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Daily News Digest – August 5, 2020

Good morning!

Here’s your Daily News for Wednesday, August 5.


1. COVID-19 update

  • The Alabama Department of Public Health reported 963 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, the first time in nearly a month the daily new cases was less than 1,000.
  • Since March, 90,890 cases and 1,611 deaths have been confirmed, according to ADPH. The department reports that at least 35,401 people are presumed recovered.
  • The state’s seven-day average of new cases continued to dip with Monday’s new numbers to 1,512. It has been declining since July 19, according to BamaTracker, an independent website that analyzes ADPH numbers.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday reported nearly 4.7 million total cases and 155,204 deaths nationwide.
  • Georgia Tech recently launched a COVID-19 risk assessment tool that shows by county the risk of encountering someone with COVID-19 in a crowd. The site lets users adjust the size of the possible crowd.
  • Read more HERE.


2. Bedsole, Penhale go to runoff in HD49

  • Republicans Russell Bedsole and Mimi Penhale will go to a primary runoff in the special election for State House District 49.
  • According to unofficial results from the Alabama Secretary of State’s office, Bedsole won 34.82% of the vote while Penhale captured 31.41%. Under Alabama law, if no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote, a runoff is held to determine the winner.
  • The special election is needed to fill the House District 49 vacancy created when former State Rep. April Weaver resigned to take a position in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • The special primary runoff will be held Tuesday, September 1 and the general election will be held on Tuesday, November 17. Cheryl Patton is the Democratic nominee.



3. Alabama eviction cases rose in June, expected to keep increasing

  • Alabama is seeing an increase in eviction cases as Congress stalls on decisions to extend weekly unemployment benefits and state and federal moratoriums on evictions expire.
  • Legal Services of Alabama, which provides legal aid to low-income families, told Alabama Daily News that the month of June saw a 70% increase in eviction cases compared to June of 2019.
  • Michael Forton, director of advocacy for LSA, said there are two groups of people when it comes to the recent eviction cases he’s seen: people who have lived paycheck to paycheck for most their life and have created enough of a safety net to get by before the pandemic; and newly poor people.
  • The combination of both is flooding Alabama’s unemployment system and causing eviction cases to rise, Forton said.
  • “All the programs that were available before are now all of a sudden getting slammed because new people are coming in who are poor for the first time,” Forton told ADN.
  • Gov. Kay Ivey placed a moratorium on evictions at the beginning of the pandemic as part of her “Stay at Home” public health order, but that ended June 1. The federal eviction ban that protects more than 12 million renters living in federally subsidized apartments or units with federally backed mortgages ended July 25. Landlords now can initiate eviction proceedings after a 30-day-notice if renters do not pay.
  • The extra $600 of weekly federal unemployment benefits as part of the CARES Act expired last week. Alabama unemployment is a maximum of $275 a week.
  • The United States Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey shows that 33.3% of Alabama’s adult population say they have missed last month’s rent or have little or no confidence that they can pay next month’s rent.
  • Read more from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.


4. Report shows Alabama has lowest family insurance premiums


  • A new federal report shows Alabama residents pay the lowest average family health insurance premiums in the country.
  • According to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Alabama’s average annual family health insurance premium for 2019 was $17,734 – the lowest of all 50 states.
  • Historical data from the survey show Alabama’s premiums have remained below the national average and ranked among the bottom 10 nationally for the last 10 years.
  • The survey also shows the average family health insurance premium has increased significantly in the last ten years, both in Alabama and nationally. Alabama’s average family premium was $12,409 in 2010, more than $5,000 lower than the 2019 average. Nationally, the average family premium has increased from $13,871 in 2010 to $20,486 in 2019.
  • Tim Vines, president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, said said Alabama’s low costs relative to other states shows efforts to control costs are paying off.
  • Read more and see the charts HERE.



