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Daily News Digest – April 14, 2020

Presented by

The Business Council of Alabama

Good morning!
It’s one day at a time here in the quarantine life. Hope you and yours are holding up okay.
Here’s your Daily News for Tuesday, April 14.

1. Panel to explore path to reopening US economy

  • Every day, a team of public health officials turns up in the White House briefing room to lay out measures being taken to contain the coronavirus pandemic. A different team, expected to be formally announced as early as today, has begun meeting behind closed doors in the West Wing to tackle another matter paramount to President Donald Trump: how to begin reopening the American economy.
  • The council could bring to the forefront the push-pull tensions within the White House between economists and public health officials over how quickly to reopen the economy vs. proceeding cautiously to ensure the virus doesn’t spike again.
  • Many medical experts in the government, including Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, have cautioned that easing up on social distancing too soon could lead a new wave of the disease that would require shuttering the economy again, with disastrous results.
  • As for the new council, Trump said he expected “they will give us some also good advice but no, we want to be very, very safe. At the same time we’ve got to get our country open.”
  • Among those expected to be part of the new team: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and White House economic advisers, past and present, Kevin Hassett and Larry Kudlow. New White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is expected to chair the effort.
  • Senior White House aides Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump had been expected to be part of the team, but Trump, who previously declared the group would be comprised of “the greatest minds,” said Monday they would not be included. It would work separately from the coronavirus task force led by Vice President Mike Pence, though there could be some overlap of participants.
  • Some outside business leaders and perhaps governors also may join the group of administration officials who already are informally meeting and holding conference calls with the president.
  • Full story HERE.

2. Cities, counties fear losing out on US virus rescue funding

  • The $2.2 trillion federal rescue package could fail to deliver badly needed financial aid to thousands of smaller cities and counties where a majority of Americans live, according to documents and interviews with local officials.
  • The coronavirus outbreak has blown holes in the budgets of communities as the costs of battling the outbreak skyrocket and critical sources of revenue like sales and income taxes plummet.
  • The Coronavirus Relief Fund uses a formula based on population to parcel out tens of billions of dollars to the states while allowing local governments with more than 500,000 residents to apply directly to the Treasury Department for cash infusions. But localities below the half-million population threshold are in limbo.
  • Only one local government in Alabama – Jefferson County – has more than 500,000 residents.
  • Amid the uncertainty, lawmakers and advocacy groups that include the National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors have been urging Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to ensure the relief fund money is fairly distributed. Guidelines for how the relief fund will operate are slated to be issued by the Treasury Department this week. The department announced Monday it had launched a web portal through which eligible parties could register to receive the money.
  • “Because of the lack of specificity in the legislation itself, it really is up for interpretation,” said Irma Esparza Diggs, director of federal advocacy for the National League of Cities. “Everybody’s just kind of holding their breath until Treasury comes out with their guidance.”
  • Full story HERE.

A message from

The Business Council of Alabama

  • Last Thursday, the Business Council of Alabama presented the Small Business Exchange on Alabama Public Television.
  • This event allowed small businesses throughout the state the opportunity to speak to experts on a variety of topics, including the CARES Act, small business loans, unemployment and more.
  • BCA would like to thank our special guests who contributed to the televised portion, including Gov. Kay Ivey, Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth, Attorney General Steve Marshall, Carl Jamison of JamisonMoneyFarmer, NFIB Alabama State Director Rosemary Elebash, Jason Isbell of the Alabama Bankers Association, and Secretary of Labor Fitzgerald Washington – all of whom provided invaluable advice and resources to listeners.
  • The Small Business Exchange would not have been possible without the great partnership with Alabama Public Television. BCA would like to thank APT for helping bring the event to life, making it the success it was.
  • Watch the full event online HERE.

3. Parole Hearings to resume May 18

  • Parole hearings will resume in Alabama in mid-May, per a supplemental emergency order from Gov. Kay Ivey issued Monday.
  • The order eases some of the restrictions set in Alabama law about when and how parole hearings can be conducted as the state tries to limit person-to-person contact to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The bureau said in an emailed statement that the May 18 start date follows the 30-day notice required for properly notifying crime victims and others. Leadership had halted hearings almost a month ago.
  • “We very much appreciate the governor’s swift and decisive action that clears the way for the resumption of hearings,” director Charlie Graddick said. “This allows us to hold hearings while protecting the health and safety of crime victims, families, advocates, the members of the Board of Pardons and Paroles and bureau staff.
  • “This order also protects the rights of crime victims to have a 30-day notice of parole hearings and to have a chance to participate meaningfully in the hearings.”
  • Alabama law says the bureau is not allowed to hold meetings and deliberations through electronic communications, but the March 18 health order from Ivey states that any governmental body may take actions through telecommunications during the public health emergency.
  • Ivey said in an emailed statement that hearings will resume “in a manner that reduces person-to-person interaction.”
  • Full story from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.



