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Daily News Digest – August 26, 2020

Presented by the

Alabama Rural Broadband Coalition


Good morning!

Here’s your Daily News for Wednesday, August 26.


1. Laura gains strength

  • Hurricane Laura is forecast to rapidly power up into a “catastrophic” Category 4 hurricane, even stronger than previously expected, as it churns toward Louisiana, swirling wind and water over much of the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Satellite images show Laura has become “a formidable hurricane” in recent hours, threatening to smash homes and sink entire communities. It has undergone a remarkable intensification, “and there are no signs it will stop soon,” the National Hurricane Center said early Wednesday.
  • The storm is expected to make landfall in Louisiana overnight.
  • “Some areas, when they wake up Thursday morning, they’re not going to believe what happened,” said Stacy Stewart, a senior hurricane specialist.
  • “We could see storm surge heights more than 15 feet in some areas,” Stewart said. “What doesn’t get blown down by the wind could easily get knocked down by the rising ocean waters pushing well inland.”
  • Laura grew nearly 70% in power in just 24 hours to reach maximum sustained winds of 110 mph with higher gusts, forecasters said.
  • Top winds of 130 mph are now predicted before landfall, pushing water onto more than 450 miles of the Gulf Coast.
  • A Category 4 hurricane will do catastrophic damage: “Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months,” the weather service says.
  • Alabama will likely avoid the brunt of the storm, but the state will see its share of rain and wind from Laura’s remnants.
  • Read more HERE.



2. UAB: Vaccine candidate shows promising signs

  • A preclinical study of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate at the University of Alabama at Birmingham showed positive results that distinguish it from other vaccine candidates and initial clinical tests are set to begin in the fall, researchers say.
  • The Maryland-based biopharmaceutical company Altimmune Inc. announced the positive results on Tuesday, saying its intranasal spray vaccine, AdCOVID, has shown promise in animal trials conducted at UAB.
  • This news follows the July announcement by Altimmune that the vaccine candidate prompted a mouse immune response in the blood that was strong enough to neutralize the COVID-19 virus, as well as a potent immune response in the respiratory tract — the site the COVID-19 virus first infects.
  • In animal models at UAB, a single dose resulted in a potent T-cell response at the mucus layer of the lungs, including killer CD8+ T-cells, which can recognize and kill virally infected cells, a press release from UAB said.
  • Recent reports have suggested the importance of T-cell responses for long-term protection from COVID-19.
  • “The property that sets AdCOVID apart is that it has been shown preclinically to induce a potent T-cell and IgA antibody response in the lungs, in addition to the systemic neutralizing antibody response induced by intramuscular vaccine candidates,” said Dr. Frances Lund, chair of the UAB Department of Microbiology and lead investigator for preclinical testing of the AdCOVID vaccine candidates.
  • Full story from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.





A message from the

Alabama Rural Broadband Coalition

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the significant need and demand for the expansion of rural broadband all across Alabama, especially for school-aged children.
  • Fast and reliable internet is something that all Alabamians should enjoy.
  • For Alabama to thrive in a 21st century economy, every Alabamian should have access to a reliable internet connection. High-speed broadband is a basic personal necessity in today’s society and will bring an array of benefits related to education, telemedicine, economic development and agriculture.








