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Daily News Digest – December 16, 2020

Presented by

the Energy Institute of Alabama


Good morning!

Here’s your Daily News for Wednesday, December 16.



1. Vaccinations begin

  • Health care workers and a few others began receiving the first vaccinations against the new coronavirus in Alabama on Tuesday as cases of the illness caused by the virus soared.
  • Two physicians at Southeast Health in Dothan were the first in the state to receive the vaccine, the Alabama Department of Public Health said. Cullman Regional Medical Center said a longtime nurse, Donna Snow, had received an initial dose of the two-step vaccine a day after the hospital, located north of Birmingham, received its first shipment.
  • “I’m hopeful that more people are able to take the vaccine so we can begin to see a decline in the number of critically ill patients and families impacted by this disease,” Snow, who works in critical care, said in a statement released by the hospital.
  • On a day that state statistics showed more than 3,600 new cases of COVID-19 had been recorded in Alabama, veterans and health care workers at the Birmingham VA Medical Center also began receiving vaccinations. Additional hospitals will begin providing vaccinations — most to front-line health care workers at first — as more shipments arrive.
  • Workers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, which is providing vaccinations for multiple organizations across seven counties, will begin giving the first of 11,000 doses on a large scale on Friday, said Dr. Sarah Nafziger of UAB Hospital. As many as 1,000 people a day could get the shots.
  • “That’s our goal,” she said. It’s unclear when the vaccine will be available to members of the general public, Nafziger said, but it could be by spring.
  • Read more HERE.



2. Kirk Hatcher wins in SD-26

  • State Rep. Kirk Hatcher won the Tuesday special Democratic primary runoff in Senate District 26.
  • Hatcher won 74.2% of the vote to former longtime state Rep. John Knight’s 25.7%, according to unofficial results from the Secretary of State.
  • Hatcher, in his first term as a state representative, will now face Republican William Green, a former city council member, in the Montgomery County seat that has long been held by a Democrat.
  • The seat became vacant earlier this fall when Sen. David Burkette pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor campaign finance charge under an agreement that would require him to pay a fine and waive his right to appeal.
  • Voter turnout Tuesday was less than 6%, or 5,338 voters.
  • Story link.





A message from

The Energy Institute of Alabama

  • Electric Vehicles (EVs) are quickly gaining traction across the country and within Alabama. On average, the state has experienced a greater than 40% year-over-year growth of registered EVs.
  • Over the last thirty years, Alabama has established itself as the No. 3 auto-exporter in the country and boasts over 40,000 jobs within the automotive sector. Increasing Alabama’s electric mobility and investing in EV infrastructure will continue to ensure Alabama remains a forward-leaning automotive leader.
  • Watch a clip featuring Governor Kay Ivey and Energy Institute of Alabama Chairman Seth Hammett discussing the growing EV industry HERE.







3. Lawmaker wants limits on Artificial Intelligence arrests

  • Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, is proposing limits on how law enforcement agencies can use artificial intelligence and facial recognition to make arrests.
  • A draft bill from Orr, which he plans to file in the legislative session that starts Feb. 2, says “a state or local law enforcement agency may not use the results of artificial intelligence or a facial recognition service as the sole basis to establish probable cause in a criminal investigation or to make an arrest.” The results of a facial recognition service may be used only in conjunction with other information and evidence lawfully obtained by a law enforcement officer to establish probable cause in a criminal investigation or to make an arrest.
  • Orr said his bill is not based on a particular incident in Alabama, but rather on national reports that artificial intelligence misidentifies racial minorities at a higher rate than it does white people.
  • A federal report late last year said Asians and African Americans were up to 100 times more likely to be misidentified than white men by facial-recognition systems, depending on the particular algorithm and type of search. Native Americans had the highest false-positive rate of all ethnicities, according to the study, which found that systems varied widely in their accuracy.
  • “The idea that somebody would be misidentified by a computer based on the color of their skin and the computer’s inability to adequately discern who that person is, it just doesn’t sit well,” Orr told Alabama Daily News.
  • Read more from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.




