1. As cases increase, so do restrictions
- Bidding to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, public health officials in Alabama’s largest county ordered restaurants to switch to take-out service only and ordered child care centers closed and nursing home visits restricted.
- Jefferson County Health Officer Mark Wilson announced the orders at a news conference Monday. Seventeen of the 29 confirmed virus cases in Alabama have been detected in Jefferson County.
- Wilson said the orders are for: child care centers, preschools and private school centers with 12 or more students to close from Thursday until April 6; restaurants beginning Tuesday should not have on-site dining for one week but delivery and take-out can continue; the closure of senior citizen center activities; and for nursing homes to restrict visitation except for compassionate situations such as end of life. The order also prohibits public gatherings with more than 25 people.
- Read more from Kim Chandler HERE.
- Meanwhile, state health and emergency officials are urging the public to take the coronavirus seriously.
- State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris and EMA Director Brian Hastings called on the public to heed warnings and “respect this disease.”
- Hastings specifically called out younger Alabamians, who are not as susceptible to death, but could spread an infection to more vulnerable people.
- Read more on the state’s response from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.
- And read more on how exactly the virus spreads and infects HERE.
2. Trump changes tone
- Racing to stall an expected surge of coronavirus cases, the White House on Monday released a series of sweeping guidelines that for the next 15 days will temporarily rewrite the norms of American society.
- President Donald Trump, employing a newly somber tone about the crisis enveloping the globe, urged all older Americans to stay home and everyone to avoid crowds and eating out at restaurants. The president for the first time acknowledged that the pandemic may send the economy into a recession and suggested that the nation may be dealing with the virus until “July or August.”
- The guidelines were released to an uneasy country. The stock market had its worst day since 1987.
- Among the new recommendations: Over the next half month, Americans should not gather in groups of more than 10 people, schooling should be at home and discretionary travel and social visits should be avoided. If anyone in a household tests positive for the virus, everyone who lives there should stay home.
- “We will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus,” Trump said. “We can turn the corner and turn it quickly.”
- Congress convened to try to finish an aid package and consider another one behind it. The Supreme Court postponed oral arguments for the first time in over a century. And the U.S. surgeon general said that the United States is about where Italy was two weeks ago in the coronavirus struggle, a sign that infections are expected to rise.
- “When you look at the projections, there’s every chance that we could be Italy,” Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams told Fox News. Yet he said the U.S. has opportunities to mitigate the pandemic.
- Read more HERE.
3. Virus could alter session, budgets
- It looks like the Alabama Legislature’s 2020 Regular Session could be significantly altered by the coronavirus and efforts to stop its spread.
- So could the budgets lawmakers are writing.
- Right now, lawmakers are on a fortuitously-planned spring break that was supposed to last until March 26.
- House spokesman Clay Redden confirmed the House will scrap committee meetings and a planned legislative day next week and instead reconvene on March 31 to assess the situation.
- That’s possible thanks to a rule change following the snowstorm of 2014 that allows the Legislature to not “burn” legislative days if an emergency prevents a quorum.
- Still, time is ticking on the 105 calendar days the session is allowed to last, and a prolonged postponement would almost certainly mean time running out before major items – including the budgets – are dispensed with, meaning special sessions could be necessary.
- As far as the budgets go, that might be a good thing.
- Some top lawmakers are expecting the new coronavirus and attempts to stop its spread to affect tax revenues and the 2021 budgets they’re drafting.
- “I think it could have a dramatic impact,” Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, said Monday afternoon. He’s chairman of the House General Fund budget committee. He said it could be several weeks to a month before the financial toll of closures and social distancing are known. State and federal officials have said states will be reacting to the coronavirus for at least six to eight weeks.
- “I think we’d need to wait as late as possible on the budgets to see how everything develops,” Clouse said.
- Early this year, estimates for the estimated $2.5 billion 2021 General Fund and $7.5 billion education budgets showed increases over current year revenues.
- Read more from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.
4. ABC closes 78 stores
- The Alabama Beverage Control Board is temporarily closing 78 stores and reducing hours at others in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
- “Because of staffing requirements and health concerns, we believe that closing some of our stores will provide the greatest amount of employee/customer protection, while ensuring maximum productivity and efficiency,” ABC’s government relations manager Dean Argo said.