4. Blue Cross waiving cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatment

  • The state’s largest health insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, continues to waive cost-sharing, including co-pays, for those who need treatment for COVID-19.
  • “We want our members to be assured that we are here for them as we navigate through this unprecedented time,” said Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama’s president and CEO Tim Vines in a press release. “For our members diagnosed with COVID-19, we want them to have peace of mind knowing they have access to the care they need.”
  • On March 1, Blue Cross started waiving all member cost-sharing for coronavirus diagnostic testing, treatments and any in-person medical facility visit for its members with fully-insured individual, employer-based, Federal Employee Program and Medicare Advantage plans.
  • Additionally, in-patient deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance for its fully insured employer clients are being waived if a member is admitted to an in-network hospital with a diagnosis related to the coronavirus. Self-funded employer customers also have the option to implement these coronavirus-related benefits.
  • As of Tuesday morning, 457 people in Alabama had been hospitalized due to COVID-19 since mid-March, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.
  • Read more from ADN’s Will Whatley HERE.


5. Auburn professor to start COVID-19 vaccine testing

  • An Auburn University professor will soon begin testing new COVID-19 vaccines to see how they work alone or with other ingredients in order to help slow the spread of the virus.
  • Dr. Constantinos Kyriakis, an associate professor for the College of Veterinary Medicine, will head the testing while working with Professor Ted Ross, the director of the Center for Vaccines and Immunology at the University of Georgia. Kryiakis will begin animal trials to investigate the effectiveness of different vaccine candidates.
  • The testing will involve vaccine candidates’ effectiveness at triggering an immune system response on pigs. The tests will see what other ingredients could trigger a greater immune system response, in order to make the most effective vaccine.
  • “Mass vaccinations will help build what is known as ‘herd immunity,’ the cornerstone of infectious disease control,” Kyriakis said.
  • Herd immunity is a term that describes a population with a high number of individuals who are immune to a disease.
  • “This will not only protect individuals from SARS-CoV-2 infection and reduce virus spread, but it will protect the entire community and, importantly, high risk groups such as the elderly and people with pre-existing health conditions,” Kyriakis said.
  • Full story from ADN’s Devin Pavlou HERE.


News Briefs


Ex-NFL quarterback, Montgomery native Tavaris Jackson dies in car crash

  • MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Former NFL quarterback Tarvaris Jackson has died in a one-car crash outside Montgomery, authorities said Monday. He was 36.
  • The 2012 Chevrolet Camaro that Jackson was driving went off the road, struck a tree and overturned at 8:50 p.m. Sunday, Trooper Benjamin “Michael” Carswell, an Alabama Law Enforcement Agency spokesman, said in a news release. Jackson was pronounced dead at a hospital.
  • The wreck occurred on Pike Road, about seven miles south of Montgomery, his hometown. No other details were immediately released about the crash, which remained under investigation.
  • Jackson was hired as quarterbacks coach for Tennessee State last season after a 10-year NFL career with the Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings and Buffalo Bills.
  • Full story HERE.

Storm death toll climbs to more than 30

  • CHATSWORTH, Ga. (AP) — Storms that killed more than 30 people in the Southeast, piling fresh misery atop a pandemic, spread across the eastern United States on Monday, leaving more than 1 million homes and businesses without power amid floods and mudslides.
  • Amazingly, there have been no deaths reported in Alabama as of Tuesday morning.
  • Eleven are reported dead in Mississippi. Nine died in South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster said, and coroners said eight were killed in Georgia. Tennessee officials said three people were killed in and around Chattanooga, and others died under falling trees or inside collapsed buildings in Arkansas and North Carolina.
  • With a handful of tornadoes already confirmed in the South and storms still raging up the Eastern Seaboard, forecasters fanned out to determine how much of the widespread damage was caused by twisters.
  • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said the storms were “as bad or worse than anything we’ve seen in a decade.”
  • Full story from Brynn Anderson and Jay Reeves HERE.

