Posts tagged with "west virginia"

Ranked Teams Battle on ESPN Networks illustration by Vaughn Lowery use by 360 Magazine

Ranked Teams Battle on ESPN Networks

Nearly a Dozen Ranked Teams Slated for ESPN Networks, West Virginia at No. 4 Oklahoma Featured on ABC’s Saturday Night Football

Key matchups: West Virginia at No. 4 Oklahoma, Rutgers at No. 19 Michigan, Tennessee at No. 11 Florida, No. 25 Kansas State at Oklahoma State, No. 9 Clemson at NC State

Week 4 of college football across ESPN networks sees several ranked teams in action, including four of the top five in this week’s AP Top 25. ABC’s Saturday Night Football Presented by Capital One features West Virginia at No. 4 Oklahoma at 7:30 p.m. ET, with AT&T SkyCast available on ESPN3 and the ESPN App. Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, and Holly Rowe will call the matchup between the host Sooners and the Mountaineers, who look to upset their second straight ranked opponent after knocking off then-No. 15 Virginia Tech last week.

In a rematch from last year’s triple-overtime thriller, Rutgers and No. 19 Michigan, a matchup of undefeated teams, meet at 3:30 p.m. on ABC, as Sean McDonough, Todd Blackledge, and Molly McGrath announce the action from Ann Arbor. Also on ABC Saturday is a noon Big 12 battle between Texas Tech and Texas. Dave Pasch, Dusty Dvoracek, and Tom Luginbill will be on the TV call, with Sean Kelley, Barrett Jones, and Ian Fitzsimmons providing commentary on the ESPN Radio broadcast.

An intriguing SEC showdown on Saturday is Tennessee at No. 11 Florida on ESPN and ESPN Radio, with the visiting Vols looking for their first victory in the Swamp since 2004. Joe Tessitore, Greg McElroy, and Katie George will handle announcing duties on the ESPN telecast at 7 p.m., with Marc Kestecher and Ben Hartsock on ESPN Radio. The matchup will have additional programming on ESPN3 and the ESPN App with SkyCast and the Great Clips Command Center.

ESPN also welcomes another trio of cross-conference clashes to its Saturday slate in No. 9 Clemson at NC State, LSU at Mississippi State, and Arizona at No. 3 Oregon. The all-ACC action, this week’s 4K Game of the Week, is set for 3:30 p.m. on ESPN, with Mark Jones, Robert Griffin III and Quint Kessenich on the call. The SEC contest between the Tigers and the Bulldogs kicks off ESPN’s CFB schedule at noon, with Bob Wischusen, Dan Orlovsky, and Kris Budden life from Starkville. In this week’s Pac-12 After Dark matchup, the third-ranked Ducks take on Arizona at 10:30 p.m. on ESPN, with Dave Flemming, Rod Gilmore, and Stormy Buonantony calling the action from Autzen.

ESPN College Networks – Week 4
A quartet of ranked teams are slated for ESPN’s college networks in Week 4, including No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Georgia, No. 21 North Carolina, and No. 25 Kansas State.

The top-ranked Crimson Tide host Southern Miss at 7:30 p.m. on SEC Network, with the SEC Saturday Night trio of Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers, and Cole Cubelic on the call. Earlier in the afternoon on SECN, the second-ranked Bulldogs venture to Vandy, with Taylor Zarzour, Matt Stinchcomb, and Alyssa Lang calling the matchup in Music City.

On ACC Network, No. 21 North Carolina goes down I-85 to take on Georgia Tech at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The ACC Network Primetime contest features Roy Philpott, Tim Hasselbeck, and Kelsey Riggs announcing the action in Atlanta.

On Big 12 Now on ESPN+, No. 25 Kansas State takes on Oklahoma State in a Big 12 battle. Shawn Kenney, Ryan Leaf, and Shane Sparks are set to call the showdown in Stillwater at 7 p.m.

College Football Original Series on ESPN+

Eli’s Places – Episode 3: “Nick Saban” follows Eli Manning to Tuscaloosa where he spends his “spring break” at Nick Saban’s lake house. Eli talks with the Alabama head coach about The Process, reminisces about Saban’s storied coaching career and tries to hang on as Saban takes him tubing on the lake. Episode 4: “The Only Autograph That Matters” debuts tomorrow, when Eli examines the evolution of recruiting with renowned talent analyst, Tom Lemming. Big brother Peyton also chaperones Eli’s recruiting trip to LSU, where Head Coach Ed Orgeron gives the full-court press to get Eli to become a Tiger.

Our Time: UCF Football – Available to stream now on ESPN+, Episode 2 “Making Moves” follows the Knights’ first win of the season, while UCF Football is buzzing after the school makes a decision that impacts their program’s future. Each episode of Our Time: UCF Football offers an inside look at the start of the Gus Malzahn era in Orlando, taking fans behind the scenes with Malzahn, other Knight coaches and UCF players who are mic’d up for various segments. New episodes debut every Thursday throughout the season.

SMU Football: The Hilltop – “The Team from Denton”, the third episode of SMU Football: The Hilltop, features freshman wide receiver Roderick Daniels, Jr., a Dallas native living out his dream playing for his hometown Mustangs, and takes fans into the locker room during halftime before SMU’s 28-point second-half explosion on their way to a big 35-12 win over North Texas. New episodes of The Hilltop will be available to stream every Thursday during the season.

Additional ESPN Networks – Week 4 Highlights

Wake Forest at Virginia: Friday at 7 p.m., ESPN2

Talent: Mike Morgan, Andre Ware, Paul Carcaterra

South Florida at No. 15 BYU: Saturday at 10:15 p.m., ESPN2

Talent: Beth Mowins, Kirk Morrison, Dawn Davenport

UMass at No. 17 Coastal Carolina: Saturday at 1 p.m., ESPN+

Additional college football updates will be forthcoming, and the schedule is subject to change. Please continue to check @ESPNPR and ESPN Press Room for more information.

The full schedule and on-air talent grid can be found here.

illustration by Maria Soloman for use by 360 magazine

California bans travel to five new states over anti-LGBTQ laws

California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced on Monday that five more states would join California’s state-funded travel restriction list. This is in response to those states having passed discriminatory anti-transgender laws restricting or prohibiting the participation of transgender women and girls in sports consistent with their gender identity. Arkansas, Florida, Montana, North Dakota, and West Virginia join 12 other states on the list.