4. Progress on COVID-19 relief bill

  • Top Capitol Hill Republicans labored Tuesday to keep the price tag for a long-delayed COVID-19 aid package in check, seeking to prevail in a battle over help for state and local governments, while capping the cost of bonus jobless benefits and direct payments sought by Democrats.
  • Negotiations on COVID-19 relief intensified Tuesday after months of futility. The top four leaders of Congress met twice in hopes of finally cementing an agreement that would revive subsidies for businesses hit hard by the pandemic, help distribute new coronavirus vaccines, fund schools and renew soon-to-expire jobless benefits.
  • After two meetings in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Capitol suite, where Democrats pressed for more generous steps to help individuals struggling in the COVID-19 economy, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., gave an upbeat assessment.
  • “I think we’ve built a lot of trust,” McCarthy said. “I think we’re moving in the right direction. I think there’s a possibility of getting it done.”
  • The uptick in activity could be a sign that an agreement is near, though COVID-19 relief talks have been notoriously difficult.
  • “We’re making significant progress and I’m optimistic that we’re gonna be able to complete an understanding sometime soon,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
  • Full story HERE.



5. McConnell warns GOP of Electoral College brawl

  • Fending off a messy fight that could damage Republicans ahead of Georgia Senate runoffs, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned fellow GOP senators on Tuesday not to join President Donald Trump’s extended assault on the Electoral College results.
  • In public remarks and private warnings, McConnell worked to push ahead to the Biden era and unite a fractured Republican Party ahead of the runoff elections that will determine Senate control.
  • First, the Republican leader heaped praise on Trump’s “endless” accomplishments as he congratulated President-elect Joe Biden during a morning Senate speech. Then he pivoted, privately warning Republican senators away from disputing the Electoral College tally when Congress convenes in a joint session Jan. 6 to confirm the results.
  • That fight would yield a “terrible vote” for Republicans, McConnell told the senators, according to two people granted anonymity to discuss the call, which was first reported by Politico. They would have to choose whether to back Trump or publicly buck him.
  • Republicans are worried about bad effects on the Jan. 5 Georgia runoff election, where two incumbent Republican senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, face Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in a state that flipped in November for Biden.
  • McConnell has been a strong supporter of most Trump efforts. But the turn of events six weeks after Election Day showed the Kentucky senator, backed by his leadership team, seeking to normalize relations with the coming Biden presidency while avoiding the spectacle of a pitched floor fight that would divide the party as Trump reluctantly leaves office.
  • “I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden,” McConnell said as he opened the Senate.
  • “Many of us had hoped the presidential election would yield a different result,” he said. “But our system of government has the processes to determine who will be sworn in on Jan. 20. The Electoral College has spoken.”
  • Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks is planning to challenge the Electoral College results when Congress convenes for the joint session.
  • Full story HERE.




A message from

Auburn University

Auburn alumnus, trustee selected to be next Secretary of Defense

Auburn celebrates a lifetime of achievement by Gen. Lloyd Austin, who provides immeasurable support to our university.

We are grateful for his leadership in defending our freedoms and know his best days in serving our nation are still ahead.

Congratulations and thank you!

See the full story here.







ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Vaccinations begin in Alabama as COVID-19 cases soar


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Hatcher wins Democratic primary runoff for Senate seat


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Negotiators report progress on long-delayed COVID aid bill


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Lawmaker wants limits on AI use in arrests


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – McConnell warns GOP off Electoral College brawl in Congress


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Judge dismisses Roy Moore lawsuit challenging Alabama mask mandate


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama loosens licensing rules for doctors as virus rages


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Group: Possible lottery revenue should be used for college scholarship fund


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump says Barr resigning, will leave before Christmas


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – December 15, 2020


AL.COM – Alabama adds 3,638 COVID cases, Jefferson County adds 568


AL.COM – Trump tweets support for Mo Brooks, but GOP leaders in Senate push to stop election challenge


AL.COM – Police seize 13 gambling machines at Decatur business


AL.COM – Family convicted Alabama judge stole $25,000 from: ‘I’m poor….I can’t go against no judge’


AL.COM – Alabama high school graduation rate for class of 2019 hits 92%


AL.COM – Dr. Ben Carson announces $2.9 million federal grant to study civil rights ‘gateway’


AL.COM – Fauci: Give Biden, Harris, Trump and Pence the COVID vaccine


Montgomery Advertiser – Kirk Hatcher wins Democratic nomination for Montgomery Senate seat


Montgomery Advertiser – Vehicle ends up in house during police chase killing one


Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery considers bonus for all city workers


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Bhm area hospitals pen open letter to community to help fight COVID-19


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Health care workers ask vaccine skeptics to educate themselves on the product before making decisions


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – RMC on medical “diversion” because ICU other areas filled to capacity with COVID-19 patients


