National

Woman charged with felony in Breonna Taylor protest hit-and-run

BlakeDavidTaylor/iStockBy MEREDITH DELISO, ABC News

(BUFFALO, N.Y.) -- Police arrested a 25-year-old woman in a hit-and-run incident during demonstrations in Buffalo earlier this week over a Kentucky grand jury's decision not to charge three police officers in the death of Breonna Taylor.

The Buffalo Police Department said it charged Joanna Gollnau, 25, of Buffalo, on Friday with felony reckless endangerment in the first degree and reckless driving for allegedly striking a bicyclist with her pickup truck during a protest in Niagara Square on Wednesday night.

The incident in Buffalo unfolded as protesters marched in the street near Niagara Square in the downtown area in the hours following the announcement of the grand jury's decision in the fatal Louisville police shooting of Taylor.

Graphic video taken by ABC affiliate station WKBW-TV in Buffalo showed a maroon and white king-cab pickup truck drive directly into a group of demonstrators who pounded on the side of the truck and yelled for the driver to stop just before a protester on a bicycle was hit. The footage shows the truck speeding away as protesters on foot gave chase.

Buffalo police officials said the driver was eventually stopped by officers and detained for questioning.

A spokesperson for Slow Roll Buffalo, a nonprofit community group of bicycle enthusiasts, said that the woman who was hit by the truck is a member of its board of directors. She is now home and feeling fine, the organization said on Friday.

Buffalo Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo told WKBW that the department used video footage, including social media posts and city surveillance cameras, in its investigation. He told the station he was unsure of a motive, and that Gollnau has been cooperating with police. She is set to be arraigned on Nov. 3, according to WKBW.

A similar incident unfolded in Denver Wednesday night. Video taken by ABC affiliate station KMGH-TV in Denver showed a silver Volvo station wagon approach demonstrators marching in the street outside the state Capitol Building and then stopped. Several protesters were standing in front of the vehicle and banging on its hood as the car moved forward and accelerated, knocking one female protester to the ground, the footage showed. The driver sped away but was stopped by police and detained, police said on Twitter.

The two incidents came just hours after a Kentucky grand jury indicted former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison on three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree in the shooting that killed Taylor, but neither he nor the other two officers involved in the fatal encounter were charged in her death.

The two hit-and-runs on Wednesday marked the latest in a series of incidents in recent months in which protesters have been struck while marching in demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice. On July 4, a protester was killed and another was injured when a car barreled into a Black Lives Matter protest on a closed freeway in Seattle.

ABC News' Bill Hutchinson contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


California, Nevada likely seeing increase in COVID-19 cases due to Labor Day, officials say

Rattankun Thongbun/iStockBy MEREDITH DELISO, ABC News

(LOS ANGELES) -- Some areas of the country are beginning to see an uptick in COVID-19 cases that may be due to Labor Day weekend gatherings, officials said.

California is seeing "the trends and impacts of Labor Day," Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary for California's health department, said Friday during a COVID-19 briefing.


"It's been 2 1/2 weeks since Labor Day," Ghaly said. "We're starting to see what we think is attributable to Labor Day."

In particular, case rates, COVID-19-related emergency department visits and new COVID-19 hospitalizations are all showing an uptick and are "areas of concern," Ghaly said.

The health department predicts that there will be an increase in hospitalizations over the next month, going from 2,578 as of Friday to 4,864 by Oct. 25. Flu season adds a new layer of concern in this area, Ghaly said.

"We've never done COVID hospitalizations with flu hospitalizations," he said. "It's really about not letting our guard down as we did earlier in the summer."

The increases also come 3 1/2 weeks since the state started its new reopening plan and five weeks after the fire season began, Ghaly noted, both of which could also be contributing factors.

In Oregon, COVID-19 cases are rising after weeks of steady decline, in part due to Labor Day gatherings, as well as the state's recent wildfires and college students returning to school, according to the Oregon Health Authority. The state reported its single highest number of new COVID-19 cases on Friday, with 457.

Regions of Nebraska and Tennessee have also seen case upticks and outbreaks tied to Labor Day weekend gatherings, according to an internal Federal Emergency Management Agency memo obtained by ABC News Friday night.

In Saunders County, Nebraska, rising cases have been linked to a "large gathering" over the holiday weekend, the memo said, while outbreaks in the southwestern part of the state have also been tied to Labor Day as the "epidemic continues to grow" in Nebraska.

Putnam County in middle Tennessee saw a 157% increase in cases in the past week compared to the previous week, with officials attributing the rise to Labor Day gatherings, as well as nursing facilities and schools, the memo said.

Daily new cases were up about 50% in Washoe County, Nevada, officials said this week, blaming in part Labor Day gatherings. There were nearly 88 new cases per day, compared to the mid-50s last week, District Health Officer Kevin Dick said on Wednesday during the county's weekly COVID-19 update.

"The seven-day rolling average that we have of new cases over the past week has increased significantly," Dick said. "We attribute a number of these cases to people that participated in private gatherings over the Labor Day holiday that are now testing positive for COVID-19."

He also pointed to cases in students at the University of Nevada, Reno, who attended off-campus parties.

"That is of concern," Dick said of the increase in cases. "There is a lot of COVID-19 in the community."

Some areas of the country are cautiously optimistic that they have not seen a Labor Day weekend surge in cases, including Alabama and Charlotte, North Carolina, according to reports. Though health experts warn that increases two weeks after major holidays are "very predictable."

"We saw that with Memorial Day and we saw that with July 4," ABC News Contributor Dr. John Brownstein, chief innovation officer for the Boston Children's Hospital and a professor of epidemiology at Harvard Medical School, said earlier this month.
 
On May 25, Memorial Day, the national seven-day average of new cases was 21,955. Five weeks later, on June 29, the seven-day average jumped to 40,178, an 83% increase in new cases, according to an ABC analysis of data compiled by the COVID Tracking Project.

A similar pattern occurred just over a month later following the Fourth of July weekend. Just two weeks after July 4, the U.S. hit a record high of 76,842 daily cases, and by July 23, current hospitalizations hit a near-record high of 59,718, according to the COVID Tracking Project data.

Death metrics, which tend to lag behind other COVID-19 data, increased in the weeks following the early summer holidays. On July 4, the seven-day average of deaths stood at 500; on Aug. 12, approximately five weeks after the holiday, there were the most reported COVID-19 deaths this summer, with 1,519, the ABC News analysis found.

ABC News' Josh Margolin and Arielle Mitropoulos contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


After brain-eating amoeba found in county's water supply, advisory lifted in all but 1 area

pGiam/iStockBy ABC News

(LAKE JACKSON, Texas) -- After Texas authorities sent an urgent message about brain-eating amoeba found in a southeast county water's supply, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality lifted a "Do Not Use" water advisory for all areas except one, Lake Jackson.

On Friday, TCEQ posted on social media that it was informed of the potential of Naegleria fowleri in the Brazosport Water Authority's water supply.

A "Do Not Use" water advisory was issued for Lake Jackson, Freeport, Angleton, Brazoria, Richwood, Oyster Creek, Clute, Rosenberg, Dow Chemical, TDCJ Clemens & TDCJ Wayne Scott, according to the commission's social media post.

"After extensive conversations with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality as well as ensuring that Brazosport Water Authority has an adequate disinfectant residual, a determination has been made that there is no safety issue for BWA's distribution system," according to a statement from TCEQ on Saturday.

"Lake Jackson residents are still urged to follow the Do not Use Water Advisory until the water system has been adequately flushed and samples indicate that the water is safe to use. It is not known at this time how long this make take," the statement continued.

TCEQ advised residents who remain under the advisory not to drink or bathe in tap water, although flushing toilets is OK.

