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Daily News Digest – August 6, 2020

Presented by

The Business Council of Alabama



Good morning!
From time to time, I find it interesting to look back at what was in the news and how it has changed. Five months ago, we were coming off a heated primary election, while we saw the first warnings that the coronavirus could have an impact here. Six months ago, we were starting an action-packed legislative session, the president had just been acquitted in his impeachment trial and there wasn’t one headline about the coronavirus (at least not that day).
Just some perspective to illustrate how much the world has changed in a short matter of months.
Here’s your Daily News for Thursday, August 6.




1. COVID-19 update

  • If you’ve been following along this week, you may have noticed a trend with Alabama’s coronavirus statistics: the number of new cases is going down.
  • Last week, the state was reporting as many as 2,000 new virus cases per day.
  • For the second straight day, the state has reported fewer than 1,000 new cases, and Wednesday’s total of 886 was the lowest daily total since June.
  • The trend, which can be clearly seen in BamaTracker’s handy charts, certainly looks good. And that has state officials optimistic.
  • “I do think we may have flattened a little bit,” State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said. “We’re sort of cautiously optimistic that the July Fourth surge has peaked,” he added, referring to the holiday when many people attended gatherings.
  • Lest we get complacent, health officials are warning that the upcoming start of school, including on college campuses, will likely result in more virus transmissions.
  • “We are going to have cases in our schools and there is no question about that,” Harris said. He said there will be students “who are going to be positive on the first day of school.”
  • Dr. Don Williamson, the former state health officer who now heads the Alabama Hospital Association, said there will be “almost a certain increase because of school re-entry and college re-entry.”
  • “In a college town, bars, fraternity and sorority gatherings — any group gathering — is going to create a wonderful environment for viral transmission,” Williamson said.
  • Full story from Kim Chandler HERE.



2. ‘We are their safe place.’ Child abuse reporting dropped when schools closed

  • The number of child abuse and neglect reports to the state dropped significantly in the spring when the coronavirus outbreak abruptly closed schools and child care centers and fewer eyes were on children.
  • Now, as hundreds of thousands of students prepare to start their school year from home instead of in classrooms, officials are reminding teachers that state law says they must report suspected abuse, even if their interactions with students are online.
  • The number of child abuse and neglect reports received by the Alabama Department of Human Resources dropped by 14% in March 2020 compared to March 2019. The decreases in April and May were 40% and nearly 22%, respectively.
  • Prevention reports, taken when a child may be at risk of maltreatment but the situation doesn’t rise to the level of abuse or neglect, have also decreased in a similar pattern.
  • “For some students, we are their safe place,” said Dorran Tanner, student services coordinator at Alabaster City Schools. “We do see and we notice, because so much time is spent with kids in the classroom, we notice when there’s something’s off or something’s not right, or if there’s a pattern of something.”
  • Tanner started her career as a licensed clinical social worker. Now, under-reported abuse is one of her largest concerns about the ongoing pandemic.
  • Read the full story from ADN’s Mary Sell 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. Census deadline moved up, Alabama officials urge for more responses

  • Federal census counting efforts will now end Sept. 30, about four weeks earlier than originally scheduled, and with Alabama’s response rate not where officials would like it to be, leaders are stressing the need for Alabamians to respond now.
  • Currently, Alabama has a 60.6% self-response rate but census officials say that is not enough to hold on to critical federal funding or even a congressional seat.
  • “If we finished at this level today, we would likely lose a congressional representative, not to mention a share of critical federal funding that supports important programs like school lunches, roads and infrastructure, SNAP, health care and education,” Mike Presley, the director of communications for Alabama’s Department of Economic and Community Affairs, told Alabama Daily News.
  • U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham announced the change this week saying the bureau wanted to accelerate the completion of data collection to meet the federal deadline in order to get the final numbers to President Donald Trump by Dec. 31.
  • The census is constitutionally required to count all U.S. residents every 10 years.
  • Critics of the deadline change say it will not allow for accurate counting of hardest-to-reach residents and would give political advantage to Republicans during state and federal redistricting.
  • Full story from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.



