Here’s your Daily News for Wednesday, July 29.
1. COVID-19 update
- Alabama reported 1,180 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, as the seven-day average of new cases continued to trend downward to 1,604, according to data from the Alabama Department of Public Health. Ten days ago, the seven day average for new cases was 1,851.
- Gov. Kay Ivey’s two week mask mandate is set to expire Friday, but she is expected to make a decision on extending the order today.
- There were 1,598 confirmed COVID-19 hospitalizations reported Tuesday, representing little change from earlier in the week, but the precipitous climb in hospitalizations appears to have leveled off for the time being. No new deaths from the virus were reported Tuesday, according to ADPH.
- Hospitals are urging Ivey to extend a statewide face mask order as the state continues to see high numbers of coronavirus cases.
- East Alabama Medical Center encouraged the extension of the mask mandate, noting that the COVID-19 count “is still very high in the hospital.”
- “We need to lower our census first, and so do other hospitals,” Dr. Ricardo Maldonado said.
- Dr. Don Williamson, the former state health officer who now heads the Alabama Hospital Association, said the association also supports an extension.
- “We have to continue until the disease is at a very low level and 1,100 (cases per day) is not a low level,” Williamson said. “If you do away with the mask order, more people get infected and we head right back up.”
- Full story HERE.
2. Inside Alabama Politics
- The Way of the Mask;
- AEA says teachers ‘very uncomfortable’ returning to school;
- Sen. Randy Price Update;
- The Dismukes Debacle;
- Quiet Conversations on Race;
- Broadband and Reconciliation?
- AlaDems Come to Life;
- What Happened in AL-2?
- Local Elections Stir Small Towns;
- Rest In Peace Rep. Ron Johnson.
3. New AUM poll shows both parties support expanding Medicaid
- A new poll conducted by Auburn University at Montgomery shows both Republicans and Democrats favor expanding Medicaid health care for low income Alabamians.
- According to the survey, 52.2% of Republicans either somewhat or strongly support expanding Medicaid while a full 84.8% of Democrats favor the idea.
- The AUM poll surveyed voters on the economy, healthcare and education, all of which voters rated as their top issues heading into the 2020 general election.
- David Hughes, who directed the survey, said the results show clear majorities in supporting policies that expand Medicaid and that would create a state-run education lottery.
- In testing voters opinions on the 2017 law protecting Alabama monuments, the survey found that only a slight majority of Alabama voters support forbidding the removal of Confederate monuments. There was less support for the 2017 law among liberal voters, Hughes said.
- “A slim majority, or 52 percent, of all Alabama voters support the state legislature’s 2017 law forbidding the removal of Confederate monuments,” Hughes said.
- Full story from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.
4. Barr defends aggressive federal response to protests, riots
- Attorney General William Barr defended the aggressive federal law enforcement response to civil unrest in America as he testified for the first time before the House Judiciary Committee, pushing back against angry, skeptical Democrats who said President Donald Trump’s administration is unconstitutionally suppressing dissent.
- The hearing, held Tuesday as the late civil rights icon John Lewis lay in state steps away outside the Capitol, highlighted the wide election-year gulf between the two parties on police brutality and systemic racism in law enforcement. Massive protests have sparked unrest across the nation following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, and calls for police reform are growing louder.
- But Barr said “violent rioters and anarchists have hijacked legitimate protests” and argued the violence taking place in Portland, Oregon, and other cities is disconnected from Floyd’s killing, which he called a “horrible” event that prompted a necessary national reckoning on the relationship between the Black community and law enforcement. But he also said there was no systemic racism in law enforcement.
- “Largely absent from these scenes of destruction are even superficial attempts by the rioters to connect their actions to George Floyd’s death or any legitimate call for reform,” Barr said of the Portland protests.
- The hearing marks Barr’s first appearance before the committee after 18 months in office, bringing him face-to-face with the panel that voted last year to hold him in contempt and is holding hearings on what Democrats say is politicization of the Justice Department under his watch. But little new ground was uncovered; fuming Democrats often used their five minutes to lay out their frustrations and cut Barr off as he attempted to answer questions.
- Full story and video of the hearing HERE.
5. Chilton County leaders approve broadband access feasibility study
- Spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, community leaders and organizations from Chilton County have created a feasibility study for enabling better broadband access.
- The study’s intent is to provide an inventory of connectivity information, identify strengths and weaknesses of connectivity, and identify potential solutions to strategically address the issues, a press release Monday said.
- Chilton County leaders were already formulating plans to address broadband issues at the start of 2020, but the health emergency created by COVID-19 caused broadband expansion to move to the top of their priority list.