- In 2018, ABC had 864 employees, according to Alabama State Personnel Department data. There are about 170 stores statewide.
- Stores remaining open will operate from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m., Argo said.
- Starting Wednesday, all stores will operate as “over the counter,” Argo said, to keep distance between customers and employees and no more than five customers at a time will be allowed in a store.
- Customers will not be allowed to get products from store shelves. Store personnel will ask customers for their order, retrieve it and bring it to check out.
- Customers are being asked to pay with credit and debit cards, not cash.
- Read more and see the list of stores HERE.
5. Officials seek $750 billion in economic aid
- With an urgency unseen since the Great Recession, Congress is rushing to develop a sweeping economic lifeline for American households and businesses suddenly capsized by the coronavirus outbreak.
- “ASAP,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said late Monday. “There’s an urgency.”Senators returned to an emptied out U.S. Capitol, clear of tourists or colleagues from the House, to confront an even more dire situation than the one they left for a long weekend, before President Donald Trump declared a national emergency.
- Pending is the House-passed aid package approved early Saturday — with sick pay, free testing and emergency food — that is endorsed by Trump and ready to become law.
- But action was stalled for much of the day as the Senate waited on the House for technical corrections as Republicans and a leading small business group raised objections, a setback only resolved late in the evening with a House voice vote of approval. Senate passage could follow as early as today.
- Industries representing a broad swath of the economy are seeking help in withstanding the fallout as schools close and Americans are being told to stay inside, skip nonessential travel and avoid gatherings with 10 people or more.
- That means no dining out, no boarding planes, no shopping the malls as a great national shutdown sparks business closures, layoffs and lost paychecks for rents, mortgages and everyday needs.
- Full story HERE.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Lawmakers looking for coronavirus’ impact on budgets; precautions could alter rest of legislative session
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama leaders to public: ‘Respect this disease’
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama to follow feds on April 15 tax deadline change
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Update: ABC temporarily closing 78 stores
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama: 29 virus cases; closures in state’s biggest county
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Officials seek $750 billion in economic aid to thwart virus
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump changes tone, urges caution to slow virus outbreak
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – State superintendent issues letter to school districts on closure protocol
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey: State workers should stay home if possible
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Merrill seeks to postpone runoff election; Sessions, Tuberville continue campaigning
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – How it spreads, infects: Coronavirus impact comes into focus
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – March 16, 2020
AL.COM – How are Alabama’s largest cities handling coronavirus?
AL.COM – What happens if you lose your job due to coronavirus? Alabama officials provide some answers
AL.COM – ‘We’re open 24-7’: Alabama police, firefighters keep going despite coronavirus pandemic
AL.COM – Club for Growth endorses Tuberville, abandons Sessions in Senate runoff
AL.COM – 78 state-owned ABC liquor stores closing; open stores limited to 5 customers at a time
AL.COM – Coronavirus: Alabama’s state-owned ABC liquor stores remain open
AL.COM – Alabama gig workers find ways to adapt amid coronavirus pandemic
AL.COM – How much does Alabama Power need to keep the lights on? The billion-dollar battle over expansion
AL.COM – Jasper automotive supplier begins $7 million expansion
Montgomery Advertiser – Second COVID-19 case confirmed in Montgomery County, Alabama coronavirus total to 29
Montgomery Advertiser – COVID-19: Here are the ABC Stores that are closing in Montgomery, and those staying open
Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery city facilities closed indefinitely amid COVID-19 pandemic
YellowHammer News – Alabama cable providers to offer no-cost, low-cost options during coronavirus pandemic
YellowHammer News – Huntsville leaders declare State of Emergency
YellowHammer News – First coronavirus screening facility opens in Montgomery; Drive-thru available with appointment
Tuscaloosa News – Alabama virus cases rise to 29
Tuscaloosa News – Alabama expected to delay April 15 tax deadline
