THANK YOU:

$104,854 raised for the Atlanta Community Food Bank. WE ARE #StrongerTogetherATL

Coronavirus:

What You Need To Know

On Air Now

Listen Now

Weather

clear-day
82°
Partly Cloudy
H 84° L 66°
  • clear-day
    82°
    Current Conditions
    Partly Cloudy. H 84° L 66°
  • cloudy-day
    84°
    Today
    Partly Cloudy. H 84° L 66°
  • heavy-rain-day
    76°
    Tomorrow
    Chance of Rain. H 76° L 56°
Listen
Pause
Error

News on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

Traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

Weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Traffic

Click to interact Tap to interact
Traffic Team in the Community  Each year, the traffic team loves supporting the Georgia Police Memorial Ride, and it’s quite the sight! Hundreds of motorcycle riders turn out to support families of Georgia officers who have been killed in the line of duty. Please consider joining members of the traffic team for this big event at the Atlanta Expo Center on Saturday, April 25th. Call our traffic center with traffic incidents at 404-897-7358. Start YOUR new year off right and do yourself this favor. You can also get through to us using the “Triple Team Traffic Alerts” app, free in your phone’s app store! The app provides real-time, traffic incidents recorded by WSB radio traffic reporters. Powered by Cool Ray Carrier.

The Gridlock Guy- Doug Turnbull

  • My initial reaction to the viral video of a large group of people blocking off I-285 to do burnouts and celebrate the ill-thought pop-up party might have mirrored yours. I was stark-raving mad at the sight of a bunch of young men stopping their cars on I-285 and then creating their own perimeter in the eastbound lanes. The footage on the “Everything Georgia” / @GAFollowers Twitter account shows a crowd of a couple of dozen people out of their cars and filming a Dodge Charger doing a smoky doughnut under the Airport Tunnel bridge, just east of Riverdale Road. The clip shows vehicles not involved in this careless stunt helplessly coming to a stop behind the throng during the 11 p.m. hour on Saturday, Feb. 29. This kind of grassroots horsepower and traffic-snarling strut has become more commonplace in recent years. But no matter how talented and precise these drivers are, threading the needle between an unprotected crowd and someone taking video, these stunts are absolutely dangerous and inconsiderate. » RELATED: WATCH: Traffic stops on I-285 as drivers do burnouts, doughnuts in tunnel I get angry at any time we have unforced errors on the roads. When cars barely wreck and stay blocking a travel lane, it’s unacceptable. When GDOT crews stay out in a lane past the cutoff time, it’s maddening and annoying. When people drive the wrong way on shoulders to dangerously get out of a backup, I point it out on 95.5 WSB and in this column.  When the dangers and responsibility of driving are taken so lightly as these men took them that frustrating Saturday night, that needs saying. To those that applaud pop-up traffic RED ALERTS (shutting down interstates), one must also endorse several things. Shutting down a freeway or road terribly inconveniences those who have no part in the endeavor. The I-285 video showed a tractor trailer that could have been made late making a delivery; their or someone else’s livelihood hangs in that balance. Stopping in the middle of any road, but particularly an interstate, creates danger for not only those choosing to shut it down, but for those rolling up on it unexpectedly. Not a day goes by in Atlanta where an initial wreck doesn’t cause a chain reaction crash in the backup. Stopping on a dime for no reason (doing so to block off roads for burnouts qualifies as “no reason”) creates even further unnecessary risk. » RELATED: National traffic data shows I-285 deadliest highway This doesn’t include the risk those in the burnout assume on themselves when smoking out an intersection or freeway. What if someone plows into them or if the circling driver loses his handle and hits an innocent person or someone else in the crowd around them? Live roadways simply are not the place for these showcases. But before we all get high and mighty and virtue-signal about these dangers, let’s not pick sawdust out of the eyes of those that have blinded themselves to these externalities. We have planks in our own sockets. Before we call out these young men, do we call out our own spouses and kids when they are holding their phones and driving, something blatantly illegal and dangerous? Have we felt guilty about tailgating someone or cutting across three lanes to make a turn at the last second? These things happen at the hands of far more people, far more often and we, the indignant, are