Get the Daily News Digest in your inbox each morning. Sign Up

Daily News Digest – May 20, 2020

Presented by

The Alabama Rural Broadband Coalition

Good morning!
Here’s your Daily News for Wednesday, May 20.

1. Harris: Virus numbers ‘ not as good as we can hope for’

  • Alabama State Health Dr. Officer Scott Harris said the state’s coronavirus numbers are “not as good as we could hope for” as outbreaks continue.
  • Harris said the trend in coronavirus numbers “depends which part of the state you are looking at.”
  • “Obviously, we wish our numbers were better. They are not as good as we could hope for. But, in parts of the state, they are not increasing in a huge way. We have some outbreaks. I think certain counties look significantly worse because of that,” Harris said in an interview.
  • Butler, Mobile, Marshall and Franklin counties are among the counties experiencing outbreaks, he said. Montgomery and Mobile are among the counties with large hospitalization numbers, he said.
  • Harris urged people to continue to take precautions amid the gradual reopening of the state’s economy.
  • Full story from Kim Chandler HERE.


2. First Class Pre-K expands to 55 new classrooms

  • Fifty-five new pre-K classrooms will be added in 25 counties this fall, Gov. Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education said Tuesday.
  • These additional classrooms expand access to the state’s award-winning First Class Pre-K program and are a result of the Legislature recently appropriating an additional $6 million to the department for the 2021 fiscal year.
  • The department received 163 new classroom applications and 123 of those met the qualifying criteria for funding. Ivey’s office said that the 68 eligible classrooms who can’t receive funding are now on a waitlist.
  • The new classrooms mean 110 additional teachers will be hired.
  • Currently, 22,500 children are being served in more than 1,250 classrooms state-wide, serving 38% of 4-year olds in the state. Ivey’s office said this year’s increase is one step closer to reaching her goal goal of 40,000 students.
  • “We are appreciative of legislative leadership who have committed to further expanding pre-K with any identified additional funds,” Secretary of Early Childhood Education Jeana Ross said.
  • Ross told Alabama Daily News that before the pandemic the department was estimating 150 new classrooms would be created this year.
  • Ivey on Monday signed into law a record-breaking $7.2 billion education budget on Monday, which included $6 million more specifically for First Class Pre-K. While the program is receiving an increase in funding over the current year, it is about $20 million less than what was proposed before the coronavirus pandemic impacted state budgets.
  • Full story from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.




A message from

The Alabama Rural Broadband Coalition


  • The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the significant need and demand for the expansion of rural broadband all across Alabama.
  • Fast and reliable internet is something that all Alabamians should enjoy, not just those who are fortunate enough to live within the current coverage areas.
  • Our children, our economy and our livelihood depend on it.






3. Poll: Tuberville grows lead over Sessions

  • A new poll shows Tommy Tuberville with a significant lead over Jeff Sessions in the race to be the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate.
  • The former Auburn football coach led Sessions, a former U.S. Senator and Attorney General, 55% to 32% among likely GOP voters. The primary runoff is July 14, delayed from March because of concerns over COVID-19.
  • Conducted by Cygnal, the May 7-10 poll has a margin of error of +/-3.98%.
  • The two candidates finished close in the March 3 primary, with Tuberville winning 33.39% of the vote to Sessions’ 31.65%. Congressman Bradley Byrne finished third with 24.89%.
  • The latest poll from Cygnal would indicate a growing lead for Tuberville, who since the primary won the endorsement of President Donald Trump. A March 6-8 survey from Cygnal showed Tuberville with a 51.5% to 39.5% lead over Sessions.
  • Full story HERE.

4. Poarch Creeks donate $500K for testing and equipment

  • The Poarch Band of Creek Indians this week donated $500,000 to the Alabama Department of Public Health to assist with testing and equipment, a significant gift that elicited a hearty “thank you” from the governor and state health officer.
  • “I commend the Poarch Creek Indians for their generosity during this time,” Gov. Kay Ivey said. “These funds will save lives and greatly assist the State in our battle of COVID-19. Thank you for all you do for Alabama.”
  • CEO and Tribal Chair Stephanie Bryan said the funds are meant to help the state protect frontline health workers and expand testing capabilities for the coronavirus.
  • State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said the funds will help the Department of Public Health achieve its goal of every citizen who is experiencing symptoms or at high risk for COVID-19 having an opportunity to access screening sites in their communities.
  • Read more HERE.



5. McCutcheon: House members answer the call to duty

  • House Speaker Mac McCutcheon contributes an op-ed today commending the work of the members on his side of the State House during the legislative session that ended Monday.
  • It was a most unconventional session, and McCutcheon writes that the coronavirus outbreak created unprecedented challenges for getting the Legislature’s business done.
  • The Speaker walks through exactly how they went about their business and thanks the members who “put their responsibilities ahead of their own health concerns and answered the call to duty.”
  • Here’s an excerpt:
“Our members came from the Tennessee Valley, the Gulf Coast region, and dozens of cities, towns, and crossroads in between, and we took important steps to safeguard their health in a cramped and aged State House where proper social distancing is difficult at best.
“Public officials at all levels of government are often subject to criticism, and I will admit it is often well-deserved, but they should also be recognized for jobs well done.
“The men and women who participated in the unusual, extraordinary, and unforgettable final week of the 2020 regular session put their responsibilities ahead of their own health concerns and answered the call to duty. They stood tall when Alabama needed them most.”
  • Read the Speaker’s full op-ed HERE.

