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Daily News Digest – August 12, 2020

Presented by

The Business Council of Alabama



Good morning!

Here’s your Daily News for Wednesday, August 12.


1. Coronavirus update

  • The Alabama Department of Public Health reported a dramatically decreased 536 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. The department hadn’t reported a daily case total that low since June 28 when the number was 359.
  • Forty-eight deaths were reported Tuesday. BamaTracker, an independent website that follows ADPH data, noted that’s the second highest number of deaths reported in one day since tracking began.
  • As of Tuesday, 99,926 cases statewide have been confirmed since March. There have been 1,781 deaths.
  • According to ADPH, 1,506 people were in Alabama hospitals Tuesday with confirmed COVID-19 cases.
  • Tuesday’s new cases brought the seven-day average of cases down to 1,291.
  • Of the total cases, nearly 38,000 are now presumed recovered, according to ADPH.
  • A new update is expected at 10:00 a.m.
  • Story link.


2. It’s Kamala

  • Joe Biden named California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate, making history by selecting the first Black woman to compete on a major party’s presidential ticket and acknowledging the vital role Black voters will play in his bid to defeat President Donald Trump.
  • The 55-year-old first-term senator, who is also of South Asian descent, is one of the party’s most prominent figures. She quickly became a top contender for the No. 2 spot after her own White House campaign ended.
  • In announcing the pick Tuesday, Biden called Harris a “fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants.” She said Biden would “unify the American people” and “build an America that lives up to our ideals.”
  • The president told reporters Tuesday he was “a little surprised” that Biden picked Harris, pointing to their debate stage disputes during the primary. Trump, who had donated to her previous campaigns, argued she was “about the most liberal person in the U.S. Senate.”
  • “I would have thought that Biden would have tried to stay away from that a little bit,” he said.
  • The vice presidential pick carries increased significance this year. If elected, Biden would be 78 when inaugurated in January, the oldest man to ever assume the presidency.
  • Read more about Harris HERE.
  • Read more about how the Veep selection happened HERE.








A message from

The Business Council of Alabama

The Business Council of Alabama is proud to present Engage Alabama, a virtual business conference open to all Alabamians.
It is available at no cost to attendees, thanks to our incredible sponsors.
This two-day summit, taking place August 26-27, will bring together more than 40 elected officials, industry leaders, and subject matter experts to provide invaluable resources on hot-button issues in our state.
Register at no charge, and the first 750 to do so will receive a complimentary conference t-shirt.







3. Big Ten, Pac-12 pull plug on season

  • The college football season took a massive hit Tuesday when the Big Ten and Pac-12, two historic and powerful conferences, succumbed to the pandemic and canceled their fall football seasons.
  • Five months almost to the day after the first spikes in coronavirus cases in the U.S. led to the cancellation of the NCAA basketball tournaments, the still raging pandemic is tearing down another American sports institution: fall Saturdays filled with college football.
  • Both conferences cited the risk of trying to keep players from contracting and spreading the coronavirus when the programs are not operating in a bubble like the NBA and NHL are doing.
  • Two smaller conferences, the Mid-American and Mountain West, had already announced the uncertain move to spring football.
  • The Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference released statements expressing cautious optimism.
  • SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said he wanted to learn more about the other conferences’ decision, but remains confident about his process.
  • “I remain comfortable with the thorough and deliberate approach that the SEC and our 14 members are taking to support a healthy environment for our student-athletes.
  • “We will continue to further refine our policies and protocols for a safe return to sports as we monitor developments around COVID-19 in a continued effort to support, educate and care for our student-athletes every day.”
  • Full story HERE.



4. New documentary highlights First Class Pre-K

  • A documentary detailing the importance of high-quality early education for children’s development premieres today and highlights Alabama’s nationally recognized First Class Pre-K program as a model for the rest of the country.
  • “Starting at Zero: Reimagining Education in America” features interviews with many of Alabama’s key early childhood education leaders, including Gov. Kay Ivey and Secretary of Early Childhood Education Barbara Cooper.
  • The film explores the power of investing in high-quality early childhood education and what makes programs like Alabama’s so successful.
  • Cooper’s predecessor Jeana Ross, who led the Department of Early Childhood Education for 12 years before retiring in June, told Alabama Daily News that the impetus for the film project came from a chance meeting with Elliot Steinberg, executive director of the Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation, at Harvard University in 2017.
  • “I introduced myself and told him I was from Alabama. He immediately said, ‘Alabama. You aren’t telling your story!’” Ross said. “I invited him to come visit and within weeks he was in Alabama touring First Class Pre-K classrooms. He was so impressed and wanted to share what we were doing and the idea of a ‘how to’ video was created.
  • Read more from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.



