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Daily News Digest – May 22, 2020

Presented by

The Alabama Rural Broadband Coalition



Good morning and Happy Friday!
Alabama’s unemployment rate hit 12.9% in April, the first of the monthly measures showing just how badly the outbreak is affecting joblessness. Story and map HERE.
Here’s the rest of your Daily News for May 22.




1. State further lifts restrictions

  • Alabama will revive more of its economy by letting entertainment venues, athletics and schools reopen Friday afternoon despite shaky progress in taming the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Gov. Kay Ivey announced new rules Thursday that allow casinos, tourist attractions, bowling alleys, youth sports practices and arcades to resume along with schools, child care facilities and summer camps. All remain subject to capacity, social-distancing and sanitation rules, she said.
  • Ivey acknowledged the state health officer’s assessment that “our numbers are not as good as we would hope” and that there are areas including Montgomery where a large number of hospitalizations is a concern.
  • “Today, however, is the next step in what has seemed like a long and difficult process of reopening our economy while at the same time remaining true to the belief, the fact, that y’all, this is a serious, deadly disease,” she said.
  • The changes came as an Associated Press analysis of testing data from The COVID Tracking Project showed that, over the past 14 days, the situation in Alabama has gotten worse. New daily cases have risen to 304 from 268, and the positivity rate of daily tests has increased from 6.7% to 7.6%. The AP used seven-day rolling averages to account for daily variability in the testing data. The data includes counts through May 20th.
  • Dr. Scott Harris, the state health officer, said the rate of positive tests in the state has decreased by the state’s count. He added, however, that people are still “safer at home” despite the loosened restrictions.
  • Full story HERE.



2. ALDOT considering allowing police cameras, plate readers

  • The Alabama Department of Transportation is considering allowing law enforcement agencies access to ALDOT rights-of-way and structures to install license plate readers and other surveillance equipment.
  • Tony Harris, government relations manager for ALDOT, told Alabama Daily News the proposed rules are a result of recent requests from multiple police agencies.
  • “It will be our practice to limit the use of those devices to law enforcement and public safety,” Harris said.
  • At least one Alabama lawmaker said legislation may be needed to regulate the use of the devices and information they collect.
  • Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said he’s gotten calls from concerned constituents about the proposal.
  • “This reminds me of ‘big brother’ and the police state,” Orr said. “I’m all for helping law enforcement catch criminals, but we must be careful that it doesn’t lead to gathering information on everyone else.”
  • A sample application provided in the public notice lists license plate readers, gunshot detection devices and legacy surveillance cameras as allowable devices. Agencies can also submit other uses on their applications.
  • As of early 2019, 16 states, including Georgia, Tennessee and Florida, had statutes about the use of automated license plate readers that capture computer-readable images, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
  • Full story from ADN’s Mary Sell 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. About that Montgomery hospital scare

  • This week, Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed has been sounding the alarm about an uptick in coronavirus cases in the Capital City.
  • Wednesday’s report that the city’s hospitals had reached their ICU bed capacity and were diverting patients to Birmingham was especially concerning to many residents.
  • However, the managers of those hospitals and the state health officer on Thursday offered some important context that takes some of the shock value out of the news.
  • Dr. Scott Harris said that having near capacity in a hospital’s ICU unit was not unusual, nor is working with other hospitals to handle patients.
  • The CEOs of both Baptist Hospital and Jackson Hospital echoed Harris’ assessment and confirmed that none of their patients had been sent to Birmingham.
  • Read the full story from WSFA HERE.



