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Latest from Sandra Parrish

    A 12-year-old Decatur boy is using his music to thank healthcare workers at a nearby hospital for all they’re doing to fight COVID-19.  Nearly every night for the past month, Jason Zgonc has been playing his trumpet at shift-change at Emory Decatur Hospital. He’s only missed a couple of nights, so far, due to weather.  “I think they have a really hard job, especially at this time, because of all the people getting sick,” he tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.  He and his mom, Karen Zgonc, got the idea after seeing videos of musicians in New York serenading hospital workers there from their apartments.  “There’s actually a New York City trumpet player who was playing trumpet off the rooftop of his apartment,” Zgonc recalls. “And I was showing these videos to my son and we kind of just decided, ‘Hey we live right down the street from Emory Decatur Hospital, what if we went and played for them?’”  >>Listen to Sandra Parrish’s full on-air report below. Jason’s talent comes naturally. Karen owns Ztunes Music, which teaches music lessons, in Atlanta and his dad, Nathan, plays trombone in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. He sometimes joins his son playing outside the hospital.  The sixth grader plays for his band at Renfroe Middle School and made the Georgia Middle School All-State Band. He was also a semi-finalist for the 2020 National Trumpet Competition that unfortunately got cancelled due to the pandemic.  “I love playing the trumpet because I think I’m good at it and I like the way it feels in my hands,” says Jason.  Karen says right now he has no plans of ending his mini-concerts which begin around 6:45 p.m. and go until just after 7 p.m.  “Originally we didn’t know if we were going to do this every day or maybe just once. And after one time, he got in the car and asked to go back,” she says.  Jason isn’t sure what his future holds when it comes to music, but he does have some definite goals.  “I want to play the National Anthem at a Braves game and I also want to try to beat my teacher for a job,” he says with a chuckle.
  • With grocery stores and even Costco now limiting the amount of meat customers can buy, many people are now turning to local butchers and meat processors.  Angela Haas and her husband live just up the road from Findley’s Butcher Shop in Cartersville. They have been regulars who like to buy local.  “It’s been really convenient to know we can come here any time and it’s been really nice with the grocery stores empty. People kind of forget about these places,” she tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish. >>LISTEN TO SANDRA PARRISH’S FULL ON-AIR REPORT BELOW. David Widaski Jr, CEO of Widaski Meats which is Findley’s parent company, says business has been booming since Georgia’s public emergency was issued two months ago.  “Once Gov. Kemp actually went on at 4 o’clock, I believe, from 5 (o’clock) on, we basically doubled our day’s sales. And every day since then, each week has basically been a month’s worth of sales,” he says. New customers are are turning into repeat customers.  “People that had never shopped with us before, we’ve now seen five, six, seven times since then,” he says.  David Waldrep, owner of Waldrep’s Meat Processing in Ellijay is seeing people from metro Atlanta come to buy his meats. And he’s expecting even more to come since Costco announced this week it’s limiting meat purchases.  “Once those friends tell their friends, it’s going to be even more until we can get these big grocery stores filled back up,” he says.  Georgia White recently discovered Waldrep’s where she buys bacon, sausage, ground beef and steaks. She now prefers local over grocery stores.  “You feel safer. You kind of know what you’re getting here. You never know what you’re getting in the store,” she says.  Neither Waldrep’s nor Findley’s has limits right now on how much customers can buy. But Widaski says the price his company pays for the product it sells could impact availability.  “The price per pound at our cost is going up so much that we’re having to pick and choose,” he says. “Am I going to charge the customer a certain price, which we believe is outlandish, that it would be a disservice to the customer?”  Waldrep, who is among Findley’s suppliers, doesn’t expect to run out of meat to process and urges customers not to panic buy.  “I want them to get as much as they want. As long as we’re healthy and have a healthy plant, we’re still going to butcher every week and they’re going to be taken care of,” he says.
