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COVID-19 News and Headlines from ABC News Radio

Georgia issues "Best Practices" safety list for film and TV shoots post COVID-19

iStock/brightstars(GEORGIA) -- With Georgia successfully becoming one of the first states to open for business following the COVID-19 lockdowns, Gov. Brian P. Kemp issued a "best practices" guide for film and TV crews working in the Peach State. 

Georgia has become a massive hub for Hollywood productions, with everything from the Marvel movies to MacGyver and The Walking Dead shooting there -- some 391 productions in all in 2019, Deadline reports

Governor Kemp's guide seeks to cut down on possible means of transmission of coronavirus -- or any easily communicable disease -- on sets, which are usually notorious for their close quarters and shared equipment. 

To that end, the guide includes rules that mandate cast and crew members getting temperature checks, wearing masks, utilizing social distancing, and the reduction of background extras in scenes. 

Location scouting and casting should be done using video conference technology as much as possible, the guide stipulates; also, the sharing of costumes, mics, and camera equipment would be discouraged, and plastic barriers would be used between performers during rehearsals.

In addition, cast and crew members are encouraged to take their own transportation to and from set; multi-person vans are usually the norm.

Plus, mealtimes should be staggered, and instead of the usual buffet-style craft services trucks seen on sets, take-out food is recommended.

Overseeing these rules will be a designated Occupational Risk Prevention specialist on set.

In a statement, Kemp noted, in part, "The Georgia Film Office has maintained their close work with industry executives to develop these outlines for how productions can help protect cast and crew members."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: May 22, 2020, 9:00 pm

'Mythic Quest' COVID-19 episode is now live: raising money for charity and tweaking celebrities in quarantine

Apple TV+(LOS ANGELES) -- A special episode of the Apple TV+ workplace comedy series Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, is now live -- and has so far raised $600,000 for COVID-19-related charities.

The cast donated half of that money, and show co-creator and star Rob McElhenney and his wife, Always Sunny in Philadelphia co-star Kaitlin Olsen, matched the sum.

The remotely shot episode was quite the effort for its stars, McElhenney tells ABC Audio. "There was only one camera angle in every scene. So once...we were all set, we would get 15 takes because it was so easy. ...[B]ut everything leading up to it and then everything after that point was an absolute nightmare."

Mac adds, "So to me, just this figuring out a new way in which we could do something was just as exciting as making the episode itself. It was both really fun and really awful. And I and I would love to do it again."

The episode also gave McElhenney a chance to tweak certain celebs in quarantine, via his at-times egomanical Mythic Quest character, Ian.

"That's born out of me, looking at Twitter and at Instagram ...and seeing rich people complaining about the fact that they had to clean a toilet. And I'm like, 'Guys, you got to shut up...Everybody cleans their own toilet. Oh, boo hoo.' You know, you don't have your maid coming over to make you a PB&J sandwich? OK. Make your own PB&J sandwich, and certainly don't complain about it! So we thought, well, we got to satirize that."  

Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet also stars F. Murray Abraham, Charlotte Nicdao, Danny Pudi, David Hornsby, Jo Ennis, and Ashly Burch.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: May 22, 2020, 6:27 pm

Producer promises 'Avatar' sequels getting back on track after COVID-19 delays

Photo by Noel Vasquez/FilmMagic(NEW ZEALAND) -- Like many movies, Oscar winning filmmaker James Cameron's forthcoming Avatar sequels hit a major snag when the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered production.  But now his longtime producing partner insists work will resume next week. 

In an Instagram post showing off some of the movie's extensive physical sets, Jon Landau stated, "Our Avatar sets are ready...Couldn't be more excited to be headed back to New Zealand next week."

Indeed, the shooting location of the four sequels was key to getting back to work.  The island nation -- which took early, methodical steps to limit COVID-19's spread -- currently has just 1,504 confirmed cases of the disease in its population of under five million people, with only 21 reported deaths.

Avatar 2 is slated for a Dec. 17, 2021 opening, while the third, fourth, and fifth films in the series are scheduled to roll out in 2023, 2025, and 2027, respectively.

The movies are being shot concurrently. The casts include returning stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, and Giovanni Ribisi; series newcomers include Oscar-winner Kate Winslet, Cliff Curtis, and Dileep Rao.

The movies will be released by 20th Century Studios, which is owned by Disney, parent company of ABC News.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: May 22, 2020, 5:15 pm

Action-packed trailer for Christopher Nolan's 'Tenet' promises it's "Coming to Theaters"

Melinda Sue Gordon/©2020 Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved. (LOS ANGELES) -- Warner Bros. and Dark Knight trilogy director Christopher Nolan seem to be banking on movie theaters being open following the COVID-19 shutdowns, based on the just-released trailer for his anticipated action film, Tenet

The extended preview for the film promises that, unlike other movies have gone to streaming services to avoid the shuttered cinemas, Nolan's movie is "COMING TO THEATERS."

Following last December's teaser for Tenet -- starring John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and frequent Nolan collaborator Michael Caine -- the new trailer finally reveals what the hush-hush plot is about.

