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Coronavirus

NBA Reporter Sekou Smith Dead at 48 From COVID-19 Complications

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NBA Reporter and television analyst Sekou Smith has lost his battle with COVID-19.

What We Know:

  • According to ESPN, Smith was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He went on to attend college at Jackson State in Mississippi, before starting his career as a sports reporter at the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson in 1994.
  • Smith first began working for the NBA as a writer covering the Indiana Pacers for the Indianapolis Star and the Atlanta Hawks for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He joined Turner Sports in 2009.

  • The journalist was loved by basketball fans over his decade-long career on all platforms for Turner Sports, serving as an analyst for NBA TV, a writer for NBA.com, and a Hang Time Podcast host. Most importantly, however, Smith will be remembered for his kindness within a harsh industry, accompanied by an ever-present smile.
  • On Tuesday, the NBA confirmed that Smith passed away from COVID-19 at just 48 years of age. NBA commissioner Adam Silver wrote in a statement saying, “The NBA mourns the passing of Sekou Smith, a beloved member of the NBA family. Sekou was one of the most affable and dedicated reporters in the NBA and a terrific friend to so many across the league. He covered the game for more than two decades, including the past 11 years with Turner Sports, where he showed his full range of skills as an engaging television analyst, podcast host, and writer.

“Sekou’s love of basketball was clear to everyone who knew him and it always shined through in his work. Our heartfelt condolences go to his wife, Heather, and their children, Gabriel, Rielly and Cameron,” he continued.

  • As news spread, an outpouring of messages on social media remembered the icon. NBA player Dwayne Wade tweeted, “I’ve never had anything but positive interactions and conversations with Sekou Smith. Our prayers go out to the Smith family. We lost a good one. Rest In Heaven.”

We send our deepest condolences to all of Smith’s family, friends, and fans.

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Coronavirus

Pro Skateboarder Nyjah Huston Charged With Organizing COVID-19 Superspreader Parties

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Future Olympian and Pro Skateboarder Nyjah Huston are being charged for organizing a party during a national pandemic.

What We Know:

  • Last month, Huston and four others hosted a party that was eventually broken up by police. About 40 guests were in attendance which disobeys the local area’s coronavirus restrictions. The event was interrupted by authorities after a complaint was made. Huston, homeowner Edward Essa, and three others are being charged with “creating a nuisance,” which is a misdemeanor in California. The Fairfax District house in L.A hosted events in violation of coronavirus guidelines late last year as well.
  • 26-year-old Huston is one of the most decorated X Games athletes of all time. A 4-time world skateboarding champion, Huston gained his first skateboarding sponsorship at 7-years-old and entered his first X Games at 11-years-old. Since then, he has won 13 Gold medals in his 16 X Games appearances. Huston currently spends his time training for his Olympics debut this summer. The Olympics will be held in Tokyo, Japan, this year.
  • Blowing off steam from training seems ideal, but doing it during a pandemic can be dangerous. This is also not the first time Huston has been involved in cases of public disturbance. In September 2019, Huston pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of disturbing the peace at a Los Angeles party. After their most recent party, Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered the L.A Department of Water and Power to shut off the electricity to Essa’s home. Neither Huston nor Essa have commented on the issue so far.
  • L.A’s top prosecutor Mike Feuer is cracking down on what appears to be other multiple unrelated public health violations as well. In August, he filed charges against Tiktok stars Bryce Hall and Blake Gray for hosting large scale parties at rented out mega mansions. Feuer believes “this enforcement is particularly important because party houses can produce superspreader events that jeopardize public health.” Feuer asserts that his office holds the hosts of these events accountable for breaking local public health orders.

Despite there being no end in sight for the Covid-19 pandemic, many residents around the country have more or less gone back to a slightly modified version of their former lives. However, many fail to acknowledge that this way of thinking is part of why the shift back to normality has taken so long.

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Community Development Funds Get More Support to Relieve Minority Businesses

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A silver lining reveals itself to minority business owners in a pandemic, as support for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) grows at a steady pace.

What We Know:

  • Michael Miller is one of many minority business owners that didn’t receive any pandemic relief funds under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Miller reached out to a CDFI in particular during the time his Landscape/Snow Plow business was shut down in the middle of March. Unfortunately for Miller, the Opportunity Resource Fund was also having trouble getting federal funds for their clients. The Opportunity Resource Fund is a Michigan-based CDFI that is geared and catered to minority business owners.
  • Ideally, this kind of support would prove to be efficient, but institutions cannot plan for a worldwide pandemic. CDFIs across the country are certified to draw capital and credit from our government’s CDFI fund. This year, the program struggled to meet demands as funding requests were doubled from what the government had originally allocated.
  • Statistics show that the country’s most well off areas got 12 percent more in terms of dollar amount than economically distressed communities. In light of the multitude of revealing statistics like this, the Small Business Administration (SBA) asserts that they’ve made every effort to ensure minority businesses receive funds. The SBA also reports that over 1,000 community advantage lenders were in situations where they could not access funds.
  • It should be noted that CDFIs have to rely on local SBA contacts for any and all updates regarding funds. They never were directly notified about changes to PPP by SBA headquarters. The press director for the SBA, Carol Wilkerson, states, “The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to improving equitable access to federal relief programs, and CDFIs and MDIs [Minority Depository Institutions] will be critical to achieving our goals.”

One year ago, during the pandemic’s infancy, Michael Miller would never believe he’d be receiving phone calls from the Opportunity Resource Fund on additional funding that he’s eligible for. The 3rd round of PPP loans has CDFI executives more confident than they were in the beginning days of the pandemic. It appears that minority business owners are now receiving timely updates and efficient resources for their practices.

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CDC Report: Double-Masking Can Block More than 90 Percent of Viral Particles

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday that wearing a double layer of face masks, specifically a surgical mask under a cloth one, can block about 83 percent of viral particles from an unmasked individual.

What We Know:

  • The new CDC report found that “simulated breathing” experiments, surgical masks alone blocked only 42 percent of the viral particles that are deemed to be the “most important for transmitting SARS-CoV-2.” Wearing just a cloth mask alone also did not protect much, only blocking about 44 percent from an unmasked person.
  • The Food and Drug Administration also says on its website that surgical masks “do not provide complete protection from germs and other contaminants because of the loose fit between the surface of the mask and your face.” They recommend adding a cloth mask over the surgical mask or knotting and tucking the mask to eliminate open gaps.
  • “We know that masks work,” Dr. John Brooks, a medical epidemiologist at the CDC and co-author of the new report, told NBC News. “This is about how to help them work better.” Brooks said the study focused less on the masks’ materials and more on masks’ fit.  “Both of those proved effective in the experimental simulations that we ran,” Brooks said regarding the new suggestions.
  • Additionally, as more people begin to double mask, the amount of protection is significantly increased. According to the report, if two people are both wearing either the knotted and tucked surgical masks or double-masked, exposure to viral particles was cut by more than 95 percent.
  • However, the new CDC recommendations are being questioned by other experts, given that many Americans can barely manage to wear one mask properly. “My concept of double masking is you wear a mask, and I wear a mask,” said Dr. Carlos del Rio, executive associate dean at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. “If we’re both wearing a mask, we will be double masking, and we will be both protected.”

The CDC’s website was updated Wednesday with the latest information on masks.

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