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Daily News Digest – January 29, 2021

Good morning!

Here’s your Daily News for Friday, January 29.


1. Ivey to propose pay raises

  • Gov. Kay Ivey says she wants to give pay raises to state employees and teachers in the next budget year.
  • In an interview on Thursday with Alabama Daily News, Ivey said her state budget proposals, which are set to be presented to lawmakers next week, will include pay raises in both the General Fund and Education Trust Fund budgets.
  • “I’m going to propose a 2% (cost of living) increase for state employees and for teachers,” Ivey said.
  • The legislative session begins Tuesday. Because of COVID concerns, Ivey will not be able to give her usual State of the State address in a crowded Capitol chamber. Instead, she’ll deliver the message via live video.
  • “It’ll just be me and the camera here in the State Capitol, so it will be an unusual State of the State in that regard,” Ivey said. “I’ll use the State of the State to touch on issues and to thank the people of Alabama for responding in such a positive fashion with COVID.”
  • Read more about Ivey’s plans for the legislative session HERE.


2. State health officer on vaccine: ‘Not enough to go around’

  • Alabama will soon announce a time frame for expanding who can get COVID-19 vaccinations, the state health officer told lawmakers Thursday. But he said the supply of vaccine coming into the state remains far short of what is needed.
  • “You’ll hear very soon about expanded eligibility as other states have done,” State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris told lawmakers during budget hearings.
  • Harris said he expects to be able to discuss a time frame as soon as today. Currently, only health care workers, people 75 and older, first responders and nursing home residents are eligible for vaccinations.
  • Lawmakers described widespread public frustration and anger with the rollout, including sites running out of vaccine and some sites allowing younger people to get vaccinated. Harris said he understood the frustration but the state has been limited by the number of doses it receives.
  • The state of 5 million people received 764,125 doses – enough to give about 380,000 people the two shots required for maximum protection. There are currently more than 700,000 people eligible for the vaccinations.
  • “I know it has been intensely frustrating for a lot of people,” Harris said. “The fundamental problem is there is not enough to go around.”
  • Read more from Kim Chandler HERE.


3. J&J 1-dose shot prevents COVID-19, but is less effective

  • Johnson & Johnson’s long-awaited vaccine appears to protect against COVID-19 with just one shot – not as strong as some two-shot rivals but still potentially helpful for a world in dire need of more doses.
  • J&J said Friday that in the U.S. and seven other countries, the single-shot vaccine was 66% effective overall at preventing moderate to severe illness, and much more protective — 85% — against the most serious symptoms.
  • There was some geographic variation. The vaccine worked better in the U.S. — 72% effective against moderate to severe COVID-19 – compared to 57% in South Africa, where it was up against an easier-to-spread mutated virus.
  • With vaccinations off to a rocky start globally, experts had been counting on a one-dose vaccine that would stretch scarce supplies and avoid the logistics nightmare of getting people to return for boosters.
  • But with some other competing vaccines shown to be 95% effective after two doses, at question is whether somewhat less protection is an acceptable tradeoff to get more shots in arms quickly.
  • Read more HERE.



4. Cutting edge health tech making a difference in rural Alabama, but funding is uncertain

  • Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a new Alabama-based health technology is taking telemedicine to a new level by changing the way doctors communicate with other doctors, clinicians and patients.
  • Vital Engine, a software application developed by Abel Healthcare Enterprises, allows doctors to communicate and share information in real time, leading to faster diagnoses and cutting down on unnecessary patient trips to major medical centers to see specialists.
  • The software had previously been in use in major health care systems like UAB Medicine, St. Vincent’s, Children’s of Alabama and Nashville-based HCA, among others. But those giants of the medical industry can afford such specialized technology and the support that comes with it. Most rural hospitals and clinics, already struggling financially before the pandemic, cannot.
  • As part of Gov. Kay Ivey’s focus on rural healthcare amid the pandemic, Vital Engine received $1.3 million from Alabama’s allotment of federal CARES Act funding to build out the network to rural practitioners. Dr. Philip Johnson, a medical doctor and software engineer from Selma who developed Vital Engine, successfully brought 53 rural hospitals, 117 rural health clinics, 231 nursing homes and the state’s 4 Veterans Affairs hospitals into the network in a matter of weeks.
  • But, with its allocation of CARES Act funding spent, the future of its existence in rural Alabama is in doubt.
  • Read more HERE.



