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  • A Florida police sergeant is accused of filing fraudulent insurance claims on his boat after it sank, authorities said. Shane Gadoury, of the Tampa Police Department, was arrested Thursday and charged with filing a false and fraudulent insurance claim in nearby Pasco County, the Tampa Bay Times reported. Gadoury, 45, is a 15-year veteran of the Tampa police force and was recognized as the department’s Officer of the Month in February 2019 for his work with the sex crimes unit, the newspaper reported. Gadoury was placed on administrative duty as police department officials launch an internal investigation, WFTS reported. “I’m disappointed Shane has placed himself in this position,” Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan said in a statement. According to a Pasco County Sheriff’s Office arrest report, the incident occurred in November 2019. While Gadoury lives in Pasco County, he kept his boat docked to the north at a friend’s place in Hernando County, the Times reported. According to the arrest report, the friend called Gadoury on Nov. 18 and told him the boat was “sitting low in the water.” The next day, Gadoury’s friend said the boat had capsized. On Nov. 19, he called the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office at 6:12 p.m. and asked for deputies to check on his boat, the Times reported. Seven minutes later, Gadoury allegedly called a Progressive Insurance phone line and had the insurance policy on his boat reinstated, the newspaper reported. On Nov. 20, Gadoury called Progressive and filed a claim for the loss of his boat, according to the arrest report. In a Nov. 25, telephone interview that was recorded, Gadoury told insurers, the boat was “completely fine” and was not damaged when he bought the policy, the Times reported. According to the arrest report, Gadoury insured the boat “while knowingly and intentionally providing false statements regarding the boat’s condition,” the arrest report said, and after a Hernando deputy confirmed it sank.
  • Pop singer Janet Jackson knows a thing or two about dance moves. Jackson was so impressed with the Talladega College Marching Band during its performance at the Krewe of Zulu 2020 parade Tuesday at Mardi Gras, she gave them some love Friday on Instagram. “I LOVE IT! Y’all are STEPPIN!” Jackson wrote about the 352-member marching band, which gave a spirited performance of “Velvet Rose” during the parade in New Orleans.
  • The death toll attributed to the 2019 novel coronavirus, dubbed COVID-19, continues to rise, with tens of thousands of people sickened and thousands of others killed by the virus, mostly in China. LIVE UPDATES CONTINUE BELOW French Health Officials: ‘We are preparing for an epidemic’ Update 6:47 p.m. EST Feb. 29: France confirmed 19 additional cases of coronavirus late Friday, The Washington Post reported. That brings the total in the European country to 57, and health officials cautioned an epidemic was now imminent. “We are preparing for an epidemic,” French Health Minister Olivier Véran said. He added that “we are now moving to stage two. The virus is circulating in our country and we must stop its spread.” On Friday, France’s Le Monde newspaper, citing airport security officials, said one airport worker who lives in the Val d’Oise region tested positive for the virus, the Post said. Officials in Washington state announce two new coronavirus cases. Update 11:20 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Washington state health officials announced two new coronavirus cases Friday night, a woman who had recently traveled to South Korea and a high school student with no known exposure to the disease whose school will be closed and sanitized. Neither people were seriously ill, authorities said. The high school student attends Jackson High School in Everett, Washington, said Dr. Chris Spitters of the Snohomish County Health District. The student had not traveled recently, and authorities were unsure how that person contracted the disease. The other case in Washington was a woman in in King County in her 50s who had recently traveled to South Korea, authorities said. She is also currently quarantined at home. Report: Presumptive 3rd Case confirmed in patient with no travel history linked to virus Update 9:30 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Oregon Governor Kate Brown has confirmed what is believed to be the first case of coronavirus in Oregon. The patient, who lives in Washington County, had no contact with anyone with the virus and has not traveled. “The case was not a person under monitoring or a person under investigation. The individual had neither a history of travel to a country where the virus was circulating, nor is believed to have had a close contact with another confirmed case — the two most common sources of exposure,” the Oregon Health Authority said in a statement. The Lake Oswego School District sent a robocall to parents saying that Forest Hills Elementary will be closed until Wednesday so it can be deep-cleaned by maintenance workers. Initial testing done in Oregon came back positive. Officials are referring to the case as “presumptive” until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms the results. Report: 2nd Case confirmed in patient with no travel