diaper – was found floating in the canal Friday morning. The boy had previously been a student at Great Heights Academy, a Miami-area school for children with special needs. Miami-Dade County civil court records show the school sued Patricia Ripley and her husband, Aldo Ripley, in 2016 for more than $4,000 in unpaid tuition for their son. It was not clear when Alejandro had last attended the school but the Miami Herald reported that he was being tutored at home at the time of his death. The school’s administrators shared on Facebook both the news of his alleged abduction and the subsequent news of his slaying. “Ale, we will forever miss you,” a post on the school’s Facebook page read. It was accompanied by a video of Alejandro working with a teacher. “Praying you rest in peace.” A Miami-Dade County medical examiner told WPLG in Miami on Tuesday that the boy’s autopsy confirmed he drowned. His mother has been charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree premeditated murder, prosecutors said. A witness who lives at the condo complex told WPLG he saw Alejandro in the canal behind his home but didn’t think much of it. “Kids fall in the canal all the time,” said the witness, who declined to speak on camera. “Usually, you grab them, yank them out and away you go.” Alejandro appeared to be seated in water that was chest deep, the man said. “The only odd thing was she kind of started screaming and called his name, and then turned around and ran off screaming,” the man told the news station. 'He was just sitting there, and I tried to speak to him a couple of times and he looked at me, and that’s when she returned with an older couple. ”At the time, I thought they were together because that woman was giving it to her, screaming, ‘What are you doing? Why’d you leave the kid there?‘” The witness described the bystanders pulling Alejandro from the water. Video footage shows them drying the boy off before he and his mother leave. “Unfortunately, when she took him to the second canal, there was no one there,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle told The Associated Press on Saturday. “She tried it once, and people rescued him. He was alive. He could have stayed alive. She intended, from all the facts of the case, to kill him.” Because he was nonverbal, Alejandro could not tell his rescuers how he ended up in the canal near the condo community, Fernandez Rundle said. “We talk about children being voiceless. This is another level of voicelessness,” the prosecutor told the AP. “He was incapable of saying, ‘Mommy put me in the water.’” Miami-Dade County Jail records show Ripley is being held without bond. Aldo Ripley sobbed Friday as he spoke to reporters following his wife’s bond hearing. “We love Alejandro, and we don’t agree with whatever they said about my wife,” a masked Aldo Ripley said through tears. “It’s not real.” Watch Aldo Ripley speak below and hear from Patricia Ripley’s attorney, courtesy of the Herald. It was not immediately clear if the boy’s father has seen the evidence against his wife. Patricia Ripley’s attorney, Nelson Rodriguez-Varela, told reporters outside the courtroom that he would not discuss any evidence in the case but would “leave that for another day.” “There is obviously a great deal of support for her,” Rodriguez-Varela said. “Everybody’s very concerned about her situation. “By all accounts, she has been an excellent mother, an excellent person, a great family as you can see from the people who are here.” The defense attorney said he is amassing a legal team to ensure his client’s rights are protected and she has the “opportunity to vindicate her good name.” Alejandro’s killing has provoked outrage in Florida and across the country, not only because of the circumstances of his death but also because of the nature of Ripley’s initial story to police. She claimed two black men had run her off the road and abducted her son at knifepoint, authorities said. “The only voice in his life that he depended on to get through this world was his mom’s,” Miami-Dade police Director Alfredo Ramirez said Friday during a news conference. “To think that voice would be the one that would harm him the most. “As a parent and as a member of this community, I’m deeply saddened for what happened to that young boy. And then for her to displace blame of her crime on another community, it’s just … well, another crime that was committed. It is very disappointing.” According to an affidavit in the case, Ripley called 911 shortly before 9 p.m. Thursday and reported that she and Alejandro had been traveling near a Home Depot in West Kendall when her vehicle was sideswiped, causing her to crash. She claimed the driver of the other car got out and approached her vehicle with a knife, demanding drugs before opening the front driver’s side door and stealing her cellphone and tablet. “She stated this male then removed her 9-year-old autistic child and fled in an unknown direction,” the affidavit says. Ripley was taken to the police station for questioning, according to the document. Meanwhile, law enforcement officials issued an Amber Alert for Alejandro. The