CORONAVIRUS:

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    Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Sunday there will be no huge economic stimulus program as the country faces the threat of coronavirus-induced crisis almost certainly unlike any it has seen in the past century. Instead, the administration will expand social programs, continue to prop up the heavily indebted state-owned oil company, deepen the government’s austerity campaign and do everything possible to avoid taking on more debt. “There is a lesson that we have learned well and that we don’t forget,” López Obrador said to an empty and echoing National Palace patio. “An economic model that only benefits minorities does not yield general well-being, but on the contrary engenders public misery and violence.” The economic reactivation plan remains consistent with his administration’s priority of helping Mexico’s most vulnerable through greater public spending on social welfare, keeping people employed and cutting costs in the sprawling government, he said. As an example, he said the top level of government bureaucrats — from undersecretaries on up to him — will have their salaries reduced and give up their annual year-end bonuses. López Obrador promised to create 2 million new jobs over the next nine months, a seemingly incredible goal in a stagnant economy, and he gave no details on how he would do it. He emphasized his signature infrastructure projects of a Mexico City airport, a new oil refinery and a tourist train that will circle the Yucatan peninsula will continue. The last, which has yet to begin construction, promises to create 30,000 jobs for each of its seven segments, he has said. Other government programs pay farmers to work their land or create construction jobs through urban renewal projects improving drainage and paving roads. López Obrador quoted U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who he described as that country’s best president: “We have always known that heedless self interest was bad morals, we now know that it is bad economics.” Reaction from Mexico's private sector was swift. Gustavo de Hoyos, president of Coparmex, an association of business owners, criticized the president’s plan immediately via Twitter: “It announced no relevant measure to confront the Covid-19 crisis. In the middle of an emergency he read a piece of ideological dissemination, attacking ghosts from the past and abandoning his duty as head of state to unite the nation.' Before the speech Sunday, another association of Mexican industries, Concamin, warned in a statement that the pandemic could cause Mexico’s worst recession in a century. It called for “support to businesses to avoid the temporary closure of hundreds of thousands of them.” Thus far, López Obrador has mostly talked about protecting the country’s poorest and placed special emphasis on those working in the informal half of Mexico’s economy. The industrial chamber made multiple references to the government’s support being widely inclusive. López Obrador has praised billionaire Carlos Slim for his commitment to not laying off any workers during the crisis and urged other business owners to follow his example. The president has said that only workers in essential businesses should still be going to work and that those who stay at home should continue to be paid. But he tried to appear open while not making any promises. Last week he received several of the country’s top businessmen and on Saturday he tweeted a photograph of a video call he had with BlackRock Chairman and CEO Larry Fink, during which they exchanged “opinions about the coronavirus and the deterioration of the global economy.” Still, it remained unclear how an already weak economy, suddenly paralyzed by the pandemic, would be able to restart after what could be months of social distancing restrictions. The federal government has urged “non-essential” business sectors to keep their workers at home hoping to slow the virus' spread to a level that won't overwhelm the deteriorated public health system. Even before the pandemic, Mexico’s economy had already been in recession. Then last week, Mexico’s Treasury predicted the country’s economy will contract as much as 3.9% in 2020 because of the pandemic, and private analysts are making even direr predictions. The Bank of America predicted Thursday that Mexico’s GDP could contract 8% this year. That would be a bigger downturn than during the 2009 global recession, complicated in Mexico by the H1N1 pandemic, when GDP decreased 6.5%. It would also be worse than the December 1994 peso crisis, following which the country’s GDP fell 6.2% in 1995. A close economic partner of the United States, Mexico will expect to receive some benefit from the huge $2 trillion stimulus package approved there. On Sunday, López Obrador continued to strike an optimistic tone. “This crisis is passing, transitory,” he said of the pandemic. “Soon normality will return. We will overcome the coronavirus. We will reactivate the economy and Mexico will continue standing showing the world its glory and its greatness.” Mexico has reported 94 deaths related to the virus and more than 2,100 confirmed infections. For most people, the coronavirus results in mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But it can cause more several illness, including pneumonia and death, for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems. The new coronavirus has caused a global pandemic that has sickened at least 1.2 million, killed more than 69,000 worldwide, crippled economies and forced restrictions on the movement of millions of people in an effort to stop the virus from spreading and overwhelming health care systems.
