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Deep South News Digest

March 26, 2020 - 6:24 pm

Good evening! Here’s a look at how AP’s news coverage is shaping up today in the Deep South. Questions about today's coverage plans are welcome and should be directed to:

The Atlanta AP Bureau at 404-522-8971 or apatlanta@ap.org

The Columbia AP Bureau at 803-799-5510 or apcolumbia@ap.org

The Montgomery AP Bureau at 334-262-5947 or apalabama@ap.org

The New Orleans AP Bureau at 504-523-3931 or nrle@ap.org

The Jackson AP Bureau at 601-948-5897 or jkme@ap.org

For up-to-the minute information on AP's coverage, visit Coverage Plan at newsroom.ap.org.

Deep South Editor Jim Van Anglen can be reached at 1-800-821-3737 or jvananglen@ap.org. Administrative Correspondent Rebecca Santana can be reached at 504-523-3931 or rsantana@ap.org. A reminder: this information is not for publication or broadcast, and these coverage plans are subject to change. Expected stories may not develop, or late-breaking and more newsworthy events may take precedence. Advisories and digests will keep you up to date.

Some TV and radio stations will receive broadcast versions of the stories below, along with all updates.

GEORGIA (All times Eastern)

AP is canceling election testing for the March 24 Georgia presidential preference primary which has been postponed by the Georgia Secretary of State to May 19 in conjunction with the state primary also on that date. Testing for the combined presidential and state primary will begin May 4. These tests are NOT for publication, broadcast or use online. Additional information will be available in the election testing advisory starting in late April, found in advisory queues: AP—Georgia Primary Election Testing Advisory.



ATLANTA — Georgia’s governor on Thursday extended an order to keep the state’s public schools closed because of the new coronavirus, as the death toll in the state rose to 48. As of noon Thursday, 473 people were hospitalized because of the virus, according to data from the Georgia Department of Public Health. The state is reporting 1,525 confirmed cases, though testing has been limited and results can sometimes take days to receive. By Ben Nadler and Jeff Amy. SENT: 711 words.

AP Photos transref:GAJB103, transref:GAJB101, transref:GAATJ, transref:GAATJ506, transref:GAATJ505, transref:GAATJ504, transref:GAATJ202, transref:GAATJ201.


SAVANNAH, Ga. — It started with an infected person from out of town who attended a funeral. Now the largest hospital in Georgia’s mostly rural southwest corner is rapidly running out of space amid the highest rate of coronavirus infection in the entire state. At Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, Georgia, intensive care beds are filled with COVID-19 patients, employees are hand-sewing masks to help stretch dwindling supplies, and every day is a struggle. By Russ Bynum and Rebecca Santana. SENT: 1,107 words.

AP Photos transref:DX101, transref:LA308, transref:LA310, transref:NYSB331, transref:LA305, transref:LA304, transref:NYSB332, transref:LABAT604, transref:NYSB333.


ATLANTA — A top Georgia Republican is pushing for more delays in state elections because of the threat of COVID-19 and how it might suppress turnout. House Speaker David Ralston wrote a letter Thursday to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a fellow member of the GOP, urging that the state's May 19 primary elections be delayed until at least June 23. By Jeff Amy and Ben Nadler. SENT: 576 words.

AP Photos transref:GAATJ.


UNDATED — A Georgia couple who traveled to India to adopt a child have had to delay bringing their new daughter back to the United States after Indian authorities locked down the country because of the coronavirus. India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, on Tuesday announced a three-week lockdown in the country of 1.3 billion people, meaning that citizens and visitors alike may only leave their homes or hotels for food, medicine or other essential needs. By Cody Jackson. SENT: 357 words.

AP Photos transref:NVMV102.


WASHINGTON — Nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — almost five times the previous record set in 1982 — amid a widespread economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus. The surge in weekly applications was a stunning reflection of the damage the viral outbreak is inflicting on the economy. Filings for unemployment aid generally reflect the pace of layoffs. By Christopher Rugaber. SENT: 1,362 words.

AP Photos transref:NYBZ601, transref:NYBZ602.


QUINCY, Mass. — Grocery stores across the U.S. are installing protective plastic shields at checkouts to help keep cashiers and shoppers from infecting one another with the coronavirus. At a Stop & Shop supermarket Thursday in Quincy, just south of Boston, shoppers paid for and bagged their groceries, separated from employees by newly installed see-through barriers. By Rodrique Ngowi. SENT: 399 words.

AP Photos transref:ILNH101, transref:MASR103, transref:ILNH104, transref:MASR104, transref:MASR101, transref:MASR106, transref:ILNH106, transref:ILNH103, transref:ILNH102.


