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Doug Turnbull's Traffic Blog

    This originally appeared on wsbradio.com in 2014 and we publish it again today, on the five year anniversary of one of the worst traffic jams in Atlanta history.  February 1, 2014 As I write this, it's the night before the Super Bowl - a time when people will forcibly plant themselves in front of the TV to watch a bunch of brutes brave chilly extremes and fight tooth and nail to a desired outcome. That is exactly what we got tired of doing Tuesday through Thursday of this week, as most of Atlanta's population had a dog in the fight we could call a 'Stupor Bowl.' An unpredictable, wintry side of Mother Nature pantsed Metro Atlanta's infrastructure, grinding the city to a stranded halt on iced, clogged roads in dangerous cold. The blame game started as soon as the chaos began unfolding midday Tuesday, with public officials becoming the rightful focus of angst. Weren't we prepared this time? This kind of thing happened in 2011 and paralyzed Atlanta again? People wanted answers and the next few weeks will continue to bring more - which will likely bring more questions. Mayor Kasim Reed faced the most criticism he ever has in his four-plus years at Atlanta's helm. Governor Nathan Deal had to track and back track more than a tractor trailer trying to climb the icy hill on I-75 near Mt. Paran, as he finally took the blame for the state of Georgia's ineptitude in preparing for the emergency. GEMA, GA-DOT, the City of Atlanta, the State of Georgia, and the various school districts all deserve their rightful blame. But we as the private sector also need to look in the mirror and ask ourselves what we could have done to make our own situations better in this civil emergency. And that is where this becomes a traffic blog post and not a political editorial.  Traffic was the key difference between this winter storm being a fun, rare Atlanta snow event and a life-threatening, patience-trying struggle. A big reason that most of the city got cryogenically frozen for a day is the sheer timing of the unpredictable storm. We planned for Tuesday, based on what we thought we knew Monday night: it would probably hit after lunch at the earliest and the worst hit would be south of Atlanta. As Tuesday dawned, WSB meteorologist Kirk Melhuish's (how it's really spelled - you probably know it as 'Mellish') forecast broadened the time of 'the hit' to as early as late morning and, even with more snow south of the city expected, at least 1-2 inches in Atlanta - which is more than enough to throw Atlanta into a tizzy. He and I exchanged emails about this several times and he said it on-air - at the time most people got caught, there was only a 1/2 inch or so of snow on the ground, so the fact that more than two inches fell in total was kind of moot. And, even if the storm had hit later, people still would have sat in the same gridlock - it just would have started later. Melhuish wonderfully outlines the system's unpredictability and some stats from past Atlanta snowfall in his latest weather blog post.  So we all planned as if this winter storm would unfold in the best of circumstances, which is never how Atlanta should handle anything - especially winter. Schools opened and figured they would just send kids home early in a worst case scenario (you know, because that isn't complicated or anything). The private and public sectors went to work like normal, with pregnant anticipation of having the next day off (even though conservative forecasts said the storm could hit while people were still at work and school). There may have been a rush on milk and bread at stores...but I didn't hear of a rush on snow chains or see one car on the news with any chains secured on the tires. Why? Because, who uses snow chains here? Where would you even buy them? This is Atlanta! That's the attitude that leaves us on the wrong end of these winter traffic disasters every time.  