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Daily News Digest – May 1, 2020

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Good morning and Happy Friday! Can you believe we made it to May?
A special note of thanks to ADN intern reporters Devin Pavlou and Abby Driggers whose last day is today. Congrats and best wishes in your careers!
Here’s your Daily News for Friday, May 1, 2020.



1. We are partially reopened

  • Alabamians filed onto beaches and into previously shuttered retail stores Thursday evening as a state stay-home order expired, although salons, on-site restaurant dining and other places remained closed under a new state health order.
  • A previous stay-home order expired at 5 p.m. and retail stores and beaches could open with 50% occupancy limits. Beach cams showed people strolling along the sand in Gulf Shores under the late afternoon sun as beaches opened for the first time in a month. Elective and non-emergency medical procedures are also allowed to resume.
  • Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Tuesday announced that some restrictions were being lifted, but many would remain in place.
  • Salons, barbershops, gyms, tattoo parlors, bars and on-site restaurant dining will remain closed until the evening of May 15, under the newest “safer at home” state health order.
  • Alabama has reported more than 7,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and had more than 260 deaths from the disease, according to numbers from the Alabama Department of Public Health.
  • Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Thursday asked Birmingham officials to reconsider using jail or fines to enforce a new city ordinance requiring masks in public.
  • Full story from Kim Chandler HERE.



2. Unemployment continues to climb

  • Nearly 75,000 Alabamians filed initial unemployment claims the week of April 19-25, 62,448 of which are related to COVID-19, the Alabama Department of Labor reported.
  • That brings the five-week total from March 22 to April 25 to 406,636 total claims, 362,240 of them connected to the coronavirus’ impact on Alabama.
  • Manufacturing jobs accounted for 6,932 of last week’s claims, followed by accommodations and food services with 6,279  and retail trade with 4,980. Health care and social assistance accounted for 4,349 of the claims.
  • Jefferson County had the largest number of claims with 11,878, followed by Mobile County, 8,257; Madison County 5,615; Baldwin County, 4,099; and Montgomery County, 3,859.
  • Earlier this week, ADOL Secretary Fitzgerald Washington said the department had disbursed more than $372 million in unemployment compensation benefits. The state is now paying benefits under all three federal programs covered under the CARES Act: Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation; Pandemic Unemployment Assistance; and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.
  • Read more and see the latest county numbers from ADN’s Will Whatley HERE.






A message from


  • AlabamaWorks! is here as a resource for the people and businesses in our state during this difficult time.
  • Important workforce resources, tools and updates regarding COVID-19 can be found all in one place on our website.
  • Visit for more information on small businesses, unemployment information, state agency updates as well as information for those recently unemployed on how to establish a career pathway or reskill.





3. Biden denies sexual assault claims on Morning Joe

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden this morning addressed allegations that he sexually assaulted a former Senate employee in the mid-90s.
  • The presumptive Democratic nominee for president appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to address the allegation by his former Senate staffer Tara Reade that he assaulted her in the basement of a Capitol Hill office building.
  • His campaign issued a statement in early April denying the allegation, and a number of former Biden staffers have defended their boss in interviews. But Biden himself has yet to face any questions or weigh in on the accusation, even as it has taken on fresh attention this week after two of Reade’s associates said she previously told them about elements of her allegations.
  • It was as friendly of an environment as Biden could ask for, as Morning Joe host Mika Brzezinski has previously gone to the mat to defend Biden, former Sen. Al Franken and other Democrats accused of sexual misconduct. Still, she pressed Biden repeatedly on the allegations and his previous statements about believing women who come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct.
  • “I’m saying unequivocally, it never, never happened,” Biden said.
  • The former vice president said he will ask the National Archives to determine whether there is any record of such a complaint being filed.
  • “The former staffer has said she filed a complaint back in 1993,” Biden said. “But she does not have a record of this alleged complaint. The papers from my Senate years that I donated to the University of Delaware do not contain personnel files… There is only one place a complaint of this kind could be – the National Archives. The National Archives is where the records are kept.”
  • Republicans are seizing on the moment to portray Democrats as hypocrites who only defend women who allege wrongdoing against conservatives. The allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh grew into a national media storm when there was never a corroborating witness, while Biden has yet to have been questioned before today despite multiple associates of Reade saying she told them about the incident.
  • Of course, Republicans have to be careful knowing the episode could renew attention on the multiple sexual assault allegations lodged against President Donald Trump.
  • Trump himself was asked about his thoughts on the matter and said he knew nothing about it. “It could be false accusations. I know all about false accusations… I think he should respond,” the president said.
  • There are 186 days between now and the November election.
  • Read more and watch the interview HERE.



