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Weekend Digest – August 15, 2021

1. Taliban takes Afghan capital

  • The U.S. Embassy in Kabul has suspended all operations and told Americans to shelter in place, saying it has received reports of gunfire at the international airport.
  • The U.S. is racing to airlift diplomats and citizens out of Afghanistan after the Taliban overran most of the country and entered the capital early Sunday.
  • “The security situation in Kabul is changing quickly and the situation at the airport is deteriorating rapidly,” the embassy said in a statement.
  • “There are reports of the airport taking fire and we are instructing U.S. citizens to shelter in place. The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan has suspended consular operations effective immediately. Do not come to the Embassy or airport at this time.”
  • A Taliban official says the group will soon declare the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan from the presidential palace in the capital, Kabul.
  • That was the name of the country under the Taliban government ousted by U.S.-led forces after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
  • Read more HERE.


2. Ivey issues state of emergency as hospitals face COVID surge

  • Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Friday issued a state of emergency as state hospitals face a surge in COVID-19 cases, an order that came the same day the state tied a record low for available intensive care unit beds.
  • Ivey issued a limited state of emergency aimed at giving medical providers flexibility on staffing and capacity decisions and easier shipment of emergency equipment and supplies. She also stressed she would not be issuing any closure orders or mask mandates.
  • ”I want to be abundantly clear: there will be absolutely no statewide mandates, closures or the like. This state of emergency is strategically targeted at removing bureaucracy and cutting red tape wherever we can to allow our doctors, nurses and hospital staff to treat patients that come through their doors,” Ivey said in a statement.
  • The order came as medical providers described a “tidal wave” of COVID-19 cases that is putting severe stress on Alabama hospitals.
  • There are currently 2,570 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Alabama. The state previously peaked in January with 3,084 hospitalizations.
  • Read more from Kim Chandler HERE.


3. COVID-19 deaths slowly rising after case surge

  • After a long summer plateau, the number of COVID-19 deaths in Alabama is beginning to creep upward in the wake of a case surge fueled by low vaccinations rates and the highly contagious delta variant.
  • State Health Officer Scott Harris said Alabama is reporting double-digit death numbers for the first time in months. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Alabama has risen to 21.43 deaths per day on Aug. 11.
  • The reported deaths are a reflection of virus transmission that was happening in the state a few weeks ago. Harris said they are expected to rise as the state experiences a surge in cases and hospitalizations.
  • “There’s no way that these numbers are not going to continue to increase because we are continuing to see these case numbers go up,” Harris said.
  • “Deaths are a lagging indicator. Deaths happen last. We see case numbers go up, we see hospitalizations go up and then we see deaths go up,” Harris said.
  • Read more HERE.


4. Fred strengthens to tropical storm as it heads to US coast

  • The National Hurricane Center said Fred regained its tropical storm status in the Gulf of Mexico early Sunday as parts of the Caribbean were gearing up for impacts from Tropical Storm Grace.
  • Fred was forecast to move across the Gulf before reaching the coast Monday night or Tuesday morning, forecasters said. They said people from Alabama to the central Florida Panhandle should monitor the system’s progress.
  • A tropical storm warning is now in effect for the coast of the Florida Panhandle from Navarre to the Wakulla/Jefferson County line, meaning tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area in the next 24 hours. A tropical storm watch is in effect for the coast of the Florida Panhandle from the Alabama/Florida border to Navarre.
  • Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a statement Saturday saying her administration was monitoring the weather and “will be ready to act from the state level if needed.”
  • Read more HERE.


5. Huntsville now Alabama’s largest city, overtakes Birmingham

  • Huntsville has overtaken Birmingham as Alabama’s largest city, according to new Census numbers.
  • Huntsville is now slightly more populous than Birmingham, according to U.S. Census numbers released Thursday. Huntsville has a population of 215,006. Birmingham, which had long been Alabama’s largest city, has a population of 200,733.
  • However, the Birmingham metro area remains the largest in the state by far. The Birmingham-Hoover Metro Statistical Area has 1.1 million people, while the Huntsville Metro Area has 491,723.
  • Huntsville, nicknamed the Rocket City for its historical ties to the space industry, has seen rapid growth over the last ten years partly fueled by the tech and manufacturing sectors. The population of the city has jumped by 19% since 2010.
  • “I’m proud that the great things we have going on in Huntsville have grown our city,” Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle wrote in a tweet. “To tell the truth, we’re more focused on being the best than the biggest. That is what my team and I are going to continue to work on every day.”
  • Read more from Kim Chandler HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Taliban takes Afghan capital
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – COVID-19 deaths slowly rising after case surge
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey issues state of emergency as hospitals face COVID surge
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Huntsville now Alabama’s largest city, overtakes Birmingham
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Fred strengthens to tropical storm as it heads to US coast
AL.COM – What can Alabama expect from Fred?
AL.COM – ‘Mama on a mission’ Katie Britt brings Senate campaign to Huntsville Republicans.
AL.COM – Georgia wins ruling in water war with Alabama, Florida.
AL.COM – Haiti jolted by 7.2 magnitude earthquake.
AL.COM – Alabama AG Steve Marshall wants to hear from people blocked by social media.
AL.COM – Columnist Roy Johnson: Faces of parents angry over school mask mandates evoke angry faces from another volatile era.
AL.COM – Columnist Frances Coleman: Political showboating is one thing; killing children is another.
THE HILL – On The Trail: Census kicks off a wild redistricting cycle.
THE HILL – Oregon governor deploys up to 1,500 National Guard troops to support hospitals.
POLITICO – Biden restates commitment to Afghan drawdown amid Taliban offensive.
POLITICO – Suffering landlords are Washington’s new eviction problem.
POLITICO – Biden administration offers financial help to Florida school leaders defying DeSantis.
DECATUR DAILY – Decatur City Schools mandates masks, Hartselle City requires them on buses.
DECATUR DAILY – The Decatur Daily: Business incentives merit greater transparency.
FLORENCE TIMES DAILY – COVID-19 forces Colbert County elementary school to temporarily close.
GADSDEN TIMES – Time to show cards: Proposals for purchase of GAA property slated to be presented on Friday.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – ‘Restoring a lost history’: Woman works to preserve Lowndes County’s historic schoolhouse.
DOTHAN EAGLE – Hospitals deal with nursing staff shortages during COVID surge.
DOTHAN EAGLE – The Dothan Eagle: Knee-jerk reaction.
WASHINGTON POST – Afghanistan’s collapse leaves allies questioning U.S. resolve on other fronts.
WASHINGTON POST – Children’s mental health badly harmed by pandemic. Therapy is hard to find.
WASHINGTON POST – McConnell and McCarthy have split on some major decisions. But they’re unified on trying to stop Biden’s $3.5 trillion budget.
WASHINGTON POST – The Senate’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill includes funding to secure Americans’ water systems and power grids from cyberattacks.
WASHINGTON POST – Transit agencies are struggling to make ends meet. They’re also preparing for record federal investment.
NEW YORK TIMES – Contributor Eyal Press: America Runs on ‘Dirty Work’ and Moral Inequality
NEW YORK TIMES – Behind the Surprising Jump in Multiracial Americans, Several Theories
NEW YORK TIMES – In the West, a Connection Between Covid and Wildfires
NEW YORK TIMES – Editor Spencer Bokat-Lindell: America’s Housing Crisis Is a Choice

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