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Daily News Digest – June 16, 2020

Good morning!

Here’s your Daily News for Tuesday, June 16.


1. State coronavirus cases on the rise

  • Alabama is experiencing a real surge in coronavirus cases and the worst might not be over.
  • More than a fourth of the state’s 26,000 cases have come in the last two weeks, according to numbers from the Alabama Department of Public Health.
  • Meanwhile, Montgomery is considering implementing an ordinance to mandate the use of face masks in public places as the the county has set the pace for most COVID-19 cases in the state, ahead of more populous Jefferson and Mobile counties.
  • Gov. Kay Ivey emphasized the role of personal responsibility to curb the spread of the virus instead of new closure orders.
  • “Until our next update, the governor continues to stress the need for personal responsibility. If we do not take it upon ourselves to keep ourselves and others safe by taking smart health precautions, we cannot expect to make progress,” Press Secretary Gina Maiola said.
  • Health officials expressed concern about the rapid rise in cases and urged people to take precautions.
  • “It’s been an unfortunate series of days of record setting,” Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director of UAB’s division of infectious diseases, said at a news conference Monday.
  • “In my opinion. I think we now have just widespread sustained community spread,” she said.
  • Read more HERE.


2. Scholarships bring ‘best and brightest’ to certain communities

  • Alabama lawmakers recently approved funding for a pilot scholarship program to get recent college graduates with degrees in STEM subjects to live in the city of Decatur and the Demopolis area.
  • A supplemental appropriations bill for the 2020 budget year included $240,000 from the state education budget for the Best and Brightest Initiative that repays student loan debt up to $15,000 over five years.
  • U.S. Bureau of Census information shows a decline in population in Decatur of about 1,341 people between 2010 and 2019. Marengo County lost about 2,185 residents in the same period.
  • “I have been concerned about the no growth areas of the state,” Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, told Alabama Daily News. “Generally speaking, other than a few pockets like Auburn-Opelika, Tuscaloosa, Madison and Limestone counties, Baldwin County and some suburb counties around Birmingham and Montgomery, our state growth has flatlined or declined.”
  • The Best and Brightest scholarship was launched in Decatur in 2016 and funded by private industry.
  • Twenty-one people have received the competitive scholarships since then, John Joseph, executive director of the Decatur-Morgan County Entrepreneurial Center, told Alabama Daily News.
  • “If successful in the Black Belt and/or a no-growth city like Decatur, there’s no reason it can’t be expanded to similarly struggling mid-sized cities like Gadsden, Anniston, Florence along with other Black Belt or rural counties,” Joseph said.
  • Relatedly, the 2021 education budget includes two new scholarship programs, including $750,000 for the Birmingham Promise scholarship program.
  • Birmingham Promise scholarships will assist with tuition and mandatory fees at Alabama’s public two-year and four-year colleges and universities. The amount will be determined after other financial aid has been applied. Students must meet an institution’s academic admission requirements, according to the program’s website.
  • The Legislature also allocated $100,000 for the Alabama Korea Education and Economic Partnership, A-KEEP, to support a pilot project to attract Korean math and science teachers for teaching positions in Alabama schools, according to ACHE.
  • Full story from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.


3. Alabama prison reports inmate virus death, 13 positive cases

  • A second inmate in Alabama died over the weekend after testing positive for the new coronavirus, bringing the state inmate death toll from COVID-19 to at least four.
  • Robert Stewart, 80, died at a hospital Sunday, the Alabama Department of Corrections said in a public statement. Stewart began exhibiting symptoms of the virus June 8 and got treatment at the Staton Correctional Facility infirmary before being transferred to a local hospital where he died.
  • An autopsy was expected to determine Stewart’s official cause of death. The statement said he tested positive June 10.
  • Officials decided last Thursday to test all inmates in the infirmary for the coronavirus, and 13 tested positive, the ADOC stated. They have been isolated, the statement said.
  • Clarence Shepherd, 80, died Friday after showing symptoms of the virus, corrections officials said. He had been housed at the St. Clair Correctional Facility in Springville.
  • State inmates William Hershell Moon, 74; and Dave Thomas, 66, have also tested positive for the virus and died since the start of the pandemic.
  • Full story HERE.