4. UAH team uses supercomputers in COVID-19 drug search

  • Scientists at the University of Alabama at Huntsville are using supercomputers to study the effectiveness of different drug compounds on COVID-19.
  • Dr. Jerome Baudry leads the UAH lab working with a team from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s SUMMIT, the most powerful supercomputer in the world,  to analyze existing compounds that may affect COVID-19.
  • “We are at this point focusing on repurposing existing drugs,” Baudry said. “That is, to take existing drugs from the shelf and find which ones are active against either the virus itself or can help in treating or mitigating the effects of infection in the severe cases.”
  • Compounds under review include drugs already available with safe profiles, as well as natural products. Compounds identified as possible future drugs will also be studied. In the initial stage, no new drugs will be under development, according to UAH.
  • UAH supercomputers are testing millions of these drug compounds each day to see which are beneficial against COVID-19, Baudry said.
  • “We can use high performance computers and supercomputers to look at the entire genome of the virus, see everything the virus’ genome is making and build computational models of all these proteins, and repeat the repurposing process for each of these proteins,” Baudry said.
  • This week, U.S. government officials announced that remdesivir, a drug recently studied by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and other clinical trial locations, has been shown to be effective against the virus. Dr. Anthony Fauci, who leads the National Institutes of Health’s Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the drug would be the “standard of care” for coronavirus patients.
  • Read more from ADN’s Devin Pavlou HERE.



5. Cantrell: Time to Prioritize All Alabama Students

  • Ryan Cantrell of the American Federation for Children contributes an op-ed on the issue of federal coronavirus relief funds and their use in Alabama schools.
  • The state is set to receive more than $265 million for education, $217 million of which will go to local school districts to help with professional development, summer learning, mental health services and other uses.
  • About $49 million can be spent at the discretion of the governor, and Cantrell argues that some of that money should go to shore up the Alabama Accountability Act scholarship program to ensure low income students can continue to access high quality education options.
  • Here’s an excerpt:
“All parents, whether they send their children to public or private school, have been forced to adjust to a life where children remain home during what used to be the school day. But few if any public-school parents must worry whether their child’s school will survive this pandemic. Recently, Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted a return to normal, albeit a new normal, for schools come fall. Every child deserves that return to normalcy.
“Governor Kay Ivey has been measured and thoughtful about her response throughout the pandemic. She must now act to protect the best interests of every child in Alabama, including the low-income families currently receiving scholarships through the Alabama Accountability Act. Due to COVID-19, the program is experiencing lower than typical donations, putting these scholarships at risk. These students shouldn’t be forced back to their underperforming schools simply because we were unwilling to act. Research has shown the scholarship program actually saves the state money. So, by making this program whole, Governor Ivey can deliver a win/win – both for scholarship students and the state budget.”
  • Read Cantrell’s full piece HERE.



