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Daily News Digest – December 8, 2020

Good morning!

RIP to American hero Chuck Yeager, the legendary test pilot who first broke the sound barrier. If you haven’t read “The Right Stuff” by Tom Wolfe or “Yeager: An Autobiography,” I recommend them both.

Here’s your Daily News for Tuesday, December 8.

1. More than 2,000 Alabamians hospitalized with COVID-19


  • Back during the summer surge in coronavirus cases, the most COVID-19 patients hospitalized was 1,613.
  • Four months later, the second surge of the virus is filling hospitals well beyond that mark. Hospitals reported 2,079 COVID-19 patients Monday, with more expected after transmissions set in from the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • The reason the hospital statistics are key, as opposed to simply the transmission data, is that they show how many people are actually severely sick from the virus and how well the state’s medical resources can continue to treat an influx of patients.
  • The vast majority of those who contract COVID-19 recover, with some showing minimal symptoms.
  • Dr. Don Williamson, the former state health officer who now heads the Alabama Hospital Association, said at least three hospitals have begun to postpone non-emergency procedures amid staff shortages. He said some facilities have as many as 100 staff members out with COVID-19.
  • “My real concern is I still don’t see anything to break the spread between now and getting through Christmas,” Williamson said.
  • Full story from Kim Chandler HERE.


2. Biden chooses Mobile native Lloyd Austin as secretary of defense

  • President-elect Joe Biden will nominate retired four-star Army general Lloyd J. Austin to be secretary of defense.
  • If confirmed by the Senate, Austin would be the first Black leader of the Pentagon.
  • Austin has strong Alabama ties. He is a native of Mobile and currently serves as member of the Auburn University Board of Trustees. Austin earned a master’s degree in education from Auburn in the 1980s after graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point.
  • Biden has known Austin at least since the general’s years leading U.S. and coalition troops in Iraq while Biden was vice president. Austin was commander in Baghdad of the Multinational Corps-Iraq in 2008 when Barack Obama was elected president, and he returned to lead U.S. troops from 2010 through 2011.
  • Austin also served in 2012 as the first Black vice chief of staff of the Army, the service’s No. 2-ranking position. A year later he assumed command of U.S. Central Command, where he fashioned and began implementing a U.S. military strategy for rolling back the Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.
  • As a career military officer, the 67-year-old Austin is likely to face opposition from some in Congress and in the defense establishment who believe in drawing a clear line between civilian and military leadership of the Pentagon. Although many previous defense secretaries have served briefly in the military, only two — George C. Marshall and James Mattis — have been career officers.
  • Like Mattis, Austin would need to obtain a congressional waiver to serve as defense secretary. The laws were meant to preserve the civilian nature of the Department of Defense.
  • Full story HERE.



3. Virus talks drag on liability as Congress preps stopgap aid

  • It looks like negotiations in Congress on a COVID-19 relief bill will drag out another week.
  • Disagreements flared Monday over one key provision — a proposed liability shield from COVID-19-related lawsuits for businesses, schools and organizations that reopen.
  • The development comes as Capitol Hill is struggling to figure out how to deliver long-delayed pandemic relief, including additional help for businesses hard hit by the pandemic, further unemployment benefits, funding to distribute COVID-19 vaccines and funding demanded by Democrats for state and local governments.
  • “We have seen some hopeful signs of engagement from our Democratic colleagues, but we have no reason to think the underlying disagreements about policy are going to evaporate overnight,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday.
  • Congress is expected to vote Wednesday on a one-week stop-gap funding measure that will buy time for further negotiations.
  • Read more HERE.
  • Also read more about the various parts being negotiated HERE.


4. Ward sworn in; Special election called

  • Longtime state legislator Cam Ward, who spearheaded prison reform and criminal justice legislation during his time at the Alabama Senate, was sworn in Monday as director of the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles.
  • Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey administered the oath of office to Ward after appointing him to replace Charlie Graddick, who resigned amid criticism over the slowing pace of paroles.
  • Ward, a Republican from Alabaster, stepped down from his Senate seat to take the state agency position.
  • Ivey on Monday also set special election dates to fill Ward’s Senate seat. As we reported yesterday, one person has already announced an intention to run for the seat.
  • Read more HERE.


5. Parnell elected to lead Farmers Federation for fifth term

  • The Alabama Farmers Federation reelected this week Jimmy Parnell to a fifth two-year term as president.
  • “I am excited about the opportunity to lead this organization into its 100th year,” Parnell, a partner in his family’s Chilton County cattle and timber business, said in a written statement. “Throughout history, farmers have faced obstacles, and the past year brought special challenges. Despite those, farmers continued to feed and clothe America and the world. Our organization faced its challenges head on and continued to work for farmers every day.”
  • Joining Parnell in two-year term leadership roles are North Area Vice President Rex Vaughn of Huntsville and Southeast Area Vice President George Jeffcoat of Gordon in Houston County. Both raise cattle and row crops.
  • Four district board positions with three-year terms were also elected.
  • Read more HERE.




