Coronavirus:

What You Need To Know

On Air Now

Listen Now

Weather

clear-night
46°
Clear
H 61° L 40°
  • clear-night
    46°
    Current Conditions
    Clear. H 61° L 40°
  • clear-day
    54°
    Afternoon
    Sunny. H 61° L 40°
  • clear-day
    58°
    Evening
    Mostly Sunny. H 61° L 40°
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

Local
Gridlock Guy: I-285 burnouts as dangerous as our everyday driving
Close

Gridlock Guy: I-285 burnouts as dangerous as our everyday driving

It happened Saturday night under Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport?s fifth runway on I-285.

Gridlock Guy: I-285 burnouts as dangerous as our everyday driving

My initial reaction to the viral video of a large group of people blocking off I-285 to do burnouts and celebrate the ill-thought pop-up party might have mirrored yours.

I was stark-raving mad at the sight of a bunch of young men stopping their cars on I-285 and then creating their own perimeter in the eastbound lanes. The footage on the “Everything Georgia” / @GAFollowers Twitter account shows a crowd of a couple of dozen people out of their cars and filming a Dodge Charger doing a smoky doughnut under the Airport Tunnel bridge, just east of Riverdale Road. The clip shows vehicles not involved in this careless stunt helplessly coming to a stop behind the throng during the 11 p.m. hour on Saturday, Feb. 29.

This kind of grassroots horsepower and traffic-snarling strut has become more commonplace in recent years. But no matter how talented and precise these drivers are, threading the needle between an unprotected crowd and someone taking video, these stunts are absolutely dangerous and inconsiderate.

» RELATED: WATCH: Traffic stops on I-285 as drivers do burnouts, doughnuts in tunnel

I get angry at any time we have unforced errors on the roads. When cars barely wreck and stay blocking a travel lane, it’s unacceptable. When GDOT crews stay out in a lane past the cutoff time, it’s maddening and annoying. When people drive the wrong way on shoulders to dangerously get out of a backup, I point it out on 95.5 WSB and in this column

When the dangers and responsibility of driving are taken so lightly as these men took them that frustrating Saturday night, that needs saying.

To those that applaud pop-up traffic RED ALERTS (shutting down interstates), one must also endorse several things. Shutting down a freeway or road terribly inconveniences those who have no part in the endeavor. The I-285 video showed a tractor trailer that could have been made late making a delivery; their or someone else’s livelihood hangs in that balance.

Stopping in the middle of any road, but particularly an interstate, creates danger for not only those choosing to shut it down, but for those rolling up on it unexpectedly. Not a day goes by in Atlanta where an initial wreck doesn’t cause a chain reaction crash in the backup. Stopping on a dime for no reason (doing so to block off roads for burnouts qualifies as “no reason”) creates even further unnecessary risk.

» RELATED: National traffic data shows I-285 deadliest highway

This doesn’t include the risk those in the burnout assume on themselves when smoking out an intersection or freeway. What if someone plows into them or if the circling driver loses his handle and hits an innocent person or someone else in the crowd around them? Live roadways simply are not the place for these showcases.

But before we all get high and mighty and virtue-signal about these dangers, let’s not pick sawdust out of the eyes of those that have blinded themselves to these externalities. We have planks in our own sockets. Before we call out these young men, do we call out our own spouses and kids when they are holding their phones and driving, something blatantly illegal and dangerous? Have we felt guilty about tailgating someone or cutting across three lanes to make a turn at the last second? These things happen at the hands of far more people, far more often and we, the indignant, are guilty.

We, the guilty, also need to be careful in how we describe things we don’t like from people we don’t know. Comments on social media called the selfish participants “thugs” and made implications that the City of Atlanta is letting this behavior slide because of the race of the participants. This is misguided and hurtful.

For one, the I-285 blockage and drifting was in College Park, not Atlanta, and that city’s own police department is investigating it. And assuming that all of the people involved are involved in other criminal activity, by calling them thugs, isn’t warranted. The same reaction likely wouldn’t occur if this gathering consisted of frat bros in their dad’s Wranglers. That same traffic interruption and risk should be just as maddening, absent of racial and cultural overtones.

The plans to block off city roads not just in Atlanta, but elsewhere will continue. The Instagram account @_slideshowTV has an invitation up for the “ATL Ride Out” on Sunday, March 15. The organizer on the account is inviting cars and bikes to descend on Atlanta, but to not do burnouts. Considering that other posts on the account glorify burnouts, this seems like a bit of posterior-covering and not a real thought to the effect on other people.

» RELATED: Gridlock Guy: Why I-285 flooded in the same place — twice

We seem to accept some other events that block traffic. The Georgia State Patrol often escorts sports teams to Atlanta venues. The annual Georgia Police Memorial Ride, in which I participate, shuts down parts of I-285 and I-75/85 (the Downtown Connector) for extended periods on a Saturday morning. Funeral processions stop traffic, too. The latter two of these examples may cause jams, but they are done in remembrance of those lost.

