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Daily News Digest – May 28, 2020

Good morning!

Here’s your Daily News for Thursday, May 28.


1. US passes 100K COVID-19 deaths, state cases grow

  • The U.S. surpassed a milestone Wednesday of 100,000 deaths resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
  • That number is the best estimate and most assuredly an undercount.
  • On one hand, some predicted that number could have been much higher by now had the country not taken action to limit the spread. On the other hand, it represents the stark reality that more Americans have died from the virus than from the Vietnam and Korean wars combined.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, issued a stern warning after watching video of Memorial Day crowds gathered at a pool party in Missouri.
  • “We have a situation in which you see that type of crowding with no mask and people interacting. That’s not prudent, and that’s inviting a situation that could get out of control,” he said. “Don’t start leapfrogging some of the recommendations in the guidelines because that’s really tempting fate and asking for trouble.”
  • That full story HERE.
  • Meanwhile, Alabama added more than 5,000 coronavirus cases over the last 14 days as the state has lifted restrictions.
  • As of this morning, more than 16,000 people had tested positive for coronavirus in Alabama and 583 had died.
  • “The last two days we have maybe had our highest days so far. We know a little bit of that has to do with increased testing, but I don’t think that explains all of it,” State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said.
  • The state this month lifted most of the restrictions that had been in place, allowing restaurants, hair salons, entertainment venues and other places to open with social distancing requirements. The Memorial Day weekend drew crowds to Alabama’s Gulf Coast beaches.
  • Harris urged people to follow social distancing guidelines and take precautions.
  • “People now more than ever need to be careful about observing six-foot distance, about wearing face coverings, about sanitation and hygiene. All those are more important than they’ve ever been because we have more people out doing more things,” Harris said.
  • That full story from Kim Chandler HERE.


2. State moves to provide online school platform

  • The Alabama State Department of Education is planning a statewide virtual learning option for K-12 students whose parents may not want them to return to traditional classrooms this fall.
  • The online platform will also be an option should school systems have to close their physical doors again.
  • “If we have some periodic, episodic closures in the fall or spring of next year, we’ll be better prepared,” State Superintendent Eric Mackey told me this week.
  • The department last week issued a request for proposals for vendors “to provide and manage a comprehensive statewide K-12 virtual school for the students of the State of Alabama…”
  • Another option in the RFP allows for the purchase of K-12 course content that meets all the standards of the state’s courses of study and can be accessed by students remotely.
  • The requests are due back to ALSDE June 5. The department wants the virtual option available to families in August.
  • The coronavirus caused public school campuses statewide to close in mid-March and move to remote learning options. Individual systems were responsible for delivering instruction to students during that time.
  • Mackey said the statewide virtual school would standardize learning across the state, but could also be customized by systems.
  • Read the full story from Mary Sell and me HERE.



3. Poll: Half of Americans would get a COVID-19 vaccine

  • Only about half of Americans say they would get a COVID-19 vaccine if the scientists working furiously to create one succeed, according to a new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
  • That’s surprisingly low considering the effort going into the global race for a vaccine against the coronavirus that has sparked a pandemic since first emerging from China late last year.
  • But more people might eventually roll up their sleeves: The poll found 31% simply weren’t sure if they’d get vaccinated. Another 1 in 5 said they’d refuse.
  • Health experts already worry about the whiplash if vaccine promises like President Donald Trump’s goal of a 300 million-dose stockpile by January fail. Only time and science will tell — and the new poll shows the public is indeed skeptical.
  • “It’s always better to under-promise and over-deliver,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
  • Full story complete with charts HERE.



