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Daily News Digest – July 31, 2020

Good morning!
Here’s your Daily News for Friday, July 31.

1. COVID-19 update

  • The number of Alabamians hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms continued to hover around 1,600 on Thursday for the fourth day in a row.
  • About 10,070 people in the state have been hospitalized since the pandemic began in March, the Alabama Department of Public Health reports.
  • On Thursday, 1,923 new COVID-19 cases were reported, bringing the seven-day average to 1,593, down from about 1,850 10 days ago, according to Bama Tracker, an independent website that compounds data from ADPH. In all, there have been 83,495 confirmed cases in the state since March.
  • Public health reports 1,516 deaths related to COVID-19, about 300 of those occurring in the last two weeks.
  • Of the positive cases, 35,401 are now presumed recovered, according to ADPH.
  • The state is now two weeks into a mandatory face mask order. Gov. Kay Ivey earlier this week extended that order through Aug. 31.
  • Read the full update HERE.


2. SEC goes to conference-only schedule, Sept. 26 start

  • The powerhouse Southeastern Conference reconfigured its schedule Thursday to include only league games in 2020, a pandemic-forced decision that pushes major college football closer to a siloed regular season in which none of the power conferences cross paths.
  • The SEC’s university presidents agreed on a 10-game schedule that eliminates all nonconference opponents and begins Sept. 26.
  • The SEC championship game, originally scheduled for Dec. 5, will be pushed back to Dec. 19, 13 days before the College Football Playoff semifinals are scheduled to be played on New Year’s Day.
  • While some scheduling plans are still to be sorted out among Power Five conferences, it is growing more likely this season’s playoff teams — if there is a playoff — will be selected without the aid of nonconference games involving Power Five teams.
  • Each SEC team will have a midseason off week in this odd, truncated season and Dec. 12 will be an off week for the entire conference. The delayed start for the Southeastern Conference is two weeks later than what the Atlantic Coast Conference set for itself Wednesday, and creates 12 weeks to get in 10 games and determine participants for the SEC title game in Atlanta.
  • The regular season was originally scheduled to begin on Labor Day weekend, but there was concern among SEC officials the return of students to campus in the coming weeks will spike COVID-19 cases. Conference officials believe delaying the start of the season improves the SEC’s chances to launch.
  • Read more about the season HERE.


3. Harvey Updyke, Auburn tree poisoner, dies

  • Harvey Updyke, the rabid Alabama fan who admitted poisoning Auburn University’s famed oak trees in 2010, died Thursday, multiple news outlets reported overnight.
  • Updyke, a retired Texas state trooper who most recently lived in Louisiana, pleaded guilty to poisoning the trees in 2013.
  • Updyke’s son Bear Updyke told that his father died of natural causes in Louisiana. He was 71.
  • The elder Updyke made national news in early 2011 when he told the Paul Finebaum Show that he poisoned Auburn’s Toomer’s Corner trees following the Tigers’ 2010 Iron Bowl victory over Alabama.
  • “They’re not dead yet, but they definitely will die,” he said.
  • Asked why he did it, Updyke famously said he just had “too much ‘Bama in me.”
  • Read more about Updyke from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.


4. Trump floats election delay, faces rare Republican rebuke

  • President Donald Trump repeatedly tests the Republican Party’s limits on issues including race, trade and immigration. Now he has struck a boundary.
  • GOP officials from New Hampshire to Mississippi to Iowa quickly pushed back against Trump’s suggestion on Thursday that it might be necessary to delay the November election — which he cannot do without congressional approval — because of the unfounded threat of voter fraud. They reassured voters that the election would proceed on the constitutionally mandated day as it has for more than two centuries.
  • Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley was especially blunt: “All I can say is, it doesn’t matter what one individual in this country says. We still are a country based on the rule of law, and we want to follow the law.”
  • New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu vowed his state would hold its November elections as scheduled: “End of story.” Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who leads the House Republican Conference, said, “The resistance to this idea among Republicans is overwhelming.”
  • Alabama’s Secretary of State told news outlets yesterday that Alabama’s elections will still happen on Nov. 3 and that the president does not have the authority to move the election.
  • Read more about Trump and the election HERE.


