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    Fulton County, Georgia’s largest, certified its election results on Tuesday. The county said 424,991 Fulton residents voted in the mid-term, the largest midterm participation this century. That equaled a turnout of 60.4 percent of the voting-age population.  The numbers were led by early voting, which totaled 224,998, said Rick Barron, the county’s director of elections and registration. That eclipsed voting the day of the Nov. 6 election, which totaled 180,086 people.  A total of 17,913 people voted absentee by mail.  “The early voting this time was close to a presidential (contest), Barron said. The news comes just a day after U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg  on Monday ordered the state to review provisional ballots to make sure none are improperly rejected and to delay certification of the midterm until Friday.  Fulton received 3,549 provisional ballots, 1,555 of which were rejected, Barron said. A total of 972 of the rejected votes were tossed because they were from “out of county” voters while 581 were from people who were not registered.  Two people who attempted to vote could not prove citizenship.  “We can’t count ballots that are voted out of county,” Barron said.  He said some voter registration drives on college campuses failed to turn in applications, leaving some would-be voters unregistered.  Barron said he did not think any of the judge’s ruling would affect Fulton’s count, but said he did not think this is the last he would hear about it.  “I’m sure because of that ruling we’ll get questions this week,” he said. 
  • Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has signed an executive order rejecting any future ICE detainees from being held in the Atlanta City Jail. She is explaining her actions in a news conference at City Hall.  WATCH LIVE COVERAGE BELOW.
  • A proposed deal for practice soccer fields and a corporate headquarters for Atlanta United FC would cost DeKalb County an estimated $12 million, 41 acres of government land and tax considerations, according to a pending agreement. The $30 million soccer complex would be built near the intersection of Interstate 285 and Memorial Drive, behind the DeKalb Jail. In exchange, the team owned by Arthur Blank would build a 3,500-seat stadium, three outdoor practice fields and a corporate headquarters. Additional fields and an indoor training facility could be built later. Ownership of the land and facilities would revert to the county after 30 years. The proposed agreement, obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday, is scheduled for a vote of the DeKalb Commission on Tuesday. The $12 million contribution from the county includes an estimated $7 million paid to Blank so the county could locate its parks department in new offices in the stadium. Another estimated $5 million would be required for demolition and land preparation. In addition, Blank won’t have to pay property taxes, and all permitting fees for the soccer complex would be waived. The county would pursue funding for a pedestrian walkway from the complex to the Kensington MARTA station. Blank would pay the county 15 percent of revenue for naming rights and branded events held at the complex. The fields and the stadium could be used by the county when they’re not needed by Atlanta United, which will begin its first season in 2017. Atlanta United will share space with the Atlanta Falcons for its games in a new downtown stadium, which is under construction.
  • Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is calling for “restraint” in ongoing unrest in Baltimore and defended Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s handling of protests that quickly turned violent this week.Parts of the city erupted in chaos Monday night amid tensions over the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African-American man who died on April 19, a week after he sustained injuries during an arrest. An investigation into his death is ongoing. His death highlights an ongoing national discussion about policing tactics in minority communities.Rawlings-Blake has since faced criticism for her handling of the protests and ensuing riots, with some saying she was too slow to ask Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan for military back-up on Monday.Reed, speaking to reporters after an event on Tuesday, expressed sympathy for Gray’s family and defended Rawlings-Blake.Reed said he knows the Baltimore mayor well, describing her as “competent, capable and passionate” individual. The two, who traveled to Panama together with Vice President Joe Biden in recent years, exchanged text messages Monday evening, he said.“I think that everybody in the country and everybody who cares about the people of Baltimore should encourage restraint and I think that we should leave it to local leaders to manage and handle,” he said, later adding: “I think they need to be given the time and space to work through what is clearly a very, very difficult time.”Reed said Atlanta has faced its own set of difficult civil protests, such as the Occupy Atlanta movement in Woodruff Park that lasted for several weeks in 2011.But none in recent years have resulted in the scenes that played out in Baltimore on Monday, when some of the protests turned violent. Several police officers were injured during the riots. Cars were burned and stores were looted.Reed said that unlike other cities, Atlanta has long benefited from the work of local civil rights icons including Congressman John Lewis, Ambassador Andrew Young, the Rev. Joseph Lowery and C.T. Vivian.“I think that certainly influences the way that protests are handled in our city,” he said. “While I don’t deserve the credit for it, I think our city has shown an ability to navigate through pretty difficult times.”