News Briefs


Trial date set for long-serving Alabama sheriff

  • ATHENS, Ala. (AP) — A long-serving Alabama sheriff is scheduled to go on trial early next year on charges that he stole thousands of dollars from public and campaign funds.
  • Circuit Judge Pride Tompkins set a March 29 trial date for Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely, The News Courier reported.
  • First elected in 1982, Blakely has pleaded not guilty to an indictment filed last year. Trials have been delayed statewide because of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Grand jurors indicted Blakely on 12 felony counts and one misdemeanor alleging he stole campaign donations, used his job to obtain interest-free loans and solicited money from employees. Blakely has continued working since Alabama law does not require the suspension of sheriffs who are under indictment.

Twin brothers arrested in Jefferson County slaying

  • CENTER POINT, Ala. (AP) — Authorities say twin brothers are charged in a weekend killing near Birmingham.
  • The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office says 20-year-old Zamir Princeton Jones and Zaden Prince Jones were arrested in the Sunday night shooting death of 19-year-old Christian Dewayne Smith of Midfield.
  • News outlets report the victim’s body was found lying in a street in Center Point with multiple gunshot wounds. Police say the shooting followed a dispute over an earlier incident.
  • The brothers are jailed on murder charges with bail set at $50,000. Court records aren’t available to show whether either has a lawyer who could speak on their behalf.

Alabama sheriff removes ‘thugshots’ Christmas tree post

  • MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama sheriff’s department has removed a photo of a Christmas tree adorned with what they called “thugshots” of people who have been arrested after criticism that it was demeaning and cruel.
  • The Mobile County Sheriff’s Department deleted the photo from its Facebook page on Saturday, reported. The post showed a doctored image of a Christmas tree decorated with photos of people arrested or wanted for crimes.
  • “We have decorated our Tree with THUGSHOTS to show how many Thugs we have taken off the streets of Mobile this year! We could not have done it without our faithful followers!” said the message posted Thursday.
  • Sheriff’s spokeswoman Lori Myles said the post was part of a series of “thug Thursday” messages that highlight photos of people who are wanted for various crimes. The campaign will now be rebranded “Warrant Wednesday,” she told on Monday.
  • She said the department had received numerous threats on Facebook over the post, and a representative with dispatch was concerned about the possibility of people flooding phone lines and preventing deputies from responding to emergencies.
  • “I said, ‘This is not worth it,'” Myles said.

Man killed in Georgia was wanted in Alabama police chase

  • A man found shot to death in Georgia has been identified as the person who fled after a long police chase on Alabama highways last month.
  • The police chief in Oxford, Alabama, said Monday that officers had identified Matthew William Loyd, 46, as the person suspected of shooting at officers during the chase through multiple counties on Nov. 29, reported. Chief Bill Partridge said officers were working to obtain warrants against Loyd when he was found dead.
  • Atlanta police spokeswoman Senior Officer Tasheena Brown said officers responded to a report of a person shot early Friday and found Loyd dead from multiple gunshot wounds. Brown said police had not made any arrests for Loyd’s death as of Monday, and the case remained under investigation.
  • Alabama officers said Loyd is one of two men who led authorities on a 75-mile pursuit.
  • The driver, Lazarus Lamonte Glover, 41, is charged with two counts of attempted murder and fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer out of Hueytown. Birmingham police charged him with one count of attempted murder after an officer crashed during the chase, and Riverside police have charged him with attempting to elude and reckless endangerment.
  • Glover is from McDonough, Georgia, and has previous felony convictions in Georgia, police said. Glover remained jailed in Jefferson County, Alabama, with bonds totaling $150,000.
  • Police said the two men tried to burglarize a Hueytown business and then fired at officers responding to an alarm call. A chase started on Interstate 59/20, with shots being fired at officers. At least one police car crashed. Several police vehicles were struck by the gunfire, but no officers were wounded.
  • Officers tossed spike strips onto the interstate, and the vehicle — a silver or white Cadillac SUV — stopped a short distance later. Shots were still fired at police and a Riverside police patrol vehicle was struck. Glover, the driver, was taken into custody; the other person — now identified as Loyd — fled on foot into the woods.







ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama hits new record for virus hospitalizations


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Virus talks drag on liability as Congress preps stopgap aid


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Biden picks Lloyd Austin as secretary of defense


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ward sworn in as head of Alabama parole agency; Special election called


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Parnell reelected to lead Farmers Federation for fifth term


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Increased federal funding, decreased use gives Alabama Medicaid $178M carry forward


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Congress inches closer to a COVID relief deal


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – COVID-19 relief: What’s on the table as Congress seeks deal


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – December 7, 2020


AL.COM – Alabama adds 2,352 COVID-19 cases; almost 2,000 hospitalized.


