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Daily News Digest – July 12, 2021

Good morning!

Here’s your Daily News for Monday, July 12.

1. Stats: Drug overdose deaths increased significantly in 2020

  • Alabama had 980 drug overdose deaths in 2020, an increase of about 27% from 2019, according to preliminary numbers from the Alabama Department of Public Health.
  • Alabama Daily News requested the drug overdose and suicide death information from ADPH last month to compare the pandemic year to previous ones.
  • State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said he didn’t have a complete explanation for the spike in overdose deaths, but it’s reasonable that the pandemic contributed to it.
  • Separately, there were 793 suicides in 2020, according to information obtained from death certificates. That’s slightly fewer than the preceding three years, but Harris cautioned that the 2020 numbers are preliminary and could increase. The same is the case for the overdose information. It takes 10 months to a year to finalize numbers, including ongoing death investigations and data on deaths of Alabamians in other states, Harris said.
  • And some deaths attributed to drug overdose may have been suicides, he said.
  • Read the full feature story from Mary Sell HERE.



2. Pfizer to discuss COVID-19 vaccine booster with US officials

  • Pfizer says it plans to meet with top U.S. health officials today to discuss the drugmaker’s request for federal authorization of a third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The company said it was scheduled to have the meeting with the Food and Drug Administration and other officials days after Pfizer asserted that booster shots would be needed within 12 months.
  • Pfizer’s Dr. Mikael Dolsten said last week that early data from the company’s booster study suggests people’s antibody levels jump five- to 10-fold after a third dose, compared to their second dose months earlier — evidence it believes supports the need for a booster.
  •  Dr. Anthony Fauci didn’t rule out the possibility but said it was too soon for the government to recommend another shot.
  • He said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA did the right thing last week by pushing back against Pfizer’s assertion with their statement that they did not view booster shots as necessary “at this time.”
  • “Right now, given the data and the information we have, we do not need to give people a third shot,” he said.
  • Read more HERE.


3. Gas prices rise, could hold steady

  • The average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline rose a nickel over the past two weeks, to $3.21 per gallon.
  • Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey said Sunday that gas prices will likely hold steady now that crude oil costs have stopped rising.
  • The price at the pump is 97 cents higher than it was a year ago.
  • Nationwide, the highest average price for regular-grade gas is in the San Francisco Bay Area, at $4.39 per gallon. The lowest average is in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at $2.65 per gallon.
  • The average price of diesel in the survey taken Friday was $3.30 a gallon, up 3 cents from two weeks earlier.
  • In Alabama, the average price for regular gasoline is $2.82 per gallon, according to AAA. Prices are higher in coastal and south rural Alabama, where a gallon of gas can cost upwards of $3.00. Diesel now costs $3.03 per gallon.
  • Story link.


4. New state veterans home to be named for Bennie Adkins

  • A new state veterans home in southeast Alabama will be named for Sgt. Maj. Bennie Adkins, who received the Medal of Honor for his service in the Vietnam War.
  • The new home, with space for 175 veterans, will be located in Enterprise, said a statement from the Alabama State Board of Veterans Affairs.
  • Adkins was “well-known statewide for his bravery and heroism, especially in southeastern Alabama with his close ties to the community,” said Chad Richmond, the vice chair of the board.
  • Adkins, a resident of Opelika, died from COVID-19 last year at the age of 86.
  • Read more HERE.



5. News Briefs

Jackson becomes first Black president of prosecutors’ group

  • MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A veteran prosecutor from west Alabama has been elected as the first Black president of Alabama District Attorneys Association.
  • District Attorney Michael Jackson was sworn in last week at the Montgomery Statehouse. He will serve a one-year term.
  • Michael Jackson is the district attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit that includes Dallas, Hale, Bibb, Perry and Wilcox counties.
  •  “With the rising violent crime across Alabama, I want to get more gang training for the district attorneys and their assistant district attorneys,” Jackson told
  • He said he also wants to seek more money for victims’ services.
  • Jackson was first elected in 2004 and was the first Black district attorney for the area that was home to key events in the civil rights movement. He was awarded Alabama District Attorney of the Year in 2013, and was the first Black district attorney to receive the award.
  • Jackson has prosecuted several high-profile cases while in office. Those included a series of church arsons and the prosecution of ex-state trooper Bernard Fowler who pleaded guilty to the 1965 shooting death of Jimmie Lee Jackson. Jackson’s death led to the historic civil rights marches from Selma to Montgomery.