guilty. We, the guilty, also need to be careful in how we describe things we don’t like from people we don’t know. Comments on social media called the selfish participants “thugs” and made implications that the City of Atlanta is letting this behavior slide because of the race of the participants. This is misguided and hurtful. For one, the I-285 blockage and drifting was in College Park, not Atlanta, and that city’s own police department is investigating it. And assuming that all of the people involved are involved in other criminal activity, by calling them thugs, isn’t warranted. The same reaction likely wouldn’t occur if this gathering consisted of frat bros in their dad’s Wranglers. That same traffic interruption and risk should be just as maddening, absent of racial and cultural overtones. The plans to block off city roads not just in Atlanta, but elsewhere will continue. The Instagram account @_slideshowTV has an invitation up for the “ATL Ride Out” on Sunday, March 15. The organizer on the account is inviting cars and bikes to descend on Atlanta, but to not do burnouts. Considering that other posts on the account glorify burnouts, this seems like a bit of posterior-covering and not a real thought to the effect on other people. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: Why I-285 flooded in the same place — twice We seem to accept some other events that block traffic. The Georgia State Patrol often escorts sports teams to Atlanta venues. The annual Georgia Police Memorial Ride, in which I participate, shuts down parts of I-285 and I-75/85 (the Downtown Connector) for extended periods on a Saturday morning. Funeral processions stop traffic, too. The latter two of these examples may cause jams, but they are done in remembrance of those lost. Traffic delays should make us mad, and stupid behavior should also. But we have to remember that we are careless, too. Two dozen people texting and driving could be every bit as dangerous as these “Fast and Furious” wannabees were on I-285. Whether it’s this egregious behavior or the more common, insidious things we do every day, we need the police to step up and enforce the law. Fixing broken windows and graffiti in New York City helped decrease the crime rate, because of the message it sent. Applying that same concept on the roads could galvanize more safety and civility. Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@cmg.com.
  • Autonomous vehicle technology is mind-blowing. The fact that cameras, mapping, lasers and computers affixed to traveling vessels can see road lines and other vehicles and then drive is absolutely remarkable. The fact that these revolutionary cars can speed up and slow down on their own and follow inputted navigational directions is a transcendent breakthrough. But this technology is little more than an aid right now — we cannot count on it to be responsible for us. » RELATED: Traffic technology spreads, saving opioid victims An Apple engineer in Mountain View, California, lost his life as a byproduct of this false comfort two years ago. Walter Huang, 38, had repeatedly noticed his Tesla Model X kept darting toward a damaged median barrier on U.S. Highway 101, when the car was in self-drive mode. Huang had expressed this to some family members, but he was prepared for it and corrected the maneuver any time he passed that fateful spot. Huang also took his sleek SUV to his Tesla dealer, but they could not replicate the defect. On March 23, 2018, Huang had switched to the auto-pilot system. He presumably had forgotten he was on the approach to this trouble zone on Highway 101, between San Jose and San Francisco. Records show that his phone was streaming a video game. Disaster struck. Huang’s Tesla steered into and then hit the compromised wall. The impact was dashboard-deep. Game over. Huang paid the price for the complacency that brilliant technology causes. » RELATED: Why I-285 flooded in the same place — twice Tesla said that the crash was so severe because the median wall — designed to diminish such an impact — had damage from an earlier crash. The California Department of Transportation said that maintenance on that wall had been scheduled, but not completed. The automaker did not account for why the Model X decided to steer into the wall in the first place. A self-driving Uber hit and killed pedestrian Elaine Herzeberg in Tempe, Arizona — this was also in March 2018. The U.S. National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) ruled this crash, too, happened because the vehicle’s operator was distracted and because Uber’s corporate governance of this autonomous project was lacking. In a flavor of mea culpa, the NTSB said that even the government did not oversee