The Rundown for March 31, 2021

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 30,393,001 and the nation’s death toll stands at 550,967, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University… All 50 states now have announced when they plan to open up coronavirus vaccinations to everyone eligible under U.S. Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorizations. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson announced yesterday that his state has joined a dozen others in expanding vaccinations to include anyone 16 and over. Several other states that they are opening up vaccine eligibility at least a month ahead of schedule.

SENATORS SEEK RECURRING RELIEF PAYMENTS… A group of Senate Democrats wants President Joe Biden to include recurring relief payments and extended jobless benefits in his economic recovery plan. In a letter sent yesterday, lawmakers led by Senate finance committee Chairman Ron Wyden of Oregon noted that the $300 weekly unemployment supplement expired on September 6. They also said the $1,400 one-time direct payment in the last coronavirus relief bill isn’t enough for Americans hardest hit by the pandemic.

MORE BACKLASH OVER GEORGIA VOTING LAW… Georgia is facing mounting resistance to its restrictive new voting law. The law, known as S.B. 202, bans mobile voting, limits secure drop boxes and even prohibits volunteers from giving out water and snacks to Georgians who are waiting in long voting lines. The ACLU announced yesterday that it has united with several other civil rights groups in a lawsuit that claims the law is meant to “diminish Black political power in Georgia.” The lawsuit addresses the law’s violation of the First, Second, and Fifteenth Amendments, and the Voting Rights Act. Meanwhile, Atlanta-based corporations Delta Air Lines Inc and Coca-Cola Co continued to face boycott calls from activists seeking their support in opposing the law.

CONGRESSMAN GAETZ UNDER INVESTIGATION… The New York Times reported yesterday that the Justice Department is investigating whether Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws in a 2019 sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. The investigation is reported to be part of a larger probe into Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg, a Florida tax collector who was charged last year with 14 felony counts that included the sex trafficking of a minor between the ages of 14 and 17. The investigation into Gaetz was launched near the end of President Donald Trump’s term, when William Barr was still attorney general, according to The Times.

NEW YORK PASSES MARIJUANA-LEGALIZATION MEASURE… New York state lawmakers yesterday passed a marijuana legalization measure that eliminates penalties for possession of less than three ounces of cannabis and automatically expunges records for people with previous convictions for decriminalized activities. The measure commits 40 percent of tax revenue to communities disproportionately affected by the policing of marijuana sales and use including funding for schools and public education as well as drug treatment, prevention and education. It also creates equity programs to provide loans, grants and incubator programs for businesses. Governor Andrew Cuomo said the bill will bring “justice for long-marginalized communities.”

ENTERTAINMENT
ARIANA GRANDE JOINING ‘THE VOICE’
… Ariana Grande is replacing Nick Jonas as a coach on the competition show “The Voice.” The 27-year-old Grammy-winning pop singer joins a Season 21 cast that includes regular coaches Blake Shelton, John Legend and Kelly Clarkson. Grande has performed her hit “Into You” on the 2016 series finale of the show but did not take part as a coach.

‘GAME OF THRONES’ HEADED TO STAGE… Author George R.R. Martin announced yesterday that that a stage version of “Game of Thrones” is on its way to Broadway and London’s West End. The play borrows from the popular HBO series that derived from Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” fantasy series of novels. It is expected to debut in 2023 and will reportedly focus on the Great Tourney at Harrenhal, an event that took place more than a decade before the events of the “Game of Thrones” HBO series.

SPORTS
NCAA MEN’S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL FOUR COMPLETE
… Overall top seed Gonzaga and surprising UCLA advanced to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Final Four with wins in last night’s regional finals. Gonzaga rolled past sixth-seeded USC 85-66 to capture the West Region. UCLA, which had to play its way into the tournament as an 11th seed in the East, fought off top-seeded Michigan 51-49. Gonzaga and UCLA meet Saturday in the national semifinals. Baylor takes on Houston in the other semifinal. The men’s championship game is scheduled for Monday in Indianapolis.

NCAA WOMEN’S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL FOUR COMPLETE
A pair of top seeds are moving on to the women’s Final Four after winning their regional finals yesterday. South Carolina breezed past sixth-seeded Texas 62-34 to capture the Hemisfair Region and Stanford thrashed Louisville 78-63 in the Alamo Region. South Carolina and Stanford meet in the national semifinals on Friday. Connecticut and Arizona battle in the other semifinal. The women’s national championship game is scheduled for Sunday in San Antonio.

