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Friday, September 18, 2020

Major college sports fall season

The threat of the coronavirus has prompted top university athletics conferences to postpone their fall sports season.

“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said Tuesday.

Both the Big Ten Conference and the Pac-12 Conference postponed their 2020-2021 fall sports seasons Tuesday due to the coronavirus pandemic. The announcement means that all regular-season games, championships, and tournaments for football, women’s volleyball, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, and cross-country, are on hold.

President Trump called for university athletic programs to start the football season Tuesday, saying during his White House press briefing, “We want to see college football start.”

“Hopefully, we can watch colleges play football. We want to get football in colleges,” Trump said. “These are young, strong people, they won’t have a big problem with the coronavirus.”

Warren added that the Big Ten would “continue to evaluate a number of options regarding these sports, including the possibility of competition in the spring.” The Pac-12 will also consider letting affected sports continue after Jan. 1, 2021, if the pandemic improves.

Whether spring competition would be feasible is an open question. It is particularly problematic for football when the top players in the Big Ten and Pac-12 will be considering entering the NFL draft.

The United States has now confirmed more than 5.1 million COVID-19 infections, and about 164,700 people have died.

More than 820 students and 42 teachers in the recently reopened Cherokee County School District in north Georgia have been told to quarantine due to possible exposure to COVID-19. Cherokee County schools have only been in session for six days, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Tuesday.

“As made clear in our reopening of school plan, we anticipated positive tests among students and staff could occur, which is why we put a system into place to quickly contact trace, mandate quarantines, notify parents and report cases and quarantines to the entire community,” said Cherokee spokeswoman Barbara Jacoby.

The Cherokee County School District later announced on Tuesday that one of the high schools will close until the end of the month as administrators try to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.

Russia approved an experimental vaccine to prevent COVID-19 without first completing clinical trials or submitting findings for peer review. President Vladimir Putin also said that one of his daughters had already taken the vaccine.

“It works effectively enough, forms a stable immunity, and, I repeat, it has gone through all necessary tests,” Putin said in a Cabinet meeting Tuesday.

The vaccine, named Sputnik V after the world’s first orbital satellite launched by the USSR in 1957, has not completed extensive phase three clinical trials, the process seen as the only method of ensuring a vaccine is actually safe and effective.

“I hope our foreign colleagues’ work will move as well, and a lot of products will appear on an international market that could be used,” Putin added.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo added Hawaii and South Dakota to the list of states under a travel advisory that mandates visitors must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival to New York.

The move reflects a surge in cases across the Midwest, as well as on several Hawaiian islands, since last month. Test positive rates in some Midwest states, such as Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma, have surpassed 10% this month. Hawaii’s COVID-19 test positive rate, which was lower than 4% at the beginning of the month, has jumped to an 8.5% seven-day average.

Senate lawmakers haven’t been able to revive negotiations on a new round of federal coronavirus aid and have instead resorted to using floor time for partisan criticism.

“This is not a both-sides-to-blame situation,” Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday. “Democrats are willing to compromise. Republicans are being intransigent and will not move from their position, which is totally inadequate for the needs of America at the greatest economic crisis we have had in 75 years and the greatest health crisis in 100 years.”

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that it is the Democrats who are refusing to budge from their costly proposal by insisting on including provisions unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as provisions to eliminate the $10,000 cap on property tax deductions.

“Republicans wanted to reach an agreement everywhere we could and then continue to fight over the contested questions later,” McConnell said Tuesday. “But the Democrats said no — because they know their unrelated wish-list items would have no prayer of standing on their own merit.”

Facebook said Tuesday that it removed 7 million posts pushing misinformation about COVID-19 from its site as well as Instagram between April and June as part of its effort to crack down on the dangerous, rapid spread of false information, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

The company also tagged 98 million posts with warning notes in that time period to indicate that the posts were misleading but not deemed harmful enough to merit removal.

Four new cases of COVID-19 have appeared in New Zealand, nearly three months after it reported its last case.

The government reported that all four infections are members of the same family, who live in South Auckland. People who came into close contact with the four cases must remain in self-isolation for two weeks.

The source of the outbreak is, as yet, unknown. The first of the four cases to be confirmed with COVID-19 had no known travel history.

Most of New Zealand will be moving from Level 1 to Level 2 in its COVID Alert System in response to the new infractions, reinstating social distancing protocols that were in place to limit the spread of the virus in the spring. Auckland will implement even more stringent regulations to limit further spread, such as mandating that people stay at home except for essential outings.

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