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Coronavirus: Hertz files for bankruptcy protection
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Coronavirus: Hertz files for bankruptcy protection

Coronavirus outbreak: What you need to know

Coronavirus: Hertz files for bankruptcy protection

More than 5.1 million people worldwide – including nearly 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 Friday, May 22, continue below:

Hertz files for bankruptcy protection

Update 10:50 p.m. EDT May 22: Hertz filed for bankruptcy protection Friday, unable to withstand the coronavirus pandemic that has crippled global travel and with it, the heavily indebted 102-year-old car rental company’s business.

The Estero, Florida-based company’s lenders were unwilling to grant it another extension on its auto lease debt payments past a Friday deadline, triggering the filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware.

Hertz and its subsidiaries will continue to operate, according to a release from the company. Hertz’s principal international operating regions and franchised locations are not included in the filing, the statement said.

By the end of March, Hertz Global Holdings Inc. had racked up $18.7 billion in debt with only $1 billion of available cash.

Starting in mid-March, the company — whose car-rental bands also include Dollar and Thrifty — lost all revenue when travel shut down due to the novel coronavirus, and it started missing payments in April. Hertz has also been plagued by management upheaval, naming its fourth CEO in six years on May 18.

Judge orders Los Angeles to move thousands of homeless

Update 9:25 p.m. EDT May 22: A federal judge on Friday ordered Los Angeles city and county to move thousands of homeless people living near freeways after an agreement on a plan fell through.

U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter issued a preliminary injunction requiring the relocation, by Sept. 1, of an estimated 6,000 to 7,000 people camping near freeway ramps and overpasses, saying they face a health risk emergency.

Carter ordered a status report on the relocation plan to be ready by June 12, with updates to follow, and warned that he would move up the deadline if he doesn’t see “satisfactory progress.”

The city didn’t immediately release any comment on the ruling.

US warns Los Angeles stay-at-home extension could be illegal

Update 8:45 p.m. EDT May 22: The U.S. Department of Justice on Friday warned the mayor of Los Angeles and the county’s top health officer that an extension of the coronavirus stay-at-home order may be unlawful.

The vague letter sent to Mayor Eric Garcetti and LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer did not spell out any specific violations, but noted concern about statements both had made publicly that restrictions may be prolonged without a vaccine.

“Reports of your recent public statements indicate that you suggested the possibility of long-term lockdown of the residents in the city and county of Los Angeles, regardless of the legal justification for such restrictions,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband wrote. “We remain concerned about what may be an arbitrary and heavy-handed approach to continuing stay-at-home requirements.”

Garcetti received the letter, but his office declined comment, spokesman Alex Comisar said.

The letter came the same day the White House coronavirus response coordinator named the LA region as an area where spread of the virus is a concern. Los Angeles County, with a quarter of the state’s 40 million residents, accounts for nearly half of its COVID-19 cases and about 55% of the state’s more than 3,600 deaths.

Dr. Deborah Birx asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help look into the source of new cases to help prevent future outbreaks.

Patrick Ewing hospitalized after testing positive for coronavirus

Update 7:30 p.m. EDT May 22: Georgetown men’s basketball coach and Basketball Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing announced in a statement on social media that he has tested positive for coronavirus and is being treated at an area hospital.

"I want to share that I have tested positive for COVID-19. This virus is serious and should not be taken lightly. I want to encourage everyone to stay safe and take care of yourselves and your loved ones. Now more than ever, I want to thank the healthcare workers and everyone on the front lines. I’ll be fine and we will all get through this,” Ewing said in the statement.

Michigan Gov. Whitmer extends stay-at-home order

Update 6:50 p.m. EDT May 22: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has extended Michigan’s stay-at-home order by slightly more than two additional weeks, through June 12, while keeping theaters, gyms and other places of public accommodation closed until at least then.

A day after a judge ruled in her favor in a lawsuit filed by the Republican-led Legislature, the Democratic governor also extended her coronavirus emergency declaration through June 19. Both the stay-at-home measure and state of emergency had been set to expire late next Thursday, though Whitmer said extensions were likely.

