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AAA Gas Price Alert: National Pump Price for Regular Drops to $1.99 per Gallon, Cheapest Average in Four Years – Wisconsin $1.57

The national average for a gallon of regular gasoline dropped below $2 for the first time in four years. Today’s national gas price average is $1.99. AAA expects gas prices to push cheaper, with the national price average hitting $1.75 or less in April.

The decline is due to COVID-19’s chilling effect on the global economy and the crude oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia. Crude has plummeted to $20/bbl – a closing price not seen since 2002. For the last 52 weeks, crude oil (West Texas Intermediate) has averaged $56/bbl with the national pump price average at $2.63.

“AAA expects gas prices to keep dropping as cheap crude combines with the realities of people staying home and less demand for gas,” said Nick Jarmusz, Director of Public Affairs for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “We have been tracking gas prices for the last 20 years and here in Wisconsin the last time it was below $1.50 statewide was in December 2002, in Milwaukee February 2016, in Green Bay May 2003 and Madison in December 2003.”

Across the country, state averages are less than $3/gallon except in Hawaii ($3.36) and California ($3.05). Twenty-nine states have regular gas price averages under $2, with Oklahoma ($1.55) having the cheapest in the country. For state, metro and county gas prices, visit Gasprices.AAA.com.

While demand is diminishing, COVID-19 is not impacting the U.S. gasoline supply. The U.S. has an unusual amount of winter-blend gasoline still available for this time of year. This caused the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to extend the sale of winter-blend past the May 1 deadline to May 20. The agency said they would continue to monitor and may extend the waiver again.

“The EPA’s extension of the winter-blend gasoline waiver will contribute to sustained lower prices, especially as U.S. gasoline demand readings look more like winter-driving season than spring,” added Jarmusz.

AAA forecasts that until crude oil prices and gasoline demand increase, cheaper gas prices are here for the foreseeable future.

Car Care

For those motorists who are not driving, AAA offers these car care tips for longer-than-expected parked vehicles:

  • Battery Boost. If possible, use a Battery Tender or other maintenance-type battery charger to keep the battery at a full state of charge and prevent deterioration. The Battery Tender should remain connected to the stored vehicle.
  • Fuel Stabilizer. If gas is going to sit in the vehicle’s tank for more than a few months, particularly gasoline that contains ethanol, AAA recommends using a treatment designed for fuel stabilization such as STA-BIL®.  Anyone can do this, and it is as simple as fueling up a vehicle. Fill the gas tank to help minimize condensation and drive the car for five to ten miles to ensure that the stabilized fuel circulates throughout the fuel system.
  • Tire Pressure. Add 10 psi of pressure to each tire to help prevent flat spots from forming on the tires. This occurs when the area of the tire touching the ground becomes rigid due to sitting in one position for an extended period. You can also move the vehicle periodically.
  • Windshield Wiper Placement. Prop up the wiper arms so the blades are off the windshield and won’t get stuck to the glass.
  • No Parking Brake. Don’t use the parking brake when storing the vehicle. The brake could become frozen, and the brake pads could rust to the rotors, or brake shoes could distort the drums. With an automatic transmission, simply place the vehicle in park. If the car has a manual transmission, put it in first or reverse gear and use wheel chocks to help hold the vehicle in place.
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COVID-19 tables KFC’s “finger lickin’ good” slogan

It’s pretty obvious that during the COVID-19 pandemic, one needs to keep their fingers out of their mouths. Because of this new cautionary tale against hands-to-mouth contact, KFC has pulled the plug on its famous slogan.

Yep, break out the fork and knife because their stuff is no longer “finger lickin’ good.”

The New York Post reports that the nearly 70-year-old slogan has been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Says a company spokesperson, “It doesn’t feel like the right time to be airing this campaign, so we’ve decided to pause it for now -– but we’re really proud of it and look forward to bringing it back at a later date.”

The decision may have also came about after complaints began pouring in regarding their catchphrase. The U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority fielded 163 complaints due to the slogan, which was first uttered in 1956.

That said, to reduce your chances of contracting COVID-19 you should wash your hands frequently, don’t touch your face, and consider eating your KFC with clean utensils.

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Move over toilet paper, there’s a new hot commodity in town — baby chicks

Toilet paper isn’t the only item that people are hoarding during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Now they are buying up all the baby chicks.

“People are panic-buying chickens like they did toilet paper,” Tom Watkins, the vice president of Murray McMurray Hatchery in Iowa, told The New York Times.

According to the article, it’s normal for chick sales go up during stock market downturns and in presidential election years, but the shortage right now comes from an extreme increase in demand.