4. Supreme Court says gay, transgender workers protected by law

  • The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a landmark civil rights law protects gay, lesbian and transgender people from discrimination in employment, a resounding victory for LGBT rights from a conservative court.
  • The court decided by a 6-3 vote that a key provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 known as Title VII that bars job discrimination because of sex, among other reasons, encompasses bias against people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • “An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the court. “Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”
  • Gorsuch was joined in the majority by Chief Justice John Roberts and the court’s four liberal members. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s other Supreme Court pick, dissented, along with Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas.
  • “The Court tries to convince readers that it is merely enforcing the terms of the statute, but that is preposterous,” Alito wrote in the dissent. “Even as understood today, the concept of discrimination because of ‘sex’ is different from discrimination because of ‘sexual orientation’ or ‘gender identity.’”
  • Kavanaugh wrote in a separate dissent that the court was rewriting the law to include gender identity and sexual orientation, a job that belongs to Congress. Still, Kavanaugh said the decision represents an “important victory achieved today by gay and lesbian Americans.”
  • Trump had a restrained reaction, telling reporters that he’d read the decision and that “some people were surprised.”
  • He added: “But they’ve ruled and we live with their decision. That’s what it’s all about. We live with the decision of the Supreme Court. Very powerful. A very powerful decision actually. But they have so ruled.”
  • Read more HERE.


5. Senate GOP to restrict police chokeholds in emerging bill

  • Senate Republicans are on the brink of introducing an extensive package of policing changes with new restrictions on police chokeholds and other practices as Congress rushes to respond to mass demonstrations over the deaths of George Floyd and other black Americans.
  • It’s a sudden shift of GOP priorities, with President Donald Trump signaling support. The White House will announce its own executive actions on law enforcement procedures on Tuesday, a crush of activity that shows how quickly protests over police violence and racial prejudice are transforming national politics.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opened the chamber Monday declaring that Senate Republicans are developing “a serious proposal to reform law enforcement.”
  • While the emerging GOP package isn’t as extensive as the sweeping Democratic proposal, which is headed for a House vote next week, it includes perhaps the most far-reaching proposed changes to policing procedures from the party long aligned with a “law and order” approach. Confronted with a groundswell of public unrest over police violence, in cities large and small nationwide, even the most conservative senators are joining the effort.
  • Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina has been crafting the package set to roll out Wednesday, and said he spoke with Trump about it over the weekend. Scott warned that pushing voting into later this summer would be a “bad decision.” He has said the chokehold, in particular, “is a policy whose time has come and gone.”
  • Read more HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama virus cases up, Ivey stresses personal responsibility


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – State funds put into bringing ‘Best and Brightest’ to Decatur, Marengo County


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama prison reports inmate virus death, 13 positive cases


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Mobile’s Confederate statue relocated to a museum


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Supreme Court says gay, transgender workers protected by law


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Senate GOP to restrict police chokeholds in emerging bill


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – SPLC to invest $30M into voter outreach programs


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Court waives absentee ballot requirements in certain counties


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – As economy improved, Medicaid enrollment increased


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – State tells judge it can staff prisons by deadline


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – June 15, 2020


AL.COM  – Federal judge blocks some Alabama voting laws because of pandemic


AL.COM  – Memorial Day blamed for coronavirus surge in north Alabama, hospital official says


AL.COM  – Alabama AG: Mobile illegally removed Semmes monument, pays fine


AL.COM  – Alabama sees nation’s second most new cases per capita in last 7 days


AL.COM  – Rep. Sewell now supports renaming bridge to honor John Lewis: ‘Will of the people should prevail’


AL.COM  – Judge rules Birmingham Airport Authority employees not under ethics law


AL.COM  – Madison County ‘looking at every option’ to relocate Confederate monument


AL.COM  – Davidson Technologies awarded $20.7 million increase for missile defense contract


AL.COM  – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: Kay Ivey is not your Mee-Maw: What the governor needs to tell Alabama about COVID-19


Montgomery Advertiser – As Alabama coronavirus cases mount, Gov. Ivey, ADPH stick with same approach, guidelines


Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery 20-year-old charged in fatal shooting of teen


Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery 20-year-old charged in fatal shooting of teen


YellowHammer News – Marshall says Semmes statue removal violated law; City of Mobile agrees to pay $25K fine


YellowHammer News – Birmingham Airport Authority wins appeal of major ethics ruling


YellowHammer News – Longtime Democrat the favorite for Ivey appointment


Dothan Eagle – Dothan school officials roll out first food bus with hopes to feed hundreds of children


Dothan Eagle – Former owner of Lee County truck driving school sentenced to probation


Dothan Eagle – Ashford PPE provider plays important role in global COVID battle


Tuscaloosa News – Tuscaloosa Bail Out aims to help low-income inmates


Tuscaloosa News – Safety measures in place for UA students’ return


Tuscaloosa News – Tuscaloosa City Council agenda for June 16, 2020


Decatur Daily – Authorities: Drugs one of several theories behind 7 shooting deaths


Decatur Daily – Could this latest police shooting have been prevented?


