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Daily News Digest – August 3, 2021

Good morning!

Here’s your Daily News for Tuesday, August 3.


1. COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to surge in Alabama

  • The number of coronavirus patients in Alabama hospitals rose to its highest levels in six months Monday.
  • According to data from the Alabama Department of Public Health, 1,584 Alabamians are hospitalized with COVID-19, including 38 children. This time a month ago there were 197 such hospitalizations. That’s an 800% jump in a month.
  • While the surge has not reached the previous peak of 3,084 from January, the state is back to and will surpass the first surge from Spring 2020.
  • Alabama’s status as one of the two least vaccinated states in the country — plus studies suggesting that the delta variant is just as contagious as chickenpox and that even vaccinated people can spread the illness to others — have caused health officials to worry about what is ahead and to emphasize the need for mask-wearing and vaccinations.
  • One silver lining is that demand for vaccines appears to also be up slightly across the state.
  • Read more from Kim Chandler HERE.


2. Union might get another shot at Amazon

  • The union that tried — and failed — to organize Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama may get a do-over.
  • The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union on Monday said that a hearing officer for the National Labor Relations Board has recommended that the vote by workers in April to overwhelmingly reject the union be set aside and that another vote be held in its place. The hearing officer determined that Amazon violated labor law, according to the union.
  • Amazon countered in a statement that “our employees had a chance to be heard during a noisy time when all types of voices were weighing into the national debate, and at the end of the day, they voted overwhelmingly in favor of a direct connection with their managers and the company. Their voice should be heard above all else, and we plan to appeal to ensure that happens.”
  • The NLRB, which could not be reached for comment, has not yet issued a final decision, which would typically come two or three weeks after the initial recommendation.
  • The RWDSU said Monday it supports the initial recommendation by the hearing officer.
  • “Workers endured an intensive anti-union campaign designed by Amazon to intimidate and interfere with their choice on whether or not to form a union,” it said in a statement.
  • Full story HERE.

3. Convicted: Limestone sheriff found guilty on theft, ethics charges

  • A longtime Alabama sheriff has been removed from office, the attorney general’s office said, after jurors on Monday found him guilty of charges of theft and using his office for personal gain.
  • Jurors convicted Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely of two counts but found him not guilty of eight others. After nearly 40 years in office, Blakely was escorted out of the courtroom by one of his own deputies and taken to the same jail that he oversaw as sheriff. He was not placed in handcuffs as he left the courtroom, news outlets reported.
  • Chief Deputy Attorney General Clay Crenshaw said Blakely will be immediately removed from office on Monday because of the felony convictions.
  • The two convictions relate to accusations that Blakely borrowed money from a jail safe used to hold inmates’ money and that he deposited $4,000 in campaign funds into his personal account.
  • “The attorney general’s office is committed to ensuring the violators of the public trust be held accountable under the law,” Crenshaw said, reading a statement from the Alabama attorney general’s office. “Today Sheriff Blakely has been held to account for felony violations of the Alabama ethics law as well as a theft charge.”
  • An attorney on Blakely’s defense team told reporters that they will “keep fighting.”
  • Full story HERE.


4. State hiring marketing firm for teacher recruitment

  • The Alabama State Department of Education is upping its teacher recruitment efforts with a $3 million media and marketing contract with Big Communications in Birmingham.
  • “We need to do a whole rebranding of the teaching profession and specifically teaching in Alabama,” Alabama State Superintendent Eric Mackey said Monday.
  • Big Communications in 2013 helped the Alabama Department of Commerce launch its “Made in Alabama” branding campaign. Mackey said his department was impressed by that effort. Its work with Big began last year. The recruitment effort includes social media ad campaigns that are starting to play.
  • “We’ll do some paid advertising,” Mackey said. The target audience is young and potential teachers in the Southeast. They’ll be directed to a new recruitment page, We Teach Alabama.
  • Money for the effort comes from a supplemental appropriation last year and additional funding in the upcoming education budget. The department’s proposed contract with Big is for three years. Mackey said that will make the effort a long-term commitment.
  • “We think it will eventually help shift the paradigm.”
  • The state’s struggle to recruit and retain teachers was well documented prior to COVID-19, but the pandemic has made it worse.
  • Read more from Mary Sell HERE.


5. Poole sworn in, special election called

  • Three-term lawmaker Bill Poole was sworn in Monday as the state’s finance director.
  • Poole replaces Kelly Butler, who in June announced his retirement for medical reasons.
  • Ivey said Poole is a gifted public servant who commands respect on both sides of the aisle in the Alabama Legislature.
  • In addition to its drafting of the state’s budgets each year, the Department Finance has recently been tasked with managing the distribution of billions of dollars of federal COVID-19 relief funds.
  • Poole, a lawyer, said Monday he was closing his Tuscaloosa law practice in accordance with state law.
  • Ivey on Monday also released a special election schedule for the Alabama House district Poole is leaving to join her cabinet.
  • The special primary will be Oct. 19. If needed, a special primary runoff will be Nov 16. The general election is Feb. 1.
  • House District 63 includes the cities of Tuscaloosa and Northport.
  • We previously reported in Inside Alabama Politics that Cynthia Almond was a potential candidate for the seat. The qualifying deadline for major political parties is Aug. 17.
  • Read more from Mary Sell HERE.