NBA SCOREBOARD
Charlotte 114 – WASHINGTON 104… The Hornets took control with a 16-2 second-quarter spurt and held off the Wizards. Terry Rozier scored a game-high 27 points. Gordon Hayward finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds.

DENVER 104 – Philadelphia 95… The Nuggets jumped out to a 44-22 lead after the first quarter and withstood a second half comeback to down the 76ers. Jamal Murray led all scorers with 30 points. Michael Porter Jr added 27 points.

Orlando 103 – L.A. CLIPPERS 96… The Magic rallied in the fourth quarter to hand the Clippers their first loss in seven games. Chuma Okeke’s 18 points led a balanced scoring attack.

PHOENIX 117 – Atlanta 110… The Suns held on at the end to down the Hawks. They got 21 points from Devin Booker and 20 from Dario Saric. Deandre Ayton grabbed 14 boards to go with his 13 points.

TODAY’S NBA SCHEDULE
Portland is at Detroit…
Indiana hosts Miami…
Dallas is at Boston…
Brooklyn hosts Houston…
Utah is at Memphis…
Minnesota hosts New York…
Toronto is at Oklahoma City…
San Antonio hosts Sacramento…
Milwaukee is at the L.A. Lakers…
Phoenix hosts Chicago

NHL SCOREBOARD
BOSTON 5 – New Jersey 4 (SO)… The Bruins came from two goals down in the third period to upend the Devils. David Pastrnak scored the winning goal in the shootout. Matt Grzelcyk netted a tying goal with 4 minutes left in regulation. Brad Marchand had a goal and an assist. David Krejci set up three goals.

N.Y. RANGERS 5 – Washington 2… The Rangers skated past the Capitals after spotting them a two-goal lead. Artemi Panarin scored a goal and assisted on two others. Goalie Igor Shesterkin made 30 saves.

Columbus 3 – TAMPA BAY 1… Oliver Bjorkstrand and David Savard scored second-period goals to provide the Blue Jackets with all the offense they needed in their win over the Lightning. Elvis Merzlikins stopped 37 shots at goal.

FLORIDA 4 – Detroit 1… Carter Verhaeghe found the net twice to lead the Panthers past the Red Wings. Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made 35 stops.

MONTREAL 4 – Edmonton 0… Goalie Carey Price stopped all 16 shots in his first shutout of the season and the Canadiens put away the Oilers early with three first-period goals. Brendan Gallagher and Artturi Lehkonen each had a goal and an assist.

CHICAGO 2 – Carolina 1… Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat netted back-to-back goals early in the second period and the Blackhawks made them stand in edging the Hurricanes. Kevin Lankinen stopped 31 shots at goal.

NASHVILLE 3 – Dallas 2 (OT)… Eeli Tolvanen’s goal at 1:29 of overtime sent the Predators past the Stars. Calle Jarkrok scored the tying goal in the third period and had an assist.

TODAY’S NHL SCHEDULE
Philadelphia is at Buffalo…
Winnipeg hosts Toronto…
Arizona is at Colorado…
Vegas hosts Los Angeles…
Calgary is at Vancouver…
San Jose hosts Minnesota

MLB SPRING TRAINING SCORES (opening day is tomorrow)…
Cleveland, ARIZONA 3, Cleveland 2…
Pittsburgh 1, MINNESOTA 1 (tie)…
Tampa Bay 5, DETROIT 0…
Atlanta 5, BOSTON 3…
Milwaukee 6, TEXAS 3…
COLORADO 2, Chi. White Sox 1…
L.A. DODGERS 6, L.A. Angels 4

The Rundown for March 26, 2021

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached
30,079,282 and the nation’s death toll stands at 546,882, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University… A group of research papers released at a Brookings Institution conference this week concluded that the U.S. could have avoided nearly 400,000 deaths with a more effective health strategy. Fatalities could have stayed under 300,000, versus a death toll of 540,000 and rising, if by last May the country had adopted widespread mask, social distancing and testing protocols while awaiting a vaccine, estimated UCLA economics professor Andrew Atkeson. The research found that the federal government wasted both lives and money in its response to the pandemic. Federal spending could have been trimmed by hundreds of billions of dollars, researchers said.

