Here’s your Daily News for Thursday, July 23.
1. COVID-19 update
- The Alabama Department of Public Health reported 1,338 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the lowest total number of new cases reported in 12 days and below the seven-day average of 1,741 new cases.
- It was also the second straight day the new case numbers have dropped.
- However, the state on Wednesday saw its highest daily death toll to date as 57 people reportedly died due to COVID-19.
- A total of 1,325 people in Alabama have died from COVID-19-related causes since the pandemic began.
- Alabama is almost a week into a statewide order requiring residents to wear masks in public places and crowded areas.
- Gov. Kay Ivey said Wednesday that more widespread mask wearing, even before her mandate, seems to be working to drive the new case numbers down.
- “There’s some improvement in some areas, but we still have a long way to go,” she said. “I honest to goodness think the mask is helping. More people are wearing the mask, and that’s a good thing.”
- Ivey also expressed her concern for State Sen. Randy Price, who this week was put on a ventilator in his fight with COVID-19.
- “It’s just a horrible disease and virus, and so we all must remain vigilant.”
- Full story HERE.
2. More schools announce delayed openings, virtual starts
- More of Alabama’s largest public school systems are delaying the start of in-person classes, opting to begin instruction online as concerns remain over persistently high COVID-19 numbers in the state.
- Montgomery Public Schools on Wednesday announced the first nine weeks of its school year will be virtual. Madison County, Madison City and Huntsville City said in a joint press conference that all three will also open virtually next month.
- Tuscaloosa City Schools and Mobile County Schools, the state’s largest system, said recently they would not have in-school instruction at the beginning of the year.
- So far, at least 15 school systems have made similar announcements, including Anniston, Birmingham, Gadsden, Midfield and Selma city and Autauga, Bullock, Macon and Greene county systems, according to various announcements and media reports.
- Many more school systems could follow suit in the coming days and weeks, which will impact not only school children but parents planning to return to work. One place the impact could be felt in particular is at state agencies and state employees throughout Alabama.
- Asked Wednesday about concerns over consistency and the impact it could have on businesses and state agencies trying to reopen, Gov. Kay Ivey said the state is providing resources and support, but leaving decisions up to local school leaders.
- “It’s a difficult situation, Todd, just plain and simple, and I don’t have a magic bullet,” Ivey said. “Folks at the local level have got to decide what’s best for them, the students, the teachers, the staff and we’ll support them the best we can in every way.”
- Earlier this week, Ivey announced $170 million in grants from the federal CARES Act to local schools that are meant to pay for efforts to enhance virtual learning and in-school safety. But how to spend those funds and when to open their school doors is still up to each individual system.
- Read the full story, including the impact on state employees, HERE.
3. ‘Sweet Grown Alabama Day’ celebrated at Capitol
- An effort to connect consumers with homegrown Alabama products has taken off in the last year and, in the age of COVID-19, could serve an essential purpose as families care more about where their food is sourced.
- Sweet Grown Alabama is a non-profit foundation that seeks to market farm products grown and made in Alabama to retailers and consumers through a branding program and online database. Since launching last September, the online membership database at SweetGrownAlabama.org has grown to include more than 150 Alabama farmers and businesses that sell directly to consumers.
- At a special event Wednesday at the State Capitol, Gov. Kay Ivey declared July 22 “Sweet Grown Alabama Day” and joined state agricultural leaders to promote buying local.
- Ivey was joined by Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, Commissioner of Agriculture Rick Pate, Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell and Sweet Grown Alabama Chairman Horace Horn, all of whom toured a special farmers market set up at the foot of the Capitol along Dexter Avenue and Bainbridge Street with dozens of vendors selling their local wares.
- As masked shoppers walked booth to booth, socially distanced in the summer heat, Parnell remarked on how the coronavirus pandemic has made people even more aware about the sources for their food and other household products.
- “There are a lot more people these days paying attention to where their food comes from, and I believe that’s why you see the long lines at farmers markets throughout the state,” Parnell said. “What is more simple than a locally grown product that you know only a few people have touched before it reaches your basket?
- “This has the potential to be much bigger than any of us ever imagined.”