  • An Atlanta man who survived COVID-19 is telling his story of survival and the drug he believes may have saved his life. On April 19, Bill Clark was wheeled out of Emory St. Joseph’s Hospital with a line of doctors and nurses applauding him with the theme to “Rocky” playing in the background. The 57-year-old attorney had checked in just four days earlier.  “I honestly cannot do justice trying to describe just how emotional it was. I completely lost it when I got in the car with my wife and could barely speak. I said, ‘I’m just so thankful to be alive’,” describing the moment to WSB’s Sandra Parrish.  Clark was admitted on April 15, more than a week after he started having symptoms including congestion, headache, bad cough, and a fever between 101-102 that “just wouldn’t go away.”  Having been in contact with his doctor for more than a week, he was urged to go to Emory St. Joseph’s for testing. It was something that he had been avoiding.  “A hospital was the worst place to go it seemed like. You know stories all over the county and all over world of people going into the hospital and dying or at least being subjected to a bunch of other sick patients,” he recalls.  Already sleeping and eating apart from his wife and daughter for nearly a week, he decided to heed his doctor’s advice and head to the hospital. With scans and x-rays indicating pneumonia, he was admitted. By the next day, his test for COVID-19 came back positive.  As bad as he felt, when his doctor approached him about being part of a clinical trial being conducted by Emory University for a drug called Remdesivir, he was initially reluctant.  He recalls telling his doctor, “You know doc I’d love to be helpful as you guys are trying to figure this out. But frankly, I’m in the hospital and I’m sick and I’m kind of terrified of what’s going on. I want a treatment. I don’t really want the placebo. I want a treatment.”  >>Listen to Sandra Parrish’s full on-air report below. But Clark ultimately agreed to participate not knowing if he was being given the drug or a placebo. Four days later he was able to walk out of the hospital. He still doesn’t know which one he received.  “I’m more than two weeks out of the hospital and they either don’t know or won’t tell me,” he says.  Clark also doesn’t know how he caught the virus. He is healthy and had recently lost weight and thought he was taking all the safety precautions so as not to get it. He does recall a quick run into a restaurant without a mask to pickup food and an encounter at a grocery store with another shopper who wasn’t practicing social distancing.  But even though he has had the virus, he’s not ready to return to his pre-social distancing days just yet. He is worried he could catch it again.  “I’m going to continue practicing social distancing for quite some time and so is my family,” says Clark.  He also has a message for others who haven’t had it or don’t know anyone who has.  “It only takes one exposure to wind up positive for COVID-19 and possibly dying from it. People stay home,” he says.
  • The University of Georgia wants to document your experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic for posterity purposes.  The university’s special collections libraries are collecting experiences and responses from Georgians to preserve for generations to come.  “People can kind of share how this crisis has impacted them, their family, their business, their education, (and) their well-being,” says UGA archivist Steve Armour.  He tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish digital submissions can include personal reflections, photos, poetry, or even recordings. The information will be stored virtually and may be later displayed during an exhibit in the Special Collections Building on the Athens campus.  “We will archive, and it will be saved for posterity… and become a tool for future generations to use for research and understanding of the time we’re living in now,” says Armour.  It’s not the first time the university has sought such contributions. A similar request was made several years ago during the Women’s March. But this will be the first large-scale request issued statewide for the school’s publicly accessible archives.  Those who contribute will retain copyright of their materials but must agree to allow perpetual license to the UGA Libraries to use the materials for scholarly and educational purposes.  You can submit items by visiting via the library’s website at libs.uga.edu/covid-collection. To donate physical items, you can send an email to sclib@uga.edu.