Tuscaloosa News – Some local businesses plan temporary closures
Decatur Daily – 4 people in Morgan being tested for coronavirus
Decatur Daily – With school closures, some day cares stay open, school districts providing meals
Decatur Daily – Coronavirus could impact state Legislature, budgets
Times Daily – Alabama to follow feds on April 15 tax deadline change
Times Daily – Schools, food banks prepare to feed children during closure
Times Daily – Most households to receive Census invitations this week
Anniston Star – Coronavirus could impact Alabama Legislature, state budgets
Anniston Star – BREAKING: Calhoun County, Jacksonville schools to close after today
Anniston Star – State loosens unemployment rules in anticipation of COVID-19 layoffs
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Coronavirus could impact state Legislature, budgets
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Schools districts offering lunches during Coronavirus closure
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – ABC temporarily closing 78 stores
WAFF Huntsville – ’Seems like daily cancellations’: Social distancing impacts on events
WAFF Huntsville – Madison City Schools offering student meal pickups during closure
WAFF Huntsville – Day care closures recommended but not required by law
Dothan Eagle – COVID-19 latest: Alabama: 29 virus cases; closures in state’s biggest county
Dothan Eagle – Alabama: 29 virus cases; closures in state’s biggest county
Dothan Eagle – City of Dothan adapts operations to deal with COVID-19
Gadsden Times – Etowah Co. Courthouse to remain open despite coronavirus
Gadsden Times – Shooting incident outside Centre hospital
Gadsden Times – ADPH to restaurants, retail: Cut capacity in half
Troy Messenger – MEETING OF THE MINDS: Officials meet to discuss COVID-19 coronavirus preparations
Troy Messenger – Local medical facilities gearing up for testing, treating of coronavirus
Troy Messenger – Grocers working to restock shelves as customers stock up amid coronavirus fears
Andalusia Star News – Opp man charged with two counts of attempted murder
Andalusia Star News – County offices to conduct most business via online or phones
Andalusia Star News – Update: City adds library, parks to list of closings
Opelika-Auburn News – COVID-19 latest: Drive-thru testing opens in Lee County; 29 virus cases confirmed in state
Opelika-Auburn News – EAMC deals with first virus case
Opelika-Auburn News – Lee County begins drive-thru testing; social-distancing highly encouraged
Daily Mountain Eagle – COVID-19 unemployment benefits made available
Daily Mountain Eagle – Empire VFD holds open house
Daily Mountain Eagle – Rains delay Parrish road grant project
Trussville Tribune – City of Clay closes Cosby Lake, other public facilities
Trussville Tribune – Trussville Chamber of Commerce cancels job fair, Spring Carnival due to coronavirus
Trussville Tribune – Trussville mayor hopes for the best for local businesses as coronavirus precautions intense
Athens News Courier – Athens man arrested on burglary charges
Athens News Courier – U.S.moves nearer to shutdown amid coronavirus fears
Athens News Courier – Schools, churches and organizations work to help feed community
Sand Mountain Reporter – Marshall Medical Centers: No COVID-19 cases on Sand Mountain
WSFA Montgomery – ABC Board to close some stores, decrease hours for others to limit coronavirus exposure
WSFA Montgomery – Dollar General encouraging stores to dedicate first hour of business to seniors
WSFA Montgomery – ALEA modifies Driver License Division operations in response to coronavirus
WKRG Mobile – Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson reportedly released from hospital
WKRG Mobile – Florida moves ahead with Tuesday primary despite coronavirus concerns
WKRG Mobile – Uncertainty surrounds Democratic primary as Ohio scraps vote
WTVY Dothan – Coronavirus closings and cancellations
WTVY Dothan – EPA Expands COVID-19 Disinfectant List
WTVY Dothan – Schools, restaurants, entertainment, closings and other coronavirus news
WASHINGTON POST – Americans kept wondering what the president wanted them to do about coronavirus. Finally, Trump offered some guidance
WASHINGTON POST – Dow plunges nearly 3,000 points as Fed intervention does little to subdue Wall Street’s distress
WASHINGTON POST – Biden’s promise to choose a woman veep reignites hopes of a female president
WASHINGTON POST – Justice Dept. abandons prosecution of Russian firm indicted in Mueller election interference probe
WASHINGTON POST – Congressional leaders, administration push swift action on third coronavirus relief bill with major economic stimulus
WASHINGTON POST – Food banks are seeing volunteers disappear and supplies evaporate as coronavirus fears mount
NEW YORK TIMES – Trump Urges Limits Amid Pandemic, but Stops Short of National Mandates
NEW YORK TIMES – America’s Economy Begins to Shut Down as Pandemic Measures Take Hold
NEW YORK TIMES – ‘People Need Immediate Relief,’ and Online Donors Make It Happen