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Daily News Digest – September 3, 2020

Good morning!

Here’s your Daily News for Thursday, September 3.



1. CDC tells states: Be ready to distribute vaccines on Nov. 1

  • The federal government has told states to prepare for a coronavirus vaccine to be ready to distribute by Nov. 1.
  • In a letter to governors dated Aug. 27, Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said states “in the near future” will receive permit applications from McKesson Corp., which has contracted with the CDC to distribute vaccines to places including state and local health departments and hospitals.
  • “CDC urgently requests your assistance in expediting applications for these distribution facilities and, if necessary, asks that you consider waiving requirements that would prevent these facilities from becoming fully operational by November 1, 2020,” Redfield wrote.
  • The CDC also sent three planning documents to some health departments that included possible timelines for when vaccines would be available. The documents are to be used to develop plans for early vaccination when the supply might be constrained, according to one of the documents, which outlined a scenario in which a vaccine could be available as soon as the end of October.
  • “The COVID-19 vaccine landscape is evolving and uncertain, and these scenarios may evolve as more information is available,” the document reads.
  • Read more HERE.


2. Delays but no glitch in state COVID-19 reporting

  • The Alabama Department of Public Health reported only 86 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, an abnormally low amount, but State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said the anomaly wasn’t due to a problem in the state’s reporting system.
  • During a Facebook live press briefing hosted by U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, on Wednesday, Harris explained that since ADPH gets test results from various labs across the state and sometimes even outside the state, that can cause delays in results being received and reported.
  • The delays will from time-to-time show dips and spikes in the state’s daily COVID-19 numbers, like what was seen Wednesday.
  • The state’s current average for new daily COVID-19 cases stands at 870, according to ADPH.
  • Harris said the state is also currently working on the details of how, once a vaccine is available, it will be distributed. That includes decisions about who should be eligible to receive the first batch of vaccine given the likely limited supply when first available.
  • “There are a lot of questions about whether a vaccine is one shot or multiple shots, how often it will need to be given again, and how effective is the vaccine? Does it give you high levels of protection or variable levels like we sometimes see with flu shots?” Harris said.
  • “Do we vaccinate older people differently than younger people? There are a number of questions that haven’t been answered that we are waiting to learn more about.”
  • Full story from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.



3. Moderators chosen for Trump-Biden debates

  • Representatives from Fox News, C-SPAN and NBC will moderate the upcoming debates between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
  • According to the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, the moderators will be: Chris Wallace of Fox News for the debate Sept. 29 in Cleveland; Steve Scully of C-SPAN for the “town meeting” debate Oct. 15 in Miami; NBC’s Kristen Welker for the debate Oct. 22 in Nashville, Tennessee.
  • The commission also announced Wednesday that USA Today’s Susan Page will moderate the vice presidential debate on Oct. 7 in Salt Lake City with Vice President Mike Pence and Democrat Kamala Harris. The commission makes its moderator selection independently of the candidates.
  • Read more HERE.



4. Ivey appoints two to ACHE

  • Gov. Kay Ivey has appointed Ann Forbes Sirmon of Mobile and Paul Kennedy of Jasper to the Alabama Commission on Higher Education.
  • The nine-year terms are pending Alabama Senate approval next year. Sirmon will represent the 1st Congressional District, Kennedy will represent the 4th Congressional District on the 12-member board.
  • Sirmon is the executive director of the Mobile Bar Association. Her career has included management positions with the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office, Distinguished Young Women, and Mobile Convention and Visitors Corporation.
  • Kennedy is president of the Walker Area Community Foundation in Jasper. He has extensive experience in watershed management, historic preservation, economic development and environmental education through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to ACHE. His work has included conservation planning assistance to both landowners and government entities throughout Alabama.
  • Read more HERE.