  • A newly built surge hospital within the Georgia World Congress Center should be ready to take in any overflow of COVID-19 patients by this weekend.  WSB’s Sandra Parrish was among the few reporters who got a tour the facility with Governor Brian Kemp Thursday.  At the cost of $21.5 million, the basement of the GWCC now holds 200 hospital beds. Each is surrounded by handmade plywood walls which are capable of expanding to hold as many as 400 beds if needed.  Non-intensive care patients can be brought there to free up space at hospitals statewide.  Kemp called on Adjutant Gen. Tom Carden to lead the effort.  “This was a joint interagency public-private partnership. And it just shows what can happen when you bring the public sector and the private sector together for the good of all Georgians at the direction of our governor,” he tells Parrish.  >>LISTEN TO SANDRA PARRISH’S FULL ON-AIR REPORT BELOW. Most of the money will be spent on medical staff. But how much the facility will actually be used remains a mystery.  So far Kemp says most hospitals, other than Albany, have not reached capacity with a peak date for cases in Georgia still two weeks away.  “That is the only place that I’m aware of in the state that’s had a bed-capacity issue. Everybody else, believe it or not, are below capacity. Even though their COVID patients are going up slightly, the demand for their bed spaces is continuing to go down a little bit,” he says.  Carden believes initial models predicting the number of hospitalizations may have been wrong.  “The models tell us today, even at the upper bands of ranges of the current model, we’re actually in pretty good shape right now. We weren’t in such good shape when the decision was made to build this facility,” he says.  Patients who are brought there will come via ambulance and be dropped at one entrance. Those who recover leave through a different door. There is very little co-mingling in between and no unapproved visitors.  “If you have something that happens when we do get to our peak time and our hospital bed capacity is nip-and-tuck, we’ll be glad we had a facility like this,” says Kemp.
  • With seven people dead and 23 others injured in what is believed to be two tornadoes that hit adjacent mobile home communities in Murray County Sunday night, emergency personnel are now turning to recovery mode. Fire and EMA director Dwayne Bain says that calls from the public have been pouring in with offers of help. Anyone interested can meet at Bagley Middle School Tuesday at noon to do just that.  “We’re going to stage everybody here. We’re going to try to be able to have some type of an assignment list for those volunteers willing to go out and help in the community,” Bain tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.  Governor Brian Kemp toured the devastation Monday afternoon and offered words of encouragement to the survivors.  >>LISTEN TO SANDRA PARRISH’S FULL ON-AIR REPORT BELOW. “I just told them we’d be praying for them, number one. I mean these are resilient people up here, but they’ve gotten a double whammy—a lot of them are out of work because of everything that’s going on with the coronavirus. And now to have this storm hit, it’s hard on them,” he says.  The ages of the seven dead range from 20 to 79. Three of those were from one family. All of the victims came from four different homes within the two mobile home communities.  Crystal Castillo and her brother Miguel were inside their mobile home on Ridgeview Lane when the second tornado hit. As he grabbed his two small nieces to head towards his sister, the trailer flipped and was tossed across the street in pieces. All four walked away.  “Honestly, we’re blessed. We just came out with some bruises and scratches. The girls are fine,” she says.  Scott Enke lives down the street and thought they had just been spared from the first tornado. That’s when he heard the noise from the second one and told his family to run to the bathroom.  “As soon as they got to the bathroom, I picked the dog up and went through the door to get into the bathroom. It blowed (sic) me through the door and the dog went somewhere. It lasted about two or three seconds and that was it,” he says.  The house was destroyed around them, but all survived including their dog.  In total, Bain believes between 50-60 homes were damaged or destroyed in the six-mile swath through the county.  “There’s some damage there that’s just… I mean there’s nothing left. It looks like it’s been run through the shredder,” he says.
