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Daily News Digest – July 21, 2020

Good morning!

Here’s your Daily News for Tuesday, July 21.


1. COVID-19 update

  • A total of 586 new COVID-19 hospitalizations were reported Monday, bringing the confirmed number of hospitalizations to a new high of 1,563, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.
  • The state reported 1,874 new COVID-19 cases on Monday and the state’s 7-day average of new cases reported dropped slightly to 1,851.
  • Three deaths were reported Monday, bringing that total to 1,257 statewide. The seven-day average for deaths, as of Monday, was 23, according to BamaTracker, an independent website that compounds data from ADPH. A week ago, the seven-day death average was 16.
  • Read more and see the latest charts HERE.


2. Election officials use lessons from runoff to plan

  • With the November general election looming, Alabama officials are looking at last week’s primary runoff for insights on how to safely run polling sites amid predicted larger voter turnout in what is likely to still be a health emergency.
  • Secretary of State John Merrill said Monday the state has extended special rules allowing anyone with concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak to cast their vote absentee. At least 32,563 voters cast absentee ballots on July 14, amounting to a record-breaking 5.2% of all votes cast.
  • Merrill said he expects the state to set another record in November for absentee voting.
  • “I wouldn’t be surprised to see 100,000 people voting absentee,” Merrill told Alabama Daily News.
  • Concerns about the coronavirus appear not to have prevented Alabamians from turning out to vote in last Tuesday’s runoff, at least relative to comparable elections.
  • According to Merrill’s office, more than 626,551 Alabamians cast a vote on Tuesday, which equates to 17.3% of the state’s registered voters. In the September 2017 special GOP runoff election for U.S. Senate, 14.6% of voters cast ballots. During the 2010 primary runoff when candidates for governor, attorney general and several legislative seats were on the ballot, 22.9% of voters turned out.
  • Merrill said the state’s preparations for the unusual circumstances of last week’s runoff paid off.
  • Multiple probate judges told Alabama Daily News some of their regular poll workers declined to work last Tuesday because of outbreak concerns, but they were able to fill gaps with alternate workers or make do with less. Like Merrill, the probate judges said there were lessons as they prepare for November.
  • Full story from Caroline Beck and me HERE.


3. New resources, recommendations available as schools set to reopen

  • As Alabama schools look toward reopening in less than a month, each public school system will receive a minimum of $170,000 for COVID-19 related wellness preparation and remote learning expenses under two grant programs announced Monday.
  • On the wellness side, the money can be used for paying health professionals, testing and contract tracing, facility improvements, supplies, and equipment meant to mitigate the spread of the virus.
  • On the technology side, the funds can be spent on electronic devices for remote virtual learning.
  • The Alabama State Department of Education recently contracted with SchoolsPLP to develop a statewide learning portal that is supposed to offer each school’s basic coursework online. The platform is supposed to be ready to launch by August.
  • Broadband access, or the lack thereof in many parts of the state, was a hindrance for some systems during the last school year’s COVID-19 closures.
  • State Superintendent Eric Mackey last week sent Ivey a proposed “addendum” to the June Roadmap for Reopening Schools, a list of guidelines, not mandates, for schools to consider. The revision included suggestions for grants to pay for nurses, testing, facility improvements and screening. But it’s not the ambitious plan to spend $150 million on 300 new nurses and isolation buildings that some state senators have been advocating.
  • Mackey on Monday told Alabama Daily News that with both programs, systems have flexibility in spending.
  • “Local school districts know best what they need,” Mackey said.  “Some places already have a nurse in every school, some communities don’t have a nurse in every school. Some communities have one-to-one devices already, some communities don’t have one-to-one devices.”
  • Full story from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.


4. Commission to study possible midwifery program in Selma

  • Citing a high infant mortality rate and lack of health care in the Black Belt, some state leaders are discussing the possibility of a midwifery program at Wallace State Community College in Selma.
  • State Sen. Jim McClendon, R-Springville, sponsored a resolution in the Legislature this year to create a commission to study the feasibility of a midwifery program at Wallace State. The commission’s first meeting is today.
  • McClendon said this is a preliminary meeting but hopes it is the beginning of addressing the problem of maternal and infant mortality in Alabama’s underserved communities.
  • “We’ve ignored and done nothing about the infant mortality rate in the Black Belt and that is absolutely unforgivable,” McClendon told Alabama Daily News. “We’ve got babies dying. They’re not getting prenatal care, they may not have transportation and they just don’t have access.”
  • Midwives have only been allowed to practice legally in Alabama since 2017 but there are no schools in the state that teach midwifery practices. In order to get training, those looking to be midwives have to go out of state or take online classes.
  • Read the full story from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.


5. Trump, Congress square off on new virus aid

  • President Donald Trump acknowledged a “big flareup” of COVID-19 cases, but divisions between the White House and Senate Republicans and differences with Democrats posed fresh challenges for a new federal aid package with the U.S. crisis worsening and emergency relief about to expire.
  • Trump convened GOP leaders at the White House on Monday as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell prepared to roll out his $1 trillion package in days. But the administration criticized the legislation’s money for more virus testing and insisted on a full payroll tax repeal that could complicate quick passage. The timeline appeared to quickly shift.
  • “We’ve made a lot of progress,” Trump said, but added, “Unfortunately, this is something that’s very tough.”
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said any attempt by the White House to block money for testing “goes beyond ignorance.”
  • The package from McConnell, being crafted behind closed doors, is expected to include $75 billion to help schools reopen. It will likely replace an expiring $600 weekly unemployment benefits boost with a smaller amount. The cut in unemployment assistance is designed to ensure that jobless people do not receive a greater benefit than if they were working. Regular state benefits vary widely, and the measure would peg the federal bonus payment to a percentage of the state benefit.
  • The political stakes are high for both parties before the November election, and even more so for the nation, which now has registered more coronavirus infections and a higher death count — 140,800 — than any other country.
  • Today, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and acting chief of staff Mark Meadows will meet privately with Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.
  • Full story with photos and video from the meeting HERE.




