1. Students to finish school year at home
- Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Thursday directed public schools to finish the academic year with students taking lessons at home through distance learning as the state tries to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
- Ivey, who had closed schools through April 5, said it became clear that schools cannot reopen yet. She signed an order saying school systems should implement plans beginning April 6 to finish the school year through alternate means of instruction.
- “We must be serious about eliminating the spread of this virus,” Ivey said.
- “Folks, this is for real. This is a deadly situation,” she continued.
- The number of coronavirus cases in the state swelled to more than 538 as of this morning, with three confirmed deaths, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. The city of Tuscaloosa the same day became the second city, in addition to Birmingham, to issue an order directing residents to stay at home unless going out for food, medicine or work at essential businesses.
- Alabama Superintendent of Education Eric Mackey said the state is developing plans for how the distance learning would work. Mackey said lessons may be conducted online and students who do not have internet access may get take-home materials.
- “We are working diligently with our local superintendents and their teams to make sure there is a plan in place for every school, for every child to continue their learning, to close out their school year, to graduate our seniors on time,” Mackey said.
- Ivey and Mackey acknowledged that the situation could put some students behind in their instruction, but they did not say if the next school year could start earlier or last longer to make up for it.
- Read more from Kim Chandler along with an interactive map showing how many cases are where HERE.
2. Speaker adjourns session indefinitely; Senate talks April 28
- House Speaker Mac McCutcheon presided over a mostly empty House chamber Thursday, with just a handful of socially distanced staff and reporters present.
- That was by design as legislative leaders had asked the other 103 members of the House of Representatives to stay home rather than travel back to Montgomery for what was supposed to be the Alabama Legislature’s 13th meeting day. With no quorum present in the eerily quiet State House building, the House of Representatives now stands adjourned indefinitely amid the growing outbreak of the new coronavirus.
- McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, did not have a date certain for when he thought the session would resume and said he is taking advice from state health officials.
- Senate leadership gathered Thursday on a conference call to discuss the upper chamber’s plans, a leadership aide said. They are scheduled to reconvene Monday the 31st, but will only handle administrative matters, including choosing a date to reconvene the session.
- According to a memo from Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed’s office, April 28th is the date being proposed as the restart for the session in the Senate, though it is not set in stone. Lawmakers could meet for four or even five legislative days per week, instead of their normal two or three, in order to make up for lost time, the aide said.
- McCutcheon mentioned the close quarters in which the lawmakers work when in session. Inside the chamber, most members operate at desks that are connected to each other and the halls of the State House are narrow, making it almost impossible for a full building of lawmakers, staff, lobbyists and the public to adhere to the six-feet social distancing guidelines.
- “We’ve got legislators out there from 105 districts in this state. For us to come into this chamber and function and work, we’ve got people that are touching every area of the state coming into one room, in one place conducting business. As Speaker, that’s one of the things I’m very mindful of in terms of the health and welfare of the members and not spreading the [virus].”
- Read the full story from me HERE.
3. As crisis calls increase, domestic violence shelters have COVID-19 plans to remain open
- Domestic abuse crisis calls are increasing in Alabama and some police departments report slight decreases in other criminal activity as people are told to stay at home to slow down the spread of COVID-19.
- The YWCA Central Alabama shelter in Birmingham told Alabama Daily News it received roughly double the number of calls to its crisis hotline on the weekend of March 20-21 compared to the average weekend.
- Domestic abuse shelters around the state haven’t seen a dramatic increase in the number of people seeking shelter, but expect they will as people in already abusive relationships are isolated in their homes longer.
- “I don’t think that that’s a secret for anybody,” said Tay Knight, the Executive Director of the Family Sunshine Center in Montgomery. “When you put people in these situations, where they are isolated, where there are other stressors like maybe loss of employment or reduction in employment and things get tight from a financial perspective, that it is likely to just make the situation worse,” Knight said.
- Alabama is not currently under a statewide shelter-in-place order but the city of Birmingham approved its own on Tuesday, prohibiting anyone from leaving their home unless they are part of the essential workforce, going to buy groceries or medicine or wanting to exercise outdoors.
- Many businesses statewide have shut their doors to customers in order to obey the social-distancing guidelines recommending by the Alabama Department of Public Health, but the domestic violence shelters across the state will remain open.
- Read the full story from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.
4. Unemployment shock: record 3.3 million file jobless claims
- Nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — almost five times the previous record set in 1982 — amid a widespread economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus.
- The surge in weekly applications was a stunning reflection of the damage the viral outbreak is inflicting on the economy. Filings for unemployment aid generally reflect the pace of layoffs.
