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Daily News Digest – May 29, 2020

Good morning and Happy Friday!

I say happy. If you wanted to be cheered up by the news, today isn’t the day.

Nevertheless, here’s your Daily News for May 29.

1. Virus taking hold in Alabama’s Black Belt


  • Sparsely populated Lowndes County, deep in Alabama’s old plantation country, has the sad distinction of having both the state’s highest rate of COVID-19 cases and its worst unemployment rate.
  • Initially spared as the disease ravaged cities, the county and other rural areas in the state are now facing a “perfect storm:” a lack of access to medical care combined with poverty and the attendant health problems, including hypertension, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease and diabetes, that can worsen the outcomes for those who become sick with the coronavirus.
  • “I think a lot of people fell into this idea that we were immune because we’re not in tight spaces like in New York and New Jersey, and we’re in wide-open areas,” said Dr. Ellen Eaton, who specializes in infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
  • Alabama’s figures reflect that national picture. About 27% of the state’s 4.9 million residents are black, but African Americans represent 44% of the 590 who have died.
  • With caseloads increasing in areas including Lowndes County, which doesn’t have a hospital, patients are seeking health care in cities like Montgomery, which State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said appears to be having “widespread” community transmission of coronavirus on its own.
  • Read the full story from Jay Reeves and Kim Chandler HERE.


2. Prison infirmary quarantined after COVID-19 cases

  • The Alabama Department of Corrections reported Thursday that two more inmates and several more employees have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • The prison system said in a news release that a total of 57 staff members, including contract staff, and 11 inmates have so far tested positive for the virus. Twelve of the staff members have returned to work after recovering. Two inmate cases remain active.
  • The latest two inmates to test positive had been housed for an extended period in the infirmary at Kilby Correctional Facility for treatment of preexisting medical conditions. The inmates have been transferred to a hospital.
  • The prison system says the infirmary at Kilby has been quarantined.
  • As of this morning, more than 16,530 people had tested positive for coronavirus in the state and 591 people have died, according to numbers from the Alabama Department of Public Health. More than 5,500 of the cases were reported in the last two weeks.
  • Full story from Kim Chandler HERE.



3. Protests rage over police killing of George Floyd, Trump reacts

Protesters gather in front of the burning Minneapolis police 3rd Precinct building Thursday, May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)


  • Cheering protesters torched a Minneapolis police station that the department abandoned as three days of violent protests spread to nearby St. Paul and angry demonstrations flared across the U.S over the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer kneeled on his neck.
  • Thick smoke rose over the city as fires burned Friday morning. Firefighters worked to contain a number of fires as National Guard troops blocked access to streets where businesses had been damaged. They marched side by side and block by block as they expanded a perimeter around a heavily damaged area.
  • Protests first erupted Tuesday, a day after Floyd’s death in a confrontation with police captured on widely seen citizen video. On the video, Floyd can be seen pleading as Officer Derek Chauvin presses his knee against him. As minutes pass, Floyd slowly stops talking and moving. The 3rd Precinct covers the portion of south Minneapolis where Floyd was arrested.
  • Let me stop here and say if you haven’t seen the disturbing video, you probably should. It’s embedded in this story link.
  • President Donald Trump on Thursday said, “I feel very, very badly” about George Floyd’s death. “That’s a very shocking sight.”
  • And this morning on Twitter Trump called protesters “thugs” and said that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
  • Read more HERE.



4. In the Weeds w/ Dr. Eric Mackey

  • A new episode of the “In the Weeds” podcast is up today.
  • This week I sat down with State Superintendent of Education Eric Mackey to talk about various education issues, including how the state is dealing with the coronavirus outbreak going forward.
  • You may have already seen the newsiest part of our discussion yesterday, which was a story about how the Department of Education is moving to build a statewide online learning portal to give parents a choice about sending their kids to school next year. That’s a big deal.
  • We also talked about the big push to make Alabama’s new literacy law work, a new report that calls for the overhaul of the state department, charter schools and how he handles the more political side of his job amid the various education battles that have taken place these last few years.
  • It’s always a good interview if I learn something, and I did here. Thank you to Dr. Mackey and staff for making it work.
  • Listen to the In the Weeds podcast on the ADN website HERE, via Apple podcasts HERE, on Google podcasts HERE and on Spotify HERE.



5. News Briefs


Deputies: Food, drinks locked from veterans in group home

  • GRAND BAY, Ala. (AP) — Six veterans were hospitalized after being found in an unlicensed group home without access to food, drinks, their medications and a phone, an Alabama sheriff said.
  • Deputies found the men after one resident left the home in Mobile County and got a driver to call for help Tuesday night, news outlets reported.
  • Once deputies arrived, Mobile County Sheriff’s Capt. Paul Burch said they found the men living in “deplorable conditions” with no access to food or drinks since the cabinets, pantries and refrigerators were locked with padlocks.
  • Deputies also found two men inside the home that had fallen and were not able to get up, according to a news release by the sheriff’s office. The residents were taken to a hospital after being found in “dire medical condition,” including one resident who was found with “insect activity” in his wounds, Burch told news outlets.
  • Officials did not immediately provide an update on their status.
  • Full story HERE.

