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Daily News Digest – July 16, 2020

Good morning!

Here’s your Daily News for Thursday, July 16.


1. Ivey issues mask mandate

Gov. Kay Ivey wears an Auburn University mask as she arrives to announce a statewide mask order during a news conference in the state capitol building Wednesday. (Mickey Welsh/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP)
  • Gov. Kay Ivey issued a mandatory statewide mask order on Wednesday, requiring Alabamians to cover their mouths and noses when out in public and in close contact with others.
  • The order goes into effect at 5 p.m. today and ends July 31.
  • Ivey cited the growing number of COVID-19 cases in recent days and the increased hospitalizations that are straining the state’s medical resources.
  • “… I always prefer personal responsibility over a government mandate, and yet I also know with all my heart that the numbers and the data over the past few weeks are definitely trending in the wrong direction,” Ivey said during a news conference at the State Capitol.
  • Under state law, those who do not comply with public health orders could face a $500 fine or even jail time, but Ivey said that was not the goal of implementing such an order.
  • “We’re certainly not asking our sheriffs and police officers to go out looking for those not wearing a mask and arrest them, but we are asking everyone to do a better job practicing social distancing, personal hygiene and wearing a face mask,” Ivey said.
  • State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said he wholeheartedly agrees with the new order and that wearing face coverings is the best action citizens can take to stop the spread of coronavirus until a vaccine is developed.
  • “We really don’t have a lot of other options at this time,” Harris said. “We don’t have a vaccine, we don’t have highly effective treatments, but we do have the ability to prevent person-to-person spread from occurring.”
  • This new order comes as Alabama recorded 40 deaths from COVID-19 on Tuesday, the highest one-day death count since the outbreak began.
  • As of Wednesday, 1,136 deaths from COVID-19 and 56,441 confirmed cases have been reported in the state. More than 18,000 of the cases have been reported within the last two weeks. Harris said that preliminary numbers show the rate of positive tests has increased from the Fourth of July week from 14% to now around 16-17%.
  • Full story from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.


2. Senate race shapes up to be a contentious slugfest

  • Raise your hand if you’re still a little tired from the marathon primary election that ended Tuesday night. ✋
  • There is no rest for the weary, and halfway through July the general election campaign is now upon us.
  • That means Alabama Republicans’ long-anticipated attempt to win back the U.S. Senate seat from Democratic Sen. Doug Jones finally kicks into gear.
  • For their part, Jones and Alabama Democrats appear primed for the fight, girded with plenty of campaign cash, an energized state party and confidence stemming from the 2017 special election win over Roy Moore.
  • Armed with Trump’s endorsement and fame from years on the sidelines, former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville handily defeated former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in Tuesday’s Republican runoff, and quickly pivoted to attacking Jones.
  • “Democrat Doug Jones is running for reelection with the slogan One Alabama. Well, you can make no mistake about it. What Doug really means is one liberal Alabama,” Tuberville said on election night.
  • Jones is not ceding his chances in a race setting up to be both pricey and combative.
  • “My message is going to be very simple: We’ve got to have leadership. We are in a time of crisis. I want you to look at the record,” Jones said, adding that he wants to talk about jobs, education and health care.
  • Oh, by the way, this race could decide which party controls the U.S. Senate.
  • Read the full story from Kim Chandler HERE.


3. Congress eyes new virus aid as school, health crisis deepens

  • Two months after House Democrats approved a $3 trillion COVID-19 aid package, Senate Republicans are poised to unveil their $1 trillion counteroffer, straining to keep spending in check as the virus outbreak spreads and societal fallout deepens.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is expected to roll out the GOP bill as soon as next week, said Wednesday that he conferred with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as the White House’s point man on the talks prepares to negotiate with Democrats.
  • But having hit “pause” in May, as McConnell put it, Republicans now face a potentially more dire situation. They had hoped the pandemic would ease and the economic fallout would reverse. Instead, coronavirus cases are spiking, states are resuming shutdowns and parents are wondering if it’s safe to send children back to school.
  • “Regretfully, this is not over,” McConnell said during a visit to a hospital in Kentucky.
  • “There were some that hoped this would go away sooner than it has,” he said, urging residents to wear masks and social distance.
  • “The straight talk here that everyone needs to understand: This is not going away,” McConnell said.
  • This would be the fifth virus rescue bill since spring, all told an unprecedented federal intervention to counter the times. Unlike any health crisis since the 1918 Spanish flu and an economic upheaval on par with the Great Depression, Congress is trying to engineer a comprehensive national strategy to bring the pandemic under control.
  • Full story from Lisa Mascaro HERE.


