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Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson test positive for COVID-19

No Comments Entertainment News

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images(SYDNEY, Australia) — A wise man once shared, “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get” and, unfortunately, in this case its COVID-19.

Tom Hanks took to Instagram on Wednesday to share that he and his wife, Rita Wilson, both tested positive for the rapidly spreading virus. 

“Hello, folks,” he wrote alongside a photo of a hazardous waste trash can with a plastic glove in it. “Rita and I are down here in Australia. We felt a bit tired, like we had colds, and some body aches. Rita had some chills that came and went. Slight fevers too.”

“To play things right, as is needed in the world right now, we were tested for the Coronavirus, and were found to be positive,” the 63-year-old Academy Award-winner continued.

“Well, now. What to do next? The Medical Officials have protocols that must be followed. We Hanks’ will be tested, observed, and isolated for as long as public health and safety requires. Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach, no?”

The Saving Private Ryan actor said that he would “keep the world posted and updated” and encouraged others to “take care of yourselves!”

Hanks and Wilson were in Australia for the pre-production of Baz Luhrmann’s untitled Elvis Presley film in which Hanks will portray Presley’s longtime manager Colonel Tom Parker.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Coronavirus and sports: Fans banned from NCAA tournament games and other impacted events

No Comments Sports News

cmannphoto/iStock (NEW YORK) — As more people across the United States test positive for the novel coronavirus, the health emergency is forcing changes to major sporting events, from the NCAA to the Ivy League.

Fans banned from NCAA games

Days ahead of the start of March Madness, the NCAA president said fans will be banned from “upcoming championship events, including the Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, with only essential staff and limited family” there.

“While I understate how disappointing this is for all fans,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said Wednesday, “my decision is based on the current understanding of how COVID-19 is progressing.”

Ivy League cancels springs athletics

The Ivy League on Wednesday canceled all games and practices through the rest of this academic year.

“In accordance with the guidance of public health and medical professionals, several Ivy League institutions have announced that students will not return to campus after spring break, and classes will be held virtually during the semester,” the council of presidents said in a statement. “Given this situation, it is not feasible for practice and competition to continue.”

Each school will determine if winter teams and athletes who qualified for postseason play will participate, the council said.

The league also announced it was canceling its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments and that the regular season champions will advance to the NCAA tournament.

Tune into ABC News Live at noon ET every weekday for the latest news, context and analysis on the novel coronavirus, with the full ABC News team where we will try to answer your questions about the virus.

Golden State Warriors to play without fans

In San Francisco, the mayor on Wednesday banned all group events over 1,000 people to slow the spread of the virus.

The Golden State Warriors then announced that its Thursday night game in San Francisco against the Brooklyn Nets will be played without fans.

“It’s a shock for sure,” Warriors star Steph Curry said Wednesday.

“Everything about our routines is reliant upon that kind of game day energy. Pulling up to the arena, seeing fans outside of Chase [Center] walking around in all the Warrior jerseys, even energy in the building, you can feel it all the way through the locker room, through the tunnel,” Curry said. “The only thing is try to have a conversation about how you raise your level of intensity from the jump because you don’t have that actual adrenaline rush of playing in front of 18,000 people like that.”

“I know once the game starts it will be fairly easy to get into that type of flow,” he added.

All other games and events at San Francisco’s Chase Center (home to the Warriors) through March 21 were canceled or postponed, officials added.  

Changes for the MLB

In Washington state, hard-hit by the coronavirus outbreak, the governor on Wednesday banned events of more than 250 people in several counties.

That prompted the Seattle Mariners to say the team is working with MLB “on alternative plans” for games scheduled in Seattle at the end of March.

The San Francisco Giants also made adjustments.

The Giants said they won’t play the March 24 exhibition game set to take place in the city and that the team said it is working on “alternative arrangements.”  

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

State prisons prepare for coronavirus but federal prisons not providing significant guidance, sources say

No Comments National News

MivPiv/iStock(NEW YORK) — As public health officials in communities across the country prepare for the continued spread of the coronavirus, both state and federal prisons could face major hurdles if officers or prisoners contract COVID-19.