News Briefs

Veterans home re-testing residents for COVID-19; Mental health hospital sees cases increase

  • The Bill Nichols State Veterans Home in Alexander City began this week testing for a second time all residents for COVID-19. Those results are still pending, but a total of 91 cases have been confirmed at the Alexander City facility since April 8.
  • “We are doing everything possible to mitigate the virus in the state veterans homes,” Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs spokesman Bob Horton told Alabama Daily News on Tuesday. “We’re working closely with the Alabama Department of Public Health to begin universal testing for residents and employees at the state’s four veterans homes. The universal testing will help us identify potential asymptomatic cases, which is critical to preventing and reducing the transmission of the virus among employees and residents.”
  • There have been 23 deaths at the home attributed to COVID-19. That number hasn’t increased in the past week.
  • Horton said a total of 41 employees at Bill Nichols tested positive since April and 12 have returned to work.
  • In April, there were 131 residents and about 200 employees at the facility.
  • Full story from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.

Special election set for House seat

  • MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has scheduled a special election to replace a central Alabama legislator who announced she is resigning to take a position with the Trump administration.
  • Rep. April Weaver of House District 49, consisting of Bibb, Chilton and Shelby counties, announced her resignation last week. She is taking the position of Heath & Human Services Regional Director for Region 4, which includes Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina and North Carolina.
  • Ivey said the primary election for the seat will be held Aug. 4. A primary runoff, if needed, will be held Sept. 1. The special general election will be held Nov. 17.
  • Interested candidates have until June 2 to declare their candidacy with political parties.

Alabama rocket museum laying off workers amid pandemic

  • HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — Alabama’s state-owned space museum has permanently cut more than a third of its workforce after being closed for weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville has laid off more than 100 of its 280 full-time employees, news outlets reported. Most of its remaining workers also are on furlough, said spokesperson Pat Ammons.
  • The museum, which includes artifacts of the U.S. and international space programs, hopes to begin reopening next week since the state has loosened restrictions meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
  • “We have no idea when we will be able to be back to normal operations, no guidelines or guidance on when we will be back to normal operations,” said Ammons.
  • The center’s popular Space Camp program, in which young people come to the center for days at a time, could resume partial operations next month.
  • Both the museum and Space Camp have been shut down since mid-March. The center drew more than 1 million visitors in 2019, and more than 44,000 people attended Space Camp.

Arrest made in fatal stabbing at homeless shelter

  • BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A man has been charged with murder in a fatal stabbing at a homeless shelter in Alabama’s largest city.
  • Eugene Antonio Pettaway, 31, was booked Sunday according to Jefferson County Jail online records.
  • Pettaway was named as a suspect in the death of Quavion Demarco Blair, news outlets reported. Blair, 20, was found early Saturday morning with multiple cuts and puncture wounds at Firehouse Shelter in Birmingham, and later pronounced dead at the scene.
  • Officials did not give a possible motive.
  • The stabbing involved two guests of the emergency shelter, Firehouse Shelter said in a statement.
  • The stabbing was “a tragic reminder that accessible mental health care is paramount,” Firehouse Shelter said in the statement on Facebook. “We must work together to end the violence that claims so many lives in our community and across the country.”
  • Pettaway was being held on a $250,000 bond. It’s unclear whether he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Harris: Virus numbers ‘not as good as we could hope for’


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – 55 new classroom added to state’s award-winning pre-K program


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Cygnal poll: Tuberville has large lead over Sessions


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Poarch Creeks donate $500K for testing supplies and equipment


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – VA home retesting residents for COVID-19; Mental health hospital sees cases increase


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Graduation ceremonies draw thousands despite pandemic fears


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – May 19, 2020


AL.COM – Poll shows Tuberville leading Sessions in U.S. Senate race


AL.COM – Contributor John Giles: Jeff Sessions myths dispelled


AL.COM  – Judge declines to recuse from case of Alabama woman who killed alleged rapist


AL.COM – $14 million goal met in plan to transform Mobile’s historic Barton Academy school building


AL.COM – Pandemic’s pinch puts off Birmingham budget


AL.COM – Charles Barkley on running for Alabama governor: ‘Democrats and Republicans are both full of crap’


AL.COM – Airbus: New Mobile assembly line is ‘open for business’


AL.COM – 12,331 coronavirus cases, 493 deaths; 4 counties combine for 110 of 289 new cases


AL.COM – China becomes the ‘boogie man’ in Alabama’s GOP Senate runoff. Will it matter?


