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Daily News Digest – July 28, 2020

Good morning!

Here’s your Daily News for Tuesday, July 28.


1. COVID-19 update

  • Alabama added 1,778 new confirmed COVID-19 cases Monday, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. That brings the total since March to 79,129.
  • Eighteen deaths were reported Monday, putting that total at 1,446.
  • While only 16% of cases are in people age 65 and over, that group has the highest percentage of deaths at nearly 78%, according to ADPH.
  • Daily hospitalizations hit a high of 1,599 on Monday. To date, 9,694 Alabamians have been hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms.
  • The seven-day average of new cases is now 1,631, down from about 1,850 a week ago, according to BamaTracker, which compiles data from ADPH.
  • Of the total cases, 32,510 are considered recovered, according to ADPH.
  • Gov. Kay Ivey’s statewide mask mandate expires Friday unless extended.
  • Another update from ADPH is expected at 10:00 this morning.
  • Full story HERE.


2. Dismukes digs deeper

  • A lot has happened in the 24 hours since we first reported on State Rep. Will Dismukes’ speaking at a celebration of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s birthday and posting about it on Facebook.
  • Dismukes responded in another Facebook post saying it wasn’t his intent to offend anyone or disrespect the late Congressman John Lewis and acknowledged that the Ku Klux Klan committed “atrocities and actions” that “are a disgrace to our country,” but that post was eventually deleted.
  • He interviewed with WSFA’s Jenn Horton, explaining that he didn’t know about Forrest’s connection to the KKK or that Lewis’ funeral procession was taking place a few miles away.
  • “You know, hey, that’s on me. That wasn’t even running through my mind. There were two things that weren’t running through my mind and that’s one, the passing of Representative John Lewis and the next is Nathan Bedford Forrest’s connection to the Ku Klux Klan,” Dismukes said.
  • These responses were not enough to quell anger toward the Prattville lawmaker’s actions.
  • Democrats kept pouring it on Monday, as one would expect. However, the most stinging criticism came from fellow Republicans.
  • Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan issued a stern statement saying, “It is one thing to honor one’s Southern heritage, however, it is completely another issue to specifically commemorate the leader of an organization with an indisputable history of unconscionable actions and atrocities toward African-Americans. I strongly urge his constituents to contact Rep. Dismukes to articulate and share with him their thoughts on his personal actions.”
  • And State Sen. Clyde Chambliss, who also represents Prattville, had enough after watching the WSFA clip. He denounced Dismukes’ actions and response, then called on him to resign.
  • Read more from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.
  • Also read Brian Lyman’s story on the matter HERE.
  • And don’t miss Jenn Horton’s story with the Dismukes interview HERE.


3. Last call: ABC Board orders b ars, restaurants to stop alcohol sales at 11 pm

  • You don’t have to go home, but you can’t drink here.
  • Alabama bars and restaurants will not be able to serve alcohol past 11 p.m., under an emergency order aimed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
  • The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board approved an emergency order that limits the hours of operations for restaurants, bars and other entities that sell alcohol. Beginning Saturday, all ABC licensees are required to end the service and sale of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. On-premise consumption is to end at 11:30 p.m.
  • “We are very sensitive to the economic impact this rule will have. This is a gut-wrenching decision we are making today, but it is also gut-wrenching to see the number of Alabamians who are suffering from this disease,” ABC Board Chairman Col. Alan Spencer said in a statement.
  • The board originally debated ending alcohol sales at 10:00 p.m., but arrived at 11:00 in something of a compromise.
  • Some health officials have said that bars could be a significant source of transmission because of the crowding together of people indoors and people becoming less cautious as they consume alcohol. Several states have temporarily closed bars.
  • “Our hope is that reduced hours of alcohol service will decrease social gatherings and the transmission of COVID-19,” ABC Board Administrator Mac Gipson said in a statement.
  • Full story HERE.