  • A small coastal city in Georgia that thrives on tourism closed its beach, fearing carefree crowds of teenagers and college students posed too great a risk for spreading the new coronavirus. Two weeks later, the state's governor has reversed that decision, saying people weathering the outbreak need fresh air and exercise. The clash has thrust tiny Tybee Island, east of Savannah, into a thorny debate that keeps cropping up during the coronavirus pandemic: How much can officials curtail freedoms during the crisis? And should those calls be made at the federal, state or local level? Tybee Island Mayor Shirley Sessions, sworn in barely three months ago, has taken on Gov. Brian Kemp after state officials on Friday reopened the beach in this community of 3,100 people. The beach typically operates with city-funded lifeguards, police patrols and trash cleanup. The change resulted from the Republican governor's order that people statewide should “shelter in place” — that is, they should stay home unless working jobs deemed essential, seeking medical care, shopping for groceries, or other exceptions including exercising outdoors. It also invalidated any restrictions already imposed by local governments if they went beyond the governor's limits. That meant a unanimous decision by Tybee Island’s city council to close its beach was suddenly overridden, and Sessions said the governor's office declined to reconsider when asked. Her blunt, public rebuttal to what she called the governor’s “reckless mandate” drew attention far beyond her small coastal home. “As the Pentagon ordered 100,000 body bags to store the corpses of Americans killed by the coronavirus, Governor Brian Kemp dictated that Georgia beaches must reopen,” Sessions said in a statement posted Saturday on the city’s website that was quickly spread on social media and quoted in news stories. Tybee Island mayors are elected in nonpartisan races, and Sessions doesn't identify as Democrat or Republican. Kemp noted Sunday on Twitter that state law enforcement officers were monitoring beaches at Tybee Island and elsewhere to ensure crowds weren’t gathering, and that beach traffic appeared sparse. Kemp said “beach gear and parties are prohibited.” “Patrols are vigilant so people can get fresh air and exercise while following social distancing rules,” the governor tweeted. The back-and-forth reflects the broader debate in the U.S. about whether severe limitations on people's movement are necessary, causing unacceptable disruption or even constitutional. Some faith leaders, for instance, have argued that bans on gatherings that applied to services violated religious freedom protections. The American Civil Liberties Union is asking a court to block part of Puerto Rico’s strict curfew, expressing concern about overreach. The Los Angeles County sheriff reversed his decision to shut down firearms dealers after he was sued by gun-rights groups. On Sunday, there were no lifeguards were on duty on Tybee's beaches, and local officials left in place plywood signs blocking boardwalks and wooden barricades to keep cars out of beachfront parking lots. “I would say we’re going to leave them up until somebody takes them down,” Sessions said in a phone interview. The mayor said she doesn’t understand why the state would assert control during the pandemic. Kemp’s office did not immediately respond to an email Sunday seeking further comment on the governor’s rationale. Kemp’s spokeswoman, Candice Broce, said in a statement Saturday that governor’s staff was in contact with Sessions and would provide resources as needed to enforce social distancing. Sessions said she’s thinks few people ventured to the beach over the weekend because they weren’t sure whether it was open or closed. She’s concerned that could change. The city moved to shut down the beach after thousands of young people swarmed to the sand and surf as schools and colleges canceled classes. Local officials worried that carefree crowds posed too great a risk for spreading the virus. Still, it was a painful decision for a city that’s typically hungry for spring tourists after the economically lean winter. “We are a very high-risk community. We have an older population and two nursing homes. We don’t have a medical facility,” Sessions said. “The sooner we take these actions, the sooner we’ll be able to get back to some type of normalcy.” For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and lead to death. On Sunday, the Georgia Department of Public Health reported more than 6,600 confirmed infections statewide and 211 deaths. Chatham County, which includes Tybee Island and neighboring Savannah, had more than 80 cases and three deaths. At least one Tybee Island resident is among those infected, Sessions said, as is an officer on the community’s small police force. Kemp’s order that reopened the beach also lifted a temporary ban Tybee Island had imposed on people checking into vacation rental homes. Sessions said she spotted license plates from New York, New Jersey and other states reeling from the pandemic as she walked the island over the weekend. And she fears many more visitors will show up for the upcoming Easter weekend. “I tell people it’s such a small sacrifice,' said Sessions, who’s still urging people to stay off the beach. 'The beach is going to be there in two months. But will we be there to enjoy it?”
