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Daily News Digest – July 10, 2020

Good morning and Happy Friday!

Here’s your Daily News for July 10.

1. COVID-19 update

  • Alabama reported 2,164 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, marking the highest daily increase of confirmed cases in the state since the outbreak began.
  • Ten new deaths were reported Thursday, bringing that state total to 1,042.
  • The number of Alabamians hospitalized also ticked up Thursday to 1,125.
  • While 78% of the deaths have been Alabamians age 65 or older, 41% of reported cases are in people age 25 to 49 followed by the 50 to 64 age group at 20%.
  • About 25,783 people are presumed recovered from the virus.
  • Read more and see the auto-updating chart HERE.



2. Lawmakers press agencies for answers on budgets, prisons, broadband

  • Alabama’s General Fund remains healthy, the Education Trust Fund is uncertain, for now, and top lawmakers have questions about how the state’s ambitious prison construction plans will impact future budgets.
  • Those were the top takeaways from Thursday’s budget discussions at the State House. Members of the Senate Ways and Means General Fund Committee met in Montgomery for a special hearing to get a better understanding of the state’s financial situation amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and receive an update on the Alabama Department of Corrections’ plan to build three new prisons in a contract-lease arrangement.
  • ADOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn assured lawmakers that the Department would be able to pay for the new prison leases with savings left over from closing current dilapidated prisons that require greater staff and maintenance expenses.
  • “It is not our intent to come to the Legislature and ask for a plus-up in our allocation (in the General Fund budget) to pay for these leases,” he said.
  • Committee Chairman Greg Albritton, R-Range, said he was mostly satisfied with Dunn’s explanation but predicted there would be more questions asked going forward on the prison construction plan.
  • “I’ve been over it with him before and those numbers certainly have some validity. That doesn’t mean that I accept them completely or that it will completely hold true,” Albritton said.
  • Finance Director Kelly Butler provided an update on the state’s efforts to allocate the $1.9 billion of CARES Act funding from the federal government. While much of that money has been assigned to different “buckets” of funding streams, little has actually been spent so far.
  • Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, expressed frustration at the challenge the state faces to spend the federal relief money on time and within the rules, calling it “almost impossible.”
  • Butler said that, while it’s true most of the state’s allocation hadn’t been spent yet, $816 million had been committed to various entities and efforts, including: $668 million to reimburse the state agencies, local governments, the courts and the Department of Public Health for outbreak-related expenses; $100 million for the “Revive Alabama” grant fund to assist small businesses; $30 million for a college COVID-19 testing program through UAB; and $18 million for COVID-19 testing at nursing homes.
  • Full story HERE.


3. K-12 system spending $12.4 million on statewide virtual option

  • The Alabama State Department of Education will spend about $12.48 million for a private company to provide a statewide virtual learning option in the upcoming school year.
  • The one-year contract with Arizona-based SchoolPLP will be paid with federal coronavirus relief funds, according to information provided to the Legislative Contract Review Committee Thursday.
  • Requests from Alabama Daily News to ALSDE for details of or a copy of the contract have not been answered.
  • Jessica Sanders, an attorney for ALSDE, told lawmakers SchoolPLP will provide Alabama teachers with a digital curriculum that can be taught in the classroom or remotely.
  • “This isn’t what you’d called a virtual school, it’s a remote learning opportunity,” Sanders said.
  • The department last month issued an emergency contract with SchoolPLP and wants the at-home education option available when K-12 students return to school next month.
  • In May, Alabama Daily News reported that ALSDE wanted a statewide virtual learning option for K-12 students whose parents may not want them to return to traditional classrooms.
  • The department last month said a survey of parents showed about 15% were not comfortable sending their children back to school, in many cases because they have underlying health conditions or because they live in a household that has a high-risk person for COVID-19.
  • Full story from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.


4. Poll shows Tuberville leading Sessions in final week

  • A new poll shows Tommy Tuberville leading Jeff Sessions by 16 points in the final days of the race for the GOP Primary runoff for U.S. Senate.
  • The survey, conducted by Auburn University Montgomery’s Department of Political Science and Public Administration, shows that 47% of Republican voters would choose Tuberville and 31% would choose Sessions in a ballot test, while 22% of voters remain undecided.
  • Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election is cited in the survey as one of the primary reasons he trails Tuberville.
  • Respondents who said Sessions’ recusal was inappropriate were 33 points less likely to support Sessions compared to those saying his recusal was appropriate.
  • David Hughes, director of AUM Poll, said that regardless of who wins the runoff, incumbent Sen. Doug Jones will likely face a difficult battle for reelection.
  • “With a margin of error of five percentage points, Sessions leads Jones in a head-to-head matchup with 49 percent of voters’ support to Jones’ 43 percent support,” Hughes said in a statement. “Tuberville, however, leads Jones with 44 percent of voters’ support to Jones’ 35 percent support, with nearly 10 percent of Sessions’ supporters indicating their intent to write-in another candidate.”
  • Read more from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.