4. Poll shows Alabama voters want both in-person and absentee voting options

  • A new poll shows Alabama voters strongly support both keeping polling locations open for the November elections and making absentee ballots accessible to all voters who want them.
  • A survey conducted by Fabrizio, Lee & Associates on behalf of Secure Democracy, a non-profit political group which aims to educate policymakers and the public about secure and fair elections, shows a full 77% of Alabama voters believe it is important to provide alternatives to in-person voting for the 2020 election.
  • Another wide swath of the electorate – 69% – say they back keeping polling locations open and giving voters the option to cast absentee ballots.
  • Secretary of State John Merrill this year permitted special rules allowing anyone with concerns about COVID-19 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 last week extended those special rules through the November election and said he expects as many as 100,000 absentee votes cast when the presidential and U.S. Senate races are on the ballot.
  • A full 81% of Alabama voters believe it is important for the federal government to provide additional funding to states and counties to help cover the costs of conducting elections amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • In other interesting takeaways from the poll, more than half of those surveyed say they know someone who has contracted the coronavirus.
  • Asked about their typical voting habits, 82% said they vote in person on Election Day, while 14 percent said they vote absentee either in person or through the mail.
  • Full story HERE.


5. CARES II update

  • Senate Majority Leader McConnell and top GOP senators, including Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby of Alabama, unveiled their long-awaited COVID-19 relief proposal Monday.
  • It provides some $105 billion to schools and colleges, the K-12 funds tilted toward campuses that reopen with in-person learning. There’s more money for virus testing, $15 billion for child care centers and benefits for businesses, including a fresh round of loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, tax breaks and a sweeping liability shield from COVID-19-related lawsuits.
  • The Republican proposal would also provide another round of $1,200 direct payments based on the same formula from the earlier aid bill. People making $75,000 or less would receive the full amount, with the benefit phased out for those earning above $99,000, or double for married couples filing joint taxes.
  • It also provides $1.7 billion for a new FBI headquarters in Washington, a non-pandemic-related expense that’s a top priority of the president but not of lawmakers or McConnell.
  • But conservative Republicans quickly broke ranks on McConnell’s plan, arguing the spending was too much and priorities misplaced. Half the Republican senators could vote against the bill, some warned, and their opposition leaves McConnell heading into negotiations with Pelosi without the full force of the Senate majority behind him.
  • While Senate Republicans struggled to roll out their own $1 trillion proposal, Pelosi implored the White House and GOP lawmakers to stop the infighting and come to the negotiating table with Democrats who have passed a $3 trillion proposal through the House. Aid runs out Friday for a $600 weekly jobless benefit that Democrats call a lifeline for out-of-work Americans. Republicans want to slash it to $200 a week, saying that the federal bump is too generous on top of state benefits and is discouraging employees from returning to work.
  • Full story from Lisa Mascaro HERE.


News Briefs


Dept. of Agriculture warns of unsolicited seed packages

  • The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries is warning people not to open or plant any unsolicited seed packages they might receive in the mail from China.
  • Reports of these mysterious packages containing unidentified seeds marked as delivered from China and sometimes mislabeled as “jewelry” prompted similar warnings in more than two dozen states, the New York Times reported Monday.
  • Multiple seed packages have been reported in Alabama, according to the agriculture department.
  • “We urge all residents to be on the lookout for similar packages,” Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries Rick Pate said in an emailed statement. “These seeds could be invasive or be harmful to livestock.”
  • Pate’s office said that those who receive the “unsolicited seed” should not open the sealed package or throw it away. Recipients are asked to report the seeds to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services and keep the seeds and packaging until USDA provides further instructions.
  • Read more from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.