5. Incentives bill filed

  • Earlier this week, we reported that legislation was coming to renew and revamp state economic development tax incentives. ADN Insiders got the scoop that the bill included new credits for women- and minority-owned enterprises, increasing the cap on one of the state’s “backbone” incentives and giving a break to automakers who will ship vehicles out of the Port of Mobile.
  • Now the bill has been filed, and so the updated story is out from behind the paywall.
  • House Bill 192 is expected to be a high priority for passage when the 2021 legislative session begins next week.
  • Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield this week discussed some of the details with Alabama Daily News.
  • “The bill reestablishes and builds on the success of Alabama’s performance-driven incentive tools,” Canfield said. “And those are specifically being addressed in the Alabama Jobs Act, the Growing Alabama Credit and the Alabama Port Credit.”
  • The Growing Alabama Credit expired in September of 2020 and the larger Alabama Jobs Credit and Investment Credit was set to expire at the end of 2020. They were not renewed in the 2020 session before COVID-19 derailed it. In December, Gov. Kay Ivey used her emergency powers to temporarily extend the credits. But legislative action is still needed.
  • Rep. Bill Poole, R-Tuscaloosa, is the bill in the House. Sen. Greg Reed, expected to be elected Senate President Pro Tem next week, will carry the bill in that chamber. Reed on Tuesday said he viewed his work on incentive packages and tools to recruit industry to Alabama as a hallmark of his tenure in the legislature.
  • Full story from Mary Sell HERE.







A message from

Auburn University

  • Auburn is proud to celebrate the recent confirmation of Auburn alumnus Gen. Lloyd Austin as our nation’s secretary of defense.
  • We applaud your incredible achievement, and thank you for your continued service to protect our country.








ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey wants pay raises for teachers and state employees


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – State health officer on vaccine: ‘Not enough to go around’


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Cutting edge health tech making a difference in rural Alabama, but funding is uncertain


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – J&J 1-dose shot prevents COVID-19, but less effective than others


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Long-awaited incentives package filed ahead of session


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Biden faces scrutiny over reliance on executive orders


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Medical marijuana: first look at Melson’s bill for the 2021 session


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – General fund budget looks OK; law enforcement agencies ask for increases


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Lawmakers want details of Ivey’s prison lease plan


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Mental health services in schools improving, more help needed


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama becomes latest state to detect COVID-19 variant


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Virus aid package tests whether Biden, Congress can deliver


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – State redistricting data won’t be ready until July


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – January 28, 2021


AL.COM – Alabama to get extra 10,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine for next 3 weeks


AL.COM – Alabama health officials: COVID-19 vaccine risks ‘minimal’ for pregnant women


AL.COM – Looters arrested in Fultondale; mayor orders curfew: ‘We’re clamping down’


AL.COM – Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles says it will reduce backlog of pardon requests


AL.COM – C Spire spending $1 billion to increase 5G, fiber broadband in Alabama, Mississippi


AL.COM – Alabama execution should be delayed due to COVID, lawyer says


AL.COM – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: What have you done now, Tommy Tuberville?


AL.COM – Alabama Law Enforcement Agency asks for funding to put more state troopers on road


AL.COM – Will the I-10 bridge talks begin anew without tolls?


AL.COM – Belk bankruptcy filing: What does it mean for Alabama stores?