Traffic delays should make us mad, and stupid behavior should also. But we have to remember that we are careless, too. Two dozen people texting and driving could be every bit as dangerous as these “Fast and Furious” wannabees were on I-285. Whether it’s this egregious behavior or the more common, insidious things we do every day, we need the police to step up and enforce the law. Fixing broken windows and graffiti in New York City helped decrease the crime rate, because of the message it sent. Applying that same concept on the roads could galvanize more safety and civility.

Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@cmg.com.

Read More

News

  • More than 860,000 people worldwide -- including more than 189,000 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 Wednesday, April 1, continue below: Hyundai converts training institutes into treatment centers amid South Korea coronavirus outbreak Update 4:37 a.m. EDT April 1:  Two of Hyundai Motor Group’s training institutes in South Korea will soon house novel coronavirus patients exhibiting mild symptoms. The South Korean automaker also donated $4.1 million to the Korea Disaster Relief Association to assist ongoing efforts to control the virus’ spread, while Hyundai Motor America announced plans to donate $2 million to 10 hospitals with drive-through coronavirus testing facilities. Meanwhile, Hyundai Motor India has ordered coronavirus diagnostic kits from South Korea for 25,000 people and plans to deliver them to hospitals in India, CNN reported. UK races to convert convention hall into country's biggest ICU to handle coronavirus overflow Update 4:21 a.m. EDT April 1: The NHS Nightingale will open its doors this week on London’s East End in a bid to ease the United Kingdom’s anticipated ICU bed shortage. In less than one week, the UK’s National Health Service will have converted the ExCel Center into a 4,000-bed field hospital to handle coronavirus overflow from overtaxed hospitals. To date, the UK has confirmed 25,481 COVID-19 infections, resulting in 1,793 deaths nationwide. Illinois governor says he’s ‘purchasing every ventilator that I can find’ amid coronavirus surge Update 4:05 a.m. EDT April 1: After receiving barely 10 percent of the ventilators he requested to meet rising demand, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he is personally scouring all available sources in the absence of federal assistance as the novel coronavirus sweeps his state. “I’m purchasing every ventilator that I can find,” Pritzker told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Tuesday, adding, “But we’re buying them in 100 lots and 200 lots. Frankly, I’m taking them 50, 20, 10, wherever I can get them.” Pritzker told Cuomo Illinois requested 4,000 additional ventilators but has received only about 450 to date. “We are going to run out of ventilators, and the federal government really isn’t helping at all,” Pritzker said. Captain of embattled aircraft carrier requests Navy evacuation as coronavirus infects sailors Update 3:17 a.m. EDT April 1: In a letter dated March 30, U.S. Navy Capt. Brett Crozier requested the military evacuation of 90 percent of the 4,000-member crew aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, besieged by the novel coronavirus. Specifically, Crozier asked that the evacuees be moved into isolation on Guam, The Washington Post reported. “Decisive action is required. Removing the majority of personnel from a deployed U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier and isolating them for two weeks may seem like an extraordinary measure,” Crozier wrote, adding, “We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our sailors.” Read more here. China announces 1,367 asymptomatic coronavirus cases Update 3:03 a.m. EDT April 1: China’s National Health Commission confirmed on Wednesday it is monitoring a total of 1,367 asymptomatic novel coronavirus infections. According to the commission, 130 of those total cases were diagnosed on Tuesday, alone, while 302 were released from quarantine. To date, China has confirmed a total 82,294 cases nationwide, but it was not immediately clear if that figure includes the asymptomatic cases. Kroger announces $2-per-hour ‘hero bonus’ for employees on coronavirus front lines Update 2:44 a.m. EDT April 1: U.S. supermarket chain Kroger announced early Wednesday it will pay staff members still working amid the worsening novel coronavirus outbreak an additional $2-per-hour “hero bonus.” “Our associates have displayed the true actions of a hero, working tirelessly on the front lines to ensure everyone has access to affordable, fresh food and essentials during this national emergency,” Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement announcing the bonuses. The pay bump – benefitting all front-line grocery, supply chain, manufacturing, pharmacy and call center staff – applies to all hours worked between March 29 and April 18. UN Secretary-General: Coronavirus ‘attacking societies at their core’ Update 2:21 a.m. EDT April 1: Citing the “human crisis” created by the novel coronavirus pandemic, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the collective global response the “greatest test” since World War II. Guterres’ insights were published in a new report released Tuesday. “COVID-19 is the greatest test that we have faced together since the formation of the United Nations,” Guterres stated in the report, adding, “This human crisis demands coordinated, decisive, inclusive and innovative policy action from the world’s leading economies – and maximum financial and technical support for the poorest and most vulnerable people and countries. But this is much more than a health crisis. It is a human crisis. The coronavirus disease is attacking societies at their core.' Read the full report here. US coronavirus deaths hit 4,076, total cases top 189K Update 12:31 a.m. EDT April 1: By early Wednesday morning, the number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States neared 200,000 across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 189,510 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 4,076 deaths. U.S. cases now outnumber those in any other nation by wide margins, including the 105,792 reported in Italy and the 95,923 confirmed in Spain. Of the confirmed U.S. deaths, 1,550 – or nearly half of the nationwide total – have occurred in New York, 267 in New Jersey and 259 in Michigan.  