- Read more and see photos from the day HERE.
4. With agreement on testing in place, McConnell will unveil CARES II bill
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is set to unveil a $1 trillion COVID-19 rescue package today, pushing past a Republican revolt over big spending and differences with the White House.
- Senate Republicans and the White House reached a tentative agreement for more testing funds in the next COVID-19 relief package, but deep disagreements over the scope of the $1 trillion in federal aid remain ahead of the roll out.
- The package, called CARES II, is made up of separate bills from 10 senators as McConnell seeks to replicate an earlier strategy to launch negotiations with Democrats. But the path will be tougher this time. GOP senators and President Donald Trump are at odds over priorities, and Democrats say it’s not nearly enough to stem the health crisis, reopen schools and extend aid to jobless Americans.
- The Republican leader is expected to deliver a speech shortly after the Senate opens, and then senators will begin rolling out their separate parts of the package, according to a Republican granted anonymity to discuss the plans.
- The centerpiece of the GOP effort remains McConnell’s liability shield to protect businesses, schools and others from coronavirus-related lawsuits.
- The package is not expected to provide any new money for cash-strapped states and cities, which are clamoring for funds, but Republicans propose giving $105 billion to help schools reopen and $15 billion for child care centers to create safe environments for youngsters during the pandemic.
- The $600 weekly unemployment benefit boost that is expiring Friday will be reduced, likely to $200, and ultimately adjusted according to state jobless benefits rates. Some Republicans say the boost is a disincentive to work, but others prefer a phased approach.
- Full story HERE.
5. Opening Day! In July!
- Let’s just pretend we are picking up after the All Star break.
- A baseball season that was on the brink before it ever began because of the virus outbreak is set to start Thursday night when excitable Max Scherzer and the World Series champion Washington Nationals host prized ace Gerrit Cole and the New York Yankees.
- When it does get underway — the DC forecast calls for thunderstorms, the latest rocky inning in this what-can-go-wrong game — it’ll mark the most bizarre year in the history of Major League Baseball.
- A 60-game season, stars opting out. Ballparks without fans, players wearing masks. Piped-in sound effects, cardboard cutouts for spectators. Spray-painted ads on the mound, pitchers with personal rosin bags.
- And a rack of strange rules. DHs in the National League, well, OK. An automatic runner on second to start the 10th inning? C’mon, now.
- Plus, a reminder of the world we live in: players wearing masks and social justice messages – neither of which are required, but will likely be visible.
- So it’s Yankees-Nats and Giants-Dodgers tonight, then a whole slew of games tomorrow, including Braves-Mets, Cubs-Brewers, Royals-Indians, Red Sox-Orioles and Pirates-Cardinals.
- Read more about this unique Opening Day HERE.
Activist Carlos Chaverst says arrests in 3 separate cities frivolous
- BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama activist said he was arrested in three different cities on separate charges.
- Carlos Chaverst, 27, turned himself in Monday on outstanding warrants in Hoover, Homewood and Birmingham, AL.Com reported. Chaverst is the president of the Birmingham Justice League.
- Hoover police charged Chaverst with inciting to riot on June 4. Police said Chaverst took to social media on May 29 and threatened to commit property damage in the city.
- In Homewood, Chaverst was charged with second-degree bail jumping, which is when a person fails to appear in court after being granted a release.
- In Birmingham, Chaverst was charged with failure to appear on multiple charges or citations including no insurance, driving with a suspended license, using tag of improper class, impeding the flow of traffic, DUI and two counts of second-degree possession of marijuana.
- Chaverst said police were blatantly targeting him with frivolous charges. He also said he was in Chicago on June 4, not Hoover.
- Besides the charges in Hoover, Homewood and Birmingham, Chaverst said he learned of an active warrant against him in Brookside for harassment and inciting a riot. Chaverst said he has never been to Brookside.
- Chaverst said he hopes the charges will be dropped and if not his legal team will sue each department.
- “This is the blatant targeting on black activist departments do who are afraid of being held accountable,” Chaverst said. “My legal team and I are working to sue each department respectively if charges aren’t dropped immediately.”