Naegleria folweri is a parasite that typically infects people swimming in lakes and rivers, travelling through the nose and into the brain, according to ABC News medical contributor, Dr. Laith Alexander.

"Naegleria likes fresh water -- lakes and ponds. Infection is even rarer than Vibrio, but the stakes are even higher," Dr. Todd Ellerin, director of infectious disease at South Shore Health in South Weymouth, Massachusetts, told ABC News, told ABC News.

"It travels up the nose and through the cribriform plate – a little sieve separating the nasal cavity and the brain," Dr. Ellerin said. "When it reaches the brain, it causes Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis, or PAM for short, with seizures, headaches, personality changes and confusion. Most people with PAM have died – and unfortunately two-thirds of the cases are in otherwise healthy children."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "In very rare instances, Naegleria infections may also occur when contaminated water from other sources (such as inadequately chlorinated swimming pool water or heated and contaminated tap water) enters the nose. You cannot get infected from swallowing water contaminated with Naegleria."

The Brazosport water system had seven violations from TCEQ in 2014 and 2015 related to monitoring, one violation in 2003 for a concentration of disinfectant, according to ABC News Houston affiliate KTRK. All violations were resolved and the water system has received several awards since from TCEQ for innovation, operations, compliance and more.

ABC News' medical contributor Dr. Laith Alexander and Lauren M. Botchan contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

 


1st woman named Rochester interim police chief amid criticism over Daniel Prude's death

kali9/iStockBy EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News

(ROCHESTER, N.Y.) -- Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan has been appointed Rochester's new interim police chief -- the first woman to hold the position -- amid criticism over the handling of the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who died in March after he was seen being pinned to the ground by Rochester police officers.

Police Chief La'Ron Singletary was fired in the wake of Prude's death.

"Traditional policing practices must be altered and improved to better serve and protect our citizens," Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said at a news conference Saturday.

Herriott-Sullivan brings a "fresh approach to policing" and is "uniquely qualified to deal with the many current issues that the city of Rochester is facing," Warren said.

Herriott-Sullivan, a Rochester native, left the Rochester Police Department in 2009, after about 24 years of service.

"Interestingly, I left law enforcement because I wanted to have a bigger hand in helping people stay out of jail, rather than putting in that," she said at the news conference. "So I moved on to roles helping deal with criminal justice disparities."

Herriott-Sullivan's new role begins on Oct. 14.

Prude, 41, died one week after being restrained by Rochester police during a mental health emergency. Officers put a spit bag on his head and pinned him to the ground.

The Monroe County medical examiner listed his death as a homicide caused by "complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint."

Seven officers who were at the scene were suspended without pay.

Prude's family released video from officers' body cameras and accused the department of covering it up.

New York Attorney General Letitia James said she was "outraged" after viewing the video and that she stood in solidarity with the Rochester community in their calls for change.

On Sept. 5, James said she would empanel a grand jury to investigate Prude's death.

Then on Sunday James announced reforms for releasing police-worn body camera footage in response to the handling of Prude's death. With the new policy, body camera footage will be released earlier in the investigation process, as soon as jurisdiction has been established and the family has had a chance to see the video.

Last week, an independent investigation into the handling of the case moved forward when the Rochester City Council authorized the power to subpoena several city departments, including the mayor's office and the Rochester Police Department.

An attorney leading the investigation said the team will collect sworn testimony from witnesses, emails, text messages, memos and other documents to try to determine a timeline of events, examine how city departments communicated with each other behind closed doors, and what city officials said publicly, versus what they knew at the time.

ABC News' Meredith Deliso, Julia Jacobo and Jason Volack contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Fire threat, heat wave in store for West this weekend as colder temps come to Midwest

ABC NewsBy DANIEL MANZO, ABC News

A major weather pattern change is in sight for the next few days in much of the U.S., including the return of dangerous fire weather conditions in parts of the West as well as a heat wave in the Southwest.

Already Saturday morning, there are wind advisories, fire weather watches, red flag warnings and air quality alerts issued for parts of the western U.S., including already hard-hit areas in California and Oregon.

Although fires can spark at any point in the West due to dry conditions, the greatest fire danger Saturday will be located across parts of Montana, South Dakota and northern Wyoming. The reason for this enhanced area of fire danger is primarily due to gusty winds.

On Sunday and Monday, a high pressure will build in the western U.S., which will bring a rise in temperatures, as well as gusty offshore winds. Critical fire danger is expected in parts of bother northern and southern California, including parts of the Los Angeles and Santa Barbara metro areas.

This is now typically the time of the year where we see high-pressure systems try to build in the West, but subsequently, colder air is trying to spill into other parts of the U.S. This results in periods favorable for Santa Anta winds

Temperatures are expected to rise over the next few days along the West Coast, with temperatures approaching 100 degrees in parts of California by Monday and Tuesday.

Subsequently, the colder air on the opposite side of the jet stream in the central U.S. will cause quite a temperature drop. Temperatures are likely to drop 10-20 degrees by the middle of the week, with the cooler air starting to make its way down to the southern US.

Peaking ahead to the end of the upcoming week, wind chills will likely be in the 30s and 40s across much of the central and even southern parts of the U.S. Some parts of the upper Midwest will almost certainly have wind chill values in the 20s as well.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Man gets 1 year in jail for holding large parties against COVID-19 rules

Charles County Sheriff's OfficeBy EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News

(HUGHESVILLE, Md.) -- A Maryland man has been sentenced to one year in jail after he hosted two parties against the governor's COVID-19 large gathering orders, prosecutors said.

Following a bench trial, Shawn Marshall Myers, 42, was convicted of two counts of failure to comply with an emergency order, according to a Friday statement from the Charles County State’s Attorney's Office.

On March 22, officers responded to Myers' home in Hughesville for a report of a large party violating Gov. Larry Hogan's state of emergency and large gathering orders, prosecutors said.

Officers found about 50 people at Myers' home and they told Myers that his party violated the current rules, prosecutors said.

Myers allegedly argued with the officers, but he "eventually agreed to disband his party," prosecutors said.

Days later, on March 27, officers again responded to Myers' home for another report of a party with more than 50 people.

"Officers told Myers to disband the party, but again he was argumentative claiming he and his guests had the right to congregate," according to prosecutors.

Myers also allegedly told "his guests to stay in defiance of Governor Hogan’s Orders and the officers’ lawful orders to disband the party," prosecutors said.

"Officers tried to reason with Myers and obtain his cooperation to no avail," prosecutors said.

Myers was then arrested.

After Myers is released from jail, he will be on unsupervised probation for three years, prosecutors said.

Over 122,000 people in Maryland have been diagnosed with COVID-19, including at least 3,772 people who have died, according to state data.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


More Black 'firsts' emerge amid nation's racial reckoning but pressure must continue, some say

JannHuizenga/iStockBy KARMA ALLEN, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- This report is part of "Turning Point," a groundbreaking month-long series by ABC News examining the racial reckoning sweeping the United States and exploring whether it can lead to lasting reconciliation.

It took 233 years, but for the first time in its history, the New Jersey Supreme Court has a Black female justice.

Fabiana Pierre-Louis's recent confirmation to the state's highest court comes at a critical point in time as new leaders across the country work to combat centuries of systemic racism and structural inequality.

As the daughter of Haitian immigrants, Pierre-Louis said she grew up with a unique perspective on the world. She learned to speak Creole before she learned English and grew up in Irvington, one of the state's poorest cities. It's a perspective, she said, that will inform the way she approaches cases.

“Having a perspective and understanding of what it is like to live in Irvington, or other places ... informs how you experience many things in life," she said in a speech after her confirmation last month.