Bonta explained that the five new states were added due to lawmakers’ recent passage of anti-LGBTQ laws, “When states discriminate against LGBTQ+ Americans, California law requires our office to take action. These new additions to the state-funded travel restrictions list are about exactly that.”

The law that Bonta referenced is known as Assembly Bill 1887, “a law that (1) has the effect of voiding or repealing existing state or local protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression; (2) authorizes or requires discrimination against same-sex couples or their families or on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression; or (3) creates an exemption to antidiscrimination laws in order to permit discrimination against same-sex couples or their families or on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”

The bill prohibits the state from requiring employees to travel to a state subject to AB 1887’s travel prohibition and prohibits California from approving a request for state-funded or state-sponsored travel to such a state. It does not apply to personal travel.

It’s unfortunate that some politicians would rather demonize trans youth than focus on solving real issues like tackling gun violence, beating back this pandemic and rebuilding our economy,” Bonta said at a news conference Monday.

While the California attorney general’s office said the ban applies to all state-funded travel, there are exceptions; for example, if travel is required to maintain grant funding or licensure, or for auditing and revenue collection purposes.

The state attorney general’s office told CNN in a statement that “it’s ultimately up to each California agency, including universities, to make determinations about the steps they’ll need to take to comply with AB 1887.”

California has previously received pushback for its travel bans.

Last year, Oklahoma’s Republican governor, Kevin Stitt, issued an executive order that prohibits state employees from “all non-essential travel” to California after being added to the Golden State’s restricted travel list.

On Monday, news of California’s expanded travel ban was celebrated by LGBTQ rights advocates, including the Human Rights Campaign, one of the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy groups.

“California’s announcement today shows that states passing anti-transgender laws will face real world consequences for their cruel actions. The legislatures that have enacted these laws are choosing to trade away economic opportunities in order to target transgender young people based with no pretext,” Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David told CNN in a statement.

The majority of bills would affect transgender youth, a group that researchers and medical professionals warn is already susceptible to high rates of suicide and depression.

“Make no mistake: We’re in the midst of an unprecedented wave of bigotry and discrimination in this country – and the state of California is not going to support it,” Bonta said in a statement.

Safe Driving illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

MADD × Auto Tech

MADD Identifies 241 Examples of Auto Tech to Help Prevent Drunk Driving

New Analysis Follows Introduction of Two Federal Bills That Would Lead to Mandate for Drunk Driving Prevention Tech on All New Vehicles

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) released an updated analysis of vehicle technologies that are available now – or in various stages of development – that could be installed in vehicles to prevent drunk driving and other impairments and save thousands of lives a year.

The analysis was first submitted Jan. 11 to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in response to the agency’s Request for Information on drunk driving prevention technology. MADD also submitted the RFI to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee as part of the record for an April 27 auto safety hearing.

MADD’s update to the RFI submission follows the introduction of two bipartisan bills, one in the House and one in the Senate, that require NHTSA to issue a rulemaking that will lead to drunk driving prevention technology as standard equipment on all new vehicles. Representatives Debbie Dingell (D-Michigan), David McKinley (R-WV) and Kathleen Rice (D-NY) introduced the Honoring Abbas Family Legacy to Terminate Drunk Driving (HALT) Act on March 23. The bill is named in memory of a Northville, Michigan family, Issam and Rima Abbas and their children Ali, Isabella, and Giselle, who were killed by a wrong-way drunk driver while driving home from a Florida vacation in January 2019. On April 22, Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.) introduced the Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone (RIDE) Act of 2021.

“The HALT and RIDE Acts represent the beginning of the end of drunk driving forever,” said MADD National President Alex Otte. “The many technologies MADD identified in the original RFI, and now our new RFI update, illustrate the very real potential for equipping all cars with technology that will stop an impaired driver. When you see what’s available now, the question becomes, ‘Why isn’t this already on cars and stopping these tragedies that kill 10,000 people and injure 300,000 every year?’ MADD believes automakers can solve this, and we challenge them to move quickly to start saving lives.”

More than 9,400 drunk driving deaths could be prevented each year when drunk driving prevention technology is made standard on every new car, according to a study released last year by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

MADD’s updated RFI submission describes 241 examples of three different major categories of technologies that can reduce or eliminate drunk and impaired driving. Some of these technologies are referred to as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).

  • 77 examples of driving performance monitoring systems can detect signs of impaired driving. These technologies monitor the vehicle movement with systems like lane departure warning and attention assist. These same technologies can be used to monitor erratic driving by a drunk or impaired driver. Although not currently programmed to detect drunk and impaired driving, these systems are standard equipment on almost all new cars today.
  • 122 examples of driver monitoring systems can monitor the driver’s head and eyes, typically using a camera or other sensors. These systems can determine the state of the driver and detect if a driver is drunk or otherwise impaired. 
  • 42 examples of passive alcohol detection technologies use touch or breath-based technology to detect if a driver is drunk. Examples are in two Patents filed 12 years ago by DENSO, one of the largest tier one auto suppliers in the world. The two Patents are for breath or touch-based systems and are detailed in MADD’s RFI:

An example of using both driving performance monitoring and driver monitoring was announced by Volvo in March 2019. Volvo said it would equip new cars with cameras and sensors to enable the car “to intervene if a clearly intoxicated or distracted driver does not respond to warning signals and is risking an accident involving serious injury or death.”

“All of these technologies could be beneficial not only to prevent drunk driving, but to detect other dangerous behaviors that lead to crashes such as drugged driving, drowsy driving, distracted driving and medical emergencies,” Otte said. “That is why it we believe it is urgent that Congress pass the HALT and RIDE Acts, to get these lifesaving technologies in all new cars as soon as possible.”

For more information on the HALT and RIDE Acts, visit the MADD website.

About Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD has helped to save more than 400,000 lives, reduce drunk driving deaths by more than 50 percent and promote designating a non-drinking driver. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Drivingcalls for law enforcement support, ignition interlocks for all offenders and advanced vehicle technology. MADD has provided supportive services to nearly one million drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP. Visit MADD or call 1-877-ASK-MADD.