4. House casts first proxy votes, Republicans file court challenge

  • For the first time, lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives voted by proxy, an unprecedented move to avoid the risks of travel to Washington during the pandemic.
  • House Republicans have sued to stop the Democratic majority’s new system, in which absent lawmakers can instruct those present to vote on their behalf.
  • The Constitution requires voting members of Congress to be “present,” which House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said makes clear that proxy voting is unconstitutional.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called the lawsuit a “sad stunt.”
  • Alabama Republicans have spoken out against the proxy voting system, including Reps. Mike Rogers, Robert Aderholt, Bradley Byrne and Mo Brooks. Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell, who is in House leadership, supported the rule change.
  • Not even during the Civil War, the Spanish Flu or any other emergency has the House allowed proxy floor votes.
  • Voting on Wednesday dragged for more than an hour, with the House already operating under social-distancing rules that complicated proceedings. Only limited numbers of lawmakers, many wearing masks, are allowed in the House chamber at once to vote.
  • Under the new rules passed by the Democratic majority earlier this month, proxy voting is allowed only under emergency conditions for 45 days at a time.
  • The Supreme Court rarely gets involved in telling the Legislative Branch how it should set its own rules and operate. This case could be interesting, though, considering the specific word in the Constitution.
  • Full story HERE.


5. Column: Bright spots in the budgets, Part Two

  • Last week, I wrote about bright spots in the state’s education budget, which was passed and signed into law during the recently concluded Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature.
  • As ever-informed Alabama Daily News readers know, our state is unique in that we have two separate state budgets: one for education spending and one for all the other services of state government.
  • This week I’m taking a look at bright spots in the General Fund, and there are many.
  • Here’s an excerpt:

“The General Fund, which pays for non-education agencies and programs, could be called the less fun of the two budgets. Everybody likes to talk about more funding for education. What politician doesn’t want to brag about hiring more teachers, buying more school resources and funding programs that help children learn?

“Putting more money toward prisons, mental health services, Medicaid, the court system and other non-education expenses just doesn’t have the same puppies-and-rainbows political appeal. The General Fund pays for the sometimes grubbier side of government, and putting it together has historically been a slog because the taxes and fees directed toward it aren’t the kind that grow a lot when the economy does well. Yet, in many ways line items in the General Fund represent some of the most essential spending the state does…”

  • Read my full column HERE.




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama adds 5,000 COVID-19 cases in last 2 weeks


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Mackey: State seeking virtual K-12 option for fall


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


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – House casts proxy votes in pandemic, Republicans file court challenge


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – US death toll from coronavirus surges past 100,000 people


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Poll: Half of Americans would get a COVID-19 vaccine


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Sessions challenges Tuberville to debate


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama farmers, producers can now apply for federal aid


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Congress shifts attention to overhauling small-business aid


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Justice Department defends Alabama absentee ballot rule


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – May 27, 2020


AL.COM  – BBVA USA says it provided $3.3 billion in small business loans


AL.COM  – Wind Creek casinos, resorts to fully reopen June 8


AL.COM  – Clergy members call on Ivey to ramp up coronavirus testing in black, rural Alabama


AL.COM  – Marshall County, a coronavirus hot spot in Alabama last month, now has no hospitalizations


AL.COM  – Surveys show how businesses in Alabama, nationally are adjusting to COVID-19


AL.COM  – Contributor Lee Sentell: Alabama tourism director takes road trip, finds many restaurants and other businesses are not playing it safe


AL.COM  – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: Jeff Sessions doesn’t deserve a debate, but Alabama does.


AL.COM  – Day cares struggle to open as Alabama parents keep kids at home


AL.COM  – ‘Time to man up’: After Twitter jabs, will Alabama’s GOP Senate hopefuls debate?


Montgomery Advertiser – Wind Creek to reopen Alabama casinos to public June 8


Montgomery Advertiser – Not every restaurant is concerned about safe distancing for customers


Montgomery Advertiser – Reports: Montgomery woman held after child ‘cruelly beaten’ ‘over a haircut’


Tuscaloosa News – Tuscaloosa COVID-19 numbers continue to rise


Tuscaloosa News – Woman accused of helping escaped inmates


Tuscaloosa News – TPD Chief: Crime down across city, more roundups to come


Decatur Daily – Utilities set to resume disconnects in June


Decatur Daily – Bachuss joins race for Decatur District 3 school board seat


Decatur Daily – Decatur man faces charges for stealing two motorcycles


Times Daily – Ken Sockwell seeks re-election to Muscle Shoals Council, Place 4


Times Daily – Scott Goodwin named new Muscle Shoals Middle School principal


Times Daily – 3 parole requests from local offenders denied


Anniston Star – Health officials: Masks still needed as coronavirus count climbs


Anniston Star – Ohatchee man charged with rape, sodomy


Anniston Star – Ranburne Town Council’s first business: a potential election


YellowHammer News – UAB Hospital again named to 100 Great Hospitals list


YellowHammer News – Aderholt endorsed by National Right to Life Committee — ‘A strong advocate’