In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the hardest hit with at least 75,795 confirmed cases – or roughly four times the next-closest state – followed by New Jersey with 18,696 and Michigan with 7,615. Three other states have now confirmed at least 6,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: • California: 6,932, including 150 deaths • Florida: 6,732, including 84 deaths • Massachusetts: 6,220, including 89 deaths Meanwhile, Illinois, Louisiana and Washington state each has confirmed at least 5,000 novel coronavirus infections; Pennsylvania and Georgia each has confirmed at least 4,000 cases; Texas and Connecticut each has confirmed at least 3,000 cases; and Colorado, Tennessee, Ohio and Indiana each has confirmed at least 2,000 cases. Click here to see CNN’s complete state-by-state breakdown.
  • Running out of ideas for fun family activities to do indoors amid coronavirus stay-at-home orders? You may want to follow Shaquille O’Neal’s lead. According to Fox News and USA Today, the former basketball star-turned-DJ shared a now-viral video Monday of himself putting on a concert for his two sons, stepson and nephew from his kitchen. Less than a minute into the clip, the party turns raucous as two of the boys jump onto the kitchen counter and show off their dance moves. “Don’t be down,” O’Neal, who performs under the name DJ Diesel, captioned the clip, which had been viewed more than 4.7 million times by Wednesday morning. “Be safe love yall,” he continued. “Oneal boys kitchen concert.” >> Watch the video here Read more here or here.
  • A Charlotte, North Carolina, mother who was desperately trying to protect her twin baby boys just learned her entire family was exposed to the coronavirus by a Spectrum technician. “He told me the tech that had been at our house had just tested positive for COVID-19, and my heart just stopped,” said Emily Beaty. The mother said she has been protecting her twin baby boys since they were born 26 weeks premature. She called Spectrum last week to have her internet serviced. She said she asked the customer service representative the steps that the company was taking to protect customers from exposure to COVID-19. 'They were taking this situation very seriously. They were prescreening their employees, and all of their employees were healthy,” she said. She said the tech arrived at her home and started doing work outside. Her husband saw him cough briefly outside. Eventually, the tech came inside to quickly finish up before leaving, she said. Four days later, she said Spectrum called her and said the tech tested positive for COVID-19. 'I just don't feel like they were doing a proper screening. I mean, they sent a tech out to my house that had a cough and not two days later, he is being tested for coronavirus,' Beaty said.A spokesperson for Spectrum sent WSOC-TV the following statement: “We have confirmed that one of our Charlotte-based technicians has tested positive for COVID-19. We immediately contacted the customers recently served by this technician, as well as the technician’s co-workers. “We learned this technician was not feeling well on March 25 (Wednesday) and sent the technician home immediately. The technician sought medical attention and was subsequently tested. When we confirmed the positive test on March 27 (Friday), we began contacting customers served by this technician and co-workers. “We are continually communicating and educating our staff on best practices according to the CDC health and safety guidelines, such as proper hygiene and social distancing. We are encouraging all technicians to take their temperature at home before reporting for work. We have made clear, including in a message directly from our chairman and CEO to all employees that any employee who is sick, or who is caring for someone who is sick, should stay home. If an employee needs to self-quarantine, they will not need to use their paid sick leave, but will continue to be paid and receive full benefits while under quarantine. The company also has given every worker an additional 15 days of COVID-19-related paid time off, and hourly workers who do not use this time during the COVID-19 pandemic will be paid out the remaining unused days at the end of the year.
