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Latest from Veronica Waters

    A metro Atlanta housekeeper says her services are more in demand now that coronavirus has hit. Four years after launching her business, Teresa Goodman tells WSB that her housekeeping appointments are way up.  'Mine have doubled or tripled,' says Goodman. 'I have clients, I only go to them like once a month. But when the coronavirus came in, I go once a week.'  She says homeowners, anxious over the bug, want to make sure their houses stay healthy.  'Everyone wants their home clean and sanitized, so really it picked up for me,' Goodman says. She has begun carrying an additional DIY alcohol-based disinfectant that she begins using on the doorknob as soon as she steps up to a client's door. Frequently-grabbed places like closets, appliance handles, and drawer pulls get the spritz, too.  Homeowners like to see Goodman clean and disinfect the rooms where they hang out the most, and the items they touch the most.  'Telephones, TV remotes, the arm of the chairs, computers, faucets,' she explains.   Goodman admits that she was a bit nervous at first to keep going into clients' homes amid the viral concerns, but says the job is essential to her family.  'I am, but it's a business. You got to do what you've got to do for your family. I just stay prayed up,' says Goodman, who adds that the job is important to her clients.  'They trust me to do a good job,' she says. Goodman changes gloves in between one room and the next, and noted that her attention to detail and even her products have led to smiles.  'A neighbor came over and said, 'You know that Lysol you've got is worth more than gold now!' We just laughed, laughed, laughed. I said, 'You're right.''  She hopes the new handwashing and extra-cleanliness habits people are forming stick with us post- pandemic.  'Don't wait until after the coronavirus,' says Goodman. 'Say they say it leaves or whatever, you want to stop. Wrong thing. Keep doing what you're doing. Just keep your house sanitized--or call me. And I'll come do it for you.
  • It's a case of coronavirus that may illustrate as well as anything the benefits of sheltering in place.  A Fulton County jail inmate was diagnosed with COVID-19.  The 38-year-old inmate has a chronic health condition, but had otherwise been fine as he had been behind bars on Rice Street for more than two months.  What changed?  'He had been with us since early January. He'd been in jail 77 days as of this past Sunday and had been doing well, other than his other underlying medical issues,' says the jail's commander, Fulton County Sheriff's Colonel Mark Adger. 'He had gone to court on March 9th, and then two or three days after that, he started complaining about a temperature.'  >>LISTEN TO VERONICA WATERS’ FULL ON-AIR REPORT BELOW. The man was immediately isolated in a negative-pressure cell.  Before complaining of any symptoms, the detainee had been on lockdown with one other person. That inmate has also been isolated, and has shown no signs or symptoms of infection, according to Col. Adger. Adger says medical staff monitored the man, but his fever was not consistently responding to treatment. The man complained of body chills, and the fever began spiking by the 15th or 16th of March. He was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, where tests confirmed COVID-19.  'He's been discharged from the jail, but he is still a patient at Grady Hospital,' says Adger, who says the man was granted a $1,000 signature bond. The jail had already begun evaluating the cases of non-violent detainees to determine who might be eligible for early release in an effort to stem any chances of infection.  'I don't think there was a high risk of violence,' he says. 'He was charged with two drug offenses--both bondable offenses--and quite honestly, having someone in a jail setting with coronavirus in custody would pose probably more of a public health risk than otherwise.'  Adger recently detailed the extraordinary steps the Fulton County Jail was taking to keep staffers and inmates safe. A jail that he said often won praise from visitors for its cleanliness had stepped up to an even stricter cleaning regimen. Staffers were greeted with questions about travel or any other possible exposure to the coronavirus. A kitchen worker with a cold was sent home, not allowed to come in to work, out of an abundance of caution. Inmates were given the same series of questions before even leaving the transport vehicles, says Adger. The jail capped the capacity of its in-house court hearings, and cleaned the courtroom after every 10 inmates. In-house video visitation was stopped; visitation can only be done remotely now. They regularly disinfected the attorney booths and holding tanks with an electrostatic sprayer.  'The importance of the electrostatic part of the sprayer is that it turns the disinfectant into a mist, and that mist, with a negative charge, then sticks to everything it comes in contact with,' explains Adger. The colonel even ordered two infrared touchless thermometers via Amazon with his own money, with plans to donate them to the jail, so Fulton County could do a thorough job screening incoming people--including visitors to the public lobby and deputies--by checking their temperatures. The regular procurement process would take weeks, he said, and he didn't want to wait. Plus, he needs at least seven of them--one for each entrance at all jail facilities.  Adger says he'd even stopped on-site roll call to keep deputies from congregating in small spaces.  No surprise, then, that with all the steps taken to protect the jail population and its staffers from COVID-19, Col. Adger was taken aback by the inmate falling ill.  'It was like a gut punch getting that first case,' Adger tells WSB, 'but I think we responded well. We looked at the procedures we use here in the jail; I don't think there was any lapse in procedure, especially when you consider that he had been here 77 days. So he couldn't have come in infected.'  Adger says they have consulted with the Centers for Disease Control and Emory University to ensure they are using best practices to limit exposure--as well as reached out to their criminal justice contact to express a major concern.  'We need very little movement of prisoners between the jail and the courthouse during this time of the emergency, so we're working to do more video court and less in-person court hearings so that we don't jeopardize either the jail or the court system and their facilities,' says Col. Adger.  A problem the jail had already been mulling over was what to do if an incoming detainee seemed to have or be at risk of the disease. Fulton County Jail holds about 2,850 inmates.  'How do we isolate someone for 14 days?' he wondered. 'We just don't have the space.'  The tier on which the 38-year-old inmate was living has been sanitized, and those who had or may have had contact with him before, during, and after his hearing trip to Fulton County courtroom 2-F have been alerted. Many have been urged to self-quarantine, says Adger, and it's a wait-and-see at this point.  'We have to protect this environment because we cannot sustain large numbers of employees or our criminal justice partners being waylaid by this,' Adger says.  The first of the two touchless thermometers Adger ordered arrived Wednesday, and deputies began using it right away.
  • The only coronavirus patient to be isolated at Georgia’s special quarantine site in Morgan County is happy to be home again. Joey Camp, a former Georgia National Guardsmen who cooked at a Waffle House in Canton before he became ill, told WSB’s Veronica Waters that he previously understood he would be staying at Hard Labor Creek State Park near Rutledge for a 14-day quarantine. However, Camp said the Georgia Health Department has since informed him that he no longer has a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Suffering from a fever, chills and aching joints, Camp first visited Northside Hospital Cherokee on March 5. >>LISTEN TO VERONICA WATERS’ FULL ON-AIR REPORT BELOW. A diabetic, Camp explained that he was diagnosed with pneumonia and tested positive for COVID-19 there. After being discharged on March 9, he was sent by ambulance to the remote isolation site at Hard Labor Creek Park. State officials have set up seven emergency trailers at the park to isolate and monitor coronavirus patients. “I can now join society,” Camp said, emphasizing how happy he was to leave his quarantine. Camp said he hopes to return to work cooking for Waffle House, which announced last week that it had closed its 1849 Marietta Highway location in Canton and was preparing to sanitize it after one of its employees tested positive for the disease. State health officials said Sunday Camp did not need to be retested for COVID-19 and could be released from the park because he has been asymptomatic for a full week, adding he is considered “cured.” “That is the new CDC guidance being followed by states,” the Georgia Department of Public Health said. “He was also hospitalized for some time before isolation at the park.” After several days symptom-free, he came home Sunday to celebrate with friends, and some Corona beer, at a Mexican restaurant. His advice to everyone: Don't panic, and stay positive—even if you get COVID 19.