Amy Annelle, a 48-year-old musician from Austin, Texas, shared that she purchased a rooster and four hens because “it just seems like having a steady food source is a good idea right now.”

Spider-Man actor Tom Holland had the same thought as well.

“With everything that’s going on the supermarkets are all empty there’s no eggs we have no eggs,” he shared in an Instagram story. “So we thought to solve that problem we would become the source of eggs, so now we are the owners of chickens.”

News Around the World

British cops pull over a driver and find his wife in the trunk

What a royal pane!

In England, where the public is being urged only to make essential trips as part an effort to contain the COVID-19 coronavirus, cops pulled over driver over and found the man’s wife in the car’s trunk.

North West Motorway Police report the guy, who they stopped in Cheshire, was on the back end of a 224-mile round trip to pick up some windows he’d bought on eBay when they made the discovery.

The driver’s explanation: his wife couldn’t fit in the vehicle once he’d collected his purchases, forcing her to move to the trunk.

The man got off with a ticket.

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No joke(s): Google canceling traditional April Fools’ Day gags over COVID sensitivity

While April 1 usually sees Google users the world over wondering if the company is really creating Google Translate for Animals or launching treasure hunts on Google Maps, the fun’s over this year.

Business Insider reports that the search giant is rushing to cancel its plans for April Fools’ Day this year due to COVID-19.

“Under normal circumstances, April Fools’ is a Google tradition and a time to celebrate what makes us an unconventional company,” an email from Google marketing boss Lorraine Twohill reads, according to Business Insider.

“This year, we’re going to take the year off from that tradition out of respect for all those fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Twohill also said, “Our highest goal right now is to be helpful to people, so let’s save the jokes for next April, which will undoubtedly be a whole lot brighter than this one.”

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“Made shoes yesterday, making masks today”: Sneaker company New Balance now churning out protective gear

The American-made company New Balance may have earned itself lots of brand-new customers when this COVID-19 pandemic is over, based on the reaction to a tweet noting it has started making masks for first responders.

“Made shoes yesterday, making masks today” declares the tweet, accompanied by a photo of a sturdy-looking face mask, with what looks like shoelace-inspired straps.

The tweet pointed users to a statement on the company’s website, which explained, “The global COVID-19 health crisis has called on individuals and organizations to bring their expertise and resources to solve new and extraordinary challenges. New Balance has engaged a portion of its skilled and innovative U.S. manufacturing workforce to develop face masks to address the significant demand for these supplies.”

The sneaker company explained they’re producing prototypes at its Lawrence, MA manufacturing facility, and “hope to scale production using our other New England factories soon,” in coordination with local and government officials.

For their part, people applauded the decision, with more than sharing one poster’s sentiment, “Forget Nike — I’m getting all my shoes from these guys.”

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Working from home? Might as well get your home office in order with these tips

With the COVID-19 pandemic relegating millions of workers to their homes to limit the spread of the virus, chances are we haven’t given all that much to out ‘home office,’ until now.

However, leave it to those crafty folks at Etsy to help us get our house in order.

The website’s trend expert Dayna Isom Johnson offers the following tips to making any space feel more professional — even if you’re pecking away on an old card table.

Prepare the essentials — Give yourself the tools you need to have a successful workday, whether it’s a desk organizer, charging station to keep your electronics fully fueled, or whiteboard to jot down ideas.

Add greenery and natural light — Plants and sunlight are known to reduce stress and increase productivity. If you can, choose to create your home office in a room that gets plenty of natural light and has space for a few plants. Nature will always make you feel a little brighter.

Keep track of time — Get yourself a desk clock to remind you how long you’ve been sitting at your desk. It’s important to take breaks throughout the day, and an old-school clock will ensure that you have an easy way to view the time.

Prioritize comfort — Comfort is key to working from home, so make sure to choose a proper chair, or add a cushion to the chair you have, to keep yourself comfortable throughout the day.

Find your light — Proper lighting can increase productivity, so make sure you have a good fixture, whether it’s a desk lamp or a wall sconce, and play with the angles until you get just the right amount of light in your work space.

Utilize wall space — If your work space has a wall nearby, consider adding a peg wall or cork board to add reminders, calendars, or even inspirational messages to keep you motivated.

Reduce stress — Keep calming aromatherapy roller balls, essential oil diffusers, or candles on your desk to help release stress. And don’t forget to take a minute to relax when you need a moment. It’s okay to take self-care breaks!

Johnson also notes that if your home office is in your bedroom — as hers is — you should try to make the office part feel like a totally different room to separate when and where you’re on and off the clock.

