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Weekend Digest – August 2, 2020

Good afternoon and welcome to August!
Here’s your Daily News for Sunday, August 2.

1. COVID-19 surge extends wait time for test results in Alabama

  • A surge in coronavirus cases has overwhelmed Alabama’s ability to provide test results within the expected 2- to 3-day turnaround, state health regulators said Friday.
  • The current turnaround time for most COVID-19 testing performed in Alabama by commercial laboratories and the state laboratory is now averaging about 7 days, the Alabama Department of Public Health said.
  • The department “recognizes that this is too long and asks for consumers and physicians and other providers to help in making sure that those who are most vulnerable become the focus for testing: the elderly, those in congregate living settings, healthcare personnel, those with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and those with underlying medical conditions that place them most at risk,” it said in a news release.
  • To help ease the turnaround time, the department said employers should not require employees to test negative for COVID-19 before returning to work.
  • Read more about the delays HERE.


2. Dismukes required ethics report missing, says he’s working to fix

  • Embattled state Rep. Will Dismukes said this week he filed an annual statement of economic interests, as required by law, and is trying to straighten out why it is not yet public record.
  • The Alabama Ethics Commission, which collects the filings and displays them in a searchable database, confirmed to Alabama Daily News that the agency did not have the 2019 document from Dismukes, R-Prattville. Two previous years are available.
  • Members of the Legislature, as well as most other elected officials and public employees at state and local levels, are required to submit the reports each year. They were due April 30.
  • Dismukes, a freshman lawmaker, has endured calls for his resignation since his participation last Saturday in an event honoring Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general and first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
  • Dismukes on Thursday told ADN via text that “under no circumstance will I be resigning my position in the Alabama Legislature.”
  • He also said he filed the statement of economic interests and had a confirmation number.
  • Read more from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.


3. Vouchers to aid Alabama students with learning at home

  • A program to aid Alabama families with students who are limited to distance learning this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic will provide $100 million for increased internet service, the state said Friday.
  • Vouchers, which will help pay for the cost of equipment and high-speed internet service through Dec. 31, will be available for students who receive free or reduced-price meals or meet other income criteria, Gov. Kay Ivey’s office said in a statement. Eligible families will receive a letter in August.
  • With high-speed internet service often unavailable across rural Alabama and in some urban areas, the funding will go toward technology including wireless hot spots, home and mobile internet service, the announcement said.
  • While some students were able to attend classes online after schools closed in the spring to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, many were unable to participate in similar programs because of the lack of reliable high-speed internet.
  • Read more about the vouchers HERE.


4. “Save Space Camp” drive pulls in $1.1M; Boeing gives 500K

  • A fundraising drive launched to help the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and Space Camp through the coronavirus pandemic has pulled in more than $1.1 million in just a few days.
  • The online effort that began Tuesday had brought in nearly $620,000 by Friday afternoon, and officials said Boeing contributed another $500,000.
  • That brings total donations to nearly 75% of the $1.5 million that officials say is needed to keep the operation going after stiff losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • More than 6,000 people and corporations worldwide have contributed, museum officials said in an announcement.
  • The state-owned attraction shut down for weeks earlier this year to stop the spread of COVID-19. Officials say donations are needed to keep the museum open and to restart Space Camp sessions next year.
  • Read the full report HERE.


5. Progress in congressional COVID-19 relief talks

  • Lawmakers reported progress on a huge coronavirus relief bill Saturday, as political pressure mounts to restore an expired $600-per-week supplemental unemployment benefit and send funding to help schools reopen.
  • “This was the longest meeting we’ve had and it was more productive than the other meetings,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who was part of the rare weekend session. “We’re not close yet, but it was a productive discussion — now each side knows where they’re at.”
  • Schumer spoke alongside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., after meeting for three hours with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
  • The Democratic leaders are eager for an expansive agreement, as are President Donald Trump and top Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. But perhaps one half of Senate Republicans, mostly conservatives and those not facing difficult races this fall, are likely to oppose any deal.
  • Read more about the negotiations HERE.