LGBTQ illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

LGBTQ State Legislative Attacks

UPDATE: With Unprecedented 18 Anti-LGBTQ Bills Enacted, 2021 Officially Becomes Worst Year in Recent History for LGBTQ State Legislative Attacks 

With Anti-LGBTQ Momentum Sweeping through State Legislatures, 2021 Surpasses 2015 as Worst Year In Recent History 

Detailed Breakdown of 2021 Anti-LGBTQ State Legislation Below

With an unprecedented number of anti-LGBTQ measures sweeping through state legislatures across the country, 2021 has officially surpassed 2015 as the worst year for anti-LGBTQ legislation in recent history, according to updated tracking and analysis by the Human Rights Campaign (detailed breakdown below). The previous record — set six years ago in 2015, when 15 anti-LGBTQ bills were enacted into law — was broken on Friday, as the sixteenth and seventeenth anti-LGBTQ bills were enacted into law as well as the eighteenth anti-LGBTQ bill today. In addition, 7 anti-LGBTQ bills are on governors’ desks awaiting signature or veto and several more are continuing to move through state legislatures across the country.

“The rights of LGBTQ people — and especially transgender people — across the country are being systematically threatened and undermined by national anti-LGBTQ groups coordinating with anti-equality lawmakers to wage an unprecedented war on the LGBTQ community. In fact, some of these bills are similar to or even worse than anti-LGBTQ legislation that has been rejected in previous years, including the Indiana religious refusal bill of 2015 and North Carolina’s infamous HB2. Bills that have become law so far this year range from making it a felony to provide transgender youth with life saving health care to banning transgender girls from participating in sports to erasing LGBTQ people from school curriculum to granting broad licenses to discriminate against LGBTQ people. This crisis cannot be ignored and necessitates concrete action from all those with the ability to speak out,” said Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David. “These bills are not only harmful and discriminatory, but also represent a failure in our democracy and the commitment elected officials make to protect and serve their constituents. Now is not the time for reluctance or passivity, it is time to take urgent action to protect the basic rights and humanity of LGBTQ people in America.”

The wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation — a coordinated push led by national anti-LGBTQ groups, not local lawmakers – is part of a broader strategy to score political points with the conservative base by curtailing the rights of LGBTQ people and specifically trans youth — under the guise of responding to nonexistent and baseless threats. These bills represent a cruel effort to further stigmatize and discriminate against LGBTQ people across the country, specifically trans youth who simply want to live as their true selves and grow into who they are.

Breakdown of Anti-LGBTQ Legislation Sweeping State Legislatures in 2021

  • So far in 2021, eighteen anti-LGBTQ bills have been enacted into law surpassing 2015 as the worst year for anti-LGBTQ legislation in recent history (when 15 anti-LGBTQ bills were enacted into law), including:
    • 7 anti-trans sports bans in Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Montana, and West Virginia
    • 4 religious refusal bills, including in Arkansas, Montana, and South Dakota
    • 2 anti-LGBTQ education bills in Tennessee and Montana
    • 1 anti-trans medical care ban bill in Arkansas
    • 1 sham “hate crimes” bill in Arkansas
    • 1 anti-all comers bill in North Dakota
    • 1 anti-trans birth certificate bill in Montana
    • 1 discriminatory diversity training ban bill in Oklahoma
  • With eighteen bills now signed into law, states have enacted more anti-LGBTQ laws this year than in the last three years combined (anti-LGBTQ bills enacted in previous years include 2 bills in 2018, 7 bills in 2019, and 4 bills in 2020).
  • More than 250 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures in 2021, including:
    • At least 35 bills that would prohibit transgender youth from being able to access best-practice, age-appropriate, gender-affirming medical care
    • At least 69 bills that would prohibit transgender youth (and in some cases college students) from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity
    • At least 43 bills that would allow people to assert a religious belief as justification for failing to abide by the law or provide services to people of whom they disapprove
    • At least 15 bills that would prohibit transgender people from having access to restrooms or locker rooms consistent with their gender identity

Wide range of business and advocacy groups oppose anti-trans legislation

  • More than 90 major U.S. corporations have stood up and spoke out to oppose anti-transgender legislation being proposed in states across the country. New companies like Facebook, Pfizer, Altria, Peloton, and Dell join companies like Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, AT&T, AirBnB, Google, Hilton, IBM, IKEA, Microsoft, Nike, Paypal, Uber, and Verizon in objecting to these bills. Four of the largest U.S. food companies also condemned “dangerous, discriminatory legislation that serves as an attack on LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender and nonbinary people,” and the Walton Family Foundation issued a statement expressing “alarm” at the trend of anti-transgender legislation that has recently become law in Arkansas.
  • The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1000 child welfare organizations released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ people, and transgender children in particular.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organizations working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

LGBTQ illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Ten Anti-LGBTQ Bills Sit on Governors’ Desks

Ten Anti-LGBTQ Bills Sit on Governors’ Desks, Poised to Undermine Rights Across the Country

As a fast and furious effort led by national groups aiming to stymie LGBTQ progress made on the national level and in many states continues to intensify, ten anti-LGBTQ bills currently sit on the desks of governors across the country waiting to be signed into law. These bills are only the latest examples of a concerted effort in state legislatures to undermine LGBTQ rights that has already resulted in the passage of several anti-LGBTQ pieces of legislation in recent months.

“State legislators across the country were elected to represent all of us, not just some of us and yet they continue to send hateful and discriminatory anti-LGBTQ bills to the desks of governors to sign into law, threatening the well-being, health, and fundamental rights of thousands of LGBTQ Americans in states from coast to coast,” said Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David. “From anti-transgender sports bans to erasing LGBTQ people from school curriculum, these bills are driven by fear and would have a significant negative impact on the lives of so many LGBTQ people. The governors of these states are responsible for protecting their citizens, and they must refuse to sign these baseless and unconscionable cruel bills into law.  Otherwise, they should and will be held accountable for the consequences.”

These bills include blatant attacks on transgender youth, including prohibiting transgender kids from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity, allow student organizations to discriminate against LGBTQ students under the guise of free speech, erase LGBTQ people from history books, and add substantial hurdles for transgender people who want to change the gender on their birth certificate by first requiring gender-affirming surgery.