5. Shelby ‘bullish’ on effort to grow FBI’s Huntsville presence

  • On April 1 last year, I joked that U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby had announced plans to move the nation’s capital from Washington, D.C. to Huntsville, Alabama.
  • The key to a good April Fool’s joke is plausibility, and given Shelby’s mission to grow Huntsville’s federal presence, some readers didn’t bat an eye at first blush.
  • Now, it seems Washington types are finally in on the joke.
  • Last week, President Donald Trump’s plans to put $1.8 billion for a new FBI headquarters in the latest coronavirus relief bill fell apart. There’s a lot of disagreement about where a new headquarters should be located, and some have a problem with spending a lot of taxpayer money sprucing up the property across the street from Trump’s Pennsylvania Avenue hotel.
  • As those disagreements festered, Shelby has quietly continued to direct federal appropriations to the FBI’s new national center on Redstone Arsenal.
  • Over the last three years, Shelby has allocated more than $1.1 billion to the project that will see as many as 1,500 FBI personnel transfer from the D.C. area to Huntsville.
  • It’s an old school Capitol Hill power move that is rarely seen in today’s politics of TV soundbites and Twitter dunks.
  • It’s also an interesting story that Erica Werner and Jonathan O’Connell of The Washington Post tell very well. Read their full story HERE.


News Briefs


Officials: School laptops held up ahead of new academic year

  • About 4,000 new laptop computers bound for an Alabama school district were held up over issues with manufacturers, weeks before the school year was set to begin with increased online learning amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to education officials.
  • Etowah County Schools Superintendent Alan Cosby said Tuesday that his district ordered the Chromebook computers in June through a reseller called Trinity3 Technology, which helps supply schools with remote learning technology. He said the district ended up canceling the order after attempting to resolve the delay.
  • The laptops were scheduled for delivery to his system this week, but the reseller informed district officials that the computers, manufactured by Lenovo, were being held by the U.S. Department of Commerce in customs because they also involved a separate electronics company that was accused of involvement in human rights violations in China, Cosby said.
  • That company was Hefei Bitland Information Technology Company, one of 11 Chinese companies that the U.S. imposed trade sanctions on last month as the Commerce Department cracked down on imports made with suspected forced labor, as well as companies implicated in other human rights abuses in China’s Muslim northwestern region of Xinjiang, officials said.
  • But the U.S. Department of Commerce said late Tuesday that it had not seized any laptops.
  • Full story from Sophia Tulp HERE.

Progress slow as urgency grows on virus relief legislation

  • WASHINGTON (AP) — Frustrated Senate Republicans re-upped their complaints that Democratic negotiators are taking too hard a line in talks on a sweeping coronavirus relief bill, but an afternoon negotiating session brought at least modest concessions from both sides, even as an agreement appears far off.
  • Top Democrats emerged from a 90-minute meeting Tuesday with Trump administration officials to declare more progress. The Trump team agreed with that assessment and highlighted its offer to extend a moratorium on evictions from federally subsidized housing through the end of the year.
  • White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Tuesday’s session was “probably the most productive meeting we’ve had to date.” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the two sides set a goal of reaching an agreement by the end of the week to permit a vote next week.
  • “I would characterize concessions made by Secretary Mnuchin and the administration as being far more substantial than the concessions that had been made by the Democrat negotiators,” Meadows said.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., issued a pointed reminder that she and Schumer are “legislators with long experience” and a track record of working complicated deals — a rejoinder to critics complaining that they are being too tough and that the talks are taking too long.
  • “We agree that we want to have an agreement,” Pelosi said. “Let’s engineer back from there as to what we have to do to get that done.”
  • Another glimmer of hope emerged as a key Senate Republican telegraphed that the party may yield to Democrats on an increase in the food stamp benefit as part of the huge rescue measure, which promises to far exceed a $1 trillion target set by the GOP.
  • Full story HERE.

Man charged with defrauding fund for slain Alabama officer

  • BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A man is charged with stealing from a memorial fund that was established to help the family of an Alabama police officer who was killed last year, authorities said Tuesday.
  • Devonte Lemond Hammonds, 27, of Birmingham was charged with multiple counts of fraud, federal prosecutors said in a news release. He was charged with taking money from a fund set up help to aid relatives of Huntsville police officer Billy Clardy, who was shot to death in the line of duty in December.
  • Hammonds allegedly used the identity of another person to open a bank account and transfer funds from the Billy Clardy Memorial Fund for his own use, authorities said.
  • The man also used the U.S. Postal Service website to reroute mail to addresses and used personal information from senders to pay bills, buy items and open accounts, the statement said.
  • An attorney representing Hammonds, Gregory Reid, declined comment.





ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New COVID-19 cases dip below 1,000 for first time in nearly a month


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Report shows Alabama with lowest family insurance premiums


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama eviction cases rose in June, expected to keep increasing


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Officials: Laptops for Alabama schools seized in customs


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Progress slow as urgency grows on virus relief legislation


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




AL.COM – Mandatory 2-week stay-at-home order favored by majority, poll shows


AL.COM – First schools reopen in Alabama this week, many more scrambling, changing plans


AL.COM – Alabama Power to refund $100 million to customers


AL.COM – Shipt partnering on Medicare grocery delivery


AL.COM – UA trustees to vote on building name change, athletics contracts Wednesday


AL.COM – Tommy Tuberville says $600 unemployment boost ‘way too much’


AL.COM – Just 15% of Alabama ICU beds are available and officials are concerned


Montgomery Advertiser – As retirements mount, some worry Prattville police experiencing a ‘brain drain’


Montgomery Advertiser – Police identify two teens killed in overnight shooting, classify case a death investigation


Montgomery Advertiser – Catholic church in Prattville closes after priest tests positive for coronavirus


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Alabama Power customers will get a credit in October


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Jefferson County Schools will start with remote learning


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Birmingham man indicted for fraud against Huntsville Police Officer’s memorial fund


Tuscaloosa News – West Tuscaloosa shooting leads to felony charges


Tuscaloosa News – Bars, restaurants to face new limits under mayoral executive powers


Tuscaloosa News – Tuscaloosa seeks historic commission applicants


Decatur Daily – State enters agreement to recruit South Korean STEM educators


Decatur Daily – State budgets remain stable despite pandemic


Decatur Daily – Decatur women launch handmade chalk business during pandemic


Times Daily – TVA Police investigating explosion, fatality on Wilson Dam


Times Daily – Cherokee meeting/officer hearing rescheduled for Thursday


Times Daily – Conservation specialist defends decision to euthanize “pet” deer


Anniston Star – Confederate monument to be moved to rural park


Anniston Star – Quick contract negotiation gives Anniston school chief three more years


Anniston Star – Confederate monument to be moved to rural park


YellowHammer News – Space and Rocket Center saved by public support


YellowHammer News – KBR awarded $165M for Alabama work on U.S. Army tactical weapon systems


YellowHammer News – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama touts study showing Alabama families pay lowest premiums in nation


Gadsden Times – COVID-19 testing Wednesday at Antioch Baptist Church


Gadsden Times – Man charged with 36 counts of child porn


Gadsden Times – Sales tax receipts sustain city revenues


Dothan Eagle – Democrats in Houston County look to future


Dothan Eagle – Cottonwood woman arrested on multiple forgery charges


Dothan Eagle – Man arrested after assaulting girlfriend


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


Opelika-Auburn News – Ivey seeks candidates with three Auburn University trustee seats open


Opelika-Auburn News – Deputy fires shot to break up knife fight between two brothers


WSFA Montgomery – Montgomery mayor looks back at 2020 fiscal year


WSFA Montgomery – Luverne Health and Rehabilitation confirms COVID-19 cases


WSFA Montgomery – Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries reacts to Dixie the deer shooting


WAFF Huntsville – US Space & Rocket Center reaches fundraising goal


WAFF Huntsville – Fort Payne officials make COVID-19 preparations for municipal voting


WAFF Huntsville – 34 more Ala. nursing homes to receive rapid COVID-19 test machines


WKRG Mobile – Trump encourages Florida voters to vote by mail


WKRG Mobile – Fund to save Space Camp reaches $1.5 million goal


WKRG Mobile – Baldwin County Public Schools Superintendent Eddie Tyler issues statement on student’s killed in car crash


WTVY Dothan – Small town gets big check for fire department


WTVY Dothan – Emergency Management Agencies Offer Hurricane Safety Reminders During Pandemic


WTVY Dothan – Students at the University of Alabama face new requirements due to coronavirus


WASHINGTON POST – Beirut blast death toll rises to 100 with more fatalities feared


WASHINGTON POST – With bad coronavirus news at home, Trump points misleadingly to rising cases abroad


WASHINGTON POST – Rep. Marshall wins Senate GOP primary in Kansas, prevailing over Kobach


NEW YORK TIMES – As Death Toll Rises After Deadly Blast, a Search for Answers and Survivors: Live Updates


NEW YORK TIMES – Kris Kobach Loses Kansas Senate Primary, Easing Republican Worries


NEW YORK TIMES – McConnell Signals Openness to Jobless Aid Extension


WALL STREET JOURNAL – With Biotech Stocks, Investors Love the Thrill of the Chase


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Justice Department Seeks as Much as $18.1 Billion From Purdue Pharma


WALL STREET JOURNAL – U.S. Stock Futures Edge Higher, Gold Rallies



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