such endeavors enough. A March 2019 crash took the life of 50-year-old Jeremy Baren Banner when his Tesla drove under a tractor trailer, shearing Banner’s Model 3’s roof off. Banner had just taken his hands off the wheel six seconds before the impact, and the NTSB said Banner entered autopilot mode just ten seconds beforehand. Tesla’s system did not detect that Banner had let go of the wheel. He was driving 68 miles per hour in a 55 speed zone. We don’t know why all three of these fatal instances happened to take place in the third month of the year. But we can safely assume we need to beware behind the wheel on more days than just the Ides of March. In a hearing on Capitol Hill last Tuesday, a bipartisan cadre of lawmakers urged that the United States needs to fund autonomous vehicles more steadfastly. The fear is that the U.S. will fall behind China and other countries in this realm. More funding and emphasis are not bad things, but hasty implementation can produce awful results. » RELATED: Setting an extremely attainable commuting bar for 2020 Many tragedies result from a series of errors, not just one idiot proverbially sitting on the candy-red button. Huang should have been watching where he was driving. The Uber driver should have also. Banner might have picked the wrong time to test his Tesla’s autopilot system at that speed. Tesla needs to beef up the flaws in its miraculous vehicles. Uber and other outfits need to not let convenience breed malfeasance. And the government needs to better balance innovation with safety — and the DOT needs to repair the roads fully. As we have said in this space many times, including in last week’s post about the forgotten dangers of driving: We all help each other in this community on the roads. Despite the aids of technology, we cannot lessen our vigilance and responsibility behind the wheel. Partially autonomous cars are here and could be a Godsend. Fully autonomous vehicles are still en route, and we shouldn’t act as if they have arrived. Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@cmg.com 
  • Last Saturday was unforgettable along I-85 in Norcross. In fact, one didn’t have to be anywhere near the tragedy that exploded into calamity on I-85/northbound at Jimmy Carter Boulevard to see or hear about what will be one of the biggest traffic stories of 2020. A Freightliner tanker truck carrying an 8,500-pound fuel shipment slammed into a car in the second right lane. The Volkswagen had just been in a small crash and stopped in the road. The impact sent the tanker truck sideways and flipping multiple times. The crash killed the drivers of the truck and the car, and it also sent the flammable shipment into massive flames. Fire birthed explosions, as people in the middle of the interstate fled their cars and crews evacuated nearby businesses along Dawson Boulevard. The massive collision caused fuel to leak into the freeway drainage system, catching fire and shooting out of the I-85/southbound drains, shutting that side of the freeway down. » RELATED: Victims ID’d in fatal fiery crash on I-85 in Gwinnett Everything about this conflagration was epic and WSB’s radio and TV coverage began with the keen eyes and ears of Triple Team Traffic reporter Mike Shields. Shields prepared for his top of the hour traffic reports for 95.5 WSB and Channel 2 Action News, duties he shares off-camera on the weekends with Veronica Harrell. At just after 8 a.m., Shields heard both DeKalb and Gwinnett police on our emergency scanner system dispatched to a call.  “I heard them looking for something. They didn’t say what it was, it was a report of a crash,” Shields told Smilin’ Mark McKay and me on our most recent WSB Traffic Podcast. As Shields searched the sensors on our Triple Team Traffic Alerts App and the WSB Jam Cams, everything took a dramatic turn. “I hear this screaming over one of the scanners and I’m like, ‘Oh my goodness.’” A former City of Marietta police officer, Shields knows better than any of us on the team that first responders see enough carnage to not exclaim like that at just anything.  “(I clicked on) always my go-to cam: over there at I-85 and Jimmy Carter — camera 87.” The public can view any GDOT camera, and we on the Traffic Team see them on a private system that makes us one of the few media properties that can actually move them. We do this so often that many of us have certain cameras memorized by number, so they are easier to find. When Shields got “good ol’ 87” to load, the situation was very bad. “It was just this massive ball of fire covering the entire interstate, I-85/northbound,” Shields explained, noting it was 8:01 a.m. - a time he will never forget. “My jaw just dropped. I immediately called our TV producer, Kimberly Page.” Shields continued: “I said, ‘You have to take me now.’” Shields said as soon as Page saw this, she knew it was severe. “At about 8:02 or 8:03 we went live on Channel 2 with it, breaking in.” » RELATED: Remembering WSB’s Pete Combs and the I-85 plane landing Shields’ and Page’s quick actions allowed Channel 2 to switch its opening block of the news show and get Shields on the air with this critical information and breathtaking live video. Fire engulfed the freeway in a way Atlanta hasn’t seen since the disastrous I-85 bridge collapse in March of 2017. Atlanta gasped again.  