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Daily News Digest – March 24, 2020

Good morning!
There’s going to be weather today, potentially the severe kind. Because what this pandemic really needed was a tornado or two. Be safe out there.
Here’s your Daily News for Tuesday, March 24.

1. State virus cases near 200; testing capacity a concern

A medical worker administers a coronavirus test at Baptist Health’s drive-thru testing facilty in south Montgomery. (Taylor Hill, Alabama Daily News)
  • The number of new coronavirus cases in Alabama jumped to nearly 200 Monday as health officials urged people to maintain social distancing.
  • Alabama on Monday had at least 197 confirmed cases of coronavirus, of which 86 were in Jefferson County. State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said at a news conference that the ages of those infected ranged from 2 to 97, and that about 6% to 7% of the cases had required the person to be hospitalized.
  • In all, 1,832 coronavirus tests have been processed in Alabama. Zero deaths have been attributed to the virus so far.
  • Harris said testing continues to be a concern. He said the state now has 17 screening sites in addition to those set up by private labs.
  • “One of our continuing problems is locating specimen collection kits … These are being sought by every state in the country. As you know the states have been told we are on our own in terms of finding this equipment,” Harris said.
  • Taking further action to lessen the economic toll of the current health crisis, Gov. Kay Ivey extended the deadline for filing state income taxes until mid-summer. The Department of Revenue had already said it would follow the IRS timeline on delaying tax payments for individuals and small businesses, though the deadlines were somewhat of a moving target. Ivey’s action Monday makes it official that state filers have until July 15 to file and pay their taxes.
  • Read more from Kim Chandler HERE.


2. Lawmakers: Coronavirus could ‘doom’ much of legislative session

  • What’s going to happen with the legislative session?
  • That’s the $10 billion question among legislative leaders and lobbyists in Montgomery these days.
  • The House had originally planned to be back this week for a few committee meetings and one legislative day, but that’s not going to happen.
  • At the moment, the plan is for both chambers to be back on Tuesday, March 31 when they could decide what to do from there. But that’s still inside the window of when gatherings of 25 or more people are prohibited and many government buildings remain closed.
  • Most everyone expects a more prolonged delay. But remember, the Constitution gives the Legislature 105 calendar days to finish its work. That clock runs out on May 18.
  • Schools need a budget. So do state agencies. But how do you write a budget not knowing just how badly this crisis is impacting state revenues?
  • How soon until state leaders start urging people to get back to work and restart the economy?
  • And what happens to the other big-ticket items like medical marijuana and prison reform?
  • ADN’s Mary Sell talked to state lawmakers, including two who are medical doctors, for perspective on these questions and others.
  • Read her full story HERE.


3. Congress bickers, nears deal on rescue plan

  • Top congressional and White House officials emerged at midnight from grueling negotiations at the Capitol over the nearly $2 trillion coronavirus rescue package saying they expected to reach a deal today.
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said they had spoken by phone with President Donald Trump during the long night of negotiations. While the two sides have resolved many issues in the sweeping package, some remain.
  • Senate Republicans were furious over their Democratic counterparts twice blocking the original rescue package meant to prop up the U.S. economy, help American households and bolster the health care system amid the growing crisis.
  • Democrats say the bill was a “giveaway” to corporations and needs to be more focused on working Americans and health care providers.
  • Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced her own version of a rescue package that Republicans quickly denounced as a “liberal wishlist” of unrelated policy, such as increasing union bargaining power, mandating corporate diversity, and requiring early voting in all states.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned Democrats that “It’s time to get with the program, time to pass historic relief… This is a national emergency.”
  • Central to the emerging rescue package is as much as $350 billion for small businesses to keep making payroll while workers are forced to stay home. The package also proposes a one-time rebate of about $1,200 per person, or $3,000 for a family of four, as well as extended unemployment benefits.
  • Hospitals would get about $110 billion for the expected influx of sick patients, said Mnuchin. But Democrats are pushing for more health-care dollars for the front-line hospitals and workers.
  • Read more about the negotiations HERE.
  • Read more about the rescue package as we know it HERE.


