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Weekend Digest – May 3, 2020

Presented by

The Boeing Company

Good afternoon and happy Sunday!
Here’s your Daily News for May 3, 2020.

1. Alabama’s virus numbers rise as stores, other venues open

  • Alabama’s number of coronavirus cases continued to rise Saturday as some cities eased the restrictions that had been in place since the crisis began.
  • As of this morning, more than 7,600 cases of COVID-19 had been reported in the state according to state health data. Alabama’s death toll from the virus was at least 289.
  • Fairhope Pier in Baldwin County officially reopened Saturday, WKRG-TV reported.
  • “I think it’s good, I can bring my wife and grandkids out just to see the water,” said Wayne Davis visiting the pier with his family.
  • “With all the people who love to come out here and enjoy the pier, I think that was a good idea,” said Davis.
  • Read more about reactions from different business owners across the state HERE.



2. VA Services begin again; Update on veterans home cases

  • Alabama Veterans Affairs Commissioner Kent Davis gave an update on the state of veterans affairs services and veterans homes on Friday during an online news conference.
  • All 51 veteran’s affairs offices across the state are undergoing assessments to see which can open to customer services on Monday, May 4.
  • Davis said it will be a mix of what kind of services those offices can supply. Some will offer in-person services on an appointment basis, others only over the phone and some will be closed and customers will be referred to a neighboring county’s facility.
  • Davis also gave an update on the number of positive COVID-19 cases seen in Alabama veterans homes.
  • The Bill Nichols Veterans Home in Alexander City has been hit particularly hard with COVID-19 cases. Davis said as of Friday there are 42 active cases of the virus in the Bill Nichols home and have had 18 deaths related to COVID-19.
  • Read the whole story from me HERE.




A message from

The Boeing Company

  • Huntsville is shaping the next stage of America’s Space Launch System (SLS) that will be used to transport the first woman and the next man to the moon for NASA’s Artemis mission.
  • While production and testing of the world’s most powerful rocket have been suspended at Michoud Assembly Facility and Stennis Space Center in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Alabama Boeing team continues to build a larger version of SLS.
  • The new version of SLS has a more powerful Exploration Upper Stage designed to carry heavy cargo missions to the moon and deep space.
  • SLS is the backbone of NASA’s deep space human exploration program and the Huntsville-led team continues to lead the way.





3. Lawsuit challenges Alabama voting rules during pandemic

  • A lawsuit filed Friday challenges Alabama’s election procedures by arguing that restrictions on absentee ballots and a lack of other voting methods jeopardize the health of voters — especially older voters, black voters, and voters with disabilities — during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • The lawsuit filed by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program alleges that Alabama’s rules will require people to choose between voting and protecting their health.
  • Alabama absentee voters are currently required to submit photocopies of their photo identification as well as sign the absentee ballot before a notary or two witnesses. The lawsuit asks a federal judge to waive those mandates and also force the state to offer curbside voting.
  • The lawsuit notes that many people do not have a way to photocopy their ID or lack ID completely. The existing requirements create a particular barrier for older voters, black voters and disabled voters who are also the groups most at risk for COVID-19 complications, the plaintiffs said.
  • Read the whole story from Kim Chandler HERE.


4. After record year, Alabama tourism revenues expected to fall

  • The coronavirus pandemic is expected to end years of record growth in Alabama’s tourism revenues as spending falls by the billions.
  • The Alabama Tourism Department said 28 million visitors spent nearly $17 billion in the state in 2019, which was the third straight year that travel spending grew by more than $1 billion in the state. Tourist spending increased nearly 8% statewide, according to the agency.
  • But that growth streak will likely end because people are reducing travel during the pandemic, said state tourism director Lee Sentell. Revenues this year could decline to as low as $14 billion, he said.
  • “That would put us where we were three years ago,” said Sentell. With schools out early to guard against spreading the virus that causes COVID-19, a longer-than-normal beach season could help fill some of the gap, he said.
  • Read the full report HERE.