Shields then jumped on 95.5 WSB with the shocking news. “These flames are huge and I’m hearing Gwinnett County say that this may be a tanker truck involved,” Shields dispatched to WSB Radio’s listeners during that 8:05 traffic report, issuing a one of our traffic RED ALERTS for the closure. I-85/southbound would soon join that rank as the fire spread. “At that point we notified our radio news desk and our music stations so that everybody knew what was going on,” Shields said. An event of this magnitude transcends listeners and viewers just interested in news and traffic. It even became a national story, as ABC World News Tonight used an actuality of Shields and Ch. 2 anchor Sophia Choi narrating the harrowing video. The intense fire damaged the pavement on I-85/northbound, forcing crews to have to scrape off the top pavement layer and replace it, GDOT said. While I-85/southbound reopened within a couple of hours, the repaving of I-85/northbound pushed its closure up to dinner time: 10 hours. Shields also noted that after the crash scene cleared, GDOT HERO Units had to tow away abandoned cars, a la 2014’s Snowmageddon. Surreal. I had to call in Alex Williams to fill in on Saturday, unbeknownst to us that I-85 was burning. We each lost our breaths after that phone call. “I got a quick shower and got in there, because I knew I needed to help him,” Williams said of his arrival 45 minutes early. Williams handled most of the radio responsibilities, as Shields did extra reports on Ch. 2. They both dealt with extreme call volume from our Traffic Troopers and had to continue updating our app, Twitter accounts and monitoring the rest of the craziness on the Atlanta roads. Deep into the I-85 closure, I-20/eastbound shut down at Highway 138 (Exit 82) in Conyers with what became a fatality crash investigation. Williams noticed big delays out that way and pulled up a WSB Jam Cam in the area that showed no traffic moving toward it. “Alright, we’ve got another RED ALERT,” Williams recounted. “And this one ended up creeping on for hours, so I had those two things to cover.” 95.5 WSB had to carry UGA basketball that afternoon, so Williams had to work to squeeze in quick traffic reports on these two problems and also somehow also convey the terrible delays on I-285 in both directions in Fulton and Cobb counties near Hollowell Parkway. Construction took out multiple lanes on the west side. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: The urbanist view on street design This was a brain-scrambling mess, but Williams and Shields handled it with poise and urgency, and their extra efforts alerted drivers on the air and digitally as soon as possible of the closures. They gave the context and timeliness that a robot-powered, algorithmic app simply cannot on its own. “We are the Atlanta traffic experts. We’re always on the offensive; we’re always looking for things,” Shields spoke of the entire WSB Traffic Team. And he is one of our newer members. Just as one should be weather-aware in times of severe weather, one should also be traffic-aware. Atlanta’s commute can change terribly at any time. And there is no better place to turn to on the air, on mobile devices, and online than WSB Triple Team Traffic. Last Saturday’s cataclysm is yet another reminder. Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@cmg.com .
  • The first song on CAKE’s 1994 debut album “Motorcade of Generosity” is “Comanche” and repeats this line, “If you want to have cities, you have to build roads.” The line is symbolic, meaning success comes in steps. But in literal practice, the phrase is becoming less true for city developers. Connected or “smart” vehicles and traffic signs and signals are increasing in number, and Georgia has become a cutting-edge testing ground. With a main goal of decreasing traffic delay, the technology is bucking the traditional paths to gridlock relief. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: Why I-285 flooded in the same place — twice iATL, the Infrastructure Automotive Technology Lab, just opened two weeks ago off of Haynes Bridge Road just west of GA-400 in Alpharetta. The main room in the brand-new building displays several types of traffic signs and lights on its left wall. Then two long rows of traffic signal boxes, simulating all the types in use around the country, take up the rest of the room. Each box and signal is equipped with wireless radio technology that allows them to communicate with each other — and with smart vehicles. “It all changed on January the 7th, 2019,” iATL director Bryan Mulligan explained. “The reason being is that the Ford Motor Company announced at C.E.S. that they were doing connected vehicles.” Ford became the first automaker to commit to making all of its new vehicles connected by 2022. This means that their entire showroom fleets will soon be able to work with traffic signal settings and other radio-equipped smart cars to decrease congestion and the instance of high-risk maneuvers. These cars will not all be self-driving, but they will be able to prompt drivers to make better decisions and move more freely. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: Setting an extremely attainable commuting bar for 2020 Enter the entrepreneur Mulligan, who is also the president of Suwanee tech company Applied Information. This firm builds this smart signal technology and also deploys it via its Travel Safely app, which can communicate with traffic signals as a smart vehicle would. Mulligan explained this technology in a Gridlock Guy piece on the North Avenue smart corridor two years ago. Applied Information and an army of other tech firms, automakers, and other stakeholders in the technology and transportation industries are using their strengths in the private sector to innovate and then work with the public sector for traffic solutions.  In metro Atlanta, the City of Marietta was the first to deploy Mulligan’s technology and now equips first responders’ vehicles and CobbLinc buses this way. Traffic lights turn green automatically, for example, for a bus that is behind schedule and has five or more people on board, and the city controls that threshold. Traffic lights also go green for fire trucks and med units on emergency calls. “(The cities using this technology) see that they can deliver better health outcomes by saving heart attack, stroke, accident and opioid victims,” Mulligan explained. Marietta City Manager Bill Bruton told Mulligan the hastened response time is most helpful to those who overdose on opioids, because successfully administering the opioid antidote Narcan is extraordinarily time-critical. » RELATED: Remembering WSB’s Pete Combs and the I-85 plane landing “The data shows that (smart technology) saves about 11 seconds per intersection, and the paramedics fly between five and six intersections on their way to a call.” So the data has shown Mulligan and city planners that response times have decreased by about a minute. Mulligan calls this a “Day One Application” of his products: They are immediately successful for first responders, before the first civilian smart car ever prevents a crash or before the connected buses alleviate traffic. 125 smart intersections have just gone online in Alpharetta, and the city’s fire trucks are already equipped to trigger these traffic lights. The City of Marietta has continuously grown this technology in its densely populated areas. Atlanta has had the North Avenue smart corridor for more than two years, but now has smart technology on Campbellton Road and is working on it for Martin Luther King Junior Drive. Each of those corridors sees heavy MARTA use, and the city believes connected buses and signals can make big impacts there. This technology is catching on statewide, in fact, as smart speed limit and school-zone signs and signals dot the entire state. Mulligan said that Georgia truly is on the cutting edge in this realm. “There is a very robust and progressive culture here that is not prevalent in the rest of the world,” Mulligan said of both the Georgia private- and the public-sector entities with which he has dealt in the past few years. State officials, including Georgia Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, mingled with stakeholders in the automotive and technological fields at iATL’s recent grand opening. Many chest-pounding events of these are all bark and little bite. But given the sincere interest from cities and automakers and their use of iATL as a testing field for the technology, this wireless wave has some punch. And given that any city that deploys these innovations can nearly guarantee faster emergency-response times means the investment is successful out of the gate. Mulligan estimated that the cost of the entire connected systems that Alpharetta bought roughly equaled the cost to add an extra lane to one intersection. The answer to building cities is no longer just building the roads. Listen to Turnbull’s interview with Mulligan on the WSB Traffic Podcast.  Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@cmg.com. 
