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Daily News Digest – August 4, 2020

Good morning!

A special thanks to Caroline Beck for getting the news out while I took a few days off. It’s nice to have a breather every now and then.

Here’s your Daily News for Tuesday, August 4.



1. COVID-19 update


  • The Alabama Department of Public Health on Monday reported 1,116 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 89,927 since March.
  • Four deaths were reported Monday, bringing that total to 1,580.
  • The state’s seven-day average of new cases continued a slight decline Monday to 1,543, according to the independent website BamaTracker. Statewide hospitalizations continued to tick down to 1,517.
  • As schools and colleges prepare to open this month, about 20% of cases have been in Alabamians age 5 to 24.
  • The most cases, nearly 41%, have been in the age 25 to 49 demographic. Most deaths, 78%, have been in people age 65 and older.
  • The ADPH updates its data at 10 a.m. daily.
  • Read more HERE.




2. Budgets stable despite outbreak


  • Despite hits from COVID-19, revenues in Alabama’s education and General Fund budgets are still expected to show increases when the fiscal year is over in September.
  • Income tax collection this year is up .27% over last year, according to a report released Monday. Delayed from April until July because of the coronavirus, income tax had been the missing piece as state budget writers gauged the state’s fiscal health and the coronavirus outbreak’s impact.
  • In all, revenues in the Education Trust Fund, which supports public education at all levels, are up about 1.95% year-over-year. That means, despite significant uncertainty with schools starting back this fall, educators mustn’t worry about the dreaded “p” words: pink slips and proration.
  • After five months of COVID-19’s impact on Alabamians’ work and personal lives, state leaders called the revenue report good news.
  • “I’d say it’s relieving news,” Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said Monday. He’s chairman of the Senate education budget committee.
  • In the House, education budget chairman Rep. Bill Poole, R-Tuscaloosa, said the numbers are generally what has been predicted in recent months.
  • “It isn’t bad news, so therefore, in this environment, it is good news,” Poole said.
  • Full story from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.



3. Virus testing sites for colleges could prove useful for at-large population

  • The platform designed to test all Alabama college students for COVID-19 before they return to campus this fall now has 13 testing sites throughout the state and has a turnaround time for tests results around 24-48 hours.
  • State health officials said on Monday that once all college campus students are tested, this kind of high-capacity rapid testing could be used for the general public as early as the end of August.
  • “It’s a very sensitive test, very reproducible and quite reliable,” Dr. Michael Saag, a UAB infectious disease specialist at the , said during a press conference on Monday.
  • “What we are doing right now is how to pivot in the next two to three weeks, much sooner than we had originally planned, so we can provide the service to the state, which is looking for more help in terms of capacity.”
  • The 13 sites will test the more than 200,000 Alabama college students before they return to campus as part of a UAB and Alabama Department of Public Health joint effort to reopen campuses safely.
  • Along with the expansive testing, students will also be using the GuideSafe multitool platform that includes a health check COVID-19 symptoms app, an exposure notification app and an event passport app.
  • All students are required to test negative before returning to campus and must download and use the app that allows students to record their symptoms on a daily basis. Students can voluntarily use an anonymous exposure notification app that will automatically notify them if they have been near a fellow user who has tested positive.
  • Full story from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.



4. State releases ‘toolkit’ for opening schools

  • The Alabama Department of Public Health released a “toolkit” for schools on Monday that lays out protocols for in-school instruction and what to do if someone tests positive for COVID-19.
  • The 86-page document provides procedures for when a staff member or student tests positive for COVID-19, how to properly disinfect schools, how to report cases and determining school procedures based on level of risk determined by each county’s rate of infection, among other factors.
  • The toolkit is being released as some Alabama schools are starting to reopens this week, while most of Alabama’s largest districts will delay in-classroom instruction and start the year with only online instruction.
  • 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.
  • Each school system gets to decide whether it wants to do in-person teaching, virtual-only or a mix of the two.
  • Due to Gov. Kay Ivey’s statewide mask mandate, teachers and students in the second grade and above will be required to wear a face mask and maintain a six-feet separation while attending school in person.
  • Read more from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.


5. New poll shows Tuberville leading Jones by 17 points

  • With three months to go before votes are cast in November, a new Morning Consult poll shows Republican Tommy Tuberville leading Democratic incumbent Sen. Doug Jones in the race for U.S. Senate.
  • The survey showed Tuberville leading Jones 52% to 35%, with 4% saying they would vote for someone else and 9% saying they were unsure or had no option.
  • The poll also showed that President Donald Trump holds a 22 point lead over former Vice President Joe Biden among Alabama voters. Trump was the choice of 58% of state voters, while 36% chose Biden and 7% said they didn’t know or would choose someone else.
  • Read more HERE.