  • Shirley Douglas, the impassioned Canadian activist and veteran actress who was mother to actor Kiefer Sutherland and daughter of Canada medicare founder Tommy Douglas, died Sunday. She was 86. Sutherland announced his mother’s death on Twitter, saying she succumbed to complications surrounding pneumonia. He said it was not related COVID-19. “My mother was an extraordinary woman who led an extraordinary life,” said Sutherland. “Sadly she had been battling for her health for quite some time and we, as a family, knew this day was coming.” A native of Weyburn, Saskatchewan, Douglas worked with directors including Stanley Kubrick ('Lolita') and David Cronenberg ('Dead Ringers'), and she won a Gemini Award for her performance in the 1999 TV film “Shadow Lake.” She tirelessly supported a variety of causes throughout her life, including the civil rights movement, the Black Panthers and the fight to save Canada's public health care, pioneered by her politician father. In 1965, Douglas married Canadian actor Donald Sutherland, with whom she had two children before they divorced — twins Rachel, a production manager, and Kiefer, who became a film and TV star in his own right. Douglas had another son, Thomas, from a previous marriage. Born on April 2, 1934, Douglas showed an early interest in the arts as well as politics as she journeyed on the campaign trail with her father, who became premier of Saskatchewan, a national leader in the New Democratic Party and a socialist icon. She attended the Banff School of Fine Arts and went on to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in England, where she acted in theater and TV and participated in anti-nuclear marches. In the ’60s and ’70s, while living in California, Douglas campaigned against the Vietnam War and protested for various causes. She helped to establish a fundraising group called Friends of the Black Panthers. Her support for the group brought controversy — she was refused a U.S. work permit and charged in 1969 with conspiracy to possess unregistered explosives. The courts eventually dismissed the case and exonerated her. She also was a co-founder of the first chapter in Canada of the Performing Artists for Nuclear Disarmament. Douglas, though, was foremost a champion for Canada's medicare system. She would speak of the importance of a universal health care system at virtually any opportunity and lobbied government officials. Douglas, who had lived in Toronto since 1977, was nominated for two other Canadian arts Geminis: in 1998 for her leading role in the series “Wind at My Back” and in 1993 for starring in the film “Passage of the Heart.” She was also an Officer of the Order of Canada, one of the country's highest honors, and an inductee into Canada’s Walk of Fame.
  • Boeing said Sunday it will continue its shutdown of production indefinitely at its Seattle area facilities due to the spread of the coronavirus. The company in an email to Washington employees said it is extending the planned two-week shutdown rather than reopening Wednesday. The decision affects about 30,000 of Boeing’s 70,000 employees in the state. The company said the decision is based on the health and safety of its employees, assessment of the coronavirus spread, supply chain concerns and recommendations from government health officials. “The health and safety of our employees, their families and our communities is our shared priority,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal. “We will take this time to continue to listen to our incredible team, and assess applicable government direction, the spread of the coronavirus in the community, and the reliability of our suppliers to ensure we are ready for a safe and orderly return to operations.” A spokesman told The Seattle Times that employees are receiving their regular salaries during the two-week shutdown, but will have to transition to vacation or sick leave after that. The company said that at the end of the day Friday, it had 133 confirmed cases among employees worldwide, up from 118 a day earlier. Of those, 95 employees are in Washington. Washington state has 7,666 confirmed cases of the virus and 322 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally on Sunday afternoon. The coronavirus mainly is spread through coughs and sneezes. For most people, it causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
  • A tiger at the Bronx Zoo has tested positive for the new coronavirus, in what is believed to be the first known infection in an animal in the U.S. or a tiger anywhere, federal officials and the zoo said Sunday. The 4-year-old Malayan tiger named Nadia — and six other tigers and lions that have also fallen ill — are believed to have been infected by a zoo employee who wasn't yet showing symptoms, the zoo said. The first animal started showing symptoms March 27, and all are doing well and expected to recover, said the zoo, which has been closed to the public since March 16 amid the surging coronavirus outbreak in New York. The test result stunned zoo officials: “I couldn't believe it,” director Jim Breheny said. But he hopes the finding can contribute to the global fight against the virus that causes COVID-19. “Any kind of knowledge that we get on how it’s transmitted, how different species react to it, that knowledge somehow is going to provide a greater base resource for people,” he said in an interview. The finding raises new questions about transmission of the virus in animals. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which confirmed Nadia's test result at its veterinary lab, says there are no known cases of the virus in U.S. pets or livestock. “There doesn’t appear to be, at this time, any evidence that suggests that the animals can spread the virus to people or that they can be a source of the infection in the United States,' Dr. Jane Rooney, a veterinarian and a USDA official, said in an interview. The USDA said Sunday it’s not recommending routine coronavirus testing of animals, in zoos or elsewhere, or of zoo employees. Still, Rooney said a small number of animals in the U.S. have been tested through the USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratories, and all those tests came back negative except Nadia's. The coronavirus outbreaks around the world are driven by person-to-person transmission, experts say. There have been a handful of reports outside the U.S. of pet dogs or cats becoming infected after close contact with contagious people, including a Hong Kong dog that tested positive for a low level of the pathogen in February and early March. Hong Kong agriculture authorities concluded that pet dogs and cats couldn’t pass the virus to human beings but could test positive if exposed by their owners. Some researchers have been trying to understand the susceptibility of different animal species to the virus, and to determine how it spreads among animals, according to the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health. The American Veterinary Medical Association and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been recommending that out of an abundance of caution, people ill with the coronavirus should limit contact with animals — advice that the veterinary group reiterated after learning of the tiger's test result. In general, the CDC also advises people to wash their hands after handling animals and do other things to keep pets and their homes clean. At the Bronx Zoo, Nadia, her sister Azul, two Amur tigers and three African lions developed dry coughs, and some of the cats exhibited some wheezing and loss of appetite, said Dr. Paul Calle, the zoo's chief veterinarian. The staff figured there could be a relatively routine explanation for the cats' symptoms but tested Nadia for coronavirus out of “due diligence and an abundance of caution,” Breheny said. Only Nadia was tested because it takes anesthesia to get a sample from a big cat, and she had already been knocked out to be examined. The seven sickened cats live in two areas at the zoo, and the animals had contact with the same worker, who is doing OK, zoo officials said. They said there are no signs of illness in other big cats on the property. Staffers who work with the cats will now wear infection-protection garb, as primate keepers have done for years because of the animals' closer genetic ties to human beings, Breheny said. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as a fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and can be fatal. ___ Associated Press Medical Writer Mike Stobbe contributed.
  • Kentucky point guard Ashton Hagans will enter the NBA draft and forego his final two seasons of eligibility. He said Sunday the “time is now” to pursue his dream of playing professionally. The 6-foot-3 Hagans was named Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a freshman and became one of the country's best point guards this past season. However, his time at Kentucky ended in controversy as he argued with forward Nick Richards and coach John Calipari and reportedly refused to re-enter in the second half of a home loss to Tennessee. Calipari downplayed the incident afterward. Hagans then requested time away from the team for personal reasons and did not travel to the season finale at Florida. He was expected to return for the Wildcats at the SEC Tournament in Nashville, but that event and the NCAA Tournament were canceled last month because of the coronavirus pandemic. Hagans said in a statement Sunday he was disappointed not to be able to pursue a national title but added that he understands why. “It's time for me to live out my lifelong dream and declare for the NBA draft,” Hagans said. “It's been my No. 1 goal since I first picked up a ball to take this step and I know my time is now.” He also thanked coaches, teammates and fans and added, “the last two years have been some of the best of my life.” Hagans was born and raised in Georgia. He had 351 assists at Kentucky — ranking 12th in school history — and 119 steals. He averaged 11.5 points, 6.4 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.9 steals last season. ___ More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
  • The English singer-songwriter Marianne Faithfull is being treated for coronavirus in a London hospital. Her manager Francois Ravard said Sunday that Faithfull is stable, however, and responding to treatment. “We all wish her well and a full and speedy recovery,” Ravard said. The 73-year-old has had a number of health issues over the years, including a long battle with hepatitis C and breast cancer, which she was diagnosed with in 2006. An icon of the 1960s' British music scene, Faithfull rose to fame with the hit song “As Tears Go By.' A bout of severe laryngitis coupled with drug use in the 1970s would forever alter her crisp, clear voice to become something lower, raspier and perhaps even more distinctive. After an absence from music, she had a celebrated comeback in 1979 with the album “Broken English” Her most recent album, “Negative Capability,” was released in 2018 to wide acclaim.
