5 Things That Happened While You Were Out: March 9

The first day of the workweek is officially over. Each day is starting to feel a little bit longer than the last. That’s in part due to the whole spring-is-coming thing, but also because of the relentless pace of the COVID-19 spread and news.

Hopefully, all of you are home safe with hands clean and bellies full. Let’s review what you might have missed today…

1) Here’s the stark reality: COVID-19 is very easily transmitted, and most Americans will likely come into contact with it and become ill to some degree over the next two years.

That’s according to the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Director Dr. Nancy Messonnier. Most cases will be mild to moderate, with severe illness largely occurring in those who are elderly and already in compromised health. But the virus is here, and it’s here to stay.

With the confirmation of its first case this morning, Louisiana brought the total number of states with Coronavirus diagnoses up to 36 – plus 2 known cases in Washington D.C. The number of reported cases nationwide is 600 – up from 260 on Friday. Worldwide, the World Health Organization (WHO) is reporting over 110,000 confirmed cases, with 56 countries now reporting localized spreading of the disease.

The Grand Princess is finally in a position to disembark today, despite President Donald Trump’s urging to leave the passengers and crew onboard to help keep the number of confirmed U.S. COVID-19 cases down. (Yes, he really did say that).

Passengers will be relocated to multiple military bases in California, Georgia, and Texas two begin a two-week quarantine.

As COVID-19 continues to spread, so does the fear and panic that go hand-in-hand with a global pandemic. The New York Stock Exchange was suspended for 15 minutes this morning as the S & P 500 Index dropped 7 percent just minutes after opening bell. The CDC and the State Department are recommending that Americans avoid unnecessary travel – particularly aboard cruise ships.

2) The latest casualty of the COVID-19 virus is in-person college classes. Most of the colleges that have shut down and moved to online learning are located in the areas in the hardest-hit epicenters of the virus: New York, Seattle, and California.

In the state of Washington, both the University of Washington and Seattle University suspended all in-person classes from today until the end of the current academic quarter on March 20. As of right now, they are planning to resume all normal activities with the start on March 30. The law school associated with Seattle University that operates on a semester system has not yet announced a restart date, so classes are suspended indefinitely.

In California, the only notable university that has canceled in-person classes, for now, is Stanford, which is also on the quarter system. That means the remainder of the winter quarter – two weeks worth of classes – has been scutttled. All finals will be given on an in-home format.

The university is also canceling all campus tours and the “Admit Weekend” for all prospective students next month. The University of Southern California (USC) is not canceling classes, but has declared a preparedness test March 11 -13 to ensure its online systems are ready in case the need arises.

In New York, Hofstra, Columbia, Yeshiva and Barnard universities have all temporarily delayed in-person classes and on-campus activities. At each school, a student either reported symptoms or came in contact with a confirmed case of Coronavirus.

In New Jersey, Princeton University is moving all classes to an online classroom system, though there are no reported COVID-19 cases on campus. These preventative protocols will remain in place until April 5 – at least.

Multiple universities are canceling and recalling students involved in study abroad programs, and the Semester at Sea ship is being rerouted as well.

3) Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed today that Rick Cotton, the executive director of the New York and New Jersey Port Authority, has tested positive for COVID-19. The Port Authority confirmed that Cotton has self-quarantined and will be working from home for the duration.

Members of the Port Authority’s senior management team who had contact with Cotton are being observed and tested and are working from home. Last week Cotton attended a breakfast hosted by the NYU Rudin Center for Transportation with other top officials, including MTA Chair Pat Foye. Foye says he talked to Cotton, but did not shake hands or touch him in any way. It is unclear if Foye is being observed for the disease.

Cuomo himself has not been tested. He said he doubts he’s positive. The total number of cases in New York now stands at 142, with 19 in NYC.

4) An NCAA investigation revealed violations by Siena Men’s Basketball under former coach Jimmy Patsos, including benefits that are not allowed under NCAA rules and regulations – such as paying players.

As a result, Siena will have to abandon all wins from seasons 2015 – 2016, 2016 – 2017 and 2017-2018. They will also serve three years probation and pay a $5,000 fine, among other punishments. The team has not, however, lost the right to play in NCAA’s March Madness tournament this year. Siena will have to regularly report to the NCAA on efforts being undertaken to ensure this does not happen again.

There are only three players left from the aforementioned seasons, and they, along with all players from those team seasons, will likely have to remove stats from their career record. As for Patsos, he is suspended from coaching for three years, and any college with NCAA accreditation that may employ him has to keep him away from all athletic duties or make a petition as to why he should be allowed to resume coaching duties.

5) Mark your calendars for Wednesday, March 11, as the date of Hannaford’s Mac and Cheese Fest. From 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., you can pay $10 for five Mac and Cheese samples at the Albany Capital Center. This event precedes the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Men’s Championship game.

There will be many events throughout the night from Air Elite Dunkers’ performances to foul shooting contests. Along with the Mac and Cheese samples will be craft beer tastings.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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