4. Alabama banks will stay open

  • Banks will remain open in Alabama while more businesses temporary close their doors and more social distancing measures are put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • The Alabama Bankers Association issued a memorandum to elected officials on Monday on how banks across Alabama should operate and assist their customers during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • While bank lobbies may not be open anymore, banks can still serve customers through drive-thru windows, online and by making appointments to see a banker.
  • State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris issued orders on Friday that prohibit on-site restaurant dining and non-work gatherings of more than 25 people that cannot maintain a consistent 6-foot distance between them.
  • Harris on Monday said there were no plans yet to issue a shelter-in-place order for Alabamians, as has been done in a few other states. But ADPH would make that decision with guidance from the governor and state Legislature.
  • If a shelter-in-place order is issued in Alabama, banks would still be expected to remain open since federal guidance labels banks as an essential “critical infrastructure sector,” the ABA said.
  • Read more from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.


5. To your mental health

  • Let’s face it: social isolation can be a real drag.
  • While most of us are trying to do our part to stop the spread of coronavirus by staying home, it turns out avoiding contact with the world can do a real number on your mental health.
  • So can the anxiety triggered by financial worries, overwhelming child care obligations and overall concern about us devolving into a zombie apocalypse.
  • The good news is there are ways to cope and regulate your mental health during these trying times.
  • ADN’s Abby Driggers talked to several mental health experts to gather a clear perspective on the unique psychological challenges facing society right now along with a few tips for how to get on.
  • Therapist Teri Murphy uses the social media platform Instagram to provide mental health access to those who may feel worried about the virus (recommend a follow).
  • “Once we know what we need, then we can cope in a way that best cares for ourselves.” Murphy says. “Coping can be connection, rest, moving your body, prayer, water. Whatever you need.
  • “You can’t choose what’s happening. You can choose how you respond. We will have all our feelings – anxiety, sadness, fear, anger, everything. And those are just right. We are wired to feel. We share those feelings with our safe others and it helps us feel better.”
  • And, if all else fails, there’s always baby goat yoga.
  • Read Abby’s full story HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Crisis highlights digital divide in Alabama


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Lawmakers: Coronavirus could ‘doom’ much of legislative session


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama virus cases at nearly 200; testing capacity a concern


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Congress bickers, nears deal on a nearly $2 trillion virus aid package


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – At a glance: Nearly $2 trillion coronavirus rescue package


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Virus fears, isolation can trigger anxiety. Here are some tips on how to cope.


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – James Spann: Strong to severe storms possible in Alabama late today, tonight


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – SBA loans available for small businesses


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Reader feedback: Primary care doctor says more equipment needed


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – March 24, 2020


AL.COM – ‘A matter of life and death:’ Jefferson County police to enforce Alabama’s strictest coronavirus orders


AL.COM – Alabama online testing firm hiring; sees spike in pandemic’s wake


AL.COM – Volunteers across Alabama sew medical masks the state health officer says won’t work


AL.COM – Alabama coronavirus patients range from ages 2-97; 7% hospitalized; 53% male


AL.COM – Hospital chief worries Alabama hospitals can’t afford more ventilators


AL.COM – Volunteers across Alabama sew medical masks the state health officer says won’t work


AL.COM – Safer at home doesn’t ring true for victims of domestic violence


AL.COM – Contributor Phil Williams: As I write this I am seeking balance in an unbalanced time


AL.COM – Scientists using supercomputer to test virus drugs superfast


AL.COM – Gov. Kay Ivey delays state income tax deadline to July 15


Montgomery Advertiser – Coronavirus: Nearly three-quarters of Tuscaloosa test samples ‘unsatisfactory’


Montgomery Advertiser – Coronavirus in Alabama: Montgomery County confirms new case, statewide total nears 200


Montgomery Advertiser – Coronavirus in Alabama: What we know as Auburn University at Montgomery employee tests positive for COVID-19


YellowHammer News – Auburn University’s Harbert College of Business ranked among top 30 in the nation


YellowHammer News – UAB among the best in latest U.S. News & World Report graduate school rankings


YellowHammer News – Anonymous donor gives 100,000 pieces of protective medical equipment to Alabama’s health care workers


Tuscaloosa News – Child care offered for essential workers during coronavirus outbreak


Tuscaloosa News – Ashley out as Shelton State president


Tuscaloosa News – Person of interest sought in fatal Alabama shooting


Decatur Daily – Efforts to control COVID-19 in state hampered by testing kit shortages


Decatur Daily – Lawrence High cafeteria worker among 3 people killed in weekend accidents


Decatur Daily – Officials: Enter storm shelters at your own risk


Times Daily – Courthouses alter operation methods


Times Daily – TimesDaily, Courier Journal close lobbies


Times Daily – 200-250 UNA students could remain on campus


Anniston Star – Alabama COVID-19 count rises to 167 cases; supplies limiting tests, health officer says