5. Op-Ed: Continuing the conversation on prisons


  • Jeff Dunn, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections, writes again today in another installment of his “honest discussion” on the prison situation in Alabama.
  • You may remember a few weeks ago, Dunn focused on the coronavirus’ impact on the corrections system and what was being done.
  • This time, he is discussing the more general problems that have plagued Alabama prisons for decades and what is being done about it.
  • Here’s an excerpt:
“Over the past five years, our inmate population has become increasingly comprised of violent felons. Sentencing reform efforts have reduced the number of non-violent inmates in the ADOC, resulting in an inmate population comprised largely of inmates convicted of violent crimes such as murder, assault, and sexual assault, among others. When you have a disproportionally violent group of individuals living in close proximity and crowded conditions within aging and flawed facilities, violence is hard to prevent. Add in untreated drug addiction coupled with gang activity, and a vicious and dangerous cycle is perpetuated. 
“Our current correctional facilities were never designed to house the violent inmate population currently incarcerated in Alabama. When the state built these prisons four decades ago, the intent in their design was not to rehabilitate individuals – it was to warehouse criminals. More than 80% of the beds in our facilities are arranged in an open-dormitory style, which is the opposite of what is needed to safely house violent inmates and provide rehabilitative services…”
  • Read the full op-ed HERE.



News Briefs



Judge dismisses lawsuit challenging Alabama mask order

  • MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) —  A judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit challenging the legality of Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s statewide order to wear face coverings in public places to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Montgomery Circuit Judge Greg Griffin entered the order following a hearing.
  • Real estate agent Debbie Mathis and retired sheriff’s Deputies Larry Lewis and Barry Munza, all of Jackson County, filed the lawsuit against Ivey, State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris and the State Board of Health. The lawsuit contends the mask order was illegally adopted and that the plaintiffs face deprivation of liberty anytime they interact with others.
  • “There is no statutory authority that can be construed to empower the governor to mandate the wearing of a mask under any circumstances,” a lawyer for the plaintiffs wrote in court filings.
  • On July 15, Ivey announced a requirement for face coverings to be worn by anyone older than age 6 who’s in public and within 6 feet of someone who’s not a relative. The rule makes exceptions for people who have certain medical conditions, are exercising, or are performing certain types of jobs.
  • The governor later extended the order through the end of August.

NAACP seeks rehearing in Alabama voter ID lawsuit

  • MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund is asking a federal appeals court for a rehearing in its lawsuit challenging Alabama’s photo ID law as racially discriminatory.
  • In July, a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a split decision to uphold a lower court order that dismissed a lawsuit filed by minority voters challenging the law. The petition filed Monday asks for an en banc rehearing by all of the judges of the court.
  • The Alabama lawsuit was among the latest legal battles in the U.S. between voting rights advocates, who say the measures are aimed at suppressing voter turnout, and conservative states that argue the protections are needed to ensure honest elections.
  • Alabama has required voters to show government-issued photo ID since 2014. State lawmakers approved the photo ID law in 2011 after the GOP took control of the Legislature.
  • The Alabama State Conference of the NAACP, Greater Birmingham Ministries and minority voters had sued over the law in 2015, calling it discriminatory and an infringement on voting rights. They contended Alabama politicians knew when they enacted it that black and Latino voters disproportionately lack photo ID.
  • “It is clear from the statements of the legislators who enacted Alabama’s photo ID law that they passed it for the unconstitutional purpose of discriminating against voters of color,” LDF Senior Counsel Natasha Merle said in a statement.
  • Secretary of State John H. Merrill said in July that the court’s ruling confirmed that the state’s photo ID law is “fair and non-burdensome to voters.”
  • He also said his office has “worked to see that every eligible resident of our state, who is interested, is registered to vote and has a photo ID.”

Atmore woman charged with sister’s murder

  • ATMORE, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama woman is in custody on a murder charge connected to the discovery in March of her sister’s decomposing body.
  • Atmore police on Sunday arrested Josephine Gaines, 34, who was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped for a traffic violation, reported. Police said Gaines was found to have an outstanding murder warrant and was taken into custody, authorities said.
  • As officers were taking her to the city jail, police said she ran but was captured after a brief foot chase.
  • The murder charge stems from a March 26 discovery at a mobile home. Police went to the address on a burglary-in-progress call and found someone had forcibly entered the home. During a search, officers found the body. Dental records and a forensic investigation later revealed the body was that of Vandoren Daily, who police said was Gaines’ sister.
  • Investigators said Gaines was responsible for Daily, who was unable to care for herself, and had apparently been left alone in the mobile home for several months.
  • There was no word on whether Gaines has an attorney who could speak on her behalf.

Woman gets life in 2016 slaying of 4-year-old daughter

  • ATHENS, Ala. (AP) — A judge has sentenced an Alabama woman to life imprisonment after she pleaded guilty to murder in the killing of her 4-year-old daughter.
  • Stephanie Diane Smith, 29, pleaded guilty Monday in the death of Zadie Wren Cooper four years ago, records show.
  • The Athens News-Courier reported Smith was charged with capital murder after admitting to Athens police that she used a pillow to smother the girl. She pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of felony murder, and Circuit Judge C. Chadwick Wise imposed a life term that includes the possibility of parole.
  • The woman has been in jail since her arrest in 2017. Smith told authorities she had a mental condition and had been off her medication before the killing.
  • Smith was set for trial this year before the coronavirus pandemic forced courts to halt jury trials.





ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New COVID-19 cases dip to 536 Tuesday


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Biden selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as running mate


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – How Biden chose Harris: Inside his search for a running mate


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Big Ten, Pac-12 pull plug on fall football amid pandemic


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Judge dismisses lawsuit challenging Alabama mask order


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Report: Decatur agency segregated public housing


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – NAACP seeks rehearing in Alabama voter ID lawsuit


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – State leaders concerned about funding match for extended unemployment benefits


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – In virus talks, Pelosi holds firm; Mnuchin wants a deal


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – August 11, 2020


AL.COM – Huntsville gets $12 million grant to enhance public transportation


AL.COM – President Trump calls canceling college football ‘a tragic mistake,’ says Nick Saban incredible


AL.COM – Alabama governor wants college football: Big part of ‘morale’ of our people


AL.COM – Aderholt lauds Trump’s executive orders, sees 2-way benefit


AL.COM – Sen. Doug Jones to speak at Democratic convention next week


AL.COM – TVA reviewing CEO’s pay after Trump says it is too much


Montgomery Advertiser – Prattville Christian Academy begins school year amid COVID-19 changes


Montgomery Advertiser – SEC staying the course after Big Ten, Pac-12 cancel football seasons


Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery woman charged with murder in fatal shooting of another


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Teenage Chili’s hostess reportedly attacked by large group of women after trying to enforce COVID-19 guidelines


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Preliminary student COVID-19 testing numbers show good trend


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – US enters deal for 100 million doses of potential COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna


Tuscaloosa News – Online hiring fair offers jobs in healthcare field


Tuscaloosa News – Mayor unveils new community policing approach


Tuscaloosa News – Alabama parents charged in death of child left in car


Decatur Daily – Decatur police investigate Morgan County’s 20th homicide of year


Decatur Daily – With school set to begin Wednesday, 34 Austin High students in quarantine


Decatur Daily – Funding state share of Trump’s unemployment plan concerns Alabama leaders


Times Daily – State, federal officials dedicate widened U.S. 43


Times Daily – Riverhill School’s return to classroom a smooth one


Times Daily – Sheffield mayor candidates agree cleanup, fiscal responsibility take priority


Anniston Star – Oxford saves millions through bond refinancing, council learns


Anniston Star – Heflin City Council tackles its roadside grass problem


Anniston Star – Road work underway on Noble Street


YellowHammer News – Alabama political leaders react to Kamala Harris as Biden’s choice for VP


YellowHammer News – Alabama Senate majority leader to SEC: Let them play


YellowHammer News – Lawsuit challenging statewide mask order dismissed by judge


Gadsden Times – Biden selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as running mate


Gadsden Times – Council talks about concerns with homeless population


Gadsden Times – Man charged with burglary, theft


Dothan Eagle – Wiregrass firefighter indicted by a grand jury on multiple sex crimes


Dothan Eagle – Enterprise schools: 3 students positive for COVID; over 40 others sent home since Thursday


Dothan Eagle – Vote nears on resuming eviction proceedings in California


Opelika-Auburn News – Quarry opponents pack courthouse; commissioners remember Lawrence


Opelika-Auburn News – Watch now: AU move-in: Freshmen express confidence in Auburn’s protocols


Opelika-Auburn News – Opelika man charged in connection to shooting into an Opelika police car


WSFA Montgomery – Student in Troy University dorm tests positive for COVID-19


WSFA Montgomery – $525,000 bond set for mattress store owner charged with sex abuse


WSFA Montgomery – US enters deal for 100 million doses of potential COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna


WAFF Huntsville – Decatur City Schools deputy superintendent apologizes for pick up confusion


WAFF Huntsville – Morgan County inmate assaults four correctional officers


WAFF Huntsville – Morgan Co. Sheriff’s Office uses security measures during off-site visitation


WKRG Mobile – Women say they will fight sexism, ‘ugly’ attacks on Harris


WKRG Mobile – Family of medical student killed in crash setting up scholarship in her name


WKRG Mobile – Questions about mayor’s harassment charges not allowed at forum, no one brings it up


WTVY Dothan – Slocomb woman dies in Geneva County wreck


WTVY Dothan – Charge: She stole $250,000 from 92-year old man


WTVY Dothan – Enterprise Chamber of Commerce hosts forum for mayoral and district races


WASHINGTON POST – White House clarifies limits of jobless aid plan as talks with Congress dim


WASHINGTON POST – Trump weighs blocking Americans at the Mexico border, but legal authority is shaky and no decision has been made


WASHINGTON POST – Harris pick creates an emotional moment for Black women


NEW YORK TIMES – In Kamala Harris, a Choice at Once Safe and Energizing


NEW YORK TIMES – 925 Quarantined for Covid. Is This a Successful School Reopening?


NEW YORK TIMES – Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon Supporter, Wins House Primary in Georgia


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Kamala Harris Named as Joe Biden’s VP Pick


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Coronavirus-Hit State Budgets Create a Drag on U.S. Recovery


WALL STREET JOURNAL – U.K. Economy Shrinks by More Than Any Other Rich Country




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