That same attitude has to be what stunted preparation by the public sector. The DOT did not treat the roads based on the updated forecasts saying the storm could hit earlier and harder in Atlanta. GEMA's emergency command center was not in place until the middle of the day, which was the biggest mistake of the entire event. Governor Deal and Mayor Reed were, of all things, at an awards ceremony as the storm closed in northwest of town. With a winter storm warning from the National Weather Service in place since just after 3:30 a.m., all properties should have been preparing for the worst, instead of hoping for the best. And even after people became stranded, the urgency of emergency seemed lax. People sat, for example, on I-285 stranded for nearly a day before anyone came to their aide. There were cars with babies in them and the parents were running out food and diapers. If any had died, heads would have rolled. The fact that people were in potentially deadly situations means that heads still should roll and maybe some will. Some public services seemed to wait too long to truly rise to the pitch of what was actually happening.  And that's how we all got stuck. Expecting the city to have the same know how and equipment to deal with what is considered a small weather event to northerners may be a pipe dream. So that means we need to accept what we know and have and always prepare for the worst with our five loaves and two fish. Next time snow threatens anywhere close to town, we all - public and private - can do a few things: plan for the worst and cancel work and school before arriving at said destinations; have road crews and emergency managers in place to act before the earliest estimate of the storm's arrival; keep overnight bags and emergency supplies in our vehicles (non-perishable foods, water, changes of clothes, blankets, hygiene supplies, etc.); not trying to venture out in these unfamiliar elements to us, as we almost certainly will wreck or get stuck (which would have both made our lives easier and made the jobs of road crews, emergency responders, and traffic reporters easier, too); public officials sending out traveler's advisories (like we at WSB do on-air and online) to surrounding states and trucking companies, so they know that travel through Georgia will be impossible and their getting stuck will only make it worse.  As the blame game started Tuesday, I posed this question on Facebook and Twitter: who was surprised by the storm? I think anyone that answered honestly would have said they were. We live in a culture of complacency and Georgians are as complacent as ever in winter weather and traffic situations. Believe it or not, our public officials are also Georgians. They weren't the only buffoons in this icy cluster-fornication - we were in this together. That is actually good news, because the next time it happens, we actually don't have to rely on just the government to make the experience better for us. They have their large responsibilities and we have our own. Knowing what we have again been reminded of this week, Atlanta will be paralyzed the next time significant winter weather makes a direct hit - just as it was in '82, '93, '00, and '11 and other times. Hopefully we have learned to prepare and to not 'bravely' go out in the mess and drive.  Atlanta's dysfunctional reputation took another hit nationally this week, but that's okay - if we learn from it. We learned some from the 2011 storm, which made only some difference this time around. If we don't learn from this, Atlanta will lose billions in the long run. Hollywood will leave town. And no new dome will ever attract another Super Bowl (which got a direct hit in the 2000 ice storm - the last time Atlanta hosted it). Let's show the nation together that we can work through this much better the next time, instead of living in the clouds and hoping the snow won’t hit us again..  A time capsule of what actually happened on the roads during the storm:  Let me step down from my soap box (or is it an icebox) to list a few of the more extraordinary traffic travesties from this storm, which serve as our top traffic stories of the week.  - The earlier Metro Atlanta snow and ice accumulation took place in the northwestern suburbs. Officials in Bartow, Cherokee, and Cobb Counties began dispatching crashes left and right around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. By noon, Cobb already told motorists they would only respond to injury crashes, because of the large volume of single-vehicle spinouts and ditch landings. Cherokee authorities had over a dozen crashes on I-575 alone. Dispatchers in each county told me they had too many crashes to even bother listing them. This became the chorus of most counties as the day wore on, so we stopped keeping track of wecks.  - The worst interstate in the storm was I-285, which held drivers for over a day on the southwest side. Motorists between I-20 and I-85 near the Airport sat on a road virtually shut down most of a 24-hour period between Tuesday and Wednesday night. Nearby Hwy. 166 became a sheet of ice and motorists sat in place there for a similar amount of time. There were jackknifed tractor trailers up and down both I-285 and Hwy. 166 in this area. The most desperate calls we received were from people stuck on I-285, as they waited not just the longest to get moving, but also the longest to receive any kind of help or relief. - I-75/85 in both directions was awful near Hwy. 166, not only because of Hwy. 166 itself, but because there were so many stuck trucks on the Downtown Connector there. Only one lane or so was open to zigzag through each direction for most of Tuesday night and Wednesday. People spent the night here, too.  - With the rush of everyone to get home in full effect, some of the worst surface street jams we heard of were in Downtown/Midtown, Buckhead, Sandy Springs, and Dunwoody. Not only were people moving inches in hours, the traffic just getting out of parking decks was hours-long. By this point, we were recommending people just spend the night at work. Cars got stuck at the busy River bridge at Johnson Ferry Rd. and Riverside Dr. WSB's Steve Winslow took 10.5 hours to drive in to work at our Traffic Center - his drive was via Hwy. 41 and I-75, from Kennesaw to Midtown. WSB's Kim McCarthy said that her drive just from Sandy Springs to WSB was one of the worst and scariest of her life. Our Chris Schiavone took hours to drive from Woodstock and Roswell to WSB. And we heard countless other accounts of day-plus commutes from, say, Sandy Springs to Kennesaw. But both businesses and residences opened their doors and housed these cold, tired people. Good Samaritans brought food and supplies to those they could. Hospitality was one of the few pluses in this storm. - The icy I-75 hill near W. Paces Ferry was all or mostly blocked for about a day. Truck after truck after car kept getting stuck and other cars just had to tiptoe through. The same happened on I-75 in both directions near the South and North 120 Loops. Dozens got stuck on the I-75/nb ramp to Cumberland Blvd. alone - they couldn't make the hill and just abandoned their vehicles. GSP and the National Guard used four-wheelers to help people not only recover abandoned vehicles from the interstates, but also give them some gas and battery charge. The government's response in the aftermath of the storm was much better than before and during.  - I-285 on the northside was especially bad. The gridlock, mostly caused by difficulty in crossing the Chattahoochee River bridge and the constant blockages in the I-285/I-75 Cobb Cloverleaf stranded people for hours and hours. The gridlock and ice set in simultaneously, meaning treatment of the roads was near impossible until after traffic cleared, which took forever, because the temperatures didn't even crack freezing until Wednesday afternoon and then still plunged afterwards.  - DeKalb County was not the focal point of the storm, but Hwy. 78 took a beating - this biggest punch being the 20 or so-car wreck Hwy. 78/eb near Stone Mountain Park that essentially blocked the Stone Mountain Freeway from Tuesday night to Wednesday afternoon. The shade on Hwy. 78 made the Tucker-Stone Mountain thaw a long process.  - The last interstates to return to normal were I-20 on the west side and I-75 between Lake Allatoona and Kennesaw. Part of the reason for this is because, like Hwy. 78, there are several areas on those roads that stay shaded and didn't thaw well. The high volume of big rigs that take these routes meant these big trucks had to baby there way through the barely melted and treated lanes. And the right lanes along these routes, the lanes generally covered the most in shade, stayed impassable until Thursday. The Thursday gridlock on I-75/sb stretched from Allatoona to Acworth (and there was an overturned big rig on I-75/nb at Red Top Mountain Rd. Thursday afternoon that blocked most of the freeway and caused delays) and I-20/eb was a cold mess near Hwy. 92, Lee Rd., and Hwy. 6. Earlier in the storm, cars got stuck on I-20 trying to climb Six Flags Hill, but as the Wednesday thaw progressed, that situation cleared up faster than the other parts of I-20. Surface streets in this corridor were particularly bad: Hwy. 6/Thornton Rd./Camp Creek Pkwy. in Douglas and Fulton was littered with abandoned cars and gridlocked between the River and Lithia Springs. Other south Fulton main highways (Camp Creek closer to the Airport, Fulton Industrial Blvd., Hwy. 154, Hwy. 166 outside I-285, and Hwy. 92) stayed jammed through Wednesday and into Thursday as well. The thaw was also slow in Cherokee County, as officials there complained of heavy icing even into Thursday. The DOT could have done a better job treating roads post-snow storm in these areas, for sure.  - This last development from the storm is completely mind-blowing. As the gridlock continued on Roswell Rd./Hwy. 9 in Sandy Springs Tuesday night, some people thought that turning that road into a one-way, wrong-way, ice train from hell would be a wonderful idea. The WSB Traffic Center received multiple reports that impatient motorists decided to skirt the northbound backups and drive in the southbound lanes - on ice - with traffic heading toward them. There were also instances of this reported on Hwy. 92 in Cherokee Co. and some other roads. No words describe how utterly dangerous and ignorant these things are, but this situation perfectly shows how some responsibility of this entire debacle lies on our shoulders and not just the government’s.  There were plenty more instances of gridlock, despair, and insanity on Atlanta’s roads. Tell us your stories in the comments section below. To perfectly sum up the intensity and insanity of Atlanta’s SnowJam ‘14, here is a detailed blog post on one WSB listener's intense drive home and their lessons in preparedness. And, finally, a YouTube video of the Tuesday evening-Wednesday morning drive, documented by another WSB listener. (Warning: there is strong language).  http://youtu.be/jorNiTo7naw
  • As Super Bowl 53 rapidly approaches, the lifestyle changes for Downtown Atlanta commuters begin. Below is the list of the static street closures for the February 3rd Super Bowl and the related array of events.  Remember that the biggest effect on Atlanta traffic will be the push to and from this week long fest on the roads that remain open. This is why MARTA is extending its hours and running extra trains. Georgia Commute Options is beefing up its benefits to people who enroll in their carpooling program. And the real key to minimizing the effect on your life is simple: don’t head to the heart of Downtown Atlanta, if you don’t have to go. The closer the game gets, the more roads shut down, and the bigger the crowds will be. At least the city has posted detours for these long-planned shut downs.  And if you are partaking in the big game, the concerts, or anything else, try to ride share or take public transit. Parking will be ridiculous.  Remember to stay with News 95.5/AM750 WSB 24/7 for live Triple Team Traffic updates and tune in each morning to Channel 2 Action News before your commute. Stay up to date on the closures and the delays on the @wsbtraffic Twitter page and wsbradio.com/traffic. And, of course, leave the Triple Team Traffic Alerts App open while you drive and our automatic audio alerts will play in the background on your device. That is especially helpful when conditions change as you drive. Check the planned closures below:  Monday, Jan. 21 - Friday, Feb. 8:  Baker Street Northwest will be closed between Centennial Olympic Park Drive Northwest and Luckie Street Northwest. Monday, Jan. 21 - Thurs., February 7:  Mitchell Street Southwest will be closed between MLK Jr. Drive Southwest (southbound) to Elliot Street Southwest. Mangum Street will be closed between Markham Street to Foundry Street. MLK Jr. Drive Southwest (southbound) will be closed between Northside Drive Northwest to Centennial Olympic Park Drive Northwest. Wednesday, Jan. 23 -Thurs., February 7 Andrew Young International Boulevard Northwest will be closed between Marietta Street Northwest and Centennial Olympic Park Drive Northwest Friday, Feb. 1 - Sunday, Feb. 3 Peachtree Street between Ponce De Leon Avenue and Third Street will be closed for the NFL Honors award show at the Fox Theater  There will be a full closure of Ponce De Leon Avenue and Third Street between West Peachtree Street and Peachtree Street. Saturday, Feb. 2 - Mon., February 4 Northside Drive Northwest will be closed between Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard Northwest and MLK Jr. Drive Southwest (southbound). 