  • A 'Stranger Things' star and her family have donated tens of thousands of meals to food banks amid the coronavirus pandemic. According to the Albuquerque Journal, 16-year-old actress Millie Bobby Brown took to Instagram on Friday to announce that she and her family had given 20,000 meals each to food banks in New Mexico, where the popular Netflix series had been scheduled to film its next season, and Atlanta, where the show had previously filmed. “While we stay home and do our part to flatten the curve, we must not forget those in need,” wrote Brown, who plays Eleven. “My thoughts are with the great people and crew from Santa Fe, NM whom we didn’t yet get to meet in our company move on ‘Stranger Things.’ In appreciation of this community, my family and I have donated 20,000 meals to The Food Depot, which will provide meals for those hungry in the Northern New Mexico service area.” Brown added: “Also, to all those in Atlanta who have embraced us, to the ST crew and their families, you’re in our thoughts. My family and I have donated 20,000 meals to the Atlanta Community Food Bank, which will provide meals for those hungry in their service area.” >> See the post here Brown also urged her fans to “find enjoyment in the simple things” during social distancing.'Reflect on the impact of great people and then share the love with others,' she continued. “A special shout-out to those who have supported me, inspired and empowered me, whom I admire and just make me happy.” Several other celebrities, including Angelina Jolie, Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Kylie Jenner and Arnold Schwarzenegger, also have made large donations to organizations that are helping with coronavirus relief efforts. Read more here or here.
  • You may be seeing a lot of empty shelves at grocery chains and other stores. But a 17-year-old Georgia high schooler is bringing relief to stressed people across the country who can’t find cleaning and paper products. WSB-TV’s Wendy Corona learned he’s doing it all while self-isolating. Blake Rand is a skilled computer programmer. With his school closed because of coronavirus, he also has a lot of time on his hands. Recently, his mother came to him with a problem. “My mom needed supplies, as everybody else does, and she couldn’t really find any, so I just went online and just kept looking and looking everywhere and found some,” Rand said. When his grandmother, who has Parkinson’s and can’t leave the house, couldn’t find her supplies online, he was struck with an idea. “I just decided to help out the community and make a website,” Rand said. The website is called Coronafinds.com, and on it are the results of hours of online scouring Rand spends to locate hard-to-find, in-stock products like toilet paper. “It’s just a list of links that are updated daily, and it’ll pretty much just give you the item name, and if you want to purchase an item, you just go to link, and it takes you to a bigger retailer like Target or CVS, and then you can just purchase it there,” Rand said. He told Corona that the products can almost always be found on major retailer sites; you just have to sift through hundreds of choices. “Like a lot of people don’t look at like the Dollar General and those kind of stores, Boxed. I try to find, like, smaller stores, too, because those usually have a lot in stock,” Rand said. Needless to say, his family is doing pretty well on supplies. “I got enough. I’m not hoarding, though, but I have enough,” Rand said. Blake said he is looking in to automating Coronafinds.com. Also, in his spare time, he does security research to find vulnerabilities in sites like Apple and Snapchat.
  • At the beginning of the spread of the novel coronavirus in December 2019, we didn’t really have an idea of just how quickly the virus could spread. It was when COVID-19 was officially declared a global pandemic that the situation became very real for the entire world - especially those in countries where the virus had already spread far and wide and claimed hundreds of lives on a daily basis. So far, it’s become clear that obtaining as much data as possible is the best way to combat the virus, mainly by testing as many people as possible and ensuring we have the appropriate approach to deal with the numbers. Now, mapping the outbreak is the goal for many tech companies across the globe as we learn more about how and when COVID-19 spreads from person to person. WFXT found two companies that teamed up to show just how far and wide the Spring Break revelers in Florida spread out after congregating at a single beach during a national call for social distancing in early March. Mapping platform Tectonix teamed up with cell phone location data tracker X-mode to create a viral video that shows thousands leaving one Florida beach over Spring Break, fanning out across the country and potentially spreading the coronavirus. “Despite international news, no one seemed to be changing behavior based on what we saw at all, like nothing happened,” said Rob Gresham, Co-Founder of Tectonix. Together, both companies were able to “analyze secondary locations of anonymized mobile devices that were active at a single Ft. Lauderdale beach during Spring Break” and track them as the spread out across the country. Most of the more than 5,000 people in the sample size were headed to the Northeast. Co-Founders of Tectonix, Rob Gresham and Elliott Bradshaw say they hope to apply their mapping technology to other areas and industries impacted by the virus. “We’re looking to apply that technology not just to looking at how Spring Breakers spread coronavirus, but home logistics shipments are moving around the world and how airline trends are being impacted by this type of crisis,” said Bradshaw. Researchers at Boston’s Children’s Hospital and Harvard have developed their own way to map the virus. Using crowdsourcing, https://www.covidnearyou.org/#!/ asks the public to report current symptoms in real time and be identified only by ZIP code. “There really is a lack of understanding of the true burden of this disease across our country, particularly with the limited amounts of testing being done,” said Kara Sewalk, one of the developers of COVID Near You. Sewalk says the goal is to help public health experts and government officials understand how many people are infected on a local, state and federal level. “It’s not meant to replace surveillance of COVID or any other type of illness, but rather to augment existing surveillance systems to supplement the information that we’re collecting across the U.S.,” said Sewalk.