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to a hospital Sunday for tests, his office said, because he is still suffering symptoms, 10 days after he was diagnosed with COVID-19. Johnson’s office said the admission to an undisclosed London hospital came on the advice of his doctor and was not an emergency. The prime minister's Downing St. office said it was a “precautionary step” and Johnson remains in charge of the government. Johnson, 55, has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26 — the first known head of government to fall ill with the virus. Johnson has continued to preside at daily meetings on Britain’s response to the outbreak and has released several video messages during his 10 days in isolation. In a message Friday, a flushed and red-eyed Johnson said he said he was feeling better but still had a fever. The virus causes mild to moderate symptoms in most people, but for some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause pneumonia and lead to death. U.S. President Donald Trump offered encouragement to Johnson as he opened a White House briefing on the pandemic Sunday. ”All Americans are praying for him,” Trump said. Johnson has received medical advice remotely during his illness, but going to a hospital means doctors can see him in person. Dr. Rupert Beale, a group leader of the cell biology of infection lab at the Francis Crick Institute for biomedical studies, said doctors would likely “be monitoring important vital signs such as oxygen saturations,” as well as performing blood tests, assessing Johnson’s organ function and possibly performing a CT scan on his chest to assess his lungs. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who has been designated to take over if Johnson becomes incapacitated, is set to lead the government's coronavirus meeting Monday. Johnson’s fiancee, Carrie Symonds, 32, revealed Saturday that she spent a week in bed with coronavirus symptoms, though she wasn't tested. Symonds, who is pregnant, said she was now “on the mend.” She has not been staying with the prime minister in Downing St. since his diagnosis. The government said Sunday that almost 48,000 people have been confirmed to have COVID-19 in the U.K., and 4,934 have died. Johnson replaced Theresa May as Conservative prime minister in July and won a resounding election victory in December on a promise to complete Britain's exit from the European Union. But Brexit, which became official Jan. 31, has been overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe. Johnson's government was slower than those in some European countries to impose restrictions on daily life in response to the pandemic, leading his critics to accuse him of complacency. He imposed an effective nationwide lockdown March 23, but his government remains under huge pressure to boost the country's number of hospital beds and ventilators and to expand testing for the virus. London has been the center of the outbreak in the U.K., and politicians and civil servants have been hit hard. Several other members of Johnson’s government have also tested positive for the virus, including Health Secretary Matt Hancock and junior Health Minister Nadine Dorries. Both have recovered. News of Johnson’s admission to hospital came an hour after Queen Elizabeth II made a rare televised address to the nation, in which she urged Britons to remain “united and resolute” in the fight against the virus. “We will succeed — and that success will belong to every one of us,” the 93-year-old monarch said, drawing parallels to the struggle of World War II. “We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again,' she said. ___ Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • William Byron led the most laps in NASCAR's first two virtual races and had nothing to show for his gaming skills. The third time out, he got the win. Byron easily won the iRacing event Sunday at virtual Bristol Motor Speedway, where NASCAR would have been really racing before the coronavirus pandemic caused sports to shut down. “Some things are different but a lot of things are similar and this is a racetrack I've always enjoyed coming to,” Byron said. “It's fun to have some pressure on iRacing; I usually just run it to have some fun and get better.” NASCAR changed the format this week and started with single-car qualifying to set the field for a pair of 50-lap heat races. Those heat races determined the starting order. Byron started from the pole and was never challenged. The entertainment again came from the drivers, most of whom streamed their gaming experiences for fans to eavesdrop on the action and the arguing. Clint Bowyer was the in-race reporter and again delivered a hilarious performance. “I got Bubbaed!” Bowyer shouted after he was moved out of line by Bubba Wallace. “I need a beer really badly.” Wallace appeared to “rage quit” the race after the incident. “That's why I don't take this (crap) serious. Peace out,” Wallace said on his gaming stream. After fans ripped him on Twitter, he laughed at how seriously some are taking iRacing with his response. “I ruined so many peoples day by quitting ... a video game,” he wrote. “Bahaha. A video game. Damn quarantine life is rough.” He also admitted to rage quitting in a second post. Blue-Emu, one of Wallace’s sponsors, was apparently not pleased. “Bye bye Bubba. We’re interested in drivers, not quitters,” said a tweet on the account of the topical pain reliever cream. The company added a second tweet using the image of Donald Trump uttering his “You’re Fired” catchphrase from “The Apprentice.” Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson fired his spotter less than 20 laps into the race after falsely being told he was clear of another car, only to crash. Erik Jones had internet issues that caused him to miss qualifying, and Daniel Suarez was parked for the second consecutive week and was joined this time by Kyle Larson after the two tangled on track. Suarez was not happy, complaining that Larson should have been disqualified as he was last week “and by the way our ‘racing incident’ was him pushing me to the apron... if this was real life my amigo would get his but kicked,” he tweeted. Hendrick Motorsports became the first team to actively involve its sponsors in the virtual racing by having Elliott and Alex Bowman live conference with guests who would typically get a pre-race visit with the drivers in a hospitality suite at the track. Teams and drivers are doing anything they can to keep the sport moving as all incoming revenue has frozen. Landon Cassill signed a sponsor for his iRacing and had the Blue-Emu logos featured prominently behind him as he raced. He also gave fans a tour of his borrowed rig in a plug to help the simulator company sell the setup. The iRacing has been a savior for the motorsports industry — IndyCar launched a series a week after NASCAR, and Saturday's second race was aired on NBC Sports — and NASCAR's first two televised events both set eSports records. More than 1 million people watched last week when Fox made the race available to affiliates and also aired it nationally on its cable channel. For Timmy Hill, winner of last week's virtual race, the series has given him sudden exposure. Joyce Julius & Associates, which measures and analyzes all forms of media, said Hill had received only two television mentions when racing was suspended four races into the season. The company found he had 46 mentions during his victory race and noted “the Pro Invitational Series is giving spotlight to drivers who do not usually get it.” NASCAR during the broadcast aired a public service announcement featuring several top drivers thanking front-line health care workers. The sanctioning body has been donating face shields made on the five 3-D printers at its research center, and several other industry participants are either producing personal protective equipment or making donations of some sort. Rita Wilson, who along with husband Tom Hanks recovered from the new coronavirus, sang the national anthem from her home in California. The invocation was done by 12-time Bristol winner Darrell Waltrip, and Rob Gronkowski and Mojo Rawley gave the command for drivers to start their (virtual) engines from WrestleMania. The race was plagued with early cautions and drivers get two resets to fix their wrecked cars. Because of all the crashing, iRacing officials mid-race made all the restarts single-file in an attempt to clean up the action. It was met with mixed reviews, as Parker Kligerman noted on his stream: “This changes everything. NASCAR of 2007, we're back,” but Hill was less pleased. Mired in traffic, he said “it screws everything up. We've got a lot work to do.”
  • Texas moved quickly to hire a new women's basketball coach, luring Vic Schaefer away from powerhouse Mississippi State on Sunday. Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte announced the move by tweeting a picture of himself with Schaefer and his family holding up the “Hook'em Horns” hand signal. Del Conte did not immediately return a message seeking comment. The move comes just two days after Texas dismissed eight-year coach Karen Aston, who had only one losing season in her tenure and had led the Longhorns to the Sweet 16 or farther four times. Aston had reached the end of her contract and it was not renewed. Schaefer will inherit a Texas program that went 19-11 last season but will lose four of its top six scorers next season. Schaefer, 59, was 221-62 games at Mississippi State and the Bulldogs lost in the NCAA Tournament championship game in 2017 and 2018. Mississippi State was 27-6 and ranked No. 9 before last season was cut short and the tournament canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. He also led Mississippi State to one of the greatest upsets in women's basketball history when the team beat UConn in the Final Four in 2017, ending the Huskies 111-game winning streak. He was set to make $1.65 million at Mississippi State next season. Details of his Texas contract, which will have to be approved by the school's Board of Regents, were not immediately released. Schaefer will be the first male head coach to lead the Longhorns program since Rodney Page in the 1970s when program was first elevated to varsity status. Page led the program from 1974-1976 and then was replaced by Jody Conradt, who won the school's only national championship in 1986 and led the program back to the Final Four in 2003. Aston appeared to have the program back among the national elite when the Longhorns went deep into the NCAA Tournament each year from 2015-2018. But Texas couldn't break Baylor's stranglehold on the Big 12 in that span, got knocked out of the tournament in the first round in 2019. The Longhorns were 19-11 before last season was cut short. Hiring Schaefer means Texas will have only two women head coaches (swimming and diving and soccer) across the athletic program. A Texas native and graduate of Texas A&M, Schaefer was the head coach at Sam Houston State for seven seasons and was an assistant at Arkansas and Texas A&M before leading the Mississippi State program.