“[As] I stand here today, I know I have lived and continue to live the American Dream that my parents came here in search of,” she added.

Pierre-Louis is among a number of recent "firsts" -- Black people who have ascended to positions traditionally unfilled by members of underrepresented groups -- as more institutions ramp up diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. The moves come amid pressure from ongoing protests in the wake of George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police, an encounter that sparked a broad reexamination of how people of color are treated.

There are other recent Black firsts. Steven Reed became the first Black mayor of Montgomery, Alabama, late last year. London Breed is now the first Black female mayor of San Francisco. There's also Daniel Cameron -- who took office this year as Kentucky's first Black attorney general - and Juliana Stratton, who last year became the first Black woman to serve as lieutenant governor of Illinois.

While there is no hard data broadly tracking diversity and inclusion efforts, several experts told ABC News that they had observed a noticeable recent uptick in efforts aimed at cultivating and promoting more Black leaders.

America has made some progress in eliminating some forms of systemic racism -- which is rooted in years of institutional and legalized racial discrimination. But civil rights advocates say the consequences of slavery and nearly 100 years of Jim Crow laws, which promoted segregation, “separate but equal” in schools, and prohibited Black people from voting and owning land — are still felt today.

Faith Morris, who oversees partnerships and external affairs for the National Civil Rights Museum, said she has also noticed an increased interest in diversity and inclusion in light of the ongoing protest movement.

"Leaders are finally trying to understand what the heck is happening with regards to race in this country and they want to make some systemic moves to change it," she said. "Systemic racism has been pretty prevalent for a while and it shows its ugly head in many ways, but now we've got systemic protests to combat it and they are really battling it out right now."

Yet there are those who say diversifying and even protesting aren't enough, and that protesters and activists need to continue the pressure and hold “firsts” accountable once they've achieved their moment in history, to ensure the progress of more Black and marginalized people.

First action, then accountability


Lionel Kimble is the vice president for programs at the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, a non-profit founded by historian Carter G. Woodson, frequently referred to as the "Father of Black History." He said he's noticed a major shift when it comes to companies diversifying leadership and acknowledging past acts of racism and discrimination. While he said there has been “slight progress” over the past few years, efforts have ramped since protesters took to the streets earlier this year to speak out against anti-Black racism and police brutality in the wake of Floyd's death, he said.

In addition to Floyd, the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and others helped galvanize a movement that swept across the U.S. urging police reforms, a reexamination of the justice system and a wholesale rethinking of the place of Black and other marginalized people in American society.

"When you think about the history of African Americans in this country, a lot of things that we've achieved have been gradual and incremental. But we have always taken advantage of changing political climates to demand change," Kimble, who is also a professor at Chicago State University, told ABC News. "I think the important thing now is to hold both corporate America and these politicians accountable to the changes they're committing to now. But we must continue to be active and build on these incremental changes."

Angela Garretson, a Union County, New Jersey, freeholder, said Pierre-Louis’ nomination comes as New Jersey works to acknowledge and rectify past acts of racism -- which includes the very title of “freeholder.”

“Freeholder” is a term unique to the state of New Jersey and has been criticized as an outdated and racist term for “lawmaker.” It originally referred to free white men who were free to own land and vote.

"Every single African American or Black freeholder I spoke to was not in support of the term. We understood the history, we understood what it meant, and we understood that we were also evolving as newer members of a level of government that had not had as much diversity before us," Garretson said.

The state approved the change last month, becoming the last state to abolish the outdated term. It will now refer to its county lawmakers as "commissioners" effective January 2021.

Garretson was a big part of the push to get rid of the term, which Gov. Phil Murphy referred to as "a title that is an outgrowth of a time when people of color and women were excluded from public office."

She pointed to that successful fight coupled with the news of Pierre-Louis' historic confirmation as proof of what happen when protesters, local officials and the government work together.

And, it points to the change that Black “firsts” and “onlys” or “few ofs” can affect when they achieve positions of power that can help uplift other Black people.

'Don't settle for the crumbs'


Kimble said the most obvious signs of progress are evident when you look at the number of "firsts" that have recently emerged in the government at the local and congressional levels.

As a labor historian, Kimble said many of his lectures focus on grassroots organizing and its historic influence on Chicago's Black political scene.

Historically, activists have taken a "two-pronged attack" approach when it comes to protesting for equal rights, he said. The first part involves "holding people's feet to the fire" as leaders act on the community's demands through relentless protests. The second part, Kimble said, is holding leaders accountable to the promises they've made.

He said the sudden influx of Black firsts in various levels of government in major cities is encouraging, but he urged protesters to "keep fighting hard."

"When we settle for just having 'a first' and not a second, third and fourth, then that's when we lose the fight," he said. "Don't just settle for the lip service without action. Continue to hold their feet to the fire."

"Don't settle for the crumbs and don't let them forget the promises they made to us. Our leaders need to know that we're watching and that we're going to remain vigilant," he added.

Still, "the share of nonwhites in the United States is nearly double that of the country’s legislative body (39% vs. 22%)," Pew Research reported.

Congress also continues to be a white-dominated workplace from the top to the bottom with people of color representing just 11% of top staff members in senators’ Washington offices, according to a recent study by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

The center said this is extremely problematic because top aides are the ones who draft legislation, coordinate public communications and vet nominees for executive branch posts and lifetime judgeships.

Learn from past movements


Black Americans and allies across the globe have joined together this year in the fight against systemic racism and police brutality and were aided, in larger quantities than the past, by white allies, who helped push the Black Lives Matter movement into overdrive.

In addition to helping to push forward more Black firsts, the current generation of protesters have made it cool to be intellectually aware, or "woke" about, systemic racism and how it affects their daily lives, advocates said.

"The current movement has helped young people realize the importance of holding leaders to their promises on diversity and inclusion," Garretson said. "This movement has forced everyday people to realize the importance of government and people are making their voices heard. That's what feels different this time."

Garretson, who is one of just a handful of Black woman freeholders in New Jersey, said the "trendiness" is helpful, but she urged everyday people to be realistic about their protest commitments and to promote change in whatever small way possible.

She said the easiest and simplest form of protest is voting faithfully across all branches of government and getting involved with so-called affinity groups to support minority groups and their interests.

But it all hinges on promoting diverse groups of leaders and making sure they open the door for the next generations, Garretson said.

"In the past, the silent majority has been able to change the outcome of pivotal elections. And now, with the ongoing social and political situation, our silent majority is once again being awakened, and they're becoming more aware and informed about the very issues that have suppressed Black people for way too long," she said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Oregon reports highest daily COVID-19 case total, may be linked to wildfires

GarysFRPBy EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News

(SALEM, Ore.) -- After weeks of steady decline, COVID-19 cases are rising in Oregon -- and wildfires may be contributing.

The Oregon State Authority reported 457 new cases on Friday -- the single highest daily total since the pandemic began. The state's coronavirus total now stands at over 32,000 cases.

Among the recent cases was an outbreak connected to Pacific Seafood in Clatsop County, the Oregon Health Authority noted Friday. That outbreak investigation began on Sept. 15 and now has been linked to 79 people with COVID-19.

The recent wildfires in Oregon, which erupted earlier this month, also likely played a role in the COVID-19 uptick, Oregon Health Authority officials said, according to ABC Portland affiliate KATU.

When people fled the wildfires, their social distancing efforts could have been compromised if they went to stay with families, friends or at a shelter.

Also, the wildfire smoke hurt the air quality, which could make people more susceptible to COVID-19 and similar illnesses.

Wildfire smoke causes air pollution by creating particulate matter, microscopically small particles that may bypass filters in the nose and throat and penetrate deep into the lungs. These particles can cause airway inflammation, leading to increased susceptibility to respiratory infections, aggravation of underlying respiratory conditions and increased risks for hospitalization and death from pneumonia.