Below is a roundup of the ten anti-LGBTQ bills currently sitting on the desks of governors:

  • ALABAMA
    • House Bill 391 – ANTI-TRANS SPORTS BILL
      • The Alabama Senate and House passed House Bill 391, an anti-transgender bill that would ban transgender youth from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity. The bill now heads to Governor Kay Ivey’s desk for signature or veto.
  • ARIZONA
    • Senate Bill 1456 – SEX ED PARENTAL NOTIFICATION BILL
      • The Arizona State House passed Senate Bill 1456 – discriminatory legislation that affects not only sexual education material, but all learning materials in the classroom and makes it harder for LGBTQ kids to see themselves in school curriculum.
      • The bill, which would make Arizona’s sex education laws some of the strictest in the nation when it comes to teaching about LGBTQ issues, now heads to Governor Doug Ducey’s desk for consideration.
  • ARKANSAS
    • Senate Bill 389 – SEX ED PARENTAL NOTIFICATON BILL
      • The Arkansas Senate passed Senate Bill 389, a bill which would require a school district to notify parents before “providing a sexual orientation curriculum or gender identity curriculum” in any kind of instruction, including but not limited to education on sexuality.
      • In addition to making it harder for students kids to access sex education, it could also preclude discussion about sexuality more broadly, including in literature and history classes, for example. A district could be forced to notify parents, provide curriculum materials, and allow parents to opt students out of learning about important modern and historical events, from the A.I.D.S. epidemic to the Stonewall riots to even Supreme Court jurisprudence. This bill disproportionately disadvantages LGBTQ youth who may not have supportive families and put children at greater risk of health consequences.
  • KANSAS
    • Kansas Senate Bill 55 – ANTI-TRANS SPORTS BILL
      • The Kansas Senate passed Senate Bill 55, an anti-transgender bill that would ban transgender girls from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity.
  • MONTANA
    • Senate Bill 280    – BIRTH CERTIFICATE BILL
      • The Montana Senate passed SB 280, a bill that adds substantial hurdles for transgender people who want to change the gender on their birth certificate by first requiring gender-affirming surgery.
    • Senate Bill 215 – RELIGIOUS REFUSAL BILL
      • The Montana House passed SB 215, an expansive religious refusal bill that could grant a license to discriminate against Montanans and visitors, including LGBTQ people, people of faith, and women, across a wide range of goods and services in the state.
  • NORTH DAKOTA
    • House Bill 1503 – ANTI-ALL COMERS BILL
      • Many public colleges and universities have long had “all-comers” policies that require student organizations receiving financial and other support from the institution not to discriminate against students based on race, sex, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.
      • These policies allow all members of the student body to participate in student organizations and prevent such organizations from discriminating against students with state funding. The Supreme Court upheld these all-comers policies as constitutional in the Christian Legal Society v. Martinez decision in 2010.
      • North Dakota HB 1503, in part, undermines inclusive “all-comers” policies at North Dakota public colleges and universities, by allowing student organizations to discriminate against LGBTQ students under the guise of free speech.
    • House Bill 1298 – ANTI-TRANS SPORTS BILL
      • The North Dakota Senate passed House Bill 1298, an anti-transgender bill that would ban transgender girls from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity.
  • TENNESSEE
    • Senate Bill 1229 – SEX ED PARENTAL NOTIFICATION
      • The Tennessee Senate passed Senate Bill 1229, a bill which would require a school district to notify parents before “providing a sexual orientation curriculum or gender identity curriculum” in any kind of instruction, including but not limited to education on sexuality.
      • In addition to making it harder for students kids to access sex education, it could also preclude discussion about sexuality more broadly, including in literature and history classes, for example. A district could be forced to notify parents, provide curriculum materials, and allow parents to opt students out of learning about important modern and historical events, from the A.I.D.S. epidemic to the Stonewall riots to even Supreme Court jurisprudence.
      • SB 389 also disproportionately disadvantages LGBTQ youth who may not have supportive families and puts children at greater risk of health consequences.
  • WEST VIRGINIA
    • House Bill 3293 – ANTI-TRANS SPORTS BILL
      • The West Virginia Senate passed House Bill 3293, an anti-transgender bill that would ban transgender girls from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity.

Wide range of businesses and advocacy groups oppose anti-trans legislation

  • More than 65 major U.S. corporations have stood up and spoken out to oppose anti-transgender legislation being proposed in states across the country. New companies like Facebook, Pfizer, Altria, Peloton, and Dell join companies like Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, AT&T, AirBnB, Google, Hilton, IBM, IKEA, Microsoft, Nike, Paypal, Uber, and Verizon in objecting to these bills.
  • The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1000 child welfare organizations released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ people, and transgender children in particular.

The NCAA opposes efforts to limit participation of transgender students

The NCAA Board of Governors released a public letter making clear that it “firmly and unequivocally supports the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to compete in college sports.” Moreover, “When determining where championships are held, NCAA policy directs that only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected.” This puts the 30 states with discriminatory anti-transgender legislation under consideration on notice that their actions will have repercussions for their states.

A fight driven by national anti-LGBTQ groups, not local legislators or public concern

These bills come from the same forces that drove previous anti-equality fights by pushing copycat bills across state houses — dangerous anti-LGBTQ organizations like the Heritage Foundation, Alliance Defending Freedom (designated by Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group), and Eagle Forum among others.

  • For example, Montana’s HB 112, the first anti-transgender sports bill to be passed through a legislative chamber in any state, was worked on by the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Trans equality is popular: Anti-transgender legislation is a low priority, even among Trump voters

A new PBS/NPR/Marist poll states that 67% of Americans, including 66% of Republicans, oppose the anti-transgender sports ban legislation proliferating across 30 states.

In a 10-swing-state poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group last fall:

  • At least 60% of Trump voters across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should be able to live freely and openly.
  • At least 87% of respondents across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should have equal access to medical care, with many states breaking 90% support
  • When respondents were asked about how they prioritized the importance of banning transgender people from participating in sports as compared to other policy issues, the issue came in dead last, with between 1% and 3% prioritizing the issue.

Another more recent poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group revealed that, with respect to transgender youth participation in sports, the public’s strong inclination is on the side of fairness and equality for transgender student athletes. 73% of voters agree that “sports are important in young people’s lives. Young transgender people should be allowed opportunities to participate in a way that is safe and comfortable for them.”

States that pass anti-transgender legislation suffer economic, legal, reputational harm

Analyses conducted in the aftermath of previous divisive anti-transgender bills across the country, like the bathroom bills introduced in Texas and North Carolina and an anti-transgender sports ban in Idaho, show that there would be or has been devastating fallout.