The state on Friday reported 5,158 confirmed deaths due to COVID-19 complications, which is the fourth-most of any state. The daily death toll rose by 29 and the number of new confirmed cases in the state increased by 403, to nearly 54,000 since the pandemic started.

Federal prison system to begin moving nearly 7K inmates

Update 5:40 p.m. EDT May 22: The federal Bureau of Prisons will begin moving about 6,800 inmates who have been waiting in local detention centers across the U.S. to federal prisons to avoid jail overcrowding in the coronavirus pandemic, officials said Friday.

It’s not clear when it would begin. The inmates will be sent to one of three designated quarantine sites — FCC Yazoo City in Mississippi, FCC Victorville in California and FTC Oklahoma City — or to a Bureau of Prisons detention center.

All the inmates who are being moved will be tested for COVID-19 when they arrive at the Bureau of Prisons facility and would be tested again before they are moved to the prison where they would serve their sentence.

The prisoners have already been sentenced to federal crimes but were unable to be moved from local facilities as the coronavirus pandemic struck over concerns the virus would spread rampantly.

In a memo issued to staff earlier this week, Bureau of Prisons officials said the inmates would be held there “until such time that inmates can be moved safely to their final destination.” The BOP says it has suspended most transfers of inmates already in the federal system, but there are still exceptions for forensic studies, medical or mental health treatment, residential reentry and inmates who are wanted by other juristictions.

Nevada’s 28% joblessness is worst in US and in state history

Update 4:50 p.m. EDT May 22: More than one-fourth of Nevada’s workers don’t have jobs after the state’s unemployment rate hit unemployment rate of 28.2% in April — the highest rate in the U.S. and the worst joblessness showing in Nevada history.

The previous record for Nevada unemployment was estimated at 25% during the Great Depression.

“They are all sobering numbers, far in excess of anything we have experienced as a state before now,” said David Schmidt, chief economist for the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

Nevada was hit especially hard by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic because so many of its jobs are tied to the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors, Schmidt said. He said Nevada’s accommodation and food service industry alone lost nearly 41% of its jobs compared with April 2019

Nearly 37,000 coronavirus cases reported in Louisiana

Update 3:50 p.m. EDT May 22: Officials in Louisiana reported 421 new coronavirus infections Friday, raising the state’s total number of infections to 36,925.

Statewide, at least 2,545 people have died of COVID-19 and at least 26,249 people have recovered from the viral infection, officials with the state Department of Health said.

Harley-Davidson to restart production

Update 3:40 p.m. EDT May 22: After suspending production for about two months because of the coronavirus, thunder is about to roll again at the Harley-Davidson manufacturing plant in Milwaukee.

Work is expected to resume after the Memorial Day weekend for about 1,000 employees at the Menomonee Falls engine and drivetrain facility, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. A worker at the plant who tested positive for the coronavirus is expected to recover.

>> Read more

Pence visits Atlanta for restaurant roundtable

Update 3:30 p.m. EDT May 22: Vice President Mike Pence traveled to the Atlanta metropolitan area Friday for a roundtable discussion with restaurant executives who have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, according to WSB-TV.

>> Read more on WSBTV.com

Social distancing ‘very important’ over Memorial Day weekend, Birx says

Update 2:20 p.m. EDT May 22: Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus task force coordinator, stressed the importance of continued social distancing efforts over Memorial Day weekend during a news conference Friday.

“When you go out for this weekend, Memorial Day, and you want to do some kind of social gathering, it’s very important to maintain that six feet distance and very important to have your mask with you in case that six feet distance cannot be maintained,” Birx said.

Officials in all 50 states have begun reopening efforts after swaths of the economy were closed by the threat of the novel coronavirus.

Trump says houses of worship ‘essential,’ urges governors to reopen

Update 2 p.m. EDT May 22: President Donald Trump urged governors to reopen houses of worship and said he has directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to classify them as essential amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“Today I am identifying houses of worship -- churches, synagogues and mosques -- as essential places that provide essential services,” Trump said Friday at a news conference.

“Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential, but have left out churches and other houses of worship. It’s not right."

Trump holding news briefing amid questions about antimalarial drug he touted

Update 1:45 p.m. EDT May 22: President Donald Trump is holding a news conference Friday after a study published earlier in the day in the medical journal The Lancet found an increased risk for death in coronavirus patients treated with antimalarial drugs hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine or a combination of the drugs and an antibiotic.

Voting centers reopen in Washington DC ahead of June 2 primary

Update 1:40 p.m. EDT May 22: Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington D.C. said Friday that the area’s primary election is set to go on as scheduled June 2.

Voters will be required to wear masks or face coverings while voting, Bowser said.

Business owners sue Pennsylvania governor over closure orders

Update 12:30 p.m. EDT May 22: Business owners in four counties are suing Pennslyvania Gov. Tom Wolf over his order to close businesses deemed non-essential amid the coronavirus pandemic, WPXI reported.

Tom King, the attorney who filed suit on behalf of the business owners, told WPXI that the case was about Americans’ rights, which he said had been limited by the closures and Wolf’s planned phased reopening.

“The imposition on people’s constitutional rights even in war time, even in a pandemic … this is America, and people have constitutional rights." King said. “That’s the message that we want to send to the governor.”

>> Read more on WPXI.com

1,394 new cases of COVID-19 reported in New Jersey

Update 11:55 a.m. EDT May 22: Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey said Friday that 1,394 new coronavirus infections have been reported, raising the total number of COVID-19 cases in the state to 152,719.

Murphy said the number of hospitalizations, patients in intensive care units and ventilators in use “have all fallen dramatically.”

“Each day brings with it more signs that we’re moving closer to being able to enter Phase 2 of our restart,” the governor said in a post on Twitter.

Murphy raised the capacity for outdoor recreational businesses like driving ranges from 10 to 25, though he stressed that social distancing measures would need to continue at the businesses. Indoor gatherings remained limited to no more than 10 people.

Officials said Friday that 146 more people have died of COVID-19 in New Jersey. Statewide, 10,985 people have died of coronavirus.

Summer camps, youth activities allowed to reopen in Florida

Update 11:45 a.m. EDT May 22: Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida said Friday that summer camps and youth activities will be allowed to immediately reopen without restrictions, according to WFTV.

DeSantis said local governments and organizations can put restrictions in place on their own but that the state would not preempt them, WFTV reported.

“We trust parents to use common sense,” the governor said.

>> Read more on WFTV.com

109 new fatal coronavirus cases reported in New York

Update 11:20 a.m. EDT May 22: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said Friday that 109 more people have died of COVID-19 statewide. The number was slightly more than the 105 new fatal cases reported one day earlier.

Cuomo said the number of fatal cases “has been stubborn on its way down” but he added that other key indicators -- such as the number of new hospitalizations and the number of people admitted to intensive care units -- continued to fall Friday.

Defense secretary confident coronavirus vaccine will be ready by end of 2020

Update 11:15 a.m. EDT May 22: Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Friday that officials are “completely confident” the U.S. will have a vaccine for the novel coronavirus by the end of the year.

“I’m confident we’ll get it,” Esper said Friday during an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show. “(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.”

Scientists have expressed concern over the fast-paced timeline to a given by federal officials, noting that a vaccine would likely take 12 to 18 months to test and approve. The fastest ever vaccine developed, for mumps in 1967, took four years to make it to the market, according to The Verge.

Esper said Friday that researchers in America “have been working on this vaccine now and therapeutics and diagnostics for a few months.”

“This is the next phase of this battle and we will deliver on time the vaccines,” he said.

105 new cases of COVID-19 reported in DC

Update 10:50 a.m. EDT May 22: Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington D.C. said Friday that 105 new coronavirus infections have been reported in the area, raising the total number of cases in the area to 7,893.

Bowser also said six more people between the ages of 86 and 95 died of COVID-19. As of Friday, 418 Washington D.C. residents have died of coronavirus, officials said.