  • MARTA maps out the route it hopes to take up Georgia 400 to extend rail service to Alpharetta.   Any expansion of rail service is years off, but MARTA's board approved the preferred route after input from residents.  It crosses SR 400 not once, but twice, to reach Alpharetta.   The first crossover will be above the North Springs Station south of Spalding Drive.  The second crossing will be above the Chattahoochee River, although the exact spot has not been selected.   MARTA has yet to secure funding.  The agency estimates heavy rail would cost two billion dollars.  A cheaper option might be to run rapid transit buses along the same route.   MARTA is considering other potential expansion projects include heavy rail along I-20 East and a light rail line from the Lindbergh station to Avondale.  MARTA General Manager Keith Parker tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the priority project is the one that secures funding first.  
  • A planned addition to the new Avalon development is looking to attract even more business to Alpharetta.  The proposed $100 million hotel would include a 74,000-square foot conference center.  David Belle Isle, mayor of Alpharetta tells the Atlanta Business Chronicle it would keep his city as the center of economic development in  north Atlanta.  It's just another addition to Alpharetta, which has already begun a revitalization of its downtown area.  The city council must still figure out how to pay for the boutique hotel. It'll vote on raising its hotel-motel tax later this month.
  • Packed with passengers and freighted with local and national expectations, Atlanta’s streetcar made its inaugural trip Tuesday as scores of political and community leaders cheered. The trip along Auburn Avenue to Woodruff Park downtown took less than five minutes. But its duration belied the sizable aspirations the trip represented. Atlanta officials are betting the $98 million project will reinvigorate tourism and encourage business investment along the route. Nationally, President Barack Obama’s transportation legacy hinges in part on his ability to move the nation toward rail. Atlanta’s streetcar is one of the first completed projects in that effort. Scores of invited guests packed the cars elbow to elbow for the trip, and several hundred people gathered at Woodruff Park for an official ribbon cutting. Check back for updates.
  • A judge today rejected a request to bar Fulton County from collecting money from a recent 17 percent property tax increase – a victory for the county in its ongoing battle with critics who say it spends too much.Senior Cobb County Superior Court Judge G. Grant Brantley did not rule the tax hike is legal. But he declined to order Fulton to refrain from collecting about $1,300 in additional taxes that six current and former state lawmakers owe because of the tax increase.The judge did not explain his ruling. But the decision could indicate Brantley thinks the county is more likely to prevail in the litigation.That’s a setback for the lawmakers, who claim Fulton violated a 2013 state law that prohibits the county from raising its property tax rate until 2015. They’ve asked the judge to prohibit the county from collecting the new taxes and to declare the tax hike illegal.Fulton officials have argued the General Assembly overstepped its authority when it capped county tax rates until next year. They say the tax hike is needed to protect funding for Grady Memorial Hospital and popular services like libraries and senior programs.The tax increase will cost the owner off a $275,000 house an extra $140 a year. But with property values in some areas rising fast, some taxpayers are seeing much larger increases.
  • Some Fulton County judges say they don’t have to comply with county travel policies, and they’re willing to jail two Fulton officials to make their point. Fulton officials have asked the judges to provide more documentation to justify some travel expenses, and they’ve withheld reimbursements until the judges comply. The judges say they don’t have to, citing new state laws that give them greater control over their own budget. Now Superior Court Chief Judge Gail Tusan has ordered County Manager Dwight Ferrell and Finance Director Patrick O’Connor to show why they shouldn’t be held in contempt for violating a recent court order to reimburse the judges. She’s threatened to incarcerate them if they don’t. A hearing on the contempt issue scheduled for Sept. 2, and a courtroom discussion of procedural matters in the case is set for Monday. The showdown is the latest fallout from a flurry of new laws aimed at limiting the authority of Fulton County government. County officials also are in court defending their recent decision to raise property taxes, which critics say violates a tax cap approved by the General Assembly last year. Tusan declined to comment on the issue because it’s a legal matter pending in her court. Superior Court Administrator Yolanda Lewis declined to answer questions, including whether the judges believe the county’s travel reimbursement procedures are burdensome. Lewis issued a statement saying Superior Court is “working collaboratively to resolve this matter with the assistance of the county manager and finance director for Fulton County. No further comment will be offered at this time to allow the collaborative process to move forward expeditiously.” Fulton officials declined to discuss the spat with the judges in detail. County Commission Chairman John Eaves said he believes the dispute is “resolvable.” Ferrell and O’Connor did not respond to requests for comment.