4. Capitol negotiators still trying on virus aid

  • After more than a week’s worth of meetings, at least some clarity is emerging in the bipartisan Washington talks on a huge COVID-19 response bill. Negotiators are still stuck, but still trying.
  • A combative meeting Wednesday involving top Capitol Hill Democrats and the postmaster general and a souring tone from both sides indicate that a long slog remains, and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows threatened afterward that President Donald Trump is exploring options to use executive authority to extend a partial eviction ban and address unemployment benefits.
  • After some movement Tuesday in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s direction on aid to states and local governments and unemployment insurance benefits, Wednesday’s session offered no breakthroughs or major progress, participants said afterward.
  • “If we can reach a compromise on these big issues, I think everything else will fall into place. If we can’t reach an agreement on these big issues then I don’t see us coming to an overall deal,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said after the two-hour meeting. “And then we’ll have to look at the president taking actions under his executive authority.”
  • Multiple issues remain, but some areas of likely agreement are coming into focus.
  • Read more about where things stand on the different issues HERE.


5. Space Camp exceeds goal, will remain open

  • Good news!
  • A fundraising drive has reached its goal of bringing in $1.5 million to save Space Camp from closing because of the coronavirus pandemic, organizers said.
  • A corporate donation of $250,000 by the technology company SAIC Inc. pushed the effort over the top, officials said.
  • Nearly 8,000 people and companies from three dozen countries contributed to the “Save Space Camp” drive in the week it took to reach the goal, and donations will continue to be accepted.
  • The largest donation came from the Boeing Company, which gave $500,000 to the effort last week. Boeing employs more than 3,000 at its Huntsville facilities supporting missile defense, engineering and space missions.
  • Space Camp is an internationally known educational program run by the state-owned U.S. Space and Rocket Center. Leaders said the pandemic has hurt revenues so badly that donations were needed to continue operating the museum and to reopen Space Camp in the spring.
  • Full story HERE.



News Briefs

University of Alabama to remove slavery supporter’s name from hall

  • TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — The University of Alabama has decided to remove from an academic building the name of a white doctor who misused medical evidence to support slavery, according to school officials.
  • The system’s board of trustees voted unanimously Wednesday to strip the name of Dr. Josiah Nott from the campus facility which houses the Honors College, labs and offices, and replace it with Honors Hall, news outlets reported.
  • Nott helped found the university’s medical school in Mobile and the building bearing his name on the Tuscaloosa campus opened in the 1920s. But a working group the board appointed in June to review building names found that the doctor’s contributions to the university were “minimal at best.”
  • “Our group found that Josiah Nott, who supported slavery, misused medical evidence to argue that non-white races were inferior and that my ancestors, like scores of others, were destined for destruction,” said Trustee John England, who is Black.
  • “Of course, I’m still here,” England added.
  • The university previously authorized the removal of plaques dedicated to Confederate soldiers from a campus quad. Board president pro tempore Ronald Gray said Wednesday that the work is ongoing and “far from finished,” news outlets reported.
  • The action comes as other universities and institutions around the world have faced calls to address racist legacies. Protesters in the U.S. have also called for Confederate monuments and other icons to be removed during this year’s demonstrations against racial injustice.
  • Story link.

Tuscaloosa to limit nightlife as college students return

  • TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Leaders in Tuscaloosa are moving to limit nightlife in the college town during the pandemic as thousands of students return to school for the fall semester.
  • The Tuscaloosa News reports that a divided City Council approved a measure Tuesday night that allows Mayor Walt Maddox to enact rules aimed at combatting a surge in coronavirus cases in the city.
  • Among the regulations is a move to reduce the capacity at bars to 50% after 9 p.m.; there’s currently no limit. Another rule would reduce the occupancy of entertainment venues to 25%, down from 50%.
  • The limits, which are expected to take effect Thursday, are in addition to statewide rules that include masks for anyone who is in public and can’t socially distance.
  • “To take no action is to resign Tuscaloosa to a health care and economic fate that we would regret,” Maddox said Wednesday. “The stakes have never been higher on this issue.”
  • Students already are arriving for the fall at the University of Alabama, where classes begin Aug. 19. The city of about 100,000 people also is home to Shelton State Community College and Stillman College.
  • Maddox said it might be impossible to protect Tuscaloosa residents from the spread of the coronavirus without additional rules. The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Tuscaloosa County has grown by 750, almost 23%, over the past two weeks.