ABC News has reviewed an internal document sent to the nation’s Bureau of Prisons facilities, and sources said the document doesn’t provide adequate answers to combating the virus.

The internal document details proper protocols including guidance from BOP stating an employee can’t return to work if by doing so they would jeopardize the health of others.

Tune into ABC News Live at noon ET every weekday for the latest news, context and analysis on the novel coronavirus, with the full ABC News team where we will try to answer your questions about the virus.

The document doesn’t touch on visitation for inmates or transporting them facility to facility. Courthouses in the Southern District of New York have already sought to restrict entry to people who traveled to China, South Korea, Japan, Italy and Iran and anyone who has been in contact with or has COVID-19.

One source at a Florida facility told ABC News that the Bureau doesn’t have the ability to order more cleaning supplies and doesn’t have enough wipes to sanitize the inmate transport buses. The source also said there aren’t enough N95 masks to cover half the staff, adding that most are of small size. Photos reviewed by ABC News of the facility show empty hand sanitizer pumps placed throughout.

The source said there are currently more questions than answers.

On Wednesday, the Bureau of Prisons declined to provide guidance on what they were doing citing the fluid nature of the virus. However, they did say they are using a “comprehensive approach”

“The BOP has an internal web-based system for reporting infectious diseases and outbreaks, allowing access to health care and correctional professionals system-wide,” a spokesman told ABC News in an email. “The Bureau of Prisons is providing information to staff and inmates regarding practicing good hygiene and other information regarding BOP’s initial and preventive preparations. As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve, the BOP updates and refines its recommendations, guidance, and protocols, and will continue to provide helpful information to staff, inmates and federal, state and local partners.”

Currently, they are not stocking COVID-19 test kits and “testing of inmates will occur if clinically warranted.”

The spokesman said as of Wednesday, there are no known cases of the virus at any BOP facility.

“The Bureau of Prisons is providing information to staff and inmates regarding practicing good hygiene and other information regarding BOP’s initial and preventive preparations. As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve, the BOP updates and refines its recommendations, guidance, and protocols, and will continue to provide helpful information to staff, inmates and federal, state and local partners,” a bureau spokeswoman told ABC News over the weekend.

Joe Rojas, the Southwest regional representative for the Council of Prisons, the union that represents BOP officers, told ABC News that leaders have to think of the “worst-case scenario.”

“You have one inmate that has a virus, it’ll affect everybody, staff and inmates, because it’s in a confined space,” he continued.

Rojas said that there is “no leadership at all” when dealing with the potential for coronavirus in federal prisons.

State prison facilities around the country, from large state facilities to smaller county facilities, are also preparing for the virus.

A spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections told ABC in a statement that there is a working group between “health care executives, public health nurses, custody and prison operations executives, occupational safety experts and department planners responsible for business continuity.”

They say that health services will continue.

“We are also ensuring that inmates coming into the CDCR system, or transported to county jail to attend court hearings, are receiving a comprehensive health screening and assessment by health care professionals when they are processed into and out of an institution,” a spokeswoman continued.

“Visitation is one of the most important services we provide to incarcerated persons and their loved ones. At this time, we have no intention of closing visiting at our institutions, including overnight family visits. However, we do ask that if a person feels sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing to please not enter a CDCR institution until they are no longer displaying symptoms.”

In New York State, facilities have already begun increased screening and will issue questionnaires. The New York Department of Corrections is already warning visitors about longer than normal visitation wait time.

In Chenango County, NY, Sheriff Ernest Cutting told ABC News it is business as usual with a few different procedures. Cutting, who oversees the Sheriff’s Department which has 66 inmates currently in custody. He said that inmates are being asked if they’ve traveled out of the country.

“We always ask them if they’re sick, anyway. Generally, inmates here in New York, go into medical isolation for a few days when they first come in, just to make sure we can control any sicknesses or illnesses that they may have,” he explained. “We can operate every day with the thought that we have to protect ourselves, we have to protect citizens an … just conversation and dialogue and using gloves when they’re needed. It’s just kind of how we operate daily.”