  • A Gwinnett County community is coming together to help different groups in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Aimee Appling lives in Hamilton Mill in Dacula, a sprawling community of more than 2,000 homes in northeast Gwinnett County, and came up with the idea. Forced to shelter-in-place, she wanted to do something that could involve her four kids and help others at the same time.  “What we decided is that each week, we’re going to focus on a new need in the community,” she tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.  She created Compassion Stations, tables with bins on top and homemade signs encouraging neighbors to donate items for that week’s cause. The stations are up not only in her neighborhood, but each of the small subdivisions within Hamilton Mill. The number is now up to 15 and has spread to neighborhoods in Buford, Winder, and Hoschton as well.  Last week they collected much-needed items for the North Gwinnett Co-op, and this week they’re collecting healthy snacks for the doctors and nurses who work at the four hospitals operated by Northeast Georgia Health System.  “They’re needing protein bars, nuts… things that will sustain them because they’re not getting breaks; and if they do, it’s quick,” says Appling.  The stations are also collecting homemade masks using a specific pattern provided by the hospital or fabric and flat elastic to make them.  They began collecting the items Monday and will do so again today and Friday. All will then be brought to Appling’s house to be distributed to the hospitals.  “Right now, people feel helpless. We want to help, but we don’t really know how we can help. And so, the response that I’m getting is, ‘Thank you so much. I’ve been wanting to do something. I feel helpless and I haven’t known what to do’,” she says.  And the needs keep growing. She’s gotten a request to help a nearby food pantry next week and plans to collect snacks for first responders the following week.  Appling has since created a Facebook page to keep her neighbors informed.  “Any neighborhood can set up a Compassion Station—all throughout Atlanta. I mean we could be doing this everywhere,” she says.
  • Georgia National Guard troops spent part of Tuesday at a nursing home in Ellijay making sure it remains free of coronavirus. It’s part of a statewide effort ordered by Gov. Brian Kemp to send troops to nursing homes and assisted living facilities where residents are at high risk of suffering serious effects of COVID-19.
  • While Gov. Brian Kemp has faced a lot of criticism for keeping the state’s parks, lakes and beaches open during his statewide shelter-in-place order, those out enjoying them over the weekend are glad he did. Vogel State Park in Union County had just a fraction of the usual number of visitors for a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon in April.  Michael Caldwell of Atlanta was tired of being cooped up and was glad to be outdoors.  “You’re not overrun with people. Everybody’s far enough apart. And it’s something from a mental standpoint -- it gives you the ability to come out and enjoy and take in some serenity, but to also get out and get some exercise,” he tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.  Brittany Henger, also from Atlanta, brought her two dogs.  “I think it’s an adequate amount (of people). People are wanting to get out of the house but are respecting the stay-at-home order,” she says.  Kemp refused to close Georgia’s parks, lakes and beaches as a part of his order to allow people to get outdoors to fish, boat and hike. State park campsites were also open but playgrounds were closed.  Local authorities on Tybee Island have been very vocal of their dislike for his decision and the mayor has threatened to file suit.  Still, images posted on Kemp’s Facebook page and his Twitter account over the weekend, show few people on the beaches with a state trooper monitoring the beach.  Rangers with the Department of Natural Resources have also been out on lakes and at parks to make sure social distancing rules are being followed.  One ranger at Vogel told Parrish he never had to break up any crowds and that people were following the guidelines posted on signs throughout the park.  At Amicalola Falls State Park, people spent the day hiking trails, climbing steps at the waterfall, and fishing. But far fewer than normal. Many empty parking spaces could be found.  The Massey family from Alpharetta was happy to spend the day hiking around Vogel although they found trails that run through the Chattahoochee National Forest closed by the U.S. Forest Service due to the nationwide shutdown. They hiked around the lake instead.  “The thing I like about this is we get to get out and talk and hike with the kids. I’m really glad that the governor has decided to keep the parks open. I think that it’s a good thing,” says John Massey.
  • A metro Atlanta emergency room doctor is doing what he can to keep himself and those he works with safe from COVID 19.  Dr. Mehrdod Ehteshami has already had to treat patients with the virus and is worried the limited supply of personal protection equipment will soon run out. So, he’s taken a MacGyver approach to keeping his N95 mask functional as long as possible.  “I actually went to a home improvement store and bought some air filters that apparently are able to block against viruses down to .3 microns, which is about what I need for the COVID 19,” he tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.  Ehteshami then cuts the filter in the shape of the cartridge inside the mask and replaces it.  He says it’s what he will be using in the event the masks at the hospital where he works runs out.  “We still have, at my hospital, N95s but we are definitely dwindling,” says Ehteshami.  He has a group of friends who are also making fabric masks with pockets where the filter can be placed with the goal of having enough for his staff too.  And Ehteshami is not stopping there when it comes to shortages of other PPE.  “I can reuse my goggles by just cleaning them with the 60 percent alcohol wipes that we have left,” he says, adding, “The PPE with the gowns and gloves and shoe covers are more of a problem. We’re just doing the best we can. We’re not out yet… but I’m trying to think about how to fix that problem as well.”