Confederate monument vandalized outside Madison County Courthouse

  • HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — A Confederate monument in Alabama that has been the subject of protests against racial injustice was discovered vandalized early Wednesday.
  • What appeared to be red paint was splattered all over the base of the rebel statue outside the Madison County Courthouse in Huntsville, news outlets reported. Sheriff’s officials said they were investigating.
  • Erected in 1905 by a Confederate heritage group, the memorial was the subject of days of protests following the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota. An inscription on the base says the statue was dedicated to Confederate dead.
  • City and county officials have passed resolutions to move the monument from the courthouse to a city cemetery, but nothing has been done. A state law passed in 2017 to protect Confederate memorials provides a $25,000 penalty for moving or altering such monuments.

State Dept.: Russia pushes disinformation in online network

  • CHICAGO (AP) — The State Department says Russia is using a well-developed online operation that includes a loose collection of proxy websites to stir up confusion around the coronavirus by amplifying conspiracy theories and misinformation.
  • The department detailed a Russian-backed misinformation cycle that spreads false information online through state officials and state-funded media reports, by infiltrating U.S. social media conversation, and leveraging a deceptive internet framework of websites. The Kremlin’s efforts have most recently focused on conspiracy theories around the pandemic, the report found.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the U.S. would offer a reward of up to $10 million for information that identifies people working with foreign governments to interfere in the U.S. election through illegal cyber activity.
  • “Russia is playing a significant role in creating and spreading misinformation and propaganda around many topics,” said Lea Gabrielle, head of the State Department’s Global Engagement Center.
  • Full story HERE.

University of Alabama gives OC Steve Sarkisian big raise, to $2.5 million

  • TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will make $2.5 million a year under a new three-year deal reached after his flirtation with the Colorado head coaching job.
  • University trustees approved Sarkisian’s new deal and others for assistant coaches and support staffers on Wednesday. It includes a raise of more than $800,000.
  • A former Washington and USC head coach, Sarkisian agreed to the new deal in February after being targeted by Colorado. It was pending formal approval by trustees.
  • Sarkisian signed a three-year deal worth $1.6 million annually in March 2019, returning to Alabama after two seasons running the Atlanta Falcons’ offense.
  • In July, Sarkisian underwent a procedure to correct a congenital cardiovascular anomaly, but the university said he is expected to make a full recovery.
  • Defensive coordinator Pete Golding got a bump from $1.1 million to $1.25 million with his three-year deal.
  • Other deals approved include:
  • — Charles Kelly, associate defensive coordinator, two years, $550,000 annually.
  • — Charles Huff, associate head coach offense, two years ($800,000 and $825,000 per).
  • — Freddie Roach, defensive line, three years, $700,000 annually.
  • — Assistant coaches, two-year deals: Jeff Banks, $725,000 per year, Sal Sunseri, $675,000; Karl Scott, $550,000; Holman Wiggins, $475,000.
  • — Support staffers also got raises. New directors of sports performance and strength and conditioning David Ballou ($500,000 and $525,000) and Matthew Rhea ($450,000 and $475,000) each got two-year deals. So did director of player personnel Bob Welton, who will make $220,000 annually.
  • — Basketball assistant Antonio Pettway, two years, $325,000 annually.




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – COVID-19 cases decline as state braces for school impact


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – ‘We are their safe place.’ Child abuse reporting dropped when schools closed


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Census deadline moved up, Alabama officials urge response


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Capitol negotiators still stuck, still trying on virus aid


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – ‘Save Space Camp’ drive reaches $1.5M goal; Boeing gave $500K


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – University of Alabama to remove slavery supporter’s name from hall


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – State Dept.: Russia pushes disinformation in online network


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


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




AL.COM – Absentee voting lawsuit against state dismissed by judge


AL.COM – Alabama strips racist’s name from campus building


AL.COM – Alabama plans for 450 beds to isolate COVID-positive students


AL.COM – Tuberville softens stance on jobless benefits after saying $600 boost is ‘way too much’


AL.COM – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: Just pay the players already


AL.COM – Who will make Alabama students wear masks and social distance?


