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Daily News Digest – August 14, 2020

Presented by

The Business Council of Alabama



Good morning and Happy Friday!

We’ve made it through another week. Also, the Cubs are 13-3. Let’s celebrate with some jocular GIFs.

Here’s your Daily News for August 14.



1. Shhh! Our virus metrics are improving.

  • For the last several weeks, Alabama Daily News has endeavored to provide regular updates on how Alabama is faring with the coronavirus outbreak.
  • If you’ve been paying attention recently, you may have noticed a hopeful trend: our numbers are looking a lot better.
  • Alabama reported 695 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the third day in a row newly-confirmed cases were below 1,000.
  • The seven-day average of new cases, now at 1,156, has been trending downward since around July 20. Hospitalizations also dipped this week and the percentage of positive tests has been declining recently.
  • All those are heartening signs.
  • However, both Gov. Kay Ivey and Dr. Scott Harris, the state health officer, told Alabama Daily News that we’re “not out of the woods yet” and that it ss more important than ever to maintain good health practices.
  • They’re right.
  • Remember earlier this summer when we all got a little complacent and transmissions spiked?
  • Let’s not do that again. And challenges lay ahead with school starting back and Labor Day approaching.
  • ADN’s Mary Sell has the full story that is worth your time today, complete with charts from the indispensable Bama Tracker. Read it HERE.


2. Some schools experience ‘glitches’ in online learning as school starts, Mackey says

  • As more Alabama schools start classes in person, online or a combination of the two, state Superintendent Eric Mackey said the unprecedented new instruction model has been going well but hasn’t been without problems.
  • Mackey updated members of the Alabama State Board of Education about the latest with school reopening at its meeting in Montgomery Thursday.
  • He said the state’s new online learning portal is working fine for most school systems, but some have experienced “glitches.”
  • “Part of that is school systems that have started early are a little bit ahead,” Mackey said. “As you know, we recommended that systems not start before Aug, 20, but that is completely a local decision and we respect that, but that means they’re starting before really all the content is uploaded and ready.”
  • He said he hopes to have those issues worked out in the next few days.
  • Gov. Kay Ivey said at Thursday’s meeting that the ultimate goal is to get every student back into a normal classroom setting, but added that the safety of students and teachers must be a top priority.
  • “There are a lot of reasons children need to be in school under the supervision of qualified teachers, but we’ve got to be safe and do what’s necessary to keep our people safe and if that’s starting or using a combination of virtual learning then so be it,” Ivey said.
  • Mackey said teachers have been learning how to better evaluate a child’s needs through a virtual setting, and that familiarity will increase as the school year goes on.
  • “We all are longing for the day when we can get every student into a traditional classroom,” Mackey said.
  • So far, at least 20 school systems have said they would begin the school year virtually, including Anniston, Birmingham, Gadsden, Montgomery, Mobile, Huntsville and Tuscaloosa city schools.
  • Read more and see the full list of how schools are opening from ADN’s Caroline Beck 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. Jobs!

  • Alabama is ending the week with some excellent economic news, as two major jobs announcements came from the north and south ends of the state.
  • In Huntsville, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, the new joint-venture between the two auto companies, on Thursday announced an additional $830 million investment in its new Alabama plant.
  • The total investment is now $2.3 billion, up from the $1.6 billion originally announced in 2018. The additional money will be used to incorporate cutting edge manufacturing technologies into production lines and training for the 4,000 workers the plant is projected to eventually employ, the governor’s office said.
  • The plant, which is still under construction, has hired 600 employees so far and will resume accepting applications for production positions later this year. Production is expected to start sometime in 2021.
  • “As we prepare for the start of production next year, we look forward to developing our future workforce and serving as a hometown company for many years to come,” said Mark Brazeal, vice president of administration at Mazda Toyota Manufacturing.
  • Read more about Mazda-Toyota HERE.
  • Meanwhile in Mobile, what was once known as the ThyssenKrupp steel mill is getting a $500 million upgrade that will result in 500 jobs in south Alabama.
  • ArcelorMittal announced the expansion plans Wednesday for its AM/NS Calvert mill in north Mobile County. The company intends to add an electric arc furnace to its operations, capable of producing 1.5 million metric tons of steel slabs.
  • Currently, slabs of steel are brought in via ships from Brazil. With this expansion, slabs will be produced on site.
  • “An electric arc furnace at Calvert makes strategic sense as it allows our asset to be more reactive to the local market as well as being in line with the USMCA,” ArcelorMittal chief executive Lakshmi Mittal said in a statement. “Furthermore, it aligns with our ambition of producing smarter steels for a better world.”
  • Read more about the steel mill HERE.