  • Sandra Parrish

    News Anchor Reporter

    Sandra Parrish has been a reporter for WSB Radio since 1995 and covers political, legislative, transportation, and educational news. She graduated from the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism in 1989 and worked as an anchor/news director for WPLO in Lawrenceville, an anchor/assistant news director for WNGC in Athens and an anchor/reporter for WDUN in Gainesville before joining the WSB news team. Over the years, she has received over a dozen Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for "Best Use of Sound", "Best Series", and "Best Sports Reporting". She's also received numerous awards from the Associated Press, Georgia Association of Broadcasters, Society of Professional Journalists, and National Association of Black Journalists. Sandra is a former member of the board of the Georgia Associated Press Broadcast Association. She is married with two daughters.

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News

  • Wednesday is the day that vacationers may find out the status of their travel plans as Walt Disney World and SeaWorld officials are scheduled to present their reopening plans to Orange County’s Economic Recovery Task Force after COVID-19 forced the closings of the theme parks in March. Update 10:54 a.m. EDT, May 27: SeaWorld Orlando is looking to reopen on June 11. Original report: WFTV reported the presentation would be done virtually Wednesday morning. The presentation will include when the parks can reopen. The plans must be endorsed by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and approved by Gov. Ron DeSantis, WFTV reported. Last week the shopping and entertainment complex Disney Springs held its first phase of reopening with selected stores and restaurants that were shut since mid-March. Visitors are required to undergo temperature screenings, wear masks and abide by social distancing, park officials said in advance of Disney Springs reopening. Walt Disney World employs about 77,000 workers and is the biggest employer in central Florida, The Associated Press reported. Universal Orlando unveiled its plans to reopen last week, hoping to open the gates to visitors on June 5, the AP reported. Legoland Florida will reopen June 1. As for the West Coast, Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, Six Flags Magic Mountain and SeaWorld San Diego, can reopen in California’s phase 3, The Orange County Register reported. Kate Folmar, California’s Health and Human Services Agency spokesperson, said they could reopen in stage 3 if the rate of the spread of the coronavirus and hospitalizations remain stable. Gov. Gavin Newsom said the third stage of reopening California could come within weeks, the Register reported.
  • An Oregon woman decided to sew some face coverings for her fellow employees. When they gave her money for them, she decided to play a Keno-8 spot ticket. Lorna Hewitt has never been so lucky. She won $126,784.70 in the Oregon Lottery game and claimed her prize Tuesday, lottery officials said in a news release. The winnings came at a good time for Hewitt, who was working part time at a grocery store in Sisters after being laid off from her job as a waitress because of the coronavirus pandemic. “I don’t play a lot, but thought I was doing something to help, maybe I would win,” Hewitt, of Sisters, told lottery officials. After taking a job at the grocery store, Hewitt said she got the idea to make masks. Her coworkers liked the idea. “They liked them so much, they started giving me some money for them,” Hewitt said. “So, I started selling them, because my boss couldn’t order any more, there was a shortage.” So, she made the masks and then made a small investment in the Keno 8-spot game. But when she won, Hewitt said she felt a little guilty. “I was making the masks with fabric I already had, and I just happen to get in at a good time,” Hewitt told lottery officials. After claiming her cash prize, Hewitt went to a fabric store in Salem to buy supplies for more masks. “My masks are popular, and I want to keep making them – and maybe some other things,” Hewitt said.