5. Matt Simpson: Prison system issues show ‘lack of institutional control’

  • A 28-page report was released last Thursday from the Department of Justice, detailing instances of excessive use of violence and force on behalf of Alabama correctional officers towards prison inmates.
  • The report offers a disturbing glimpse into Alabama prisons that are still facing scrutiny and legal pressure from civil rights groups over the systems staffing capabilities and conditions.
  • Rep. Matt Simpson is a lawmaker from Daphne who serves on the House’s Judiciary Committee and has been involved with legislation concerning criminal justice reform and prisons.
  • In an new op-ed, Simpson voices his concern over the new report and urges people to look at why there is such a lack of “institutional control” in Alabama’s prison system.
  • Here’s an excerpt:
“Growing up as a sports fan in Alabama, and even when I attended the University of Alabama, I became familiar with that phrase as the NCAA brought down sanctions on our beloved athletic programs.
Our athletics programs should hold themselves to higher standards, the champion level programs we’ve come to expect in our state, whether you say “Roll Tide” or “War Eagle.”
Shouldn’t we hold the officials in charge of running and managing Alabama’s prison systems to at least a modicum of the same standards?”
  • Read the full op-ed HERE.


News Briefs

$50M grant program to help nonprofits and faith-based organizations during pandemic
  • Applications for a $50 million grant program to support nonprofit and faith-based organizations financially hurt by the coronavirus pandemic will soon be open.
  • The Alabama Nonprofit Grant Program and the Alabama Faith-Based Grant Program will be awarded to eligible applicants on a first-come-first-served basis, Gov. Kay Ivey’s office announced on Thursday. There is an up to a $25 million cap in each program.
  • Administered through the Department of Finance, the state of Alabama will offer cash grants in an amount up to $15,000 per Alabama-based nonprofit and faith-based entity that meets eligibility requirements.
  • The application period begins Monday and ends Aug. 14. All funds received through this grant program have to be spent by the end of this year.
  • The funding is made possible through the approximately $1.9 billion that Alabama received through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act to mitigate problems created by the pandemic.
  • Read more about the grants from me HERE.
Trump offers, Democrats reject fix for $600 jobless benefit
  • With aid expiring, the White House offered a short-term extension Thursday of a $600 weekly unemployment benefit that has helped keep families and the economy afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Democrats rejected it, saying President Donald Trump’s team failed to grasp the severity of the crisis.
  • Democratic leaders panned the idea in late-night talks at the Capitol, opting to keep the pressure on for a more sweeping bill that would deliver aid to state and local governments, help for the poor and funding for schools and colleges to address the pandemic. Without action, the benefit runs out Friday.
  • “They want to do one small thing that won’t solve the problem,” said top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer after meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
  • “We have to have a bill, but they just don’t realize how big it has to be,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
  • Republicans have been fighting to trim back the $600 jobless benefit in the next coronavirus package, but their resolve weakened with the looming expiration of the popular benefit — and as Trump indicated that he supports keeping the full $600 benefit for now.
  • Read more about it HERE.
John Lewis mourned as ‘founding father’ of better America
  • Hailed as a “founding father” of a fairer, better United States, John Lewis was eulogized Thursday by three former presidents and others who urged Americans to continue the work of the civil rights icon in fighting injustice during a moment of racial reckoning.
  • The longtime member of Congress even issued his own call to action — in an essay written in his final days that he asked be published in The New York Times on the day of his funeral. In it, he challenged the next generation to lay “down the heavy burdens of hate at last.”
  • After nearly a week of observances that took Lewis’ body from his birthplace in Alabama to the nation’s capital to his final resting place in Atlanta, mourners in face masks to guard against the coronavirus spread out across pews Thursday at the city’s landmark Ebenezer Baptist Church, once pastored by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Read more about the service HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – COVID-19 hospitalizations around 1,600
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – SEC goes to conference-only schedule, Sept. 26 start
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Updyke, Alabama fan who killed iconic Auburn trees, dies
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS– Trump faces rare rebuke from GOP for floating election delay