4. Israel and UAE establish full diplomatic ties

  • We don’t do a lot of international news here, but this is a big deal.
  • Israel and the United Arab Emirates announced Thursday they are establishing full diplomatic relations in a U.S.-brokered deal that required Israel to halt its contentious plan to annex occupied West Bank land sought by the Palestinians.
  • The historic deal delivered a key foreign policy victory to President Donald Trump and reflected a changing Middle East in which shared concerns about Iran have largely overtaken traditional Arab support for the Palestinians.
  • A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the deal amounts to “treason,” and should be reversed.
  • The agreement makes the UAE the third Arab country, after Egypt and Jordan, to have full diplomatic ties with Israel. They announced it in a joint statement, saying deals between Israel and the UAE were expected in the coming weeks in such areas as tourism, direct flights and embassies.
  • Trump called the deal “a truly historic moment.”
  • “Now that the ice has been broken I expect more Arab and Muslim countries will follow the United Arab Emirates,” he told reporters in the Oval Office.
  • In a nationally televised news conference, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu echoed Trump’s remarks.
  • “Today we usher in a new era of peace between Israel and the Arab world,” he said. “There is a good chance we will soon see more Arab countries joining this expanding circle of peace.”
  • Full story HERE. (There’s a pretty stunning photo of windows of City Hall in Tel Aviv lit up like the UAE flag.)



5. NCAA cancels D-1 fall championships

  • Poor kid.
  • The NCAA announced Thursday it has called off fall championship events.
  • But don’t worry! That doesn’t affect major college football.
  • NCAA President Mark Emmert made the announcement in a video posted on Twitter, but it has been clear this was coming as conferences canceled fall sports seasons because of the coronvirus pandemic.
  • Emmert also said NCAA officials have begun work on contingencies for the NCAA basketball tournaments, possibly moving dates and looking into creating bubbles in which the teams can compete.
  • He said the NCAA would prioritize staging championships in winter and spring sports because those — including the lucrative men’s basketball tournament — were canceled when COVID-19 first spiked across the United States in March.
  • “Will it be normal? Of course not. We’ll be playing falls sports in the spring,” he said. “Will it create other conflicts and challenges? Of course. But is it doable? Yeah.”
  • The highest tier of Division I football, the Bowl Subdivision, is not impacted. The College Football Playoff is run by the conferences and six of those leagues are still moving toward having a season, including the Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference and Big 12.
  • College sports administrators and coaches have been making the case schools are providing structured environments with frequent testing and strict protocols that make athletes safer than the general population.
  • “We had some positive tests when our student-athletes first came back,” Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne said. “We had a dramatic decrease since they’ve gotten under our umbrella and that’s good. Basically we have our student-athlete under our umbrella. On a college campus where students are going to class, it’s hard to create a bubble.”
  • Read the full story from Ralph Russo HERE.





ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Recent virus trends positive, but state ‘not out of the woods’ as schools resume


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Some schools experience ‘glitches’ in virtual learning as school starts, Mackey says


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – $500 million expansion at Alabama’s AM/NS Calvert mill


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Mazda-Toyota boosts investment in Alabama plant by $830M


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – NCAA cancels fall championships as major football marches on


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – UAE and Israel to establish full diplomatic ties


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Community college registration numbers fall as classes start


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey steers $26M in CARES funds toward state agriculture


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


AL.COM – Alabama adds 695 new coronavirus cases as number continue to tick down


AL.COM – HudsonAlpha scientist sees COVID-19 vaccine or treatment before Spring


AL.COM – How Alabama will punish students, organizations for COVID-19 violations


AL.COM – FedEx Ground to build $40 million Lakeshore facility, create 285 jobs


AL.COM – Huntsville protesters want police held accountable for tear gas, rubber bullets


AL.COM – Alabama health officials explain data issue that led to large coronavirus case increase


Montgomery Advertiser – Cullman woman accused of setting fire to Montgomery homes owned by spouse’s family


Montgomery Advertiser – Man faces child sex charges in Houston, Autauga counties


Montgomery Advertiser – ‘$1 million worth of work for a hug and a smile’: Cubie Rae Hayes rarely stops and Montgomery is better for it


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Deputies shoot armed woman shortly after discovering a body in St. Clair Co.