  • More than 5.6 million people worldwide – including more than 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 Wednesday, May 27, continue below:  72 new cases of COVID-19 reported in DC Update 10:30 a.m. EDT May 27: Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington D.C. said Wednesday that 72 new coronavirus infections have been reported in the area, raising the total number of cases in the area to 8,406. Bowser also announced five more people between the ages of 55 and 75 had died of COVID-19 in Washington D.C., bringing the total number of deaths in the District to 445. Wall Street opens higher on economic stimulus hopes Update 9:50 a.m. EDT May 27: Stocks opened higher Wednesday on Wall Street, led by financial stocks. Global stock markets rose after the European Union proposed more economic stimulus. European markets rose Wednesday after the EU commission proposed a new 750 billion-euro ($825 billion) package of financial aid meant to help the region’s economy recover from what is already considered the deepest recession in living memory. Benchmarks in Shanghai and Hong Kong, however, retreated after the White House said a proposed national security law might jeopardize the Chinese territory’s status as a global financial center. Fauci says he wears a face covering to protect self, others and set an example Update 9:45 a.m. EDT May 27: The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said Wednesday that he’s been wearing a face covering anytime he’s outside to protect himself and others and to set an example. “I do it when I’m in public for the reasons that ... I want to protect myself and protect others and also because I want to make it be a symbol for people to see that that’s the kind of thing that we should be doing,” Fauci said during an interview on CNN. Fauci noted that masks are “not 100% effective” at preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus, however, he said “It’s sort of (like showing) respect for another person and (having) that other person respect you.” “You wear a mask, they wear a mask -- you protect each other,”he said. National Women’s Soccer League to resume play in June Update 8:55 a.m. EDT May 27: Officials with the National Women’s Soccer League announced Wednesday that the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup will begin next month, marking a return to play for the league’s nine teams. The 25-game tournament will kick off June 27 at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah. Officials said the games will be played without spectators. “As our country begins to safely reopen and adjust to our collective new reality, and with the enthusiastic support of our players, owners, as well as our new and current commercial partners, the NWSL is thrilled to bring professional soccer back to the United States,” NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird said in a statement. Officials said the tournament in June will be the league’s first competition since the 2019 NWSL Championship, in which the North Carolina Courage defeated the Chicago Red Stars to be named champions for the second consecutive year. Global deaths near 351K, total cases soar past 5.6M Update 7:47 a.m. EDT May 27: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus reached 350,876 early Wednesday, 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 5,614,458 people worldwide. Meanwhile, 13 nations now have total infection counts higher than China’s 84,103.  The 10 nations with the highest number of infections recorded to date are as follows: • The United States has reported 1,681,418 cases, resulting in 98,929 deaths. • Brazil has recorded 391,222 cases, resulting in 24,512 deaths. • Russia has confirmed 370,680 cases, resulting in 3,968 deaths. • The United Kingdom has reported 266,599 cases, resulting in 37,130 deaths. • Spain has confirmed 236,259 cases, resulting in 27,117 deaths. • Italy has reported 230,555 cases, resulting in 32,955 deaths. • France has confirmed 182,847 cases, resulting in 28,533 deaths. • Germany has reported 181,293 cases, resulting in 8,386 deaths. • Turkey has recorded 158,762 cases, resulting in 4,397 deaths • India has recorded 151,876 cases, resulting in 4,346 deaths. Google plans to reopen some offices in July as coronavirus fears linger Update 7:29 a.m. EDT May 27: Specifics were sparse, but Google CEO Sundar Pichai told employees Tuesday that the company plans to reopen “more buildings in more cities” starting July 6, CNN reported. Employees at the unspecified locations will return, but only about 10% building occupancy will be allowed in the beginning, ramping up to 30% capacity by September, the network reported. “We’ll have rigorous health and safety measures in place to ensure social distancing and sanitization guidelines are followed, so the office will look and feel different than when you left” Pichai wrote in a blog post, adding, “Our goal is to be fair in the way we allocate time in the office, while limiting the number of people who come in, consistent with safety