"Air pollution makes COVID-19 worse, especially if you have underlying conditions," Dr. Simone Wildes, an infectious disease specialist at South Shore Health and ABC News Medical Unit contributor, said last week. The combination of airway inflammation caused by irritants in smoke plus underlying conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease create a "perfect storm" for poor COVID-19 outcomes, she said.

ABC News' Dr. Leah Croll contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


To Native Americans, reparations can vary from having sovereignty to just being heard

ABC NewsBy TENZIN SHAKYA and ANTHONY RIVAS, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- This report is part of "Turning Point," a groundbreaking month-long series by ABC News examining the racial reckoning sweeping the United States and exploring whether it can lead to lasting reconciliation.

In Oklahoma, the people of the Muscogee Creek Nation Reservation have just won their long-standing fight for sovereignty. In San Francisco, the Ohlone are fighting for a land to call their own. And in upstate New York, the Iroquois people are demanding that the true history of the United States is told and that the treaties they signed hundreds of years ago are recognized.

Native Americans across what is now the United States have been fighting for their land and culture ever since Juan Ponce de León became the first European to invade the country in Florida in 1513. For those living today, reparations come in many forms, as that which was taken away from them over the years varies as well.

“I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all policy of reparations for Indian tribes in the U.S.,” Matthew Fletcher, a foundation professor of law at Michigan State University, told “Nightline.” “There are 574 federally recognized tributes. They are all unique and individual.”

New York Natives ask for their stories to be told


New York City is one of the most populated urban areas for Native Americans with 110,000 living throughout its five boroughs. Interdisciplinary artist Ty Defoe, who lives in Brooklyn, is hoping his art and performances will give a voice to Native Americans and their history.

“We learn it through a specific lens, and that lens is a white, Westernized, [Euro-centralized] lens perpetuating myths of colonizers as heroes and Native people as evil villains and devil worshippers,” he told “Nightline.” “So I think what’s really important to underscore is, how are we learning this information.”

He said New York City is full of images that portray Native Americans and settlers together, such as the one seen on the city’s seal. But when looking at them, he says “there’s a lack of information” regarding the Native American narrative, whereas a person seeing it will most likely know the story of the settlers.

Similarly, he says the statue of Christopher Columbus standing atop the pillar at the center of the city’s Columbus Circle represents “rape” and “murder,” and that it “needs to come down.” The city currently has no plan to remove the statue.

“A symbol like that is saying that we don’t believe you," Defoe said, referring to those who support keeping the statue. "[Native Americans] believe that this person discovered something that was already inhabited by people with large cultural systems, values and missions. That is like Big Brother taking a hand and saying, ‘You do not exist.’”

“I think that with land being stolen, language being wiped away, there was a silencing that was occurring,” he added. “And it almost is strategic genocide when you sort of think about history and what has happened. But what I think is important is that our voices are heard.”

For urban Natives like Defoe, the American Indian Community House (AICH) has become a sanctuary.

AICH’s executive director Melissa Lakowi:he’ne' Oakes said her organization represents up to 72 different tribal nations across New York City. Oakes said the lack of space has been one of the biggest obstacles for her organization.

“Fifty-one years since we've been established, and we're having a hard time maintaining space. ... We're basically couch surfing with another organization in Chinatown because we can't afford real estate,” Oakes, a member of the Mohawk Nation, told “Nightline.”

To address their lack of funding, AICH has teamed up with settlers in creating the Manna-hatta Fund, a voluntary “land tax” provided by non-natives as a form of solidarity.

Oakes believes the lack of space has contributed to a lack of visibility for those she represents.

“Our culture is our strongest trait,” she added. “If you lack that as a Native and go out into these urban spaces … it’s almost unhealthy. We’re on Native land and we don’t see ourselves anywhere, and that becomes a constant reminder of genocide, just another constant reminder of [the] erasure of our people.”

Oakes asked that those who are concerned about the welfare of Natives in North America reach out to organizations like hers and engage in deeper conversations about allyship.

In upstate New York, on the shores of the Saint Lawrence River, Iroquois elder Kanasaraken, whose English name is Loran Thompson, gathered with his longtime friends Ateronhiata:kon and Tekarontake.

Kanasaraken was part of the first American Indian, Native and Indigenous delegation to the United Nations that advocated for the passing of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People in 1977. The declaration, adopted in 2007, provided a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity and wellbeing of indigenous people around the world.

“Our people have fought for generations just to hang onto the land, just to hang onto our status as free and independent people, regardless of how small we are,” Kanasaraken told “Nightline.”

The Iroquois Confederacy, which straddles the border between upstate New York and Canada, comprises six tribal nations. The St. Regis Mohawk territory, of which Kanasaraken is a member, is one of the five original nations. The Confederacy is also one of the world’s oldest democracies.

Kanasaraken was once a Mohawk Nation chief and is currently the spokesperson for the Bear Clan of Akwesasne. He was also involved in several other land disputes with government agencies over the years, including the Oka Crisis of the 1990s, when protests erupted against companies attempting to build golf courses on an ancestral burial site on the Canadian side of the reservation. Ateronhiata:kon and Tekarontake participated in the protests as well.

Oakes, who remembers the crisis, said that she looks up to Kanasaraken’s generation because it has always been there “fending for our land and people.”

Oakes told “Nightline” she respects Kanasaraken for advocating for the freedom and recognition of Indigenous People and helping the younger generation.

“These kinds of things, the knowledge and the wisdom from the generation before us … this is who we are,” she said. “All these teachings from our elders … they are irreplaceable.”

Kanasaraken said the United States owes it to its people to tell its full history, honestly.

“Somewhere in this world, there’s going to be people that are gonna open their eyes and ears and put pressure on the oppressors of North America, and make them respect the original peoples of this land,” he said. “America owes its people, more so than me, it owes its people the truth as it actually is. Right from the first day [that] we met on the shores of the ocean all the way through to correct history, because all of the history that you’re being told in the public schools, it’s all lopsided.”

Reclaiming land lost long ago in California

Most tribes from outside of the original 13 colonies have some form of a treaty recognized by the United States, which gives them peace, land jurisdiction, natural resource rights and protection by the United States. The United States signed nearly 400 treaties with Native tribes before the Indian Appropriations Act of 1871, which made all Native tribes that had signed treaties beforehand “wards of the state.” Those that have come forward afterward have had to qualify through the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Department of Interior -- a long and arduous process.

Fletcher says that there were over 100 tribes, mostly in California, that had drafted treaties with the federal government but were never ratified -- a “historical accident,” he said. Many of these tribes are still not federally recognized and have not been granted their land back or federal funding.

The Ohlone People, who once populated much of the Northern California coast, are one of these unrecognized tribes.

“Folks like us, the Lisjan, we don’t have a land base,” said Corrina Gould, a member of the Lisjan Ohlone. “So we’re homeless in our own lands, on our own territories.”

Gould and others in her tribe have been working to reclaim a piece of land in Berkeley, California, that was once a burial and ceremonial site for her ancestors -- called a shell mound. It’s one of many that existed in the Bay Area of San Francisco.

Although it’s now being used as a parking lot, the site was designated a Berkeley City landmark in 2002. On Thursday, the National Trust for Historic Preservation announced that it had placed the shell mound site on its 2020 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

“We actually started fighting for this site over 20 years ago,” Gould, co-founder of the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust and Indian People Organizing for Change, told “Nightline.” “We’re fighting for this little postage stamp in the Bay Area.”

Like Oakes’ AICH, part of the funding for the land trust comes from a voluntary gift from local non-native residents, which the Ohlone call Shuumi.