  • Captain Herb Emory loved the giving spirit of Christmas and he loved children. So this may not surprise you to learn that he combined those two energies every Christmas Eve for many years.  Captain Herb and his wife Karen would take time out of their Christmas trip each year to call into WSB and converse with WSB’s youngest listeners.  The Emory’s and Buzzy the Elf would answer kids’ calls and Captain Herb in his best Jolly Old St. Nick voice, would hear their wishes and have them sing songs to everyone. Then he would promise them Christmas cheer, if they went to sleep and were good.  Listen to their last Christmas Eve special from 2013 and hear Captain Herb’s wonderful rendition of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Put it on, pour some hot chocolate, gather the kids around, and enjoy the spirit of Christmas. Captain Herb would want you to do that. Merry Christmas from all of us at WSB!  Listen to 2013 Captain Herb/Santa Claus Christmas Eve Listen to the Captain Herb/Santa Claus reading of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”
  • Saturday is going to be one of those days in Downtown Atlanta. Rain, Dawgs, Elton, and Santa Claus will complicate travels all day on the Downtown Connector, Peachtree, and the streets around both Mercedes-Benz Stadium and State Farm Arena.  The Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Christmas Parade will run on Peachtree Street in Midtown, between 16th Street and 5th Street, starting at 10:30 a.m. The road closures for this usually begin in the 8 a.m. hour and the event goes on rain or shine. Arriving and parking will be a challenge, so take MARTA, if possible. Channel 2 Action News will carry the action live, with hosts Fred Blankenship and Linda Stouffer.  Concurrent with the parade, the Dr. Pepper SEC FanFare will commence at the Georgia World Congress Center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., so expect big crowds there, off of Northside Drive. And the SEC Championship game itself will draw a tremendous crowd to MB Stadium for the 4 p.m. kickoff for the hometown Georgia Bulldogs and some team from the state just to our west.  Then as that is wrapping up, Elton John’s second of two “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” Atlanta dates will begin next door at State Farm Arena at 8 p.m. Traffic on Marietta Street, Centennial Olympic Park Drive, and Northside Drive will already be packed with football fans. Mix in the “Tiny Dancers” and the ride in the heart of Downtown will be a zoo.  Both the Dawgs’ and Elton’s events will jam I-75/85/southbound ramping to Williams Street and northbound onto the Peachtree/Pine and Spring Street exits. Stay away, if you can.  Download the WSB Triple Team Traffic App for instant alerts in your car to guide you around traffic trouble. The best bet getting to any of these events is MARTA. Take MARTA to the Midtown or Arts Center Stations to avoid the street closures for the Christmas Parade. And then the best MARTA station for both football and Elton John is the anachronistically-named Dome/GWCC/CNN Center/Philips Arena station. The Five Points MARTA Station is a 10 minute walk from the events and eliminates having to switch train lines. But with about 100,000 people expected at the game and concert combined, plan extra time even on MARTA to make the trip.  And on top of all this is rain and possibly storm activity. WSB Meteorologist Kirk Mellish predicts rain to start around 7 a.m. and continue through most of the day, with temperatures steadily holding in the 50s much of the day. Mellish says that the severe weather threat is minimal and the highest odds are to the south and west, but definitely prepare for precipitation.  The rain will only worsen the ride all over town and create a much higher likelihood for wrecks. So try and avoid Downtown Atlanta by vehicle Saturday and drive with your headlights on. Also be sure and download the Triple Team Traffic Alerts App for hands-free, automatic audio traffic alerts as you drive, produced by our 24-hour traffic team.  News 95.5/AM750 WSB will carry live Georgia Bulldogs coverage with the tailgate show at noon and kickoff at 4 p.m. WSB will also broadcast live from nine to noon at the Walmarts in both Woodstock and Peachtree City for Clark’s Christmas Kids. Come buy some toys for Georgia’s foster children and then curl up and listen to the Dawgs put a whippin’ on Alabama Saturday.
  • This is a re-post of my blog post from just after Captain Herb Emory’s death on April 12, 2014. We miss him every day.  “O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;   The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;” WSB’s Erick Erickson Tweeted these opening lines to Walt Whitman’s famous poem just a couple of hours after WSB and Metro Atlanta got punched in the gut Saturday afternoon. As many of you know, Captain Herb Emory died of a heart attack while directing traffic for a serious crash that happened in front of his house. He, the traffic reporter and community servant he was, died at the scene of a crash, trying to help people get around it. And he wasn’t your everyday Good Samaritan.  Where many people would maybe help with something that happened right in front of them, Captain Herb would be the pillar of help certainly for any number of things that he didn’t have to see. He made appearances all over town for different charitable events - runs, rides, festivals, parades, career days, fundraisers, Kiwanis clubs. He had a special place in his heart for veterans, law enforcement, the elderly, and stray animals. He did this all in his free time, in between his demanding, split-shift traffic schedule. His energy was divine and surreal.  That drive to serve the public made Captain Herb a natural for a broadcasting career. Starting as a disc jockey, he eventually became a full-time newsman, winning dozens of awards. He then transitioned to traffic and eventually, fortunately, to WSB in 1991. One thing he taught all of us on the WSB Traffic Team, above and beyond, is to serve the public. That is what this job is all about. He always told us these are the public’s airwaves and we have the privilege of being on them. He took that to heart more than anyone.  