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Weekend Digest – September 4, 2020

Good afternoon and happy Sunday!
Here’s your Daily News for Sunday, October 4.

1. Doctors: Trump continues to improve during virus treatment

  • President Donald Trump’s blood oxygen level dropped suddenly twice in recent days, but he “has continued to improve” since then, the White House physician said Sunday, adding a new layer of confusion to the president’s fight with COVID-19 even while suggesting he could be discharged from the hospital as early as Monday.
  • Trump’s doctors, speaking on the steps of the military hospital where he was being treated for a third consecutive day, refused to disclose the specific timing of the president’s dip in oxygen or whether lung scans showed any damage.
  • Navy Cmdr. Dr. Sean Conley acknowledged he was trying to downplay the severity of the president’s condition the day before.
  • “I was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude of the team, that the president, that his course of illness has had. Didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction,” Conley said. “And in doing so, came off like we’re trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true. The fact of the matter is that he’s doing really well.”
  • Conley said the president had a “high fever” and a blood oxygen level below 94% on Friday and during “another episode” on Saturday. He was evasive when asked whether Trump’s level had dropped below 90%: “We don’t have any recordings here on that.”
  • The level currently stands at 98%, Trump’s medical team said.
  • Trump offered his own assessment of his status the night before in a video from his hospital suite, saying he was beginning to feel better and hoped to “be back soon.” And he was back on social media early Sunday morning, sharing a video of flag-waving supporters, most not wearing masks, gathered outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
  • Read more about Trump’s condition HERE.


2. Virus spreads on panel handling Supreme Court nomination

  • Two Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have tested positive for the coronavirus, raising questions about the timing of Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett and whether additional senators may have been exposed. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared the confirmation process was going “full steam ahead.”
  • North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis and Utah Sen. Mike Lee both said Friday that they had tested positive for the virus. Both had attended a ceremony for Barrett at the White House on Sept. 25 with President Donald Trump, who announced Friday that he had tested positive and was later hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
  • Lee, who did not wear a mask at the White House event, said he had “symptoms consistent with longtime allergies.” Tillis, who did wear a mask during the public portion of the event, said he had “mild symptoms.” Both said they would quarantine for 10 days — ending just before Barrett’s confirmation hearings begin on Oct. 12.
  • The positive tests come as Senate Republicans are pushing to quickly confirm Barrett in the few weeks they have before the Nov. 3 election. There is little cushion in the schedule set out by Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham and McConnell, who want to put a third Trump nominee on the court immediately in case they lose any of their power in the election.
  • Read more about the panel HERE.


3. Bentley blames Ivey for possible close Supreme Court vote

  • Former Gov. Robert Bentley said the decision to move up the 2017 special election for U.S. Senate, which led to the election of Democratic Sen. Doug Jones, will be the reason for a close vote or the complete inability to approve Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court in the coming weeks.
  • “If we do not get the confirmation this year, say it’s a one vote margin, then that rests squarely on the shoulders of the people who changed this election in Alabama in 2017,” Bentley said in an interview with APTV Capitol Journal on Friday.
  • In February 2017, Republican U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions was confirmed as U.S. Attorney General, leaving a vacancy that Bentley was charged with filling as governor. After interviewing several candidates, Bentley appointed then-state Attorney General Luther Strange, a move that raised eyebrows because Strange’s office had been investigating Bentley for misuse of state funds in the sex-tinged scandal that eventually led to the governor’s resignation from office.
  • Before he resigned, Bentley set the vote to permanently fill the seat for November 2018 during Alabama’s next general election. When Kay Ivey assumed the governor’s office in April 2017, she rescheduled the election to occur immediately to “remove any cloud of doubt” from the integrity of the process.
  • Read more from me HERE.


4. Recovery from Hurricane Sally incomplete on Alabama coast

  • Alabama’s beaches have reopened, but the state’s coast has hardly recovered fully from the effects of Hurricane Sally last month.
  • Visitors still have limited options for getting to the sand because so many boardwalks and beach entry points were damaged, and residents in hard-hit Baldwin County are complaining about the response from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
  • Both federal and local officials are urging patience with the recovery.
  • Grant Brown, a spokesman for the city of Gulf Shores, said damage was “a lot worse than our initial thoughts,” and there’s still a lot of work to be done.
  • “Now is not the best time to come to the beaches of Gulf Shores,” he told “The rights-of-way along the roads are covered with construction debris and stuff and it’s just not the same experience. The beaches are OK, but if you look at the south side of the dunes and the loss of sand, it’s pretty amazing.”
  • Sally made landfall at Gulf Shores on Sept. 16, pummeling the coast with fierce winds and as much as 30 inches of rain. Officials said the damage was worse in places that from Hurricane Ivan, which landed a direct hit on the same area in 2004.
  • Read more about the efforts HERE.