  • A judge has ruled the group that holds the title on the building at Peachtree and Pine Streets in Midtown Atlanta where hundreds of men, women and children bed down nightly can start the court process to evict the Task Force for the Homeless because it had not made a payment in years. Fulton Superior Court Judge Craig Schwall said in an order Friday that the removal process could begin, but his order did not say that eviction was imminent or even certain. The matter of whether the shelter can continue to operate is far from resolved. For years, the Task Force for the Homeless — led by Anita Beatty — has been at war with the city, Central Atlanta Progress and some of the business community because hundreds of homeless mill around and sometimes spill over into neighboring properties, vandalize and break into cars, businesses and homes nearby. Beatty has accused city officials and CAP of a campaign to cut off donations because they want the homeless out of sight. Once the large donors were dissuaded from helping the Task Force, it became impossible for the charity to pay its bills, including hundreds of thousands of dollars it owned the city for water, she said. The Task Force claims donations that once totaled as much as $1.7 million a year dropped to around $200,000, because the Atlanta business community had poisoned its reputation with donors. Without the Peachtree-Pine shelter, Beatty says, the homeless she serves will have nowhere to go. As many as 650 men, women and children sleep at the shelter each night but there are far more when the weather is bad or it’s cold. Over the years of the dispute, opponents of the shelter have insisted that no one will be left with nowhere to go if the Peachtree-Pine Shelter is closed. Richard Robbins, the attorney for Ichthus Community Trust, said the lender planned to “pursue dispossessory like any other owner in the state. If they (Task Force for the Homeless) want to fight it, they can fight it. However, they have to pay rent in the meantime. “This is not kicking out the homeless,” Robbins said. “It will be evicting the Task force. If the Task Force is evicted, we will transition the homeless to other shelters. If they don’t pay rent, they have to leave and we’ll bring in someone else to run the shelter.” Attorney Steven Hall, who represents the Task Force, said the charity will resist eviction efforts. “We have been fighting for years over the manner in which title was obtained and a foreclosure was conducted,” Hall said. “We’re hoping this will mean the court will hear all issues at one time and we will get a final answer.” The Task Force for the Homeless got into financial straits after it borrowed $900,000 in 1997 to make repairs on the building that it owned at the time. Ichthus bought the note in 2010 for just over $781,000 and soon began the removal process, which stopped, started and then stopped again because of legal issues.

News

  • Two people were killed early Monday after a car crashed into a Houston motel and caught fire, authorities said. The vehicle slammed into the Super 8 Motel in northern Harris County near the North Freeway around 1:45 a.m., KTRK reported. The crash left a large hole and extensive damage in the front office of the motel, police said. “The guy went off the road and crashed right into the hotel,” Chris Young, who witnessed the crash, told KRPC. Harris County Precinct 4 investigators said it appeared the car flipped onto its side before hitting the building, according to KHOU. It was not clear if both victims were in the car or staying at the motel, the television station reported. However, some witnesses told KRPC the victims were in the sedan. The motel manager also said the people in the car had been killed, KTRK reported. The motel manager told KTRK that no employees were injured, although a clerk was standing behind the counter when the crash occurred. The manager said the motel’s sprinkler system prevented the fire from spreading, the television station reported. “Once they actually got (the fire) put out, we could see the back portion of the vehicle that was actually in the lobby,” Young told KPRC.
  • An Iowa woman is accused of trying to stab a cat with a kitchen knife and then trying to drown it, authorities said. Rosemary Kay Buelow, 21, of Des Moines, was charged with animal torture in connection with the Sunday morning incident, the Des Moines Register reported. Police officers responded to a call at 2 a.m. Sunday, the newspaper reported. Buelow told police her “aggressive” cat had bitten her while she was showering and she stabbed the animal in self-defense. Des Moines Police Department Sgt. Paul Parizek told the Register. “Officers discovered serious inconsistencies and, upon further investigation, learned that Buelow had stabbed the cat, and then attempted to drown it because she didn’t want to care for it anymore and she did not believe that any shelter would take the cat,” Parizek told the newspaper. According to a criminal complaint, Buelow allegedly stabbed the cat three times in the back before attempting to drown the animal in a bathtub. The condition of the cat was unknown. Buelow was being held at the Polk County Jail on a $2,000 bond, the Register reported.