She said her people’s “dream” would be to preserve the space and to use it to keep their traditions alive.

“We’re at this point right now where people are in the streets asking for the truth of history to be told,” she said. “No matter where you are in the United States, you're on stolen indigenous land. And it's important to find out what your history is and what's your connection; who are those first people on whose land you're settled on? What was their language? What is their language? What is the name of them? And how then is it your responsibility to work and engage with those people?” she told Nightline.

Until now, the Ohlone People have relied on donated sites like the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, a Native women-led organization, to hold community events and ceremonies. “The trust gives us a way to take care of land and to re-engage it in a sovereign kind of way,” said Gould.

Part of their journey includes reviving their Native language. Gould said her great grandfather was the last Chochenyo language speaker. Others in her family and community lost the language over the course of decades as a result of assimilation policies that began in the late 19th century, when Natives were forced to attend government- and church-operated boarding schools. These policies were implemented as part of the Natives’ treaty obligations.

Gould’s daughter, who has been able to learn Chochenyo, is now the language holder of the tribe and has been teaching her family and tribal members at the land trust.

Gould says there will be justice for her people when her descendants don’t have to tell stories of their history being erased. As part of their land battle, she emphasized that the Native connection to the land is one that’s familial. Most Native people consider land to be part of their family, which is why they often call it “mother earth.”

“We need to bring balance back to the earth so that when we leave this place, the next seven generations have clean air and clean water and good soil to grow food,” she said.

Still, even indigenous nations that have signed treaties have had trouble remaining sovereign.

The Supreme Court affirms indigenous sovereignty in Oklahoma


Just this summer, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the Muscogee Creek Nation in Oklahoma should have jurisdiction over all native people within its borders -- the state had previously been prosecuting natives for crimes committed on the reservation.

“Today we are asked whether the land these treaties promised remains an Indian reservation for purposes of federal criminal law,” Justice Neil M. Gorsuch wrote in the majority opinion. “Because Congress has not said otherwise, we hold the government to its word.”

“I still get goosebumps thinking about that day, because it was a day we got to celebrate,” JoEtta Toppah, assistant attorney general of the Muscogee Creek Nation, told “Nightline.”

She says that since the Supreme Court’s ruling on McGirt v. Oklahoma, her caseload has tripled, causing her to seek additional staff to manage it and lobbying for additional funding from the federal government. She’s appreciative of the additional work, though, as it acknowledges the independence of her people.

“It gives us our right to the land,” she said. “Some of the biggest factors for a tribe are its people, its language, the culture and the land. So the land is a huge piece. And so, these cases are in essence giving the tribes a part of what makes their political government, their sovereign government, exist.”

The U.S. holds approximately 56 million acres of land in trust for various Native American tribes and individuals, according to the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.

Melody McCoy, a member of the Cherokee Nation and attorney with the Native American Rights Fund, said the way in which their land has been taken away over the years is like a folding napkin.

“The napkin gets folded and the U.S. comes to the tribes and says, ‘You know what, you don't really need all that land. ... and it goes on and on until there is such little left.” But what happened with the Supreme Court in the McGirt case is that the original napkin that was promised to the tribe is now guaranteed again.

McCoy says the case also “sets a precedent for all tribes that have treaties or acts of Congress that have promised them homelands.”

“Those homelands are extremely important,” she said. “Second, probably, only to the sovereignty itself of tribes.”

McCoy represented 13 of the 17 tribes that, in 2016, settled with former President Barack Obama's administration for $492 million for the mismanagement of natural resources and tribal assets.

Much of the land in Oklahoma became occupied by Native Americans after President Andrew Jackson authorized U.S. troops to evict tens of thousands of Native Americans from their homelands in the southeast U.S. and escort them west of the Mississippi River.

The Cherokee, Muscogee Creek, Seminole and Choctaw were among many other tribes that were forced to walk west on a path they called the “Trail of Tears.” However, even after their relocation, their land continued to be taken.

Today, while many people might say that “half of Oklahoma is Indian country,” Toppah says that’s incorrect -- at least not yet. “It will be,” she said, “and we all believe that. But for today, from the Supreme Court ruling, it’s the Muscogee Creek Nation Reservation.”

But even if the other tribal nations of Oklahoma have their treaties affirmed, they would not have jurisdiction over everyone -- just natives.

“On the civil side for the homes and landowners, you own your home still,” Toppah said. It's just like when you pay taxes to the county or the tax assessor. They don't own your home, you own it. You're just paying the taxes to them… It’s the same case here.”

Still, the jurisdiction could apply to local taxes, which would help provide additional funding to the reservation. Toppah noted that the reservation employs and houses non-Natives in its casinos and hospitals.

Fletcher says the McGirt case “shows how the Supreme Court should behave, which [is] as lawyers [and] as judges, not as policymakers.”

Principal Chief of the Muscogee Nation David Hill is still processing the impact of the Supreme Court ruling. The leader of the fourth largest tribe in the U.S., who was sworn in just this year, said he hopes the Supreme Court made its decision based on the constitution deeming all treaties made by the federal government as the “supreme law of the land.”

“There are some people that still don’t realize that we are here,” he said. “We are a nation. We still have a government.”

Hill grew up not seeing any difference between his Muscogee Creek heritage and being an Oklahoman, he said. He’s proud to be both, he said, and his family history is rich, with relatives that served in different branches of the military over the years and a great-great-grandmother who walked on the Trail of Tears, named Hotoje Avanaki.

Hill’s great grandfather, Charley Coker, was also part of the group that went to the U.S. Capitol in 1906 as Congress debated Oklahoma’s statehood. Coker, along with Chitti Harjo, a Muscogee Creek leader known for his anti-allotment views testified in front of a Select Committee of the Senate against individual land allotment policies.

By the time his tenure as principal chief is over, Hill said he hopes the economic development among his citizens will have improved and that the Muscogee Creek Nation has a better working relationship with the state of Oklahoma and America overall. He said that he hopes his future grandkids don’t have to struggle with the same issues he’s dealing with now. “Everything would be set in stone,” he said. “That’s my goal.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Two former leaders of Holyoke Soldiers' Home charged in COVID-19 deaths

Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty ImagesBy ARIELLE MITROPOULOS and AARON KATERSKY, ABC News

(HOLYOKE, Mass.) -- Two former leaders of the Holyoke Soldiers' Home in Massachusetts have been indicted in connection with the COVID-19 deaths of nearly a dozen veterans, Attorney General Maura Healey announced Friday.

Former Superintendent Bennett Walsh and former Medical Director Dr. David Clinton each have been charged with criminal neglect following an investigation into the facility, where at least 76 residents died of COVID-19.

Each defendant is facing five counts of charges of caretaker who wantonly or recklessly commits or permits bodily injury to an elder or disabled person, and five counts of caretaker who wantonly or recklessly commits or permits abuse, neglect or mistreatment to an elder or disabled person. Walsh and Clinton will be arraigned in Hampden County Superior Court at a later date.

"This was an outbreak at the home that we know claimed at least 76 lives ... the lives of veterans who served our country bravely and with honor. They risked their lives from the beaches of Normandy to the jungles of Vietnam, and to know that they died under the most horrific circumstances is truly shocking," Healey said.

The prosecution focused on a March 27, 2020, decision to consolidate two dementia units into one, which resulted in the placement of symptomatic residents, including confirmed COVID-19-positive residents, and asymptomatic residents, within feet of each other, increasing their exposure to each other.

Healey alleged that Walsh and Clinton were "ultimately responsible for the decision on March 27 that led to tragic and deadly results," of combining the 42 veterans into a single unit that usually accommodates 25 beds. Six or seven veterans were placed in rooms meant to hold only four people. Because of overcrowding, nine beds also were placed in a dining room.