Study finds increased risk of death for COVID-19 patients treated with antimalarial drug

Update 10:10 a.m. EDT May 22: Scientists studying the efficacy of treating novel coronavirus patients with an antimalarial drug touted by President Donald Trump found an increased risk of death and heart arrythmias for patients who received the drug.

large study published Friday in the medical journal The Lancet looked at COVID-19 cases from late December to mid-April in which patients were hospitalized. Those included in the study had died or been discharged by April 21.

Using data from 671 hospitals on six continents, researchers reviewed more than 96,000 cases of COVID-19, including nearly 15,000 in which patients were treated with the antimalarial drugs hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine or a combination of the drugs and an antibiotic.

“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.”

Wall Street opens lower, but still on track for weekly gain

Update 9:50 a.m. EDT May 22: Stocks opened mostly lower Friday on Wall Street following a mixed showing in overseas markets. The S&P 500 fell 0.4% in early trading Friday, but it’s still on track for a weekly gain.

Hong Kong’s main index fell 5.6% after China made more moves to limit political opposition in the former British colony. China also abandoned its longstanding practice of setting economic growth targets.

European markets shook off some early weakness and were mostly higher. Oil prices headed lower after six straight gains, which weighed on energy stocks.

Trading was subdued ahead of the Memorial Day holiday in the U.S.

3,287 new coronavirus infections reported in the UK

Update 9:30 a.m. EDT May 22: Officials in the United Kingdom reported 3,287 new coronavirus infections Friday morning, raising the country’s total number of infections to 254,195.

Officials said that as of 9 a.m. local time, 36,393 people had died nationwide of COVID-19.

Global deaths top 333K, total cases soar past 5.1M

Update 7:44 a.m. EDT May 22: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus reached 333,382 early Friday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

In the four months since the virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, it has infected at least 5,125,612 people worldwide. Meanwhile, 12 nations now have total infection counts higher than China’s 84,081. 

The 10 nations with the highest number of infections recorded to date are as follows:

• The United States has reported 1,577,758 cases, resulting in 94,729 deaths.

• Russia has confirmed 326,448 cases, resulting in 3,249 deaths.

• Brazil has recorded 310,087 cases, resulting in 20,047 deaths.

• The United Kingdom has reported 252,246 cases, resulting in 36,124 deaths.

• Spain has confirmed 233,037 cases, resulting in 27,940 deaths.

• Italy has reported 228,006 cases, resulting in 32,486 deaths.

• France has confirmed 181,951 cases, resulting in 28,218 deaths.

• Germany has reported 179,021 cases, resulting in 8,212 deaths.

• Turkey has recorded 153,548 cases, resulting in 4,249 deaths

• Iran has recorded 131,652 cases, resulting in 7,300 deaths.

Trump orders flags lowered on federal buildings for 3 days in memory of coronavirus victims

Update 6:02 a.m. EDT May 22: President Donald Trump announced via Twitter Thursday he has ordered all flags on federal buildings to be lowered to half-staff for three days in memory of Americans lost to the novel coronavirus.

As is customary, the flags will also fly at half-staff on Memorial Day to honor military veterans who lost their lives in combat.

Young adults also contracting coronavirus-linked inflammatory syndrome, doctors say

Update 5:25 a.m. EDT May 22: The mysterious coronavirus-linked inflammatory disease affecting children and adolescents has now been confirmed in a small number of young adults, The Washington Post reported.

The condition is similar to Kawasaki disease, a rare illness that causes inflamed blood vessels. 

According to the Post, a 20-year-old is being treated for the condition in San Diego; a 25-year-old has been diagnosed at Northwell Health’s Long Island Jewish Medical Center; and several patients in their early 20s are being treated for the syndrome at NYU Langone in New York City.

Doctors told the Post that because Kawasaki disease is typically diagnosed in young children only, they fear the COVID-19-related inflammatory syndrome - dubbed multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C – is being overlooked as a possible diagnosis in young adults by non-pediatric physicians.