  • Officials with the Georgia Aquarium announced a new addition Sunday after the aquarium’s 20-year-old beluga whale gave birth this month to a calf. The not-so-little baby beluga, born May 17 to a whale named Whisper, weighed 174 pounds at birth and measured 5.4 feet in length. The average weight of a beluga calf at birth is between 119 and 145 pounds and the average length is between 4.5 and 5.1 feet. The Georgia Aquarium remained closed Monday to the public because of the coronavirus pandemic. Aquarium officials said their teams were closely monitoring mom and baby on Sunday. “We are so proud of Whisper and overjoyed to welcome her calf to our Georgia Aquarium family,” said Dennis Christen, senior director of zoological operations, mammals and birds at the Georgia Aquarium. “We will be there right alongside the calf as it continues to grow and learn from Whisper.” Officials said other beluga whales housed at the Georgia Aquarium, Qinu, Maple, Nunavik and Imaq, were doing well Sunday and were in a separate area of the exhibit. The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.
  • More than 5.4 million people worldwide – including at least 1.6 million in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. While efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak continue, states have begun to shift their focus toward reopening their economies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Monday, May 25, continue below: Connecticut reports 49 new COVID-19 related deaths Update 4:29 p.m. EDT May 25: Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont’s office issued a statement that said there were 495 new coronavirus cases and 49 deaths. Some of the numbers have been compiled over the last several days to a week, Lamont said. As of 2 p.m. today, the state now has a total of 40,873 cases of coronavirus and 3,742 deaths. On Tuesday, Lamont reported there were 3,693 deaths. At least 706 Covid-19 patients have been hospitalized. Officials respond to Trump’s threat to pull RNC from North Carolina Update 3:55 p.m. EDT May 25: Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina and other officials responded Monday after President Donald Trump threatened to pull the Republican National Convention from Charlotte due to the state’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, WSOC-TV reported. In a series of tweets published Monday, Trump said Cooper must immediately tell organizers whether or not they’ll be able to host the convention as expected from Aug. 24 to Aug. 27 at the Spectrum Center and Charlotte Convention Center. “Plans are being made by thousands of enthusiastic Republicans and others to head to beautiful North Carolina in August,” the president wrote. “They must be immediately given an answer by the governor as to whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied.” Cooper said Monday that state health officials are working with the Republican National Committee and reviewing their plans for holding the convention, WSOC-TV reported. “North Carolina is relying on data and science to protect our state’s public health and safety,” Cooper said, according to WSOC-TV. As of Monday, 23,964 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus infections in North Carolina. Officials said at least 754 people have died of COVID-19 statewide. >> Read more on WSOCTV.com Most stores in England will be allowed to reopen in June Update 3:40 p.m. EDT May 25: The vast majority of shops in England will be allowed to reopen next month as the government gradually eases coronavirus lockdown restrictions. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said outdoor markets and spacious car showrooms will be allowed to open from June 1 because the likelihood of transmission is low there. Clothes stores, bookshops, tailors, auctioneers and other retailers will follow on June 15, as long as the number of infections continues to fall and the businesses can be made “COVID-19 secure.” The other parts of the U.K. — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — can set their own timetables. Since a nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 23, only shops classed as “essential,” such as supermarkets, have been allowed to operate. Pennsylvania reports lowest number of new COVID-19 cases since mid-March Update 3:35 p.m. EDT May 25: Officials in Pennsylvania on Monday reported the lowest number of new COVID-19 cases since mid-March, according to WPXI. Officials with the state Department of Health reported 473 new coronavirus infections Monday, bringing the statewide total to 68,186 cases, WPXI reported. About 61% of those diagnosed have since recovered, according to health officials. As of Monday, 5,139 people have died statewide of COVID-19, WPXI reported. >> Read more on WPXI.com 1,625 new coronavirus infections reported in the UK Update 3:15 p.m. EDT May 25: Officials in the United Kingdom reported 1,625 new coronavirus infections Monday morning, raising the country’s total number of infections to 261,184. Officials said that as of 9 a.m. local time, 36,914 people had died nationwide of COVID-19. Nearly 38,000 coronavirus cases reported in Louisiana Update 3 p.m. EDT May 25: Officials in Louisiana reported 640 new coronavirus infections Monday, raising the state’s total number of infections to 37,809. The number was far higher than average due to a server issue which delayed reports of positive cases from