  • The Idaho anti-transgender sports bill that passed was swiftly suspended by a federal district court. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) came out against the Idaho bill and others like it and subsequently moved planned tournament games out of Idaho.
  • The Associated Press projected that the North Carolina bathroom bill could have cost the state $3.76 billion over 10 years.
  • During a fight over an anti-transgender bathroom bill in 2017, the Texas Association of Business estimated $8.5 billion in economic losses, risking 185,000 jobs in the process due to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and professional sporting event cancellations, a ban on taxpayer funded travel to those states, cancellation of movie productions, and businesses moving projects out of state.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organizations working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

LGBTQ+ illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Corporate Leaders × Anti-Lgbtq Bills

Corporate leaders: Companies should work against anti-LGBTQ bills in Texas, other states 

Chris Adamo, vice president of Federal and Industry Affairs at Danone North America; Brad Figel, vice president of Public Affairs North America at Mars, Inc.; Molly Fogarty senior vice president of Corporate & Government Affairs at Nestlé USA; and Tom Langan, North America director of Sustainable Business & External Affairs for Unilever:

  • “As four of the largest food companies and major employers in the United States, we view the growing number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills under consideration in state legislatures, including those that target transgender people and particularly children, with increasing alarm.
  • “These bills are bad for families, for communities, for businesses and for the U.S. economy, all still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic…This motivates us to continue using our influence to advocate for policies that establish full equality at the federal and state levels, including swift Senate passage of the Equality Act.
  • “Discriminatory legislation — in threat and in practice — directly and negatively impacts the ability of our businesses to compete. It undermines our ability to recruit our future workforces and retain existing talent in states like Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Texas and others enacting and considering draconian legislation.”
  • “Such policies are out of step with the views of most Americans. The overwhelming majority of Americans support full equality for LGBTQ+ people, according to recent data released by the Human Rights Campaign.”
  • Companies have a responsibility to actively work with federal and state legislators to advocate against bills that harm our employees and our customers, and to advance fairness and equality for all Americans”

We condemn dangerous, discriminatory legislation that serves as an attack on LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender and non-binary people.

As four of the largest food companies and major employers in the United States, we view the growing number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills under consideration in state legislatures, including those that target transgender people and particularly children, with increasing alarm.

These bills are bad for families, for communities, for businesses and for the U.S. economy, all still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic.

We condemn dangerous, discriminatory legislation that serves as an attack on LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender and nonbinary people. Such laws not only threaten hard-won progress to bring greater awareness, support and equality to transgender Americans, they also threaten the livelihoods and safety of their communities and their families.

This motivates us to continue using our influence to advocate for policies that establish full equality at the federal and state levels, including swift Senate passage of the Equality Act.

Member companies of the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance, including Danone North America, Mars, Inc., Nestlé USA and Unilever United States, urge the entire U.S. business community to do the same.

This issue is not political. Providing the same basic protections to LGBTQ+ people as are provided to protected groups under federal law is the right thing to do for businesses and for society.

We employ tens of thousands of people in communities across the country. We embrace diversity in our workforces. Inclusive principles already guide the way we work, run our successful businesses, and engage with our employees and communities.

Discriminatory legislation — in threat and in practice — directly and negatively impacts the ability of our businesses to compete. It undermines our ability to recruit our future workforces and retain existing talent in states like Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Texas and others enacting and considering draconian legislation.

In Kentucky, for example, proposed legislation would allow health care providers to turn away LGBTQ+ and other patients, and bar trans youth from K-12 public school and university sports. Similarly, in Texas, legislators have proposed bills that would ban transgender girls from youth sports.

When states legislate this way, not only do they create an environment where not everyone feels safe and welcomed, they endorse it. Such environments deny transgender and nonbinary people the opportunity to fully contribute to the economies in places where they work and live. This harms them and their families and hinders businesses and local communities.

We applaud Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s decision this week to veto legislation that would have banned gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth. Unfortunately, the Arkansas legislature overrode the governor’s veto Tuesday.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signs a bill in March 2021 to ban transgender athletes from competing on girls or women’s sports teams.

Such policies are out of step with the views of most Americans. The overwhelming majority of Americans support full equality for LGBTQ+ people, according to recent data released by the Human Rights Campaign.

Legislation hurts states’ economies

The ramifications of these discriminatory bills on states’ economic and financial health are also well-documented. A UCLA study found that the social, economic and health effects of stigma and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people negatively impact Texas’ economy by tens of millions of dollars each year. Another study by the Texas Association of Business estimated that discriminatory legislation could result in an estimated economic loss to Texas’ gross domestic product ranging from $964 million to $8.5 billion.

The impacts of such bills are not limited to the states where they are passed. Researchers that studied 39 countries found a clear link between LGBTQ+ discriminatory practices and legislation and the corresponding loss of potential economic output. For LGBTQ+ youth, the study found that discrimination harms their learning, resulting in increased dropout rates and, consequently, reduced participation in the workforce.

We acknowledge that words are powerful. But for companies to engage new generations of workers and consumers, while fostering an environment good for people and for business, we must move beyond only public statements of support for LGBTQ+ issues.

Companies should protect employees

Companies have a responsibility to actively work with federal and state legislators to advocate against bills that harm our employees and our customers, and to advance fairness and equality for all Americans.

We four SFPA companies are committed to stepping up and taking action, including through our advocacy on this important issue. Doing so will support an environment in which all people can grow, thrive, compete and succeed as their true, authentic selves.

Chris Adamo is vice president of Federal and Industry Affairs at Danone North America. Brad Figel is vice president of Public Affairs North America at Mars, Inc. Molly Fogarty is senior vice president of Corporate & Government Affairs at Nestlé USA. Tom Langan is North America director of Sustainable Business & External Affairs for Unilever.

Corporate leaders: Companies should work against anti-LGBTQ bills in Texas, other states

Transgender Sports illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

NCAA LGBTQ OneTeam

NCAA LGBTQ OneTeam facilitators publish open letter condemning anti-transgender legislation

The NCAA LGBTQ OneTeam, a group of NCAA- trained facilitators at colleges across the country published an open letter condemning the actions taken by 28 states across the country to introduce, pass, and sign anti-transgender legislation. 2021 has been a record year for anti-transgender legislation, with 93 anti-transgender bills introduced across the country, the vast majority of which attempt to ban transgender women and girls’ participation in girls’ sports or ban transgender youth from accessing medically necessary, gender-affirming health care.

Laws have been signed banning transgender women and girls’ participation in girls’ sports in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas, with Executive Orders being signed to the same effect in South Dakota.  Legislators across the country have failed to provide examples of issues in their states to attempt to justify these attacks, laying bare the reality that these are attacks on transgender youth that are fueled by discrimination and not supported by fact.  Collegiate and professional sports organizations have had trans-inclusive policies for years without incident, and there is no reason any state would need a ban on transgender participation in sports.