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DoorDash will deliver food to NYC students who are dependent on school lunches

While most of us rely on DoorDash for a late-night snack, or when we’re just too lazy to leave the house for grub, the company has become a lifeline for underprivileged people in New York City.

With NYC schools closed, kids who are dependent on the free meals schools provide would have to do without if they can’t get to pre-determined “meal hub” locations. But in a new partnership with the NYC Department of Education, Door Dash will deliver meals to hundreds of “medically fragile” students.

The partnership will serve “students that have compromised immune systems or lack the mobility to access meals at meal hubs,” the company said.

According to a statement, DoorDash will take the meal hub school kitchen locations and recipient addresses, assigning students to schools in order to create the most efficient delivery routes, and each driver will complete anywhere between 10 and 20 drops between 11am and 1pm.

“Each drop consists of two meals: lunch for that day and breakfast for the next day. Additionally, dinner will be added in the near future. This approach helps drivers make deliveries as efficiently and safely as possible,” the company noted.

NYC Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza said, “During this difficult time, I’ve been so grateful to New Yorkers who are coming together to make sure our students are safe, healthy, and can continue to learn. Our partnership with DoorDash is a prime example of these efforts, bringing meals to our students who cannot leave their homes, and meeting a critical need during a crisis.”

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Amid COVID-19 employment downturn, LinkedIn ranks in-demand jobs

While millions are out of work because of lockdowns, shutdowns, and other results from the COVID-19 pandemic, LinkedIn is looking into hiring trends overseas to try to predict what could happen on our shores. The site has also posted a list of the most in-demand positions right now, along with a list of who’s hiring.

By looking at where the pandemic struck first, China, LinkedIn notes that the U.S. could expect to see a hiring downturn, “followed by a slow, but steady rebound as economies return to ‘business as usual.'”

With no further ado, here’s LinkedIn’s list of in-demand jobs, and who’s looking to get Americans back to work:

Store Associate
System Operator
Certified Public Accountant
Healthcare Specialist
Construction Worker
Warehouse Manager
Psychologist
Vehicle Mechanic
Academic Advisor
Delivery Driver

Companies with the most open jobs:

7-Eleven
Army National Guard
KPMG
Amazon
Genentech
Lowe’s
HCA Healthcare
Intuit
Nepris
Whole Foods

LinkedIn also learned that certain companies are stepping up hiring to meet demand in these times, like as grocery chains and delivery services like Kroger, Walmart, Amazon, and CVS. They’ve all signaled they want to put hundreds of thousands of people to work right away.

For example:

CVS: Hiring 50,000 workers to meet exploding demand at its stores.
Pizza Hut: 30,000 permanent workers
Walmart: about 150,000 temporary workers by the end of May
Dollar Tree, which also owns Family Dollar, plans to hire 25,000 workers.
7-Eleven: 20,000 new store employees.
Amazon: 100,000 workers.
Domino’s: more than 10,000 workers.

As expected, the medical community is looking for as many health care providers as possible. New York City has even asked private and retired providers to help in hospitals. “More than 1,000 answered the call,” the website noted.

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“Smart” thermometer tech deployed to create fever maps in COVID-19 fight

St. Augustine, Florida, has a new weapon in the war against the COVID-19 pandemic: smart thermometers.

The city’s economy is dependent on visitors, from tourists to spring breakers, city manager John Regan tells ABC News, so when he started canceling events in the face of the health crisis, local business owners wanted to know why. At that time, his county had just 20 confirmed coronavirus cases.

“So we’re ruining businesses in this process to save lives,” he acknowledged, adding, “But how can you not default to the public health position?”

So Regan found a high-tech solution. Since a fever is usually one of tell-tale signs of the illness, he struck a deal with Kinsa, a Silicon Valley-based health technology firm. They sell Internet-connected personal thermometers that can create a crowd-sourced “fever map,” to track, in real-time, who is spiking a temperature and where.

The thermometers are matched with an app that not only lets users track trends in their own temperature, but the info then gets compiled — minus personal data — by the company to determine temperature trends.

ABC News reports Regan bought 600 thermometers from Kinsa to distribute throughout the city of 15,000.

Inder Singh, Kinsa’s founder and chief executive, tells ABC News that his company has more than one million thermometers in circulation; while most are sold on Amazon, the company has donated them to low-income schools.

Similarly, researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital launched a website called Covidnearyou.org for its own map. The University of California San Francisco also looked to another high-tech company, the fitness tracker Oura, to try to see if its data could also detect coronavirus trends.