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Coronavirus Live Updates: Death Toll Reaches 56 as U.S. Finds Third Case

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Public health officials in Toronto announced on Saturday night that test results showed that Canada has its first “presumptive” case of coronavirus.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, said the patient is a man in his 50s who returned to Toronto on Jan. 22 after visiting Wuhan, China. The following day he was admitted to a major Toronto hospital with a respiratory infection. He is now in stable condition.

Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said that while they “are convinced” they have a positive case, a government laboratory in Winnipeg, Manitoba, will run additional tests for confirmation, which is why health officials are still calling it presumptive.

On Saturday, Portugal’s health ministry said in a statement that doctors were monitoring and treating a patient in the Curry Cabral hospital in Lisbon, who is believed to have contracted the virus during a recent stay in Wuhan. The patient, whose identity was not disclosed, was described as being in a stable condition. The Portuguese ministry is awaiting the results of hospital tests to confirm the virus.

In a sign of the growing global dread about the disease, Taiwan said on Sunday that it would bar all visitors from China’s Hubei Province to the self-governing island, where a handful of cases have been confirmed. Taiwan’s government also said it would suspend applications from Chinese citizens for travel permits except in special cases, such as disease control or humanitarian medical assistance.

In a sign that the central government was ramping up its response to contain the outbreak, China’s National Health Commission said it would send 1,230 medical experts to Wuhan to assist in treatment.

The army has sent another 450 people, from three military medical universities, to Wuhan, according to a state media article that the health commission shared on its website. And the air force sent military transport aircraft to the cities of Shanghai, Xi’an and Chongqing to pick up emergency airlifts of medical team members and medical supplies for Wuhan.

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$15,700 street assessment? Stillwater to explore protections for low-income residents and others  – Twin Cities

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Last week, residents who live on North Fourth Street packed Stillwater City Hall to protest street and water assessments as high as $15,700.

On Tuesday night, the Stillwater City Council voted 5-0 to direct staff to research options for deferral of payment of street assessments for low-income residents and active-duty military reservists. The council also agreed to have sample appraisals done for some affected properties before awarding the project.

“Right now, when we do these assessments, I think everyone in the city thinks they are one year away from getting a $15,000 bill,” said Mayor Ted Kozlowski.

Nine property owners on Fourth Street are facing assessments of almost $15,700 for both street and water service as part of the estimated $2.5 million project. Another 28 property owners are facing street assessments of $12,600.

Kozlowski proposed that staff research several measures to make the policy more equitable, including extending payment time. The assessments currently are paid over 10 years at an interest rate of 4 percent.

“I personally would like to stretch it out to 15 years,” said City Council member Mike Polehna.

Fourth Street hasn’t been repaired since the 1970s, and Polehna said the reconstruction work is long overdue. “They have pushed all of this on us from 50 years ago, and now we’re trying to make up for it,” he said.

Public Works Director Shawn Sanders said the city is “getting caught up” on its street projects. In 1997, when he first started working for Stillwater, the city did 0.2 miles of street repairs, he said. This year, they are doing 3 miles.

“For me, knowing that we are at the end of large reconstruction projects makes me feel better about street-assessment policy,” Kozlowski said. “It didn’t seem sustainable to me for everybody to keep getting hit with these massive assessments. There’s light at the end of the tunnel.”

In Stillwater, most property owners pay 70 percent of the cost of street reconstruction, and the city pays 30 percent. Because Fourth Street is a state-aid road, property owners will pay 50 percent of the cost of street reconstruction, and the city and state will pay 50 percent, Sanders said.

State law requires that any assessment cannot exceed the benefit to the property owner from a project.

Bruce and Darcy Bell-Myers, who live on North Fourth Street, said they are dubious that any “benefit” they might receive from the street project would outweigh the $12,611 they are being assessed.

In Stillwater, homeowners are charged per unit; commercial and industrial properties by linear footage. The Bell-Myerses said their modest house on a single lot is facing the same assessment as the mansion on two lots next door — a property formerly owned by actress Jessica Lange.