The NCAA LGBTQ OneTeam open letter reads as follows:

An Open Letter in Support of Transgender Student-Athletes

We, the undersigned, are facilitators of the National Collegiate Athletics Association’s (NCAA)Division III LGBTQ OneTeam Program, which is a national training program that fosters LGBTQ+ inclusion in NCAA Division III athletics, and members of the NCAA’s Division III LGBTQ Working Group. Given the recent rise in legislation that is focused on excluding transgender people from athletics across the country, we have decided to use our collective voice to condemn such actions. We call on elected officials across the country to immediately halt legislation that is aimed at excluding transgender youth and young adults from equal and equitable participation in sport.

In our role with the NCAA’s LGBTQ OneTeam Program, we train coaches, athletics administrators, and student-athletes across the whole of Division III athletics. This program is aimed at helping to understand the importance of LGBTQ inclusion in college athletics, while also identifying strategies and best practices for institutions and conferences to better ensure that all student-athletes–regardless of their sexuality, gender identity, and/or gender expression–can participate in an inclusive and safe athletic climate. We cannot, in good conscience, fail to speak out at this critical moment.

In the past several weeks, actions–which are aimed at excluding transgender youth and young adults from equal and equitable participation in sport–have been taken by elected officials inseveral states, including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia. At the time of this writing, the Governors ofArkansas,Idaho,Mississippi, andTennessee have already signed such dangerous legislation into law. 

Legislation aimed at categorically banning transgender people–and particularly transgender girls and women–from sport is inherently discriminatory. Such legislation is often “informed” by hate and misinformation rather than science, and it is most certainly “informed” byfear instead of fact. Conversely, trans-inclusive policies, such as those established by theNCAA and theInternational Olympic Committee (IOC), are better informed by the current scientific evidence, and this evidence shows that transgender women do not have an inherent competitive advantage over cisgender women.

Furthermore, discriminatory legislation that is aimed at excluding transgender people from sport has a number ofserious consequences for transgender students. Such legislation dehumanizes transgender students, refuses them the opportunity to participate equally and equitably in athletics, undermines their support in educational settings, damages their mental health, and ultimately harms these students, while also contributing to an exclusionary athletic environment and a more hostile school climate for all students.

We immediately call for 1) an end to such legislation in all states and 2) a repeal of such laws in Arkansas, Idaho, Mississippi, and Tennessee. And finally, we also encourage our legislators to better consider theNCAA best practices and importance of an inclusive athletic environment for all student-athletes.

Sincerely,

The Undersigned

Timothy R. Bussey, Ph.D.

Pronouns: they/them

Associate Director, Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion | Kenyon College

Kayla Hayes, M.Ed.

Pronouns: she/her

Associate Head Women’s Basketball Coach Dept. of Athletics | Denison University

Kyrstin Krist, Ph.D.

Pronouns: she/her

Associate Professor of Kinesiology and Faculty Athletic Representative | Methodist University

Melynda Link, M.B.A.

Pronouns: she/her

Director of Athletic Facilities & Game Day Operations, Dept. of Athletics | Haverford College

Kathleen M. Murray

Pronouns: she/her

President, Office of the President | Whitman College

Jess Duff

Pronouns: she/her

Assistant Athletic Director for Student Athlete Services & Internal Operations Dept. of Athletics | Bates College

Jessica Weiss

Pronouns: she/her

Head Field Hockey Coach, Dept. of Athletics | Randolph-Macon College

Jennifer Dubow

Pronouns: she/her

Executive Director | Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC)

Maura Johnston

Pronouns: she/her

Head Field Hockey Coach, Dept. of Athletics | Fairleigh Dickinson University

Scott McGuiness

Pronouns: no pronouns

Director of Athletics, Dept. of Athletics | Washington & Jefferson College

Danielle Lynch, M.S.Ed.

Pronouns: she/her

Senior Woman Administrator and Head Track and Field/Cross Country Coach Athletic Department | Penn State University – Harrisburg

Melissa Walton

Pronouns: she/her

Senior Associate Athletic Director Athletic Department | Albion College

Amy Reed

Pronouns: she/her

Senior Woman Administrator and Head Women’s Basketball Coach Dept. of Athletics | Rochester Institute of Technology

Donna M. Ledwin

Pronouns: she/her

Commissioner | Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC)

Donnesha Blake, Ph.D.

Pronouns: she/her

Director of Diversity and Inclusion Dept. of Student Affairs | Alma College

Tim Wilson

Pronouns: he/him

Assistant Track and Field Coach, Dept. of Athletics | Stevens Institute of Technology

Anne Kietzman

Pronouns: she/her

Head Field Hockey Coach, Dept. of Athletics | Washington College

Ashley Crossway, D.A.T., A.T.C.

Pronouns: she/her

Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Clinical Education Dept. of Kinesiology | SUNY Cortland

Melissa Brooks

Pronouns: she/her

Head Women’s Basketball Coach Athletic Department | Fairleigh Dickinson University – Florham 

Tiffany Thompson

Pronouns: she/her

Associate Director of Gender and Sexuality Initiatives, Intercultural Center | Swarthmore College

Kirsten Clark

Pronouns: she/her

Associate Athletic Director, Dept. of Athletics and Recreation | Clark University

Kate Levin

Pronouns: she/her

Assistant Sports Information Director Dept. of Athletics | Ramapo College

Cori Collinsworth

Pronouns: she/her

Head Softball Coach, Athletic Department | Hanover College

Bethany Dannelly

Pronouns: she/her

Associate Director of Athletics, Dept. of Physical Education and Athletics | Washington and Lee University

Jennifer Childress-White, M.Ed.

Pronouns: she/her

Assistant Athletic Director and University Title IX Coordinator Dept. of Athletics | Pacific Lutheran University

Elise Fitzsimmons, M.S., A.T.C.

Pronouns: she/her

Assistant Athletic Trainer, Dept. of Athletics| SUNY Oswego 

Amanda Walker

Pronouns: she/her

Athletic Program Coordinator Athletics Department | Lake Forest College

Danielle O’Leary

Pronouns: she/her

Senior Woman Administrator and Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach Athletics Department | Mount Aloysius College

Crystal Lanning

Pronouns: she/her

Director of Athletics, Dept. of Athletics | University of Wisconsin – River Falls

Neil Virtue

Pronouns: he/him

Assistant Director of Athletics and Head Swimming Coach | Dept. of Athletics, P.E., and Recreation Mills College

Jose’ Rodriguez, M.Ed.

Pronouns: he/him

Chief Diversity Officer, Office of University Diversity Initiatives | Cabrini University

Karen Moberg, M.Ed., L.A.T., A.T.C.