protocols.' New CDC guidance reveals COVID-19 antibody tests fail about half the time Update 7:02 a.m. EDT May 27: Antibody tests intended to detect if subjects have been infected previously with the novel coronavirus might provide accurate results only half the time, according to the latest U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance. According to the new intelligence, “Antibodies in some persons can be detected within the first week of illness onset,” but the results are not consistently accurate enough to base important policy decisions on their outcomes. “(Antibody) test results should not be used to make decisions about grouping persons residing in or being admitted to congregate settings, such as schools, dormitories, or correctional facilities ... (Antibody) test results should not be used to make decisions about returning persons to the workplace,” the CDC warned. Lawmakers urge suspension of Trump’s July 4 military parade amid pandemic Update 6:09 a.m. EDT May 27: Calling the scheduled event a “vanity project,” members of Congress representing the capital region petitioned the defense and interior departments Tuesday to suspend plans for U.S. President Donald Trump’s second annual July 4 military parade, The Washington Post reported. Muriel E. Bowser, mayor of the District of Columbia, is preparing to reopen portions of the nation’s capital, while both Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan have already relaxed some social distancing policies, yet stay-at-home orders remain in place in all three areas. “Given the current COVID-19 crisis, we believe such an event would needlessly risk the health and safety of thousands of Americans,' they wrote in the letter to the department chiefs. “Further, this event would come at the cost of millions of taxpayer dollars while we are facing an unprecedented economic downturn due to the pandemic.” Read the lawmakers’ complete letter to the defense and interior departments. “The American people have shown tremendous courage and spirit in the fight against this global pandemic just as our forefathers did in the fight to secure our independence, and both deserve celebration on America’s birthday this year,” White House spokesman Judd Deere wrote in an email to the Post. Worldwide coronavirus deaths top 350K Update 4:46 a.m. EDT May 27: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus reached 350,752 early Wednesday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. The United States – with nearly 1.7 million cases, resulting in 98,929 deaths to date – remains the nation with the highest number of infections and virus-related deaths. Brazil now reports the second-highest number of cases worldwide with 391,222, while the United Kingdom’s 37,130 virus-related deaths rank as second highest globally. Trump gives NC governor 1 week to decide if RNC stays in Charlotte amid coronavirus concerns Update 3:27 a.m. EDT May 27: North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper on Tuesday dismissed President Donald Trump’s tweets threatening to move the Republican National Convention from Charlotte. “I’m not surprised by anything I see on Twitter,” Cooper said. “It’s OK for political conventions to be political, but pandemic response cannot be.” According to WSOC-TV, the governor said state health officials will continue to work with convention organizers to draft guidelines that will ensure the event can be conducted safely during the coronavirus pandemic. In a series of tweets Monday morning, the president threatened to pull the event out of North Carolina if Cooper doesn’t immediately sign off on allowing a full-capacity gathering in August, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Coronavirus has infected more than 62K US health care workers, CDC reports Update 2:10 a.m. EDT May 27: An estimated 62,344 health care professionals in the United States have contracted the novel coronavirus to date, resulting in at least 291 deaths, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed. The latest figures represent a nearly seven-fold increase in less than six weeks. According to CNN, the CDC last highlighted the number of cases among health care workers April 15, revealing a total of 9,282 cases at that time. US coronavirus cases approach 1.7M, deaths near 99K Update 12:40 a.m. EDT May 27: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States surged toward 1.7 million early Wednesday 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 1,681,212 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 98,916 deaths.  