News Briefs

Alabama sues Tyson Foods over wastewater spill, fish kill

  • HANCEVILLE, Ala. (AP) — The state of Alabama sued Tyson Foods on Thursday over a 2019 wastewater spill that caused the largest recorded fish kill in the state.
  • The Alabama attorney general’s office filed the suit, saying Tyson was negligent “by causing a public nuisance,” reported.
  • A pipe failure at the Tyson plant caused over 200,000 gallons of “insufficiently-treated wastewater” to flow into the Mulberry Fork of the Black Warrior River, leading to the death of around 175,000 fish, the attorney general’s office said.
  • A statement from Attorney General Steve Marshall said the office wants the state and the community to be compensated for damages done to the environment.
  • Tyson Foods spokesman Worth Sparkman said the company was disappointed with the state’s decision to file the lawsuit.
  • Sparkman said the company has tried for months to work with the state, offering to “initiate conservation and community projects including river access in the area of the accidental release.”
  • On June 8, a pipe failed at the River Valley Ingredients poultry processing facility in Hanceville, sending huge amounts of partially treated wastewater into the river, the paper reported. Described as the “largest poultry rendering facility in the country,” the facility would take parts of chicken not desired for human consumption and turn it into animal and pet feed.
  • The wastewater largely contained organic poultry material, which later caused bacteria in the water to increase, depriving the fish of oxygen.
  • The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said the reported number of fish killed was conservative considering direct counting wasn’t possible.
  • Tyson said an outside contractor poorly installed temporary piping, which caused the spill.

Tough news for Austal: Wisconsin shipyard wins contract to build Navy frigates

  • (AP) — A Wisconsin shipbuilder won a contract for up to 10 frigates this week, beating out three other shipbuilders, including Mobile’s Austal USA.
  • The Navy is seeking to build smaller, lethal warships during a time of growing threats.
  • The $795 million contract calls for Fincantieri Marinette Marine to move forward with design and construction of the lead ship, with options for up to nine more frigates, the Navy announced Thursday. The contract carries a value of $5.6 billion if all 10 ships are built, the Navy said.
  • The announcement was disappointing for the other three finalists: Bath Iron Works, a General Dynamics subsidiary, along with Austal USA in Alabama, and Huntington Ingalls in Mississippi.
  • Marinette likely stood out for the contract because it has less work than the major shipyards, said Loren Thompson, defense analyst at the Lexinginton Institute.
  • “The Navy was confident in its design and knew that Marinette has the available skills to do the work on time,” he said.
  • The total cost of the first frigate, including design costs and other factors, is expected to be $1.28 billion while the average costs of the rest of the ships would be $781 million apiece.
  • Congressman Bradley Byrne said he disagreed with the Navy’s decision and would be “thoroughly examining” the contract.
  • Full story HERE.

2 deadly shootings in 4 days at Alabama convenience store

  • TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — A teen in Alabama is accused of a deadly shooting at a convenience store Wednesday evening, which police say is the same location of a fatal shooting on Sunday.
  • Lamarcus Keon McNeal, 18, was arrested and charged with murder in the death of Xzavier Eatmon, 18, the Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit told news outlets Thursday.
  • Eatmon was found suffering from a gunshot wound in the parking lot of Winston’s Mini Mart in Tuscaloosa. He was taken to a hospital where he later died, police said.
  • McNeal ran from the scene but was caught nearby, according to Capt. Jack Kennedy.
  • “This incident was not related to the other shooting at the convenience store earlier in the week,” Kennedy said.
  • Dominic Coleman, 20, was fatally shot outside the convenience store on Sunday. Nathaniel Patton, 18, was arrested and charged with murder and attempted murder in that case, news outlets reported.
  • Both McNeal and Patton were booked into the Tuscaloosa County Jail. It’s unclear whether they had attorneys who could comment on their behalf.

Judge cites coronavirus in allowing bond in fatal wreck

  • OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) — A judge cited the coronavirus outbreak in reinstating bond for a teenager charged in the wreck that killed Auburn University broadcaster Rod Bramblett and his wife, Paula court records show.
  • An order that took effect Thursday said Johnston Edward Taylor, 17, can be released to home confinement once he finishes an in-patient treatment addiction program.
  • Circuit Judge Jacob Walker had previously revoked bond for Taylor, but his order released Wednesday said the teen can live at home with an electronic monitoring system rather than return to jail because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The youth must remain at home in quarantine for two weeks unless he has a medical appointment, and he must check in daily with a drug screening laboratory to see whether he must be tested that day, the Opelika-Auburn News reported.
  • A hearing is scheduled for Aug. 10, when Taylor could enter a plea. A defense lawyer has called the youth troubled.
  • Taylor was indicted on two counts of reckless manslaughter in January. Authorities allege he was driving about 90 mph (145 kph) in a 55 mph (90 kph) zone when he rear-ended the Brambletts’ vehicle in Auburn about a year ago. Bramblett and his wife Paula were killed, but Taylor wasn’t seriously injured.
  • Taylor told officers he fell asleep behind the wheel and did not remember what happened, a police report said. A test indicated he had used marijuana, a court document showed.
  • While Taylor initially was released on $25,000 bond after the crash, a judge revoked his bail in December after prosecutors said Taylor got at least three tickets in November for speeding and reckless driving. In one case, prosecutors said, police found marijuana residue in his car.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS  – Beaches, retail stores open in Alabama