News Briefs


Montgomery adds property tax increase to November ballot

  • MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Commissioners in Montgmery County voted Monday to include on the November ballot a property tax increase that would add funding for the public school system, according to officials.
  • Voters in Montgomery County, which includes the state’s capital, will have the chance to vote on the tax referendum on the Nov. 3 presidential election ballot.
  • If approved, the number of mills levied on property in the county would increase by 12, with the average homeowner seeing about a $12 monthly rise in property taxes, news outlets reported Monday.
  • The measure would generate an additional $33 million per year for Montgomery County Public Schools, according to officials. School Board President Clare Weil said the funding would go toward securing a $250 million bond to cover repairs as well as toward improving school safety, instructional programming and support services, among other improvements.
  • “Tomorrow, teachers return to the classroom to begin final preparations for the 2020-2021 school year. Although the start of the school year will look very different this year, the County Commission today gave teachers a great back to school present,” Superintendent Ann Roy Moore added in a statement Monday.
  • Property owners in the town of Pike Road would not be affected by the increase because it has its own school system and tax structure, The Montgomery Advertiser said.

‘A line in the sand’: Both sides dig in on virus relief bill

  • WASHINGTON (AP) — Negotiators on a huge coronavirus relief bill reported slight progress after talks resumed in the Capitol, with issues like food for the poor and aid to schools struggling to reopen safely assuming a higher profile in the talks.
  • Multiple obstacles remain, including an impasse on extending a $600-per-week pandemic jobless benefit, funding for the U.S. Postal Service and aid to renters facing eviction. Democratic negotiators spoke of progress Monday but Republicans remain privately pessimistic.
  • Neither side has budged from their positions, with Democrats demanding an extension of the $600-per-week supplemental unemployment benefit that’s credited with propping up the economy. Republicans have yet to offer any aid to states to prevent furloughs, layoffs and cuts to services. Both will have to compromise before a deal can be agreed to.
  • Senate Republicans facing reelection in this fall’s turbulent political environment are among those most anxious for an agreement. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Monday that the chamber should not go on recess without passing the huge relief measure, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., offered a jobless benefit proposal that’s more generous than a pending GOP alternative. Both are facing closer-than-hoped reelection bids in states that should be easy holds for Republicans.
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, a lead negotiator for President Donald Trump, said Monday that “we continue to make a little bit of progress” and that the administration is not insistent on a small-bore approach centered on extending the supplemental unemployment benefit and leaving other items for later. A GOP move to advance a slimmed-down relief package has been a recent point of conflict, with Democrats insisting there must be a comprehensive deal.
  • “We’re open to a bigger package if we can reach an agreement,” Mnuchin said.
  • Full story HERE.

Trump fires TVA chair, cites hiring of foreign workers

  • WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Monday that he had fired the chair of the Tennessee Valley Authority, criticizing the federally owned corporation for hiring foreign workers.
  • Trump told reporters at the White House that he was formally removing chair Skip Thompson and another member of the board, and he threatened to remove other board members if they continued to hire foreign labor. Thompson was appointed to the post by Trump.
  • The TVA was created in 1933 to provide flood control, electricity generation, fertilizer manufacturing and economic development to the Tennessee Valley, a region that was hard hit by the Great Depression. The region covers most of Tennessee and parts of Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky as well as small sections of Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.
  • Trump also removed board member Richard Howorth, another presidential appointee.
  • Trump also urged the TVA board to immediately hire a new chief executive officer who “puts the interests of Americans first.” According to the president, the current CEO, Jeff Lyash, earned $8 million a year.
  • “The new CEO must be paid no more than $500,000 a year,” said Trump, who lacks the authority to remove the CEO. “We want the TVA to take action on this immediately. … Let this serve as a warning to any federally appointed board: If you betray American workers, you will hear two words: ‘You’re fired.'”
  • Full story HERE.





ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New COVID-19 cases continue downward trend; 4 deaths reported Monday


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – State budgets remain stable despite outbreak


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New poll shows Tuberville leading Jones by 17 points


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – State releases ‘toolkit’ for safely reopening schools


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Virus testing sites for colleges could prove useful for at large population


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – ‘A line in the sand’: Both sides dig in on virus relief bill


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump fires TVA chair, cites hiring of foreign workers


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – State enters agreement to recruit South Korean STEM educators


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – AlabamaWorks! launches survey on workplace behavioral health




AL.COM – UA chancellor says it’s now on students, faculty to responsibly reenter campus


AL.COM – Removal of Confederate monument in Huntsville ‘is going to happen,’ councilman says