"Some of the residents in the dining room had symptoms of COVID-19, some did not. The beds of these veterans in the dining room were just a few feet apart from each other," Healey said. "Some were next to the room where confirmed positive residents were located, and residents in the unit were mingling together regardless of their COVID-19 status."

Healey said that these "reckless" decisions placed asymptomatic veterans at greater risk of contracting the virus -- and a greater risk of death.

"While this criminal indictment cannot bring back their loved ones, I do hope, sincerely, that it provides those affected by this tragedy some solace that we are doing everything we can to hold accountable the individuals who we believe are responsible here," Healey said.

In a statement, an attorney for Walsh wrote that "the Attorney General is blaming the effects of a deadly virus that our state and federal governments have not been able to stop on Bennett Walsh. He, like other nursing home administrators throughout the Commonwealth and nation could not prevent the virus from coming to the Home or stop its spread once it arrived there. At all times, Mr. Walsh relied on the medical professionals to do what was best for the veterans given the tragic circumstances of a virus in a home with veterans in close quarters, severe staffing shortages and the lack of outside help from state officials."

An attorney for Walsh told ABC News he intends to plead not guilty and to vigorously defend himself against the allegations. An attorney for Clinton didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

Over 90 families of Holyoke Soldiers' Home veterans have been consulted and interviewed as a part of the investigation.

"I think that Bennett Walsh and Dr. Clinton should have to dig every grave that hasn't been done yet -- as well as whatever time they receive if they're found guilty," said Susan Kenney, whose father, Charles Lowell, served in the Air Force from 1960 to 1965 during the Vietnam War and died at the facility earlier this year. "They need to accept responsibility and account for their behaviors and the actions that they took."

The Holyoke Soldiers' Home coalition, on behalf of family members, also released a statement that read, in part: "Our Veterans and senior citizens deserve the greatest respect and should always receive care with the greatest honor and dignity as is the mission of our state for the Soldiers' Home. We now hope that justice will prevail and that the state builds a new Home in Holyoke as a lasting memorial to all those who have died."

The attorney general's report is the second of four investigations into failures at the facility. Earlier this summer, an investigation lead by former federal prosecutor Mark Pearlstein also found that the facility's leadership team made substantial errors in responding to the outbreak.

The two other investigations, which are still ongoing, include a federal investigation led U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew E. Lelling and an investigation conducted by the Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General Glenn A. Cunha.

Healey confirmed that her office is actively investigating several other facilities that suffered high numbers of coronavirus-related deaths. Since the beginning of the pandemic, over 6,000 probable or confirmed deaths have been reported in long-term care facilities in Massachusetts -- approximately two-thirds of the state's total reported death count.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Coronavirus live updates: Florida tops 14,000 deaths as restaurants reopen

Ovidiu Dugulan/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 984,000 people worldwide.

Over 32.2 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The criteria for diagnosis -- through clinical means or a lab test -- has varied from country-to-country. Still, the actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some national governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their outbreaks.

Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the virus has rapidly spread to every continent except Antarctica.

The United States is the worst-affected country, with more than 6.9 million diagnosed cases and at least 203,015 deaths.

California has the most cases of any U.S. state, with more than 799,000 people diagnosed, according to Johns Hopkins data. California is followed by Texas and Florida, with over 747,000 cases and over 693,000 cases, respectively.

Nearly 190 vaccine candidates for COVID-19 are being tracked by the World Health Organization, at least nine of which are in crucial phase three trials.

Here's how the news is developing Friday. All times Eastern:

Sep 25, 4:26 pm
Florida tops 14,000 deaths as restaurants reopen

The death toll from COVID-19 in Florida has now topped 14,000 after an increase of 120 new deaths in the last day, according to the Florida Department of Health.

The fatality total -- 14,083 -- is made up of 13,915 Florida residents and 168 non-residents.

This comes as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday that restaurants and bars can reopen at full capacity, effective immediately.

The executive order says restaurants can’t be limited to less than 100% capacity indoors unless the local government provides specific rationale.

DeSantis also said the state will be able to hold "a full Super Bowl" next year, which is set for February in Tampa.

DeSantis' executive order also wipes out all outstanding fines for not wearing masks in public.

Florida has over 695,000 people diagnosed with COVID-19, the third-highest state for case totals in the nation, behind California and Texas.

ABC News' Rachel Katz and Scott Withers contributed to this report.


Sep 25, 11:50 am
2 charged for handling of deadly COVID-19 outbreak at Massachusetts veterans' home

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced Friday that criminal neglect charges have been filed against both the former superintendent of the Soldiers' Home in Holyoke as well as its former medical director for their alleged roles in a COVID-19 outbreak that led to the deaths of at least 76 residents at the state-run facility, which provides long-term care and other services to ageing veterans.

"We began this investigation on behalf of the families who lost loved ones under tragic circumstances and to honor these men who bravely served our country," Healey said in a statement. "We allege that the actions of these defendants during the COVID-19 outbreak at the facility put veterans at higher risk of infection and death and warrant criminal charges."

Bennett Walsh, 50, of Springfield, Massachusetts, and Dr. David Clinton, 71, of South Hadley, Massachusetts, were indicted Thursday by a statewide grand jury on five counts each for the charge of caretaker who wantonly or recklessly commits or permits bodily injury to an elder or disabled person and another five counts each for the charge of caretaker who wantonly or recklessly commits or permits abuse, neglect, or mistreatment to an elder or disabled person. Walsh and Clinton will be arraigned in Hampden County Superior Court at a later date, according to the attorney general's office.

Prosecutors allege that the Soldiers' Home in Holyoke, faced with staffing shortages, decided on March 27 to consolidate two dementia units into one, resulting in the placement of symptomatic -- including those who had confirmed cases of COVID-19 -- and asymptomatic residents within feet of each other. Prosecutors allege that those decisions, which they say were ultimately the responsibility of Walsh and Clinton, were reckless and increased the likelihood that asymptomatic veterans would contract COVID-19 and put them at higher risk of death and harm.

ABC News' Aaron Katersky contributed to this report.


Sep 25, 11:18 am
Analysis shows cases rising in at least 32 US states


An ABC News analysis of COVID-19 trends across all 50 U.S. states as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico found there were increases in newly confirmed cases over the past two weeks in 32 states, the nation's capital and the U.S. island territory in the Caribbean.

The analysis also found increases in the daily positivity rate of COVID-19 tests in 21 states, increases in COVID-19 hospitalizations in 17 states and increases in daily COVID-19 death tolls in 9 states.

The trends were all analyzed from data collected and published by the COVID Tracking Project over the past two weeks, using the linear regression trend line of the seven-day moving average.

Three states -- Montana, South Dakota and Utah -- saw a record rise in daily number of new cases, while one state -- North Dakota -- hit a record number of new deaths in a single day. Two states -- South Dakota and Wisconsin -- reported a record number of current COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Over the past week, the seven-day average of new cases has continued to hover around 40,000 in the United States. Since Sept. 12, that average has increased by 16.3%.

ABC News' Benjamin Bell, Brian Hartman, Soorin Kim and Arielle Mitropolous contributed to this report.

Sep 25, 10:20 am
Virginia governor and wife test positive for COVID-19


Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and his wife, Pamela, have both tested positive for COVID-19, according to a press release from his office.

The couple was notified Wednesday evening that a member of the governor's official residence staff, who works closely within their living quarters, had developed COVID-19 symptoms and subsequently tested positive for the disease. Both the governor and the first lady received nasal swab tests Thursday afternoon, and the results came back positive.

Northam has no symptoms while his wife is currently experiencing mild symptoms. They are both "in good spirits," according to the press release.