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS  – Weekly unemployment claims remain high, 406K since late March


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Biden denies sexual assault allegation. ‘It never, never happened’


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS  – UAH team uses supercomputers in COVID-19 drug search


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS  – Tough news for Austal: Wisconsin shipyard wins contract to build Navy frigates


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama sues Tyson Foods over wastewater spill, fish kill


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Cantrell: Time to Prioritize All Alabama Students


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Democratic leader argues waiting on passing state budgets


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Senate leaders seek COVID-19 money for broadband


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS  – Study finds drug works against coronavirus


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS  – Calls, tips come in after reward increases to $10,000 for info on teen’s death


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama student names NASA’s first Mars helicopter


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – April 30, 2020


AL.COM  – Alabama’s ‘safer at home’ new normal begins today


AL.COM  – Alabama AG calls Birmingham mask ordinance ‘excessive,’ threatens suit


AL.COM  – Bushwackers and souvenirs: How Alabama’s beach businesses prepare for a surge of visitors


AL.COM  – Birmingham shelter in place now in effect 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.


AL.COM  – In-person court hearings postponed through May 15 in Alabama; no jury trials until July


AL.COM  – As coronavirus cases stay low, north Alabama officials voice some frustration with closures


AL.COM  – NASA picks Alabama’s Dynetics for Moon lander prototype


AL.COM  – Alabama saw $7.1 billion in new development in 2019


AL.COM  – Alabama adds 164 coronvirus cases, 50 in Mobile County: County-by-county-updates


AL.COM  – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: As county cases lead state, Mobile mayor doesn’t learn


AL.COM  – Self-policing and common sense: How Alabama stores plan to control occupancy restrictions


AL.COM  – Jeff Sessions calls on big corporations to return federal money, give small biz top priority


AL.COM  – Handful of Alabama counties still seeing coronavirus cases rise over last 14 days


Montgomery Advertiser – City, Hands on River Region to give away thousands of face masks


Montgomery Advertiser – Multiple law enforcement agencies raid ‘The Farm’ in Prattville


Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery County buildings reopen with restrictions Friday


YellowHammer News – Austal USA donates $100K to Mobile area charities, shifts 3D printing to make PPE


YellowHammer News – Acting Sec. of Homeland Security Chad Wolf joins Auburn live stream to talk COVID recovery — Respond, recover, restore


YellowHammer News – Sessions: ‘Big publicly-traded companies’ should give back PPP loans ‘immediately’


Tuscaloosa News – State unemployment claims top 400,000


Tuscaloosa News – COVID-19, flawed funding model leads DA to cut jobs


Tuscaloosa News – Former Aliceville corrections officer pleads guilty


Decatur Daily – Decatur High gets new principal; Austin, Austin Middle lose theirs


Decatur Daily – Martin’s reopens as soon as permitted; return ‘to normal’ welcomed


Decatur Daily – One COVID-19 patient remains at Athens-Limestone Hospital


Times Daily – UNA director among top candidates for Decatur development director


Times Daily – Muscle Shoals man charged with multiple drug offenses


Times Daily – Poll: Many Americans feel lonely and anxious during pandemic


Anniston Star – COVID cases pass 7,000 as restrictions ease


Anniston Star – Heflin’s Rooks seeks exception from state to allow city’s reopening


Anniston Star – Anniston man charged in Tuesday shooting


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Possible treatment for COVID-19 being developed in Alabama