State seeks to dismiss suit challenging Alabama mask order

  • MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Lawyers for Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Monday asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the legality of a statewide order to wear face coverings in public places to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Real estate agent Debbie Mathis and retired sheriff’s Deputies Larry Lewis and Barry Munza, all of Jackson County, filed the lawsuit last week in Montgomery against Ivey, State Health Officer Scott Harris and the State Board of Health.
  • The lawsuit contends the mask order was illegally adopted and that plaintiffs face deprivation of liberty anytime they interact with others.
  • “There is no statutory authority that can be construed to empower the governor to mandate the wearing of a mask under any circumstances,” a lawyer for the plaintiffs wrote in court filings.
  • Ivey on July 15 announced a requirement for face coverings to be worn by anyone older than 6 who’s in public and within 6 feet (2 meters) of someone who’s not a relative. The rule, which makes exceptions for people who have certain medical conditions, are exercising, or performing certain types of jobs.
  • The governor’s office asked the judge to dismiss the case.
  • “Governor Ivey has statutory authority under the provisions of the (Alabama Emergency Management Act of 1955) to require the public to wear masks under certain circumstances to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” lawyers for the state wrote.
  • The rule is set to expire Friday and Ivey and Harris are expected to announce this week whether it and other health orders will be extended.

Trump seeks political shot in the arm in vaccine push

  • WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic put his political fate in grave jeopardy. Now he’s hoping to get credit for his administration’s aggressive push for a vaccine -– and crossing his fingers that one gets approved before Election Day.
  • Trump and Vice President Mike Pence visited vaccine development sites on Monday, marking the beginning of the largest COVID-19 vaccine research trial yet. Their trips to North Carolina and Florida, respectively, come as the White House is grappling with its most prominent virus case since the crisis began and a nationwide spike in the outbreak that threatens to undermine an economic rebound. White House officials say a vaccine is necessary to fully restore a sense of normalcy.
  • “I heard very positive things,” Trump said, when asked about the timetable for bringing a vaccine to market, “but by the end of the year we think we’re in very good shape to be doing that.”
  • Under the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed vaccine program, multiple COVID-19 vaccines are being developed simultaneously with a goal of delivering 300 million safe and effective doses by January 2021.
  • Privately, many White House officials have pinned their reelection hopes on the potential emergence of a vaccine for the coronavirus, believing it to be the ultimate “October surprise.” Some believe Trump may well be doomed without one, and that even with one, it may be too late to save his fortunes with so many Americans expected to vote before Election Day on Nov. 3.
  • Full story HERE.




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – COVID-19 hospitalizations hit new high; seven-day average of new cases declines


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Dismukes faces criticism, calls to resign for celebrating Klan leader


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Last call: ABC orders bars, restaurants to stop alcohol sales at 11 pm


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Poll shows Alabama voters want in-person and absentee options in November election


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – GOP introduces relief bill; Mnuchin, Pelosi begin negotiations


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Dept. of Agriculture warns of unsolicited seed packages


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump seeks political shot in the arm in vaccine push


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – July 27, 2020


AL.COM  – Out-of-state hospitals ask Huntsville Hospital to take coronavirus patients


AL.COM  – Alabama police chief apologizes for medal ceremony for officers who killed Black man


AL.COM  – ‘This is a mess, man:’ Bar owners react to early cutoff


AL.COM  – Birmingham Legion FC taps into city pride with promotion of Birmingham Civil Rights Institute


AL.COM  – Alabama DIY family during coronavirus: ‘We’re very fortunate’


AL.COM  – Alabama Republican lawmaker’s post praising KKK leader denounced by Democrats, GOP


AL.COM  – Alabama Congressional delegation calls for naming of ‘John Lewis Voting Rights Highway’


Montgomery Advertiser – Sen. Clyde Chambliss to Rep. Will Dismukes: Resign over appearance at celebration of KKK leader


Montgomery Advertiser – Last call: ABC Board stops on-premise alcohol sales after 11 p.m.