Tuscaloosa News – Mementoes help Tuscaloosa woman cope with loss of family members in tornado


Tuscaloosa News – More than 2,200 new confirmed COVID-19 cases reported on Tuesday


Tuscaloosa News – Mayor Maddox: Holidays on the River to remain closed into 2021


Decatur Daily – Number of Decatur Morgan Hospital patients on life support peaks as it awaits vaccine


Decatur Daily – Decatur to adjust police jurisdiction boundary to accommodate annexation


Decatur Daily – Group: Possible lottery revenue should be used for college scholarship fund



Times Daily – Tuscumbia School District offers pay stipend to FT employees


Times Daily – Group: Use lottery revenue for college scholarships


Times Daily – Muscle Shoals is considering Auburn University for wage study


Anniston Star – Cleburne County group receives $7.5K grant to help virtual students


Anniston Star – UPDATED: RMC warns ambulances away as COVID-19 fills ICU beds


Anniston Star – Two inmates with local connections die with COVID-19


YellowHammer News – C Spire acquires Mobile-based Harbor Communications, plans major investment in high-speed internet for Alabama’s coastal counties


YellowHammer News – Alabama-based senior living company offering incentives to employees that get COVID vaccine


YellowHammer News – Hospitals in Alabama have begun administering coronavirus vaccine doses to healthcare workers


Gadsden Times – Jack Page, longtime legislator representing Gadsden, dies at 70


Gadsden Times – Etowah County OKs bid to equip volunteer fire departments thanks to CARES Act funding


Gadsden Times – Opposition to rendering plant continues; one council member says he will vote no


Dothan Eagle – Dothan Wreaths Across America ceremony to honor fallen veterans on Saturday


Dothan Eagle – Dothan Police Chief Steve Parrish self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19


Dothan Eagle – Police: Rehobeth woman keyed ex’s new girlfriend’s truck, then threw keys on top of deli


Opelika-Auburn News – Watch Now: Medal of Honor recipient Bennie Adkins escorted to Arlington National Cemetery


Opelika-Auburn News – EAMC frontline workers begin receiving COVID-19 vaccine, hospitalizations edge upwards


Opelika-Auburn News – Noun describing social distancing is Dutch word of the year


WSFA Montgomery – Hatcher wins Democratic primary runoff in Senate District 26 race


WSFA Montgomery – 3 more state inmates die after testing positive for COVID-19


WSFA Montgomery – Nursing home residents could receive vaccine around Christmas


WAFF Huntsville – Limestone County Schools starts Christmas break early with over 1,000 students quarantined


WAFF Huntsville – Talking to your doctor about the COVID-19 vaccine


WAFF Huntsville – “This to me is just the beginning,” says the first Tennessee Valley doctor injected with COVID-19 vaccine


WKRG Mobile – UPDATE: Victim identified following shooting at Azalea Point Apartments in Mobile


WKRG Mobile – ONLY ON 5: Mobile Police offer cash reward for information on unsolved homicides in 2020


WKRG Mobile – ‘He mattered:’ Family of Prichard shooting victim say it was a result of a hate crime


WTVY Dothan – Salvation Army in final stages for Angel Tree donation distribution


WTVY Dothan – Southeast Health is first in Alabama to administer Pfizer COVID vaccine to their doctors


WTVY Dothan – State talks vaccine security and secrecy about locations


WASHINGTON POST – McConnell breaks with Trump in finally recognizing Biden as the new president


WASHINGTON POST – Biden to name Granholm as energy secretary


WASHINGTON POST – His staff cleans covid-19 hospital rooms. He got the vaccine to build trust in the shot.


NEW YORK TIMES – Defying Trump, McConnell Seeks to Squelch Bid to Overturn the Election


NEW YORK TIMES – Biden Taps Pete Buttigieg for Transportation Secretary


NEW YORK TIMES – Covid-19: U.S. and Pfizer Discuss Deal for Tens of Millions More Vaccine Doses Next Year


WALL STREET JOURNAL – FDA Finds Moderna Covid-19 Vaccine Highly Effective


WALL STREET JOURNAL – GOP Senate Leaders Warn Against Long Shot Election Challenge


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Congressional Leaders Say They Are Closer to Deal on Covid-19, Year-End Spending Bill


vid-19 Vaccine Is Next in Line for Authorization


WALL STREET JOURNAL – William Barr to Resign as Attorney General


WALL STREET JOURNAL – FedEx, UPS Are Managing Surge in Packages With Strict Limits on Shippers




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