WBRC – Fox 6 Birmingham – ADOL receiving at least 5,000 calls per day, working to pay unemployment claims


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Gov. Edwards extends stay-at-home order until May 15


WAFF Huntsville – Mountain Lakes Chamber of Commerce creates COVID-19 relief fund for small businesses


WAFF Huntsville – Alabama COVID-19 cases rise to 7,068; ADPH verifies 272 deaths


WAFF Huntsville – Over 100 animals found in Lincoln County hoarding, puppy mill investigation


Dothan Eagle – Houston County arrests: April 27-30, 2020


Dothan Eagle – Southeast Health sees lull in COVID-19 positives


Dothan Eagle – Additional coronavirus case confirmed involving toddler


Gadsden Times – Testing next Tuesday in East Gadsden


Gadsden Times – Etowah County records ninth COVID-19 death


Gadsden Times – City reopening some facilities


Troy Messenger – Civic leaders making plans for reopening


Troy Messenger – Troy campus to open June 1, resume classes in fall


Troy Messenger – ‘I have been waiting for this day since I closed the door’


Andalusia Star News – Destin City Council votes to open beaches beginning Friday


Andalusia Star News – Routine eye care and dental work to resume May 4


Andalusia Star News – APD seeking assistance in capturing suspect in auto burglary


Opelika-Auburn News – COVID-19 latest: Auburn University to honor spring 2020 graduates; Auburn University housing move-out to continue


Opelika-Auburn News – Homeland secretary chats with Auburn University experts


Opelika-Auburn News – O-A News launches Local Marketing Grant program


Daily Mountain Eagle – COVID-19-related counseling offered through Capstone


Daily Mountain Eagle – Alabama Power to offer 12-week HVAC program


Daily Mountain Eagle – Barber shop, salon employees still hurting in partial shutdown


Trussville Tribune – Alabama unemployment claims top 400,000; nearly 75,000 new claims filed last week


Trussville Tribune – Alabama confirmed coronavirus cases near 7,000 with 267 death


Trussville Tribune – Statewide Safer-at-Home order goes into effect today at 5 p.m.


Athens News Courier – Prison guard pleads guilty to sexual misconduct allegations


Athens News Courier – Alabama student names NASA’s first Mars helicopter


Athens News Courier – Man charged in trailer theft


Sand Mountain Reporter – United Doctors drive-thru clinic tests 1,000 patients for COVID-19 | Thanks community for support


Sand Mountain Reporter – 6 feet apart, but close at heart | Albertville Nursing Home throws parade for residents


Sand Mountain Reporter – Police pursuit of stolen vehicle ends in fatality | Alias used to confirm driver’s identity


WSFA Montgomery – As retail stores open, Ala. Dept. of Labor tallies $424M in unemployment benefits


WSFA Montgomery – Veteran hospitalized with COVID-19 released after nearly 40 days


WSFA Montgomery – University of Alabama president says students could return to campus in July, at the earliest


WKRG Mobile – Thursday beachgoers in Baldwin Co. maintain social distance


WKRG Mobile – Local businesses reopen under safer at home guidelines


WKRG Mobile – Baldwin medic deployed to New York during pandemic


WTVY Dothan – Mayor: If businesses open illegally they will be shut down


WTVY Dothan – Top students at Charles Henderson get a drive by surprise


WTVY Dothan – Friday’s Live from Downtown proceed will be donated to Wiregrass 2-1-1


WASHINGTON POST  – Nearly seven weeks into the shutdown, here’s why so many are still getting sick


WASHINGTON POST  – Fauci warns states rushing to reopen: ‘You’re making a really significant risk’


WASHINGTON POST  – Columnist Hugh Hewitt: The next coronavirus relief deal ought to be Congress’s biggest yet


NEW YORK TIMES  – For Most Food Stamp Users, Online Shopping Isn’t an Option


NEW YORK TIMES  – Amid a Rising Death Toll, Trump Leaves the Grieving to Others


NEW YORK TIMES  – Stymied in Seeking Benefits, Millions of Unemployed Go Uncounted



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