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Daily News Digest – December 11, 2020

Good morning and Happy Friday!

Here’s your Daily News for December 11.


1. State seeing Thanksgiving virus surge

  • Alabama on Thursday hit new records for COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations and a new low for the percentage of available intensive care beds in the state.
  • The number of confirmed and probable virus deaths in Alabama topped 4,000 on Thursday. According to the Department of Public Health, 3,569 Alabamians are confirmed to have died from COVID-19 causes and another 465 deaths are in the “probable” category.
  • A record 3,453 confirmed new cases were reported Thursday and 2,170 are currently hospitalized due to the virus.
  • The wave of cases comes in the wake of holiday gatherings, a situation health officials fear could deteriorate headed into Christmas.
  • “I think we are seeing the Thanksgiving surge,” said Dr. Don Williamson, the former state health officer who now heads the Alabama Hospital Association.
  • State Health Officer Scott Harris on Wednesday said the number of Alabamians lost to the virus is the same as having “a 747 crash every month for the last 10 months.”
  • Read more from Kim Chandler HERE.



2. Congress stuck again on COVID deal

  • An emerging $900 billion COVID-19 aid package from a bipartisan group of lawmakers all but collapsed Thursday after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republican senators won’t support $160 billion in state and local funds as part of a potential trade-off in the deal.
  • McConnell’s staff conveyed to top negotiators that the GOP leader sees no path to an agreement on a key aspect of the lawmakers’ existing proposal — a slimmed-down version of the liability shield he is seeking for companies and organizations facing potential COVID-19 lawsuits — in exchange for the state and local funds that Democrats want.
  • The GOP leader criticized “controversial state bailouts” during a speech in the Senate, as he insists on a more targeted aid package.
  • Other legislative pile-ups now threaten Friday’s must-pass government funding bill. Already passed by the House, if it doesn’t clear the Senate, that would trigger a federal government shutdown on Saturday.
  • The House recessed for a few days, with leaders warning members to be prepared to return to Washington to vote on the year-end deals, while the Senate was working late into Thursday and planning a rare Friday session.
  • The breakdown over the COVID aid package, after days of behind-the-scenes talks by a group of lawmakers fed up with inaction, comes as President Donald Trump has taken the talks in another direction — insisting on a fresh round of $600 stimulus checks for Americans.
  • Full story HERE.


3. K-12 enrollment increases, still down from 2019

  • State Superintendent Eric Mackey said K-12 school enrollment has increased by about 3,300 recently, but is still down more than 6,000 students from last year likely because of COVID-19 and disruptions the pandemic has caused.
  • Official enrollment numbers are calculated as the average daily membership, or ADM, of K-12 students and are reported for 20 days following Labor Day. According to state data, this school year’s ADM shows 717,000 students. That is down from the more than 727,000 students enrolled in the 2019-2020 school year.
  • On Thursday, Mackey said school enrollment for the 2020-2021 school year is now over 720,000 again.
  • “That really is a testament to the good work of our local school systems, superintendents, principals, they’ve been sending out resource officers, social workers, making phone calls and they have identified many of these students and brought them back,” Mackey told state board of education members at their Thursday meeting.
  • Full story from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.


4. 17 AGs, 106 GOP House members sign onto Texas-led election lawsuit

  • The Texas lawsuit asking the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate President-elect Joe Biden’s victory has quickly become a conservative litmus test, as 106 members of Congress and multiple state attorneys general signed onto the case even as some have predicted it will fail.
  • The last-gasp bid to challenge the results of the Nov. 3 election is demonstrating President Donald Trump’s enduring political power even as his term is set to end. And even though most of the signatories are conservatives who come from deep red districts, the filing meant that roughly one-quarter of the U.S. House believes the Supreme Court should set aside election results.
  • Seventeen Republican attorneys general are backing the unprecedented case that Trump is calling “the big one.” That list grew to include Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall this week, with the announcement limited to social media and a Fox News appearance.
  • And in a filing Thursday, the Congressional Republicans claimed “unconstitutional irregularities” have “cast doubt” on the 2020 outcome and “the integrity of the American system of elections.”
  • They include Alabama Reps. Bradley Byrne, Mo Brooks and Gary Palmer.
  • The lawsuit claims that the certified votes from Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are invalid and should be thrown out because those states altered voting procedures to allow more absentee and mail-in voting due to COVID-19 without their Legislatures passing a law. Those states “repeatedly stripped away safeguards that the ‘Legislature thereof’ had enacted to protect against voter fraud by mail,” the suit reads.
  • Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, which concerns the election of the president, reads: “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress…”
  • Read more HERE.