The whole idea of Triple Team Traffic was Captain Herb’s. The reason we still use police scanners as much as we do is because he insisted on it. Digging hard and calling police departments to find crashes was his idea. RED ALERTS and many of the crazy or trademark phrases we use are his. During his off hours, he still would sit around his traffic and NASCAR cave at home (named “The Tiny Lund Ballroom”), in a room abuzz with 15 scanners, and send us crashes or other things of interest he was hearing. He insisted on accuracy and never giving up on finding the cause of the delays in a given area. Almost everything this Traffic Team does to get the story right comes from a system and infrastructure that he initiated and helped build.  He was our Captain. He was my Captain. When my mom emailed him in 2004 and said I like NASCAR and broadcasting, he gave her his cell number and told her to have me call him. I was 18. I met him three days after graduating Lakeside High School and he gave me a tour of WSB. We struck up a conversation about NASCAR and how much we both loved it. He then asked if I wanted to be an intern and then took me up in the helicopter. What A-list radio or TV personality does that? Give an 18-year-old with an eyebrow ring (he didn’t know that at first) his cell number? Meet him? Offer him an internship? Really? We hit it off. I’ve been at WSB ever since, trying to live up to his standard, trying to make him proud. If there is any doubt about his generosity, I am one of many pieces of evidence of it. Half of what I own, he gave me. The other half of what I own, I bought with the money from the job he got me.  I am so lucky to have had my radio initiation, my tutelage, under such a legendary, Godly man who never saw himself as being as giant as others did. He taught me to answer every listener’s emails and to handle every call in the Traffic Center with the same care and sincerity as the next. He accepted so many seemingly menial requests for his appearances and in doing so, made every one of those people feel special. Every person he talked to, he made feel big. I looked forward to every time he answered the phone with that guttural “How ya doin, big hossy?” or “Fireball Turnbuuuuuuulllll, he’s a legeeeeeeeennnnnd!” And now I catch myself behaving with the same mannerisms and terminology. If imitation is the greatest form of flattery, then I complimented the heck out of Captain Herb.  Captain Herb Emory’s passing leaves a huge void - but maybe not where you think. As much as traffic reports are never going to be the same on WSB, the systems and ethics he laid in place will be and we will be pulling the plow (another Herb-ism I just inadvertently typed) harder than ever. The biggest hole Captain Herb’s sudden death leaves is in that community service realm. We will be scrambling to try and cover so many of the things he once did without hardly telling people. As much as he did in his life, we are going to try and do even more in honor of him after his death.  Another world that Captain Herb’s influence permeated was the racing community. Captain Herb’s racing show, which ran full-time from 1994 to 2011, used to be the best and main source that many people in Atlanta got their racing info before the internet got big. And racing used to be just as accessible as Captain Herb was and the gigantic growth of NASCAR turned off true salt-of-the-earth treasures like Captain Herb, who used to be able to hang out and pal around with the drivers. One driver who never lost that touch is 28-year-old David Ragan, who was on Captain Herb’s show since he was a kid. Ragan never forgot that and kept in touch with the Captain up until the end and always stopped by our tent on race days at Atlanta Motor Speedway. I doubt it’s a coincidence that Ragan adored the “Andy Griffith Show” and had his own replica Mayberry patrol car - just like Captain Herb. Another driver with the same instinct is Chris Cockrum, who has run handful of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races the past few years with CaptainHerb.net on the truck’s tailgate. He did it without Captain Herb even having to pay him, as a sign of respect for all the exposure he got on the racing show. And those are two of many from the racing world who love the Captain.  If you love the Captain as they do and as we do, you can show your love in one way - serve and serve to the fullest. Two of Captain Herb’s charities that the family is asking receive donations in lieu of flowers are A Gift of Love and the Douglas County Humane Society. But find a cause of your own and put your force behind it. Do this at your job, too, as most of us have jobs that directly or indirectly serve the public. Ring that order up a little faster; dig that hole a little deeper; answer a few more calls an hour; process those requests as quick as you can; put an extra little in each scoop of ice cream. That’s what Captain Herb would have done if he had your job and that’s what he did at his. I’ve gotten this question a few times - Captain Herb was a believer. He loved Jesus and while he was not a churchgoer, he did more acts of Christ than 99% of those that sit in the pews each week. Many in church tithe the minimum of 10% of what they have - he gave darn near all he had. He was an angel on earth and now he is an angel in Heaven, flying higher, much higher, than the WSB Skycopter ever could take him. And this eternal ride won’t out of fuel.  We didn’t actually lose our captain Saturday, he just moved. And now he can see and approve of us, while from afar, but actually much closer and all at the same time.  “O’ CAPTAIN! my Captain!” from Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” “O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;   The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;   The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,   While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:   But O heart! heart! heart!   O the bleeding drops of red,   Where on the deck my Captain lies,   Fallen cold and dead.     O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;   Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;   For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;   For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;   Here Captain! dear father!   This arm beneath your head;   It is some dream that on the deck,   You’ve fallen cold and dead.     My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;   My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;   The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;   From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;   Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!   But I, with mournful tread,   Walk the deck my Captain lies,   Fallen cold and dead.”