Court records: Slain teen attacked with metal pole, stabbed
- MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A 17-year-old girl whose body was found in an Alabama creek had been beaten and stabbed, police wrote in arrest warrants for three 16-year-old girls accused of capital murder.
- An affidavit submitted with arrest warrants said Lesley Luna Pantaleon died after being stabbed with a knife and attacked with a metal pole during a robbery.
- Pantaleon was last seen alive in June. Her body was found in water near the city’s airport on July 4, police said.
- Montgomery police said Ta’Niya Merriweather, Erin Taylor and Tyeshia Whisenant were charged with murder during a robbery, court documents showed. Court records show that the three were charged as adults.
- Pantaleon’s parents reported her missing on June 24, when she was last seen driving a vehicle in Montgomery.
- The three suspects had an initial court appearance Wednesday.
Homewood officer suspended, demoted for rap video
- HOMEWOOD, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama police officer was suspended and demoted after he posted a video of himself rapping a song with controversial lyrics.
- Homewood police officer Jon Newland received a three-day suspension and was demoted from corporal to officer, news outlets reported Tuesday. Newland was also moved from the department’s training division back to patrol.
- In the video posted on Newland’s Instagram page, which has since been deactivated, the officer rapped, “I wear black and blue, professional gunslinger, rap singer too.”
- At the end of the 55-second video, Newland sang “my ways are a blaze of mysterious smoke, around your neck I flex this choke.”
- Newland posted the video in May, nine days before the death George Floyd, who was killed by Minneapolis police officer.
- Homewood police Sgt. John Carr said officials were made aware of the video June 18.
- Carr said Newland was not on duty when the video was posted nor was he “representing himself as a Homewood Police officer in any official capacity.” Carr also said the lyrics were not a reflection of the department.
- Newland has since returned to work, AL.Com reported.
- It’s unclear whether Newland will appeal the decision. Carr did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Trump deploys more federal agents under ‘law and order’ push
- WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump announced he will send federal agents to Chicago and Albuquerque, New Mexico, to help combat rising crime, expanding the administration’s intervention into local enforcement as he runs for reelection under a “law and order” mantle.
- Using the same alarmist language he has employed to describe illegal immigration, Trump painted Democrat-led cities as out of control and lashed out at the “radical left,” which he blamed for rising violence in some cities, even though criminal justice experts say it defies easy explanation.
- “In recent weeks there has been a radical movement to defund, dismantle and dissolve our police department,” Trump said Wednesday at a White House event, blaming the movement for “a shocking explosion of shootings, killings, murders and heinous crimes of violence.”
- “This bloodshed must end,” he said. “This bloodshed will end.”
- The decision to dispatch federal agents to American cities is playing out at a hyperpoliticized moment when Trump is grasping for a new reelection strategy after the coronavirus upended the economy, dismantling what his campaign had seen as his ticket to a second term.
- Full story HERE.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New COVID-19 cases drop, but state sees highest daily death toll
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – More schools announce delayed openings, virtual starts
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey declares ‘Sweet Grown Alabama Day,’ promotes local products
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – McConnell set to unveil new virus aid, despite GOP revolt
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump deploys more federal agents under ‘law and order’ push
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Opening day amid virus: Masks, empty parks, social justice
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama voter ID law upheld by 11th Circuit
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – State prepares for final Census push
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – July 22, 2020
AL.COM – Reopening Alabama’s K-12 schools: Here are the plans
AL.COM – Charles Barkley urges Black Americans to take part in medical study
AL.COM – Southern Research collaborating on COVID-19 vaccine tests
AL.COM – Clotilda plans active despite delays caused by epidemic
AL.COM – John Archibald awarded Nieman Fellowship
AL.COM – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: How do we honor John Lewis’ legacy in a police state?