alert described Ripley’s alleged assailants as “two unknown black males driving an unknown light blue four-door sedan.” “One of the abductors may be wearing all black clothing and a black bandanna as a face mask,” the alert said. “He may also have cornrows in his hair.” At the police station, Ripley gave “conflicting statements” to missing persons detectives, the affidavit states. The case was transferred to homicide detectives when Alejandro’s body was found, about 11 hours after he was first reported missing and 4 miles from the scene of the alleged abduction. Ripley was taken from the missing persons bureau to the homicide division for additional questioning. Again, she gave conflicting statements, the affidavit says. “These statements contradicted the statements of witnesses and the video footage obtained from the area of SW 103rd Avenue and Kendall Drive,” the document states. The footage described in the affidavit matches the surveillance video obtained by Univision. The Herald reported that security camera footage from outside the Home Depot near where Ripley claimed Alejandro had been kidnapped showed Ripley sitting alone in her car for 20 minutes before she called 911 to report him missing. Witnesses also told police they’d seen Ripley with her son near the canal where he was eventually found dead, CBS Miami reported. When confronted with the evidence, Ripley admitted she had not been robbed, the affidavit says. “She admitted that she drove to SW 62(nd) Street and SW 138(th) Court at approximately 8:30 p.m. and parked near a canal,” the document states. “She then led the victim to the canal, where he drowned. “She stated he’s going to be in a better place.” The CBS affiliate reported that a law enforcement official said Ripley told detectives she’d been thinking about killing her son for a while because the older he got, the more difficult he was to physically control. According to the Amber Alert, Alejandro weighed 120 pounds and was 4 feet, 11 inches tall. Miami-Dade County Jail records show that Ripley weighs 138 pounds. She is 5 feet, 5 inches tall. Since Alejandro’s death, at least one Miami-area support group for special needs children and their families has seen an uptick in calls from parents whose children are in crisis. Rabbi Yossi Harlig, co-director of Friendship Circle Miami, told the Herald the boy’s killing has rippled through the community as the nation deals with the deadly COVID-19 outbreak, which had killed more than 98,000 Americans as of Tuesday morning. The social distancing required to help stem the spread of the virus has placed already-struggling families in even more tense situations as they shelter in place and parents homeschool their children. “One of the concerns is that when someone acts like that, it could trigger other people. You never know,” Harlig told the Herald. “Typical families are feeling overwhelmed. Imagine if you’re raising a child with special needs.” In a Facebook video posted on the Friendship Circle’s profile, Harlig described the love and caretaking provided by the parents of most special needs children as “something that is like the work of angels.” With that love, however, comes pain, worry and an often overwhelming challenge. He begged those feeling that challenge to reach out for help. Friendship Circle Miami, which held a memorial service for Alejandro on Friday and has an online town hall meeting planned for Wednesday night, is implementing a hotline service for overwhelmed parents, the rabbi told the Herald. The group is also hoping to establish group therapy or child care centers to help families cope. “One thing that people always tell us is that they feel very isolated and alone, and there’s nowhere to turn to,” Harlig said. “One of the big things that people need is a respite, to have a place where they can drop off their child for a few hours and they can take a break.” The Lifeline Project will be launched in the days and weeks ahead, Harlig said on the organization’s Facebook page. “If anyone who cares for a person with special needs feels they are in crisis, they can reach us at 305-234-5654 or rebyossi@friendshipcirclemiami.org,” the page states. In Friday’s news conference outside Fernandez Rundle’s office, the prosecutor said nothing is worse than the death of a child. “The death of a child is tragic; the killing of a child is horrific,” the prosecutor said. Fernandez Rundle praised the work of Miami-Dade County detectives, who she said combed the community for evidence and witnesses and quickly established the truth of the case. “The tragic loss of the life of a 9-year-old boy, and the loss, really, of any young life, leaves all of us grieving,” Fernandez Rundle said. “This boy’s senseless, senseless death will stay with all of us, just as his bright smile that shines out from the photographs we’ve all seen.” Harlig said in a statement that his organization’s leaders are shocked and saddened by Alejandro’s death. “No child should ever be in this position, especially a child with special needs who cannot call out for help,” the rabbi said. “We all grieve for Alejandro and his family.”