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Recent virus trends positive, but Alabama ‘not out of the woods’ as schools resume


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Missing Child Alert canceled after Bibb County teen located, safe


Tuscaloosa News – Officials: Increase in virus cases was from backlogged data


Tuscaloosa News – DCH ready, prepped for potential COVID-19 influx


Tuscaloosa News – Decatur women launch handmade chalk business during pandemic


Decatur Daily – New reality greets Lawrence County High students: walking in formation, no vending machines


Decatur Daily – Recent virus trends positive, but Alabama ‘not out of the woods’ as schools resume


Decatur Daily – District 3 candidate Glaze wants to talk about the ‘big-scale’ issues


Times Daily – Cocaine, heroin, weapons found in Lauderdale drug bust


Times Daily – ‘Glitches’ reported in virtual learning


Times Daily – COVID-19: Alabama ‘not out of the woods’ yet


Anniston Star – Community college registration numbers fall as classes start


Anniston Star – UPDATED: Anniston pushes in-person school back to Sept. 8


Anniston Star – Recent COVID trends positive, but Alabama ‘not out of the woods’ as schools resume


YellowHammer News – Auburn to require students to self-screen beginning Aug. 17, supporting Alabama’s GuideSafe™ platform


YellowHammer News – FedEx to build distribution center in Birmingham that will employ 285 workers


YellowHammer News – Retirement Systems of Alabama head: Trump ‘enjoys conflict and turmoil over progress and a United America’


Gadsden Times – Drugs packaged like candy seized in DeKalb County


Gadsden Times – Backlogged data led to state coronavirus spike


Gadsden Times – Teen injured in shooting incident


Dothan Eagle – Enterprise schools moving to blended schedule after 121 students sent home in first week


Dothan Eagle – Judge grants state’s motion; Glasgow’s bond revoked


Dothan Eagle – Enterprise schools moving to blended schedule after 121 students sent home in first week


Opelika-Auburn News – Hospital reminds parents of COVID-19 symptoms to look for in children


Opelika-Auburn News – Beulah suspends football activities after player tests positive for coronavirus


Opelika-Auburn News – AJHS, AHS students waiting on remote vendor; parents complain to school board


WSFA Montgomery – Shooting victim arrives at Montgomery hospital Thursday night


WSFA Montgomery – Montgomery investing over $500K in repairing neglected community centers


WSFA Montgomery – ADPH: Lack of testing supplies puts case numbers outside norm


WAFF Huntsville – Arab City Schools delay school start date to follow ADPH guidelines


WAFF Huntsville – Protests continue over confederate statue at Madison Co. courthouse


WAFF Huntsville – Furry felines ready for adoption at Huntsville Animal Services


WKRG Mobile – Three Fairhope High School students either suspected of having or diagnosed with COVID-19


WKRG Mobile – Alabama coin ‘shortage’ driven by consumer behavior changes


WKRG Mobile – FHP: Biker killed when a car pulls out in front of a motorcycle


WTVY Dothan – Counselors say students may lose social skills while online learning


WTVY Dothan – Grandmother and educator believes virtual learning will help teach students about responsibilities


WTVY Dothan – The pandemic strains mental health for all ages, even children


WASHINGTON POST – The recession is over for the rich, but the working class is far from recovered


WASHINGTON POST – Trump opposes election aid for states and Postal Service bailout, threatening Nov. 3 vote


WASHINGTON POST – Covid-19 surges back into nursing homes in coronavirus hot spots


NEW YORK TIMES – Israel and United Arab Emirates Strike Major Diplomatic Agreement


NEW YORK TIMES – California Becomes First State to Report 600,000 Coronavirus Cases


NEW YORK TIMES – Trump Encourages Racist Conspiracy Theory About Kamala Harris


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Israel-U.A.E. Pact Sealed After Months of Furtive Talks Among Envoys Trusted by Their Leaders


WALL STREET JOURNAL – TikTok Deal Could Challenge Microsoft CEO’s Light Touch on Acquisitions


WALL STREET JOURNAL – What a Biden-Harris White House Could Mean for Tech Policy




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