Montgomery Advertiser – Arrest made in Millbrook murder case


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – ADOC responds to federal review alleging excessive force against inmates


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – ADPH: More than 1,400 people have died from COVID-19 as over 79K test positive and 32K recover


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Alabama has most hospitalized COVID-19 patients since pandemic began


Tuscaloosa News – Lawmaker attends celebration of Confederate general


Tuscaloosa News – Bars, restaurants to stop alcohol sales at 11 p.m.


Tuscaloosa News – Authorities: Teen killed in tubing accident on Smith Lake


Decatur Daily – Alabama lawmaker criticized for celebrating Klan leader


Decatur Daily – Morgan, Limestone COVID-19 deaths up; test delays, drug supply a concern


Decatur Daily – Police: Four charged with robbery after victim lured through dating app


Times Daily – Muscle Shoals school board to meet in special session Tuesday


Times Daily – Dismukes criticized for celebrating Klan leader


Times Daily – UNA students must be tested for COVID-19 before returning for fall classes


Anniston Star – Five suspected dead of COVID-19 in past week as Calhoun County surge continues


Anniston Star – Alabama lawmaker criticized for celebrating Klan leader


Anniston Star – COVID test demand rising as case numbers grow in Alabama


YellowHammer News – Auburn’s combined spring and summer commencement ceremonies postponed indefinitely; Campus to celebrate graduates during Aug. 8 commencement weekend


YellowHammer News – Alabama-built rocket in final preparations for launching NASA Mars 2020 mission


YellowHammer News – ABC Board bans establishments from serving alcohol after 11:00 p.m.


Gadsden Times – Isolation, retesting guidelines change


Gadsden Times – Westbrook students return to school Aug. 14


Gadsden Times – EBOE to meet Aug. 4


Dothan Eagle – High speed chase ends in Cottonwood; passenger apprehended, search called off for driver


Dothan Eagle – Judicial systems across the Wiregrass area prepare for jury trials to resume safely


Dothan Eagle – Residents asked to wear masks, social distance to stop spread of COVID-19


Opelika-Auburn News – Opelika police investigate weekend armed robbery


Opelika-Auburn News – Recommendations for a future downtown Opelika


Opelika-Auburn News – AU indefinitely postpones summer commencement; local COVID-19 hospitalizations on the rise


WSFA Montgomery – Virtual learning poses unique challenges for new MPS employees


WSFA Montgomery – Domestic violence suspect sought in Montgomery County


WSFA Montgomery – CDC modifies COVID-19 quarantining guidelines


WAFF Huntsville – Man arrested after person found shot in Marshall County


WAFF Huntsville – 3 people killed in Morgan County wreck


WAFF Huntsville – Madison County and Huntsville City Schools partner with Wellstone to support student health


WKRG Mobile – Three indicted for robbery, murder of man at Hilton Motel in Crestview


WKRG Mobile – Herman Cain remains on oxygen after being hospitalized with COVID-19


WKRG Mobile – Matt Gaetz files criminal referral against Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg


WTVY Dothan – ABC Board: Alcohol sales to end at 11 p.m. in Alabama


WTVY Dothan – Walton County pushes back school start date


WTVY Dothan – Researchers looking for cancer patients to study effects of COVID-19


WASHINGTON POST – More federal agents dispatched to Portland as protests rise in other cities


WASHINGTON POST – Barr plans to mount a defiant defense of Trump in showdown with House Democrats


WASHINGTON POST – Economic relief talks ramp up as GOP releases bill; Democrats, White House officials meet


NEW YORK TIMES – Coronavirus Live Updates: Governors Make Hard Choices as Trump Pushes Reopening


NEW YORK TIMES – Susan Rice Wants to Run for Office. Will Her First Campaign Be for V.P.?


NEW YORK TIMES – As Republicans Embrace Cut in Jobless Aid, Divisions Weaken Their Leverage


WALL STREET JOURNAL – GOP Releases Coronavirus Relief Proposal After Delay


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Democrats Fend Off Attempts to Back Medicare for All in Platform


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Attorney General Barr to Face Lawmakers’ Questions After String of Controversies




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