  • “What the flood?” — or some variation thereof — was a likely reaction from commuters stuck in recent watery messes on I-285. The pejoratives have flown twice in 2020. Heavy rain on both Friday, January 3, and during the line of severe storms on Saturday, January 11, caused heavy ponding in the four left lanes of I-285/westbound (Outer Loop) at Ashford Dunwoody Road (Exit 29). In each case, crews took a couple of hours to find and unclog the responsible drain, leading WSB Triple Team Traffic to issue our “GRIDLOCK ALERTS” for the stopped traffic back before I-85/Spaghetti Junction. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: Setting an extremely attainable commuting bar for 2020 The first flood came on the tail end of AM drive and at least one vehicle got stuck in the water. That kind of flooding one time raises eyebrows. But a second occurrence just a week and a day later connects faces and palms. And GDOT has had to wag some fingers. “We had intense or heavy rain in a short amount of time,” GDOT’s Stephen Lively told the AJC. “And then inadvertently the developer and their team had temporarily blocked an outfall, which was in stage construction.” Lively is the construction lead for GDOT’s Office of Innovative Delivery. So this tasks him with making sure various developers hold up their end of the work contracts. The developer of the Transform I-285/GA-400 project is North Perimeter Contractors (NPC), and we talked about their responsibility in maintaining the roads in their project zone last week. Someone on the ground at NPC’s I-285 job in Dunwoody supposedly accidentally blocked a certain drain twice during this rainy period. So Lively and GDOT have had to work to ensure a third mistake doesn’t happen. “We, as an agency, met with them and stressed the importance of maintaining the travel way on I-285 and not ponding water,” Lively explained. He said GDOT’s own inspection team has surveyed the area to make sure it fits their standards. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: DUI death rates and the easy options to get home safely The other way GDOT can enforce this is to levy certain penalties or consequences spelled out in the contract. Whether those mean fines or not, Lively would not specify, because he said each situation has different factors. He did say that NPC has laid out a plan on how they would prevent that kind of flooding again. Because the flood took up such a large space on such a critical and busy highway, GDOT sent its own crews to un-stop the drains. That job would normally fall under NPC’s scope, but Dunwoody commuters could not afford to wait longer for that smaller firm to alleviate the blockage. GDOT also puts people on the ground in potential trouble spots when they suspect bad weather, so they can assess the area and deploy crews and fixes more expediently. On a smaller level, the flooding closure of Chamblee Dunwoody Road in Chamblee has been a fly in that city’s recent traffic ointment. That low-lying stretch of road has been submerged in water at least three different times since Monday, December 23. Each instance normally lasts multiple days. Again, the same problem occurring multiple times in a short period raises questions. “In the first two weeks of this year, we’ve had about four-and-a-half inches of rain,” Chamblee Public Information Officer Tisa Moore told the AJC. “The intensity of that amount of rain in such a short amount of time, along with the rainfall the prior week, caused the problems on Chamblee Dunwoody Road.” Chamblee PD has had to put up barricades on this popular cut-through between American Industrial Way and New Peachtree Road, because of the inches-deep water collected under the Peachtree Road, MARTA, and railroad overpasses. » RELATED: Remembering WSB’s Pete Combs and the I-85 plane landing “We are pumping the water out so staff can safely get into the drain and place cameras there that will assess the situation,” Moore said. But Moore also said they need a drier weather period to keep the drains clear for repair. Chamblee oversees the traffic in the area, but DeKalb County maintains the sewer system. So much like GDOT’s relationship with NPC, Chamblee has to work in concert with the county to properly fix the problem. And all parties involved in both boondoggles are hoping for a stretch of dry, preferably sunny, days to dry the puddles and take the stress off of the panting drainage systems, work crews, authorities, and motorists. Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@cmg.com. 