"As I’ve been reminding Virginians throughout this crisis, COVID-19 is very real and very contagious," the governor said in a statement Friday. "The safety and health of our staff and close contacts is of utmost importance to Pam and me, and we are working closely with the Department of Health to ensure that everyone is well taken care of. We are grateful for your thoughts and support, but the best thing you can do for us -- and most importantly, for your fellow Virginians -- is to take this seriously."

The couple will isolate for the next 10 days and evaluate their symptoms. Northam will continue fulfilling his duties as Virginia's governor from their official residence in Richmond, according to the press release.

Sep 25, 9:32 am
Renowned Indian singer dies after being on life support for 'severe COVID-19 pneumonia'


Renowned Indian singer SP Balasubrahmanyam died Friday, weeks after he had been hospitalized for COVID-19 symptoms. He was 74.

Balasubrahmanyam, an iconic playback singer of Indian cinema who reportedly held a Guinness World Record for his more than 40,000 songs, was admitted at MGM Healthcare in Chennai, southeastern India, on Aug. 5. He was placed on life support nine days later for "severe COVID-19 pneumonia," according to a statement from the hospital's assistant director of medical services, Dr. Anuradha Baskaran.

"In a further setback this morning, despite maximal life support measures and the best efforts of the clinical team, his condition deteriorated further and he suffered a cardio-respiratory arrest," Baskaran said. "We express our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, well-wishers and admirers at their loss during this time of anguish and sorrow."

Sep 25, 7:30 am
Poland reports another record daily rise in cases

Poland reported a record rise in COVID-19 cases for the second straight day on Friday.

The Polish Ministry of Health confirmed another 1,587 new cases of the disease in the past 24 hours, the country's highest daily caseload since the start of the pandemic. An additional 23 coronavirus-related deaths were also reported in the past day.

A majority of the newly confirmed infections were in the central part of the country.

In total, Polish Ministry of Health has identified 84,396 confirmed cases with 2,392 deaths.

Sep 25, 6:44 am
Wisconsin grapples with record-high COVID-19 hospitalizations


A total of 530 people remained hospitalized for COVID-19 in Wisconsin as of Thursday afternoon -- the highest yet since pandemic began.

Among those patients, 371 were receiving mechanical ventilation and 141 were in intensive care units. Currently, 80% of all hospital beds statewide are full, according to the latest data from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Wisconsin topped 500 for the first time Wednesday, according to a report by Madison ABC affiliate WKOW-TV.

"There is no doubt that we are in a significant near-crunch time in a number of regions in the state," Dr. Mark Kaufman, chief medical officer of the Wisconsin Hospital Association, told WKOW.

The rising number of COVID-19 hospitalizations comes as hospitals are also gearing up for flu season.

"We really don't know how people will react if they are co-infected with both COVID and influenza," Kaufman said. "But it is not likely to be good."

Sep 25, 5:43 am
India reports under 90,000 new cases for fifth straight day


India confirmed another 86,052 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.

An additional 1,141 coronavirus-related fatalities were also recorded. The country's cumulative total now stands at 5,818,570 confirmed cases and 92,290 deaths, according to the latest data from the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

The daily caseload in the vast county of 1.3 billion people has remained below the 90,000 mark for five consecutive days after hitting a peak of 97,894 on Sept. 16, the highest single-day rise in infections worldwide since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Based on the current rate of infection, India is expected within weeks to become the pandemic's worst-hit nation, surpassing the United States, where more than 6.9 million people have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Sep 25, 5:10 am
UK sees highest single-day rise in cases amid second wave


The United Kingdom reported 6,634 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, its highest daily caseload since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Another 40 coronavirus related-fatalities within 28 days of a positive test result were also registered Thursday, according to data published on the U.K. government's website. The latest daily death toll for COVID-19 is far below the country's record set on April 8 when there were 1,073 new fatalities reported U.K.-wide.

The United Kingdom's cumulative total now stands at 416,363 confirmed cases and 41,902 deaths. The number of new infections started to come down in mid-April after hitting a peak but has been on the rise again since July.

The surge has prompted the British government to tighten restrictions on daily life in an effort to curb the current rate of infection.

The United Kingdom is not the only country seeing a second wave of COVID-19. Other European nations including France and Spain are also grappling with growing outbreaks.

Sep 25, 4:25 am
US caseload edges closer to seven million


There were 44,110 new cases of COVID-19 identified in the United States on Thursday, as the nation's cumulative total edges closer to seven million, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Thursday's tally is well below the country’s record set on July 16, when there were 77,255 new cases in a 24-hour-reporting period.

An additional 914 coronavirus-related fatalities were also recorded Thursday, down from a peak of 2,666 new fatalities reported on April 17.

A total of 6,978,874 people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 202,818 of them have died, according to Johns Hopkins. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C. and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.

By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country's cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up and crossing 70,000 for the first time in mid-July. The daily tally of new cases has gradually come down since then but has hovered around 40,000 in recent weeks.

An internal memo from the Federal Emergency Management Agency obtained by ABC News on Wednesday night shows that the number of new cases recorded in the United States is increasing by double digits in week-over-week comparisons, while the number of new deaths is down.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Black flight attendant and white airline CEO reunite after emotional talk on race

JacqueRae S. Hill/FacebookBy MINA KAJI, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- In June, a black Southwest Airlines flight attendant was moved to tears during a discussion on race with one passenger who only later identified himself as American Airlines CEO Doug Parker.

That emotional conversation has connected them for life, Parker says, and last weekend the two reunited over dinner.

"Much of our dinner focused on how the national conversation on race has become more divisive of late after some very important unifying progress this summer," Parker wrote. "We can’t let that happen as a country."

When 14-year Southwest employee JacqueRae Hill and Parker first met, Hill had a "heavy heart" after watching protests erupt nationwide following the death of George Floyd.

While at work, it wasn't Parker but the book he was reading , "White Fragility," that caught her eye.

"So how is the book?" Hill asked after making her way to the back of the aircraft and sitting in the empty aisle seat next to Parker.

Hill recalled him telling her he was halfway through it, but that it "really point[ed] out how important these conversations on race are."

"As I began to respond, the tears just start[ed] falling," Hill said.

The two talked for a little over 10 minutes and it wasn't until the end of the conversation that Parker revealed his identity to Hill.

When Parker disembarked from the plane, he handed Hill a handwritten note telling her that she could email him if she wanted to continue their conversation, adding "much of the problem is we don't talk about it enough."

"We are not so different in what we want out of life," Hill told ABC News at the time. "All we both wanted in that moment was peace and to be understood."

Since then, Hill says, she has seen some of the Black Lives Matter movement "hijacked by politics and people that are not for real transformative change," but that she is still trying to "lead with love."

"As JacqueRae taught us all so well," Parker said, "having the courage to start conversations on race can change the world. Conversations lead to education, and education leads to action and transformational change."

Hill is now starting a YouTube channel in an attempt to create a judgement-free space where people can talk about topics such as race.

"Doug thinks I woke him up," Hill said. "But he woke me up to my purpose in life."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Breonna Taylor's family demands release of transcripts from grand jury proceeding

Lawyer Ben Crump speaks at a press conference with Breonna Taylor's family on Sept. 25, 2020. - (ABC News)By EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News

(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) -- Breonna Taylor's family is demanding the release of grand jury proceeding transcripts after a Kentucky grand jury indicted one officer for endangering Taylor's neighbors during the police shooting that resulted in her death.

Taylor's family is "heartbroken, devastated and outraged and confused," family attorney Ben Crump said at a news conference Friday.

"There seems to be two justice systems in America -- one for Black America and one for white America," he said.