Jennifer Lighter, a pediatric infectious diseases doctor at NYU Langone, told the Post that teens and young adults have more of an “overwhelming” response to MIS-C involving multiple organs, especially the heart.

“The older ones have had a more severe course,” Lighter said.

Catholics, Lutherans in Minnesota set May 26 reopening of churches as coronavirus lingers

Update 3:48 a.m. EDT May 22: Two of Minnesota’s largest faith denominations announced plans Thursday to resume indoor worship services May 26, bucking the governor’s stay-at-home order enacted to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

According to a Johns Hopkins University tallyMinnesota has reported a total of 18,200 COVID-19 infections caused by the virus to date, resulting in 818 deaths.

In a news conference conducted by phone, Archbishop Bernard Hebda, Catholic leader for the state, and the Rev. Lucas Woodford, president of the Minnesota South District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, said the time for loosening restrictions on houses of worship has arrived, The Washington Post reported.

Specifically, the faith leaders called it “extreme and prejudicial” for Gov. Tim Walz’ order to impose stricter restrictions on houses of worship than on retail stores, the Post reported.

“Our community members are suffering from financial and social and emotional strain,” Hebda said on the call.

“It’s our sacred duty to meet the spiritual needs of the suffering,” he added.

Drug smugglers concealed meth shipments in hand sanitizer bottles

Published 2:28 a.m. EDT May 22Australian authorities discovered nearly 4.5 pounds of smuggled methamphetamine hidden in shipments of hand sanitizer and face masks sent in early May to help the nation combat the novel coronavirus.

“We know criminals will go to any length to smuggle drugs into the country, so it’s no surprise they’re trying to use in-demand items such as masks and hand sanitizer to hide them in,” John Fleming, superintendent of the Australian Border Force, said in a news release.

The drugs were detected as officers inspected shipments at the Sydney Gateway Facility, CNN reported.

According to the news release, officers inspecting the packages, shipped from Canada, found bottles of hand sanitizer wrapped in bubble wrap. Further investigation revealed the bottles had false bottoms, creating secret compartments in which a crystal-like substance later confirmed to be methamphetamine was discovered.

US coronavirus cases approach 1.6M, deaths near 95K

Update 12:38 a.m. EDT May 22: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States continued to climb past 1.5 million early Friday 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 1,577,287 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 94,702 deaths. 

The hardest-hit states remain New York with 356,458 cases and 28,743 deaths and New Jersey with 151,586 cases and 10,846 deaths. Massachusetts, with 90,084 cases, has the third-highest number of deaths with 6,148, while Illinois has the third-highest number of cases with 102,688. 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: 88,031 cases, resulting in 3,583 deaths

• Pennsylvania: 69,252 cases, resulting in 4,869 deaths

• Michigan: 53,510 cases, resulting in 5,129 deaths

• Texas: 53,053 cases, resulting in 1,460 deaths

• Florida: 48,675 cases, resulting in 2,144 deaths

• Maryland: 43,531 cases, resulting in 2,159 deaths

• Georgia: 40,663 cases, resulting in 1,775 deaths

Meanwhile, Connecticut, Louisiana, Virginia and Ohio each has confirmed at least 30,000 cases; Indiana, Colorado and North Carolina each has confirmed at least 20,000 cases, followed by Washington with 19,117; Tennessee and Minnesota each has confirmed at least 18,000 cases, followed by Iowa with 16,170 and Arizona with 15,348; Wisconsin, Rhode Island and Alabama each has confirmed at least 13,000 cases, followed by Mississippi with 12,222; Missouri and Nebraska each has confirmed at least 11,000 cases, followed by South Carolina with 9,381; Kansas, Delaware and Kentucky each has confirmed at least 8,000 cases; Utah, the District of Columbia and Nevada each has confirmed at least 7,000 cases, followed by New Mexico with 6,472; Oklahoma and Arkansas each has confirmed at least 5,000 cases.

Click here to see CNN’s state-by-state breakdown.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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.”