The hardest-hit states remain New York with 363,836 cases and 29,302 deaths and New Jersey with 155,764 cases and 11,194 deaths. Massachusetts, with 93,693 cases, has the third-highest number of deaths with 6,473, while Illinois has the third-highest number of cases with 113,195. Only 16 states and territories have confirmed fewer than 6,000 cases each. Five other states have now confirmed at least 52,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: • California: 99,684 cases, resulting in 3,823 deaths • Pennsylvania: 72,778 cases, resulting in 5,163 deaths • Texas: 57,230 cases, resulting in 1,546 deaths • Michigan: 55,104 cases, resulting in 5,266 deaths • Florida: 52,255 cases, resulting in 2,259 deaths Meanwhile, Maryland, Georgia and Connecticut each has confirmed at least 41,000 cases; Virginia, Louisiana, Ohio and Indiana each has confirmed at least 32,000 cases; Colorado, North Carolina, Minnesota, Tennessee and Washington each has confirmed at least 20,000 cases, followed by Iowa with 17,703 and Arizona with 16,864; Wisconsin and Alabama each has confirmed at least 15,000 cases, followed by Rhode Island with 14,210 and Mississippi with 13,731; Nebraska and Missouri each has confirmed at least 12,000 cases, followed by South Carolina with 10,416; Kansas and Delaware each has confirmed at least 9,000 cases; Kentucky, Utah, the District of Columbia and Nevada each has confirmed at least 8,000 cases, followed by New Mexico with 7,130; Arkansas and Oklahoma each has confirmed at least 6,000 cases. Click here to see CNN’s state-by-state breakdown. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Tropical Storm Bertha formed off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, early Wednesday, becoming the second named storm before the official start of this year’s Atlantic hurricane season. The storm moved inland shortly after forming. The National Hurricane Center issued a tropical storm warning for South Carolina’s coast and the storm was expected to bring heavy rainfall to North Carolina on Wednesday and Thursday. Officials said the biggest threat from Bertha will be heavy rainfall, along with tropical storm-force winds along portions of the South Carolina coast. Bertha’s maximum sustained winds are near 45 mph but it’s expected to weaken to a tropical depression after moving inland. Several counties across the Charlotte region are under a flash flood watch. North Carolina could see widespread rain by Wednesday afternoon and there will be a rip current risk along the Atlantic coast. Bertha started off as a low-pressure system and developed very quickly Wednesday morning thanks to warm ocean temperatures. Earlier this month, Tropical Storm Arthur brought rain to North Carolina, according to The Associated Press. It was the sixth straight year that a named storm has developed before June 1, Another system will keep rain falling in North Carolina on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, tapering off early Sunday morning. The rain will be on and off or scattered at times.
  • Hard Rock Stadium in Miami has hosted six Super Bowls since it opened in 1987 and is scheduled to host the college football national championship game in January 2021. Now, the Miami Dolphins plan to turn the football field into a drive-in movie theater holding up to 230 cars, the Sun-Sentinel reported. It’s a way to maintain social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic while still providing outdoor entertainment. The screenings on the field are part of Outdoor Theaters at Hard Rock, a sports and entertainment complex, the newspaper reported. The drive-in events will be inside the stadium, while the open-air theater will at the stadium’s south plaza. Some of the events will include Miami Dolphins’ content from the team’s history, classic films, concerts and commencement ceremonies, the Sun-Sentinel reported. Does that mean 'Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” will be a featured event? Officials are not saying. However, it’s likely the Dolphins’ 1972 perfect season and highlights of the team’s five Super Bowl appearances will be included. Food and beverages can be purchased through an online ordering and payment system and delivered to cars, ESPN reported. Restroom access will be provided. Fans can put their names on an email list to be notified when tickets are available, the network reported. “We’ve spent several weeks planning this to be able to provide people with a safe option to go out and enjoy movies, classic Dolphins content, concerts, and celebrate 2020 graduates,” Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium Vice Chairman and CEO Tom Garfinkel said in a statement. “It’s a fundamental human need to physically experience and celebrate events and experiences together, and we’re trying to provide options for everyone where they can be safely socially distant and socially present at the same time.” The programming schedule is not yet available, but a spokesperson told the Sun-Sentinel the venue would be open “in the coming weeks.”
  • On Tuesday, the Justice Department closed investigations into stock trading by Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia. Following Tuesday’s news, Sen. Loeffler joined Atlanta’s Morning News and spoke with host Scott Slade about the investigation. >>Listen to the full interview below. The Associated Press reports that the senators came under scrutiny for transactions made in the weeks before the coronavirus sent markets downhill. >>Read more from The AP here.