  • The Northwest Metro Express Lanes are opening this weekend. GDOT officials confirmed exclusively to WSB that the reversible toll lanes along I-75 and I-575 are set to open by mid-morning on Saturday, September 8th and will be free for the first two weeks. Any driver with a registered Peach Pass on their vehicle will be able to drive in them cost-free during that time.   A ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for Wednesday, September 12th. Governor Nathan Deal will be on hand then to christen the lanes, along with GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry and State Road and Tollway Authority Executive Director Chris Tomlinson. GDOT built the lanes and will deploy teams of HERO units to keep lanes open and then reverse them at the given times each day.    Toll-collecting and toll-setting fall under SRTA’s domain, just as they have for the similarly reversible I-75 South Metro Express Lanes in Henry County and the I-85 HOT lanes in Gwinnett and DeKalb. Enforcement of those driving in the lanes illegally without Peach Passes is largely upon the Georgia State Patrol and automated systems SRTA controls.    The new lanes on I-75 and I-575 in Cobb and Cherokee counties will operate with a dynamic tolling system, just as they have on the aforementioned existing lanes on I-75 and I-85. They will cost a minimum of $.10 per mile, with no cost ceiling during high-demand hours and a maximum of $.50 for an entire trip during times of low demand. This is the same standardized system that SRTA implemented for all Georgia toll lanes on August 20th. I-85 HOT lanes have seen record high prices since the cap lifted. The price increases when volume in the lanes increase; the goal is to keep the lanes moving 35-45 mph. This method keeps the toll lanes moving faster than the original lanes.    GDOT began work on the Northwest Metro Express Lanes in 2015 and targeted their completion for this summer. Sources say the lanes were set to open by late August. But a partial wall collapse onto the nearly finished lanes in June exposed a design flaw that prompted more inspections and repairs on other parts of the system. With two weeks still left in the summer, the lanes may not have opened as early as officials wanted, but they still are opening at the predicted deadline.    The lanes run from Acworth and Holly Springs on I-75 and I-575, respectively, with specific access points and some at completely different and new interchanges. Hickory Grove Road, Big Shanty Road, Roswell Road, Terrell Mill Road, and Akers Mill Road will all now tie in to I-75. The new lanes have limited entry and exit points, so as to eliminate the merging and exiting traffic that slows down roads. Drivers will need to plan ahead of time where they plan to exit and enter the new lanes.    Northwest commuters with Peach Passes will be able to use the lanes in the southbound direction through the weekend and into the following Monday morning rush hour. The lanes will close midday Monday and then re-open in the northbound direction for Monday PM drive. Motorists can learn more about how the lanes work and get what is needed to use them at PeachPass.com.        Stay with Triple Team Traffic on News 95.5/AM750 WSB for live coverage of the new Northwest Metro Express Lanes from the WSB Skycopter and our team of reporters on the ground and with Channel 2 Action News and the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

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  • 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.