5. Innovation Commission partners with Hoover Institution

  • An alliance aimed at improving Alabama’s economy has been forged with a prominent think tank as the state looks at building back better than ever from the pandemic.
  • The Alabama Innovation Commission this week announced a partnership with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution to further promote innovation and economic growth in the state. The collaboration will look to “deploy unique, world-class intellectual resources towards recommending practical and timely applications,” according to a press release announcing the partnership.
  • “The Hoover Institution is proud to partner with the Alabama Innovation Commission to help develop strategies that will create more economic opportunities for the state,” said Condoleezza Rice, Hoover Institution Director, former United States Secretary of State and Alabama Innovation Commission Advisory Council member. “Through this partnership we will be able to bring our research and expertise to identify strategies that maximize the state’s strengths and assets.”
  • The collaboration will address such areas as: the starting, recruitment and retention of companies and jobs; the development of innovation hubs; and, the commercialization of startups. Within these focus areas, it will identify ways to improve education and skills-based learning and leverage the state’s successes in a way that creates prosperity.
  • Read more from ADN’s Will Whatley HERE.



Bonus: SEC to be exclusive on ABC, ESPN

  • We must only endure another three seasons of Gary Danielson.
  • The Southeastern Conference’s signature mid-afternoon Saturday game will move from CBS to ABC starting in 2024 as part of a new 10-year contract announced Thursday with ESPN and the powerhouse football league.
  • The deal makes ESPN the exclusive media rights holder of SEC football and men’s basketball, and will end the conference’s relationship with CBS after three decades. CBS has been airing the league’s Saturday afternoon centerpiece game and football championship since 1996.
  • “The SEC has now, has had and will have a 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time broadcast network game. The change will be from CBS to ABC,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said. “So that’s a point of consistency.”
  • The SEC football championship game will also air on ABC.
  • The SEC and ESPN are already in the midst of a 20-year deal that includes a partnership on the SEC Network. The new deal will line up so both will run through the 2033-34 sports season.
  • The difference in the new deal: The mid-afternoon game is less likely to be the SEC’s game of the week. For the first time, SEC games will be available to be slotted into ABC’s Saturday Night prime-time slot, too.
  • “So Saturday night, prime time on ABC is the highest profile window, the biggest stage in terms of college football. And we love the fact that we can now bring the ABC platform into the mix, starting in 2024,” ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro told AP.
  • Sports Business Journal first reported a year ago the SEC and ESPN were moving toward a partnership. The deal would likely have been announced sooner if not for the pandemic.
  • Full story HERE.






ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – State seeing Thanksgiving COVID-19 surge with record cases, hospitalizations


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Congress stuck again COVID-19 deal


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – K-12 enrollment increases, still down from 2019


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Hundreds of GOP members sign onto Texas-led election lawsuit


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – SEC on ABC: ESPN to be exclusive TV home, starting 2024


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Dept. of Justice sues Alabama for constitutional violations in men’s prisons


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey extends mask order into January amid COVID surge


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Community colleges seek funding for workforce development, correctional campus


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – December 10, 2020


AL.COM – Only 7% of Alabama’s intensive care beds available as COVID cases surge


AL.COM – Alabama VA facility among first 37 in country to receive COVID vaccine


AL.COM – Three Alabama GOP congressmen join Texas lawsuit challenging presidential election results


AL.COM – Alabama Department of Corrections says it will ‘fervently defend’ against DOJ lawsuit


AL.COM – Gov. Kay Ivey orders flags at half-staff in honor of former Sen. Larry Dixon, who died of COVID-19


AL.COM – Alabama’s largest county down to 13 ICU beds


AL.COM – Randall Woodfin: No defunding Birmingham police but more accountability, training coming


AL.COM – Steve Marshall at White House today in support of Trump’s election fight


AL.COM – How US Steel’s $412 million Fairfield electric arc furnace works


AL.COM – For some Alabama schools, it’s home before and after the holidays as COVID cases surge


Montgomery Advertiser – Tip leads law enforcement to teen wanted in connection with rape of 11-year-old


Montgomery Advertiser – Two Montgomery nonprofits receive Gannett ‘Community Thrives’ grants