Montgomery Advertiser – Confirmed COVID-19 cases climbing across Alabama again


Montgomery Advertiser – Feds seize electronics in Lonnie Coffman case as D.C. Molotov cocktail investigation continues


Montgomery Advertiser – Discount grocery chain ALDI plans location in east Montgomery


Decatur Daily – COVID deaths rise as hospital runs out of first doses of vaccine


Decatur Daily – JWEMC looks to use TVA power lines for power from other sources


Decatur Daily – 7 CFO applicants recommended for initial interviews


Times Daily – Florence police seek 2 suspects in 2020 homicide


Times Daily – Muscle Shoals Horns member Doug Moffet dies at 60


Times Daily – Cleanups planned for Wildwood Park, Rockpile


Anniston Star – Gibson Coleman, banker and community leader, recalled for integrity, generosity


Anniston Star – Cleburne County Commission hires attorney to advise on labor issue


Anniston Star – Roy Webb Road resurfacing project rolling forward


YellowHammer News – Coronavirus hospitalizations in Alabama falling sharply, new cases hover below peak levels


YellowHammer News – Alabama Innovation Commission issues four interim policy recommendations to ‘expand the state’s economic growth and create opportunities’


YellowHammer News – Tuberville: Biden ‘will set back women’s sports by half a century’


Gadsden Times – Second dose vaccine clinic Thursday at Venue; shots scheduled alphabetically by last name


Gadsden Times – Sheriff’s office uses excess food money to buy gun safes for county schools


Gadsden Times – Confirmed COVID-19 cases climbing across Alabama again


Dothan Eagle – USPS waiting on Stone Martin Builders to provide mail service to new Dothan subdivision


Dothan Eagle – ‘I felt called to help them’ — Hibachi Joe cooks for homeless in D.C.


Dothan Eagle – 19-year-old charged for robbing Dothan gas station twice


Opelika-Auburn News – French police face sanction for Macarena party amid virus


Opelika-Auburn News – Polish ombudsman: Abortion ruling condemns women to torture


Opelika-Auburn News – Alabama health department reports 200+ new COVID-19 cases in east Alabama


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – UAB doctor reports COVID-19 vaccine does not impact fertility


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – UAB doctor says COVID-19 vaccine will help prevent new variants from forming


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – City of Birmingham collecting non perishable items for tornado survivors


Tuscaloosa News – PARA wins state awards for professional of the year, and agency of the year


Tuscaloosa News – Sheriff files motion to dismiss SPLC lawsuit, says information requested has been provided


Tuscaloosa News – Confirmed COVID-19 cases climbing across Alabama againWSFA Montgomery – Doctor debunks COVID-19 vaccine myths


WSFA Montgomery – State lawmakers voice concerns about COVID-19 vaccine distribution


WSFA Montgomery – Victim killed in I-65 crash near Prattville identified


WAFF Huntsville – North Alabama Veterans 65 and older get their COVID-19 vaccine


WAFF Huntsville – Huntsville Hospital hiring medical lab techs; Calhoun Community College offers program


WAFF Huntsville – Morgan County State of Healthcare Forum addresses impact of pandemic on community


WKRG Mobile – Mobile Police nearing the end of its cold case sexual assault kits


WKRG Mobile – USA Health cuts the ribbon on new facility in Mid-Town, Specializes in Plastics and ENT


WKRG Mobile – Truck driver shot and killed in Clarke County


WTVY Dothan – Former football standout now faces 5 robbery charges


WTVY Dothan – Agencies present budget requests to state lawmakers


WTVY Dothan – Local health official explains what we know now about the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant


WASHINGTON POST – U.S. handling of American evacuees from Wuhan increased coronavirus risks, watchdog finds


WASHINGTON POST – Coronavirus updates: Variant found in South Africa prompts travel curbs; E.U. seeks answers on vaccine delays


WASHINGTON POST – As Senate prepares for a speedy impeachment trial, some are urging a slower, more deliberative approach


NEW YORK TIMES – Democrats Prepare to Move on Economic Aid, With or Without the G.O.P.


NEW YORK TIMES – G.M. Will Sell Only Zero-Emission Vehicles by 2035


NEW YORK TIMES – Robinhood, in Need of Cash, Raises $1 Billion From Its Investors


WALL STREET JOURNAL – U.S. Stock Futures Fall as GameStop Frenzy Builds


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Chinese Conglomerate HNA Says Creditors Filed Petition for Its Bankruptcy


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Behind AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 Vaccine Stumble



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