3. Ivey urged to use remaining relief funds for tax cut

  • The Alabama Policy Institute, a Birmingham-based conservative think tank, on Tuesday publicly urged Gov. Kay Ivey to use the remaining money from the federal CARES Act to fund a statewide sales tax holiday meant to boost local businesses.
  • Estimating that the state has about $300 million in uncommitted funds from the about $1.9 billion the state received in COVID-19 relief from Congress, API figures the sales tax holiday could last as long as a month.
  • However, the Ivey administration says that such use of CARES Act funds would violate the law and put the state in a position of potentially owing the federal government hundreds of millions of dollars.
  • In a letter to API’s Director of Policy Strategy Phil Williams, State Finance Director Kelly Butler wrote that while a sales tax holiday might help the economy, it goes against the rules laid out by Congress and the U.S. Treasury Department to use the funds only for “expenditures” related to pandemic.
  • “Even if we could treat a tax expenditure as an ‘expenditure’ to satisfy the CARES Act requirement, all of API’s models for implementing a sales tax holiday utilize (Coronavirus Relief Fund) funds to replace the revenue lost as a result of the sales tax holiday,” Butler wrote. “U.S. Treasury guidance has consistently and unequivocally held that CRF funds may not be used to replace lost public revenue.”
  • Butler’s explanation, and the perceived lack of involvement from Ivey herself, seems to have irked Williams and API president Caleb Crosby, who issued stern statements disagreeing with the administration’s stance and calling on the governor to intervene.
  • “Gov. Ivey alone has the power and authority to expend CARES Act funds; unfortunately, she has so far chosen to use the money to grow government rather than to truly help the people of Alabama,” Crosby said.
  • Full story HERE.



4. Blue Cross contributes $230M in pandemic support

  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama says it has contributed $230 million in support for its members, employer customers, providers and the Alabama community in general during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The insurer said in a press release Tuesday it has made contributions in support of “food scarcity, small business loans, personal protective equipment and meals for health care works and other relief efforts across the state.”
  • Some programs receiving support include: United Way Meals on Wheels, Alabama Food Bank, Birmingham Strong, American Red Cross, Alabama Department of Public Health, Jefferson County Department of Health and other local community foundations.
  • “COVID-19 has created unprecedented health and economic challenges for Alabamians,” said Tim Vines, BCBS of Alabama president and CEO. “As we continue working to combat COVID-19 throughout the state, it is critical that we continue to care for and support our customers, providers and the communities we serve.”
  • Full story from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.


5. RNC: Melania’s turn

  • First lady Melania Trump portrayed her husband as an authentic, uncompromising leader in a Rose Garden address as President Donald Trump turned to family, farmers and the trappings of the presidency to boost his reelection chances on the second night of the scaled-down Republican National Convention.
  • Mrs. Trump offered a polished portrait of Trump’s presidency Tuesday night that was often at odds with the crises, division and unforgiving actions of his administration.
  • But it was part of a broader effort to show a more forgiving side of a combative president who will soon face the voters. Beyond the first lady’s remarks, Trump pardoned a reformed felon and oversaw a naturalization ceremony for several immigrants in the midst of the program, though he frequently states his vigorous opposition to more immigration, legal as well as illegal.
  • “In my husband, you have a president who will not stop fighting for you and your families,” said Mrs. Trump, an immigrant herself. “He will not give up.”
  • Full story HERE.





ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Laura now forecast to be a catastrophic Category 4 hurricane
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – UAB: COVID-19 vaccine candidate shows promising signs
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey urged to use remaining CARES relief funds for tax cut
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama: $230M contributed to community support during pandemic
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – State virus averages steady, Tuscaloosa closes local bars
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Mentzer takes command of Maxwell’s 42nd Air Base Wing
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – August 25, 2020
AL.COM – Coach breaks silence on ‘unconscionable’ decision to play football
AL.COM – Alabama city closes schools for one week to avoid virus spread after the Labor Day holiday
AL.COM – Auburn limits in-person gatherings on campus, warns of threat to semester in email to students
AL.COM – Jones hits Tuberville on hedge fund fraud in ad; Auburn coach says he was victim
AL.COM – $59 million Muscle Shoals auto supply factory will create 279 jobs
AL.COM – Judge denies requests by Roy Moore to recuse himself, end Leigh Corfman lawsuit
AL.COM – How Alabama students, bar owners react to shutdown order from city
AL.COM – University of Alabama named nation’s No. 1 party school
AL.COM – Black Belt 2020: What the Black Belt’s population loss means for the rest of Alabama
Montgomery Advertiser – Alabama’s best barrel racers compete this weekend in Montgomery
Montgomery Advertiser – Bill Gillespie re-elected as Prattville mayor in landslide
Montgomery Advertiser – Lowndes County Courthouse renamed in honor of slain sheriff
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Hurricane Laura expected to become devastating Category 4 storm
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – COVID-19 dashboard now includes K-12 aged kids separately
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Two students injured after dorm room catches fire on Miles College campus
Tuscaloosa News – COVID-19 response leads to ‘conservative’ FY21 budget for Tuscaloosa
Tuscaloosa News – Bar owners cite students’ behavior for closures
Decatur Daily – 18-year-old Pepper unseats 9-year councilman Kirby
Decatur Daily – Incumbent mayors Weatherwax, Parker and Evans win in Lawrence races
Decatur Daily – Ladner, McMasters, Pike newcomers to council; incumbent Bibbee ousted
Times Daily – Holt, Betterton head to runoff in Florence
Times Daily – Killen, Lexington voters say yes to alcohol sales
Times Daily – Killen, Lexington voters say yes to alcohol sales
Anniston Star – Voters choose incumbents for Heflin City Council
Anniston Star – Draper, Reddick in runoff for Anniston mayor
Anniston Star – Harrington keeps spot on Anniston school board
YellowHammer News – Alabama municipal elections held on Tuesday; Incumbent mayors generally fare well
YellowHammer News – Mayor Tommy Battle cruises to reelection in Huntsville
YellowHammer News – James Spann: Drier day for Alabama Wednesday; tropical rain returns later this week
Gadsden Times – Election results from Etowah County municipalities
Gadsden Times – Retiring GSCC president briefs commission on use of 1% sales tax money
Gadsden Times – Gadsden City Council considers hiring private contractor for grass cutting
Dothan Eagle – Geneva sheriff tests positive for COVID-19
Dothan Eagle – Wiregrass Museum receives grant to help in preservation efforts
Dothan Eagle – Petition calling for reinstatement of peanut festival activities gains 5,550 signatures
Opelika-Auburn News – Fuller wins re-election as Opelika mayor; three races headed to runoffs
Opelika-Auburn News – Auburn cuts size of student gatherings through Oct. 10
Opelika-Auburn News – Multiple suspects in custody following Auburn home invasion
WSFA Montgomery – Millbrook mayor wins 7th term
WSFA Montgomery – A sign to save a life: Family hopes billboard campaign will find kidney donor
WSFA Montgomery – Troy mayor wins re-election
WAFF Huntsville – Local attorney questions pause in jury trials
WAFF Huntsville – Jim McCamy voted mayor elect for Scottsboro
WAFF Huntsville – New Huntsville PD training facility under construction
WKRG Mobile – Crestview Police investigate afternoon murder
WKRG Mobile – Fight caught on camera near bar with past issues
WKRG Mobile – Hundreds of votes up for grabs in razor-thin Daphne mayoral race
WTVY Dothan – Enterprise, Ozark voters will head back to the polls in October
WTVY Dothan – Adams, Hayes headed to runoff in Geneva mayor’s race
WTVY Dothan – Money, Grimsley to meet in October runoff for Abbeville mayor
WASHINGTON POST – Trump uses powers of government in service of reelection, with pardoning and naturalization ceremonies
WASHINGTON POST – For one cynical and perhaps illegal moment, Trump finds a use for immigrants
WASHINGTON POST – Natalie Harp said Trump saved her life. Experts doubt that’s true.
NEW YORK TIMES – Tracking Coronavirus Cases at U.S. Colleges and Universities
NEW YORK TIMES – Trump Leverages Powers of Office as He Seeks to Broaden Appeal
NEW YORK TIMES – Two Killed and One Injured on Third Night of Unrest in Kenosha, Wis.
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Boston Biotech’s Meeting Spread Coronavirus as Far as Slovakia and Australia
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Virginia Judge Rules Lee Statue Dispute Can Go to Trial
WALL STREET JOURNAL – RNC 2020: Melania Trump, Mike Pompeo Buck Tradition With Convention Speeches



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