- “The process was placed into motion when leaders of the community unanimously voted to fund the feasibility study,” County Commission Chair Joseph Parnell said in the written statement. “The mayors and I worked with respected elected members to bring this study to the forefront of major issues in our county. We understand the importance of broadband/fiber and what the absence costs our communities.”
- Full story from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.
Alabama corrections officers face excessive force charges
- MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Federal prosecutors announced Tuesday that four Alabama corrections officers will face federal charges after a state inmate was kicked and hit with batons while he lay on the ground in a fetal position.
- The U.S. Department of Justice announced the indictments a week after accusing the state prison system of having a pattern of using excessive force on prisoners.
- Prosecutors said Sgt. Keith Finch and corrections Officers Jordan Thomas and Kevin Blaylock are charged with deprivation of rights under color of law and Thomas and Sgt. Orlanda Walker are charged with obstruction of justice. It is not immediately clear if they have attorneys.
- The indictment alleges that on Sept. 12, 2018, Finch, Thomas and Blaylock used excessive force to punish a prisoner who ran out of his cell in the Bibb Correctional Facility.
- The Department of Justice said in a news release that after two officers took the prisoner to the ground, the prisoner curled up in a fetal position and then Finch, Thomas and Blaylock kicked the prisoner and hit him multiple times with their batons. The prisoner was injured.
- Thomas and his supervisor, Walker, are accused of filing false reports that claimed “all force ceased” once the prisoner was on the ground.
Space Camp in danger of closing permanently due to pandemic
- Space Camp, an educational program attended by nearly 1 million people, including a dozen who went on to become astronauts or cosmonauts, said Tuesday it’s in danger of closing without a cash infusion because of the coronavirus pandemic.
- Part of the state-owned U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Space Camp was shut down for weeks earlier this year and has been hampered by low attendance since reopening in June with limited capacity, officials said.
- With most of its typical staff slashed and the normal flow of international students and school groups down to nothing for the fall because of the virus, leaders held a news conference announcing a “Save Space Camp” drive.
- Officials hope to raise at least $1.5 million in donations they said were needed to keep the museum open through October, the end of the fiscal year, and to reopen Space Camp in April.
- Full story HERE.
US officials: Russia behind spread of virus disinformation
- WASHINGTON (AP) — Russian intelligence services are using a trio of English-language websites to spread disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, seeking to exploit a crisis that America is struggling to contain ahead of the presidential election in November, U.S. officials said Tuesday.
- Two Russians who have held senior roles in Moscow’s military intelligence service known as the GRU have been identified as responsible for a disinformation effort meant to reach American and Western audiences, U.S. government officials said. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
- The information had previously been classified, but officials said it had been downgraded so they could more freely discuss it. Officials said they were doing so now to sound the alarm about the particular websites and to expose what they say is a clear link between the sites and Russian intelligence.
- Between late May and early July, one of the officials said, the websites singled out Tuesday published about 150 articles about the pandemic response, including coverage aimed either at propping up Russia or denigrating the U.S.
- Among the headlines that caught the attention of U.S. officials were “Russia’s Counter COVID-19 Aid to America Advances Case for Détente,” which suggested that Russia had given urgent and substantial aid to the U.S. to fight the pandemic, and “Beijing Believes COVID-19 is a Biological Weapon,” which amplified statements by the Chinese.
- Full story HERE.
