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Daily News Digest – March 18, 2020

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Alabama’s Trucking Industry



Good morning!
Here’s your Daily News for Wednesday, March 18.


1. AG: Governor can postpone election

  • Attorney General Steve Marshall on Tuesday said Gov. Kay Ivey has the authority to postpone the upcoming March 31 runoff elections under power granted to “protect the public health and safety” during a proclaimed state of emergency.
  • In an opinion released at the request of Secretary of State John Merrill, Marshall wrote that state law grants the governor “substantial powers,” including emergency powers to interrupt the movement of people in public meetings or gatherings.
  • Merrill on Tuesday evening said his office presented a possible plan for the election to Ivey and he expects her to make an announcement later today.
  • Full story from Mary Sell and me HERE.



2. Amid historically low unemployment, uptick expected from virus impact

  • This week Alabama officials announced that January’s unemployment rate remained at a record low 2.7%.
  • February’s rate, expected to come out next Friday, will likely also be historically low.
  • But an uptick is now expected for March and beyond as businesses and industries are affected by the coronavirus and efforts to slow its spread.
  • On Tuesday, the Alabama Department of Public Health ordered that bars, restaurants and other food service establishments cease on-premises eating or drinking in Jefferson County as well as surrounding Tuscaloosa, Walker, Blount, St. Clair and Shelby counties. Jefferson has by far the highest infection rate in the state, as 21 individuals had tested positive for COVID-19 by Tuesday afternoon.
  • That means an economic hit for many small businesses, and the ripple effect will extend far beyond.
  • To help those affected by business closures or slowdowns, the Alabama Department of Labor has modified existing rules to allow workers to file a claim for unemployment compensation benefits.
  • Gov. Kay Ivey’s office is working with the U.S. Small Business Administration to make Alabama eligible for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
  • And the business community is adjusting to this new normal to try to protect their workers and the public, while remaining online.
  • Read the full story from ADN’s Will Whatley HERE.






A message from

Alabama’s Trucking Industry

  • In these uncertain times, Alabama needs the trucking industry more than ever to deliver the items we need to feed, clothe and provide a healthy environment for our families.
  • Trucks safely and efficiently deliver more than 80 percent of all goods sold and/or produced in Alabama. So, if you have it, more than likely a truck brought it.
  • Professional truck drivers are American heroes. They work hard to make sure the items you need are on the shelves of your favorite retailer.
  • We’re all in this together, and the trucking industry is here to keep Alabama’s economy rolling.










3. Schools keep feeding children amid closures

  • Across the state, public K-12 school systems are figuring out how to feed the students who often rely on school meals while they’re closed at least through early April in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
  • As of Tuesday evening, there were 39 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, in the state, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.
  • At several Morgan County Schools today, administrators will be handing out grab-and-go lunches and breakfasts for what was supposed to be the rest of the school week to nearly 2,000 students who requested them. On Monday, staff will do it again, handing out 10 meals for students to eat during the week.
  • At Russellville City Schools, there’s one pick-up point available Monday through Friday for any student in the system to get a lunch for that day and breakfast the following day.
  • “So when the students wake up the next day, they have a meal,” said Russellville City Schools Superintendent Heath Grimes. “It’s a comfort to know you have your next meal. As much as this is about food, it’s about comfort too.”
  • Feeding students during this closure is up to individual systems. Alabama received a waiver this week from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to continue serving lunches to students in schools where more than 50% of students were deemed economically disadvantaged.
  • Read more from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.



4. Trump’s economic rescue package could approach $1 trillion

  • In a massive federal effort, President Donald Trump asked Congress to speed emergency checks to Americans, enlisted the military for MASH-like hospitals and implored ordinary people — particularly socially active millennials — to do their part by staying home to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
  • His proposed economic package alone could approach $1 trillion, a rescue initiative not seen since the Great Recession. Trump wants checks sent to the public within two weeks and is urging Congress to pass the eye-popping stimulus package in a matter of days.
  • As analysts warn the country is surely entering a recession, the government is grappling with an enormous political undertaking with echoes of the 2008 financial crisis.
  • At the Capitol on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed the Senate would not adjourn until the work was done.
  • “Obviously, we need to act,” McConnell said. “We’re not leaving town until we have constructed and passed another bill.”
  • But first, McConnell said, the Senate will vote on a House-passed package of sick pay, emergency food and free testing, putting it back on track for Trump’s signature — despite Republican objections. “Gag, and vote for it anyway,” he advised colleagues.
  • Full story HERE.



5. News Briefs

With 3 more victories, Biden pulls further away from Sanders

  • WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden swept to victory in Florida, Illinois and Arizona on Tuesday, increasingly pulling away with a Democratic presidential primary upended by the coronavirus and building pressure on Bernie Sanders to abandon his campaign.
  • The former vice president’s third big night in as many weeks came amid tremendous uncertainty as the Democratic contest collides with efforts to slow the spread of the virus that has shut down large swaths of American life. Polls were shuttered in Ohio, and although balloting went ahead as scheduled in the three other states, election workers and voters reported problems.
  • Read more HERE.