BIDEN PRESS CONFERENCE… President Joe Biden announced yesterday during his first press conference as president that he’s now set a new goal of 200 million vaccine doses by the end of his first 100 days in office. His original goal of 100 million doses last week on Day 58. Biden also promoted his administration’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan and answered question on a range of topics, including the migrant surge at the southern border. The president said a migrant influx happens every year at the border and claimed that many of the current problems were prompted by the failures of the previous administration.

GEORGIA GOVERNOR SIGNS VOTING LEGISLATION… Georgia Governor Brian Kemp yesterday signed into law a sweeping overhaul of state elections. New legislation includes new restrictions on voting by mail and gives the legislature greater control over how elections are run. The Republican-sponsored law requires a photo ID in order to vote absentee by mail, after more than 1.3 million Georgia voters used that option during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also cuts the time people have to request an absentee ballot and limits where ballot drop boxes can be placed and when they can be accessed. Democrats and voting rights groups say the law will disproportionately disenfranchise voters of color.

SEVERE WEATHER IN SOUTHEAST LEAVS 5 DEAD… A severe weather system descended on Alabama and Mississippi yesterday, with multiple tornadoes touching down with winds of more than 150 miles per hour. Five people died in Alabama and an unknown number of people were injured. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has declared a state of emergency in 46 counties. Storms also brought thunderstorms, hail and heavy rain.

DEATH TOLL FROM TEXAS STORM NEARLY DOUBLES… Updated numbers released yesterday nearly doubled the death toll attributed to last month’s severe winter storm in Texas. The Texas Department of State Health Services said that the number of deaths was actually 111 instead of the 57 reported initially. The number of dead is still expected to rise as an investigation continues. Authorities say the majority of the fatalities were from hypothermia, but lack of access to medical care, traffic accidents carbon monoxide poisoning and fires also contributed.

ENTERTAINMENT
ACTRESS JESSICA WALTER DIES
… Award-winning actress Jessica Walter, whose career spanned six decades, died at her New York City home yesterday of undisclosed causes. She was 80. Walter won an Emmy starring in the 1970s cop series “Amy Prentiss.” She also earned Emmy nods for her work in the series “Trapper John M.D.” and “Streets of San Francisco.” More recently, her portrayal of Lucille Bluth in “Arrested Development” earned her an Emmy nomination and two SAG Award nods. Walter also voiced Malory Archer on FXX’s animated series “Archer.”

BO BURNHAM LANDS ‘LAKERS’ ROLE… Actor Bo Burnham has signed on to portray NBA legend Larry Bird in HBO’s upcoming series about the Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s. The series will follow the professional and personal lives of players, coaches and executives from a team that won multiple NBA championships. The untitled series is based on the Jeff Pearlman book “Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s.” The cast already includes John C. Reilly, Sally Field and Adrien Brody.

SPORTS
NBA SCOREBOARD

Portland 125 – MIAMI 122… The Trail Blazers survived a wild finish to top the Heat. Damian Lillard made three free throws with 1 second remaining and finished with 22 points. CJ McCollum scored a game-high 35 points.

NEW YORK 106 – Washington 102… The Knicks came up big in the fourth quarter to rally past the Wizards. Alec Burks scored 15 of his 27 points in the final period. RJ Barrett added 24 points.

L.A. Clippers 98 – SAN ANTONIO 85… The short-handed Clippers pulled past the Spurs in the second half. Reggie Jackson led the way with 28 points. Paul George had 24 points and 13 rebounds.

Philadelphia 109 – L.A. LAKERS 101… Danny Green knocked down eight 3-pointers on his way to 28 points in leading the 76ers past the Lakers. Ben Simmons dished off 12 assists.

SACRAMENTO 141 – Golden State 119… De’Aaron Fox poured in a career-high 44 points as the Kings rolled past the Warriors. Richaun Holmes powered his way to 25 points and 11 boards. Tyrese Haliburton added 21 points.

TODAY’S NBA SCHEDULE
Brooklyn is at Detroit…
Toronto hosts Phoenix…
Boston is at Milwaukee…
Charlotte hosts Miami…
Portland is at Orlando…
New Orleans hosts Denver…
Indiana is at Dallas
Utah hosts Memphis…
Atlanta is at Golden State…
the L.A. Lakers host Cleveland

NHL SCOREBOARD
N.Y. Islanders 4 – BOSTON 3 (OT)… The Islanders came from two goals down to upend the Bruins. Anthony Beauvillier netted the winning goal 21 seconds into overtime and had an assist. Goalie Semyon Varlamov stopped 32 shots.

