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OBIT-ELLIS MARSALIS

New Orleans jazz patriarch Ellis Marsalis dead at 85

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Ellis Marsalis, jazz pianist, teacher and patriarch of a New Orleans musical family that includes famed musician sons Wynton and Branford, has died. He was 85. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Campbell announced Marsalis' death in a news release Wednesday night. She did not specify a cause of death. Because Marsalis opted to stay in New Orleans for most of his career, his reputation was limited until his sons became famous and brought him the spotlight, along with new recording contracts and headliner performances on television and on tour. Four of his six sons are musicians: Wynton, the trumpeter, is America's most prominent jazz spokesman as artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-FEDERAL PRISONS

Federal inmates to be locked in cells for 14 days amid virus

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal Bureau of Prisons is locking inmates in their cells at all its facilities for 14 days in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The implementation of a new plan Wednesday comes as a focus shifts to a federal prison complex in Louisiana, where three inmates have died and nearly 20 others are hospitalized. The compound, known as FCC Oakdale, has emerged as ground zero in the federal prison system’s struggle to contain COVID-19 behind bars. The local health department told the federal government there was no need to test inmates there anymore for the coronavirus, saying those showing symptoms should just presume they have it.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-LOUISIANA

47 Louisiana long-term care sites seen as virus 'clusters'

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's nursing homes, assisted living sites and adult residential care facilities are showing more and more “clusters” of the coronavirus. But the full scale of the outbreak at those sites remains uncertain. Louisiana's Department of Health has identified 47 long-term care facilities that it considers a cluster. That means two or more cases of the COVID-19 disease caused by the virus there appear to be connected to each other. Louisiana's health department reports the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 now tops 6,400. It's difficult to determine whether nursing homes and retirement facilities represent an outsized share of the infected. The state has stopped releasing statistics for identified cluster sites.

CHURCH FIRE

Investigators: fire at Louisiana church ruled arson

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Investigators say a fire just after midnight Wednesday at a Louisiana church was deliberately set. The Baton Rouge Fire Department, in a news release, said it happened at Broadmoor United Methodist Church around 12:15 a.m. News outlets report when firefighters arrived, authorities said they found the church's detached meeting room engulfed in flames. The structure is used as a Boy Scout and Girl Scout location. The fire didn't spread to the church's main building, but the meeting room was totally destroyed. There were no reports of injuries and no arrests have been made.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-LOUISIANA-CHURCH SERVICE

Churchgoers flock to hear Louisiana pastor despite virus ban

CENTRAL, La. (AP) — Buses and cars filled a Louisiana church parking lot for another service as worshipers flocked to hear a pastor who is facing misdemeanor charges for holding services despite a ban intended to control the new coronavirus.  Some protesters turned out, too, including one man shouting through a bullhorn against the gathering at the Life Tabernacle Church in the city of Central. Pastor Tony Spell was issued a summons hours earlier on Tuesday for holding services previously at the church in violation of the governor's order banning gatherings. Authorities say more than 5,200 people in Louisiana have confirmed virus infections, and 239 state residents have died.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-GUNS

Gun background checks smash records amid coronavirus fears

Gun background checks have spiked to record numbers in the past month amid concerns about safety during the coronavirus crisis. FBI figures show that March saw the most background checks since the system began in 1998. Gun dealers say Americans worried about protecting themselves have fueled runs on firearms and ammunition. Gun control advocates worry the surge will lead to greater gun violence, especially among first-time buyers who may not be able to get proper training. The soaring numbers come amid debate in cities and states about whether gun shops should be considered essential businesses that can stay open during lockdowns meant to reduce the spread of the virus.

HIGH MISSISSIPPI RIVER

Louisiana spillway may open for record 3rd consecutive year

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Federal authorities say they may have to open up a major flood control project on the Mississippi River to ease pressure on New Orleans levees. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Tuesday that the river is expected to crest above 17 feet at a key New Orleans gauge as early as Friday. That would likely lead to the opening of a structure that diverts water through the Bonnet Carre spillway. It would be the first time the structure has been used three years in a row. Extended openings last year were blamed by Mississippi authorities for feeding toxic algae blooms and killing oysters, dolphins and other sea life.

HOTEL COLLAPSE

City, developer clash over demolition of collapsed hotel

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Plans to demolish the Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans remain in limbo as the city and developers disagree over how to safely bring down the structure. The upper floors of the hotel collapsed in October while it was still under construction, killing three workers and injuring dozens more. The hotel developer says it has found a new contractor that will perform a traditional piece-by-piece demolition but the city doesn't agree on the plan. The developer's original plan to work with the city's suggested contractor fell through because of liability insurance costs. The developer said the city is holding up the demolition. Two of the deceased workers remain in the building.