Alabama teen dies in drowning at state park

  • An Alabama teenager who was set to play college football at UAB has died in what authorities called an accidental drowning in a state park lake.
  • Jamari Smith, 18, went under the water while swimming with friends at Chewacla State Park in Auburn on Wednesday afternoon, Lee County Coroner Bill Harris said in a statement. Firefighters found him underwater and Smith was rushed to a hospital, where he died.
  • Smith had just graduated from Lee High School in Montgomery, where he was a star basketball and football player. He was set to attend UAB this fall, where he was expected to play defensive back for the Blazers.
  • “The big thing for us is just the smile and the interactions, getting to know his family and him,” UAB football coach Bill Clark said. “It was important for him to do well.
  • “You’ve got a great competitor but I think you’ve got a better person and family who was going to be a part of us. He’ll always be part of our family.”

Alabama senior attended graduation, tests positive for virus

  • DECATUR, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama high school student who attended a graduation ceremony last week has tested positive for the new coronavirus, a school district announced Wednesday.
  • The student was awaiting test results when they attended Austin High School’s ceremony May 21 in Decatur, school officials said.
  • A member of the student’s family had previously tested positive, quoted Decatur City Schools Deputy Superintendent Dwight Satterfield as saying. The district had 16 nurses checking students’ temperatures and asking them whether any family members tested positive or had symptoms, but the student and their family did not disclose that information, he added.
  • Graduates were kept 6 feet apart and families were also asked to keep 6 feet between other groups, according to the district. Satterfield said that despite the guidelines, some students still gathered and hugged each other, though he defended the district’s decision to host the ceremony.
  • “I will put what we did at graduation against anyone,” Satterfield said. “There will be people second guessing whether we should have had graduation or not. So be it, that will be a conversation for another day.”
  • Some Alabama schools began hosting in-person graduation ceremonies after the state eliminated rules limiting crowds to 10 people or fewer. Gatherings of any size were allowed starting in mid-May as long as people from different households stayed at least 6 feet (2 meters) apart. Other schools nationwide have canceled or postponed traditional graduation ceremonies to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Police: Alabama worker killed trying to unjam wood chipper

  • PHENIX, Ala. (AP) — A man in Alabama died when he got caught in a wood chipper that got jammed at his workplace, police said.
  • When officers arrived at Phenix Lumber Co. within the hour of the accident Wednesday morning, they found partial remains of Brandon Lee Vandyke by the wood chipper, Phenix City Police Capt. Darryl Williams said in a news release.
  • Vandyke, 34, was pronounced dead at the scene by Russell County Coroner’s office, news outlets reported. Williams said there is not a criminal investigation into Vandyke’s death but other agencies including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will be looking into the mill’s operation.

Woman arrested on charge of aiding Alabama jail escape

  • TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — A woman has been arrested on charges of helping two prisoners who escaped from the Tuscaloosa County Jail last week, authorities said.
  • Remona Dailey, 28, of Northport is accused of giving rides to Seth Williams and Cameron Newell after they escaped through the jail roof on Friday, Tuscaloosa County sheriff’s officials said. The two men and a third prisoner who escaped, Richard Lancaster, have since been arrested and returned to custody.
  • Dailey is charged with two counts of hindering prosecution. An attorney appointed to represent her did not immediately return a message seeking comment.





ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Virus taking hold in Alabama’s Black Belt


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Prison infirmary quarantined after COVID-19 cases


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Minneapolis police station torched amid George Floyd protest, Trump reacts


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – In the Weeds with Dr. Eric Mackey


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Deputies: Food, drinks locked from veterans in group home


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


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – May 28, 2020


AL.COM  – Montgomery seeing ‘ongoing community transmission’ of coronavirus, state health officer says


AL.COM  – Inmate dies after being assaulted in Alabama prison


AL.COM  – George Floyd death condemned by Alabama police leader: ‘This is not American law enforcement’


AL.COM  – Columnist John Archibald: Why America needs more shocking videos


AL.COM  – Laid-off workers can still get health insurance, but deadline approaches


AL.COM  – Alabama adds 314 coronavirus cases, Montgomery and Mobile account for 80; 16,032 statewide


AL.COM  – Alabama prepares for more students to choose online school next year


AL.COM  – Nursing home at center of outbreak in Butler County in south Alabama


Montgomery Advertiser – League of Women Voters of Alabama files lawsuit challenging election law amid coronavirus


Montgomery Advertiser – Three charged after 3-year-old, two teens exposed to prescription pain killers for over a month


Montgomery Advertiser – Funeral services finalized for Lee High School’s Jamari ‘Chop’ Smith


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Nearly 28,000 Alabamians added their names to first-time jobless benefits list last week


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Alabamians are recovering from COVID-19, one man shares his story


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Third Etowah County Courthouse employee contracts COVID-19


