Daily News Digest – December 18, 2020

Presented by

the Energy Institute of Alabama

Good morning and Happy Friday! Can you believe there’s only one week until Christmas?

It’s a busy news day as we anticipate the release of a report from the Governor’s Study Group on Gambling Policy and hopefully learn more about state vaccine distribution. Keep your ears on.

Here’s your Daily News for December 18.

1. Latest on vaccines

  • The Food and Drug Administration will soon authorize the second COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna, Commissioner Stephen Hahn announced Thursday.
  • Once emergency use authorization is granted, Moderna will begin shipping millions of doses, earmarked for health workers and nursing home residents, to boost the largest vaccination effort in U.S. history.
  • After the FDA acts, U.S. officials plan to move out an initial shipment of nearly 6 million Moderna doses. The vaccine needs to be stored at regular freezer temperatures, but not the ultra-cold required for Pfizer-BioNTech’s shot.
  • With the addition of Moderna’s vaccine, government officials project that 20 million Americans will be able to get their first shots by the end of December and 30 million more in January.
  • Read more on that HERE.
  • Meanwhile, discussion is still ongoing about who should be prioritized for vaccinations.
  • There’s little debate about the very first rounds going to health care workers on the front lines of the pandemic and nursing home residents that have been particularly vulnerable to the virus.
  • But, who comes next?
  • A federal panel of vaccination experts are leaning toward putting “essential workers” first because those employees can’t work from home. But other experts say people age 65 and older should be next, along with people with certain medical conditions. Those are the people who are dying at the highest rates, they say.
  • No matter what the committee decides, there will be differences from state to state. If essential workers are indeed next up, states already have different ideas about who among them should be closer to the front of the line.
  • Go down the list: teachers, child care specialists, public transportation workers, truck drivers, pharmacists, agriculture and food workers – all could be considered essential.
  • One question we’ve also been asking is whether state leaders, particularly members of the Alabama Legislature, will be prioritized for the vaccine.
  • The Legislature hasn’t met since May and Gov. Kay Ivey had to take stop-gap executive action last week on some time sensitive, unfinished legislative business. There is already talk of adjourning early in February to wait until the virus calms down later in the year.
  • We’ve asked state officials but not been able to get an answer yet. Maybe we’ll learn more today.
  • Anyway, read more about vaccine prioritization HERE.

 

 

2. Ivey awards relief funds to group helping veterans with PTSD

  • More than $1.9 million from the state’s Coronavirus Relief Fund will go to a non-profit organization that helps veterans with increased PTSD issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Kay Ivey announced on Thursday.
  • The Alabama based group, Priority Soldier, was awarded the funds for a four-week virtual group therapy program to serve veterans currently receiving treatment for PTSD and whose condition has worsened because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The program consists of veterans meeting virtually three times a week for 60-minute sessions in groups of three to five veterans.
  • Sixty veterans are currently enrolled with plans of serving 340 veterans who meet the criteria to be selected for the program.
  • There are 125,787 veterans in Alabama who have been diagnosed with PTSD, according to the Project Soldier Statewide Proposal.
  • “I am proud to support the work of Priority Solider and encourage Alabama veterans needing their support to take advantage of this program,” Ivey said in a statement. Even during what has been an extremely challenging year, we must always look out for those who have looked out for our country.”
  • According to state data, $1.2 billion of the state’s $1.7 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund has been spent so far.
  • Read more from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

A message from

The Energy Institute of Alabama

  • Significant research shows that consumer interest and, importantly, manufacturer production of electric vehicles and electric vehicle batteries are exponentially on the rise. As evidenced by Mercedes-Benz’ massive $1 billion investment in Alabama supporting electric vehicle production and a new high-voltage EV battery plant, electric vehicles are an important part of the future for Alabama’s booming automotive industry.
  • The Energy Institute of Alabama (EIA) would like to thank Governor Ivey and the legislature for making critical investments in support of Alabama’s 21st century economy and 21st century transportation system.
  • Watch the EIA’s short clip of Chairman Bill Poole HERE discussing the importance of the legislature’s investment in electric vehicle technology and infrastructure.