5. Pandemic program to boost Alabama internet use mostly unused

  • A $100 million program to increase internet usage among low-income Alabama families during the pandemic has gone mostly unused, and the state is sending 300,000 more vouchers in a search for additional takers.
  • reported that the state is attempting to expand the Alabama Broadband Connectivity for Students program after only 44,000 of 250,000 vouchers mailed in late August were used.
  • While 75,000 students have gained internet access so far through the program, which seeks to make it easier for students to get online for school, around 450,000 students qualify statewide, said Mike Presley, spokesman for the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.
  • The second round of vouchers is being sent by a state contractor to increase participation.
  • “This second mailing, mailed last week by our contractor CTC Technology and Energy, also includes a resending of letters to households that have not redeemed a voucher sent in the first mailing earlier in September,” said Presley.
  • The vouchers, which are good for internet service through Dec. 30, are being made available through a $100 million allocation from federal CARES Act funding. Qualifying families are eligible to redeem vouchers worth an estimated $400 per family.
  • Read more about the program HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Doctors: Trump continues to improve during virus treatment
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Virus spreads on panel handling Supreme Court nomination
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bentley blames Ivey for possible close Supreme Court vote
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Recovery from Hurricane Sally incomplete on Alabama coast
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Pandemic program to boost Alabama internet use mostly unused
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – October 2, 2020
AL.COM – Census update: Deadline confirmed as Oct. 31 as Alabama remains last in response.
AL.COM – Mazda gives $50,000 to north Alabama food bank.
AL.COM – Cliff Sims, former Trump adviser from Alabama who wrote tell-all book, rejoins administration.
AL.COM – Columnist Amanda Walker: The consensus on the Census.
AL.COM – Alabama GOP chief questions Steve Scully, 2nd presidential debate moderator who interned for Biden.
AL.COM – FEMA, state open centers for Alabama hurricane victims to apply for assistance.
AL.COM – Columnist Frances Coleman: For me, the president and everybody else, the message is the same: Wear a mask.
AL.COM – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: The virus speaks loudest of all.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – BIO Alabama event to highlight economic development, cutting-edge research and capital access.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – State Sen. Whatley: ‘If you don’t want to wear a mask, then you shouldn’t have to’.
DECATUR DAILY – Pandemic restrictions lead to disappointment among high school seniors.
DECATUR DAILY – The Decatur Daily: The coronavirus can infect anyone.
FLORENCE TIMES DAILY – COVID cases up in Shoals area, hospitalizations down.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Trump’s condition was ‘very concerning’ over past day, source says, as White House says president is doing ‘very well’.
WASHINGTON POST – White House gives confusing and incomplete answers about Trump’s health as president says he is ‘feeling well’.
WASHINGTON POST – As virus spreads across GOP ranks, some Republicans say party will pay price for ‘stupid’ approach.
WASHINGTON POST – Their president is hospitalized, but that hasn’t changed their view of the coronavirus.
WASHINGTON POST – Contributor Norman Ornstein: The plan for governing if multiple leaders are incapacitated: There isn’t one.
WASHINGTON POST – U.S. faces shortage of up to 8 billion meals in next 12 months, leading food bank says.
WASHINGTON POST – Moms, Black Americans and educators are in trouble as economic recovery slows.
NEW YORK TIMES – ‘Fifth Girl’ in 1963 Church Bombing Gets an Apology From Alabama’s Governor.
NEW YORK TIMES – The New York Times: Get Well, Mr. President
NEW YORK TIMES – Columnist Nicholas Kristof: Trump’s Diagnosis Is a Wake-Up Call for Americans
NEW YORK TIMES – Why Did Hundreds of Thousands of Women Drop Out of the Workforce?
NEW YORK TIMES – Workers Face Permanent Job Losses as the Virus Persists

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