5. Clanton mayor dies from COVID-19

  • A longtime Alabama mayor diagnosed with the disease caused by the new coronavirus has died, city officials said Thursday as the illness continued surging in the state.
  • The Clanton Fire Department announced on its Facebook page that Mayor Billy Joe Driver had died while fighting COVID-19. The 84-year-old Driver served with the department before becoming mayor of the central Alabama town of 8,800 people in 1984.
  • News outlets reported that Driver had been hospitalized since late June. He planned to retire later this year, said the Fire Department message.
  • Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey called Driver a valued public servant.
  • “He will truly be missed in his home of Clanton, but also by many of us across the state. I offer my heartfelt prayers to his loved ones, friends and the city of Clanton in their tremendous time of loss,” Ivey said in a statement.
  • Read more HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – State reports largest COVID-19 case increase yet


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Lawmakers press agencies for answers on budgets, prisons, broadband


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – In response to COVID-19, K-12 system spending $12.4 million on statewide virtual option


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New poll shows Tuberville leading Sessions in final days of race


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Clanton mayor dies from COVID-19


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama COVID-19 hospitalizations rise by 400 over 2 weeks


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Absentee voting up for GOP runoffs


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – ‘Revive Alabama’ grants available to small businesses


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Community Colleges ask for $95 million in COVID-19 relief funds for tech improvements


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – Thursday, July 9, 2020


AL.COM  – 2,164 new coronavirus cases in Alabama: Jefferson adds 343 cases, Madison up 287


AL.COM  – Dunn expects announcement by September on Alabama prison locations


AL.COM  – Former Etowah County sheriff files defamation lawsuit against and new sheriff


AL.COM  – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: Do your job, Kay Ivey


AL.COM  – Alabama jail refuses inmates COVID-19 masks because ‘they’re going to eat them’


AL.COM  – Revere Plastics Systems adds 120 jobs to Auburn with building of plant


AL.COM  – Army investigating possible racist material sent to Redstone Arsenal personnel


AL.COM  – Alabama agencies investigating psychiatric centers at center of abuse complaint


Montgomery Advertiser – Martha Roby endorses Jeff Coleman in 2nd Congressional District race


Montgomery Advertiser – New Alabama prison sites could be announced later this summer


Montgomery Advertiser – General Fund appears healthy; education budget TBD amid COVID-19 outbreak


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – AL Sec. of State says increase in absentee votes will not delay election results


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – AMBER Alert canceled for 2 children out of McDonald County, Mo.


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Clanton Mayor remembered as dedicated leader with “limitless” knowledge


Tuscaloosa News – THE PORT RAIL: Integrating Alabama as prelude to diversity


Tuscaloosa News – Sessions makes final push for voters in Tuscaloosa stop


Tuscaloosa News – Alabama mayor diagnosed with COVID-19 dies as cases surge


Decatur Daily – Decatur mask ordinance passes, but mayor to delay signing or vetoing it


Decatur Daily – Decatur City Schools preparing to release reopening plan


Decatur Daily – Butch Matthews enters Decatur mayoral race


Times Daily – Today is last day to apply for runoff election absentee ballot


Times Daily – Counties receive $34K for safer runoff election


Times Daily – Shotgun recovered, suspects arrested in multiple burglaries


Anniston Star – RMC hits new high for COVID-19 patients, Alabama virus count rising faster


Anniston Star – COVID tests draw 220 in Weaver; Wellborn tests Friday


Anniston Star – Pandemic plan: Calhoun County Schools announces return strategy for students


YellowHammer News – Aderholt sounds alarm over Fiscal Year 2021 NASA budget


YellowHammer News – Alabama students craft meal NASA will send to astronauts aboard International Space Station


YellowHammer News – Clanton Mayor Billy Joe Driver passes away after battle with coronavirus


Gadsden Times – Gadsden City Council to consider mask ordinance


Gadsden Times – Entrekin sues Horton, others over story’s allegations


Gadsden Times – Eight deaths on water, roads during holiday weekend


Dothan Eagle – UPDATED: Roby endorses Coleman; Moore questions Roby’s loyalty to Trump


Dothan Eagle – Southeast Health hopes PPE stockpile provides buffer if national shortage worsens


Dothan Eagle – Ozark healthcare facility has 21 positive residents, 16 positive employees


Opelika-Auburn News – “Almost back to square one”: Hospital feeling the stress of COVID-19 surge


Opelika-Auburn News – Auburn council to talk mask requirement Monday


Opelika-Auburn News – AU moving forward with dorm renovations


WSFA Montgomery – Alabama hospitals strained under surge of COVID-19 cases, AHA says


WSFA Montgomery – Pedestrian killed by 18-wheeler in Clanton identified


WSFA Montgomery – Montgomery police chief reacts to detective’s homicide


WAFF Huntsville – Shoals COVID-19 patient released from hospital after 33 days


WAFF Huntsville – Area high school practices COVID-19 protocol


WAFF Huntsville – Man confronts Huntsville City Council after police chief refers to him as ‘antifa’


WKRG Mobile – Sheriff: Man killed biker because he was white in racist hate crime


WKRG Mobile – BLM painted in front of Trump Tower


WKRG Mobile – Citizens Police Advisory Committee holds first meeting in Pensacola


WTVY Dothan – DEA: Dothan pharmacist peddled painkillers on consignment


WTVY Dothan – ‘Revive Alabama’ grant program to help small businesses affected by COVID-19


WTVY Dothan – True toll of COVID-19 in nursing homes still unknown


WASHINGTON POST – Biden releases U.S.-centered economic plan, challenging Trump’s ‘America First’ agenda


WASHINGTON POST – CDC feels pressure from Trump as rift grows over coronavirus response


WASHINGTON POST  – Rulings let Trump keep his taxes under wraps for now, but his angry reaction underscores a political risk


NEW YORK TIMES – U.S. Hits Another Record for New Coronavirus Cases


NEW YORK TIMES – Michael Cohen Returned to Jail in Dispute Over Trump Book


NEW YORK TIMES – A Conservative Court and Trump’s Own Appointees Declare Their Independence


WALL STREET JOURNAL – German Biotech Sees Its Coronavirus Vaccine Ready for Approval by December


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Supreme Court Signals Judiciary May Shape Balance of Power Between Congress and White House


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Arrests at U.S. Border With Mexico Jumped 40% in June


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