AL.COM – For the glove of it: Alabama factory picked right time to expand
AL.COM – Alabama man thinks three lines can change the world
Montgomery Advertiser – Stoudemire officially takes Democratic nomination for Autauga Commission District 5 race
Montgomery Advertiser – Autauga County schools set opening date, opting for September start, June finish
Montgomery Advertiser – Millbrook to build sprawling $35 million, 120-acre sports complex
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – UPDATE: AHSAA to return to play with no delay
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Ala. state senator hospitalized with COVID-19 now on ventilator
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – More schools announce delayed openings, virtual starts
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Trussville City Schools using desk shields to help protect students and teachers
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Ivey declares ‘Sweet Grown Alabama Day,’ promotes local products
Tuscaloosa News – School leaders clarify reopening plans
Tuscaloosa News – Court records: Slain teen attacked with metal pole, stabbed
Tuscaloosa News – Alabama officer suspended, demoted for rap video
Decatur Daily – Decatur City Schools may begin virtually if ‘very high risk’ category does not drop
Decatur Daily – Fire shuts down Spring Avenue Walmart, remains under investigation
Decatur Daily – Huntsville, Madison City, Madison County and other state schools to start year virtually
Times Daily – Florence officials urge taking safety measures
Times Daily – Drug bust results in 5 charges for Muscle Shoals man
Times Daily – Ivey declares ‘Sweet Grown Alabama Day,’ promotes local products
Anniston Star – Vote to refinance will save city through lower interest rates
Anniston Star – JSU presents fall plans for instructional delivery, safety precautions
Anniston Star – Ivey declares ‘Sweet Grown Alabama Day,’ promotes local products
Anniston Star – More schools announce delayed openings, virtual starts
YellowHammer News – Alabama fall high school sports allowed to start on schedule
YellowHammer News – Coronavirus hospitalizations continue to mount in Alabama; Several school systems decide to begin year online
YellowHammer News – Officials promote ‘Sweet Grown Alabama’ branding for local products — ‘Safest way to shop during pandemic’
Gadsden Times – Commission to refinance, borrow new money
Gadsden Times – ECBOE pushes back 1st day of school
Gadsden Times – Gadsden man dies in 2-vehicle crash
Dothan Eagle – Houston County drive-thru COVID testing event sees high turnout, again
Dothan Eagle – Dothan sets charges for landfill as reopening nears
Dothan Eagle – Ivey announces statewide online driver license renewal extension
Opelika-Auburn News – Opelika council approves over $11 million for new library, $10K allocated to EAMC Foundation
Opelika-Auburn News – Russell County schools to start online in August
Opelika-Auburn News – State senator, commissioner continue difficult COVID-19 fight
WSFA Montgomery – Troy mayor remembers Rep. John Lewis
WSFA Montgomery – Lawmaker makes appeal for governor to do more for rural school systems to safely open
WSFA Montgomery – Teen charged in fatal Troy apartment shooting
WAFF Huntsville – Mayor of Portland, Oregon, tear gassed by federal agents during night of protest
WAFF Huntsville – Retesting guidance shifts for COVID-19
WAFF Huntsville – COVID-19 in Alabama: State surpasses 32,000 presumed recoveries
WKRG Mobile – Mayor of Portland, Oregon, tear gassed by federal agents
WKRG Mobile – Person shot at apartment complex on Azalea Road
WKRG Mobile – Head of Alabama Hospital Association calls for more healthcare workers
WTVY Dothan – University of Alabama coronavirus hotline now up and running
WTVY Dothan – City of Auburn could see big impact if students don’t return in fall
WTVY Dothan – Alabama’s COVID-19 hospitalization record broken for sixth day
WASHINGTON POST – At least 76% of American voters can cast ballots by mail in the fall
WASHINGTON POST – Amid rising coronavirus deaths, Trump paints a rosy picture of America’s present and future
WASHINGTON POST – Republican feuding this week represents broader reckoning over party’s future as Trump sinks in the polls
NEW YORK TIMES – Coronavirus Live Updates: U.S. Nears 4 Million Cases as Multiple States Set Records
NEW YORK TIMES – Republicans, Deeply Divided on Virus Aid, Near Agreement on an Opening Offer
NEW YORK TIMES – After Picking Up Work Here and There, No Unemployment Check
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Unemployment Claims Hold at Historically High Levels
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Energy’s Winning Wagers: Against Natural-Gas Prices, for Natural-Gas Producers
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Insurance Group to Scrutinize Rate Guidelines for Racial Bias