Court rejects appeal of Alabama man convicted in 6 murders

  • MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama appeals court Friday sided with a judge who rejected the appeal of a man convicted of murder and sentenced to die for the shooting deaths of six people on a farm in southwestern Alabama nearly two decades ago.
  • The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals upheld a Crenshaw County judge’s decision refusing a challenge by Westley Devone Harris, 41, who was convicted of using guns to slaughter his girlfriend’s family members one-by-one before abducting her in 2002.
  • The dead included the parents, grandmother and three brothers of Janice Ball, who was 16 at the time and became the state’s main witness against her one-time boyfriend.
  • Harris claimed a judge should have stepped aside from the case and his own lawyer did a poor job defending him, but the appeals court disagreed.
  • The court also turned aside claims of juror misconduct during Harris’ trial, including an allegation that two white jurors made racist comments while deliberating the charges against Harris, who is Black. Harris didn’t identify the jurors who made the alleged comments, the court ruled.
  • Harris was convicted of the killings in 2005.

Project to develop area beneath new interstate in Birmingham

  • BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Work has begun on a $34 million project to develop a nearly mile-long area beneath an elevated interstate highway through Birmingham with attractions that include spaces for performances and recreation.
  • City Walk BHAM will be located under Interstate 59/20, which was recently rebuilt and lies between the main downtown area and the city’s civic center, indoor arena and new football stadium, which is opening this fall.
  • Construction began recently, and officials hope the project will be done by July 2022, when Birmingham will host the World Games, an international sporting event.
  • The project will cover the length of 10 city blocks. Plans include areas for markets, sports fields, green spaces, a dog park, a skate park, performances and food trucks.
  • The Birmingham-based Brasfield and Gorrie is the main contractor working on the project.

New beach fire station planned after deputy’s drowning death

  • GULF SHORES, Ala. (AP) — A new fire station is being planned along an Alabama beach known for drownings following the death of a deputy who went under while trying to save distressed swimmers.
  • Officials hope the station will make it easier for rescuers to get to people who get in trouble in Gulf waters along Fort Morgan, an unincorporated area west of Gulf Shores, WPMI-TV reported.
  • “To be able to roll up a door and shoot straight to the beach down the county access is going to shave valuable minutes off response times,” said Joe Emerson, secretary for the Fort Morgan Volunteer Fire Board, which serves the area.
  • There are no lifeguards or a flag system to warn swimmers of danger along Fort Morgan because the area is a mix of private and state-owned land.
  • The need for additional safeguards was highlighted in June following the death of Baldwin County Deputy Bill Smith, who died while trying to save others in the area, where drownings typically occur more frequently than in beach towns. Another man died just days after Smith.
  • “When we have a tragedy, it hits all of us in the community. The department is constantly re-evaluating what can be done better after every call. This is all part of building a better department,” Emerson said.
  • Volunteer firefighters and a handful of Baldwin County deputies cover roughly 12 miles of beachfront. Building a hurricane-proof fire station just off the beach would allow for improved access for rescuers, he said.
  • Officials hope to begin construction in October, Emerson said, but the department is awaiting approval from federal officials.





ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Stats: Drug overdose deaths increased significantly in 2020


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Pfizer to discuss COVID-19 vaccine booster with US officials


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Gas prices rise, could hold steady


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New state veterans home to be named for Bennie Adkins


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New beach fire station planned after deputy’s drowning death


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Jackson becomes first Black president of prosecutors’ group


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama won’t require masks, social distancing at K-12 schools


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump attacks Britt in Alabama Senate race


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – State trying to boost sagging vaccination rate in Alabama


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Democrats craft voting bill with eye on Supreme Court fight


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Jury selection set to begin for trial of Alabama sheriff


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Weekend Digest – July 11, 2021


AL.COM – Stimulus update: How to sign up for free or reduced-price health insurance; deadline Aug. 15


AL.COM – Contributor Brantley Fry: Mountain Brook: We can do better


 AL.COM – Columnist Cameron Smith: Play Alabama GOP Senate primary ad bingo


AL.COM – Cracks, separated staircases, moving walls: Similarities with Surfside disaster in Orange Beach condo lawsuit


AL.COM – Huntsville’s top traffic infrastructure priority will cost more than $200 million


Montgomery Advertiser – Capital murder charges filed in Pike Road shooting


Montgomery Advertiser – Prattville sales tax renewed indefinitely, exact spending plan still undecided


Montgomery Advertiser – Bryan Stevenson wants to help people understand how racism warped America. After 2020, America may be ready to listen.