YellowHammer News – Gulf Shores, Orange Beach officials refute CNN ‘hit piece’ on Alabama beaches


Dothan Eagle – 20th Judicial Circuit files administrative order


Dothan Eagle – Alabama adds 5,000 COVID-19 cases in last 2 weeks


Dothan Eagle – Victim raped, kidnapped, taken across state line, abandoned; Dothan man arrested


Gadsden Times – Tuesday Morning to close Gadsden location


Gadsden Times – Parole denied for one, granted one area case


Gadsden Times – Appeals court upholds life sentence in Albertville detective’s murder


Troy Messenger – Troy man charged with rape


Andalusia Star News – Florida couple jailed for alleged burglaries


Opelika-Auburn News – Lee County Commission votes to support Opelika


Opelika-Auburn News – Police reports from May 27


Opelika-Auburn News – Blanchard suspect facing new charges


Daily Mountain Eagle – Constable arrested on sex charges


Daily Mountain Eagle – Justice Department defends Alabama absentee ballot rule


Daily Mountain Eagle – Longtime nurse dedicated to Walker Baptist seniors


Trussville Tribune – Morning Update: Alabama closes in on 200,000 overall COVID-19 tests, adds 4,974 cases in past 2 weeks; deaths jump to 580


Athens News Courier – Athens woman charged with statutory rape


Athens News Courier – COVID-19: Athens Lions Club cancels 2020 Kiddie Carnival


Athens News Courier – Wildlife plot management after the hunt


Sand Mountain Reporter – Marshall County Sheriff seeks hazard pay for employees | Commission approves unanimously


Sand Mountain Reporter – City council appoints Johnson to Boaz BOE


Sand Mountain Reporter – Marshall County Commission awards bid for animal shelter renovation


WSFA Montgomery – Bullock County Humane Society director catches alleged dog thief red-handed


WSFA Montgomery – More deaths reported at Greenville nursing home hit by COVID-19


WSFA Montgomery – 2 Montgomery ABC store employees test positive for coronavirus


Fox 6 Birmingham – B’ham-based company creating app with ADPH, UAB to slow spread of COVID-19


Fox 6 Birmingham – Homewood restaurant sends out survey to gauge customers’ comfort with dine-in option


Fox 6 Birmingham – ADPH: 583 Alabamians have died from COVID-19 as more than 16K test positive


WAFF Huntsville – ‘Bummed out’: SpaceX launch scrubbed because of bad weather


WAFF Huntsville – COVID-19 in Alabama: State sees over 9,000 presumed recoveries


WAFF Huntsville – Former UAH players hold press conference in hopes of saving the program


WKRG Mobile – College student wanted in two murders in custody following multi-state manhunt


WKRG Mobile – NASA chief “all in” for Tom Cruise to make a movie on a space station


WKRG Mobile – Nursing home in Pensacola reports 7 deaths, 22 positive cases


WTVY Dothan – Theme parks take precautions to help protect families from COVID-19


WTVY Dothan – Police: Dothan man rapes woman, then kidnaps her


WTVY Dothan – Over 700 sign a petition for traditional graduation for inaugural Dothan High class


WASHINGTON POST  – The U.S. death toll has reached 100,000: The pandemic has exposed the nation’s vulnerabilities and dangerous divide


WASHINGTON POST  – Coronavirus may never go away, even with a vaccine


WASHINGTON POST  – Police chiefs react with disgust to Minneapolis death, try to reassure their own cities


WASHINGTON POST  – Late-session spurt lifts Dow above 25,000 for the first time since early March


NEW YORK TIMES  – Returning, and Awakening, to the Beauty of Rural Alabama


NEW YORK TIMES  – U.S. to Expel Chinese Graduate Students With Ties to China’s Military Schools


NEW YORK TIMES  – Twitter Comes Under Attack From Trump’s Supporters


NEW YORK TIMES  – States Sue to Block Trump From Weakening Fuel Economy Rules


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