5. Lack of travel leads to decline in fatal wrecks in Alabama

  • Traffic accidents are killing fewer people in Alabama as people stay home more and drive less during the pandemic.
  • Highway deaths in April dropped 58% from March and 42% from a year earlier, according to statistics from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. State troopers also investigated 43% fewer traffic accidents in April than in March.
  • Troopers in Mobile and Baldwin, which are crossed by both Interstate 10 and I-65, worked only one fatal crash in April, a motorcycle accident in Grand Bay.
  • “It’s pretty unusual for around here. That kind of stood out,” Lt. Joe Piggott, a state trooper spokesman, told WALA-TV.
  • The statistics don’t include numbers from local police agencies, but they are similar to data from the Alabama Department of Transportation, which has vehicle counters along Interstate 10 and I-65. Traffic volume over a nearly three-week period in April was down by about 46% compared with the same period in 2019.
  • Read the full report HERE.


Week in Good News

Local volunteers team up to make thousands of masks for Etowah community
  • As medical workers, first responders and other essential workers continue to work through the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, a group of local community members are working to do what they can to protect those who are more exposed to the virus.
  • The group organizes itself through a Facebook group, Northeast Alabama Mask Makers, to work together to sew cotton masks that are distributed to health care workers and others who need them in the Etowah County area.
  • The private group had more than 260 members at the end of April, who together have made between 4,000 and 5,000 cotton masks, all of which have been given away at no cost.
  • “They are really consistent and hard at it,” Leah White, one of the group’s administrators, said. “We’re averaging about 600 masks a week.”
  • Read more about the incredible effort from Dustin Fox at the Gadsden Times.




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS  – Alabama’s virus numbers rise as stores, other venues open


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS  – 18 deaths, 85 COVID-19 cases at veterans home


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Lawsuit challenges Alabama voting rules during pandemic


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS  – After record year, Alabama tourism revenues expected to fall


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS  – Lack of travel leads to decline in fatal wrecks in Alabama


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – May 1, 2020


AL.COM  – Birmingham ICU past peak, seeing fewer coronavirus cases: “There’s a greater sense of optimism”.


AL.COM  – Alabama health officer Scott Harris to appear on Meet the Press.


AL.COM  – ‘It’s a tough business’; Z’s Restaurant closes in Birmingham, but legacy lives on.


AL.COM  – Alabama’s virus numbers rise as beaches, stores, other venues open.


AL.COM  – Alabama airports getting $60.9 million in federal grants.


AL.COM  – 7,345 coronavirus cases in Alabama, up 277 overnight; Mobile adds 68 new cases.


AL.COM  – Toyota reconfigures Alabama plant for coronavirus: ‘We’re having to break everyone’s habits’.


AL.COM  – Toyota reconfigures Alabama plant for coronavirus: ‘We’re having to break everyone’s habits’.


AL.COM  – ‘What’s the big secret?’ Advocates demand data about coronavirus in Alabama nursing homes.


AL.COM  – Preliminary data: Fewer COVID-19 racial disparities in Jefferson County.


AL.COM  – Sixth Alabama inmate, 16th prison worker tests positive for COVID-19.


TIMES DAILY  – Many food banks seeing increased need.


GADSDEN TIMES  – Local volunteers team up to make thousands of masks for Etowah community.


ANNISTON STAR  – Housing market stays afloat through coronavirus pandemic.


TALLADEGA DAILY HOME  – RETURN OF RETAIL: Local stores glad to be reopening, taking precautions to protect themselves, customers.


TALLADEGA DAILY HOME  – Pell City mayor asks state health officer for OK to open more businesses.


TALLADEGA DAILY HOME  – Talladega City, County school systems qualify for emergency meal program.


MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER  – ‘The Farm’: This country compound is notorious for shady activity, but what exactly is it?


MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER  – Columnist Vanzetta McPherson: Ignorance enhances spread of coronavirus.


DOTHAN EAGLE  – Nonprofits face challenges supporting community and themselves during pandemic.


DOTHAN EAGLE  – Local stores: Occupancy rates may be most confusing part of new health order.


DOTHAN EAGLE  – The Dothan Eagle: Extraordinary outreach.


WASHINGTON POST  – 34 days of pandemic: Inside Trump’s desperate attempts to reopen America.


WASHINGTON POST  – Trump campaign divided over how to attack Biden amid worries over troubling poll numbers


WASHINGTON POST  – Boom-and-bust federal funding after 9/11 undercut hospitals’ preparedness for pandemics


NEW YORK TIMES  – As Businesses Resurface After State Shutdowns, So Does Divisiveness


NEW YORK TIMES  – ‘Murder Hornets’ in the U.S.: The Rush to Stop the Asian Giant Hornet


NEW YORK TIMES  – Some Small Businesses That Got Aid Fear the Rules Too Much to Spend It




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