INSIDE ALABAMA POLITICS – July 29, 2020
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New cases, hospitalizations level off as state mask mandate is set to expire
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New AUM poll shows both parties support expanding Medicaid
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Barr defends aggressive federal response to protests
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Chilton County leaders approve broadband access feasibility study
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS– Space Camp in danger of closing permanently due to pandemic
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS– US officials: Russia behind spread of virus disinformation
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – COVID-19 hospitalizations hit new high; seven-day average of new cases declines
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Dismukes faces criticism, calls to resign for celebrating Klan leader
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Last call: ABC orders bars, restaurants to stop alcohol sales at 11 pm
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Poll shows Alabama voters want in-person and absentee options in November election
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – July 28, 2020
AL.COM – Alabama adds 1,180 coronavirus cases overnight, tops 80,000; Latest county-by-county numbers
AL.COM – Alabama superintendents frustrated by changing guidance, lack of data
AL.COM – 4 Alabama corrections officers indicted for allegedly using excessive force against prisoner
AL.COM – How many COVID cases would it take to shut down school? Alabama school superintendent answers
AL.COM – Unless extended, Alabama’s mask order set to expire Friday
AL.COM – Tuskegee University receives $20 million donation from MacKenzie Scott
AL.COM – Demonstrators push for release of Mobile police policies
AL.COM – Union sues over faster line speeds at Alabama poultry plants
AL.COM – U.S. Space & Rocket Center ‘in jeopardy of closure,’ seeking $1.5 million in donations
AL.COM – 45 Jefferson County Jail inmates quarantined with COVID-19
AL.COM – National Right to Life group endorses Tuberville
AL.COM – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: Meet Alabama’s latest Lost Cause: Rep. Will Dismukes
Montgomery Advertiser – Protesters handcuffed, arrested at Alabama Capitol after pavement painted
Montgomery Advertiser – ‘Lost in the pandemic’: Justice Center sees increase in domestic violence cases, decrease in victims seeking help
Montgomery Advertiser – Protesters arrested at capitol building
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – ADOC responds to federal review alleging excessive force against inmates
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – ER wait times grow longer during COVID-19 pandemic
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Homicide investigation underway in Birmingham’s Southside
Tuscaloosa News – Man charged in infant’s assault
Tuscaloosa News – State seeks to dismiss suit challenging Alabama mask order
Tuscaloosa News – Hospitals urge Alabama Gov. Ivey to extend mask order
Decatur Daily – Morgan, Limestone COVID-19 deaths up; test delays, drug supply a concern
Decatur Daily – Police: Four charged with robbery after victim lured through dating app
Decatur Daily – City halts downtown restaurant’s attempted outdoor expansion
Times Daily – Lauderdale extends decision deadline to Friday
Times Daily – Lauderdale commissioners change public input policy
Times Daily – Camp Courage canceled due to pandemic
Anniston Star – Oxford council applies for block grant to fund improvements
Anniston Star – COVID-19 didn’t dent Anniston revenue — but wait ’til next year
Anniston Star – Alabama agriculture officials warn of unsolicited seed packages
YellowHammer News – Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition names president, helps state create EV infrastructure plan
YellowHammer News – NFIB: Business owners need more COVID-19 relief to survive
YellowHammer News – National Right to Life endorses Tommy Tuberville over ‘abortion on demand’ Doug Jones
Gadsden Times – Band camp interrupted by COVID-19 case
Gadsden Times – Attalla school board to meet Thursday
Gadsden Times – Scientists get closer to blood test for Alzheimer’s disease
Dothan Eagle – South Park/Taylor roundabout working well, although there is still some confusion
Dothan Eagle – Updated: Hartford sees spike in COVID-19 cases following candidate forum
Dothan Eagle – Houston County Schools consider bonus for teachers covering classes during planning period
Opelika-Auburn News – Public hearing for community development block grants emphasizes public services
Opelika-Auburn News – Lee Co. Schools pushes back start date; online until September at earliest
Opelika-Auburn News – Sheriff: Jealousy drove kidnapping, slaying of Georgia woman
WSFA Montgomery – Online reporting system open for Ala. residents who receive suspicious seeds
WSFA Montgomery – $20M gift is largest in Tuskegee University’s nearly 140-year history
WSFA Montgomery – Elmore County school sees enrollment increase due to coronavirus
WAFF Huntsville – 3 in custody after high speed chase in Cullman, Morgan Counties
WAFF Huntsville – Deadly plane crash in south Alabama matches flight from Muscle Shoals
WAFF Huntsville – Morgan County Sheriff’s Office works to keep deputies, inmates safe from COVID-19
WKRG Mobile – Fort Walton Beach council discusses mask mandate to combat COVID-19
WKRG Mobile – Survey: 65 percent of Alabama teachers “very uncomfortable” with returning to school buildings
WKRG Mobile – Azalea City Center for the Arts provides a place for virtual learning with certified teachers
WTVY Dothan – Coronavirus outbreak in Hartford after political event
WTVY Dothan – State conducting parent survey on internet access
WTVY Dothan – Ashford police warning residents about scam calls
WASHINGTON POST – Democrats seek to shame Barr over politics at the Justice Department
WASHINGTON POST – Post View: Alabama’s 13 state prisons are grotesque chambers of horrors
WASHINGTON POST – At the heart of dismal U.S. coronavirus response, a fraught relationship with masks
NEW YORK TIMES – Trump Falsely Claims Much of U.S. Is ‘Corona-Free’
NEW YORK TIMES – Misleading Virus Video, Pushed by the Trumps, Spreads Online
NEW YORK TIMES – Michigan Threatens to Slip From Trump as He Goes Quiet on Airwaves
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Coronavirus-Stimulus Plan Splits Senate Republicans
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Biden Urges Bigger Role for Fed in Addressing Racial Wealth Gap
WALL STREET JOURNAL – VA Hospital Faulted in Suicide of Patient Who Sought Care
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