5. News Briefs


Tuscaloosa mulling $400K in aid for bars hurt by pandemic

  • TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — City leaders in the home of the University of Alabama are considering $400,000 in aid to help bars that were forced to shut down because of the pandemic.
  • Bar owners in Tuscaloosa say they are being hurt by a city order that forced them to close for two weeks after students returned to town and hundreds of new coronavirus infections were confirmed. The mandate came after large crowds gathered outside some nightspots waiting to get in.
  • So officials are considering a package that would provide as much as $400,000 in small business relief. WIAT-TV reports the city’s finance committee approved the plan Tuesday, and the City Council could vote on the measure on Sept. 15.
  • Mayor Walt Maddox proposed spending money from the city’s pandemic relief fund to help Tuscaloosa’s approximately 30 bars.

Eufaula teacher’s assistant accused of sex with student

  • EUFAULA, Ala. (AP) — A teacher’s assistant at an Alabama high school is facing charges for allegedly having sex with a student, police said.
  • Amy S. Priest, 44, of Eufaula, was charged Monday with two counts of a school employee engaging in sex with a student under 19 years old, reported. It was unknown if Priest is represented by an attorney who could speak on her behalf.
  • The alleged incidents did not occur at Eufaula High School, where Priest worked as a paraprofessional, Police Chief Steve Watkins said Tuesday.
  • Eufaula City Schools, without naming Priest, said it was “notified of possible misconduct involving an employee and a student” and that the employee “was immediately removed from the school, and according to state law, was placed on administrative leave with pay as an investigation is completed.”
  • “Due to the potential criminal nature of this acquisition, the Eufaula Police Department is handling the investigation, and public comments are limited due to the active investigation,” the school system’s statement said. “We are in constant contact with the police department and will continue with full cooperation. Keeping students safe is our first priority.”

Hartselle police charge 4 in contract slaying of businessman

  • HARTSELLE, Ala. (AP) — Four people face capital murder charges in the alleged contract killing of a man who was gunned down at his north Alabama home in July, police said Wednesday.
  • A woman was charged with solicitation to commit capital murder in the shooting death of 41-year-old Anthony Larry Sheppard of Hartselle, authorities told a news conference, and three men are charged with capital murder in the slaying itself.
  • The man was found dead from multiple gunshots just inside his front door on July 24, court records show.
  • Authorities allege Jaclyn Elaine Skuce, 38, got one of the men to kill Sheppard, a businessman with whom she had a relationship, but they would’t elaborate on any alleged motive.
  • Skuce was jailed without bond on the capital charge, as were Logan McKinley Delp, 38; Aaron Carter Howard, 39; and Lajuhn Keith Smart, 23.
  • Delp told investigators he was hired by Skuce to kill Sheppard, and that Howard, Smart and a woman went with him, court documents showed. Questioned by police, Skuce admitted that she hired Delp to kill Sheppard, according to a sworn statement by an investigator.
  • Court records did not list defense attorneys for any of the defendants, and police said at least one more arrest was likely.
  • Sheppard’s slaying was the first homicide in Hartselle since 2006.

Arrest made in 2015 slaying

  • FLORENCE, Ala. (AP) — Alabama authorities have made an arrest in a nearly 5-year-old murder case.
  • Casey Cole White, 37, faces two counts of capital murder in the Oct. 23, 2015 slaying of Connie Jane Ridgeway, Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly announced Tuesday.
  • Ridgeway, 59, was found dead in her home in Rogersville, reported.
  • The arrest came, Connolly said, after a sheriff’s investigator received a letter in June from White, who was serving a 75-year sentence at William Donaldson Correctional Facility for a multi-state crime spree that happened the same year he is accused of killing Ridgeway. During an interview at the prison, White confessed to the Ridgeway slaying, and his statements match evidence at the scene that was not released, Connolly said.
  • Connolly said he did not know why White decided to come forward and talk with investigators.
  • “This was a horrible case,” Connolly said. “Certainly, the longer a case remains unsolved, the dimmer the hope is that you may be able to solve it.”
  • Connolly said White has been been charged with capital murder during a first-degree burglary and murder for pecuniary gain — meaning that he was paid to commit the slaying. White is being held without bond in the Lauderdale County Jail.
  • Connolly would not say whether other arrests may follow, adding only that the case remains under investigation. “He claims that he was paid to kill Mrs. Ridgeway,” he said.




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