  • Will Baggett, a cybersecurity consultant in Atlanta, tells WSB that tech firm Reason Labs has already found infected coronavirus maps online.    'It's a heat map of the coronavirus spread, mirrored from the Johns Hopkins [University] site, but the back end of the site loads malware so they can access your e-mail accounts and your bank accounts,' Baggett tells WSB. 'The malicious site has code to pull in the real map.'  The nasty program can also snatch passwords, usernames, cookies, and other information stored in a web browser.  Baggett says the hackers may be spreading it with spam e-mails, and they are also using simple attachments.  'Traditional Word document attacks that we've seen since the '90s are back,' he says.  There have also been Android apps which look like the maps, but those fake trackers lock up a phone and demand a bitcoin ransom to free it.  Details from Krebs on Security say that late last month, someone on several Russian language cybercrime forums started selling a digital Coronavirus infection kit that claims to mirror the real-time data of the and interactive nature of the Johns Hopkins map, and can also go viral to their friends when users grab it.  'It's very simple to set up malware with a cloned image of something that looks desirable,' Baggett says. 'People want to know where this virus is spreading.'  Baggett warns that self-quarantining telecommuters could be more at risk, because people working from home may be without the advanced firewall protections of their offices. He noted that a company he's consulting for has software that was catching this malware as employees clicked on things--but at home, workers may not be looped into that.  'The corporate network keeps their anti-virus up to date on a regular basis. The home network people don't do that,' Baggett says. 'They're avoiding the physical virus, but they're vulnerable to the electronic virus.'  He notes that as long as this pandemic is in the headlines, this won't go away, and employees may ultimately be putting their employers' systems at risk.  'These are going to be constant threats as more people work from home until the crisis passes,' says Baggett.
  • Coronavirus concerns mean an annual meeting of leaders in the nation's capitol are not getting as 'hands-on' as in years past. Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore is attending the 55th annual National League of Cities Congressional City Conference in Washington, DC. Elected officials from America's cities, towns, and villages gather to share ideas, and advocate for public policy important to their communities with congressional leaders.  Moore says this year, people are greeting each other differently.  'We have a handshake-free meeting,' she says. 'So, no one is shaking hands. There's sanitation, there are wipes, there's antibacterial lotion and everything around, and we're really encouraging everyone to use that and people have.'  Moore posted a photo of the big no-handshake strikethrough illustration greeting delegates.  While some events around the country are being postponed or canceled because of Covid-19 precautions, Moore notes that the NLC is still extremely well-attended as the focus is the 2020 Cities Agenda in this election year. Key agenda issues include infrastructure, creating a skilled workforce, ending housing instability and homelessness, and reducing gun violence.  'There's over 2,000 participants, and maybe only 40 people canceled,' says Moore. 'Local elected officials are braving our fears. We've come and we all are sharing information on how we're dealing with the contravirus because we're the closest thing to the people.'  Moore says Covid-19 is, of course, a major topic this year as the outbreak continues.  'Even with the virus issue, we have to think about how do we serve our homeless population. They are amongst us and they do share public spaces with us,' says Moore.
  • Surrounded by family members, 58-year-old Jimmy Meders was told Thursday afternoon his bid for clemency was granted -- six hours shy of his scheduled execution. The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles announced Thursday it was commuting his sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole. According to The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Christian Boone , Meders became the sixth inmate to be granted clemency in Georgia since 2002 and the first in nearly six years. For more on the story, WSB’s Veronica Waters spoke with one of Jimmy Meders’ lawyers, Mike Admirand, staff attorney for the Southern Center for Human Rights, as well as WSB Radio senior legal analyst Ron Carlson, and Steve Hayes, spokesman for the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles. >>LISTEN TO VERONICA WATERS’ FULL ON-AIR REPORT BELOW.
  • I started hating coming home. When you start hating where you live, it's time to go.'  Today, Melissa Thompson loves where she lives: an immaculate three-bedroom home decorated in greys and jewel tones, with a long front porch and a spacious backyard that's the perfect place for cookouts and her granddaughter's games, and a neighbor who not only greeted her with a pound cake when she moved in, but cut low trees between their houses--without permission--just so she could keep an eye on the happenings next door.  But in 2015, Thompson was a 45-year-old, living in a two-bedroom apartment with her son and granddaughter; the young girl alternately slept in a room with her dad or her grandmother. She had lost both her parents within months of each other; the grief ripped most of her family apart to the point where some were not on speaking terms with others. >>LISTEN TO VERONICA WATERS’ FULL ON-AIR REPORT BELOW. She spiraled into depression, eating emotionally and gaining weight and worrying her doctor. Thompson was sick of apartment life and neighbors who didn't seem to care about the property where they lived when she applied, and was approved, to become a homeowner with Atlanta Habitat for Humanity.  'I knew financially, I couldn't afford a house the traditional way,' says Thompson. 'And what I mean by that: Where can you get a house with no interest built from the ground up? So I went through the program and I got approved.'  Atlanta Habitat for Humanity offers qualified applicants the opportunity to build and buy a quality, affordable, energy-efficient home in select neighborhoods with a 30-year, zero-interest mortgage. So armed with the organization's financial and home education classes, her savings, and backed by hundreds of volunteer hours of what Atlanta Habitat calls her 'sweat equity,' Thompson plunged ahead. She was thrilled to learn that her her home's sponsor was Clark Howard, the consumer guru whose advice she and her late mom always follow and whose other Atlanta Habitat home builds she admits 'stalking' during the process, dreaming about what could be hers one day, how she'd decorate, what color appliances she wanted.  'He's the number-one people want as their sponsor,' she confides.  The acceptance into Atlanta Habitat's program also gave her hope and permission to dream. She set goals and began taking care of herself again and looking forward to the future.  In January of 2016, Thompson began building her home alongside volunteers. She remembers pounding in the first nail of what would be her three-bedroom, two-bath ranch home--or at least, trying to--and her son laughing at her attempt.  'You put the first nail into your foundation at the warehouse,' Thompson explains. 'Simple job! Just nail it, just tap.  'I missed the entire nail and everything. And he said, 'You had one job to do, Mom! One job!'' she laughs. 'You start, you build, you paint. The only thing I didn't do to my house was the insulation. That's itchy.'  For eight Saturdays that winter, Thompson and various teams of volunteers worked on the house; the only weather that stops construction is dangerously hard rainstorms. And every day on her way home from work, Thompson would drive by her lot, park, and marvel at the way the house was coming along.  As it turns out, Howard's sponsorship made for special bonuses in the house.  'I had Clark. With him, I got an additional dishwasher, and garbage disposal, and ceiling fans in the bedrooms, and mattresses. Different perks. And that's something he got his sponsors to do, which was awesome!  'When I say he's highly sought, it's like, 'I gotta time it because he builds in January! I want him!'' Thompson laughs. 'Trust me, he is. And he was a joy. Every Saturday he was out here with us, in the cold, too, and I enjoyed it.'  Through all that, she says, she was delighted to know that Clark Howard is the same person in person that he appears to be on TV. A friend who was one of the volunteers on her home asked excitedly, 'Do you think it'll be possible if I ask him some questions?' It was. Clark answered every one of her friend's queries. She was sad that her mom was no longer around to meet him.  