Pronouns: she/her

Associate Athletic Trainer, Athletic Department | Macalester College

Yishka Chin

Pronouns: she/her

Coordinator for Tutoring Services and Trailblazer Program Director, Dept. of Student Success | Notre Dame of Maryland University

Renee Bostic

Pronouns: she/her

Director of Athletics & Wellness Dept. of Athletics & Wellness | Notre Dame of Maryland University

Megan Cullinane

Pronouns: she/her

Assistant Athletic Director and Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Athletics Dept. of Athletics and Recreation | University of Massachusetts – Boston

Maureen Harty

Pronouns: she/her

Executive Director | College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW)

Stephanie Dutton

Pronouns: she/her

Commissioner | North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC)

Sharia Marcus-Carter

Pronouns: she/her

Senior Woman Administrator and Director of Compliance, Athletics Department | Brooklyn College

Marijuana illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Honest Marijuana Company

In the old days of illegal weed, the price you paid for your weekend toke depended mostly on who was selling it to you. These were behind-the-scenes transactions, with no recourse for a deal gone bad and no way to price compare with a competitor. You paid the price asked or you went without.

Now, as state legalization grows and the chatter about federal legalization becomes less talk and more reality, the game has changed forever for the buyer. So, it’s a good time to be clear on what you’re paying for before you go to your local cannabis boutique, or even the corner store, if you should be so lucky to have marijuana available for sale there!

First off, price comparing starts with quantity

If you want to look at what your weed is going to cost you, and even compare different strains, it’s best to pick a quantity. From state to state, the price of quantity X will vary, based on factors we’ll discuss later, but for now, it’s important to understand what quantities you can order in. 

The most common quantities you can buy cannabis in are a gram, eighth of an ounce, quarter of an ounce, half an ounce, and a full ounce. Notice how the common quantities mix metric and Imperial measuring units? A gram is 1/1000th of a kilogram and an ounce is 1/16th of a pound. Typically, you’ll find that dispensaries will use ounces for larger quantities, and grams for a smaller purchase.

What does a gram look like? It’s about the size of a bottle cap, which gives you a visual point of reference to figure out what you’re getting for what price. The average joint is about 0.7 grams of weed so a gram will give you about 1.5 joints. Here are the other measurements, to give you a rough idea of what you’re getting:

  • An eighth of an ounce (which is roughly 3.5 grams) will give you just about 5 joints.
  • A quarter of an ounce (7 grams) will net about 10 joints.
  • A half an ounce (14 grams) will give you about 20 joints.
  • A full ounce (28 grams) is just about equal to 40 joints.

From Alaska to West Virginia, that price per ounce of medium quality weed can run anywhere from $6 to $12.

Quality is the next factor

If you look at average prices of weed across the country, they’re pretty stable and typically refer to medium quality cannabis. When you want to compare a gram of cannabis from one shop to another, a major increase in price could be because of the quality of the product. 

For example, an organic and locally indoor grown variety might be more expensive than a mass produced, imported one. You really do have to compare apples to apples, if you want to be sure you’re getting the right picture.

Other factors that will influence the price of weed

Your state’s legal stance toward cannabis

If you live in a state where cannabis isn’t legal in any form, obviously you’re still operating in the old ways of quiet deals made with people who don’t really care to negotiate the prices they feel like charging. After all, they risk going to jail for providing you with your ‘chill’ so there’s a premium attached to that.

In the states that have legalized recreational marijuana (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington), you’ll find competition higher and prices that reflect that.

The remaining twenty-one states that have legalized medical marijuana require a doctor’s note to obtain it, which isn’t a particularly challenging hurdle in most places, so this doesn’t affect the prices too significantly.

One place where cannabis is particularly expensive? Washington D.C. Despite legalization of medical and recreational use, they didn’t legalize the purchase of cannabis. That little detail is reflected in prices that are almost twice the national average for legalized / decriminalized states!

The physical geography of where you live

Cannabis isn’t an overly fussy plant to cultivate but it does prefer warm, stable temperatures, averaging in the daytime around 80 degrees. Places that have daytime temperatures that run hotter than 88 degrees or colder than 60 degrees have a harder time growing—it’s a slower process—and can end up with plants that have lower THC content and therefore lower overall quality.

So, if you live in Alaska or New Hampshire, for example, your weed has most likely been brought in from elsewhere, which means added costs in transportation and labor, to package and ship.

How your weed is grown

How your preferred brand is grown makes a difference on quality. 

  • Are they grown outdoors where light, water, soil, and ambient daytime temperatures are all free for the asking and therefore don’t add to the cost of production? 
  • Are they grown indoors, where special electrical lighting, watering and feed systems, and climate control are all required and add to the cost of production? 

Outdoor grown weed can be lower quality in that there aren’t many ways to control Mother Nature. Being able to control elements through technology can yield a higher quality product. From pest and humidity control to very specific watering schedules, as well as the use of light waves to maximize growth and intensity, indoor growers have the keys to control quality in ways that outdoor growers really cannot.

Factor in also whether the grower is using organic production methods, as this will definitely yield a higher quality product. No toxins from pesticides means a cleaner experience for you.

Where you buy your marijuana

Are you buying from a boutique dispensary or a corner store? Are you buying from a chain of cannabis stores or from a one-man dealer? Which way you go will affect the price you pay.

Dispensaries have overhead and staff to pay, which adds to the cost. However, they also have guidelines to follow in terms of packaging and labeling, as well as a vested interest in pleasing their customer, so they’re a good bet. You will know exactly what you’re getting, including the sourcing, THC content, whether it’s organic or not and so on. If you buy from a dealer, who is claiming to sell high quality products, you have no guarantees whatsoever that they are telling the truth.

Competitors drive the price down

Supply and demand is an easy equation. If there are several dispensaries with similar offerings in your area, the price per gram will be lower than in an area with no competition for your one dispensary. There is less supply for potentially similar demand, which can easily affect the price. The key as a consumer is to know your average pricing so you can tell whether or not you are getting a good deal.

Taxation and legalization go hand in hand

The states that have legalized marijuana have also clued in that it is an important revenue source. Sales tax, if the state has one, is applied to cannabis too. The rate can be higher for weed than for other products, as it is in Colorado. They have a state sales tax rate of 2.9% but the rate for weed? 10%.

In addition to sales tax, legal sellers are faced with taxes in production, purchasing, packing and transportation, costs that are typically downloaded to the end consumer.