Anniston Star – Cleburne County Commission adopts plan for COVID-19


Anniston Star – Jacksonville starts defensive driving program


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Home buyers and sellers go virtual during COVID-19 pandemic


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Virus fears, isolation can trigger anxiety; Here are some tips on how to cope


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Dermatologist explains side effects of homemade hand sanitizer, if it’s too strong


WAFF Huntsville – Pedestrian killed by vehicle on South Memorial Parkway


WAFF Huntsville – ADPH creates hotline, email for COVID-19 information


WAFF Huntsville – Fever clinic opening in Hartselle


Dothan Eagle – COVID -19 – The Latest: Alabama nears 200 cases; Houston County now on ADPH’s list; Wiregrass food bank holding milk giveaway Tuesday


Dothan Eagle – Gibson Distillery brewing up hand sanitizer


Dothan Eagle – New attraction is going up at Water World


Gadsden Times – Alabama reports 196 positive tests


Gadsden Times – Sheriff: Video a hoax; no COVID-19 in jail


Gadsden Times – Council gives city manager authority to act on some COVID-19 municipal issues


Troy Messenger – Hardware sales see uptick


Troy Messenger – Pike County officials call for calm


Troy Messenger – Flemings ‘waiting and praying’


Andalusia Star News – COVID-19 postpones Honor Flight


Andalusia Star News – Remember the elderly during this time


Andalusia Star News – Cancer survivor speaks about seriousness of quarantine


Opelika-Auburn News – COVID-19 latest: Lee County cases rise to 19, first case confirmed in Tallapoosa County, state cases near 200 mark; masks donated to state


Opelika-Auburn News – Coronavirus update: It’s a pivotal week for US. Here’s what you need to know.


Opelika-Auburn News – Online posts falsely claim census response will lead to cash


Daily Mountain Eagle – Another attempt to move ahead on virus aid package snags


Daily Mountain Eagle – Salvation Army handling senior grocery delivery


Daily Mountain Eagle – Gilbert issues COVID-19 proclamation, calls for meeting via teleconference


Trussville Tribune – Feds: Virus frauds spread, preying on Medicare recipients


Trussville Tribune – Trump says he intends to reopen country in weeks, not months


Trussville Tribune – Alabama Department of Public Health establishes statewide hotline and direct e-mail for COVID-19 information


Athens News Courier – State virus cases top 135; fines possible for violations


Athens News Courier – SOCIALLY DISTANCING SENIORS: Assisted living facilities find new ways to have fun


Athens News Courier – IRS AND TAXES: Don’t delay just because you can


Sand Mountain Reporter – Alleged attempted murderer assaults Marshall County deputy


Sand Mountain Reporter – Marshall County Sheriff’s deputy arrested for domestic violence


Sand Mountain Reporter – Governor clarifies statewide public health order


WSFA Montgomery – ADPH creates hotline, email for COVID-19 information


WSFA Montgomery – ADPH addresses confusion over health order about day cares


WSFA Montgomery – Little free pantry in Opelika providing non-perishable food items during coronavirus outbreak


WKRG Mobile – Global coronavirus updates: Ice rink in Spain turned into makeshift morgue


WKRG Mobile – 2 Milton police officers in quarantine after possible COVID-19 exposure


WKRG Mobile – Sheriff eases martial law fears, calls for shoppers to stop hoarding


WTVY Dothan – Coronavirus confirmed at Dothan nursing home


WTVY Dothan – Coronavirus closings and cancellations


WTVY Dothan – Alabama has nearly 200 COVID-19 cases


WASHINGTON POST – Senate negotiators cite progress on coronavirus bill after day of drama and rancor


WASHINGTON POST – ‘It’s going to get bad’: As outbreak surges, nation faces tough start to a grim week


WASHINGTON POST – Trump’s former FDA chief warns president against reopening public life


WASHINGTON POST – Huge testing discrepancies among states muddles the meaning of results


NEW YORK TIMES – At Least 13,500 Americans Abroad Need Help Getting Home, State Dept. Says


NEW YORK TIMES – Trump Considers Reopening Economy, Over Health Experts’ Objections


NEW YORK TIMES – Trump Has Given Unusual Leeway to Fauci, but Aides Say He’s Losing His Patience


NEW YORK TIMES – Virus Brings States to a Standstill: Sessions Halt, Budgets Crater, Plans Wait


Front Pages (images link to newspaper websites, which you should visit and patronize)





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