 

 

 

 

 

3. Talks go into the weekend

 

  • It’s a hurry up and wait moment on Capitol Hill. Congressional negotiators struggled through a handful of remaining snags Thursday on a must-pass, almost $1 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package.
  • The holdups mean a weekend session now appears virtually certain, and a top lawmaker warned that a government shutdown this weekend can’t be ruled out.
  • All sides appeared hopeful that the wrangling wouldn’t derail the legislation, even as the chances for announcing a deal Thursday slipped away. After being bogged down for much of the day, negotiators reported behind-the-scenes progress Thursday night.
  • The central elements of a hard-fought compromise appeared in place: more than $300 billion in aid to businesses; a $300-per-week bonus federal jobless benefit and renewal of soon-to-expire state benefits; $600 direct payments to individuals; vaccine distribution funds and money for renters, schools, the Postal Service and people needing food aid.
  • But a temporary funding bill runs out Friday at midnight and the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, Sen. John Thune, said if there isn’t a deal by then, some Republicans might block a temporary funding bill — causing a low-impact partial weekend shutdown — as a means to keep the pressure on.
  • Read more from Andrew Taylor HERE.
  • Meanwhile, Congressman Mike Rogers said Thursday he had tested positive for COVID-19 and was experiencing mild symptoms.
  • He’s the second member of Alabama’s congressional delegation to announce he had contracted the illness. Congressman Robert Aderholt of Haleyville announced last month he had tested positive for COVID-19 but wasn’t experiencing symptoms.
  • Rogers, 62, said he was self-isolating after consulting with the House physician.
  • “I am experiencing mild symptoms but otherwise I am in good spirits and looking forward to getting back to work soon,” he said in a tweet.
  • Get well soon, Congressman.

 

 

 

4. Tuberville hires senior staff

  • U.S. Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville on Thursday announced the hiring of several senior staff members, including those with Alabama roots and Capitol Hill experience.
  • Tuberville announced Bradley Hayes as legislative director, Ryann DuRant as communications director, Jessica Newman as administrative director, Mary Blanch Hackney as chief counsel and policy adviser and Mike Albares as senior policy adviser. Earlier this month Tuberville named Stephen Boyd as chief of staff.
  • Together, Tuberville and Boyd compiled a senior staff team that has a combined 70 years of Washington experience, with service for nine different members of Congress and two presidential administrations.
  • “This is a team that knows Alabama and knows how to get things done in Washington,” Tuberville said.
  • I’d say that’s true. Politicos working in Alabama and DC will recognize most of those names. They are the serious governing types, as opposed to the political bomb throwers, which is notable given the pressure from advocacy groups on a new senator.
  • In our previous discussions, the former coach has emphasized the importance of hiring staff members with Alabama roots and Washington experience, acknowledging that as someone new to politics and governing he would need the help of seasoned professionals.
  • Read more about the staff hires HERE.
  • Meanwhile, Tuberville has waded into Electoral College challenge waters, telling people at a Georgia political rally he’s considering joining Congressman Mo Brooks’ effort to reject the certified votes of states like Georgia and Pennsylvania.
  • “You’ll see what’s coming,”Tuberville, said. “You’ve been reading about in the House. We’re going to have to do it in the Senate.”
  • Predictably, President Donald Trump praised Tuberville in a tweet saying “More Republican Senators should follow his lead.”
  • Yesterday, in an interview with YellowHammer’s Sean Ross, Tuberville clarified that he’s simply looking at the issue and doing his “due diligence.”
  • Tuberville continued that “You don’t do it just to be doing it…You’ve got to make sure it’s going to be beneficial. I hope whatever I do is beneficial.”
  • Read Sean’s full story HERE.
  • There’s a political lesson in the offing here. Never set an expectation you’re not prepared to meet.

 

 

 

5. Hack against US is ‘grave’ threat, cybersecurity agency says

  • Federal authorities expressed increased alarm Thursday about a long-undetected intrusion into U.S. and other computer systems around the globe that officials suspect was carried out by Russian hackers. The nation’s cybersecurity agency warned of a “grave” risk to government and private networks.
  • The hack compromised federal agencies and “critical infrastructure” in a sophisticated attack that was hard to detect and will be difficult to undo, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said in an unusual warning message. The Department of Energy acknowledged it was among those that had been hacked.
  • The attack, if authorities can prove it was carried out by Russia as experts believe, creates a fresh foreign policy problem for President Donald Trump in his final days in office.
  • Tech giant Microsoft, which has helped respond to the breach, revealed late Thursday that it had identified more than 40 government agencies, think tanks, non-governmental organizations and IT companies infiltrated by the hackers. It said four in five were in the United States — nearly half of them tech companies — with victims also in Canada, Mexico, Belgium, Spain, the United Kingdom, Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
  • “This is not ‘espionage as usual,’ even in the digital age. Instead, it represents an act of recklessness that created a serious technological vulnerability for the United States and the world,” Microsoft said in a blog post.
  • Full story HERE.