Montgomery Advertiser – Draft beer in Prattville police jurisdiction possible? For Carl’s Country, the answer has a twist


Montgomery Advertiser – More than 500 Alabamians diagnosed with coronavirus have died


Montgomery Advertiser – Prattville curfew relaxed but still in place to curb late-night travel


YellowHammer News – Alabama adding 55 First Class Pre-K classrooms — ‘Model of excellence’


YellowHammer News – Trump admin consults UA System Chancellor Fess St. John on reopening America’s schools


YellowHammer News – Airbus launches A220 production on new Alabama assembly line


Tuscaloosa News – Large crowds return to Alabama beaches


Tuscaloosa News – Harris: Virus numbers ‘not as good as we could hope for’


Tuscaloosa News – New report recommends overhaul of Alabama education department


Decatur Daily – As prison project moves forward, lawmakers still have questions


Decatur Daily – Farmers Federation responds to Brooks’ criticism


Decatur Daily – Limestone sheriff: Man charged with neighbor’s slaying faces drug charges, wife arrested


Times Daily – Muscle Shoals High honors 4 with special military commencement


Times Daily – Farmers Federation responds to Brooks’ criticism


Times Daily – As prison project moves forward, lawmakers still have questions


Anniston Star – 25 counties to get new pre-K classrooms


Anniston Star – Anniston City Council agrees to give land for downtown hotel


Anniston Star – As prison project moves forward, Alabama lawmakers still have questions


Gadsden Times – Gadsden Recycles reopening pushed back


Gadsden Times – More than 500 COVID-19 deaths in state


Gadsden Times – City to receive $621,000 for virus aid


Dothan Eagle – Wiregrass COVID cases up by 133 in 7-day period


Dothan Eagle – Long Memorial Day weekend; traffic expected to increase


Dothan Eagle – Recognizing EMS professionals during National EMS Week


Troy Messenger – Troy Municipal Court offers one-time plea, payment deal for non-DUI offenses


Troy Messenger – ‘Don’t get lulled into false sense of security’


Troy Messenger – TCS opens job search


Andalusia Star News – Pickard honored for decades of local community service


Andalusia Star News – Speeding an issue on some Opp streets


Andalusia Star News – Harris named new Gantt Police chief


Opelika-Auburn News – ONE YEAR AGO: Auburn police officer William Buechner shot, killed; two other officers injured


Opelika-Auburn News – ‘Will Buechner was so brave;’ Auburn lost a hero one year ago


Opelika-Auburn News – COVID-19 latest: Opelika store capacity rules amended; skate park, tennis center open


Daily Mountain Eagle – County offices reopen to public after vote


Daily Mountain Eagle – Career Pathways Academy deadline set for Wednesday


Daily Mountain Eagle – Partitions up as commission looks at reopening offices


Trussville Tribune – Alabama Health Officer says COVID-19 numbers vary across state


Trussville Tribune – Morning Update: Number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Alabama continues to fall; average deaths per day going down


Trussville Tribune – Alabama is home to 6 of 11 highest-risk counties in the nation where COVID-19 cases are growing


Athens News Courier – VINE STREET SHOOTING: Stolen gun among weapons recovered


Athens News Courier – New charges in East Limestone case; accused’s wife arrested


Athens News Courier – Washington Street at Strange Street closed


Sand Mountain Reporter – UP IN SMOKE | Fire breaks out, damaging Albertville shopping center


Sand Mountain Reporter – Hospitalizations remain low in Marshall County


Sand Mountain Reporter – Local man pledges up to $10,000 for Boaz disaster relief


WSFA Montgomery – Alabama kicks off Summer Learning Challenge for students


WSFA Montgomery – Alabama First Pre-K program to add 55 new classrooms


WSFA Montgomery – Man charged with stabbing relative multiple times in Autauga County


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – 55 new classrooms added to state’s award-winning pre-K program including several in the area


WRBC Fox 6 Birmingham – Mayor Woodfin: Company sent wrong masks, ‘swindled’ City of Birmingham


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – VA home retesting residents for COVID-19; Mental health hospital sees cases increase


WAFF Huntsville – Alabama COVID-19 cases rise to 12,701; ADPH confirms 508 deaths


WAFF Huntsville – New report recommends overhaul of state education department


WAFF Huntsville – Over 52,000 online SNAPS applications submitted by Alabamians in April


WKRG Mobile – 2 MS men arrested for string of car burglaries in Gautier


WKRG Mobile – Woman with triple lung disease says WKRG’s inferior KN95 mask story ‘may have saved her life’


WKRG Mobile – COVID-19 deaths slow in Mobile County


WTVY Dothan – One wounded in Dothan shooting, crime scene spans several blocks


WTVY Dothan – DCS offers free COVID-19 antibody tests for employees


WTVY Dothan – SE Health recognizes EMS responders during EMS Week

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

Get the Daily News Digest in your inbox each morning.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Web Development By Infomedia