history linked to virus Update 4:20 p.m. EST Feb. 28: A 65-year-old resident of Santa Clara County is the second case of community transmission of coronavirus. The patient has no known travel history to areas hit by the outbreak. The second case, reported by The Washington Post, said that there was no known connection between the latest patient and anyone else diagnosed with the virus. Stocks sink again on Wall Street Update 4:20 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Stocks sank again after another wild day, extending a rout that left Wall Street with its worst week since October 2008. The market clawed back much of its intraday losses in the last 15 minutes of trading. Bond prices soared as investors sought safety, pushing yields to record lows. The stock swoon is being driven by fear that the coronavirus outbreak will derail the global economy. Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 357 points, or 1.4%, to 25,409. The S&P 500 lost 24 points, or 0.8%, to 2,954. The benchmark index has lost 13% since hitting a record high 10 days ago. The Nasdaq rose 1 point to 8,567. Number of positive cases climbs in Italy, US Update 1:40 p.m. EST Feb. 28:Italian Civil Protection Agency officials said there are 821 cases of coronavirus. Of that number, 412 of the people have shown no symptoms and are in isolation at their homes, CNN reported. The agency also announced 21 people have died. They were in their 70s and 80s with other illnesses, according to CNN. As for the United States, there are now 62 confirmed cases, the CDC said in a press briefing. Forty-four came from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, three are repatriated from China and the remaining 15 are US-specific cases, CNN reported. WHO: 20+ vaccines in development Update 11:21 a.m. EST Feb. 28: The World health organization has announced that there are more than 20 vaccines in development and treatments for coronavirus. They are in clinical trials and officials hope to see results in a few weeks, CNN reported. The WHO also said that they consider the spread and risk of COVID-19 is at a high level, but have yet to declare it a pandemic. Most cases are being contributed to known contact or clusters and that the virus does not seem to be spreading freely, according to CNN. But the bigger threat than the virus itself is the fear the outbreak is creating, The Washington Post reported. Mexico has first cases Update 10:20 a.m. EST Feb. 28: Mexico has two cases of COVID-19, the country’s assistant health secretary said, according to ABC News. One case, which is confirmed, is in Mexico City, the other suspected case is in Sinaloa. While the test results haven’t come back in the second yet, officials are treating the patient as if it was positive, ABC News reported. Both cases are reportedly not serious. Meanwhile, the illness is spreading in Singapore, as the country now says there are 98 cases, CNN reported. Stocks open lower to finish week Update 10 a.m. EST Feb. 28: The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down more than 800 points shortly after the opening bell to start the final day of trading this week, CNBC reported. The Dow isn’t the only index to feel the effects of the coronavirus. Both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq both open down. Events canceled, virus spreads to sub-Saharan Africa Update 6:30 a.m. EST Feb 28: South Korea’s number of infected has jumped. Now officials say an additional 571 people have tested positive for Coronavirus, CNN reported. A total of 2,337 cases have been diagnosed, the most outside of mainland China, CNN reported. Events are being canceled as the virus continues to have a hold on most of the world. One of the world’s biggest car shows, the Geneva Motor Show, has been canceled because of coronavirus. More than 600,000 people were supposed to attend the event starting on March 2, CNN reported. The Swiss government has banned any events that have more than 1,000 expected to attend. The ban is in effect until March 15. Tokyo Disneyland has closed because of the virus. The gates will remain closed for two weeks. Both of Tokyo’s Disney parks, Disneyland and DisneySea, are planned to reopen on March 15, but it could be closed longer, NBC News reported. Lithuania now has its first confirmed case. The woman, who has mild symptoms, is in isolation at a hospital and her three family members are being monitored, CNN reported. France has two new infections, bringing its total to 40. Sub-Saharan Africa has had its first case with a person in Nigeria has tested positive. The person, who is an Italian citizen, traveled from Milan to Lagos earlier this week. Nigeria is Africa’s largest populated country with more than 200 million. Officials are trying to determine who came in contact with the person and are taking measures to make sure it doesn’t spread, The New York Times reported. US Navy quarantine Update 12 a.m. EST Feb. 28: The US Navy has ordered the self-quarantine of all ships that have been to countries in the Pacific and to monitor for any symptoms, CNN reported. But as of the order, there were no signs that anyone on the ships has become infected. The ships are to remain at sea for 14 days. The quarantine comes after a planned exercise with South Korea was suspended because of the outbreak, CNN reported.
