Sunday Reads

So we’ve reach the point in the year when the question “What are they smoking?” most likely refers to meat on your neighbor’s tailgate grill instead of anything else.

Along those lines, we bring looks today at Covid data, policy for the University System of Georgia, staying safe in stadium crowds, new markets for Georgia farmers, a plea to remember the victims of another “endless war,” and a look at how to grow our future by making play space think space for kids.


Covid cases in Georgia rose another 6.7% this week among people ages 18-22 — that’s the age group that figures most into the decisions made by the Board of Regents for the University System of Georgia. The regents are holding steady on the system’s lax vaccination and mask policy for its campuses, and faculty and staff protests erupted across the state regarding the lack of action on the board’s part. More than 1,000 colleges across the country, including Savannah College of Art and Design, have set combinations of masking, vaccine and testing mandates for students this fall. But the state’s regents are taking their cues from Gov. Brian Kemp who, along with other Republican governors, is now threatening to sue President Joe Biden over a new directive for all federal employees and contractors for vaccination and testing. With this latest declaration, it’s fair to say Covid has officially placed health care and access to it on voting ballots for the next few years as the scales on pandemic’s long tail become evident.

As we note the halfway point of our second year in the restricted time of Covid, check out these 7 charts that summarize the data over these 18 years….er, months. Want to know when the more contagious delta variant took over and our pandemic challenges renewed? These charts are great for showing that story and more.


Speaking of campuses, college football fans descended on stadiums across the state this weekend to cheer among the faithful. While the venues were large and outdoors, the quarters were packed tightly in most places without some distancing restrictions. How safe is it? Georgia Health News found football fans who happen to be health experts to give us their advice.


A new petition, aimed at Georgia’s U.S. senators, seeks help to get recognition for the 30 victims of the Thiokol explosion 50 years ago in Woodbine. The Current reported earlier this year about the legacy of the Camden County disaster and the plant responsible for assembling trip wires for the Army’s use during the Vietnam War. The Thiokol Memorial Project makes the case that victims should receive the Congressional Gold Medal for their dangerous work in support of the war effort. The medal requires sponsorship of two-thirds of the U.S. House of Representatives and at least 67 U.S. Senators. Here’s the link to the petition.


Outside time for all ages has become even more valuable during the pandemic months. We’ve been reminded of the richness planned open spaces can bring to a community. Now researchers have found that simple design enhancements can make public play areas teach us even more. Here are findings about how small changes to familiar objects like park benches can enhance skills for reading and science, technology, engineering and math. This week in Savannah a new draft of a proposed Forsyth Park Master Plan goes on display for additional public input. In a city that prioritizes its public squares and larger parks, this piece will remind us that these play and gathering spaces can evolve thoughtfully with an eye toward the future.


Amid calls for campus mask rule, Georgia regents make no policy change

Students, staff and faculty are encouraged to be vaccinated and wear masks, but neither measure is required. Professors also aren’t allowed to enforce any additional mandates in their classrooms.

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Covid policy protests continue at Georgia universities

It’s the second week of faculty and staff protests demanding action from the University System of Georgia Board of Regents and Gov. Brian Kemp. On Thursday, the board took no action to update its Covid policy and mandate masks or vaccines. Protests are planned at other state campuses.

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Kemp vows to fight Biden’s plan to mandate COVID vaccines, tests for workers

with angry charges of government overreach after President Joe Biden outlined a plan of expansive new federal vaccine requirements to attack the surge of COVID-19.

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18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic – a retrospective in 7 charts

In trying to make sense of these past 18 months, it’s helpful to broadly categorize the U.S. pandemic journey thus far into five phases: Scramble, Learn, Respond, Test and Hope.

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Your Covid game plan: Are stadiums safe?

Six out of the seven public health experts that KHN spoke to from big football states were adamant in their response: No way. Not now.

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The Tide: Thiokol Memorial Project seeks help

Fifty years after an explosion claimed the lives of 30 people at the Thiokol munitions manufacturing plant in Woodbine, a nonprofit is calling on Georgia’s U.S. Congressional representatives to formally honor the lives of those workers. Most killed in the explosion on the morning of Feb. 3, 1971, were poor, Black women who perished while […]

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Thiokol explosion: 50 years later, families seek to be remembered

Those killed and maimed weren’t wearing uniforms like the thousands of Georgians deployed aboard during the war. They were mostly poor, Black women who worked for $1.65 an hour assembling trip flares for the U.S. Army at the Thiokol Chemical Corp. plant in Woodbine.

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How communities turn public space into ‘thinkspace’ where kids practice reading, STEM skills

A park bench can be so much more than just a place to sit and wait. Perhaps it has a puzzle built into it, or weights that allow children to make measurements. Researchers who study the connections between play and development are interested in how reimagining public spaces can infuse playful learning opportunities into children’s time spent outside of school.

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Susan Catron is managing editor for The Current GA. She has more than two decades of experience in Georgia newspapers. Susan served as executive editor of the Savannah Morning News for nearly 15 years,...