News

  • With more states imposing “safer at home” and quarantine orders because of the coronavirus, families and friends are searching for ways to stay connected. Sure, the telephone works, but more people are using video apps for face-to-face contact. It’s a good way for older citizens to connect with grandchildren without worrying about coming in contact. While hugs may be precious, people are becoming more aware of staying isolated. There are plenty of ways to connect. Here is a look at 12 video-chatting applications: Zoom: This app appears to be geared toward business, but families can use Zoom too. Users initiating a meeting are taken to a virtual room that looks like a table in a conference room. Personal groups of up to 100 people can meet online for free. Business options include packages for sale that allow up to 1,000 participants. Facebook Live: Viewers can connect in real-time from their cellphones, computers and even through their television set. FaceTime: This app, though the Apple store, allows users to make video and audio calls to groups of up to 32 people. FaceTime is available on Apple products including iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Facebook Messenger: Similar to FaceTime, Messenger allows free video calling around the world for individuals or groups of up to six. It can be used on cellphones, tablets and computers. Skype: This app has been around for a while. Skype can accommodate groups of up to 50 people worldwide, It can be used on computers, mobile devices, XBox One and even smartwatches. WhatsApp: More than 2 billion users take advantage of the WhatsApp. The mobile app works on Android and iOS platforms, making it a good choice for people with friends owning diverse types of devices. The free app allows groups of up to four users per session. Tango: You know the old phrase. It takes two to Tango, and this app restricts video contact to two people. This free app is good but only two! The free app is good for video calling one other person at a time. You can also make voice calls, send messages and play games using Tango. Google Hangouts: This app is free in its basic form. Google Hangouts allows up to 10 participants at a time. You can even video chat through your Gmail accounts. Instagram: Up to six people can video chat at once via Instagram. Houseparty: This video chat app is owned by Epic Games, which developed Fortnite. Houseparty allows people to play video games or test trivia skills through its interface. It is available through Android, iOS, MacOs and Chrome. Snapchat: With Chat 2.0, Snapchat users can use a full, featured video chat service. Snapchat is free to use, but can chew up a lot of data time. It is recommended to connect to a wireless network before making your call. Viber: The Viber app is good for international calls and one-on-one video calls. Calls between Viber users are free, but a fee will apply for calling people without the app.
  • Tom Coburn, a former U.S. senator from Oklahoma known as a conservative political maverick, died after a battle with prostate cancer, according to The Associated Press. He was 72. Coburn retired from the Senate in 2015 after being diagnosed with cancer. He served two terms from 2005 to 2015, KOKI reported. “Oklahoma has lost a tremendous leader, and I lost a great friend today,' U.S. Sen. James Lankford said in a statement. “Dr. Coburn was an inspiration to many in our state and our nation. He was unwavering in his conservative values, but he had deep and meaningful friendships with people from all political and personal backgrounds. He was truly respected by people on both sides of the aisle.” In the Senate, Coburn was the ranking member of the Committee on Homeland Security and also served on the committees on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; and Intelligence. From 1995 to 2001, Coburn represented Oklahoma’s 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. A family physician, Coburn was a member of the Committee on Commerce, where he sat on the subcommittees on Health and Environment as vice-chairman, Energy & Power, and Oversight and Investigations. Coburn was also selected co-chair of the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS in 2001. Services for Coburn have not been announced, KOKI reported.
  • Florida senior citizens who live in a downtown Orlando high-rise flickered the lights of their apartments Friday in a show of support for the doctors and nurses who are trying to thwart the spread of the coronavirus. Residents of Westminster Towers flickered their apartment lights at 9 p.m. to show support for the medical professionals working at Orlando Health. “Tonight, we flashed all of our lights to show our thanks to the hero health care workers at Orlando Regional Medical Center as they work hard to treat the sick and keep us safe from COVID-19,” Westminster Towers said on Facebook. “Thank you.” The display could be seen from the hospital campus, which is near the apartment building. “Thank you (Westminster Towers) for lighting up the night and our hearts,” the hospital network said on Facebook. “We’re all in this together.”