commercial lab data, according to the Louisiana Department of Health. Statewide, at least 2,585 people have died of COVID-19 and at least 28,700 people have recovered from the viral infection, officials said. Patrick Ewing released from hospital after coronavirus diagnosis Update 2:25 p.m. EDT May 25: Basketball Hall of Famer and Georgetown men’s basketball coach Patrick Ewing has been released from a hospital after testing positive for COVID-19, his son said Monday in a post on Twitter. Patrick Ewing Jr. said his father was resting Monday at home and continuing his recovery. “I want to thank all of the doctors and hospital staff for taking care of my father during his stay, as well as everyone who has reached out with thoughts and prayers to us and since his diagnosis,” the younger Ewing said in a post on Twitter. “I hope everyone continues to stay safe and protect yourselves and your loved ones.” The elder Ewing had announced Friday that he was diagnosed with a coronavirus infection. Number of deadly COVID-19 cases continues to fall in Massachusetts Update 2:10 p.m. EDT May 25: Officials in Massachusetts on Monday announced 68 new coronavirus-related deaths in the state, marking the fourth day in a row that the number of new deadly cases has decreased, according to WFXT. As of Monday, at least 6,372 people statewide have died of COVID-19, according to numbers released by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Officials said 92,675 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the state. >> Read more on Boston25News.com 965 new cases of COVID-19 reported in New Jersey Update 2 p.m. EDT May 25: Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey said Monday that 965 new coronavirus infections have been reported, raising the total number of COVID-19 cases in the state to 155,092. Murphy said officials also reported 16 more deaths, much smaller than the number of new daily deaths reported so far in the pandemic. He noted the low number might be due to delayed reporting over the holiday weekend. As of Monday, 11,144 people have died in New Jersey of COVID-19. WHO temporarily pauses review of antimalarial drug touted by Trump in COVID-19 fight Update 1:25 p.m. EDT May 25: World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced Monday that the organization has paused a review of the efficacy of an antimalarial drug touted by President Donald Trump due to concerns over its safety for use in treating novel coronavirus infections. At a news conference Monday, Tedros said the decision was made in light of an observational study published Friday in the medical journal The Lancet which found that coronavirus patients who were treated with antimalarial drugs hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine or a combination of the drugs and an antibiotic were at a higher risk for death. “The Executive Group of the Solidarity Trial, representing 10 of the participating countries, met on Saturday and has agreed to review a comprehensive analysis and critical appraisal of all evidence available globally,” Tedros said Monday. “The review will consider data collected so far in the Solidarity Trial and in particular robust randomized available data, to adequately evaluate the potential benefits and harms from this drug. The Executive Group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity Trial while the safety data is reviewed by the Data Safety Monitoring Board.' Tedros said other coronavirus drug trials were continuing Monday. “This concern relates to the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloraquine in COVID-19,” Tedros stressed. “I wish to reiterate that these drugs are accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria.” Trump honors fallen soldiers, military members fighting coronavirus pandemic on Memorial Day  Update 1:10 p.m. EDT May 25: President Donald Trump is mourning America’s fallen service members and noting that Memorial Day this year is different from years past. Marking the holiday at Baltimore’s historic Fort McHenry, Trump noted that tens of thousands of service members and national guard personnel are currently “on the frontlines of our war against this terrible virus.” The U.S. leads the world with more than 1.6 million confirmed coronavirus cases and is approaching 100,000 deaths. Trump said brave warriors from the nation’s past have shown that “in America, we are the captains of our own fate.” Fort McHenry is where a poem written during the War of 1812 became “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The fort is closed to the public because of the pandemic. Trump speaks at Memorial Day ceremony at Fort McHenry Update 12:05 p.m. EDT May 25: President Donald Trump is speaking Monday at a Memorial Day ceremony at Fort McHenry in Baltimore. 