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Weekend Digest – June 14, 2020

Good afternoon and Happy Flag Day.
Here’s your Daily News for Sunday, June 14.

1. Alabama virus cases surge, prompting new health warnings

  • A surge of coronavirus cases in Alabama is prompting renewed health warnings that the risk of COVID-19 remains and people need to take precautions.
  • As of Sunday morning, more than 25,000 people statewide had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, with more than one-fourth of the cases coming in the last two weeks. The state reported 1,500 cases over a two-day period.
  • Today the state reported the largest single day increase of cases since the pandemic began.
  • Montgomery County now has the largest amount of confirmed cases, beating out the more populous counties of Mobile and Jefferson.
  • “COVID-19 spreads quickly, and your actions affect others,” State Health Officer Scott Harris said.
  • Harris told The Associated Press this week that it is more important than ever for people to take precautions.
  • The Alabama Department of Public Health said the state has experienced outbreaks at workplaces, long-term care facilities, and as a result of large gatherings, such as those occurring during the Memorial Day holiday.
  • Read the full report from Kim Chandler HERE.


2. New education strategic plan announced, goals set for 2025

state education board meeting

  • The Alabama State Department of Education presented its new strategic plan to improve K-12 public education this week with detailed objectives and measurable goals for the next five years.
  • The plan – “Alabama Achieves: A New Plan for a New Decade” – addresses five overarching strategic priorities that are meant to address the challenges facing public schools.
  • Academic Growth and Achievement; college, career, and workforce preparedness; safe and supportive learning environments; highly effective educators; and customer-friendly services, are the five main priorities in the plan.
  • Within those priorities, strategies and detailed measures of success are laid out for each.
  • State Superintendent Eric Mackey said the finished product, which was presented to the state school board members on Thursday, was the result of 15 months of work and is open for adjustments when the need arises.
  • “It is a living document,” Mackey said.
  • Read more about the plan from me HERE.


3. New COVID-19 death of inmate, prison cases grow

  • The Alabama prison system says a third inmate has died after testing positive for COVID-19 as the number of cases among inmates and staff continued to rise.
  • Clarence Shepherd, an 80-year-old inmate at St. Clair Correctional Facility died Friday after testing positive for coronavirus, the Alabama Department of Corrections reported.
  • The prison system said a total of 119 staff and contract workers and 28 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19. Twenty-nine of those staff members have returned to work.
  • Inmate advocates and health experts have expressed concerns that the state’s overcrowded prisons would become a breeding ground for a deadly outbreak and urged the state to make additional changes.
  • The prison system has said it is taking precautions such as distributing masks to inmates and quarantining infirmaries and other areas where there have been positive cases.
  • Read more about the cases in state prisons HERE.


4. Birmingham DA urges new trial for death row inmate

  • A district attorney in Alabama says a black man who has spent two decades on death row should get a new trial amid questions about the fairness of his 1998 murder conviction.
  • Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr on Friday filed a brief supporting a new trial for Toforest Johnson who was convicted of the murder of Jefferson County Deputy Sheriff William Hardy.
  • Carr wrote that he took no position on Johnson’s innocence or guilt but said there are concerns about his trial. He wrote those include that a key witness was paid a $5,000 reward, a fact not mentioned at trial, and alibi witnesses place Johnson in another part of town at the time of the shooting. Carr said the original lead prosecutor had also expressed concerns about the case.
  • “A prosecutor’s duty is not merely to secure convictions, but to seek justice,” the brief stated. “It is the district attorney’s position that in the interest of justice, Mr. Johnson, who has spent more than two decades on death row, be granted a new trial.”
  • Read more about the case from Kim Chandler HERE.


5. Tuskegee county seeks to move Confederate monument

  • Officials in a majority-black county said Friday that they hope to permanently remove a now-covered Confederate memorial erected more than a century ago in the town square.
  • Macon County Commission Chairman Louis Maxwell said at a news conference that officials are researching ways to move the statue that sits in the town square of Tuskegee. Crews covered up the base of the statue after it was vandalized with anti-Ku Klux Klan graffiti last week.
  • “The end objective is to have the statue relocated,” Maxwell said. “We don’t have a problem with preserving it. I don’t want it destroyed. If somebody wants it, we’ll give it to them.”
  • Maxwell acknowledged that there will be a cost involved. A 2017 state law prohibits the removal of Confederate and other longstanding monuments. The mayor of Birmingham has said the potential $25,000 state fine for removing a Confederate monument was worth the cost.
  • Read more about the monument from Kim Chandler HERE.


Week in Good News

Face masks with windows mean more than smiles to deaf people
  • Michael Conley felt especially isolated these past few months: A deaf man, he was prevented from reading lips by the masks people wore to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • But then he met Ingrid Helton, a costume designer who sewed him a solution – masks with plastic windows for hearing people to wear, allowing lip readers to see mouths move.
  • She has started a business to provide the windowed masks, and she’s not alone. A half-dozen startups are doing the same. They have been inundated with orders — and not only from friends and family of the roughly 48 million Americans who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • “You can tell so much by a facial expression, so it’s proving that it can be helpful to everybody,” Helton said.
  • Read more about these special masks HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama virus cases surge, prompting new health warnings
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New 2020 Education Department Strategic Plan announced, goals set for 2025
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama prison COVID-19 cases rise, another death reported.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama county’s DA urges new trial for death row inmate
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Majority-black county seeks to move Confederate monument
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – June 12, 2020
AL.COM – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter aren’t competing stories. They’re the same story.
AL.COM – Unity rally split over use of police force at protests.
AL.COM – Ava DuVernay joins push to rename Selma bridge for John Lewis.
AL.COM – ‘An instrumental part’: Did Tommy Tuberville get the Confederate flag removed from Ole Miss?
AL.COM – Columnist John Archibald: Why monuments must fall and names change.
AL.COM – Columnist Frances Coleman: Amid all the upheaval, what about the good cops?
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Rep. Palmer: Alabama investment in law enforcement a potential tool to recruit businesses away from places pushing to disband police
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Sessions: Jones betrayed ‘character and decency of every soldier who fought for the South’
TIMES DAILY – Florence panelists bring unity through conversation.
TIMES DAILY – State ordered to show prison hiring plan.
TIMES DAILY – The Times Daily: Local governments should decide monuments’ fate.
ANNISTON STAR – Activist group gathers for conversation, not demonstration.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Hundreds take a knee in Montgomery for 8 minutes, 46 seconds to pray for the future.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Contributor Will Sellers: It’s time to celebrate the Magna Carta.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Contributor Derryn Moten: The killing of George Floyd reminds us all of our nation’s many broken promises.
OPELIKA AUBURN NEWS – Latest Opelika march aimed at keeping conversations going.
DOTHAN EAGLE – Coleman, Moore ramp up campaigns again a month out from July runoff.
DOTHAN EAGLE – The Dothan Eagle: A bad precedent.
WASHINGTON POST – Scant evidence of antifa shows how sweeping the protests for racial justice have become.
WASHINGTON POST – Lafayette Square clash, still reverberating, becomes an iconic episode in Donald Trump’s presidency.
WASHINGTON POST – As coronavirus infections surge nationwide, 21 states see increase in average daily new cases.
WASHINGTON POST – The Endless Call: Demands for racial equity and justice have always been part of the American story. While the images here span the past two weeks, the words paired with them span the past 100 years.
NEW YORK TIMES – Atlanta Police Chief Resigns After Officer Shoots and Kills a Black Man
NEW YORK TIMES – Biden’s Vice-Presidential Search: Who’s on the List and Where It Stands

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