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama COVID-19 hospitalizations increase


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Election officials use lessons from runoff to plan for November


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New resources, recommendations available as schools set to reopen


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New commission to study possible midwifery program in Selma


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Renaming Alabama bridge for John Lewis opposed in Selma


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump, Congress square off over virus aid as crisis worsens


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – State moves to ban opioid-like antidepressant sold in convenience stores


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Doctor who survived COVID-19 bewildered by public disregard


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Tuberville says maybe to debate; Jones: Voters deserve one


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – July 20, 2020


AL.COM – Birmingham Freedom Fest 2020: Cory Booker, Terri Sewell, Stacey Abrams on lineup


AL.COM – Aerospace education center Flight Works Alabama to open


AL.COM – Alabama K-12 schools getting $170 million for devices, health care


AL.COM – Merrill extends COVID-19 emergency absentee voting rule to general election


AL.COM – Coronavirus rumors and hoaxes: Alabama health officials address misinformation on testing, cases


AL.COM – Columnist John Hammontree: When can we expect a Covid-19 vaccine? Is it safe to return to schools? UAB’s Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo explains


Montgomery Advertiser – Autauga County schools reverse mask policy, now require face coverings for students, staff


Montgomery Advertiser – Protesters turn themselves in on defacing public property charges, vow to continue movement


Montgomery Advertiser – COVID-19 hospitalizations continue record highs in Alabama


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – 62-year-old grandmother, killed in a drive-by shooting; family pleads for answers


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Election officials use lessons from runoff to plan for November


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Ala. state senator hospitalized with COVID-19: Don’t get complacent


Tuscaloosa News – Renaming Alabama bridge for John Lewis opposed in Selma


Tuscaloosa News – UA hotline offers COVID-19 information


Tuscaloosa News – Tuscaloosa County man charged in Ohio after three-hour chase


Decatur Daily – Local health officials: More and faster COVID testing needed as hospitalizations rise


Decatur Daily – Athens students must choose virtual or in-person instruction by Friday


Decatur Daily – New resources, recommendations available as schools set to reopen


Times Daily – Election officials use lessons from runoff to plan for November


Times Daily – New resources, recommendations available as schools set to reopen


Times Daily – Colbert judge to succeed Lauderdale judge as president of Alabama District Judge’s Association


Anniston Star – Anniston’s RMC opens more COVID-19 beds as admissions continue rising


Anniston Star – Alabama election officials using lessons from runoff to plan for November


Anniston Star – New Alabama commission to study possible midwifery program in Selma


YellowHammer News – Ivey awards $170M for more school nurses, remote learning devices, other coronavirus mitigation measures


YellowHammer News – Alabama voters concerned about COVID-19 can vote absentee this November


YellowHammer News – Thanks to Alabama, the first humans walked on the moon this day 51 years ago


Gadsden Times – Merrill: Voters worried about COVID-19 can still vote absentee


Gadsden Times – GCS superintendent talks about concerns with school year plan


Gadsden Times – DeKalb SO rounds up 50 on warrants


Dothan Eagle – Florida Democrats running to boost Biden from the bottom up


Dothan Eagle – Dothan Municipal Court discourages unnecessary court appearances


Dothan Eagle – Three Dothan residents arrested in connection with 2007 cold case murder


Opelika-Auburn News – Opelika City School’s First Class Pre-K ready for first day of school


Opelika-Auburn News – Auburn High’s Cade Belyeu commits to Auburn University


Opelika-Auburn News – Hospital treating record number of COVID-19 cases, Lee County surpasses 2,000 COVID-19 cases


WSFA Montgomery – Autauga County schools require face coverings in amended roadmap


WSFA Montgomery – Crimestoppers offering reward in Troy shooting case


WSFA Montgomery – 2 people, including teen, injured in separate Tuskegee shootings


WAFF Huntsville – Ala. DHR responds to report of safety issues, abuse at child treatment facility


WAFF Huntsville – Gov. Ivey allocates $170M to help reopen schools amid pandemic


WAFF Huntsville – Babysitter charged with murder of missing 2-year-old boy from Philadelphia


WKRG Mobile – Trump to re-up virus briefings amid lagging polls


WKRG Mobile – Florida Democrats fight to boost votes for presidential candidate Joe Biden


WKRG Mobile – Alabama State Trooper car catches fire off Canal Street


WTVY Dothan – Crimestoppers offering reward in Troy shooting case


WTVY Dothan – Which activities are riskiest right now? ADPH releases helpful guide


WTVY Dothan – Covington County sheriff announces recovery from COVID-19


WASHINGTON POST – E.U. leaders agree to $859 billion coronavirus plan to steer bloc out of what could be worst economic straits since World War II


WASHINGTON POST – Trump to bring back coronavirus briefings in attempt to revive reelection campaign


WASHINGTON POST – Trump wants to compare the U.S. coronavirus problem to that in other countries. He may want to rethink that.


NEW YORK TIMES – E.U. Adopts Groundbreaking Stimulus to Fight Coronavirus Recession


NEW YORK TIMES – Three Coronavirus Vaccine Developers Report Promising Initial Results


NEW YORK TIMES – Trump Threatens to Send Federal Law Enforcement Forces to More Cities


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Trump Relaunches Coronavirus News Briefings as Cases Surge


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Majority of Voters Say U.S. Society Is Racist as Support Grows for Black Lives Matter


WALL STREET JOURNAL – EBay to Sell Classified-Ad Business to Norwegian Firm for $9.2 Billion



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