SAVANNAH, Ga. — A federal judge ruled she will not halt removal of a capsized cargo ship along the Georgia coast while a salvage company that lost the job to a competitor sues the U.S. Coast Guard. The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood said an injunction delaying work to dismantle the South Korean freighter Golden Ray would be “averse to the public interest.” The ship with 4,200 cars still in its cargo decks has been beached off St. Simons Island since September. Experts concluded the wreck will have to be cut into pieces. By Russ Bynum. SENT: 482 words.

AP Photos transref:MHX101.


LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. — Police in suburban Atlanta say a man has been arrested in Washington state and charged with murder in a 2002 cold case killing. Titus Norwood, 43, was arrested Wednesday for the September 2002 slaying of 30-year-old Weldon Mills in Norcross, Gwinnett County police said in a news release Thursday. Police say the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office will arrange for Norwood to be sent back to Georgia to face charges of felony murder and aggravated assault. Norwood was arrested by the Lacey Police Department in Washington. SENT: 215 words.


— PATROL CAR ASSAULT — Man drives into patrol car after threatening to shoot wife



NEW YORK — The WNBA draft will be a virtual event this year. The league announced Thursday that its draft will still be held April 17 as originally scheduled, but without players, fans or media in attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic. By Doug Feinberg. SENT: 767 words.

AP Photos transref:NY174.


ATLANTA — Former Braves owner Bill Bartholomay, who moved the franchise from Milwaukee to Atlanta in 1966 to become Major League Baseball's first team in the South, has died. He was 91. Bartholomay died Wednesday at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, according to his daughter, Jamie. SENT: 593 words.

AP Photos transref:NYDD209, transref:NYDD210, transref:NYDD208.

SOUTH CAROLINA (All times Eastern)



WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. — In the first week of economic disruption from the coronavirus, more than 31,000 people said they lost their jobs in South Carolina. The state Thursday released unemployment claims for the week ending March 21, and the 31,054 claims were almost the same number of jobless claims filed over the first 11 weeks of 2020 combined, including a big spike after the temporary jobs created around Christmas. By Jeffrey Collins. SENT: 773 words.

AP Photos transref:RPJC101, transref:SCMS102, transref:SCMS104, transref:SCMS103, transref:SCMS108, transref:SCMS111, transref:SCMS118, transref:SCMS106, transref:SCRS109, transref:SCRS108, transref:RPJC102, transref:RPSC101.


GREENVILLE, S.C. — A South Carolina man who said he suffered major neck and spinal injuries after a police officer pushed him to a jail floor while he was still in handcuffs was given a $90,000 settlement. The city of Greenville settled a March 2018 lawsuit filed by Bobby Falls against the city’s police department and county detention center last month, The Greenville News reported. SENT: 300 words.


— BODY-SHALLOW GRAVE — A man and a woman have been charged with killing a woman they were living with in South Carolina, tying her up with Christmas lights and beating her, authorities said.

— BODIES FOUND-CAR — Two victims discovered in a burning car in South Carolina this week were killed before the blaze engulfed the vehicle, officials announced Wednesday.

ALABAMA (All times Central)



MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Thursday directed public schools to finish the academic year through distance learning as the state tries to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Ivey, who had closed schools through April 5, said it became clear that schools cannot reopen yet. She said school systems should implement plans beginning April 6 to finish the school year through alternate means of instruction. By Kim Chandler. SENT: 681 words.


— CATHOLIC BISHOP — New bishop named for Roman Catholic diocese in Alabama

— MISSING GIRL — Authorities in east Alabama are searching for a missing 4-year-old girl who was last seen Wednesday afternoon.

— SUSPECT CHOKED-OFFICER — An Alabama police officer who was placed on desk duty after putting a man in a chokehold will return to duty next month, authorities said.

LOUISIANA (All times Central)



NEW ORLEANS — As the number of known coronavirus cases in Louisiana jumped 28% overnight, Gov. John Bel Edwards starkly warned residents Thursday to stay home, saying the state has edged into a tie for the second-highest rate of virus cases per capita. President Donald Trump agreed to set up federal field hospitals in Louisiana and send down public health staff to help with the worsening outbreak. Louisiana surpassed 2,300 people known to be infected, with 86 residents dead from the COVID-19 disease caused by the virus, according to the state health department. A 17-year-old from New Orleans was among the latest deaths, the first in the state of someone under 18, a death that Edwards said shows “everyone is at risk.” By Janet McConnaughey and Melinda Deslatte. SENT: 785 words.

AP Photos transref:LABAT107, transref:LABAT106, transref:RPMD203, transref:LABAT105, transref:LABAT104, transref:LABAT321, transref:LABAT604.