- Layoffs are sure to accelerate as the U.S. economy sinks into a recession. Revenue has collapsed at restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, gyms and airlines. Auto sales are plummeting, and car makers have closed factories. Most such employers face loan payments and other fixed costs, so they’re cutting jobs to save money.
- As job losses mount, some economists say the nation’s unemployment rate could approach 13% by May. By comparison, the highest jobless rate during the Great Recession, which ended in 2009, was 10%.
- In Alabama, more than 59,783 initial jobless claims were filed this week, according to the Department of Labor spokeswoman Tara Hutchison.
- Read the full story plus the really interesting interactive chart HERE.
5. House scrambles to return to Washington
- House leaders’ plan for swift action on a $2.2 trillion package to ease the coronavirus pandemic‘s devastating toll on the U.S. economy and health care system has run into complications as a maverick Freedom Caucus member threatened to delay passage until most lawmakers return to Washington for a vote.
- Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., who’s opposed to the massive bill, set the House on edge by threatening to try to force a roll call vote. Party leaders had hoped to pass the measure by voice vote without lawmakers having to take the risk of traveling to Washington.
- House leaders urged lawmakers who are “willing and able” to come to the Capitol to do so.
- The move infuriated lawmakers, forcing many to trek to Washington for a vote they’re not even sure will occur. If a quorum can’t assemble Friday, more members would have to travel for a Saturday session.
- Friday morning’s House session comes after an extraordinary 96-0 Senate vote late Wednesday. President Donald Trump marveled at the unanimity Thursday and is eager to sign the package into law.
- Massie does this kind of thing a lot. He seems to revel in being the fly in the ointment. Only this time, his intransigency is causing at least 216 lawmakers from all over the country, to say nothing of the scores of staff, to assemble in one building during a deadly pandemic all to force a roll call vote on a bill that is sure to pass.
- But, you know what? We’re all saying his name today.
- Full story HERE.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama schools to finish year through distance learning
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Speaker: no date certain for resuming session; Senate talks April 28
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – As crisis calls increase, domestic violence shelters have COVID-19 plans
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – House plan on $2.2 trillion virus relief bill hits last-minute snag
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Highlights of Congress’ $2.2 trillion virus relief package
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – 3.3 million seek US jobless aid, nearly 5 times earlier high
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Some businesses struggle with when to restart commerce
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – As COVID-19 cases increase, medical staffing shortages a concern
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – March 26, 2020
AL.COM – Alabama schools closed for the rest of year, instruction goes online
AL.COM – Maddox extends Tuscaloosa’s curfew to 24 hours, citing ‘rapidly developing situation’
AL.COM – Coronavirus puts hold on Alabama Senate until April 28
AL.COM – ‘Everybody is making a sacrifice’: How one Alabama main street is coping
AL.COM – Coronavirus means no set date for return of Alabama House
AL.COM – Markets shoot up, so does unemployment: Alabama economic update
AL.COM – Contributor Joshua Pendergrass: Alabama’s coronavirus response important, but needs benchmarks, business and medical leaders say
AL.COM – UAB hospital selected as study site for potential coronavirus treatment
AL.COM – Alabama limit on ventilators discriminates against intellectually disabled, advocates claim
AL.COM – Alabama schools closed for the rest of year, instruction goes online
Montgomery Advertiser – Alabama schools to stay shuttered amid the coronavirus pandemic
Montgomery Advertiser – Alabama Medal of Honor recipient Bennie Adkins has coronavirus
Montgomery Advertiser – Coronavirus: Ivey says ‘right now is not the time’ for Alabama-wide shelter-in-place order
YellowHammer News – Alabama Senate releases meeting plan for remainder of 2020 regular session
YellowHammer News – Mission success: Alabama’s ULA powers first U.S. Space Force national security launch
YellowHammer News – ALDOT: Construction projects, other essential services continue during coronavirus pandemic
Tuscaloosa News – Coronavirus cases near 450 as first Alabama death reported
Tuscaloosa News – Tuscaloosa under 24-hour curfew starting Sunday
Tuscaloosa News – DeKalb agents, deputies seize 13 ounces of meth
Decatur Daily – K-12 in-class instruction ends for year as COVID-19 cases climb
Decatur Daily – Speaker: no date certain on continuing session
Decatur Daily – Lauderdale County man dies after contracting COVID-19