  • The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Georgia climbed to 2,366 Saturday as the state’s death toll reached 69. Since Friday evening, the confirmed number of Georgians who have died as a result of COVID-19 increased by four, according to the latest data from the Georgia Department of Public Health.  » COMPLETE COVERAGE: Coronavirus in Georgia Health officials also confirmed an additional 168 cases since the 7 p.m. update. Of Georgia’s overall cases, 617 people remain hospitalized, a rate of about 26%, according to the state’s noon figures.  Fulton County still has the most cases with 373, followed by DeKalb with 240, Dougherty County with 205, and Cobb with 181.  As of Monday, the number of confirmed cases across the state was fewer than 1,000 Since Friday evening, Fulton has 26 new cases, while DeKalb has 21 more and 18 more people tested positive in Cobb. Four counties also reported their first cases, including Murray, Walton, Jenkins and Pike.  » MORE: City under siege: Coronavirus exacts heavy toll in Albany A total of 11,051 tests have been conducted so far in Georgia. About 21.4% of those returned positive results. On Friday afternoon, the DPH started releasing data on where people died. Dougherty County leads the count with 13 deaths, followed by Fulton with 12, Cobb County with eight, and Lee County with five. About 2.9% of Georgians who have tested positive for the highly contagious disease have died. » DASHBOARD: Real-time stats and charts tracking coronavirus in Georgia For most, COVID-19 causes only mild or moderate symptoms. Older adults and those with existing health problems are at risk of more severe illnesses, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover in a matter of weeks. As numbers spike across the state, Gov. Brian Kemp is urging Georgians to stay home and practice social distancing. At a town hall broadcast Thursday evening, Kemp told residents to heed directives to avoid more restrictive measures, such as a statewide stay-at-home mandate. » RELATED: Kemp urges Georgians to heed virus warnings but balks at drastic steps Bars and nightclubs remain closed across the state, many public gatherings are banned, and the elderly and medically fragile are ordered to shelter in place. » PHOTOS: Metro Atlanta adjusts to shifts in daily life amid coronavirus crisis Many metro Atlanta cities and counties have issued their own stay-at-home orders to residents, shutting down nonessential businesses and imposing curfews. » MORE: DeKalb County issues stay-at-home order Speaking on CNN Saturday morning, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said metro Atlanta’s hospitals are already nearing capacity.  “...We are a large urban city in an even larger metropolitan area, so on a good day our hospitals and our ICU beds are at a premium,” she said. “What people have to realize is strokes don’t stop, diabetes and these things that send people into our emergency rooms, these things continue. It’s stressing our health care system and you add this pandemic on top of it and we have a real problem of it brewing right here in Atlanta.” » RELATED: Bottoms: Stay home so others ‘have an opportunity to simply live’ Those who believe they are experiencing symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19 are asked to contact their primary care doctor or an urgent care clinic. Do not show up unannounced at an emergency room or health care facility. Georgians can also call the state COVID-19 hotline at 844-442-2681 to share public health information and connect with medical professionals.  — Please return to AJC.com for updates.
  • He has been a prominent face during the White House Coronavirus Task Force briefings. Now, Anthony Fauci’s face is prominently featured on doughnuts in a New York shop. According to WHAM-TV, Donuts Delite, in Rochester, introduced the sweet treat Monday as a tribute to Fauci, 79, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a doctor for the National Institutes of Health. Nick Semeraro, owner of Donut Delites, said his employees have made “thousands” of doughnuts, the television station reported. “We wanted to find a way to cheer up the people in our neighborhood,” Semeraro told CNN. “We noticed Dr. Fauci on (television), and we loved his message and how thorough he was, and how he kept everyone informed during the crisis... so we wanted to give back and say thanks.” The shop printed Fauci’s face on edible paper and put it on top of a buttercream-frosted doughnut, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported. Fauci’s image was then encircled with frosting decorated with red, white and blue sprinkles, the newspaper reported. “Right now, we’re selling over 100 an hour at least,” Semararo told WHAM. “We had no idea they would blow up like that. “It just started as a tribute,” Semararo told the television station. “It started as a thank you. It’s sticking, and I think it’s great. People are stuck at home and what’s happening is, it’s starting conversations. Whether they pick it up for someone, it starts that thinking outside of the box and giving back.” Semararo said he would continue to make the doughnuts as long as there is a demand. “I never met a guy that worldwide (who) is so loved,” Semeraro told CNN. “And a month ago, we never knew his first and last name... His political agenda is medical. It’s facts ... the American public needs facts now.”
  • The chief executive officer of Texas Roadhouse restaurants said he is giving up his salary and bonus so the chain’s front-line employees can be paid during the coronavirus pandemic. Wayne Kent Taylor will begin donating his checks from the pay period beginning March 18 through Jan. 7, 2021, Market Watch reported Wednesday. Louisville Business First reported Taylor’s total compensation package in 2018 was $1.3 million with his base salary being $525,000. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Texas Roadhouse said it is also suspending its dividend in an effort to conserve cash during the pandemic, according to Market Watch. Texas Roadhouse, a publicly traded company based in Kentucky, employs more than 56,000 workers and has 563 locations in the U.S. and internationally, the website reported. Taylor, 63, founded the chain in 1993, opening his first restaurant in Clarksville, Indiana, USA Today reported.