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS– Op-ed: Prison system issues show ‘lack of institutional control’
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – $50M grant program to help nonprofits and faith-based organizations during pandemic
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump offers, Democrats reject fix for $600 jobless benefit
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS– John Lewis mourned as ‘founding father’ of better America
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – July 30, 2020
Montgomery Advertiser – Law enforcement investigating unknown red substance strewn across Capitol steps
Montgomery Advertiser – Autauga County Schools approve virtual road map for at-home teaching, lessons
Montgomery Advertiser – Detective: Man accused of killing Montgomery officer fought off another man to shoot her
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – 5,200 healthcare workers have been diagnosed with COVID-19
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – UAB talks safety precautions ahead of fall semester
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Mountain Brook schools push start date for 2020-21 academic year
Tuscaloosa News – Political newcomer to seek Tuscaloosa council District 3 seat
Tuscaloosa News – Safety plan in place for UA graduation
Tuscaloosa News – Northport man killed in New Watermelon Road wreck
Decatur Daily – Morgan County homicide rate in 2020 triple recent national average
Decatur Daily – Limestone indictments include child sexual contact charges
Decatur Daily – Launched by Decatur rocket, NASA rover will look for signs of life
Times Daily – Record economic plunge, bleak jobs numbers reveal virus toll
Times Daily – In sprawling Capitol, leaders struggle to keep virus at bay
Times Daily – Wednesday Leighton traffic stop, search, nets drugs, guns, cash
Anniston Star – Anniston council members wish for partners at airport
Anniston Star – Prevention group shares substance abuse awareness with kids
Anniston Star – Nearly 1,300 in Calhoun County have COVID-19; official death toll rises
YellowHammer News – Report: SEC adopts conference only, 10-game college football schedule for 2020
YellowHammer News – Ivey grants $50M to nonprofit and religious organizations to ease financial pain of coronavirus pandemic
YellowHammer News – Doug Jones: Tuberville ‘doesn’t have a clue how to handle’ coronavirus; Vows response to Club for Growth attack ads
Gadsden Times – Boaz standoff ends with no injuries, two arrests
Gadsden Times – Legislators impede calls for Confederate monuments to fall
Gadsden Times – As Confederate monuments fall, local communities run into state laws
Dothan Eagle – Educator poll reveals 65% “very uncomfortable” returning to school
Dothan Eagle – Police call off search for shooting suspect; victim refuses to prosecute
Dothan Eagle – Pay study findings: Some Dothan City employees may get raises after compensation model restructured
Opelika-Auburn News – Police reports from July 30
Opelika-Auburn News – Opelika teen arrested, charged with armed robberies; mother arrested after search
Opelika-Auburn News – Local politicians stick with Ivey on mask order
WSFA Montgomery – Longtime Civil Rights Attorney Fred Gray remembers former client, friend John Lewis
WSFA Montgomery – Coronavirus claims life of Troy Univ.‘s first Black drum major
WSFA Montgomery – Troy mayor notes highlights of funeral for Rep. John Lewis
WAFF Huntsville – Huntsville man wanted on assault, kidnapping charges in S.C.
WAFF Huntsville – Huntsville mayor says he has a plan for making up loss due to COVID-19
WAFF Huntsville – Oregon police try to tamp down nightly Portland protests
WKRG Mobile – WATCH: Voters weigh in on president’s suggestion to postpone election
WKRG Mobile – ALDOT’s legal bureau reviewing denied damage claims from I-65 resurfacing project
WKRG Mobile – UPDATE: One dead in crash involving motorcycle, truck on Highway 59
WTVY Dothan – Harvey Updyke, Bama fan who poisoned trees in Toomer’s Corner, dies at 71
WTVY Dothan – Eufaula City Schools announces remote learning for first nine weeks
WTVY Dothan – Houston County authorities search for missing teenage woman, son
WASHINGTON POST – Trump encounters broad pushback to his suggestion to delay the Nov. 3 election
WASHINGTON POST – Three presidents embrace the struggle for rights. Trump suggests postponing the election.
WASHINGTON POST – Obama delivers call to action in eulogy for Lewis, likens tactics by Trump and administration to those by racist Southern leaders who fought civil rights
NEW YORK TIMES – Coronavirus Live Updates: Congress to Examine Trump’s Pandemic Response
NEW YORK TIMES – Contact Tracing Is Failing in Many States. Here’s Why.
NEW YORK TIMES – More Than Just a Tweet: Trump’s Campaign to Undercut Democracy
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Amazon, Apple, Facebook Show Dominant Results, Grip on Society
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Coronavirus Surge Could Restrain Consumer Spending—and Recovery
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Coronavirus Is the Crisis Some Bank Investors Have Been Waiting For

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