Decatur Daily – Confederate monument stirs debate in Limestone County


Times Daily – Paroles hearings this week include 4 from Shoals


Times Daily – Florence receives word ransom money accepted


Times Daily – Sheffield City Hall sets tentative June 29 reopening date


Gadsden Times – Drive-thru testing Wednesday in Alabama City location


Gadsden Times – COVID-19 case numbers climbing in Alabama


Gadsden Times – Police respond to shots fired in Kyle Avenue area


Anniston Star – Judge: McClellan ‘Starships’ must be sold to Xtreme Concepts


Anniston Star – Sheriff says two jail staffers attacked in separate incidents


Anniston Star – Anniston council to discuss removal of monument to Confederate officer, renaming a street for black officer


Troy Messenger – Public hearing reviews plans for repurposing high school


Troy Messenger – Alabama No. 2 in new cases reported: Ivey stresses personal responsibility as virus spreads


Troy Messenger – New group benefits area vets


Andalusia Star News – Opp native models for Vogue Italia


Andalusia Star News – GALLERY: Vigil on the square


Opelika-Auburn News – Downtown Auburn bar employee tests positive for COVID-19


Opelika-Auburn News – Former owner of Lee County truck driving school sentenced to probation


Opelika-Auburn News – More work needed to combat human trafficking along I-85, Lee County


Daily Mountain Eagle – US revokes emergency use of malaria drugs vs. coronavirus


Daily Mountain Eagle – Senate GOP to restrict police chokeholds in emerging bill


Daily Mountain Eagle – Supreme Court says gay, transgender workers protected by law


Trussville Tribune – Springville city council approves acquisition of several roads in need of repair


Trussville Tribune – Springville Fire & Rescue to honor fallen firefighter Jared Echols on 1-year anniversary of death


Trussville Tribune – CRIME STOPPERS: Center Point man wanted on attempted murder charge


Athens News Courier – Parker named new band director at AHS


Athens News Courier – Marks praises peaceful protests on The Square


Athens News Courier – Motorist strikes pedestrian on Elk River Mills


WSFA Montgomery – NAACP makes demands in wake of recent officer-involved killings


WSFA Montgomery – City of Mobile agrees to pay $25,000 fine for removing Confederate statue


WSFA Montgomery – Montgomery man arrested in Thursday evening homicide


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – DCH Regional Medical Center still below capacity due to COVID-19 patients


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – University of Alabama unveils plans to allow in-person classes


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – JeffCo Sheriff’s Office begins testing inmates for COVID-19; 1 person tests positive


WAFF Huntsville – Red Cross testing blood donors for COVID-19 antibodies


WAFF Huntsville – Police protests impacting law enforcement recruiting in the Tennessee Valley


WAFF Huntsville – Black Belt has some of the highest COVID-19 case rates in state


WKRG Mobile – Warren’s outreach to black voters could help VP standing


WKRG Mobile – Two activists leading protests named to PPD Citizens Advisory Committee


WKRG Mobile – USA administration and students respond the reopening plan


WTVY Dothan – President Trump to hold July rally for Tuberville in Mobile


WTVY Dothan – Seven injured, including six children, in Jackson County vehicle crash


WTVY Dothan – State working on virtual K-12 school option for 2020 academic year


WASHINGTON POST  – Trump to unveil police reform proposals that fall short of what activists have demanded


WASHINGTON POST  – ‘Nothing has changed’: Ferguson grapples with legacy in wake of Floyd protests.


WASHINGTON POST  – Coronavirus recommendations ignored as case numbers rise


WASHINGTON POST  – Trump says Bolton will have ‘criminal problems’ if his book is released


NEW YORK TIMES  – Coronavirus Cases Rise Sharply in Prisons Even as They Plateau Nationwide


NEW YORK TIMES  – Most Coronavirus Tests Cost About $100. Why Did One Cost $2,315?


NEW YORK TIMES  – Gorsuch, Conservative Favorite Appointed by Trump, Leads Way on Landmark Decision


NEW YORK TIMES  – Jon Stewart Is Back to Weigh In



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