Week in Good News

SpaceX guiding NASA astronauts to 1st splashdown in 45 years
  • The first astronauts to ride a SpaceX capsule into orbit headed toward a retro-style splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday afternoon to close out a two-month test flight.
  • It will mark the first splashdown in 45 years for NASA astronauts and the first return in the gulf. Unlike Florida’s Atlantic coast, already feeling the effects of Tropical Storm Isaias, the waves and wind were calm near Pensacola in the Florida Panhandle.
  • Test pilots Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken departed the International Space Station on Saturday night, and awoke to a recording of their young children urging them to “rise and shine” and “we can’t wait to see you.”
  • “Don’t worry, you can sleep in tomorrow,” said Behnken’s 6-year-old son Theo, who was promised a puppy after the flight. “Hurry home so we can go get my dog.”
  • You can read more about their journey home HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – COVID-19 surge in Alabama extends wait time for test results
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Dismukes’ required ethics report missing, says he’s working to fix
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Vouchers to aid Alabama students stuck at home by pandemic
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS– “Save Space Camp” drive pulls in $1.1M; Boeing gives 500K
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS– Negotiators report progress in coronavirus relief talks
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – July 31, 2020
AL.COM – 1,502 new COVID-19 cases in Alabama; Jefferson adds 271 cases, Mobile County 382.
AL.COM – Birmingham rally calls attention to Black trans lives lost.
AL.COM – ADOC confirms new COVID-19 cases in Alabama prisons.
AL.COM – Incoming Samford students must sign COVID-19 waiver.
AL.COM – July was the worst month yet for coronavirus in Alabama. By a lot.
AL.COM – Feds found no problems in Alabama nursing homes despite coronavirus outbreaks.
AL.COM – Is a $10 billion, bipartisan bill many music venues’ last hope?
AL.COM – Columnist Frances Coleman: Wondering about schools, elections and below-the-nose masks.
AL.COM – Columnist Roy Johnson: Caretaker of Alabama Sports Hall of Fame acknowledges leadership changes needed.
AL.COM – Contributor Dr. Wayne Flynt: John Lewis: A Baptist preacher with honor in his home country.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – New advanced manufacturing training center coming to Alabama.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Contributor Martha Roby: Celebrating the life of John Lewis.
FLORENCE TIMES DAILY – Lawmakers won’t commit to special session to renew job incentives.
FLORENCE TIMES DAILY – The Times Daily: Let civility be the mark of all protests.
ANNISTON STAR – Columnist Phillip Tutor: Pandemic choices for Alabama parents.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – ‘Not one more’: Caravan protests Alabama’s parole board, plans to build new prisons.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – The Montgomery Advertiser: Face history of Confederate monuments and start dismantling systemic racism.
OPELIKA AUBURN NEWS – Hospital beginning to feel optimistic about COVID-19 hospitalizations.
OPELIKA AUBURN NEWS – Alabama seeks to bring more electric vehicle charging stations to the state.
DOTHAN EAGLE – COVID-19 creates a balancing act for businesses when it comes to livelihoods and safety.
WASHINGTON POST – Coronavirus threat rises across U.S.: ‘We just have to assume the monster is everywhere’.
WASHINGTON POST – Congress deeply unpopular again as gridlock on coronavirus relief has real-life consequences.
WASHINGTON POST – Columnist Caroline Janney: The next Lost Cause?: The South’s mythology glamorized a noble defeat. Trump backers may do the same.
WASHINGTON POST – The Washington Post: Trump didn’t like rulings on DACA. So he’s defying them.
WASHINGTON POST – Trump’s campaign in crisis as aides attempt August reset before time runs out.
WASHINGTON POST – The Lincoln Project’s plan for preserving the union: Drive Trump out of office by driving him nuts.
WASHINGTON POST – A warning from Wisconsin: Wisconsin sells more paper, employs more people and has more paper mills than any other state. The industry was already in decline, but the coronavirus delivered a death blow.
NEW YORK TIMES – The Washington Post: Voting by Mail Is Crucial for Democracy
 NEW YORK TIMES – Pollution Is Killing Black Americans. This Community Fought Back.
NEW YORK TIMES – After Plummeting, the Virus Soars Back in the Midwest
CNN – How ‘good White people’ derail racial progress.
THE GUARDIAN – Contributor Kenan Malik: Illness, obesity, racism; who gets blamed for our crises? The poor of course.

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