While Atlanta Habitat also rehabs homes and provides repairs for some, Thompson says she wouldn't have traded the new-construction experience for the world.  'It's the longest eight weeks of your life, to a person who's ready to move in! But it's so worth it,' Thompson says.  When Dedication Day came, Thompson was excited and happy. She spent the first night in her new home without any bed covers, which she'd forgotten to buy. But waking up in the chilly new home of her own was worth it, she says, as she listened to the creaks and cracks of the new home settling. She walked around and gazed at everything, grateful, because 'I really never thought I'd be able to afford a home.' Asked to compare that joyful feeling to something else, she says it was equal only to 'the day I had my son.' Melissa Thompson can't say enough good things about Atlanta Habitat for Humanity.  'I speak highly of it because it is a good program. It helps a lot of people to have a home. I know it's a lot of people out there who probably feel like I felt: 'Couldn't afford a home.' And you can. You really can,' says Thompson. She says people don't always know what Habitat has to offer.  'They think you're getting this little basic house and then when they come in my house, they're blown away. I'm like, 'What did you think I was getting?!' I got a three-bedroom, two-bath house with yard. Now I've got two girlfriends applying for the program.'  She believes that she would still be able to meet her house payment even if her job circumstances took a turn for the worse, and she credits the program for that.  'Thirty years seems like a long time, but it's 30 years that I can pay my mortgage,' she says. Thompson loves Atlanta Habitat so much that she says if she comes into money, she's going to sponsor builds herself. She's already convinced the higher-ups at her job to sponsor one.  While her ranch home's walls can't talk, she has a story about each one, remembering the people who helped put them up and paint them along the way.  'When I say I love my house, I really love my house,' says Thompson. 'It's not a day that goes by that I'm not thankful for it. I sit out there on that porch and one day if you're riding by, you might see me out there. I sit out on the porch and we have the grill going and we just have a good time.'  Thompson was healthier, bringing her family together again, hosting a holiday dinner late that year. Her doctor was once again happy when she went for checkups. Today, nearly four years later, she describes herself as 'at peace.'  'That's why I say Habitat saved me,' Thompson says. 'And I truly believe that.' This year, Howard is building three houses with Atlanta Habitat, starting Jan. 16. The homes will be built in Sylvan Hills alongside three home-buyers and hundreds of volunteers over the next eight Saturdays.
  • 'Tis the season to be bawly. At photographer Jeff Roffman's Atlanta studio, tots' temper tantrums don't elicit lectures; they elicit laughs. Asher Powell, 1, sat stoically on Santa Clause's lap for the first part of his photo session. But as his face began to crumple, and he began to pout and cry, the adults gathered around watching smiled and chorused happily, 'There we go!' Roffman's camera snapped away. Asher gazed alternatively up at Santa and over at his parents, as someone fed his dog peanut butter to get the pose just so. After the photo session was over, Asher's mom and dad said they were happy. 'Captured the real Asher. He's not always happy all the time,' said Joey Powell. He says the crying photos are the 'quintessential Jeff Roffman thing.'  'Everybody was all excited about his crying,' said Elizabeth Powell. 'I just wanted to run over and grab him!' 'Was it hard?' WSB's Veronica Waters asked. 'Yes! Especially when he was making the sad little face at the end,' Powell replied. 'But we got some good smiles.' 'Makes for good photos,' Joey Powell said.    Stephanie Boyea calls it 'the truth of parenting. It's not all fun and games,' she laughs, a perspective repeated by several parents talking to a reporter about why these crying photos are so in demand. Lindsey Torrens says she's been dealing with the terrible twos with son Chase, so she admits to being disappointed--and 'completely shocked'--when he sat happily for his photos without one tear. 'After a certain age it's just smiles, so it's good to get those crying moments, that toddler face. Exactly what every mom deals with all the time,' she laughs. Roffman never expected kids-crying-with-Santa photos to become such a hot trend. When he began his Santa sessions, he thought it was a disaster when 'the kids screamed bloody murder. But the parents loved the crying photos.  'Over the couple of years that we were posting on social media, we were getting the reaction from the crying ones more than the laughing ones,' Roffman says. 'At some point I just said, 'You know what? I'm just going to take a leap of faith and put in the crying ones.' And that's when things really took off.' There were millions of clicks on the photos, and parents clamored to get an appointment at his Poncey-Highland studio. It's mostly the children between one and three years old, says Roffman, who will get weepy. Like Roffman, Santa tells WSB that it tugs at his heartstrings to see the kids cry. 'Yeah, I've welled up a couple of times,' Santa says. 'But the children, they'll be fine within a moment or two and then we're high-fiving each other.' Santa retired from Lockheed-Martin in February, and says he felt he had a calling to do this, so he grew his snow-white hair and beard long and ended up working joyfully in Roffman's studio.  'It just amazes me that I'm a native Atlantan who aspired to be a Phipps Plaza Santa, and now Phipps Plaza parents are bringing their kids to see me!'  Now, parents ask to be on Roffman's 'Naughty List,' a compilation he posts about every two weeks of the best runners and pouty faces.  Atlanta photographer Jeff Roffman details why his photos of kids crying with Santa are so dynamic 'When they get on the Naughty List, it's like they won the lottery. And it's fun to see how they play on the kids' emotions [on their family Christmas cards]. When they have siblings, they have one kid that's nice, and one that's naughty. I love the ones they send and the kid's crying their heads off and they write 'Joy' at the bottom.” Listen to Roffman’s breakdown of what separates him from your standard mall Santa photo op by clicking the link below. It's not unusual for children to cry when placed on the lap of a bearded stranger in red and white, but Roffman says the way he takes the pictures--the lens, distance, and perspective--adds something different and dynamic to the piece of Americana that seemed relegated to far-away shots of kids with mall Santas. Forget 'You better not cry, I'm telling you why.' Parents hoping for a pout from their well-behaved babies even pretend to walk out, saying, 'Bye,' and are disappointed when the kids stay all smiles, waving back happily. Before and after the photos sessions, kids and families can enjoy warm and cold drinks--cocoa for kids, beer and mimosas for adults--and activities, including a snow pit and a long cookie decorating table. The decor changes from year to year, taking months to prepare. And Roffman reveals that the studio bought about 26,000 cookies this year.  Roffman tells the parents disappointed over a non-crier that if their kid happens to fall in the snow pit while playing or gets otherwise tantrumy while there, to bring them back over immediately and plop them in Santa's lap so they can capture the picture. Parents do. Jetrin Carlton, 1, didn't need any help. He wailed for long minutes in his photo session. 'It was awesome,' said his mom, Ashley Carlton. 'I mean, your heart feels a little pitter-patter because they're upset, but you know that the memories will be forever, and he'll laugh about it when he is older. 'It's easier when you're right there and you can get him,' she added. Jet's dad, Vor, was proud of his son's performance and looks forward to the photos of the 19-month-old dashing away from Santa as Roffman's camera lens aims upward at the boy's outstretched arms. 'Oh, it was glorious!' he says. 'The crying? It was all I asked for. The more tears, runny nose? Perfect.' Roffman's three-minute sessions sell out within minutes, a year in advance. Sometimes kids surprise him and their parents. One even proudly held up both middle fingers for his photos. Six years in, Roffman says, he finally got a first. 'I've always had a single-bubble booger. And this year, I mean it was like magic. The kid was so happy and just had the largest two booger bubbles in their nose. I got such accolades on that on Facebook.'  Roffman says he takes about 30,000 photos a day during Santa season. 'We probably saw about 7,000 kids this year,' he says. 'So I've had a lot of therapy.'  Roffman is available at 404-437-7437 or jeffroffman.com.
