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Georgia's Kemp urges parishioners to worship from home

ATLANTA (AP) — Gov. Brian Kemp is urging Georgians to participate in religious services online or by phone ahead of Easter Sunday because of the coronavirus pandemic. Kemp has issued a statewide stay-at-home order lasting through the end of April. But houses of worship are still allowed to hold services as long as congregants remain 6 feet apart. At least one church in Georgia has vowed to buck social distancing requirements. At least 425 people in the state have died and over 2,400 have been hospitalized by the virus. Kemp says people who go to in-person services “risk exposure to coronavirus.”


University System of Georgia: No tuition hikes next year

ATLANTA (AP) — Students attending schools in the University System of Georgia will see no tuition increases next school year if the board approves the recommendation. Students would pay the same rates at all 26 institutions as they do now for the current 2019-20 academic year, under the proposal announced Thursday. The Board of Regents is scheduled to meet Tuesday to sign off on no tuition changes for the 2020-21 academic year.


Georgia sees unemployment claims triple in virus lockdown

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Unemployment continues to surge in Georgia during the coronavirus pandemic, with state officials saying they processed more unemployment claims in the latest full week than they saw during all of 2019. The Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday that it processed more than 390,000 claims from jobless workers during the week-long period that ended Saturday. That's almost triple the record-breaking 133,800 claims seen a week earlier. State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler says his agency paid out more than $41 million in unemployment benefits to Georgia residents last week. Most of the latest claims were from workers who lost jobs in the food service and travel lodging sectors.


Federal utility board backs CEO under Trump's fire for pay

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — The board of a federal utility is criticizing “ill-informed opinions” about how much their organization’s top executive gets paid after President Donald Trump blasted the salary level as “ridiculous.” According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tennessee Valley Authority board chairman Skip Thompson sent a memo to the utility’s more than 10,000 employees and contractors Thursday defending the board’s decision to pay CEO Jeff Lyash an $8.1 million compensation package. Trump appoints the TVA board. He suggested he could reduce the CEO’s salary in a coronavirus-related infrastructure bill. TVA does not receive federal taxpayer funding and serves 10 million ratepayers in seven southeastern states.


Georgia contractor cited after worker falls to death

SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. (AP) — Officials said a Georgia construction company was fined around $170,000 after a worker fell to his death at the Interstate-285/Georgia 400 interchange. A press release said Martin-Pinero Construction was cited by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for exposing employees to fall hazards. Leoniso Sandoval was working on the interchange’s improvement project when he fell on Feb. 13 and suffered fatal injuries. The agency said Martin-Pinero failed to ensure workers used a horizontal lifeline system and failed to provide fall protection training or conduct regular job site instructions. It’s unclear whether the contraction company could be reached for comment.


Airlines and Trump administration haggle over payroll grants

Over airlines’ objections, the Trump administration is proposing that a big chunk of the federal aid designed to cover airlines payrolls this year will be loans, not cash. Airlines were expecting to share $25 billion in cash grants that Congress approved to help them keep employees on the job for the next six months. But Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wants the airlines to pay back some of the money. Airlines say they need cash to avoid massive layoffs because the coronavirus outbreak has wiped out most travel. The airlines and the Treasury Department are expected to keep negotiating over the weekend.


Georgia postpones primaries again because of coronavirus

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia has pushed back primary elections for the second time this year because of the coronavirus. The decision to postpone primaries until June 9 was announced by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Thursday. It comes after Wisconsin went ahead with elections on Tuesday, forcing thousands of voters to stand in hourslong lines amid the pandemic. Raffensperger had already moved the state’s presidential primaries from March 24 to May 19. Primaries were already scheduled for that day for a U.S. Senate seat, U.S. House members and members of the state House and Senate.


Some churches confront virus restrictions on Easter services

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — At the holiest time of year for Christians, churches are wrestling with how to hold services amid the coronavirus outbreak. In some cases, that has set up showdowns between pastors and local officials over restrictions that forbid large gatherings. Many churches are offering parishioners livestreaming options to observe Good Friday and Easter services on TVs, phones and computers. Others are sending worshippers to drive-in movie theaters for services. Governors in several states have deemed church an “essential service,” allowing Easter worship to proceed even as public health officials warn that large gatherings could be a major setback amid a pandemic that has killed more than 14,000 people in the U.S.