Government loans start flowing to small businesses

  • NEW YORK (AP) — The flow of money to small businesses under the government’s $349 billion coronavirus relief plan is picking up momentum although many company owners are still waiting and wondering.
  • Money that was held up by technological and legal issues and the sheer volume of applications began arriving in companies’ bank accounts at the end of last week. The Small Business Administration reported Monday that more than 959,000 applications had been approved for over $232 billion from the Paycheck Protection loan program.
  • The loans of up to $10 million at an interest rate of 1% carry the promise of forgiveness if the money is used for retaining staffers or rehiring those who have been laid off. They also can be used for rent, mortgage interest and utilities.
  • The money was arriving as the first economic impact payments under the government’s $2 trillion relief package also landed in Americans’ bank accounts.
  • The Paycheck Protection Program so far hasn’t lived up to expectations raised by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who said in announcing the program that owners could get loan money the same day they applied. But neither the SBA nor banks could turn around hundreds of thousands of loans in a matter of days, let alone hours.
  • Full story HERE.

Trump claims ‘total’ authority, over govs, to reopen economy

  • WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump claimed the “total” authority Monday to decide how and when to reopen the economy after weeks of tough social distancing guidelines aimed at fighting the new coronavirus. But governors from both parties were quick to push back, noting they have primary responsibility for ensuring public safety in their states and would decide when it’s safe to begin a return to normal operations.
  • While Trump has issued national recommendations advising people stay home, it has been governors and local leaders who have instituted mandatory restrictions, including shuttering schools and closing non-essential businesses. Some of those orders carry fines or other penalties, and in some jurisdictions extend into the early summer.
  • And governors made clear Monday they wouldn’t tolerate pressure to act before they deem it safe.
  • “All of these executive orders are state executive orders and so therefore it would be up to the state and the governor to undo a lot of that,” New Hampshire Republican Gov. Chris Sununu said on CNN.
  • “The government doesn’t get opened up via Twitter. It gets opened up at the state level,” said Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat.
  • Full story HERE.

Teacher Resources

from A+ Education Partnership

Alabama students are learning from home for the rest of the school year. We know t eachers are being inundated with remote learning resources. So we’ve filtered them to provide just the resources teachers need right now. We hope you’ll share these resources with educators you know. Access them here.


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New Trump panel to explore path to reopening US economy


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Cities, counties fear losing out on US virus rescue funding


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Parole Hearings to resume May 18


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Blue Cross continues waiving cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatment


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Auburn professor to start COVID-19 vaccine testing


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ex-NFL quarterback, Montgomery native Tavaris Jackson dies in car crash


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Storms tear through South amid pandemic; more than 30 dead


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Government loans start flowing to small businesses


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump claims ‘total’ authority, over govs, to reopen economy


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS   – As COVID-19 projections decline, some ask for easing of restrictions


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS   – ‘Absolute chaos’ as businesses try to tap into rescue funds


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS   – Fauci says ‘rolling reentry’ of US economy possible in May


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS   – Judge: Alabama can’t prohibit abortion during pandemic


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – April 13, 2020


AL.COM  – Huntsville begins testing homeless, says pandemic plan working


AL.COM  – Clotilda, the last slave ship to enter the US has a new owner


AL.COM  – UAB gearing up for possible shortage of protective equipment


AL.COM  – Alabama begins processing all unemployment claims related to coronavirus


AL.COM  – Huntsville rabbi: Turn hate to love after anti-Semitic vandalism at home, synagogues


AL.COM  – Mobile battling big box store crowds, looks to drop crowd size again amid surge in COVID-19 cases


AL.COM   – What’s next for Alabama’s housing market in the pandemic?


AL.COM  – Carnival extends shutdown on cruising until June 26


AL.COM  – Early, but promising results for coronavirus drug developed at UAB


AL.COM  – Contributor Nicole Slater: Pharmacists: The overlooked essential healthcare provider


AL.COM  – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: Alabama public officials, beware the company you keep


Montgomery Advertiser – 5-year-old girl dies from injuries after being struck by SUV


Montgomery Advertiser – Bureau of Pardons and Paroles says officer tests positive for COVID-19


Montgomery Advertiser – Power restored to nearly 12,000 Montgomery County residents; outages interrupt MPS meal service


YellowHammer News – Watch: Drone footage captures tornado damage in Tuscaloosa neighborhood


YellowHammer News – Mazda-Toyota pushing back start of production at Huntsville plant due to COVID-19


YellowHammer News – Anniston Army Depot selected as de-processing site for Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle program


Tuscaloosa News – Alabama coronavirus cases approach 4,000


Tuscaloosa News – Storms tear through South amid pandemic; more than 30 dead


Tuscaloosa News – Tuscaloosa Academy’s Houston Evans wastes no time committing to Florida State