AL.COM – George Floyd hologram makes appearance in Birmingham


AL.COM – 33,000+ laptops, bound for Alabama schools, held up in customs


AL.COM – 29 active COVID-19 cases in Alabama’s federal prisons


AL.COM – Alabama college students must report symptoms online after testing negative


AL.COM – Trump takes ax to TVA leaders, cites foreign outsourcing, CEO pay


AL.COM – BBVA, Google collaborating on digital bank account for 2021


AL.COM – Coronavirus won’t stop World’s Longest Yard Sale


AL.COM – Lord & Taylor, Men’s Wearhouse, Jos. A. Bank file for bankruptcy


Montgomery Advertiser – LIFE Academy, set to open as charter on St. Jude campus, receives $1.5 million grant


Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery says no to new liquor stores. Now it faces a lawsuit.


Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery woman accused of cashing over $3,200 in forged checks in 89-year-old man’s name


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Despite COVID-19, flat income tax collections, state’s budgets expected to end year up


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – AL community colleges plan for start of school, will COVID-19 tests be required?


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – ACT test registration now open, what you need to know


Tuscaloosa News – Work underway on McDonald Hughes improvements


Tuscaloosa News – Alabama county voting on property tax hike


Tuscaloosa News – UA takes more steps for coronavirus testing


Decatur Daily – Athens State, other Alabama colleges start pre-entry student testing


Decatur Daily – Police chief: Hartselle killing ‘resolution’ coming ‘very soon’


Decatur Daily – Parents struggle as schools reopen amid coronavirus surge


Times Daily – Trump fires TVA chair


Times Daily – Mayoral forums kick off with Florence tonight


Times Daily – State revenues are higher despite pandemic


Anniston Star – Up to 20 dead of COVID-19 in Calhoun County, including 5 in long-term care facilities


Anniston Star – Despite COVID-19 and flat income tax collections, state’s budgets expected to end year up


Anniston Star – College reentry program launches, leaving students confused about COVID testing


YellowHammer News – Alabama Ag Commissioner Pate gives update on unsolicited seed packages from China, urges public to stay ‘vigilant’


YellowHammer News – State of Alabama, University of Alabama System officials unveil GuideSafe app aiming to keep schools virus-free


YellowHammer News – Trump fires TVA board chair after outsourcing uproar


Gadsden Times – Etowah County’s COVID death toll surges


Gadsden Times – Two women killed in Sunday crash on Albert Rains Boulevard


Gadsden Times – As the South’s Confederate monuments come down, where will they end up?


Dothan Eagle – Couple who died same day from COVID-19 remembered as loving, genuine people


Dothan Eagle – Death investigation continues in Clayhatchee


Dothan Eagle – Answer Man: What happened to the market for hogs in Dothan?


Opelika-Auburn News – Hospital officials still concerned despite drop in COVID-19 hospitalizations


Opelika-Auburn News – AuburnBank, street work on Auburn city agenda


Opelika-Auburn News – Police reports from Aug. 3


WSFA Montgomery – Alabama rushes to get internet access to students before school year starts


WSFA Montgomery – Applications open for Opelika small businesses and residents for help with bills, expenses


WSFA Montgomery – MPS students can still receive counseling services while at home


WAFF Huntsville – Huntsville councilman sponsors resolution that could impact monuments


WAFF Huntsville – Highland Medical Centers provide training to schools to prevent COVID-19


WAFF Huntsville – Brother speaks out after Huntsville woman found murdered in Tennessee


WKRG Mobile – Voters to cast ballots on fire issues in Mobile County Tuesday


WKRG Mobile – Isaias makes landfall as a hurricane in southern North Carolina


WKRG Mobile – Foley police chief retiring at the end of August


WTVY Dothan – State election observers will watch Abbeville municipal election


WTVY Dothan – Poll workers needed ahead of Nov. 3 general election


WTVY Dothan – Gov. Kay Ivey allocates $100 million to increase internet access for students


WASHINGTON POST – Chad Wolf emerges as Trump’s favorite Department of Homeland Security chief


WASHINGTON POST – Coronavirus cases are climbing in Midwest states with previously low infections


WASHINGTON POST – After months of favor, Birx raises Trump’s ire with grim coronavirus assessment


NEW YORK TIMES – With Jobless Aid Expired, Trump Sidelines Himself in Stimulus Talks


NEW YORK TIMES – When Covid Subsided, Israel Reopened Its Schools. It Didn’t Go Well.


NEW YORK TIMES – D.A. Is Investigating Trump and His Company Over Fraud, Filing Suggests


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Trump Says U.S. Should Get Slice of TikTok Sale Price


WALL STREET JOURNAL – BP Reports $17.7 Billion Loss, Cuts Dividend


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Bayer Swings to Net Loss on Roundup Settlement Deal



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