Montgomery Advertiser – ‘Deliberately indifferent’: Federal government sues Alabama over prison conditions


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – JeffCo Health Dept. received 999 complaints about mask compliance since start of pandemic


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – As of Thursday, 1 out of 183 ICU beds for adult COVID 19 patients available in Jefferson County


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Alabama football radio voice Eli Gold tests positive for COVID-19


Tuscaloosa News – Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary students get early Christmas surprise thanks to Tuscaloosa police officer


Tuscaloosa News – Just Love Coffee to open in downtown Tuscaloosa


Tuscaloosa News – Catalytic converter theft hurts Habitat for Humanity Tuscaloosa


Decatur Daily – State mask order extended as local hospitalizations spike


Decatur Daily – Almost half of Limestone’s virtual elementary students returning to classroom


Decatur Daily – Decatur City Schools to have full week off for fall break, earlier start date next year


Times Daily – Tuscumbia drainage projects costly, but much needed, mayor says


Times Daily – Muscle Shoals Council approves $24M budget


Times Daily – K-12 enrollment up, still down from 2019


Anniston Star – Cleburne nursing home will ring in new leadership come January


Anniston Star – K-12 enrollment increases, still down from 2019


Anniston Star – Crab Barrack to open Dec. 26, two more Quintard eateries announced


YellowHammer News – Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin: ‘We won’t be defunding police’


YellowHammer News – SEC Saturday afternoon football games officially moving to ESPN/ABC in $3B deal


YellowHammer News – FCC spending over $330M for high-speed internet in rural Alabama; Over 190,000 locations in state to get faster internet


Gadsden Times – Welcome home parade Friday in Centre for Worth the Wait


Gadsden Times – COVID-19 vaccine plan in Alabama: Here’s what we know


Gadsden Times – Gadsden City Schools switch to online learning, starting Monday


Dothan Eagle – Houston Co. could limit videography inside public buildings


Dothan Eagle – Dothan man now faces 56 child porn charges as forensic analysis continues


Dothan Eagle – Dothan COVID-19 hospitalizations remain stable amid statewide spikes


Opelika-Auburn News – Face masks to be required indoors and outdoors on Auburn University’s campus


Opelika-Auburn News – ‘It’s a blessing’: Hudsons’ Shop With Santa adapts to pandemic, still brings same cheer


Opelika-Auburn News – Local organization gives COVID care kits to Lee County seniors


WSFA Montgomery – ‘We are doing very well’: Small businesses find success despite pandemic


WSFA Montgomery – ADOC responds to federal lawsuit over conditions in Alabama prisons


WSFA Montgomery – Alabama football radio voice Eli Gold tests positive for COVID-19


WAFF Huntsville – Community members wonder, “What’s going on at the old Three Springs building?”


WAFF Huntsville – Decatur City Schools going virtual until 2021


WAFF Huntsville – Jackson County School cafeteria workers out due to COVID, admin staff steps up to serve meals


WKRG Mobile – Skanska asks court to absolve company from liability related to bridge closure


WKRG Mobile – ECSO: Man wanted for using victim’s debit card stolen from vehicle


WKRG Mobile – Chickasaw Elementary shuts down kindergarten due to high number of COVID cases


WTVY Dothan – Second grader holds yard sale, the payment being canned goods to help feed those in need


WTVY Dothan – Watch a Dothan inmate get tased, lawsuit promised


WTVY Dothan – Santa makes surprise visit to Lisenby Primary School


WASHINGTON POST – FDA advisers recommend Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, with agency action expected soon


WASHINGTON POST – Vaccine politics, skewed by Trump’s polarizing approach, will complicate Biden’s path to a unified pandemic response


WASHINGTON POST – Economic relief talks in disarray as congressional bickering intensifies


NEW YORK TIMES – F.D.A. Advisory Panel Gives Green Light to Pfizer Vaccine


NEW YORK TIMES – Student Loan Cancellation Sets Up Clash Between Biden and the Left


NEW YORK TIMES – In Blistering Retort, 4 Battleground States Tell Texas to Butt Out of Election


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Airbnb’s Stock Price More Than Doubles in Market Debut


WALL STREET JOURNAL – GOP Leaders See Bipartisan Group’s Covid-Aid Effort Falling Short


WALL STREET JOURNAL – FDA Panel Endorses Covid-19 Vaccine



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