4. Trump replaces campaign manager 

  • President Donald Trump shook up his campaign staff Wednesday amid sinking poll numbers less than four months before the election, replacing campaign manager Brad Parscale with veteran GOP operative Bill Stepien.
  • “I am pleased to announce that Bill Stepien has been promoted to the role of Trump Campaign Manager,” Trump said on Facebook. “Brad Parscale, who has been with me for a very long time and has led our tremendous digital and data strategies, will remain in that role, while being a Senior Advisor to the campaign.”
  • Trump and Parscale’s relationship had been increasingly strained, with the president annoyed by the publicity Parscale had garnered in the role. But the final straw appeared to be a Tulsa, Oklahoma, rally last month that drew an unexpectedly low crowd of about 6,200 people after Parscale had bragged that more than a million people had requested tickets. The president was furious.
  • The staff change was not expected to alter the day-to-day running of the campaign. News of the shuffle was delivered to Parscale on Wednesday afternoon by White House adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner.
  • Parscale, a political novice, ran Trump’s digital advertising in 2016 and was credited with helping bring about his surprise victory that year. Stepien has been in politics for years, working for former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and serving as Trump’s national field director in 2016.
  • Full story HERE.



5. ‘Jump Start’ workforce initiative launched in Alabama

  • Alabama government and business leaders on Wednesday announced a private-public partnership to help carry out the state’s strategy for the future of workforce development.
  • Using leading edge virtual reality training solutions from job simulator TRANSFRVR, ‘JumpStartAL’ will offer new education and training programs to develop the state’s next generation of highly skilled workers.
  • The initiative will highlight career paths needed for Alabama to meet its goal of increasing its workforce by 500,000 highly skilled workers by 2025.
  • Training is available for anyone interested in a career in the skilled trades, including high school students, veterans, workers in existing industries, the unemployed and underemployed.
  • ‘JumpStartAL’ will initially roll out at five Alabama community colleges, including Coastal Alabama Community College, Enterprise State Community College, Jefferson State Community College, Lawson State Community College and Shelton State Community College.
  • Alabama Power, Altec and Kamtek are among the private sector leaders of JumpStartAL. The statewide business community is supporting the initiative through job placement strategies and financial efforts.
  • Read more from Alabama News Center HERE.


News Briefs


Birx meets with Ivey, other state leaders

  • Dr. Deborah Birx, response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, met with Gov. Kay Ivey and State Public Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris on Wednesday to discuss Alabama’s work on slowing the spread of the coronavirus.
  • According to Ivey’s office, Birx said making sure everyone wears masks while in public is a critical step in keeping businesses open and running safely and Ivey’s decision to issue a statewide mask order was “brilliant.”
  • That mask order goes into effect at 5 p.m. today and lasts till the end of July. Ivey continued to emphasize the need for personal responsibility on Wednesday but said the worsening numbers for COVID-19 cases in the state moved her to put the order in place.
  • It was a close-door meeting but Ivey press secretary Gina Maiola said that the three discussed a variety of topics related to the pandemic including testing, the reopening of schools and churches and Remdesivir, a drug shown to reduce the recovery time for those with COVID-19.
  • Birx strongly emphasized how now is a critical time for the South to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Maiola said in a press release.
  • Full story from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.

Board votes to rename 3 schools honoring Confederates

  • MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama school board has decided to rename high schools that honor two Confederate leaders and a poet who served in the rebel army.
  • News outlets reported that the Montgomery County Board of Education voted Tuesday to change the names of high schools honoring Gen. Robert E. Lee, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and poet Sidney Lanier, who was a Confederate soldier.
  • The board will now either have to get a waiver of a 2017 state law guarding Confederate memorials or pay a $25,000 fine for each renaming. Board member Jannah Bailey said a private group had raised more than $42,000 toward paying the penalties.
  • A debate over the school names began amid protests over racial inequality following the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota. Someone ripped down a Lee statue outside his namesake school during the demonstrations.
  • Full story HERE.

Biden, Gates, other Twitter accounts hacked in Bitcoin scam

  • Unidentified hackers broke into the Twitter accounts of technology moguls, politicians, celebrities and major companies Wednesday in an apparent Bitcoin scam.
  • The ruse included bogus tweets from former President Barack Obama, Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg and a number of tech billionaires including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Celebrities Kanye West and his wife, Kim Kardashian West, were also hacked. The fake tweets tweets offered to send $2,000 for every $1,000 sent to an anonymous Bitcoin address.
  • There is no evidence that the owners of these accounts were targeted themselves. Instead, the hacks appeared designed to lure their Twitter followers into sending money to an anonymous Bitcoin account. The Biden campaign, for instance, said that Twitter’s integrity team “locked down the account within a few minutes of the breach and removed the related tweet.”
  • Obama’s office had no immediate comment. The FBI said it was aware of Twitter’s security breach, but declined further comment.
  • Read more HERE.





ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama Senate race shapes up to be a contentious slugfest
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – White House COVID-19 task force coordinator meets with Ivey, other state leaders
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Congress eyes new virus aid as school, health crisis deepens
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump replaces campaign manager amid sinking poll numbers
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Board votes to rename 3 schools honoring Confederates
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Biden, Gates, other Twitter accounts hacked in Bitcoin scam
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – In defeat, Sessions still says Trump right for nation
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey sets deadline to respond to lawmakers’ school safety proposal
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – As school year approaches, leaders worry about teacher, staff shortages, protecting vulnerable
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – July 15, 2020
AL.COM  – 1,784 new coronavirus cases in Alabama since yesterday; 47 new deaths
AL.COM  – Alabama already saw more coronavirus cases in July than any other month
AL.COM  – Tommy Tuberville: ‘Maybe’ to Doug Jones debate and ‘no’ to mandatory masks
AL.COM  – Questions fly as Alabama state school board prepares to reopen schools
AL.COM  – Gov. Ivey issues statewide mask order
AL.COM  – With half of day cares still closed, Alabama to spend millions to help more reopen
AL.COM  – NFL joins World Games 2022 as partner, will sponsor newest sport
Montgomery Advertiser – Alabama Gov. Ivey issues statewide mask mandate in public spaces, beginning Thursday
Montgomery Advertiser – Retired Escambia County judge assigned to case against teen charged in ‘Big John’ Williams’ death
Montgomery Advertiser – Gov. Kay Ivey’s mask order draws praise, criticism from Alabama politicians and officials
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Senator Doug Jones responds to results of Alabama GOP primary runoff
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – COVID-19 vaccine showing promise, moves into final test stage
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Alabama’s top doctor emphasizes social responsibility
Tuscaloosa News – Board votes to rename 3 schools honoring Confederates
Tuscaloosa News – Savings await back-to-school shoppers
Tuscaloosa News – Seeking comeback, Sessions faces Tuberville in Alabama race
Decatur Daily – Pandemic might slow tax-free sales this weekend
Decatur Daily – Hartselle schools to have staggered start, instruction options
Decatur Daily – Athens, Huntsville facilities to take part in COVID-19 clinical trial
Times Daily – Carnival comes to town in midst of COVID
Times Daily – Tier 1 supplier and 279 jobs eyes Shoals
Times Daily – Hill takes runoff for Lauderdale superintendent
Anniston Star – Talladega woman charged with exposing newborn to meth
Anniston Star – RMC renews ‘no visitors’ policy as COVID-19 cases climb
Anniston Star – Man charged with terrorist threat at Oxford polling place
YellowHammer News – Gov. Ivey meets with Dr. Deborah Birx about COVID-19
YellowHammer News – Doug Jones: Ivey’s statewide mask mandate ‘the right thing’
YellowHammer News – World Games to feature flag football for first time ever at Birmingham 2022 event
Gadsden Times – Gov. Ivey issues statewide mask mandate in public spaces, beginning Thursday
Gadsden Times – Number of critical patients rise at local hospitals
Gadsden Times – Appeals case clarifies search warrant issue
Dothan Eagle – Where in the Wiregrass can I get tested for COVID-19?
Dothan Eagle – Compassus–Troy receives 2019 SHPBest Premier Performer Caregiver Satisfaction Award
Dothan Eagle – In defeat, Sessions still says Trump is right for the nation
Opelika-Auburn News – Mandatory face masks part of ACS back-to-school plan
Opelika-Auburn News – Tuberville takes Lee County easily in GOP runoff
Opelika-Auburn News – Local officials embrace Ivey’s mask order
WSFA Montgomery – AEA concerned for employees with reopening schools
WSFA Montgomery – MPS superintendent, Montgomery mayor react to school board decisions
WSFA Montgomery – New Pike Road principal excited for school year
WAFF Huntsville – Huntsville company developing cheaper ways to launch rockets
WAFF Huntsville – COVID-19 in Alabama: State sees 1,673 new cases in 24 hours
WAFF Huntsville – Mask Facts vs. Myths: Do masks cause you to breathe carbon dioxide?
WKRG Mobile – Anti-Jones attack ads begin on the day after the runoff
WKRG Mobile – Man ties up wife with bedsheets, electrical cords, forces her to withdraw money from ATM
WKRG Mobile – Monroeville Police searching for murder suspect
WTVY Dothan – Ivey to meet with key Coronavirus Task Force leader
WTVY Dothan – Alabama sees record 40 deaths, another 1,673 COVID-19 cases Tuesday
WTVY Dothan – Young people need to be aware of unique COVID-19 symptoms
WASHINGTON POST – New police video reveals George Floyd’s desperate pleas before his death
WASHINGTON POST – Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp forbids cities, counties from requiring masks as coronavirus surges in the state
WASHINGTON POST – Bill Stepien was ousted over Bridgegate. Now he’s in charge of Trump’s reelection campaign.
NEW YORK TIMES – Trump Replaces Brad Parscale as Campaign Manager, Elevating Bill Stepien
NEW YORK TIMES – After Attacks From Trump Aides, Fauci Says ‘Let’s Stop This Nonsense’ and Focus on Virus
NEW YORK TIMES – As U.S. Coronavirus Cases Hit 3.5 Million, Officials Scramble to Add Restrictions
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Store Reopenings Likely Boosted June Sales, but Virus Threatens Future Gains
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Bank of America Profit Falls 52% on Loan Concerns
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Widespread Twitter Hack Reaches Bill Gates, Kanye West, Elon Musk, Joe Biden and Barack Obama



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