Restaurant owner, husband charged with money laundering

  • MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A Montgomery restaurant owner and her husband were indicted on federal charges that include money laundering, authorities said.
  • Mellissa Stacy Ann Smith, the owner of Island Delight Caribbean restaurant, was charged Friday on one count of money laundering, news outlets reported.
  • Her husband, Richard Herbert Smith, was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, possessing a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime, and money laundering.
  • Authorities did not immediately release additional information about the nature of the charges.
  • Mellissa Smith was released on Friday after her court appearance but her husband remains in U.S. Marshal custody awaiting a detention hearing.
  • If convicted, she could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison, while her husband faces a maximum sentence of 25 years.

Boaters find body at landing; convicted felon arrested

  • TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Boaters at a landing along the Black Warrior River in Alabama discovered the body of a man who had been shot multiple times.
  • Kenneth White, also known as Umar Faruq Sabir, 55, was arrested Sunday, the Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit told news outlets.
  • The boaters found the body around 5:30 p.m. Saturday and called 911. Authorities named White as a suspect and then located and interviewed him.
  • “White has an extensive criminal history, including convictions for multiple violent felonies over the last 20 years,” Capt. Jack Kennedy said in a statement.
  • White was charged with murder, being a felon in possession of a firearm and second-degree receiving stolen property. He was being held without bond. It’s unclear whether he had an attorney who could speak for him.
  • The name of the man found dead wasn’t immediately released.

Alabama man convicted of murder in 2017 death of his parents

  • CLEVELAND, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama man was convicted Monday of killing his parents and burying their bodies in a shallow grave.
  • Leo Santiago Chavez, 20, was convicted of three counts of capital murder and two counts of abusing a corpse in the deaths of his mother, Adalberta Chavez Ruiz, and his father, Ricardo Santiago Gonzales, news outlets reported.
  • Ruiz and Gonzales were reported missing on Dec. 16, 2017 by family members who hadn’t heard from the couple. The relatives went to the couples’ home in Cleveland and found blood, authorities said.
  • The investigation led authorities to Chavez and three other men, who were arrested over the next few weeks. Authorities recovered the couples’ remains on Jan. 3, 2018 in a wooden area in Oneonta.
  • Prosecutors said Chavez and his accomplices fatally shot Ruiz and Gonzales, wrapped their bodies in black plastic and placed them in the back of Gonzales’ pickup truck before dumping them in a shallow grave. Gonzales’ truck was later found in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with blood stains in the truck’s bed.
  • Court records said Chavez contacted a cousin and asked if she knew where he could hide two people who were in trouble. About a week later, Ruiz and Gonzales were killed.
  • Records said Chavez offered a former classmate $150 to drive two of his friends to the couple’s home the night they disappeared. Chavez also attempted to sell the former classmate two pistols, records said.
  • A motive for the killing wasn’t immediately released.
  • Chavez’s sentencing date is set for May 1.





ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – AG: Governor may postpone March 31 runoff


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Amid historically low unemployment, uptick expected from virus impact


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Schools keep feeding students during closures


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump’s economic rescue package could approach $1 trillion


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – With 3 more victories, Biden pulls further away from Sanders


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Lawmakers looking for coronavirus’ impact on budgets; precautions could alter rest of legislative session


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama leaders to public: ‘Respect this disease’


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama to follow feds on April 15 tax deadline change


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS  – Update: ABC temporarily closing 78 stores


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – How it spreads, infects: Coronavirus impact comes into focus


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – March 17, 2020


AL.COM  – AG Steve Marshall says governor can postpone March 31 runoff.


AL.COM  – Alabama leaves beaches open for now.


AL.COM  – Coronavirus adds uncertainty to Alabama state budget outlook


AL.COM  – Mobile’s Catholic archbishop calls halt to services


AL.COM  – Are people with autoimmune diseases more at risk with coronavirus?


AL.COM  – Insurers expanding telemedicine coverage to aid social distancing


AL.COM  – Coronavirus restrictions could last 3 to 4 months, Alabama health department says


AL.COM  – Here are the Alabama schools offering meals to students


AL.COM  – After schools close, Alabama communities step in to feed students


Montgomery Advertiser – ‘Unlike any disaster we’ve ever seen’: Sewell, health officials address public on COVID-19


Montgomery Advertiser – Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alabama jumps up to 39


YellowHammer News – Alabama Attorney General: State of Emergency allows March 31 runoff postponement


YellowHammer News – UAB Pathology to increase COVID-19 testing by week’s end


YellowHammer News – A list of teleworking resources for Alabama businesses, employees