Times Daily – Speaker: No firm date on restarting session
Times Daily – Sheffield schools opening day camp for children of essential workers
Times Daily – GE Appliances employeehas COVID-19; plant temporarily shut down
Anniston Star – Alabama cases of COVID-19 top 500 after state acknowledges first death
Anniston Star – Council nixes proposal to open multimodal station
Anniston Star – Speaker: No date certain on continuing Alabama Legislature’s session
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Speaker: no date certain for resuming session; Senate talks April 28
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Superintendent says parents will take on new roles as schools close for rest of year
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox issues 24-hour curfew, asking residents to stay home
WAFF Huntsville – ’I won’t have anymore memories’: Graduating senior on school closure
WAFF Huntsville – Lt. governor expresses state’s lack of preparation to COVID-19 pandemic
WAFF Huntsville – Madison student wins Princeton Prize in Race Relations
WKRG Mobile – Alabama Gov. Ivey orders schools to close for remainder of the school year
Gadsden Times – Schools to remain closed; students to finish year online
Gadsden Times – Lt. Gov. calls for public schools to close for remainder of year
Gadsden Times – Alabama tops 500 cases; 4 in Etowah
Dothan Eagle – COVID-19 – The Latest: Alabama cases spike to 531; Ivey announces schools will remain closed; classes will be via distance learning
Dothan Eagle – Fort Rucker tightens protective measures against COVID-19
Dothan Eagle – UPDATE: Southeast Health reports four COVID-19 cases; Houston and Pike only Wiregrass counties with cases
Troy Messenger – Parade brings cheers, tears
Troy Messenger – City suspends recycling pickup; Brundidge closes public library
Troy Messenger – POLICE RELEASE PHOTOS OF ARMED ROBBERY SUSPECTS
Andalusia Star News – Student won’t return to classroom, but learning will continue at home
Andalusia Star News – Southeast Gas working to protect consumers, employees during COVID-19
Andalusia Star News – Covington Electric Cooperative implements pandemic response plan to help protect against COVID-19
Opelika-Auburn News – Medal of Honor recipient Bennie Adkins stricken with coronavirus
Opelika-Auburn News – Coronavirus catch-up: Cases exceed a half-million. Here’s a recap of major pandemic news today.
Opelika-Auburn News – COVID-19 latest: Virus hospitalizations increase at EAMC; Lee County, Chambers County confirmed cases rise, Alabama passes 510 confirmed cases; Alabama public schools to finish school year online, end spring sports
Daily Mountain Eagle – Q&A: How can the huge congressional aid package help you?
Daily Mountain Eagle – ALEA: STAR ID deadline extended a year; in-person driver license service limited
Daily Mountain Eagle – Parrish mayor sheltering after contact with COVID-19 patient
Trussville Tribune – A New York doctor’s story: ‘Too many people are dying alone’
Trussville Tribune – Trussville City leaders monitoring coronavirus closely, council members weigh-in on current situation
Trussville Tribune – Jefferson County Schools respond to order to finish year online
Athens News Courier – TVA launches initiative to support power companies
Athens News Courier – CITY DEVELOPMENT: Council sides with residents, rejects change to plan
Athens News Courier – Stocks jump, heading for first back-to-back gain in 6 weeks
Sand Mountain Reporter – ADPH reports one case of coronavirus in Marshall County | State sees first COVID-19 death
Sand Mountain Reporter – Schools close for remainder of year | Students to finish coursework from home; spring sports end
Sand Mountain Reporter – TVA launches initiative to strengthen public power COVID-19 response
WSFA Montgomery – Suspects sought in armed robbery of Troy Dollar General
WSFA Montgomery – Ala. lieutenant governor says state isn’t prepared for worst of COVID-19
WSFA Montgomery – Alabama foster care system feeling affects from the COVID-19 outbreak
WKRG Mobile – Criminal defense attorney discusses work limitations due to COVID-19
WKRG Mobile – Mobile County Public Schools talks about school closures
WTVY Dothan – Florida Hospitals use virtual appointments to cut down on spreading Coronavirus
WTVY Dothan – Coronavirus closings and cancellations
WTVY Dothan – Andalusia police looking for robbery suspect
WASHINGTON POST – It was the worst week for the economy in decades. The pain is just beginning.
WASHINGTON POST – Trump pushes to open parts of country as governors in hard-hit states warn more needs to be done to combat pandemic
WASHINGTON POST – A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits as the coronavirus slams economy
NEW YORK TIMES – Coronavirus Live Updates: U.S. Has More Cases Than Any Other Country
NEW YORK TIMES – After Considering $1 Billion Price Tag for Ventilators, White House Has Second Thoughts
NEW YORK TIMES – As Coronavirus Spread, Largest Stimulus in History United a Polarized Senate
NEW YORK TIMES – The Coronavirus Economy: When Washington Takes Over Business
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