Good afternoon and happy Sunday!
Here’s your Daily News for February 21.
1. Alabama cautiously optimistic about improving COVID numbers
- Alabama’s state health officer said Friday that he is cautiously optimistic about improving COVID-19 numbers but urged people to maintain precautions such as wearing masks and avoiding crowds.
- “This is the most optimistic we’ve been I think maybe since this all began,” Dr. Scott Harris told reporters in his weekly briefing.
- Three major barometers of the pandemic’s severity — hospitalizations, daily new cases and the percent of tests coming back positive — have fallen to levels the state last saw in fall or summer. Although, state health officials expressed alarm when the state hit those numbers last year.
- “We are not out of the woods, but we see how to get out of the woods. Please don’t stop doing the things that you are doing. This is not the time to ease up wearing your mask. It’s not the time to go be in large groups of people,” Harris said.
- The number of COVID-19 patients in Alabama hospitals Friday dipped below 1,000 for the first time since late October.
- Read more from Kim Chandler HERE.
2. Inspector general reviews Trump relocation of Space Command
- The Department of Defense’s inspector general announced Friday that it was reviewing the Trump administration’s last-minute decision to relocate U.S. Space Command from Colorado to Alabama.
- The Air Force’s last-minute relocation of command headquarters to Huntsville, Alabama — home of the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal — blindsided Colorado officials of both parties, who have urged the Biden administration to reconsider the decision.
- On Friday, the inspector general’s office announced it was investigating whether the relocation complied with Air Force and Pentagon policy and was based on proper evaluations of competing locations.
- Read more HERE.
3. 2 dead after Air Force trainer jet crashes in Alabama
- Two Air Force pilots were killed Friday when a trainer jet crashed near an Alabama airport, the military branch confirmed.
- The crash involved a T-38 trainer aircraft assigned to the 14th Flying Training Wing at Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi. Officials from the 14th Flying Training Wing confirmed in a news release that both pilots aboard the aircraft were killed. The pilots were flying a training mission.
- “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the two pilots involved in this incident,” Col. Seth Graham, 14th Flying Training Wing commander said in a released statement. “There are no words that can describe the sadness that accompanies the loss of our teammates.”
- The names of the pilots are being withheld until the families are notified. The jet crashed at about 5:30 p.m. near Dannelly Field in Montgomery.
- A safety investigation board will convene to investigate. Authorities said the cause of the crash wasn’t immediately known.
- Read more from Kim Chandler HERE.
4. Frozen pipes, electric woes remain as cold snap eases grip
- Higher temperatures spread across the southern United States on Saturday, bringing relief to a winter-weary region that faces a challenging clean-up and expensive repairs from days of extreme cold and widespread power outages.
- In hard-hit Texas, where millions were warned to boil tap water before drinking it, the warm-up was expected to last for several days. The thaw produced burst pipes throughout the region, adding to the list of woes from severe conditions that were blamed for more than 70 deaths.
- By Saturday afternoon, the sun had come out in Dallas and temperatures were nearing the 50s.
- Read more HERE.
5. Washington taps pastors to overcome racial divide on vaccine
- Stately and deliberate, with a distinctive white streak in his black hair, the Rev. Wallace Charles Smith started his Valentine’s Day sermon at Shiloh Baptist Church by talking about love and vaccinations.
- “That’s what love’s all about. When you get a vaccination, you are saying to everyone around you that you love them enough that you don’t want any hurt, harm or danger to befall them,” he said. “In the spirit of love, keep at it until you get your vaccination. That’s the only thing that’s going to erase this terrible scourge.”
- The church was empty except for a camera crew and a tiny choir. Thanks to COVID-19, Smith’s Sunday sermons are now virtual affairs.
- Still, health officials in the nation’s capital are hoping that Smith and other Black religious leaders will serve as community influencers to overcome what officials say is a persistent vaccine reluctance in the Black community. Smith and several other local ministers recently received their first vaccine shots.
- Black residents make up a little under half of Washington’s population, but constitute nearly three-fourths of the city’s COVID-19 deaths. The District of Columbia is now offering vaccinations to residents over age 65, but numbers show that seniors in the poorest and blackest parts of Washington are lagging behind.
- Officials partially blame historic distrust of the medical establishment, especially among Black seniors, who vividly remember medical exploitation horrors such as the Tuskegee syphilis study, where hundreds of impoverished rural Black men suffered syphilis effects with minimal treatment for decades as part of the medical study.
- Read more HERE.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama cautiously optimistic about improving COVID numbers
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Inspector general reviews Trump relocation of Space Command
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – 2 dead after Air Force trainer jet crashes in Alabama
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Frozen pipes, electric woes remain as cold snap eases grip
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Washington taps pastors to overcome racial divide on vaccine
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Former Ambassador Lynda Blanchard announces Senate run
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama Workforce Council outlines 2021 plans
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama Innovation Commission hones its focus
AL.COM – ‘This is the most optimistic that we’ve been’: Alabama COVID cases, hospitalizations plummet.
AL.COM – National Day of Solidarity throws spotlight on Amazon union vote in Alabama.
AL.COM – Southern Baptists divided over politics, race, LGBTQ policy.
AL.COM – Alabama launches counseling line for people suffering from COVID-related stress.
AL.COM – Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville: Capitol insurrection a ‘terrible thing’ that is ‘all behind us now’.
AL.COM – Trump talked Alabama lawyer out of quitting impeachment team, David Schoen says.
AL.COM – ‘Ready, Set, Pitch!’ competition offers Alabama’s Black-owned businesses chance for funding, promotion.
AL.COM – Columnist Amanda Walker: Can we replace Congress with horses?
AL.COM – Columnist Frances Coleman: Memories of a courageous Methodist minister, and a reminder for us all.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – U.S. Rep. Sewell: ‘Exploring my options’ on 2022 U.S. Senate run — ‘I disagree’ we cannot turn Alabama blue like we did Georgia.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – State Sen. Jones: Marsh gambling bill ‘very thoughtful,’ Comprehensive bill required to meet supermajority threshold.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Foreign investment sparks growth in rural Alabama communities.
BAMA POLITICS – Alabama Bill Aims To End Straight Party Voting
THE HILL – GOP: McConnell-Trump civil war will hurt Republicans.
THE HILL – Sanders says he’s ‘confident’ increase to minimum wage will stay in coronavirus package.
POLITICO – Trump gears up for war with his own party.
THE NATION – Calls to Disqualify Trump Using the 14th Amendment Grow Louder
DECATUR DAILY – Local liquor sales spike during pandemic.
DECATUR DAILY – The Decatur Daily: Extreme weather taking toll on aging grid.
ANNISTON STAR – The day the pandemic came to Anniston: A year ago this week, a COVID scare made the city take notice.
ANNISTON STAR – The Anniston Star: Students feel pressure when they’re forced to learn at home instead of at school.
WASHINGTON POST – U.S. economy may have its best chance in years to break from era of subpar growth.
WASHINGTON POST – Contributors Micah Schwartzman and David Fontana: Trump picked the youngest judges to sit on the federal bench. Your move, Biden.
WASHINGTON POST – Trump to speak at CPAC, in first public appearance since leaving office.
NEW YORK TIMES – A Ripple Effect of Loss: U.S. Covid Deaths Approach 500,000
NEW YORK TIMES – Texas Blackouts Point to Coast-to-Coast Crises Waiting to Happen
NEW YORK TIMES – The New York Times: The Lessons of the Texas Power Disaster
NEW YORK TIMES – Interest Surges in Top Colleges, While Struggling Ones Scrape for Applicants