  • Let's not turn Cyber Monday into Porch Pirate Tuesday.' That's the advice from Marietta Police spokesman Chuck McPhilamy, as the first weekday shopping day after Black Friday was expected to ring up more than $9 billion in online sales, according to Adobe Analytics.McPhilamy is urging buyers to send incoming packages to places other than their homes, if no one will be available to immediately bring them inside and out of a thief's reach. He also suggests that buyers request delivery verification through signatures.'Our goal is to make sure that you ship safe,' says McPhilamy. 'Ship it to someone that will be able to be there to sign for it.' Having something delivered to a neighbor who works from home could be convenient for some. Other options include having a package sent to your workplace, to the Post Office, or to a shipping store or distribution hub for you to pick up later.Signature deliveries can cost extra money, and other options may give buyers a bit of an extra commute, but McPhilamy says it's worth it to keep your packages out of crooks' hands.'All of these are items that might cost a dollar or two more for the package, because it's slowing down the driver and requiring a little more time.But the value of that is worth its weight in gold.
  • For many of us, Thanksgiving is a time to gather 'round the table with family. A soldier from Atlanta is one of the many military members who has to celebrate far from home and family this year.  'You have a different type of a family here,' says Army Specialist Zachary Taylor.  Taylor, an aircraft powerplant repairer with the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, spends his duty hours rebuilding engines on Apache, Blackhawk, and Chinook helicopters. In the military for 2.5 years now, he's already on his second overseas deployment--and his second Thanksgiving away from home.  >>LISTEN TO VERONICA WATERS’ FULL ON-AIR REPORT BELOW. A Soldier of the 3rd Infantry Division, with its home base at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia, Taylor spent a year in Korea from 2018-19. Then, he shipped out again in early October--right after his wedding. He's now in Illesheim, Germany.  'Even though it's hard being away from home, it's something you gotta do for the bigger picture,' Taylor tells WSB.  As proud as Taylor is to serve his nation, this Thanksgiving is different. Not only does he miss the traditional feast and warm fun of his close-knit family, now, he's a newlywed.  'We're learning to love each other from a distance,' he says, talking about the frequent video calls he and his wife, Jessica Kettell, share. Kettell is an ICU nurse at Grady Memorial Hospital.  For Spec. Taylor, missing his family is easily the hardest part of being away from home. He and his fellow soldiers are all going through the same thing, he says, and though they all empathize with one another, it takes time to build personal relationships.  'It's a camaraderie-type of a family,' says Taylor, 'people that come from all different places of the world that you don't really know, but the only thing that you really have in common is your line of work and what you're going through together. You have to build off of that versus knowing someone your entire life.'  The 2010 graduate of Chapel Hill High School in Douglasville says the military helps with that in the way they help soldiers celebrate. The Army plans a huge Thanksgiving feast, with games and fun touches ranging from cake decorating to cornhole contests to charades. It's good, Taylor says, yet nothing compares to being home: being with family; being able to get in your car and drive somewhere; being treated to a really good home-cooked meal and the love shared with it. 'Being in the military, you're connected because you have to be connected. It's a different type of love,' he says.  In 2018, the wide-ranging menu for troops overseas and on the border included more than 60,000 pounds of turkey, some 34 tons of shrimp, more than 81,000 pies and 19,000 cakes, and nearly 8,000 gallons of eggnog. Traditionally, Army commanders serve junior personnel during the Thanksgiving feast by dishing up dinner.  'Seeing your superiors and stuff like that, you're seeing them more on a personal level than professional level,' says Taylor. 'So it's nice to have that type of experience during the holidays of, 'Hey, we all wear the same uniform at the end of the day. Regardless of what your rank is, we're all in this together, and we're all family.''  On the phone in his XO's office, 27-year-old nearly swoons when describing the missed, tasty tradition making him the most homesick over the holiday.  'Ahhh, man. That would have to be my mother's stuffing that she makes. It's always just perfect with the turkey and everything that goes together with it. It's almost as good as Christmas dinner,' he laughs. 'The smell of the cookies. She always goes through baking tons of different types of cookies around this time of year and it's just absolutely wonderful. The smell of it, the aura that you get with it is completely seasonal and probably the thing I miss the most.'  Taylor is thankful for family, who stay connected to him even though he's six hours ahead and almost 4,800 miles away; and friends, who help the new husband keep the romance going in his absence in the home, by delivering flowers to his new wife. He says Kettell has been working long hours in hopes of being able to flying to Germany during the Christmas holiday season, and she's already excited about seeing the vibrant markets. He's looking forward to what he's heard will be a beautiful winter near Illesheim, and hoping for a white Christmas so he can snowboard.  'She's going to be the best Christmas present I could ask for, coming over here,' says Spec. Taylor.
  • Veronica  Waters

    Veronica Waters is an anchor and reporter for News/Talk WSB. She is also the staff expert on legal affairs and the courts. In 2007, the Radio-Television News Directors Association named Waters' series on "Snaring Internet Predators" best in the region with an Edward R. Murrow award for Investigative Reporting.She has been honored by several professional organizations for news and sports feature reporting, and was named in 2003 as the Atlanta Press Club's Radio Journalist of the Year. Waters has covered an assortment of high-profile cases from Mayor Bill Campbell's corruption trial to the murder trials of activist-turned imam Jamil Al-Amin and of former DeKalb County, GA Sheriff Sidney Dorsey.She served as the station's correspondent for the murder trial of accused "Black Widow" Lynn Turner, and the death penalty case of double murderer Stacey Humphreys. One of the biggest legal cases in Atlanta history involved the notorious Gold Club racketeering trial. Waters covered this unfolding drama not only for WSB Radio and radio stations throughout America, but also for a worldwide audience on BBC Radio. Waters joined WSB in 1997 as an anchor and reporter. She began her journalism career at the Southern Urban Network and Mississippi Network in Jackson, MS. Waters attended Alcorn State University and Mississippi State University, and enjoys cheering for the NFL's Tennessee Titans.

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  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its guidance late Friday concerning the wearing of cloth face masks while out in public. The CDC, according to President Donald Trump, said that people, when going to public locations, should now wear “non-medical, cloth face coverings.” The action is voluntary, Trump said in his afternoon press briefing. Since the beginning of the battle against COVID-19, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had said that people didn’t need to wear masks unless they were sick and coughing, The New York Times reported prior to Trump’s announcement. Thursday evening, Trump had said his administration would have regulations when it came to the general population and the wearing of masks. Some opportunities for wearing masks while in public would be when going to pharmacies and grocery stores, the Times reported. Many people may now be looking for ways to make their own personal protective equipment or to make PPE for those working the front lines. There are many designs to make, from no-sew options to ones that need some needle and thread. No Sew Supplies: A bandanna or piece of finished cloth Hair elastics Sewn versions Supplies: Paper, to make a pattern Cotton fabric Fusible interfacing Elastic Pins Sewing machine The New York Times has an alternate pattern. Click here for step by step instructions. Kaiser Permanente has also shared a design approved by the health system for donation to hospitals, The Washington Post reported.
