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AP-US-VIRUS-OUTBREAK-UNEMPLOYMENT

'The whole city laid off': US jobless claims climb sky high

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New unemployment benefit claims are rising to levels unseen in recent U.S. history as a result of coronavirus concerns. States have reported receiving tens of thousands of new claims for unemployment insurance last week. Officials figures are to be released Thursday, and some economists project that new claims could reach 3 million nationwide. Some laid-off workers have encountered delays in filing claims because of overloaded websites and phone systems. Some states are warning that it could take longer than the normal two to three weeks to receive unemployment payments because of the sudden surge in claims.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-LOUISIANA

Increased testing shows ballooning virus cases in Louisiana

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana is scrambling to ready makeshift hospitals and track down ventilators as the steady uptick of coronavirus cases continues. Increased testing capacity in the state is demonstrating what officials feared: a ballooning number of infected people that remains among the highest per-capita rates in the nation. The latest figures from Louisiana's health department Wednesday showed nearly 1,800 people in the state were confirmed to have the COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus. That's an increase of 400 from the previous day. Sixty-five Louisiana residents have died from the disease. President Donald Trump has granted a federal disaster declaration for the state.

BUSINESS PARTNER-MURDER

Louisiana man accused of killing associate enters plea

BOSSIER CITY, La. (AP) — A Louisiana man accused of killing his business partner has pleaded not guilty to murder and obstruction charges. News outlets report 43-year-old John Hardy Jr. entered the pleas Tuesday via video before a Bossier Parish judge. Hardy is accused in the death of his associate, 48-year-old Garrett Wilson. Wilson was reported missing in January. Human remains found a short time later were identified last month as Wilson. Police also say Hardy was arrested last month. He has a prior leg injury and was taken to a hospital. Police say he tried to overpower a deputy to escape from his hospital room. He is expected to face charges for that incident.

SHERIFF SETTLEMENT UNSEALED

Court: Sheriff's settlement for man's death be made public

NEW ORLEANS, La. (AP) — A federal court has ruled the amount of money paid to the family of a 22-year-old Louisiana man who died in a sheriff's patrol car must be made public. The Times-Picayune and the New Orleans Advocate report the unanimous ruling Monday by a federal appeals court will unseal how much taxpayer money was paid in a lawsuit against the Iberia Parish Sheriff in the death of Victor White III. White’s death was ruled a suicide after he died from a gunshot wound while handcuffed in the back of a patrol car. The decision comes nearly two years after a judge refused attempts by local media outlets to unseal the settlement.

ELDERLY ASSAULT

Sheriff: Man charged with choking 60-year-old woman

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Authorities in Louisiana say a man was arrested and accused of choking a 60-year-old woman and pushing her to ground. Robert Guerrero was charged with simple battery of a person with infirmities. The East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office said they responded to a call Tuesday afternoon and found the woman with red marks on her neck and blood on her head. The woman told deputies Guerrero was arguing with another woman and she attempted to intervene by stepping between them. Booking documents said Guerrero pushed her to the concrete, then grabbed her by the neck and choked her. Documents say Guerrero told the woman he would kill her. It's unclear whether Guerrero has an attorney.

SUSPECT CAPTURED-CRASH

Authorities: Man who hit father and son with car captured

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Authorities say a man who hit a father and his 4-year-old son with his car as the pair crossed a New Orleans street was captured after four months on the run. The Times-Picayune and New Orleans Advocate report 30-year-old Christopher Andres was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals in Austin, Texas, on Monday. The New Orleans police department identified Andres as the suspect of the November crash. The crash left both the father and son seriously injured and hospitalized. Police say the pair were walking on the street after attending a New Orleans Saints post-game party when a reckless driver hit them. Andrews is being held in Texas and awaiting extradition to New Orleans.

MISSISSIPPI RIVER FLOODING

Officials: As Mississippi River drops, floods still a threat

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — As the Mississippi River in New Orleans continues to drop there is still a threat of flooding this spring across a third of the country. The Times-Picayune reports the river dropped below 15 feet last week in the city’s uptown neighborhood at the Carrollton gauge. The Army Corps of Engineers has changed rules that prohibit construction work on or near the river. It has also dropped river inspections from at least once a day to twice weekly. Federal forecasters say an increase in rainfall across areas north of Louisiana will pose a threat of high river conditions through May. Official say highly saturated soil in areas where rainfall might occur will also increase the chances of flooding.

DEEP SOUTH-WEATHER

90-degree temperatures possible across Deep South this week

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — A scorching wave of summer-like heat could be in store for parts of the Deep South this week. The National Weather Service is predicting temperatures Thursday and Friday could approach or even exceed 90 degrees in areas of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. In Georgia, forecasters say Valdosta and Alma could see highs of 91. Thermometers in Evergreen, Alabama, could hit 90 degrees right before the weekend. Jackson, Mississippi, is forecast to reach 89 degrees, with highs of 88 degrees possible in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.