Decatur Daily – Morgan jail releases nonviolent inmates to protect against COVID-19


Decatur Daily – Decatur council’s remote vote still stirs debate


Decatur Daily – As COVID-19 projections decline, some ask for easing of restrictions


Times Daily – Shoals avoids tornadoes, but not rainfall


Times Daily – Retailers push for fewer restrictions


Times Daily – $5 million in federal funds reserved for UNA


Anniston Star – More than 3,800 COVID-19 cases in Alabama; 103 have died, including 1 in Talladega County


Anniston Star – Drive-thru COVID-19 testing site coming to JSU


Anniston Star – Calhoun EMA introduces upgraded alert system


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – United Way of Central Alabama establishes Community Crisis Fund


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – ADPH: 62 Alabamians have died from COVID-19 as more than 3,800 test positive


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – YWCA: Calls to domestic violence hotline double during COVID-19


WAFF Huntsville – State board warns about checking contractors when rebuilding after storms


WAFF Huntsville – Boaz church cooking for community impacted by tornado


WAFF Huntsville – Flash flooding wiped out part of County Road 44 in DeKalb County


Gadsden Times – Gadsden City students: Pick up work packets Thursday


Gadsden Times – One month after state’s first positive COVID-19 case, 103 reported deaths


Gadsden Times – Gadsden City students: Pick up work packets Thursday


Dothan Eagle – Wiregrass counties surpass 150 COVID-19 cases


Dothan Eagle – Man faces theft charges after stealing vehicle while out on bond


Dothan Eagle – Dothan health groups distributing free masks this week


Troy Messenger – Pike County reports 21 confirmed cases


Troy Messenger – Donations provide ‘free food for truckers’


Opelika-Auburn News – COVID-19 latest: Local death toll rises; Opelika extends city closures; Tallapoosa County hits 100 confirmed cases


Opelika-Auburn News – UPDATE: Alabama Power restoring power to thousands


Opelika-Auburn News – Chambers keeping up with Lee in COVID-19 numbers


Daily Mountain Eagle – GALLERY: Severe weather causes damage, flooding across Walker County


Daily Mountain Eagle – Tornado hits CH after all clear, stunning residents


Daily Mountain Eagle – Trump says he’ll decide on easing guidelines, not governors


Trussville Tribune – The Trussville Tribune to live-stream the TCS Board of Education meeting on April 20


Trussville Tribune – Death toll from storms in South rises to at least 30; 11 dead in Mississippi and nine killed in South Carolina


Trussville Tribune – VIDEO: Fresh Value Marketplace in Trussville installs cart sanitizing machines


Athens News Courier – Alabama parole officer tests positive for COVID-19


Athens News Courier – Relief money is coming — for some. Here’s what to know.


Athens News Courier – NOT SO SWEET: Athens man charged in M&M break-in


Sand Mountain Reporter – Albertville man charged with producing child pornography


Sand Mountain Reporter – Coroner: truck at Carr Funeral Home is part of ‘mass fatality plan’


Sand Mountain Reporter – Marshall County considered COVID-19 hotspot as it tops 100 cases


WSFA Montgomery – Coronavirus survivor from Valley, Ala. shares her road to recovery


WSFA Montgomery – Jackson Hospital receives hundreds of masks from Tang’s Alterations


WSFA Montgomery – Suspect sought in theft from Prattville business


WKRG Mobile – 24 projects get rapid response grants to lessen effects of COVID-19


WKRG Mobile – Walmart customers can now use SNAP benefits with Grocery Pickup


WKRG Mobile – Trump claims absolute authority on when to reopen economy


WTVY Dothan – Enterprise cub scouts creating ear protectors


WTVY Dothan – Ashley Homestore commits 10,000 meals for essential workers


WTVY Dothan – Nonprofit seeing less donations due to pademic


WASHINGTON POST  – Governors form groups to explore lifting virus restrictions; Trump says he alone will decide


WASHINGTON POST  – More than 2,100 U.S. cities brace for budget shortfalls due to coronavirus, new survey finds, with many planning cuts and layoffs


WASHINGTON POST  – Sexual assault allegation by former Biden Senate aide emerges in campaign, draws denial


WASHINGTON POST  – Big business has its own plan to reopen economy.


NEW YORK TIMES  – ‘Elbow to Elbow:’ North America Meat Plant Workers Fall Ill, Walk Off Jobs


NEW YORK TIMES  – Economic Pain Will Persist Long After Lockdowns End


NEW YORK TIMES  – How Bad Will the Economy Get? Companies Will Provide Clues




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