Jeremy Desel, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said in a video released on their Facebook page, that they have procedures and plans in place to deal with an outbreak of a disease. While they have not yet done so, procedures include limiting visitation and transport.

He said all the procedures are outlined in a manual specific to controlling disease outbreaks.

Ohio officials recently stopped visiting access for inmates, as fear of the virus spread throughout the state.

Across the Atlantic in Italy, where the virus has brought the country to a standstill, six prisoners died and 50 escaped after riots broke out in six prisons across the country, according to reports. Inmates lit mattresses on fire in one prison and in another, took officers hostage and stole their keys. In Milan, the epicenter of the outbreak, prisoners were seen standing on roofs after the prison limited visitor access and put the prison on lockdown.

Rojas also told ABC News that riots in Federal prisons are a “legitimate concern” and that it is something of which leaders should be wary.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

"It was an honor to serve": Kal Penn talks briefly swapping Hollywood for the White House

No Comments Entertainment News

Steve Iervolino/ABC News(NEW YORK) — Actor Kal Penn turned some heads back in 2009 when he traded his scrubs on the hit TV show House for a career in the White House.

Penn’s character on House was abruptly killed off to give the actor a chance to officially join Barack Obama’s administration, where the one-time campaign volunteer eventually served as an associate director in the White House Office of Public Engagement.

While he was excited about the transition, Penn tells ABC Audio his agents and managers were less so.

They’re like, ‘So, you’re quitting?’ That’s it?’ I’m like, ‘No, no, no. I would like to call this a sabbatical. Is that what people do when they, like, go teach? Can we call it that?’ They’re like, ‘How long?'”

“‘Like a year,'” Penn recalled telling them. “And then I realized, you know, government works very slowly. And I was like, all these things I’m working on are not going to get done in a year. I need two years.

And then they’re like, “Look, do you want to still be an actor?”  “I’m like, ‘Yes, a hundred percent. That is my first love. I am not a career political person.’ They were like, “Two years is your max.”

True to his word, Penn jumped back into his movie and TV career two years later. Looking back, he said “It was an honor” working in the White House.

“You know, it’s not as rare as it seems. I know I came from the TV world. So there were a lot of eyes on, ‘Oh, look, look at what this guy’s doing.’ But there were so many people who left their respective private sector careers for anywhere from six months to eight years to serve their country. And that’s sort of the magic of of what we can do in America — not to sound overly cheesy about it,” he says with a laugh.

“But, you know, it was a very humbling experience.”

Penn’s just finished voicing a main character in the new Disney Junior series Mira, Royal Detective.  Though it doesn’t debut until March 20, it’s already been renewed for a second season.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Hot Country Knights get “abducted,” but not inducted, during their Grand Ole Opry debut

No Comments Country Music News

Zach BelcherHot Country Knights made their Grand Ole Opry debut on Tuesday night, bringing their trademark combination of comedy, ‘90s-inspired tunes and high-waisted jeans to the stage. 

Before their performance, the Knights stormed the Opry’s backstage in a hilarious new video, which shows them crash-landing on the iconic venues’ dressing rooms, playfully antagonizing the staff and even hanging out with bluegrass legend Del McCoury.

“I wonder if when we get abducted tonight on the Opry it’ll just be me,” frontman Doug Douglason mused, referring to the Opry’s tradition of surprising artists by asking them if they want to be inducted — not abducted — into the institution. 

Sadly, it wasn’t the Knights’ night to be asked to join the Opry, though backstage, Del did jokingly ask them if they wanted to become members. Nevertheless, the band rocked the stage during their performance, treating fans to instant classics such as “Moose Knuckle Shuffle,” with help from surprise guest Lil Doug.

The Knights also rocked through their current single, “Pick Her Up,” and the meditative, mid-tempo “Asphalt.” All three of those tracks will be included in the band’s upcoming debut album, The K is Silent, which is due for release on May 1.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved. 

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