Tuscaloosa News – Council, mayor agree to curfews for coronavirus control


Tuscaloosa News – Tuscaloosa City Council action from March 17, 2020


Tuscaloosa News – Alabama coronavirus cases up to 39


Decatur Daily – Mandatory coronavirus orders possible statewide as infections climb to 39


Decatur Daily – Restaurant owners worry about impact of virus


Decatur Daily – Amid historically low unemployment, uptick expected from virus impact


Times Daily – Uptick in unemployment expected from virus impact


Times Daily – Shoals senior centers close; meals will be delivered


Times Daily – Nursing home officials not taking chances with residents


Anniston Star – UPDATED: St. Clair County Schools student tests positive for COVID-19


Anniston Star – Two charged with sexually abusing children


Anniston Star – Anniston Board of Education increases substitute teacher pay


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – AG: Governor may postpone March 31 runoff


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Help restaurants survive COVID-19: Locations offering no-contact pick up


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – How to treat COVID-19 at home


WAFF Huntsville – Regulations lifted for truckers providing direct relief for Coronavirus


WAFF Huntsville – HudsonAlpha researchers announce coronavirus test that gives same day results


WAFF Huntsville – Local restaurants brace for economic impact of potential coronavirus shutdown


Dothan Eagle – Dothan man dies of self-inflicted gunshot wound following domestic dispute


Dothan Eagle – COVID-19 – The Latest: Alabama confirmed cases reach 39 as closures continue


Dothan Eagle – City of Dothan under state of emergency


Gadsden Times – Gadsden gives details on building closures, program changes


Gadsden Times – Coronavirus cases up to 39 in Alabama


Gadsden Times – Etowah County, local cities declare state of emergency over COVID-19


Troy Messenger – Local businesses seeking to continue service; Continental Cinemas closing temporarily


Troy Messenger – Churches begin canceling services in response to COVID-19 Coronavirus


Troy Messenger – STILL SERVING: Restaurants working to meet guidelines, prevent spread of COVID-19 coronavirus


Andalusia Star News – In the middle of coronavirus outbreak, check on elderly


Andalusia Star News – What’s going on with daycares? Here’s the latest


Andalusia Star News – Unusual twin horses reunited after decade of being apart


Opelika-Auburn News – COVID-19 latest: City of Auburn declares state of local emergency; two more virus cases confirmed in Lee County, 39 confirmed in state


Opelika-Auburn News – Facebook bug wrongly deleted authentic coronavirus news


Opelika-Auburn News – Auburn council declares emergency


Daily Mountain Eagle – “Good Morning” program comes to senior’s aid


Daily Mountain Eagle – Sumiton City Hall, fire limiting public interactions


Daily Mountain Eagle – COVID-19 altering some funeral plans


Trussville Tribune – School systems across Jefferson County partner to feed children


Trussville Tribune – Springville council passes resolution to address coronavirus epidemic


Trussville Tribune – UPDATED: 39 confirmed coronavirus cases in Alabama, 21 in Jefferson County


Athens News Courier – Virus outbreak: State orders closures in 6 counties


Athens News Courier – Athens woman charged with chemical endangerment of child


Athens News Courier – Portion of Pepper Road closed Wednesday


Sand Mountain Reporter – Sand Mountain Toyota to offer free lunches for students


Sand Mountain Reporter – Marshall Medical Centers: No COVID-19 cases on Sand Mountain


Sand Mountain Reporter – Sardis City to close government buildings, park to public


WSFA Montgomery – UAB Infectious Disease doctor tests positive for COVID-19


WSFA Montgomery – Alabama’s first coronavirus patient released from hospital


WSFA Montgomery – Alabama ABC board to allow temporary curbside alcohol sales


WKRG Mobile – Hospitals set up for screenings, schools release earlier than planned, airports see few passengers due to Coronavirus outbreak


WKRG Mobile – Mobile’s Jimmie Ward gets 28.5 million dollar contract to stay with 49’ers


WKRG Mobile – Alabama ABC Board approves ‘to-go’ alcohol from bars and restaurants


WTVY Dothan – Coronavirus closings and cancellations


WTVY Dothan – President Trump clinches GOP nomination with Tuesday primary wins


WTVY Dothan – Panhandle counties declare state of emergency


WASHINGTON POST  – Coronavirus confirmed in all U.S. states as world faces long-term turmoil


WASHINGTON POST  – U.S. coronavirus death toll surpasses 100


WASHINGTON POST  – Americans are very likely to get $1,000 (or more) checks. Here’s what you need to know


NEW YORK TIMES  – U.S. to Boost Tariffs on Airbus Planes Wednesday, Adding Pressure on Airlines


NEW YORK TIMES  – Trump Now Claims He Always Knew the Coronavirus Would Be a Pandemic


NEW YORK TIMES  – These Places Could Run Out of Hospital Beds as Coronavirus Spreads




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