SAVANNAH, Ga. — It started with an infected person from out of town who attended a funeral. Now the largest hospital in Georgia’s mostly rural southwest corner is rapidly running out of space amid the highest rate of coronavirus infection in the entire state. At Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, Georgia, intensive care beds are filled with COVID-19 patients, employees are hand-sewing masks to help stretch dwindling supplies, and every day is a struggle. By Russ Bynum and Rebecca Santana. SENT: 1,107 words.

AP Photos transref:DX101, transref:LA308, transref:LA310, transref:NYSB331, transref:LA305, transref:LA304, transref:NYSB332, transref:LABAT604, transref:NYSB333.


AUSTIN, Texas — Texas joined other states Thursday in imposing quarantines on travelers from the New York area, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., and put similar restrictions on people arriving from nearby New Orleans as the number of cases there surges dramatically. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the moves as Texas surpassed 1,400 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and 18 related deaths. Concerns over the virus also forced the Houston school district, the biggest in Texas, to indefinitely suspend meals for low-income families after a worker went into self-isolation over a possible exposure. By Paul J. Weber. SENT: 471 words.

AP Photos transref:TXAUS503, transref:CER102, transref:TXMO101, transref:TXDAM401, transref:TXEG115, transref:TXAUS502, transref:TXAUS501, transref:CER103, transref:TXDP106, transref:TXEG108, transref:TXDP113.


— JUVENILE JUSTICE SECRETARY — Louisiana names new leader of juvenile justice department

— FATAL CRASH-HOME — Four people are dead, including a 2-year-old boy, after a driver traveling at high speeds lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a house, authorities in Louisiana said.



LOS ANGELES — An executive with the company that owns Santa Anita urged the California Horse Racing Board on Thursday to continue live racing despite a statewide stay-at-home order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Santa Anita in Arcadia, outside Los Angeles, and Golden Gate Fields in the San Francisco Bay area are among a handful of U.S. tracks continuing to race without fans. Both are owned by The Stronach Group. By Beth Harris. SENT: 950 words.

AP Photos transref:CAMT107, transref:CAMT106, transref:CAMT116.

MISSISSIPPI (All times Central)



JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi will begin investigations to find people who have been near those testing positive for the coronavirus and will tell those contacts to quarantine themselves, Gov. Tate Reeves and the state health officer announced Thursday. Reeves said the contact-tracing plan “will allow us to shift from playing defense to playing offense" to try to slow the spread of the highly contagious virus. By Emily Wagster Pettus. SENT: 820 words.

AP Photos transref:MSRS101, transref:MSRS105, transref:MSRS101, transref:MSRS102.


UNDATED — Mississippi's education leaders on Thursday moved to ease the way for seniors to graduate and third graders to move on to fourth grade in the face of schools closed to combat the spread of the coronavirus. The state Board of Education already voted last week to halt state standardized tests and to have schools and districts keep their current A-to-F ratings for another year. Mississippi officials said Thursday that the U.S. Department of Education has indicated it will formally approve Mississippi’s waiver later, as board members suspended more than a dozen laws and rules. High school students will earn graduation credits for incomplete courses, and seniors will be allowed to graduate this year as long as they meet other district and state requirements. Districts can change graduation requirements, as long as students earn at least 24 core course credits. By Jeff Amy. SENT: 427 words.


CHICAGO — The orders seem prudent in the bid to thwart the spread of the novel coronavirus: Don't go out, don't gather with others and keep your stores closed. But growing segments of the U.S. population say state and federal governments are trampling on freedoms central to American life in the name of protecting public health. The case is already being made. A church-goer in New Hampshire says prohibitions against large gatherings violate her religious rights. A Pennsylvania golf course owner argues that gubernatorial edicts shuttering his business amount to illegal seizure of his private property. By Michael Tarm. SENT: 1,062 words.

AP Photos transref:UTRB101, transref:KSOW101, transref:DCMC103, transref:DCPS109, transref:LA309, transref:RIDG202, transref:PAPHQ803, transref:KSCR105.


NATCHEZ, Miss. — An inmate at a Mississippi jail is pregnant after she had a “quickie” with another inmate, authorities said. Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten said the pregnancy was confirmed by a nurse practitioner, The Natchez Democrat reported. SENT: 230 words.


If you have stories of regional or statewide interest, please email them them to:

The Atlanta AP Bureau: apatlanta@ap.org

The Columbia AP Bureau: apcolumbia@ap.org

The Montgomery AP Bureau: apalabama@ap.org

The New Orleans AP Bureau: nrle@ap.org

The Jackson AP Bureau: jkme@ap.org

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