Tuscaloosa News – Healthcare precautions likely to persist for near future


Tuscaloosa News – Tuscaloosa poised for fall tourism resurgence


Tuscaloosa News – Educators make plans for return to classrooms


Decatur Daily – Police: Triple murder suspect hid in cave, returned to scene of crime


Decatur Daily – Woodmeade’s ‘Mother Hen’: Retiring principal served as mentor, teachers say


Decatur Daily – Parks and Rec would add marketing position, office administrator under reorg plan


Times Daily – Florence ordinance targets ‘puppy mill’ sales


Times Daily – Committee funds 2 SEDA programs


Times Daily – United Way accepting applications from COVID-affected nonprofits


Anniston Star – Anniston could cut bus routes as student body shrinks


Anniston Star – Mackey: Alabama seeking virtual K-12 option for fall



Anniston Star – Alabama farmers, producers can now apply for federal aid


WAFF Huntsville – Hazard pay approved for Marshall County Sheriff’s Office


WAFF Huntsville – What to do if you throw away your stimulus money


WAFF Huntsville – 57 percent of Limestone County has responded to Census; leaders push for more


Gadsden Times – ‘Building the plane as you fly it’: Educators plan for school year while staying adaptable


Gadsden Times – Possible traffic delays on U.S. 411 in RBC next week


Gadsden Times – Holiday weekend brought five road, four water fatalities


YellowHammer News – Jones: ‘Whole lot of blame to go around’ for COVID deaths — Points to Trump administration, China, WHO


YellowHammer News – Huntsville doctor using hydroxychloroquine for some COVID-19 patients


YellowHammer News – Sessions says DoJ regulations requiring recusal ‘basically had the impact of law’; Questions Tuberville’s commitment to Trump’s China, trade policies


Dothan Eagle – Dothan officials warn against ‘COVID-19 fatigue’ as cases surge, again


Dothan Eagle – Hey, grads! Join our virtual graduation site to go out in style


Dothan Eagle – Continental Cinemas Drive-In Theater will rise again under new ownership


Troy Messenger – Commission confirms 2 COVID-19 cases


Troy Messenger – ‘The one we can always count on’


Troy Messenger – CLEANUP WOES: Commission allocates more funds for debris removal


Opelika-Auburn News – Auburn forms new Black Alumni Council


Opelika-Auburn News – COVID-19 latest: OPS to resume late fees, disconnections; Auburn summer rec program guide ready


Opelika-Auburn News – Lee County improving while Montgomery, others struggle with COVID-19


Daily Mountain Eagle – Recent Dora High graduate faced life’s challenges head-on


Daily Mountain Eagle – State grant to expand broadband in Winston County


Daily Mountain Eagle – Gilbert working on plan to pave Massachusetts Avenue


Trussville Tribune – 4 more ADOC employees in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19


Trussville Tribune – Homicides increase, majority of other crimes decrease in Birmingham throughout 1st half of 2020, BPD reports


Trussville Tribune – Trussville City Schools releases rendering of proposed new central office


Athens News Courier – Decatur senior attended graduation, tests positive for virus


Athens News Courier – Athens announces road closures for Friday, Saturday


Athens News Courier – BREAKING: First responders on scene of fatal wreck at U.S. 72, Sledge Road


Sand Mountain Reporter – DeKalb, Etowah among counties under burn ban


Sand Mountain Reporter – SMPA on track for late summer opening | Spring ball cancelled due to COVID-19


Sand Mountain Reporter – Boaz PD arrests 14 over Memorial Day weekend


WSFA Montgomery – Alabama hospitals feeling effects of pandemic, some more than others


WSFA Montgomery – League of Women Voters of Alabama sues election officials


WSFA Montgomery – Montgomery woman charged with child abuse


WKRG Mobile – Necco Wafers returning to store shelves next month


WKRG Mobile – CNN reporter, photographer, and producer arrested while reporting live in Minneapolis


WKRG Mobile – Law enforcement agencies across the country respond to George Floyd’s death


WTVY Dothan – ADOL Warns of Scams Regarding Unemployment Compensation


WTVY Dothan – Enterprise Municipal Court to resume June 1


WTVY Dothan – Continental Drive-In comes back to life

e – 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  – Twitter flags Trump tweet for ‘glorifying violence’ after he calls protesters ‘THUGS,’ suggests looting will lead to ‘shooting’


WASHINGTON POST  – Trump signs order that could punish social media companies for how they police content, drawing criticism and doubts of legality


WASHINGTON POST  – Public schools face a fall with a lot more costs and a lot less funding


WASHINGTON POST  – House passes bill to ease access to small-business loans in pandemic, but impasse with Senate remains


NEW YORK TIMES  – Trump’s Order on Social Media Could Harm One Person in Particular: Donald Trump


NEW YORK TIMES  – Border Wall Land Grabs Accelerate as Owners Shelter From Pandemic


NEW YORK TIMES  – Inclusion of Transgender Student Athletes Violates Title IX, Trump Administration Says


NEW YORK TIMES  – C.D.C. Recommends Sweeping Changes to American Offices




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