Bruce Bell-Myers said city officials should not go out for bids on the project before having appraisals done.

“Residents of Fourth Street are paying the price for the city not getting out in front of it and not getting them done sooner,” he said.

He said he hoped city officials would also explore other possible deferrals, including for residents who are facing serious illnesses. “For illness or loss of a job seems humane to me,” he said.

Resident Eliza Severson, a nonprofit fundraiser, said she was shocked to learn she and her husband could be facing a $15,700 assessment for street and water repairs. “I didn’t realize it was possible that this could happen, that we could get hit with a big bill like this, and that I wouldn’t be able to plan for it,” she said. “I’ve always thought (street assessments) were with the taxes and paid over time.”

Severson said she hopes city officials will reconsider the street-assessment policy.

“It makes me question who is sitting at the table, creating a plan that divides neighbors, gives the largest financial breaks to the wealthiest and threatens the financial security and stability of many who can’t afford such a large payment, even drawn out over 10 years,” she said. “It’s another $165 a month for us, and that would be hard.”

She said she loves her “mixed-income” neighborhood, but worries about about the future of the city if the current policy is allowed to remain in place.

“I feel like it’s just going to become less and less mixed-income,” she said. “Last week, it seemed I was the only person of color in that whole room. We’re talking about equity. If we want people to feel welcome, that they can build a life here, it needs to change.”

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Elizabeth Warren presses Bloomberg over NDAs, reports of comments to female employees at Democratic debate

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CHARLESTON, S.C. — Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren is slamming rival Mike Bloomberg over a news report that he told a female employee to “kill it” when she became pregnant. The former New York City mayor denies it.

Invoking her own personal story of discrimination on the job after she became pregnant, Warren escalated her push to get Bloomberg to release all former employees from nondisclosure agreements they signed while working at his media company. The two Democratic presidential hopefuls are tangling on Tuesday night at a pivotal debate in South Carolina, which holds its primary on Saturday.

Bloomberg is denying that he made the incendiary remark to a former female employee: “Never said it, period.”

He is also apologizing for off-color remarks he is reported to have made to female employees, but he has declined to address Warren’s call that he issue a more blanket release from nondisclosure agreements than the three women he has recently released.

Copyright © 2020 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.



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Local financial aid expert shares tips on bringing down the cost of college

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DENVER (KDVR) –  How to pay for college is a stressful topic for many parents. Kelly O’Connor, who founded College Money Academy, has three tips:

  1. Disregard the university’s cost of attendance. You will likely not pay that price and should not make decisions about where to apply based on that number.
  2. Sometimes the first financial aid offer made by the school is not the best offer they can make. You can research the average financial aid award at each university at collegedata.com.
  3. Families can appeal the financial aid offer and ask the school to reconsider awarding more grant money.

O’Connor says this system doesn’t work for every person or every school, but he says clients see an average of $12,000 in additional grant money when they follow this system.

“It comes down to having options. You don’t just go after one school and hope that it works,” he said. 

O’Connor suggests applying to six to 10 schools, and appealing if you know you are a good fit, and received less than an average award.

So, what do admissions officials say about this advice? University of Denver Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment and Director of Financial Aid John Gudvangen says he agrees in part.  He does not want families to get caught up on the sticker price. 

“If a family is only looking at the sticker price, they don’t actually know what it will cost them,” he said.

Tuition at DU is more than $50,000 a year. But Gudvangen says more than 80 percent of students receive grant aid, and the average award is more than $30,000. 

He suggests families use a school’s net price calculator or quick college cost estimator to get a sense of a financial award.

He says families are welcome to appeal a financial aid offer if there is new information or something needs to be reviewed, but he says DU makes the best offer they can for students from the start. Some grants are awarded for merit, others for need.

“We go out with our best offer,” Gudvangen said. “We’re not trying to make this a difficult process or play a game with people.”

O’Connor is offering a live webinar on his website on Saturday, Feb. 29 at noon.

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