AL.COM – Pandemic increases need for Alabama poll workers for November election


Montgomery Advertiser – Alabama Supreme Court justices appear to side with PSC in video recording lawsuit


Montgomery Advertiser – As public support for Medicaid expansion grows, local activists ramp up effort


Montgomery Advertiser – Licenses revoked: Montgomery puts Club Ciroc, Empire Entertainment out of business


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Pre-K will happen in AL, here’s how to sign up


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Alabama eviction cases rose in June, expected to keep increasing


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Special Education Director says special needs students will need individual plans when returning to school


Tuscaloosa News – COVID-19 cases decline, but Alabama braces for school impact


Tuscaloosa News – UA building named for slavery advocate to get new name


Tuscaloosa News – Mayor: New bar rules needed to stem coming COVID-19 spread


Decatur Daily – Health official: County risk indicator just one factor to consider in school closures


Decatur Daily – Baggs wants to become mayor so Decatur can have ‘good things’


Decatur Daily – Moulton candidates want projects finished, more revenue


Times Daily – Monument, homelessness among forum discussions


Times Daily – Evictions could get worse without benefits


Times Daily – McMillin says dual career a plus for mayor’s position


Anniston Star – Anniston drops health department as polling place for city


Anniston Star – Anniston man charged with April assault


Anniston Star – Two vie for seat on Anniston school board


YellowHammer News – Alabama Power sends hundreds of linemen, support personnel to assist after Tropical Storm Isaias hammered East Coast


YellowHammer News – Ivey named to leadership of National Governors Association


YellowHammer News – Dollar General opens 450,000 square foot distribution center in Montgomery


Gadsden Times – Council announces details of community advisory committee


Gadsden Times – Gadsden City system sticks to remote opening


Gadsden Times – Etowah schools to stagger start for first week of classes


Dothan Eagle – Columbia receives check to assist in rebuilding fire/rescue department


Dothan Eagle – Dothan police receive pay raise


Dothan Eagle – Houston County Schools will likely delay reopening until after Labor Day with revised virtual program


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


Opelika-Auburn News – Envision Opelika bringing awareness to local groups


Opelika-Auburn News – Auburn High football makes schedule changes due to COVID-19


WSFA Montgomery – Thousands struggling to recover after economic downturn due to COVID-19


WSFA Montgomery – Man injured after shooting in Montgomery Wednesday


WSFA Montgomery – Hospitals prepare for COVID-19 surge possibility as schools reopen


WAFF Huntsville – Fort Payne City Schools receive new electric school buses


WAFF Huntsville – Protests after Madison County Courthouse Confederate monument vandalized


WAFF Huntsville – Huntsville Hospital: Expect a week to get COVID-19 testing results


WKRG Mobile – Back to school vaccines required even for remote learning


WKRG Mobile – Police use K-9 in investigation after chase ends on Water Street


WKRG Mobile – Saraland Schools expects about 88% of students back to class on Thursday


WTVY Dothan – Jackson County Sheriff looking for man last seen in Dothan


WTVY Dothan – Land purchased for Wiregrass Pet Rescue and Adoption Center


WTVY Dothan – Houston County Democratic Party hosts 2020 campaign kickoff


WASHINGTON POST – Trump threatens executive actions as coronavirus relief deal remains elusive on Capitol Hill


WASHINGTON POST – America is about to start online learning, Round 2. For millions of students, it won’t be any better.


WASHINGTON POST – Federal officers may be leaving Portland, but federal charges will linger for many


NEW YORK TIMES – As Smoke Clears in Beirut, Shock Turns to Anger


NEW YORK TIMES – Postal Service Funding Dispute Complicates Impasse Over U.S. Virus Stimulus


NEW YORK TIMES – Trump Raises $165 Million With G.O.P. in July, Overtaking Biden


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Quicken Loans Parent Prices IPO at $18


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Instagram’s Short-Video Feature Reels Debuts in U.S. as Threats to TikTok Mount


WALL STREET JOURNAL – White House Negotiators Press Democrats on Stimulus Talks



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