  • A mother in Kentucky was reunited with her son 55 years after a babysitter took him in 1965. Anna-Mary Barnett told WLKY that she left her 5-year-old son, Jerry Barnett, with a babysitter she did not know well in 1965, and when she returned from work, the woman had taken him. The alleged kidnapper moved to Delaware and then abandoned Jerry. He would later end up in foster care, and was given a new last name with an estimated birth date. Years later, Jerry’s son, Damon Parker, took a DNA test that linked him to a relative in Kentucky. The connection was his newfound cousin, Will Barnett, who was then able to connect Jerry to his birth mother. Anna-Mary Barnett and Jerry were reunited Friday with tearful family members in attendance. Read more about that reunion here.
  • The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at Nevins Farm in Methuen is caring for two horses that were rescued from a home in Ludlow, Massachusetts, on Feb 5. The horses had to be dug out of their stalls because the manure was piled too high for them to exit through the doors. After two hours of digging, they were freed by MSPCA Law Enforcement and Adoption Center workers. As a result of being trapped in the stalls, the horses developed sores on their backs. MSPCA-Angell’s Law Enforcement Department worked with the Hampden County District Attorney’s Office to charge Nancy L. Golec with four counts of felony animal cruelty. Golec is the former owner of the horses and she was arraigned in Palmer District Court on Monday. The horses, a 13-year-old Arabian named Shakira and an 11-year-old quarter horse/Arabian cross named Tia, were surrendered and immediately transported to Nevins Farm. Roger Lauze, the equine rescue training manager at Nevins Farm, said he hasn’t seen such neglect in nearly 40 years of working in horse rescue. “The hooves on these horses were so overgrown and disfigured that it will take years of farrier work for them to reshape—if that’s even possible,” he said. Both horses had overgrown teeth and their hind legs were caked in manure. Their overgrown hooves contributed to imbalances that have had a significant impact on their health. The Nevins Farm team is working to rehabilitate both horses in hopes that they can be placed up for adoption. Anyone interested in adopting Shakira or Tia can email barnstaff@mspca.org. Those who want to contribute to the horses’ medical bills can donate here.
  • An animal rescue group in Colorado is looking to find a forever home for a pair of its latest foster dogs, a bling pug and his seeing-eye Chihuahua. Augie, the pug, and Pepe, the Chihuahua, were brought to the Colorado Pug Rescue together after their owner could no longer care for them because of a terminal illness, KDVR reported. “It was kind of like a package deal. When Augie came, (Pepe) came with him,” Cyndi Trimber, a volunteer with the rescue, told KDVR. “They’ve been taken from the only home they knew, and they’re thrown into another home. They really had to depend on each other to get through it.” Augie has likely been blind for a long time. When he was brought to the rescue, he needed surgery to remove his eyes and 14 teeth. The rescue group is also asking for help to pay the $3,100 veterinary bill. Trimber is watching the two dogs for the time being. 'They sleep together, they eat together,” Trimber told KDVR. “It’s really sweet they depend on each other like that.”