The timing of your purchases

Time of year can impact the price of weed. Like most cultivated crops, the largest amounts are harvested in and around the month of September. Result? The supply is up, and prices should go down a little. 

As legalization continues to expand, state to state and even federally, the pricing will become more standard and easier to predict. At that point, the quality of the weed will be the big differentiator and as the end consumer, that’s not a small factor to consider. Buy with care and enjoy yourself!

Bio:

Anthony Franciosi, also known as Ant, is an honest to goodness farmer whose fingers are as green as the organic cannabis he grows. He is the proud founder of Honest Marijuana– an all-natural, completely organic marijuana growery in Colorado.

Traveling by Kaelen Felix for 360 Magazine

Texas Winter Storm Coverage

By: Emily Bunn

As Texas faces its worst winter storm, and largest insurance claim, in the state’s history, many Texans are banning together to stay warm and conserve resources. The frigid winter storm that has been ravaging the state has led to burst pipes, power failures, and flooded homes. Many residents have been left without any clean drinking water, heat, or power. Some have taken to sleeping in blanket covered tents, while others are attempting to heat their homes by boiling their limited water supply.

In towns such as Lubbock, Texas, frozen water pipes have lead to leaks, water damage, a lack of heat, and ice accumulations, especially in school campuses. Across the state, k-12 schools and universities–such as Texas Tech University, located in Lubbock–have been affected. Chief Operations Officer Rick Rodriguez said to KCBD: “We’re never going to put our kids in a school where their safety is compromised. That’s our highest priority. We would never bring kids back to school if we did not think it was safe.”

Tragically, more than 50 Texans have died from hypothermia, house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. One of the grimmest situations arriving from this storm include the death of Loan Le, a grandmother, and her three young grandchildren in a house fire after attempting to stay warm during the night. While power had been restored to most people across the region after last Saturday, approximately 69,000 in Texas, 61,000 in Mississippi, and thousands more in the surrounding states of Louisiana, Kentucky, and West Virginia still remain without any power.

While the spirit of community aid rippled across Texas–through programs like The Houston Food Bank, the Austin Disaster Relief Network, the San Antonio Food Bank, Feeding Texas, Front Steps, and several community efforts, such as at the local H-E-B grocery stores–the state’s Senator, Ted Cruz, selfishly took a flight to Cancun, abandoning many freezing Texans and his pet poodle.

As Cruz lounged at the Ritz-Carlton, Texans faced depleted water supplies, empty grocery store shelves, and freezing temperatures. Stepping in to take some responsibility, President Joe Biden declared an emergency declaration in Texas.  This emergency notice will allow for Texas residents and business owners to apply for temporary housing grants, home repair loans, and other emergency aid. While the declaration doesn’t cover the entire state, individual assistance is being provided to 77 of 254 counties, including those surrounding Texas’ most populous areas, including Houston, Dallas, and Austin. Texas Governor Greg Abbot discussed Biden’s declaration in a statement:

“I thank President Biden for his assistance as we respond to impacts of winter weather across our state, while this partial approval is an important first step, Texas will continue to work with our federal partners to ensure all eligible Texans have access to the relief they need.”

As the Texas National Guard has been deployed across the state to deliver water and conduct welfare checks and relief efforts, such as the $3.2 million dollars help raised by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Rep. Sylvia Garcia, and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Texas continues to battle the hazardous consequences of this unforeseen winter weather.

COVID Mask Care illustration by Mina Tocalini

Study Shows State-By-State Reopenings Exacerbate COVID

As Summer vacations end in Europe and in the United States and students return to college campuses and primary schools worldwide, fresh waves of COVID infections are causing renewed restrictions after loosening in the Spring and Summer. However, a new study shows that this uncoordinated opening, closing, and reopening of states and counties, is making the COVID problem worse in the U.S., according to the authors of a new study released today. Using methods from their previous work, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, MIT PhD student Michael Zhao and Sinan Aral, Director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and author of the upcoming book The Hype Machine, have released the first comprehensive study of the impact of state-by-state re-openings on the COVID pandemic, spanning January to July, 2020 with surprising and troubling results.

After studying combined data on the mobility of over 22 million mobile devices, daily data on state-level closure and reopening policies and social media connections among 220 million Facebook users, the team found that reimposing local social distancing or shelter-in-place orders after reopening may be far less effective than policy makers would hope.

In fact, such closures may actually be counterproductive as they encourage those in locked down regions to flee to reopened regions, potentially causing new hotspots to emerge. This analysis demonstrates that travel spillovers are not only systematic and predictable, but also large and meaningful.

Arizona was one of the first states to open businesses, but in late June, bars, gyms, movie theaters, and water parks were shut down for 30 days as the state became one of the virus’s new hot spots. One month after dine-in restaurants, bars, and gyms were allowed to reopen in California, Governor Gavin Newsom made the country’s most aggressive reopening reversal amid his state’s spike in COVID-19 cases, shuttering all indoor dining, bars, zoos, and museums in the state. Similar reversals have occurred in Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, West Virginia among other states.

“We’ve seen a patchwork of flip-flopping state policies across the country,” says Sinan Aral, the senior author of the study. “The problem is that, when they are uncoordinated, state re-openings and even closures create massive travel spillovers that are spreading the virus across state borders. If we continue to pursue ad hoc policies across state and regional borders, we’re going to have a difficult time controlling this virus, reopening our economy or even sending our kids back to school.”

The new study showed that while closures directly reduced mobility by 5-6%, re-openings returned mobility to pre-pandemic levels. Once all of a state’s peer states (in travel or social media influence) locked down, focal county mobility in that state dropped by an additional 15-20% but increased by 19-32% once peer states reopened. “State policies have effects far beyond their borders,” says Aral. “We desperately need coordination if we are to control this virus.”

When an origin county was subject to a statewide shelter-in-place order, travel to counties yet to impose lockdowns increased by 52-65%. If the origin had reopened, but the destination was still closed, travel to destination counties was suppressed by 9-17% for nearby counties and 21-27% for distant counties. But when a destination reopened while an origin was still closed, people from the closed origins flooded into the destination by 11-12% from nearby counties and 24% from distant counties. “People flee closures and flood into newly reopened states,” says Aral, “we can’t avoid the travel spillovers caused by our ad hoc policies.”

These findings highlight the urgent need to coordinate COVID-19 reopenings across regions and the risks created by ad hoc local shutdowns and reopenings. In addition, the results highlight the importance of taking spillover effects seriously when formulating national policy and for national and local policies to coordinate across regions where spillovers are strong.