 

 

News Briefs

400 United Steelworkers on strike at Alabama aluminum plant

  • MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. (AP) — More than 400 United Steelworkers members are on strike against the French manufacturer Constellium over what the union on Thursday called unfair labor practices at an aluminum factory in northwest Alabama.
  • Months of talks failed to yield an agreement before a contract expired on Nov. 1, and workers walked out Tuesday, the union said in a statement. Pickets held signs outside the plant, which previously was owned by Wise Alloys and Reynolds.
  • Daniel Flippo, the union’s district director, said Constellium wants a contract that would undo decades of progress on issues including safety and seniority to give management “unchecked authority” to decide who works and when.
  • “We’re going to fight to hold the company accountable and to win the fair contract that USW members have earned and deserve,” he said in a statement.
  • In a statement, Constellium said the Alabama plant had offered a “very competitive agreement, which provides regular pay raises, strong healthcare and other benefits, as well as ongoing training and development opportunities.”
  • “We believe that this offer respects the contributions of our employees, protects jobs for local families, and positions the plant for future business,” it said.
  • Based in Paris, Contellium has about 13,000 employees who work at more than 25 plants in China, Europe and North America, the company’s website says.

Alabama man gets nearly 500-year sentence in sex crimes case

  • BAY MINETTE, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama man convicted of multiple sex crimes involving children has been sentenced to nearly 500 years in prison, Baldwin County prosecutors said.
  • Circuit Judge Clark Stankoski imposed the sentence Wednesday on Thomas Justin Bailey, 33, of Foley. Convicted on multiple counts including attempted rape and sodomy, Bailey was sentenced to 496 years in all.
  • The case came to light after friends of the victims shared their concerns with a school guidance counselor, prosecutors said in a statement. That led to an investigation that included work by the county’s child advocacy center.
  • Jurors convicted Bailey in October.

Woman slain on campus of University of Alabama at Birmingham

  • BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A woman has been shot to death on the University of Alabama at Birmingham campus, police said.
  • The early investigation found that the victim was shot inside a vehicle on Thursday night, Birmingham police Officer Truman Fitzgerald said.
  • The shooting happened in the parking lot of the Hill Student Center, Al.com reported.
  • Police say that someone drove the woman to Children’s of Alabama hospital. She was pronounced dead at the hospital.
  • The woman is believed to be 20 years old, police said.

 

 

 

A message from

Auburn University

Auburn alumnus, trustee selected to be next Secretary of Defense
Auburn celebrates a lifetime of achievement by Gen. Lloyd Austin, who provides immeasurable support to our university.
We are grateful for his leadership in defending our freedoms and know his best days in serving our nation are still ahead.
Congratulations and thank you!
See the full story here.

 

 

Headlines

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – FDA plans to OK 2nd COVID-19 vaccine after panel endorsement

 

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – US experts debate: Who should be next in line for vaccine?

 

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey awards relief funds to group helping veterans with PTSD

 

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Tuberville hires senior staff

 

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Snags on COVID-19 relief may force weekend sessions

 

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Hack against US is ‘grave’ threat, cybersecurity agency says

 

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Claim that nurse died after getting COVID vaccine is false

 

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Report: Pandemic further straining low-income families, widening racial prosperity gap

 

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Nursing students, teachers to fill gaps at UAB Hospital

 

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – December 17, 2020

 

AL.COM – 4,695 new COVID cases added overnight in Alabama; latest county-by-county case totals

 

AL.COM – Alabama nursing homes to start vaccinating residents this month

 

AL.COM – Postponing surgeries, calling up student nurses, Alabama hospitals enter ‘uncharted territory’

 

AL.COM – Tuberville announces experienced appointments to his Senate staff

 

AL.COM – Retired judge proposes bill to create 2nd Alabama parole board

 

AL.COM – Montgomery’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice among ‘places all American citizens should see’

 

AL.COM – Alabama Sequel facility a ‘house of horrors’ for foster child, lawsuit claims

 

AL.COM – Doug Jones, like Jeff Sessions, would have to recuse on Hunter Biden probe if named attorney general

 

AL.COM – Will Tommy Tuberville back Mo Brooks in overturning Electoral College decision?