4. Senate declines more coronavirus aid for now

  • Last week, the Democrat-led U.S. House of Representatives quickly passed another $3 trillion coronavirus relief package.
  • This week, the Republican-led Senate declined to take it up, opting instead to take a wait-and-see approach to first assess how the first $3 trillion package passed in March is being used.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s bill as a “liberal wish list.”
  • The floor action this week revolved around votes on nominees for judicial and executive branch positions. Senators confirmed a new Federal Election Commission member and four federal judges. Trump’s nominee for director of national intelligence, John Ratcliffe, was confirmed Thursday.
  • In considering the next aid package, some Republicans are discussing revamping the previously-passed unemployment benefits extensions with the goal of eliminating potential barriers to reentry into the job market as the economy opens back up.
  • Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, said the $600 weekly boost during the pandemic approved under the earlier aid bill, would “handcuff” workers and discourage them from returning to work.
  • Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said, “It was a mistake to make it so high to begin with. It would be a mistake to extend it.”
  • Republicans are hopeful that as states reopen, the economy will improve, lessening the need for more federal funds. But if workers refuse to return to work, they worry companies can’t begin to rebound.
  • Brady proposes giving workers a one-time $1,200 bonus to get back to work. He said conversations were happening at the highest levels at the White House.
  • Full story from Lisa Mascaro HERE.


5. Column: Budget bright spots, Part One

  • Remember when the Legislature adjourned Sine Die?
  • Yeah, that was this week, not a month ago like it seems.
  • It was truly one of the all time weirdest sessions in state history, and that’s saying something.
  • No one got punched (that we know of), but there were some dramatic moments toward the end.
  • Now that the dust has settled a bit, I wanted to highlight some of the positive developments that came out of the session, particularly with the budgets.
  • Passing the budgets this year was no easy feat, and we ended up with some relatively healthy spending plans despite the pandemic’s threat to state revenues.
  • My column this week focuses on some of those bright spots, starting with the Education Trust Fund.
  • Here’s an excerpt:
“There was a lot of drama toward the end of the recently adjourned regular session of the Alabama Legislature, mostly over how to handle the infusion of $1.8 billion in federal coronavirus relief money. In the end, cooler heads prevailed, the money appears to have ended up where it needed to be and no one was worse for wear, save for some bruised egos, but that’s politics.
“Drama always steals the headlines, and this situation was no different. However, perhaps we all should have been paying more attention to the budgets lawmakers pieced together successfully and passed almost unanimously during a pandemic.
“There were some real bright spots in this year’s budgets that we mustn’t overlook just because of the strange circumstances of the session. If anything, these successes were harder-won and should be celebrated all the more. Let’s take a look at these bright spots, beginning with the Education Trust Fund…”
  • Read my full column HERE.




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama unemployment rate hit 12.9% in April


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama reopening continues amid shaky coronavirus progress


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – ALDOT considering allowing police cameras, plate readers


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – GOP weighs ‘redesigning’ jobless aid as layoffs surpass 38 million


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Stacy Column: Bright spots in the budgets, Part One


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama hospitals lost $739M in revenue in March, April


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Manasco confirmed to federal bench, LaCour named


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Pomp and masks: Graduations draw thousands despite pandemic


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Watchdog cites persistent infection lapses in nursing homes


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – May 21, 2020


AL.COM  – Theaters, sports practices, summer camps can reopen, Ivey says


AL.COM  – Trump makes major disaster declaration for Alabama flooding in February and March


AL.COM  – Youth sports practices can resume this weekend in Alabama


AL.COM  – Redstone Arsenal to reopen next week, officials say


AL.COM  – Freshened-up USS Alabama on course to reopen Saturday


AL.COM  – How and when will Poarch Creek reopen casinos, resorts?


AL.COM  – Alabamians are beginning to drive again, especially in rural counties


AL.COM  – How are state offices in Montgomery dealing with virus flare up?


AL.COM  – Alabama in ‘holding pattern’ as COVID cases creep higher


Montgomery Advertiser – Eight people, including a child, injured in seven separate shootings within 12 hours


Montgomery Advertiser – Gov. Kay Ivey loosens coronavirus restrictions on theaters, athletic events, child care


Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery mayor Steven Reed: Hospitals asked me to sound the alarm over ICU beds


YellowHammer News – More than half a million Alabamians have filed for unemployment since March


YellowHammer News – Ivey further reopens Alabama in latest State Health Order


YellowHammer News – Legendary Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education Secretary Jeana Ross to retire, consult for Harvard


Tuscaloosa News – Gov. Kay Ivey loosens some coronavirus restrictions


Tuscaloosa News – More than 20 Tuscaloosa County Jail inmates quarantined with COVID-19


Tuscaloosa News – Alabama reopening continues amid shaky coronavirus progress


Decatur Daily – Victims of domestic abuse seeing fewer avenues of relief amid coronavirus pandemic


