(NEXSTAR) – Kent Taylor, the CEO of the popular restaurant chain Texas Roadhouse, died Thursday by suicide after experiencing “unbearable” COVID-19 symptoms, his family told multiple news outlets.
Texas Roadhouse confirmed the death in a Facebook post, writing, “We will miss you, Kent. Because of you and your dream of Texas Roadhouse, we get to say we [love] our jobs every day.”
Taylor’s family said in a statement to The Hill and CNN that the business executive “took his own life” after “a battle with post-Covid related symptoms, including severe tinnitus,” which is a ringing in the ears.
“Kent battled and fought hard like the former track champion that he was, but the suffering that greatly intensified in recent days became unbearable,” the statement said.
“But in true Kent fashion, he always found a silver lining to help others. Most recently, he committed to fund a clinical study to help members of the military who also suffer with tinnitus.”
From March 2020 through January 2021, Taylor gave up his salary and donated it to assist frontline restaurant workers during the pandemic, WAVE reported.
Texas Roadhouse has over 600 restaurants in 49 states. It’s based in Louisville, Kentucky.
On Thursday, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer tweeted his condolences, saying the city had “lost a much loved and one-of-a-kind citizen.”
“Kent’s kind and generous spirit was his constant driving force whether it was quietly helping a friend or building one of America’s great companies in @texasroadhouse,” Fisher said. “He was a maverick entrepreneur who embodied the values of never giving up and putting others first. My deepest condolences to Kent’s family and many, many friends.”
Texas Roadhouse, which is known for its steak and ribs, opened in 1993.
MIAMI (AP) — Officials are imposing an emergency 8 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew for Miami Beach, effective immediately after hard-partying spring break crowds trashed restaurants, brawled in the streets and gathered by the thousands without masks or social distancing, according to authorities.
At a news conference, officials blamed overwhelming and out-of-control spring break crowds for the curfew, which was taking effect Saturday night in South Beach, one of the nation’s top party spots. Tourists and hotel guests are being told to stay indoors during curfew hours.
It’s unclear how long the curfew will remain in effect, but Interim City Manager Raul Aguila told the Miami Herald that he recommends keeping the rules in place through at least April 12. A countywide midnight curfew was already in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These crowds are in the thousands,” Aguila said. “We’re at capacity.”
No pedestrians or vehicles will be allowed to enter the restricted area after 8 p.m. and all businesses in the vicinity must close, Aguila said, reading from a statement released by the city.
The curfew comes as a prominent bar, the Clevelander South Beach, announced it was temporarily suspending all food and beverage operations until at least March 24 after crowds crammed Ocean Drive, breaking out into street fights. At another restaurant next door, tables and chairs were smashed during a fight, news outlets reported.
Local officials and businesses have struggled to balance courting tourists to boost the economy while doing so safely amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Tourism is the Sunshine State’s No. 1 industry, generating more than $91 billion in 2018, and last year spring break was one of the first big casualties of the pandemic as beaches shut down across Florida when the U.S. went into strict lockdowns. Meanwhile, alarming scenes of college students heedlessly drinking, dancing and getting up close without masks were plastered across social media.
Miami tourism officials say billions of dollars were lost during those three months last year. The city’s tourism arm just spent $5 million on its biggest national advertising campaign in 20 years.
At the same time, local officials banned alcohol from the beach, along with all alcohol sales after 10 p.m. in an effort to curb partying. The city even sent cellphone text messages to tourists warning, “Vacation Responsibly or Be Arrested.”
“Spring break in Miami Beach may be one of the great rites of passage, but only if you plan on following the rules. Otherwise, you might as well just stay home and save yourself the court costs,” the message read.
But local officials have struggled to enforce COVID ordinances. Under Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ pro-business stance, Florida has no statewide mask rules, limits on capacity or other such restrictions.
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The Kern County Public Health Services Department reported 32 new COVID-19 deaths and 58 cases today.
Those numbers bring the county’s totals to 105,499 cases and 1,075 deaths. The department is reporting that 37,735 people have recovered from the virus and 62,648 are presumed recovered. An additional 3,970 people are isolating at home and the state is reporting that 105 are in a hospital.
The department said 345,829 tests have come back negative and 456 are pending.
There have been 63,637 cases among those 18 to 49 years old, according to public health. People between 50 and 64 account for 19,236 cases and there are 12,717 cases in children. There have been 9,840 cases in those 65 and older.
A COVID-19 vaccine schedule has also been added to the department’s website so you can see when you are eligible. You can also find an interactive map of providers that are offering the vaccine.
If you are eligible, you can find the site nearest to you and call that provider to make an appointment.
Residents may contact KCPH’s Call Center at 661-321-3000 anytime Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to have their questions answered about COVID-19.
CHICAGO (AP) — The new president of the Chicago History Museum wants to make the city’s oldest museum interactive and to increase and diversify attendance. CEO Donald Lassere says 80% of those visiting are White in a city that has a majority-minority population. Lassere comes to the Chicago History Museum from the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, where he tripled attendance by shifting the public’s perception of it from a boxing museum to a cultural center. Lassere tells the Chicago Sun-Times that when it was decided to target women, the Ali Center changed the type of temporary exhibits it had and the messaging about the center, and it worked.
**Gov. Mike DeWine talks vaccine eligibility last week in the video above**
(AP) — Despite the clamor to speed up the U.S. vaccination drive against COVID-19 and get the country back to normal, the first three months of the rollout suggest faster is not necessarily better.