Crump went on, "What did Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron present to the grand jury? Did he present any evidence on Breonna Taylor's behalf? Or did he make a unilateral decision to put his thumb on the scales of justice to help try to exonerate and justify the killing of Breonna Taylor by these police officers? And in doing so, make sure that Breonna Taylor's family never got their day in court."

Brett Hankison, an officer who has since been fired from the Louisville Metro Police Department, was indicted Wednesday on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment for firing into the apartment directly behind Taylor's.

The neighboring apartment had three people inside, thus the three charges against Hankison, said Cameron. The other officers involved in Taylor's death were not charged.

"Release the transcript so we can have transparency," Crump said. "And if you did everything you could do on Breonna's behalf, you shouldn't have any problems whatsoever, Daniel Cameron, to release the transcript to see you fought for all of Kentucky's citizens."

Crump said the decision in Taylor's case follows a pattern "of the blatant disrespect and marginalization of Black people but especially Black women in America who have been killed by police."

Taylor's aunt, Bianca Austin, wore Taylor's EMT jacket at the news conference and read a statement on behalf of her sister and Taylor's mother, Tamika Palmer.

"This has been emotionally, mentally and physically draining for my sister," Austin said.

Palmer, in her statement, said Cameron "had the power to do the right thing. He had the power to start the healing of this city."

Cameron "helped me realize ... it will always be us against them," Palmer continued. "That we are never safe when it comes to them." She said she has "no faith in the legal system, in the police, in the laws that are not made to protect us Black and brown people."

Palmer said Cameron "alone didn't fail her," and that her daughter was also failed by "the judge who signed the search warrant ... the terrorist who broke down her door ... [and] the system as a whole."

"You didn't just rob me and my family, you robbed the world of a queen ... a queen who was starting to pave her path," Palmer's statement said.

Taylor, 26, was shot dead by police while in her Louisville home on March 13. Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were asleep when three Louisville police officers, including Hankison, tried to execute a "no-knock" search warrant.

The officers were investigating a suspected drug operation linked to Taylor's ex-boyfriend. No drugs were found in the apartment.

Walker contends he asked the officers to identify themselves as they tried to break open the door, but got no response, which prompted him to open fire with his licensed gun.

Cameron said Detective Myles Cosgrove and Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly were "justified" when they opened fire 22 times during the incident since they were returning fire.

Mattingly was shot in the leg, according to Cameron.

Cameron said no shots from Hankison struck Taylor.

Hankison was fired and the other officers involved were placed on administrative duty.

After the grand jury decision, Cameron said at a news conference Wednesday, "According to Kentucky law, the use of force by Mattingly and Cosgrove was justified to protect themselves. This justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges in Ms. Breonna Taylor's death."

"The truth is now before us. The facts have been examined, and a grand jury comprised of our peers and fellow citizens has made a decision," Cameron said. "Justice is not often easy. Our team conducted interviews in this case, and spent thousands of hours examining all of the available evidence."

Federal prosecutors are looking into potential civil rights charges.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Meet the new baby female Masai giraffe born at Disney's Animal Kingdom!

David Roark/DisneyBy GMA TEAM, ABC News

(BAY LAKE, Fla.) -- Meet the new baby female Masai giraffe born at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Florida.

Weighing in at 156 pounds and a little over 6 feet tall, the baby girl is healthy and "feisty," according to the animal care team at the park.

"First time I came and saw her, she was moving around well through the stall, nursing well," Karen Jasmine, animal manager at Disney's Animal, Science and Environment, said. "At her neonatal exam, she was definitely very feisty and strong. I would say she's pretty brave and an independent animal."

The yet-to-be-named baby girl giraffe already has a close bond with her mom, Mara. The new giraffe is a third-generation Masai that's currently at Disney, according to the park.

"We're all super excited here," said animal keeper Rory Dwyer. "Each [giraffe] is different. I'm really excited to see her personality grow. Her mom is a super confident giraffe, her grandma is a super confident giraffe. This little girl has a whole world ahead of her and we're looking forward to being there with her."

This little girl marks the 35th giraffe born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom through the Species Survival Plans, overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to ensure the responsible breeding of endangered species.

"The giraffe here at Disney are ambassadors for their cousins in the wild. Giraffe are undergoing a silent extinction and some sub-species are considered critically endangered. These guys are really important for getting people excited about conservation," said Dwyer.

You can learn more about how Disney cares for giraffe and other animals and helps protect species in the wild in the new Disney docuseries, "Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.” It’s a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into caring for over 5,000 animals at Walt Disney World Resort.

The news comes as Disney's Animal Kingdom announced on Sept. 22 that three white rhino are expected to give birth at the park as soon as October 2021 -- major news in the world of conservation.

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.


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Two vehicles hit protesters in LA as Breonna Taylor protests continue throughout US

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty ImagesBy WILLIAM MANSELL, ABC News

(LOS ANGELES) -- A pickup truck hit a protester Thursday night in Hollywood, California, and moments later a second vehicle hit a car participating in the same protest as it tried to leave the area, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

The "largely peaceful" group of protesters began marching around 7 p.m. local time with only isolated reports of vandalism, but shortly after 9 p.m., things turned violent when a blue pickup truck traveling on Sunset Boulevard maneuvered through the crowd and became involved in an altercation, according to authorities. The driver of the truck attempted to get away from the situation, but police said he struck a protester standing in the street.

The protester hit by the truck was transported to a local hospital with minor injuries.

A short time later, a white Prius attempted to drive around the same protest, but a truck involved in the protests pinned the Prius in, forcing it to stop. Police said the driver of the Prius put the car in reverse to leave the area but then hit a green Mustang that was also participating in the protest.

Protesters tried to remove the driver of the Prius from his vehicle, but the LAPD said he was able to get away from the scene. There were no injuries reported in the second incident. Police said they have detained the driver.

All drivers and victims in both altercations have been identified and police said the investigation is ongoing.

Protesters in L.A. and other cities across the United States have been demonstrating following a Kentucky grand jury decision to not charge three police officers in the death of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor.

Taylor was shot dead by police while in her Louisville home on March 13. Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were asleep when three Louisville Metro Police Department officers, including Brett Hankison, tried to execute a "no-knock" search warrant. The officers were investigating a suspected drug operation linked to Taylor's ex-boyfriend. No drugs were found in the apartment.

Former Louisville police officer Hankison was indicted on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment on Wednesday for allegedly endangering Taylor's neighbors when he fired into the apartment complex. No officers were directly charged in connection with her death.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said Hankison fired no shots that struck Taylor. He said Detective Myles Cosgrove and Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly were "justified" when they opened fire 22 times during the incident since they were returning fire.

In Louisville, where Taylor was killed, at least 24 people were arrested during demonstrations Thursday. Among those was Louisville State Rep. Attica Scott. She was charged, according to the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department, with riot in the 1st degree, failure to disperse and unlawful assembly.

Prior to curfew, Louisville police said protesters caused damage along their route at various locations, including tossing a flare into the Main Library. As curfew neared, protesters made their way to the First Unitarian Church, which let people gathered at the property to stay after curfew, officials said in a statement early Friday morning.

No arrests were made at the church and no National Guard members were deployed there, police said.

Vehicles hitting protesters have become a familiar scene during the protests following Taylor's death. Two protesters were injured in hit-and-run incidents in Colorado and upstate New York on Wednesday night during demonstrations across the U.S.

In Buffalo, New York, video showed a pickup truck drive directly into a group of demonstrators who pounded on the side of the truck and yelled for the driver to stop just before a protester on a bicycle was hit. The footage shows the truck speeding away as protesters on foot chased after it.

A silver Volvo outside the Capitol Building in Denver was surrounded by protesters who told the driver to turn around on Wednesday night, but then the car accelerates and knocked one protester to the ground.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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