96 new fatal coronavirus cases reported in New York Update 11:45 a.m. EDT May 25: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said Monday that 95 more people have died of COVID-19 statewide. The number was slightly less than the 109 new fatal cases reported one day earlier. Cuomo said hospitalization rate and the number of patients needing intubations continued to fall Monday, though he stressed that social distancing efforts need to continue. Trump to participate in Memorial Day wreath-laying ceremony at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Update 10:25 a.m. EDT May 25: President Donald Trump is set to participate in Monday morning’s wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley are also scheduled to participate. Pence: Republican National Convention will be moved from NC ‘if needs be’ Update 9:50 a.m. EDT May 25: Vice President Mike Pence said Monday that the Republican National Convention will be moved from Charlotte, North Carolina to another city “if needs be” due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event is scheduled to begin Aug. 24. “I think the president is absolutely intent on ensuring that as we see our nation continue to make steady progress on putting the coronavirus epidemic in the past that, come this August, we’ll be able to come together in a safe and responsible venue and renominate President Donald Trump for four more years,” the vice president said Monday during an appearance on Fox News’s “Fox and Friends.' His comments came after Trump wrote in a series of messages posted earlier Monday on Twitter that Republicans “must immediately be given an answer by the Governor as to whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied.” The president framed the governor’s decision to keep businesses shut in the state due to the health threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic as a political decision by a Democratic governor. As of Sunday, the last date for which data was available, 23,222 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus infections in North Carolina. Officials said at least 744 people have died. Stay-at-home order protesters plan demonstrations in North Carolina Update 9:05 a.m. EDT May 25: Protesters organized by the group ReOpen NC plan to hold a “Freedom Rally” Monday outside the governor’s mansion in North Carolina, WSOC-TV reported. “It would just be so appropriate to do it on Memorial Day and just really shine a light on honoring our fallen heroes and standing up for freedom right now,” said Ashley Smith of ReOpen NC, according to WSOC-TV. “We just all feel it is more important now -- than many of us have seen in our lifetime.” Protests were also planned for Monday in Charlotte, Asheville, Greensboro and Wilmington, WSOC-TV reported. Rally organizers told WTVD that Gov. Roy Cooper’s phased reopening of businesses was hurting the state’s economy. As of Sunday, the last date for which data was available, 23,222 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus infections in North Carolina. Officials said at least 744 people have died. >> Read more on WSOCTV.com Volunteers work in the night to create scaled-back Memorial Day flag garden in Boston Update 7:48 a.m. EDT May 25: A Memorial Day tradition in Boston was made possible by a group of volunteers who worked through the night to honor our fallen heroes, WFXT is reporting. Each Memorial Day for the past decade, the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund has planted more than 37,000 flags on Boston Common – one flag for each fallen service member from Massachusetts since the Revolution. The project requires hundreds of volunteers, and due to coronavirus precautions and guidelines, organizers initially canceled the event this year. To keep the tradition alive, a group of 10 volunteers worked carefully overnight to plant 1,000 flags on the common. Each flag in the scaled-back display is 6 feet apart from the others, and organizers hope the smaller spectacle will minimize the number of people who visit the garden. People who plan on stopping by to see the display are asked to wear masks at all times, stay a safe distance away from others and be respectful. In addition to the flag garden, people were encouraged to create their own patriotic displays at home this year and share photos online using the hashtag #HeroesFlagGarden. A Monday morning ceremony at Boston Common will include speakers, a wreath-laying and a rendition of “Taps.” Florida reports lowest number of daily deaths since late March Update 5:04 a.m. EDT May 25: Florida health officials on Sunday reported five new coronavirus-related deaths statewide since Saturday – the lowest day-to-day increase since March 29, records show. According to Orlando’s WFTV, officials also reported 740 additional cases of the virus statewide since Saturday. As of Sunday, the total number of cases in the state was at 50,867, with 2,237 deaths. Read more here. ‘Person of interest’ identified in bias crimes against Asians in Seattle Update 3 a.m. EDT May 25: Police in Seattle are investigating a growing number of crimes targeting Asians during the outbreak. Seattle officers said the attacks started late Saturday afternoon in the heart of Ballard and moved to Golden Gardens Park. They believe one man is responsible for all the incidents. A victim at Golden Gardens Park said the man spat in his face. The workers at Thai Thani Restaurant said the man threw things at them while demanding to know if they are Chinese. “I hear some noise, and I see some guy angry, yelling,' Umboom Moore told Seattle’s KIRO-TV. That was the first time she knew something unusual was happening Saturday night at the restaurant where she works. “Just like some crazy guy,” she said. “So I just started taking pictures.” Her co-worker, Natthiya Chumdee, said he was yelling at her. “Right over there, he smashed the window,” she said. When he asked if she is Chinese, she told him everyone there is Thai. He asked her to kneel and swear to it. “Well, I’m not going to do that,” she said. “He’s starting [to] lose control. And he comes here, and he says, ‘You know, I’m going to slam the door, this table to you.’” The night before, Tonya McCabe got the brunt of his anger. “He said, ‘Are you Chinese?’” she said. “And I said, ‘No, we’re not.’ And he still kept yelling at us. And I said, ‘If you’re not going to leave, I’m going to call 911.’ And then he said, ‘Better [expletive] call 911.’” Just last week, a man was captured on camera shoving an Asian couple as they walked by. They told Seattle police he spat on them, too. The man in these latest attacks is described as white, 5 feet, 10 inches tall, in his mid-20s to mid-30s and is of a muscular build. He was wearing a white shirt and shorts. It is the same suspect description in two attacks at Golden Gardens Park on Saturday night. “I stand back there, and ... yell to him, ‘Get out, leave!’” said McCabe. It has McCabe and the others working at this restaurant finding a different way to get around this city that is now their home. “I’m afraid to like walk on the street or take a bus,” said McCabe. They told KIRO that the man also approached other Asian-owned businesses in the area before apparently heading to Golden Gardens Park. Anyone who recognizes him is asked to call Seattle police. 17-year-old Georgia boy becomes youngest in state to die from COVID-19 Update 2:24 a.m. EDT May 25: The Georgia Department of Public Health said Sunday that a 17-year-old boy has died of the coronavirus, marking the youngest fatality and first pediatric death in the state. Nancy Nydam with the department confirmed the information to Atlanta’s WSB-TV on Sunday. The teen was from Fulton County and had an underlying condition, according to officials. His identity has not been released. More than 1,800 people have died of COVID-19 in Georgia since the outbreak began, with the median age of deaths at 73.6 years old, according to the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cases of COVID-19 in children have typically been less severe, though there has been growing concern and a new warning about a rare condition recently seen in dozens of children nationwide. A spokesperson for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta confirmed that a team of infectious disease and cardiology experts are evaluating several cases in metro Atlanta of children who exhibited Kawasaki-like symptoms and inflammation. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta physician specialists stressed that it appears to be a rare finding with a low rate in Georgia. New York health officials have already issued a warning about a rare inflammatory syndrome that has infected at least 64 children in that state. A spokesperson for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta said they have experts for treating the symptoms regardless of a potential link to COVID-19. Families should contact their doctor or visit an emergency room if their child develops signs of illness such as high fever, rash, red eyes, abdominal pain and swelling of the face, hands or feet. US coronavirus cases top 1.6M, deaths near 98K Update 12:43 a.m. EDT May 25: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States surged past 1.6 million early Monday across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to a Johns Hopkins University tally, there are at least 1,643,238 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 97,720 deaths. The hardest-hit states remain New York, with 361,515 cases and 29,141 deaths, and New Jersey, with 154,154 cases and 11,138 deaths. Massachusetts, with 92,675 cases, has the third-highest number of deaths with 6,372, while Illinois has the third-highest number of cases with 110,304. Only 16 states and territories have confirmed fewer than 5,000 cases each. Seven other states have now confirmed at least 42,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: • California: 94,020 cases, resulting in 3,754 deaths • Pennsylvania: 71,563 cases, resulting in 5,136 deaths • Texas: 55,861 cases, resulting in 1,528 deaths • Michigan: 54,679 cases, resulting in 5,228 deaths • Florida: 50,867 cases, resulting in 2,237 deaths • Maryland: 46,313 cases, resulting in 2,277 deaths • Georgia: 42,902 cases, resulting in 1,827 deaths Meanwhile, Connecticut has confirmed at least 40,468 cases; Louisiana, Virginia, Ohio and Indiana each has confirmed at least 31,000 cases; Colorado, North Carolina, Minnesota and Tennessee each has confirmed more than 20,000 cases; Washington, Iowa, Arizona and Wisconsin each has confirmed at least 15,000 cases; Alabama and Rhode Island each has confirmed more than 14,000 cases; Mississippi, Missouri and Nebraska each has confirmed at least 12,000 cases; South Carolina has confirmed at least 10,000 cases; Kansas, Delaware, Kentucky, Utah and the District of Columbia each has confirmed at least 8,000 cases, followed by Nevada with more than 7,000; New Mexico and Oklahoma each has confirmed at least 6,000 cases, followed by Arkansas with more than 5,000; South Dakota and New Hampshire each has confirmed at least 4,000 cases; and Oregon and Puerto Rico each has confirmed at least 3,000 cases. Click here to see CNN’s state-by-state breakdown. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Officials with the World Health Organization announced the group has temporarily paused its trial of an antimalarial drug touted by President Donald Trump as a possible treatment for COVID-19 due to concerns over its safety. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of the WHO said Monday that the decision was made in light of an observational study published Friday in the medical journal The Lancet which found that coronavirus patients who were treated with hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine or a combination of either drug and an antibiotic were at a higher risk for death. “The Executive Group of the Solidarity Trial, representing 10 of the participating countries, met on Saturday and has agreed to review a comprehensive analysis and critical appraisal of all evidence available globally,” Tedros said Monday. “The review will consider data collected so far in the Solidarity Trial and, in particular, robust randomized available data, to adequately evaluate the potential benefits and harms from this drug.' Tedros said other coronavirus drug trials were continuing Monday. “This concern relates to the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in COVID-19,” Tedros stressed. “I wish to reiterate that these drugs are accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria.” In the study published in The Lancet, researchers reviewed more than 96,000 COVID-19 cases in which patients were hospitalized between late December and mid-April. The data used for the study, which included 15,000 cases in which patients were treated with either hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine or a combination of the drugs with an antibiotic, came from 671 hospitals on six continents, researchers said. “We were unable to confirm a benefit of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine ... on in-hospital outcomes for COVID-19,” researchers said in a summary of their findings. “Each of these drug regimens was associated with decreased in-hospital survival and an increased frequency of ventricular arrhythmias when used for treatment of COVID-19.” Trump has dismissed concerns around the safety of hydroxychloroquine and told reporters last week that he was taking a two-week regiment of the drug to protect himself against a coronavirus infection. The president said he was not advised to take the drug but that he instead requested it himself from the White House physician. Scientists continue to race toward a vaccine for COVID-19, which White House officials have said is expected by the end of the year. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Friday that he was confident a vaccine would be ready in the timeline given by officials. “(The Department of Defense) has the expertise and the capacity of course, to get the manufacturing done and the logistics and I’m confident that we will deliver,” he said during an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show. The United States has by far the most number of COVID-19 cases in the world with more than 1.6 million reported as of Monday afternoon, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. At least 97,850 people have died of coronavirus infections nationwide, according to Johns Hopkins.
  • Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Monday urged voters to return their absentee ballots in time for the June 9 primary, even as thousands of Fulton County voters are waiting for their ballots to arrive and the coronavirus forced some early voting locations to close. About 1 million voters who requested absentee ballots haven’t yet turned them in, according to state election data through Sunday. “Vote from the convenience of your own kitchen table. Take your time to do it, but get it done as soon as you can,” Raffensperger said in an interview. “Sooner better than later, because it has to be received by June 9, no later than 7 p.m., to be counted.” So far, over 551,000 voters have returned their absentee ballots, and another 77,000 voted in person during the first week of early voting. More than 25,000 Fulton voters still haven’t received their absentee ballots as the county’s elections office has struggled to process a flood of ballot requests, especially those that were emailed. Fulton election officials said the backlog would be eliminated by Memorial Day, but the county processed just 3,000 absentee ballot requests from Friday to Sunday. “It’s concerning that they’re still not caught up,” Raffensperger said. “What that has done has created concern on voters who say, ‘I haven’t received my absentee ballot, and yet I emailed that back in early. What’s the delay?’” If Fulton voters don’t receive their absentee ballots soon, they might not have much time to return them by the state’s election day deadline. A federal lawsuit is asking a judge to rule that ballots should be counted as long as they’re postmarked by election day. Other counties are dealing with coronavirus-related problems, Raffensperger said. Appling County will reopen its only early voting location Tuesday after it was closed Friday for cleaning because a voter tested positive for the coronavirus. In McDuffie County, two election workers caught the coronavirus, leaving its elections staff shorthanded. “Particularly on Memorial Day, we think about the huge sacrifice armed forces members made, sacrificing their lives, so we would have the freedom to be a free people and be able to freely vote,” Raffenpserger said. “These are trying times, and we encourage everyone to complete the process if you requested an absentee ballot.” You may find this story and more at AJC.com.