While You Were Sleeping: Coronavirus updates for September 14

Coronavirus

INDIANAPOLIS — There were several developments in the coronavirus pandemic that you may have missed overnight.

Here’s a look:

Big Ten football in limbo. The Big Ten presidents were presented a comprehensive plan Sunday to conduct a fall football season, but a final decision is still to come.

A person with direct knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press that the full Council of Presidents and Chancellors heard from all the subcommittees of the conference’s Return to Competition Task Force over 2 hours. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Big Ten was not making its return to competition plans public.

The person said the meeting broke up without the presidents and chancellors voting and with no set plans for them to reconvene.

Still, if they act quickly Big Ten football could kickoff as soon as the weekend of Oct. 17.

Sunday’s only game with fans in the stands. NFL football returned this weekend, and only one of Sunday’s games featured fans in the stands.

The Jacksonville Jaguars allowed 25% capacity for Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts. About 17,000 fans were in attendance at TIAA Bank Field. Pod seating was in effect to keep fans socially distanced; those in pods were family members or close friends.

Fans were required to wear masks unless they were eating or drinking. More than 700 hand sanitizer stations were placed around the stadium.

The game was the Colts’ season opener; Indy lost 27-20. The Colts plan to have 2,500 fans for their first home game of the season at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Scramble for substitute teachers. With many teachers opting out of returning to the classroom because of the coronavirus, schools around the U.S. are scrambling to find replacements and in some places lowering certification requirements to help get substitutes in the door.

Several states have seen surges in educators filing for retirement or taking leaves of absence. The departures are straining staff in places that were dealing with shortages of teachers and substitutes even before the pandemic created an education crisis.

Among those leaving is Kay Orzechowicz, an English teacher at northwest Indiana’s Griffith High School, who at 57 had hoped to teach for a few more years. But she felt her school’s leadership was not fully committed to ensuring proper social distancing and worried that not enough safety equipment would be provided for students and teachers.

Add the technology requirements and the pressure to record classes on video, and Orzechowicz said it “just wasn’t what I signed up for when I became a teacher.”

“Overall, there was just this utter disrespect for teachers and their lives,” she said. “We’re expected to be going back with so little.” When school leaders said teachers would be “going back in-person, full throttle, that’s when I said, ‘I’m not doing it. No.’”

Teachers in at least three states have died after bouts with the coronavirus since the start of the new school year. It’s unclear how many teachers in the U.S. have become ill with COVID-19, but Mississippi alone reported 604 cases among teachers and staff.

Easing restrictions. South Korea has reported its lowest daily virus tally in about a month as it began easing its tough social distancing rules in the greater Seoul area.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said on Monday that the 109 new cases added in the past 24 hours took the country’s total to 22,285 with 363 deaths.

It’s the 12th consecutive day for South Korea’s daily jump to stay in the 100s. The 109 additional cases are also the lowest daily tally since mid-August.

The government on Sunday relaxed its physical distancing guidelines in the Seoul metropolitan area, citing a downward trend in new infections and worries about public livelihoods.

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