N.Y. Rangers 8 – PHILADELPHIA 3… Mika Zibanejad scored three goals and assisted on three others in the Rangers’ dismantling of the Flyers. Adam Fox racked up five assists. Ryan Strome had a goal and three assists.

WASHINGTON 4 – New Jersey 3… Evgeny Kuznetsov found the net twice to lead the Capitals past the Devils. Alex Ovechkin had a goal and an assist. Daniel Sprong set up two goals.

Carolina 4 – COLUMBUS 3 (OT)… Sebastian Aho scored 1:26 into overtime to send the Hurricanes past the Blue Jackets. Alex Nedelijkovic stopped 33 shots at goal. Martin Necas had a goal and an assist.

Toronto 3 – OTTAWA 2 (OT)… Justin Holl’s goal at 4:42 of overtime lifted the Maple Leafs over the Senators. Ilya Mikheyev and Jason Spezza scored in regulation.

PITTSBURGH 4 – Buffalo 0… Goalie Casey DeSmith stopped all 36 shots in the shutout and the Penguins extended the Sabres winless streak to 16 straight games. Jared McCann scored a pair of power-play goals.

CHICAGO 3 – Florida 0… Goalie Kevin Lankinen made 41 stops in his second career shutout and the Blackhawks skated past the Panthers. Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist.

NASHVILLE 7 – Detroit 1… Rocco Grimaldi matched a franchise record with four goals in leading the Predators past the Red Wings. Erik Haula set up two goals.

MINNESOTA 2 – St. Louis 0… Goalie Cam Talbot made 37 saves n his second shutout of the season and the Wild topped the Blues for their 11th straight home win. Marcus Johnsson and Kirill Kaprizov netted second-period goals.

DALLAS 4 – Tampa Bay 3… The Stars fought their way past the Lightning after spotting them a two-goal lead. Roope Hintz scored a go-ahead goal with 1:21 remaining. Joe Pavelski and Jason Robertson scored 1:04 apart during a three-goal second period.

COLORADO 5 – Vegas 1… Cale Makar, Gabriel Landeskog and J.T. Compher all had a goal and an assist during a four-goal second period that carried the Avalanche past the Golden Knights. Philipp Grubauer made 19 saves at goal.

TODAY’S NHL SCHEDULE
New Jersey is at Washington…
St. Louis hosts Anaheim…
Winnipeg is at Calgary…
Arizona hosts San Jose

MLB SPRING TRAINING SCORES (opening day is April 1)…
L.A. Dodgers 5, CHI. CUBS 2…
SAN DIEGO 11, Texas 10…
SAN FRANCISCO 2, Milwaukee 2 (tie)…
ATLANTA 5, Tampa Bay 2…
KANSAS CITY 10, Arizona 1…
CHI. WHITE SOX 9, Cincinnati 4…
OAKLAND 8, Seattle 5…
COLORADO 6, L.A. Angels 5…
Minnesota 7, BOSTON 4…
PHILADELPHIA 13, N.Y. Yankees 12…
BALTIMORE 10, Pittsburgh 9…
HOUSTON 3, St. Louis 0…
MIAMI 7, Washington 3…
TORONTO 3, Detroit 3 (tie)

SATURDAY’S NCAA MEN’S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE (Sweet 16)…
MIDWEST REGION
(8) Loyola Chicago vs. (12) Oregon State…
(2) Houston vs. (11) Syracuse

SOUTH REGION
(1) Baylor vs. (5) Villanova…
(3) Arkansas vs. (15) Oral Roberts

SUNDAY’S NCAA MEN’S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE (Sweet 16)
WEST REGION

(1) Gonzaga vs. (5) Creighton…
(6) USC vs. (7) Oregon

EAST REGION
(1) Michigan vs. (4) Florida State…
(2) Alabama vs. (11) UCLA

SATURDAY’S NCAA WOMEN’S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE (regional semifinals)…
RIVER WALK REGION
(1) Connecticut vs. (5) Iowa…
(2) Baylor vs. (6) Michigan

MERCADO REGION
(1) North Carolina State vs. (4) Indiana…
(2) Texas A&M vs. (3) Arizona

SUNDAY’S NCAA WOMEN’S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE (regional semifinals)…
HEMISFAIR REGION
(1) South Carolina vs. (5) Georgia Tech…
(2) Maryland vs. (6) Texas

ALAMO REGION
(1) Stanford vs. (5) Missouri State…
(2) Louisville vs. (6) Oregon