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to surge in Alabama


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Union: NLRB officer recommends new vote for Amazon workers


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Longtime Alabama sheriff convicted on theft, ethics charges


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – State hiring marketing firm for teacher recruitment


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Poole sworn in as state finance director; special election set


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New law eases restrictions on local food makers


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – It’s in and it’s big: Senate unveils $1T infrastructure bill


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Worker pay rises strongly as businesses fight to fill jobs


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – US consumers boost spending 1% as inflation remains high


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – August 2, 2021


AL.COM – Asinine,’ ‘Chicken Little,’ ‘Personal Liberty’: Alabama’s GOP Senate candidates blast mask mandates


AL.COM – Kay Ivey, Scott Harris promote COVID-19 vaccines in Alabama with Q&A video


AL.COM – $120 million data center planned for Auburn


AL.COM – Auburn to require face masks again starting Tuesday


AL.COM – Columnist Cameron Smith: Mo Brooks, body armor, and a senator’s job description


AL.COM – ‘We are exhausted:’ Alabama hospital’s number of COVID patients triples in a month


Montgomery Advertiser – Alabama State, Auburn announce mask requirements amid growing COVID-19 case count


Montgomery Advertiser – Alabama COVID hospitalizations near 1,600 as surge spreads


Montgomery Advertiser – Man found guilty in 2019 Prattville parking lot robbery


Times Daily – Sixth Street, Counts Drive projects on Muscle Shoals council agenda


Anniston Star – Bridal show helping turn deferred dreams into renewed reality


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Dr. Marrazzo: Delta variant more contagious than smallpox, Ebola


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Landlords weigh tough decisions post eviction moratorium


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – JCSO prepares for possible influx of evictions as moratorium ends


Tuscaloosa News – Ron Bolton, retired Northport police captain, announces bid for state House


Tuscaloosa News – Alabama COVID hospitalizations near 1,600 as surge spreads


Tuscaloosa News – Huge fire still burning at Dallas County salvage yard; no injuries reported


YellowHammer News – Tuberville cosponsors legislation to combat Alabama’s opioid epidemic


YellowHammer News – Coffee County Commissioner Josh Carnley announces bid for state senate


YellowHammer News – Dates announced for Alabama’s House District 63 special election


Gadsden Times – World’s Longest Yard Sale starts Thursday


Gadsden Times – Gadsden Regional updates visitor policies as COVID-19 cases continue to increase


Gadsden Times – Alabama COVID hospitalizations near 1,600 as surge spreads


Dothan Eagle – Olympics Latest: Cuba’s Orta Sanchez wins 60 kg Greco-Roman


Dothan Eagle – Pashinyan officially appointed Armenia’s prime minister


Opelika-Auburn News – Olympics Latest: Aussie athletes in ‘unacceptable behavior’


Opelika-Auburn News – Olympic families find solace, create bonds far from Tokyo


Opelika-Auburn News – How to chop remodeling costs when wood prices are high


WSFA Montgomery – ADPH offers toolkit to help schools with COVID-19 safety


WSFA Montgomery – Flooding reported around Montgomery


WSFA Montgomery – Fire badly damages Montgomery apartments


WAFF Huntsville – Man arrested, charged with drug trafficking in Madison County


WAFF Huntsville – Huntsville Police warn drivers about back to school traffic safety


WAFF Huntsville – Masks to be required in Madison City Schools starting Wednesday


WKRG Mobile – What’s happening around northwest Florida: Traffic improvements and big trucks


WKRG Mobile – Mobile County hits highest positive COVID-19 cases recorded since beginning of pandemic, MCHD says


WKRG Mobile – Land purchased for new Silverhill Elementary School after extensive search for acreage near town


WTVY Dothan – Elba Dam FERC license surrendered


WTVY Dothan – 2020 sets record for drug overdoses in the U.S.


WTVY Dothan – Wiregrass 211 sees impact as eviction moratorium expires


WASHINGTON POST – Liberals erupt in fury at White House over end of eviction moratorium


WASHINGTON POST – Maricopa County defies state subpoena seeking to expand GOP ballot review, calling it an ‘adventure in never-never land’


WASHINGTON POST – Next test of Trump’s influence on the Republican Party: A crowded GOP primary fight for an Ohio House seat


NEW YORK TIMES – Americans Suffer Pandemic Whiplash as Leaders Struggle With Changing Virus


NEW YORK TIMES – Olympic Gymnastics Live: Simone Biles, in Comeback, Takes Bronze in Balance Beam


NEW YORK TIMES – Olympics Live Updates: Another World Record Falls on the Track


WALL STREET JOURNAL – PepsiCo to Sell Tropicana, Naked Juice Brands to Private-Equity Firm


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Tencent Plummets as China Calls Online Gaming ‘Opium for the Mind’


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Stock Futures Point to Dow, S&P 500 Grinding Higher



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