  • A Brooklyn landlord waived this month’s rent for hundreds of his tenants. Mario Salerno posted signs on the 18 buildings he owns throughout the borough letting tenants know they do not have to pay April’s rent, The New York Times reported. “My concern is everyone’s health,” Salerno told the Times. “I told them just to look out for your neighbor and make sure that everyone has food on their table.” Salerno had not calculated how much he would be losing from not collecting rent on the 80 apartments, but it’s likely hundreds of thousands of dollars, the Times reported. “I’m really not concerned about the rent right now, I’m concerned about people’s health,” Salerno told Greenpointers.com. “Not only are we up against an epidemic, these poor people have no jobs and they’re worried about getting sick. I didn’t think it was much on a person like me, who God was good to, to help them all out.” It has helped ease the stress for some tenants who are out of work because of the coronavirus. Tenant Paul Gentile has lived four years in one of Salerno’s buildings. He works as an attorney but lost his job when the courthouses closed March 18. “You don’t see that, especially in a landlord-tenant relationship in New York City,” Gentile told the Times. “He’s amazing.”
  • A Michigan sugar company purchased $131,000 worth of gift cards from restaurants in communities where it operates. The Michigan Sugar Co. gave each of its 1,300 employees a $100 gift card from more than 50 restaurants, MLive reported. “We hope this helps ease the pain of this pandemic for those businesses just a little bit,” Michigan Sugar Co. Board Chairman Adam Herford told MLive. The company has also donated personal protection equipment including masks, gloves and safety glasses to Michigan-area health care facilities.
  • A Detroit bus driver who complained about a coughing passenger in a video posted on social media, has died from the coronavirus. Jason Hargrove got sick four days after posting the video on March 21 where he went on a profanity-laced tirade about a woman who coughed repeatedly while on the bus. The bus drivers’ unions said Hargrove, 50, died Wednesday. The coronavirus can spread through the air, health officials have said. “Public workers doing our job, trying to make (an) honest living, take care of our families,” Hargrove said in the video. “For you to get on the bus ... and cough several times without covering up your mouth and you know (we’re) in the middle of a pandemic — that lets me know that some folks don’t care.” The city stopped collecting fares March 17. The buses were to be more thoroughly cleaned and passengers were required to enter and exit from the rear door only. Mayor Mike Duggan expressed condolences and urged others to watch Hargroves’ video. “He was infected before we closed the front doors (on buses),” Duggan said. “Some of his language is graphic, but I don’t know how you can watch it and not tear up. He knew his life was being put in jeopardy ... by someone who didn’t take this seriously and now he’s gone.”
  • A Pennsylvania man who lost a lung to cancer about a decade ago has survived another health battle -- this time, with the coronavirus. It started as what he assumed was just a cold, but when Richard Botti, 61, started to feel lung pain in early March, he thought his cancer had returned. It turned out to be COVID-19 instead. Because of his previous bout with cancer, he was at higher risk. His family told WPXI they got very concerned when his conditioned started to worsen. “It slowly got worse and he wasn’t getting out of bed,” said Vanessa Venezie, his daughter. “You immediately think the worst because of everything you’re seeing and reading.” He soon tested positive for the coronavirus and had to be hospitalized. However, he pulled through, spending 11 days at Heritage Valley Hospital hooked up to oxygen. Botti’s daughter wanted to share not all coronavirus outcomes are grim. “We’re just really happy and we want people to know there is hope for them,” Venezie said. “Stay focused on the positive. Do things that make you feel good. We can all get trapped in the negative.” Botti was taken back home by medics in an ambulance equipped to handle COVID-19 cases. He has to self-isolate in his room away from his family for two weeks.
  • More than one million people worldwide -- including more than 245,000 people in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. Officials are attempting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. as hospitals brace for unprecedented patient surges. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Friday, April 3, continue below:  CDC advises public to wear masks as death toll tops 7,000 Update 6 p.m. EDT April 3: President Donald Trump says his administration is encouraging many Americans to wear face masks in public, though he stresses that the recommendation is optional and is conceding that he will not be complying with it. The new guidelines, announced Friday, encourage people to use more rudimentary covering like T-shirts, bandannas and non-medical masks. And President Donald Trump himself suggested scarves could be an good alternative to masks. While these new recommendations were being announced Friday evening, the U.S. death toll increased to 7,077 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Hobby Lobby closes all store locations Update 5:15 p.m. EDT April 3: Hobby Lobby is closing all its stores nationwide and furloughing employees without pay. The arts and crafts store released a statement Friday saying it’s closing its doors due to the coronavirus pandemic. Hobby Lobby also said in the statement that it will be furloughing a large portion of corporate and distribution employees. Hobby Lobby statement: 'As the country continues efforts to manage and mitigate the devastating health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 virus, Hobby Lobby will, after careful consideration, close the remainder of its stores, and furlough nearly all store employees and a large portion of corporate and distribution employees, effective Friday, April 3rd, at 8:00 p.m. The stores will remain closed until further notice. “In order to allow our furloughed employees to take full advantage of the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and Recovery Rebates provided to eligible employees by the federal government, we are ending emergency leave pay and suspending use of Company provided paid time off benefits (PPTO and Vacation) in accordance with the requirements outlined in the CARES Act (subject to State law requirements). However, we will maintain medical, dental, life, and long-term disability benefits for employees while furloughed through at least May 1, 2020, and will pay the cost of employee premiums for these benefits on behalf of employees while furloughed without pay. We encourage furloughed employees to file their claims with their State’s unemployment commissions as soon as possible. Upon return, employees will retain their original dates of hire and any accrued PPTO and Vacation. Our sincere gratitude goes out to our dedicated employees at this difficult time, and we look forward to the day when we can welcome them back, once we are able to reopen.” “We know our customers relied on us to provide essential products, including materials to make personal protective equipment, such as face masks, educational supplies for the countless parents who are now educating their children from home, and the thousands of small arts and crafts businesses who rely on us for supplies to make their products. Over the past several weeks, we implemented several best practices to provide a safer shopping environment, including the installation of physical barriers between customers and cashiers, enhanced cleaning, and the enforcement of social distancing measures. We are prepared to reopen our stores in a responsible way when the current situation improves, and look forward to welcoming our valued customers back to our stores. Until then, we pray for those affected by the virus, protection for the health care professionals caring for the sick, economic security for all impacted businesses and employees, and wisdom for our leaders.” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announces stay at home order starting Saturday Update 5:15 p.m. EDT April 3: Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a shelter-in-place order that will go into effect 5 p.m. Saturday. Republican governors in Florida, Mississippi and Georgia on Wednesday also reversed course and issued stay-home directives after previously resisting such a statewide order. Nationwide death toll approaches 7,000 Update 4:45 p.m. EDT April 3: According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there have been at least 6,889 deaths from the 266,671 cases in the U.S. New York state alone accounts for more than 2,900 dead, an increase of over 560 in just one day. Most of the dead are in New York City, where hospitals are getting swamped with patients. About 15,000 people were hospitalized statewide, most of them in the city. White House to test anyone expected to be near Trump, Pence for COVID-19 Update 3:45 p.m. EDT April 3: The White House is stepping up precautions to protect the president and vice president from contracting the new coronavirus. Starting Friday, anyone who is expected to be in “close proximity” to either President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence will be given a quick COVID-19 test “to evaluate for pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic carriers status to limit inadvertent transmission,' according to White House spokesman Judd Deere. All visitors to the White House complex already have their temperatures taken when entering the building and if they will be in close proximity to either Trump or Pence. Trump took the new COVID-19 test on Thursday and the White House doctor said results were back in 15 minutes. He tested negative. California reports 10,701 confirmed COVID-19 cases statewide Update 3:35 p.m. EDT April 3: Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said Friday that 10,701 coronavirus infections have been confirmed in the state. Newsom said 2,188 of those infections were serious enough to require hospitalization. He added that 901 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care units Friday. “This disease can impact anyone,” he said. “Stay home. Take this seriously.” Supreme Court postpones oral arguments Update 3:30 p.m. EDT April 3: Officials with the Supreme Court on Friday announced the postponement of oral arguments planned for the Court’s April session due to the coronavirus outbreak. Court spokeswoman Kathleen Arberg said officials with consider rescheduling cases from the March and April sessions for later in the Court’s term, if possible. “The Court will consider a range of scheduling options and other alternatives if arguments cannot be held in the courtroom before the end of the term,” she said. Arberg added that justices will continue to review cases argued so far this term and post opinions on the Supreme Court’s website. 3,067 COVID-19 cases reported in Tennessee Update 3:10 p.m. EDT April 3: Officials in Tennessee reported 3,067 total coronavirus cases across the state Friday, WHBQ-TV reported. Officials with the Tennessee Department of Health said 293 of those cases were serious enough to require hospitalization. Thirty-seven people have died of COVID-19 in the state while 248 people have recovered, according to WHBQ-TV. Ohio considering releasing some inmates due to coronavirus Update 3:05 p.m. EDT April 3: Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio said Friday that authorities are looking into the possibility of releasing 23 women who are pregnant or have had a child in prison, WHIO-TV reported. Officials said there were also 15 people over the age of 60 who are within 60 days of their planned prison release dates who might also be released. Authorities said all the inmates being considered for early release are non-violent, non-sexual offenders, according to WHIO-TV. Officials with the Ohio Department of Health have reported 3,312 coronavirus cases in the state. The virus has claimed at least 91 lives in Ohio. 1 in 5 Americans killed by COVID-19 middle-aged Update 2:50 p.m. EDT April 3: A first look at recent U.S. death certificate data confirmed that most of the initial American coronavirus deaths were people age 65 and older. But it also notes that about 1 in 5 were middle-aged. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted the data online Friday. It reflects 1,150 U.S. coronavirus deaths that occurred through the last week of March. That tally is several hundred deaths lower than other totals reported for the same period, because it relies on death certificate information which can come in weeks after other kinds of reports. The new data said 56% of deaths were people 75 and older, and another 23% were people in their late 60s and early 70s. But another 17% were ages 45 to 64, and 3% were 35 to 44. The statistics were smaller for younger adults. One child died. Pennsylvania governor urges residents to wear cloth masks in public Update 2:40 p.m. EDT April 3: Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania and state Secretary of Health Rachel Levine urged people Friday to begin wearing masks in public in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, WPXI reported. Officials stressed that N95 respirator and surgical masks were not necessary. Instead, they suggested people wear cloth masks, a bandanna or something similar to cover people’s noses and mouths, according to WPXI. “Wearing a mask will help us cut down the possibility that we might be infecting an innocent bystander, like the grocery store cashier, the pharmacist, or someone stocking shelves,” Wolf said. “These people are keeping us alive by getting us the supplies we need. We owe it to them to do everything we can to keep them safe. Right now, that means wearing a mask.” Mississippi officials report 181 new coronavirus cases Update 2:25 p.m. EDT April 3: Health officials in Mississippi reported 181 new coronavirus infections Friday, bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,358, WHBQ-TV reported. Officials also reported three new deaths, according to WHBQ-TV. Statewide, 1,358 people have died of COVID-19, officials said. 2 more federal inmates die of COVID-19, officials say Update 2:15 p.m. EDT April 3: Officials with the Federal Bureau of Prisons on Friday announced two more inmates have died of COVID-19. Authorities said Wallace Holley Jr., a 56-year-old inmate at the Federal Correction Institution Oakdale I in Oakdale, Louisiana, died Thursday. Officials said Holley, who had long-term,pre-existing medical conditions, tested positive for COVID-19 prior to his death. Margarito Garcia-Fragoso, a 65-year-old inmate at Federal Satellite Low Institution Elkton in Lisbon, Ohio, also died Thursday after he tested positive for COVID-19. He also had long-term, pre-existing medical conditions, officials said. COVID-19 cases top 10,000 in Louisiana Update 1:55 p.m. EDT April 3: Health officials in Louisiana reported 1,157 new coronavirus infections Friday, raising the state’s total number of cases to 10,297. Officials with the Louisiana Department of Health also noted the death toll attributed to the coronavirus doubled from the 185 reported Thursday to 370. IMF official: Recession caused by coronavirus ‘a crisis like no other’ Update 1:50 p.m. EDT April 3: The head of the International Monetary Fund says the recession sparked by the coronavirus pandemic is “way worse” than the 2008 global recession. IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva described the situation as “a crisis like no other.” “Never in the history of the IMF have we witnessed the world economy coming to a standstill,” she said. “We are now in recession, it is way worse than the global financial crisis and it is a crisis that requires all of us to come together.' Georgieva said 90 countries have already approached the institution for emergency financing. She called on countries to prioritize health expenditures and to make sure doctors, nurses and other health workers are paid. She added that the world’s most fragile countries must be protected, noting that “$90 billion have flown out” and damaged emerging economies. 4,372 new coronavirus cases reported in New Jersey Update 1:40 p.m. EDT April 3: Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey said Friday that 4,372 new COVID-19 cases have been reported, bringing the statewide total to 29,895. In addition, Murphy said 113 new fatal coronavirus cases were identified. In all, 646 people have died of COVID-19 in the state. Murphy identified one of the victims as James Brown, the principal of Grover Middle School in Caldwell. He was 48 years old. CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin tests positive for COVID-19 Update 1:15 p.m. EDT April 3: CNN reporter Brooke Baldwin announced Friday on Instagram that she’s been diagnosed with COVID-19. “I am OKAY,” she wrote Friday. “It came on suddenly yesterday afternoon. Chills, aches, fever. I’ve been social distancing. Doing ALL the things we’re being told to do. Still -- it got me.” She said she has no underlying health conditions and that overall, she feels “like one of the lucky ones.” “I look forward to being back on (television) and seeing you real soon,' she wrote. She also thanked health care workers for their efforts on the front line of the coronavirus battle. Baldwin is at least the second CNN anchor to test positive for coronavirus. Earlier, reporter Chris Cuomo said he was self-isolating after being diagnosed with the viral infection. Special small business loans available beginning Friday Update 1:10 p.m. EDT April 3: Beginning Friday, small businesses struggling to stay afloat as the COVID-19 virus continues to spread across the United States can apply for the nearly $350 billion in loans set up through the CARES Act passed by Congress last month. Four programs are now in place to help small businesses to stay in business until the public health crisis triggered by COVID-19 abates. The programs came from the CARES Act which was signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 27. 