AL.COM – Three north Alabama counties see COVID positivity rates at or above 50 percent


AL.COM – Alabama COVID-19 unemployment checks end day after Christmas


AL.COM – COVID quarantine in Alabama could be cut to 10 days; decision coming this week


AL.COM – After cyber attack shut down computers, Huntsville schools are going old school


AL.COM – Paris Air Show, a focus for Alabama development, grounded for 2021


AL.COM – PSC reverses course, will stream Alabama Power meetings


AL.COM – Drive-thru nativity moved from city property in Alabama


AL.COM – Trump plans 5 executions before Biden’s inauguration


AL.COM – Paris Air Show, a focus for Alabama development, grounded for 2021


Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery bus system gets $6.5M upgrade during boycott anniversary


Montgomery Advertiser – Mayor Steven Reed announces investment in


Montgomery Advertiser – ‘Bargain Mansions’ star Tamara Day in Montgomery area for secret project


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Check-up: are state hospitals able to handle surge of COVID-19 patients?


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Salvation army needs bell ringers this holiday season


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – How close is Alabama to another lockdown due to the pandemic?


Tuscaloosa News – Tuscaloosa to close city facilities over COVID-19 concerns


Tuscaloosa News – Baton Rouge-based sports bar to open Tuscaloosa location


Tuscaloosa News – Alabama coronavirus hospitalizations reach new high


Decatur Daily – Decatur Morgan Hospital running out of ICU beds, staff


Decatur Daily – Longtime teacher remembered for her compassion


Decatur Daily – Trial for indicted Limestone sheriff Blakely set for March 29


Times Daily – State Medicaid agency carries forward $178M


Times Daily – Body found in Colbert County remains unidentified


Times Daily – COVID-19 hospitalizations in Shoals hit 68 on Friday


Anniston Star – Jacksonville council takes steps toward heavy-vehicle rules in city


Anniston Star – Man wanted on Georgia sex crimes arrested in Calhoun County


Anniston Star – Increased federal funding, decreased use gives Alabama Medicaid $178M carry forward


YellowHammer News – Most surprising part of 2020? Bama kicker semifinalist to be named nation’s best


YellowHammer News – Huntsville company unveils drone that can launch small satellites into low orbit mid-flight


YellowHammer News – Dates set for special election to fill Alabama Senate District 14 seat


Gadsden Times – Emma Sansom monument solutions offered by historian


Gadsden Times – Alabama coronavirus hospitalizations reach new high


Gadsden Times – HBO documentary on Jackson County snake handling case debuts Wednesday


Dothan Eagle – Ashford high, elementary schools will close Tuesday for a week due to COVID-19 quarantines


Opelika-Auburn News – Opelika’s annual Victorian Front Porch Tours to begin Wednesday


Opelika-Auburn News – Watch now: Auburn Christmas parade carries on


Opelika-Auburn News – Where to find Christmas light displays in Auburn-Opelika this holiday season


WSFA Montgomery – Cam Ward looks to restore balance, improve morale as Pardons & Paroles director


WSFA Montgomery – Decatur Heritage football player given service award


WSFA Montgomery – Montgomery County road temporarily closed Tuesday


WAFF Huntsville – Veteran recalls where he was during the Pearl Harbor attack


WAFF Huntsville – Health care workers pushing off retirement to help fight the pandemic


WAFF Huntsville – Investigators looking for alleged robbery suspect in Morgan County


WKRG Mobile – Well-known retired doctor and pastor dies


WKRG Mobile – Some ready to get COVID-19 vaccine, others hesitant


WKRG Mobile – Bond set for Mississippi teen in Orange Beach manslaughter crash


WTVY Dothan – Last push for Toys for Tots Campaign in Coffee County


WTVY Dothan – ESCC Virtual Student Art Exhibit and Christmas Concert


WTVY Dothan – Southeast Health encourages community to donate during emergency blood drive


WASHINGTON POST – Trump asks Pennsylvania House speaker for help overturning election results, personally intervening in a third state


WASHINGTON POST – Biden to name retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as defense secretary


WASHINGTON POST – Amid history of mistreatment, doctors struggle to sell Black Americans on coronavirus vaccine


NEW YORK TIMES – Trump Administration Passed on Chance to Secure More of Pfizer Vaccine


NEW YORK TIMES – Trump Administration Passed on Chance to Secure More of Pfizer Vaccine


NEW YORK TIMES – U.K. Coronavirus Vaccine: Side Effects, Safety, and Who Gets It First


WALL STREET JOURNAL – U.K. Begins Rollout of Pfizer’s Covid-19 Vaccine in a First for the West


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Goldman Sachs to Acquire 100% of China Securities Joint Venture


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Uber Sells Self-Driving-Car Unit to Autonomous-Driving Startup



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