Decatur Daily – Wayne Farms employee tests positive for COVID-19; more workers undergoing tests


Decatur Daily – DU plans $3.8 million water booster station to benefit industry


Times Daily – Solid Waste Disposal Authority approves landfill purchase


Times Daily – Ivey Vetoes Elected School Board Bill for Muscle Shoals


Times Daily – Alabama hospitals lost $739M in revenue in March, April


Anniston Star – Free summer food programs start in June for local schools


Anniston Star – Alabama’s health order expires Friday; officials still advise caution


Anniston Star – Alabama hospitals lost $739M in revenue in March, April, group says


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Birmingham PD take robbery suspect into custody after hours of negotiations


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Ala. among few states to incorporate Apple, Google contact tracing technology


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Dr. Wilson: Most COVID-19 deaths in Jefferson Co. happened in nursing homes


WAFF Huntsville – Alabama hospitals lost $739M in revenue in March, April



WAFF Huntsville – Marshall Medical Centers see decrease in COVID-19 patients


WAFF Huntsville – Marshall County deputies searching for suspect in boat storage break-in


Gadsden Times – Ivey lifts more COVID-19 restrictions


Gadsden Times – Georgia teen’s body recovered at Little River Canyon


Gadsden Times – Sardis High School graduation 2020


Dothan Eagle – Revised Safer-at-Home order opening more of Alabama on Friday


Dothan Eagle – Photos: Man who filmed Arbery shooting video charged in his slaying


Dothan Eagle – Wiregrass Memorial Day Ceremony adjusts to COVID-19


Troy Messenger – Youth sports, camps and theaters can reopen


Troy Messenger – CHHS Class of 2020 honored with outdoor commencement ceremony


Troy Messenger – Patriot Pals parade for Class of 2020


Opelika-Auburn News – Florida governor approves short-term rental property reopening for Okaloosa, Walton counties, Bay to reopen soon


Opelika-Auburn News – Opelika City Council renews director of economic development’s contract


Opelika-Auburn News – Opelika school board outlines graduation ceremony plans


Daily Mountain Eagle – Commission gives energy savings contract to Ingenuity


Daily Mountain Eagle – 6 sworn in as new JPD officers


Daily Mountain Eagle – Box named Sumiton Christian’s outstanding female senior


Trussville Tribune – Alabama Department of Health to work with Apple, Google to track spread of COVID-19


Trussville Tribune – Thousands attend local graduation ceremonies despite threat of virus


Trussville Tribune – Morning Update: Daily number of COVID-19 cases growing with little increase in overall testing


Athens News Courier – Coronavirus-triggered layoffs in US hit nearly 39 million


Athens News Courier – BREAKING: 3 killed in wreck on U.S. 72


Athens News Courier – SAFER-AT-HOME AMENDED: Entertainment venues, summer camps can open


WSFA Montgomery – Montgomery hospitals can handle ICU bed shortages, state health officer says


WSFA Montgomery – Marine Patrol enforcing social distancing rules Memorial Day weekend


WSFA Montgomery – AHSAA schools may begin summer activities June 1


WKRG Mobile – Florida teacher convicted of sex crimes asked for castration, not prison time


WKRG Mobile – Amber Alert issued for child out of Miami, Florida


WKRG Mobile – COVID-19 question of the day: “What does it mean to be a carrier of COVID-19?”


WTVY Dothan – Farmers markets gear up for changes


WTVY Dothan – Wicksburg holds graduation/prom parade


WTVY Dothan – Man arrested for shooting in Kinsey


WASHINGTON POST  – Appeals court orders Flynn judge to defend actions, as legal scholars weigh in


WASHINGTON POST  – Supreme Court won’t halt preparations for transgender inmate’s surgery


WASHINGTON POST  – 2.4 million Americans filed jobless claims last week, bringing nine-week total to 38.6 million


NEW YORK TIMES  – University of Alabama to Push Contact Tracing App, Require Online Health Checks


NEW YORK TIMES  – Trump Will Withdraw From Open Skies Arms Control Treaty


NEW YORK TIMES  – Fed Chair Warns This Is a ‘Downturn Without Modern Precedent’



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