109 new coronavirus cases reported in Oklahoma Update 12:45 p.m. EDT April 3: Officials in Oklahoma said 109 new coronavirus infections were reported Friday, raising the total number of cases in the state to 988, according to KOKI-TV. Four new coronavirus-related deaths were also reported in the state, bringing Oklahoma’s COVID-19 death toll to 38. The four new fatal cases involved patients who were all over 65 years old. Pennsylvania officials report 1,404 new coronavirus cases Update 12:40 p.m. EDT April 3: Officials in Pennsylvania reported 1,404 new coronavirus infections Friday, bringing the state’s total to 8,420, WPXI reported. In addition, officials with the Pennsylvania Department of Health reported 12 more deaths. Statewide 102 people have died of COVID-19, according to WPXI. 104 new coronavirus infections reported in DC Update 12:20 p.m. EDT April 3: Officials in Washington D.C. said 104 new coronavirus infections have been reported, bringing the total in the district to 757. Mayor Muriel Bowser said three new fatal cases were also reported Friday. In all, 15 people have died due to COVID-19 in Washington D.C. Delta Air Lines giving passengers 2 years to rebook flights Update 12:15 p.m. EDT April 3: Delta Air Lines announced Friday that the company is extending its window to redeem travel credits from one to two years amid the coronavirus outbreak. The change will allow for travel credits to be used through May 2022. “Just as our business is changing, we know that events in our customers’ lives are being changed and canceled, too,” airline officials said Friday in a statement. “Whether customers have been affected by recent schedule adjustments or want additional reassurance about upcoming travel, we’re now extending the ability to plan, re-book and travel with us for up to two years – giving Delta customers some extra breathing room.” Temporary military hospitals to begin taking COVID-19 patients, Pentagon says Update 11:55 a.m. EDT April 3: The Pentagon said it will begin accepting COVID-19 positive patients at Pentagon-supported medical facilities in Dallas and New Orleans that previously had been designated as non-COVID hospitals. COVID-19 positive patients in convalescent care and those deemed non-urgent cases will be accepted at the Morial federal medical station in New Orleans and at the Kay Bailey Hutchison federal medical center in Dallas. These patients must first be screened at a local hospital. President Donald Trump on Thursday announced that he had approved New York’s request that COVID-19 patients be accepted for care at the Pentagon-supported Javits center, which previously had taken on non-COVID patients. The Pentagon also said Friday that screening for care of non-COVID-19 patients on the hospital ship USNS Comfort in New York harbor is being modified in an effort to reduce a backlog at some New York hospitals. Instead of requiring patients to be tested for COVID-19 at the hospital from which they are being transferred, each patient transferred to the Comfort will be screened by temperature and given a short questionnaire pier-side. The Pentagon also announced that the number of COVID-19 positive cases in the active-duty military had risen to 978 as of Friday morning. That is up 85 from a day earlier. New York reports 562 new fatal COVID-19 cases Update 11:30 a.m. EDT April 3: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said the state saw its “highest single increase in the number of deaths since we started” on Friday. Officials reported 562 new deaths attributed to COVID-19, bringing the state’s death toll to 2,373. 102,863 coronavirus infections reported in New York Update 11:20 a.m. EDT April 3: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said Friday that 10,481 new coronavirus infections have been reported, bringing the state’s total number of COVID-19 cases to 102,863. New York has been the state hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. UK prime minister to continue self-isolating Update 11 a.m. EDT April 3: Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom said Friday that he will continue to self-isolate past the recommended seven-day period as he deals with a “minor symptom” lingering since his COVID-19 diagnosis. Johnson said he continues to have a fever. “In accordance with government advice, I must continue my self-isolation until that symptom itself goes,' he said. “But we’re clearly working the whole time on our program to defeat the virus.” Mayor tells New York City residents to wear face coverings in public Update 10:50 a.m. EDT April 3: Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City said Friday that residents should wear face coverings while around people who are not part of their families or households to stymie the spread of the new coronavirus. He said in a video posted Friday to Twitter that he’s been asked several times recently whether masks are appropriate for people in the general public. “The masks -- the surgical masks, those N95 masks -- we want to keep those for the health care workers, for the first responders,” he said. “We’re now advising all New Yorkers, when you go outside and you’re close to other people -- not your own family and people under your same roof, but when you’re close to other people -- have a bandanna, a scarf, some kind of face covering you can use when you happen to be in close proximity to people.” He emphasized that the mask does not protect against coronavirus and urged people to continue keeping at least 6 feet of space between each other. “(This) will help make sure that if, God forbid you’ve contracted the disease, even if you’re not yet symptomatic, that you won’t inadvertently spread it to someone else,” he said. “It’s a precaution to protect others.” Cruise ship en route to Florida confirms 12 COVID-19 cases Update 10:20 a.m. EDT April 3: Health officials have confirmed a dozen coronavirus infections on a Princess Cruise Lines ship headed toward Fort Lauderdale, Florida, company officials said Thursday. Princess Cruise Lines said that on Tuesday, crew members on the Coral Princess sent 13 COVID-19 test samples to health officials in Barbados. Of those, samples from seven guests and five crew members tested positive for the viral infection. The Coral Princess had set sail March 5 from Chile, one week before Princess Cruises announced a 60-day pause of operations. It was scheduled to travel to Argentina, where passengers were set to disembark March 19. Stocks open lower after US government reports 700,000 job losses Update 9:50 a.m. EDT April 3: Stocks wavered in early trading on Wall Street after the U.S. government reported that more than 700,000 jobs were lost last month. Businesses have shut down across the country and the world as people stay home in hopes of slowing the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. The S&P 500 was up 0.4% in the first few minutes of trading. European markets were down Friday after losses in most of Asia. The price of oil continued to rise on hopes for a global deal to limit overproduction, which helped boost energy stocks. The price of benchmark U.S. crude rose 7%. Grupo Modelo to halt production of Corona beer Update 9:45 a.m. EDT April 3: Grupo Modelo, the Mexican company that brews Corona beer, said Friday in a statement that it will halt production of the drink and others it brews to comply with Mexico’s closure of non-essential businesses. U.S. economy lost 701,000 jobs in March Update 9:15 a.m. EDT April 3: A new report from the Labor Department on Friday showed the economic storm associated with the coronavirus battering the U.S. economy in March, causing the loss of 701,000 jobs, and pushing the jobless rate up by almost one percent -- the largest monthly increase in over 45 years. The unemployment rate was at 4.4 percent in March, not far under the 4.7 percent rate when President Donald Trump took office in January 2017, the highest jobless rate of his presidency. 'Employment in leisure and hospitality fell by 459,000, mainly in food services and drinking places,' the Labor Department reported. “Notable declines also occurred in health care and social assistance, professional and business services, retail trade, and construction,” the report added. UK officials report 684 new fatal coronavirus cases  Update 9:05 a.m. EDT April 3: Officials in the United Kingdom recorded 684 new fatal COVID-19 cases on Friday, raising the country’s coronavirus death toll to 3,605. The number is slightly higher than the 569 deaths reported Thursday. Authorities with the British Department of Health and Social Care also announced 4,450 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases. In all, officials said 33,718 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus infections in the U.K. Germany becomes 4th nation to surpass China’s total coronavirus count Update 7:53 a.m. EDT April 3: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus hit 54,137 early Friday, and Spain’s total number of infections surpassed that of Italy, according to a tally maintained by Johns Hopkins University. In the four months since the virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, it has infected at least 1,030,628 people worldwide. Four countries – the United States, Spain, Italy and Germany – have now confirmed total infection counts well above China’s 82,509 tally. • The United States has reported 245,573 cases, resulting in 6,058 deaths. • Spain has reported 117,710 infections, resulting in 10,935 deaths. • Italy has confirmed 115,242 cases, resulting in 13,915 deaths. • Germany has reported 85,063 cases, resulting in 1,111 deaths. • China has recorded 82,509 cases, resulting in 3,326 deaths. • France has confirmed 59,929 infections, resulting in 5,398 deaths. • Iran has recorded 53,183 cases, resulting in 3,160 deaths. • The United Kingdom has reported 34,192 cases, resulting in 2,926 deaths. • Switzerland has confirmed 19,145 cases, resulting in 573 deaths. • Turkey has recorded 18,135 cases, resulting in 356 deaths. UK field hospital NHS Nightingale opens less than 2 weeks after project began Update 7:41 a.m. EDT April 3: Less than two weeks after crews began repurposing London’s ExCel conference center to accommodate overflow novel coronavirus patients, the NHS Nightingale field hospital stands ready to serve. Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, called the timely transformation a “spectacular and almost unbelievable feat.” “(It’s) an example – if ever one was needed – of how the impossible could be made possible,” he said Friday via a video-link from Scotland, where he has been self-isolating after being diagnosed with the virus in March. “In this dark time, this place will be a shining light,” Prince Charles said, adding, “It is symbolic of the selfless care and devoted service taking place in innumerable settings, with countless individuals throughout the United Kingdom.” To date, the United Kingdom has reported 34,192 cases, resulting in 2,926 deaths. Coronavirus cases continue mounting in Brazil, Japan Update 6:56 a.m. EDT April 3: With more than 1 million novel coronavirus cases now recorded worldwide, new – and some old – hotspots are emerging as the pandemic continues its global spread. • Brazil confirmed Thursday its third consecutive day logging at least 1,000 new cases. The South American country now reports a total of 7,910 infections, which have resulted in at least 299 deaths. • Japan confirmed early Friday that 235 additional novel coronavirus cases have brought the East Asian country’s total to 3,329, resulting in at least 63 deaths. • Tokyo reported its largest single-day increase in new cases on Friday with 97. Japan’s capital city has now confirmed a total of 684 cases. Portion of famed Paris market repurposed as makeshift morgue Update 6:33 a.m. EDT April 3: A portion of the Rungis food market on the outskirts of Paris has been converted into a temporary morgue to handle the swelling number of novel coronavirus fatalities reported in the region. According to The Washington Post, the Paris Police Prefecture is converting one isolated building in the world’s largest meat and vegetable market into a makeshift morgue, capable of accommodating between 800 and 1,000 coffins. “This location will permit the coffins of the deceased to be kept in the most dignified and acceptable conditions from a health point of view, pending their burial or cremation in France or abroad,” the prefecture said in a statement, circulated widely among French media. According to a tally maintained by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, France has recorded at least 59,929 COVID-19 infections since the global pandemic began, resulting in 5,398 fatalities. Libya confirms 1st coronavirus-related death Update 4:35 a.m. EDT April 3: Libya’s National Center for Disease Control confirmed the country’s first novel coronavirus-related fatality in a statement released Thursday. The patient, who was not diagnosed until after hear death, was an 85-year-old woman. According to a tally maintained by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, the North African nation has reported a total of 11 infections to date. Lenders question Friday rollout of $349B small business coronavirus relief program Update 4:23 a.m. EDT April 3: The $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program is slated to launch today, but banks tapped to disperse the emergency federal small business loans told The Washington Post they are skeptical the plan is rollout-ready. “Having just received guidance outlining how to implement a $349 billion program literally hours before it starts, we would ask for everyone to be patient as banks move heaven and earth to get a system in place and running to help America’s small businesses and the millions of men and women who work at them,” Richard Hunt, president and chief executive officer of the Consumer Bankers Association, said in a statement. The Paycheck Protection Program, considered a key element of the $2.2 trillion economic relief package approved by Congress one week ago, is intended to deliver a “sharply streamlined, same-day approval process unheard of in the history of federally backed small business lending,” the Post reported. Several participating lenders indicated in interviews with the Post as late as Thursday, however, that they are still awaiting finalized program guidelines from the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Small Business Administration before processing any applications despite today’s launch date. Amid coronavirus crisis Disney to furlough employees ‘whose jobs aren't necessary at this time’ Update 3:28 a.m. EDT April 3: Walt Disney Co. has officially notified employees that those “whose jobs aren’t necessary at this time” will be furloughed beginning April 19. The global entertainment empire shuttered all 12 of its theme parks on March 12 and has been paying its employees salaries in the interim. Per the latest announcement, those payments will cease on April 18. The company said in its statement it has been “forced to make the difficult decision to take the next step and furlough employees” because there is “no clear indication of when we can restart our businesses.” All furloughed workers will remain employed by Disney and retain their benefits. Mexico’s Grupo Modelo halts production of Corona beer Update 2:54 a.m. EDT April 3: Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo announced late Thursday it will temporarily halt production of Corona beer as the novel coronavirus pandemic pits essential products against those deemed nonessential. In a news release, Grupo Modelo said the move is in response to the Mexican government’s Tuesday directive that suspends temporarily most industries not deemed “essential” services such as health care and agriculture. In turn, the company plans to cease producing its brews on Sunday with no clear timeline outlined for a return to production. Supplies seized from suspected Brooklyn hoarder donated to medical staffs fighting coronavirus Update 2:32 a.m. EDT April 3: Some New York and New Jersey medical personnel are slightly better stocked after a Brooklyn man’s arrest led authorities to a stockpile of hoarded medical supplies, CNN reported. Prosecutors contend in court documents that Baruch Feldheim, 43, sold N95 masks to doctors and nurses at substantially inflated prices. In turn, the roughly 192,000 in-demand respirator masks and assorted other supplies are being redistributed to medical personnel across New York and New Jersey by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Sony launches $100 million global coronavirus relief fund Update 2 a.m. EDT April 3: Sony is preparing to launch $100 million fund to provide global relief to those affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic. “Sony extends its condolences to the families of those who have passed away as a result of the coronavirus crisis and extends its sympathies to all those who have been impacted,” Kenichiro Yoshida, Sony’s president and chief executive officer, said in a prepared statement, adding, “In order to overcome the unprecedented challenges that as a society we now face around the world, we will do all we can as a global company to support the individuals on the front lines of the battle against coronavirus the children who are our future, and those who have been impacted in the creative community.' US coronavirus deaths hit 6,053, total cases top 245K Update 12:30 a.m. EDT April 3: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 245,000 early Friday morning across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 245,540 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 6,053 deaths. U.S. cases now more than double the 115,242 reported in Italy and the 112,065 confirmed in Spain. Of the confirmed U.S. deaths, 2,374 – or roughly 40 percent of the nationwide total – have occurred in New York, 537 in New Jersey and 417 in Michigan.  In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the hardest hit with at least 92,720 confirmed cases – or more than three times the next-closest state – followed by New Jersey with 25,590 and California with 11,042. Seven other states have now confirmed at least 6,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: • Michigan: 10,791, including 417 deaths • Louisiana: 9,159, including 310 deaths • Florida: 9,008, including 144 deaths • Massachusetts: 8,966, including 154 deaths • Illinois: 7,695, including 163 deaths • Pennsylvania: 7,268, including 90 deaths • Washington: 6,588, including 271 deaths Meanwhile, Georgia and Texas each has confirmed at least 5,000 novel coronavirus infections; Connecticut, Colorado and Indiana each has confirmed at least 3,000 cases; and Ohio, Tennessee and Maryland each has confirmed at least 2,000 cases. Click here to see CNN’s state-by-state breakdown. The Associated Press contributed to this report.