The central conceit apparently has to do with the power to reverse the flow of time.  Just as Nolan's imagination saw skyscrapers splitting open like flower petals and physics-bending fight scenes in InceptionTenet's use of time as a weapon lends itself to some mind-bending visuals, like a gunfight in reverse.

"You're not shooting the bullet, you're catching it," an associate tells Washington's character at a firing range.

Tenet is still officially set for a July 17 release, but it remains to be seen if Nolan and Warner Bros.' wishes will come true.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: May 22, 2020, 3:30 pm

COVID-19 all-in-one update

(NEW YORK) -- Here's the latest information on the COVID-19 coronavirus as of 9:55 a.m. ET.

Latest reported numbers globally per Johns Hopkins University
Global diagnosed cases: 5,127,125
Global deaths: 333,398.  The United States has the most deaths of any single country, with 94,729.
Number of countries/regions: at least 188
Total patients recovered globally: 1,964,622

Latest reported numbers in the United States per Johns Hopkins University
There are at least 1,577,758 diagnosed cases in 50 states + the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam.  This is more than in any other country.
U.S. deaths: at least 94,729.  New York state has the greatest number of reported deaths in the U.S., with 28,743.
U.S. total patients recovered: 298,418
U.S. total people tested: 13,056,206

The greatest number of reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is in New York, with 356,458 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 19.5 million.  That is the most reported cases than in any other single region in the world.  New Jersey is next, with 151,586 reported cases out of a total population of 8.88 million.

Latest reported deaths per state
Visit for the latest numbers.

School closures
For a state-by-state interactive map of current school closures, please visit the Education Week website, where numbers are updated once daily.

There are 98,277 public schools and 34,576 private schools in the U.S., according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Those schools educate almost 50.8 million public school students and 5.8 million private school students.

The latest headlines
Black Americans, Latinos nearly three times as likely to know someone who died of COVID-19
Though fewer than one in five Americans is likely to know someone who died from COVID-19 or its complications, those numbers are significantly higher for black Americans and Latinos.  A new ABC News/Ipsos poll, released today, shows 30% of black adults and nearly as many Latino adults, 26%, in America say they know someone who’s died of the coronavirus, or complications from the disease.  That number drops to 10% for white adults.  The findings are consistent with local and national data reported by states and cities and reviewed by ABC News that revealed racial and ethnic minorities suffer a disproportionate share of the negative health and economic outcomes from the coronavirus pandemic.  The poll results come as all 50 states have begun easing COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, and the U.S. death toll from the virus nears 100,000 -- 94,729 as of this morning, according to Johns Hopkins University.

US child vaccinations decrease amid COVID-19 fears
As COVID-19 lockdowns keep most Americans from visiting the hospital for anything other than an emergency, an unwanted – and ironic – consequence is that the number of children receiving routine vaccinations for other diseases has dropped in 20 states, according to a survey by ABC News.  ABC News contacted health officials in all 50 states, of which 20 responded and all of which said they were seeing the decline in childhood vaccinations.  In New York City, which has more coronavirus infections than any other city in the U.S., there’s been a 42% drop in vaccinations for kids two years old and younger, and a dramatic 91% vaccination drop for children aged two and older.  Other responding states are seeing declines of from 40% to nearly 80%.  Physicians fear the drop in vaccinations could result in a resurgence of illnesses than can generally be prevented or managed, such as flu and mumps, resulting in additional, preventable outbreaks of childhood illnesses as the nation continues to struggle to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

State shuts down gym that defied mandatory closure order
New Jersey officials on Wednesday shut down the Atilis Gym in Bellmawr for repeatedly refusing to stay closed, as mandated by Gov. Phil Murphy's stay-at-home order.  Acting on behalf of the Camden County health department, gym owners Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti were twice fined $2,000 this week for opening on Monday and Tuesday in defiance of the mandated lockdown.  Trumbetti vowed to a gathered crowd Tuesday morning, “I will not close my doors again unless I'm behind bars."  Trumbetti and Smith told Philadelphia TV station WPVI that the gym remained closed Thursday because the sewer backed up Wednesday.  He also said they were consulting with attorneys and weighing their legal options.  Gyms are considered especially high-risk for transmitting and contracting COVID-19 and are not generally considered essential businesses.

Good news!
Seven-year-old raises $4,000 for hospital workers by playing ukulele
Even if you’re not a fan of the ukulele, you’ve got to love this story.  Seven-year-old Lilyana Roman of Manchester, New Hampshire wanted to do her part to help out front-line medical workers at nearby Elliot Hospital.  As WMUR Manchester reports, Lilyana began playing ukulele in her front yard, asking neighbors to donate in return.  Her goal was to raise $500.  By the time she was done, she’d raised $4,000 in all.  "People would get scared and stay inside, so I thought I could give them money to get more tools to help people," Lilyana said, adding that she plans to keep on playing her ukulele as long as people keep giving.  Anyone not in the neighborhood who wants to make a donation can do so online at the Front Lines New Hampshire website – make sure you put “In honor of Lilyana” in the donation comments.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved. 

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: May 22, 2020, 1:55 pm