Decatur Daily – Second bill targeting critical race theory filed for ’22 legislative session


Decatur Daily – First Response, Decatur Morgan Hospital at odds over ambulance services


Decatur Daily – Decatur detective: Defendant in capital murder case planned to rob victim


Times Daily – Church volunteers clean up as part of SERVE Day


Times Daily – Alabama won’t require masks, social distancing at K-12 public schools


Times Daily – Resurfacing project on U.S. 72 starts Monday night in Florence


Anniston Star – Wellborn alum a finalist for Alabama Teacher of Year award


Anniston Star – Lake Yahou to become McClellan’s outdoor centerpiece


Anniston Star – Stats: Drug overdose deaths increase significantly in 2020


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – B’ham PD investigating homicide on 3rd Ave. North


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Disabilities advocacy attorney weighs in on Weiss Lake Lodge discrimination controversy


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – ADPH: More than 554K positive COVID cases as fewer people get vaccines


Tuscaloosa News – Down with the old, up with the new: The third Tutwiler dorm rises


Tuscaloosa News – PET OF THE WEEK: July 11, 2021 | Conrad


YellowHammer News – Taylor out swinging after U.S. Senate bid launch — ‘We’ve got a lobbyist, a RINO and someone who has served in office longer than I’ve been on this planet’


YellowHammer News – House Majority Ldr Ledbetter: Perry County facility, new women’s prison in play for revamped Alabama corrections plan


YellowHammer News – Trump weighs in on Alabama’s U.S. Senate race


Gadsden Times – Gadsden Museum of Art to display exhibits from local, regional artists starting August 2


Dothan Eagle – Nepal’s Supreme Court reinstates dissolved lower house


Dothan Eagle – UK’s Johnson set to confirm England unlocking will go ahead


Dothan Eagle – Cunningham announcing plan to legalize marijuana in SC


Opelika-Auburn News – Listen up: Biden speaks volumes in a whisper to make a point


Opelika-Auburn News – No clear winner in Bulgaria’s general elections


Opelika-Auburn News – Italy erupts as Europe’s soccer champions come home to Rome


WSFA Montgomery – Governor Ivey to address Alabama Boys State delegates


WSFA Montgomery – ‘Stop the Violence’ campaign walks in Chisholm community


WSFA Montgomery – Montgomery first lady hosts fitness camp as part of wellness initiative


WAFF Huntsville – 1 dead, 1 injured following ATV crash in Lawrence County


WAFF Huntsville – Governor Ivey to address Alabama Boys State delegates


WAFF Huntsville – Belgreen High School welcomes new principal


WKRG Mobile – Suspect accused of murdering man in Crestview killed in shootout


WKRG Mobile – UMS-Wright pitcher drafted first round to the Dodgers


WKRG Mobile – Biloxi man charged with aggravated assault on law enforcement officers after shots fired during domestic call


WTVY Dothan – Officials searching for vehicle after fatal hit and run


WTVY Dothan – Okaloosa County officials searching for suspect in connection with fatal shooting


WTVY Dothan – Tuskegee councilman says he’s ‘broken no law’ trying to remove Confederate monument


WASHINGTON POST – Top U.S. commander in Afghanistan to step down Monday, marking a symbolic end to 20 years of war


WASHINGTON POST – Police say suspect in killing of Haiti’s Moïse planned to assume presidency


WASHINGTON POST – Texas Republicans advance voting restrictions in special session


NEW YORK TIMES – Live Updates: Haitian Officials Say American Held in President’s Killing Was Seeking Power


NEW YORK TIMES – The Rationing of a Last-Resort Covid Treatment


NEW YORK TIMES – E.P.A. Approved Toxic Chemicals for Fracking a Decade Ago, New Files Show


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Governments Want to Cash In on Miners’ Ballooning Profits


WALL STREET JOURNAL – These Countries Are Looking Ahead to Living With Covid-19


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Tech Firms to Buy Covid-19 Vaccines on Behalf of Taiwan’s Government




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