A surprising new analysis found that states such as South Carolina, Florida and Missouri that raced ahead of others to offer the vaccine to ever-larger groups of people have vaccinated smaller shares of their population than those that moved more slowly and methodically, such as Hawaii and Connecticut.
The explanation, as experts see it, is that the rapid expansion of eligibility caused a surge in demand too big for some states to handle and led to serious disarray. Vaccine supplies proved insufficient or unpredictable, websites crashed and phone lines became jammed, spreading confusion, frustration and resignation among many people.
“The infrastructure just wasn’t ready. It kind of backfired,” said Dr. Rebecca Wurtz, an infectious disease physician and health data specialist at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health. She added: “In the rush to satisfy everyone, governors satisfied few and frustrated many.”
The findings could contain an important go-slow lesson for the nation’s governors, many of whom have announced dramatic expansions in their rollouts over the past few days after being challenged by President Joe Biden to make all adults eligible for vaccination by May 1.
“If you’re more targeted and more focused, you can do a better job,” said Sema Sgaier, executive director of Surgo Ventures, a nonprofit health-data organization that conducted the analysis in collaboration with The Associated Press. “You can open it up — if you have set up the infrastructure to vaccinate all those people fast.”
Numerous factors stymied state vaccination performance. Conspiracy theories, poor communication and undependable shipments slowed efforts after the first vials of precious vaccine arrived Dec. 14.
But the size of the eligible population was always within the control of state officials, who made widely varying decisions about how many people they invited to get in line when there wasn’t enough vaccine to go around.
When the drive began, most states put health care workers and nursing home residents at the front of the line. In doing so, states were abiding by national recommendations from experts who also suggested doing everything possible to reach everyone in those two groups before moving on to the next categories.
But faced with political pressure and a clamor from the public, governors rushed ahead. Both the outgoing Trump administration and the incoming Biden team urged opening vaccinations to older Americans.
By late January, more than half the states had opened up to older adults — some 75 and above, others 65 and up. That’s when the real problems started.
South Carolina expanded eligibility to people in Steven Kite’s age group Jan. 13. Kite, 71, immediately booked a vaccination at a hospital. But the next day, his appointment was canceled along with thousands of others because of a shortage of vaccine.
“It was frustrating at first,” Kite said. After a week of uncertainty, he rescheduled. He and his wife are now vaccinated. “It ended up working out fine. I know they’ve had other problems. The delivery of the doses has been very unreliable.”
In Missouri, big-city shortages sent vaccine seekers driving hundreds of miles to rural towns. Dr. Elizabeth Bergamini, a pediatrician in suburban St. Louis, drove about 30 people to often out-of-the way vaccination events after the state opened eligibility to those 65 and older Jan. 18 and then expanded further.
“We went from needing to vaccinate several hundred thousand people in the St. Louis area to an additional half-million people, but we still hadn’t vaccinated that first group, so it has been this mad dash,” Bergamini said. “It has just been a whole hot mess.”
“It got a little chaotic,” said Dr. Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. “We created far more demand than there was supply. That stressed the system and that may have left the system less efficient.”
Plescia said the analysis suggests that “a more methodical, measured, judicious, priority-based approach — despite people’s perception — actually can be as efficient, or more efficient, than opening things up and making it available to more people.”
In retrospect, health workers and nursing home residents were the easy groups to vaccinate. Doses could be delivered to them where they lived and worked.
“We knew where they were and we knew who they were,” Wurtz said. As soon as states went beyond those populations, it got harder to find the right people. Nursing home residents live in nursing homes. People 65 and older live everywhere.
West Virginia bucked the trend with both high numbers of eligible residents and high vaccination rates in early March, but the state started slow and built its capacity before expanding eligibility.
Similarly, Alaska maintained a high vaccination rate with a smaller eligible population, then threw shots open to everyone 16 and older March 9. This big increase in eligible adults near the end of the period studied led the AP and Surgo Ventures to omit Alaska from the analysis.
The analysis found that as of March 10, Hawaii had the lowest percentage of its adult population eligible for vaccination, at about 26%. Yet Hawaii had administered 42,614 doses per 100,000 adults, the eighth-highest rate in the country.
Thirty percent of Connecticut’s adult population was eligible as of the same date, and it had administered doses at the fourth-highest rate in the country.
In contrast, Missouri had the largest percentage of its adult population eligible at about 92%. Yet Missouri had dispensed 35,341 doses per 100,000 adults, ranking 41st among the states.
Seven states in the bottom 10 for overall vaccination performance — Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina and Missouri — had larger-than-average shares of their residents eligible for shots.
Among high-performing states, five in the top 10 for high vaccination rates — New Mexico, North Dakota, Connecticut, Wyoming and Hawaii — stuck with more restrictive eligibility. Another two high-performing states from the top 10 — South Dakota and Massachusetts — were about average in how many residents were eligible for vaccine.
“This is a thorough analysis showing a clear association between breadth of eligibility and vaccination rates across states,” said Dr. Mark McClellan, a former head of the Food and Drug Administration who was not involved in the new analysis but reviewed it for AP.
The better-performing states could be getting results by paying closer attention to vaccine supply, thoroughly vaccinating high-risk groups and then opening to additional categories more slowly as they wait for supplies to build, McClellan said.
What happens next will depend on how much states can improve their vaccine delivery systems and whether Americans remain eager for vaccination, even as the threat eases with more people protected and case numbers dropping.
“Have states used this time wisely and fruitfully to lay down the infrastructure needed to open it up to more people?” Sgaier asked.