 

Montgomery Advertiser – U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers tests positive for COVID-19

 

Montgomery Advertiser – Cobbs Ford Road wreck kills two near I-65 interchange

 

Montgomery Advertiser – Woman killed in Carmichael Road shooting, police investigating

 

WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Birmingham church donates $800K to organizations, families this Christmas

 

WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Northport pharmacy helping to vaccinate thousands of nursing home residents, workers

 

WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Good Samaritans help Habitat For Humanity Tuscaloosa after theft

 

Tuscaloosa News – Man charged after computers, chips and gum stolen from middle school

 

Tuscaloosa News – PHOTOS: DCH Begins Administering COVID-19 Vaccines

 

Tuscaloosa News – COVID-19 vaccine death rumor quickly dispelled by Alabama health officials

 

Decatur Daily – Sixth Avenue beautification plan will cost up to $6 million

 

Decatur Daily – Pharmacology expert from Priceville helped develop COVID-19 treatment

 

Decatur Daily – Falkville VFD searching for funds for hazmat truck

 

Times Daily – St. Florian steps up to help families during holidays

 

Times Daily – Organizers plan for First Fridays return in April

 

Times Daily – Parole granted for man with multiple charges

 

Anniston Star – Wreaths Across America ceremony at McClellan will be private this year due to COVID

 

Anniston Star – COVID not hurting Anniston school budgets, but leaders worry about kids

 

Anniston Star – Man pleads guilty to 2017 double homicide

 

YellowHammer News – Tommy Tuberville announces key staff hires

 

YellowHammer News – Exclusive: Tuberville doing ‘due diligence’ before making decision on congressional challenge to Electoral College votes

 

YellowHammer News – Ivey approves grant of over $1.9M for PTSD relief program run by veterans charity

 

Gadsden Times – Severe symptoms, uncertain outcomes: Treating COVID-19 patients

 

Gadsden Times – Senator plans local legislation to ward off rendering plants with potential penalties, fees

 

Gadsden Times – COVID-19 vaccine death rumor quickly dispelled by Alabama health officials

 

Opelika-Auburn News – Snags on COVID-19 relief may force weekend sessions

 

Opelika-Auburn News – Ian McKellen one of first celebs to get COVID-19 vaccine

 

Opelika-Auburn News – Mobile man arrested, charged with murder in connection to fatal Shug Jordan Pkwy crash

 

WSFA Montgomery – Troy hospital awaits arrival of COVID-19 vaccine as cases surge

 

WSFA Montgomery – Prattville burglary, theft suspects in custody

 

WSFA Montgomery – Leaders want COVID-19 safeguard enforcement in Selma

 

WAFF Huntsville – Deputies still searching for missing man in Jackson County

 

WAFF Huntsville – Buffalo Rock Company re-location plan passed City Council

 

WAFF Huntsville – Attorney: Abuse at Sequel Courtland led child to attempt suicide

 

WKRG Mobile – Mobile Mask: Mobile Mystics cancels 2021 parade, ball

 

WKRG Mobile – COVID-19 Crisis Information Line available now in Alabama

 

WKRG Mobile – Mobile girl wants her dad back for Christmas

 

WTVY Dothan – Police receive complaints of strange looking group intimidating others

 

WTVY Dothan – Judge gives life sentence to convicted Dale County killer

 

WTVY Dothan – Jackson Hospital treatment relieving coronavirus patients of symptoms

 

WASHINGTON POST – White House aides talked Trump out of last-minute demand for stimulus checks as big as $2,000

 

WASHINGTON POST – States report confusion as government reduces vaccine shipments, while Pfizer says it has ‘millions’ of unclaimed doses

 

WASHINGTON POST – FDA vows to move ‘rapidly’ to authorize second coronavirus vaccine

 

NEW YORK TIMES – Biden Faces Challenge as Congress Drops State Aid to Secure Stimulus

 

NEW YORK TIMES – In California, Counting the Dead by the Hour

 

NEW YORK TIMES – F.D.A. Panel Endorses Moderna’s Covid-19 Vaccine

 

WALL STREET JOURNAL – Moderna’s Covid-19 Vaccine Could Widen Immunization Effort

 

WALL STREET JOURNAL – Infrastructure-Investment Binge Is Set to Continue—With or Without Washington

 

WALL STREET JOURNAL – Hack Suggests New Scope, Sophistication for Cyberattacks

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