1. Restaurants, bars, salons reopen with precautions
- The sign at Chappy’s Deli proclaimed “DINING ROOM NOW OPEN.” But the scene was hardly normal as Alabama’s economy took another step toward reopening Monday despite an increasing number of coronavirus cases.
- Mask-wearing servers took orders and waited on spaced-out tables at Chappy’s, a popular lunch spot in the capital city.
- “This is the first couple hours being open, the first lunch. The customers who have come in have been super excited,” said Chappy’s owner Jeff Barranco.
- Dine-in restaurants, bars, salons and gyms could reopen Monday — with rules on crowd limits and cleaning — as the state eased restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.
- The partial opening came despite an upswing in the number of virus cases in Alabama.
- As of Monday, about 10,000 people in the state had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, and about 400 people statewide had died. State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said officials were trying to determine how much of the swelling caseload was linked to increased testing or increased disease.
- While easing restrictions, Gov. Kay Ivey has encouraged people to remain cautious as they go about their daily activities.
- Full story from Kim Chandler and Jay Reeves HERE.
2. Legislature approves funds to review maternal deaths
- The Alabama Legislature has approved nearly half a million dollars to investigate deaths from childbirth and pregnancy complications in the state.
- The money approved in the state’s General Fund budget last week will fund a committee that is reviewing autopsies and medical records of women who died from childbirth complications.
- AL.com’s Anna Claire Vollers has reported extensively on the state’s need to study maternal deaths. According to the Department of Public Health, the number of pregnancy related deaths in the state has increased by more than six times between 2014 and 2017.
- Gov. Kay Ivey included the $478,000 for the Maternal Mortality Review Committee and the Legislature has kept that line item whole through the budget process. The General Fund is now on her desk and could come back to the Legislature on unrelated issues, but the maternity line item appears to have consensus.
- “Until we have a thorough review of the maternal death data, we can’t answer the all-important question of ‘why’ when a mother dies,” said Dr. John Meigs, the president of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama.
- Read more HERE.
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- Join AlabamaWorks! for our next Workforce Recovery Webinar TODAY at 4:oo p.m.
- This session will focus on the future of work post-COVID-19.
- As always, the webinar is available for live viewing on the AlabamaWorks! Facebook page as well as on our website.
- Previous webinars are also available for viewing on www.alabamaworks.com.
3. Trump says he’s ‘met the moment’ on testing
- President Donald Trump insisted Monday his administration has “met the moment” and “prevailed” on coronavirus testing, even as the White House itself became a potent symbol of the risk facing Americans everywhere by belatedly ordering everyone who enters the West Wing to wear a mask.
- Trump addressed a Rose Garden audience filled with mask-wearing administration officials, some appearing publicly with face coverings for the first time during the outbreak, after two aides tested positive for COVID-19 late last week.
- The upbeat message was undercut by the new protective measures implemented to keep Trump safe, evidenced by the absence of Vice President Mike Pence and three of the nation’s top medical experts, who were in various states of isolation after two cases of COVID-19 were confirmed among staffers in one of the most protected complexes in America.
- A memo to staff Monday directed “everyone who enters the West Wing to wear a mask or facial covering.” Staff will be allowed to remove their face coverings if they sit at least six feet apart from their colleagues.
- The stepped-up protective measures comes as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield and the FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, were all quarantining after exposure to the White House staffers.
- The three experts are scheduled to testify before a Senate panel today on “Safely Getting Back to Work and Back to School.” However, they, along with committee chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., will all participate remotely. Alexander is quarantining after a staff member of his own tested positive for COVID-19.
- Read more about the White House situation and watch the president’s Rose Garden event HERE.
- Read more about the hearing at watch it live beginning at 9:00 a.m. Central Time HERE.
4. Bulging deficits may threaten prized Pentagon arms projects
- The government’s $3 trillion effort to rescue the economy from the coronavirus crisis is stirring worry at the Pentagon. Bulging federal deficits may force a reversal of years of big defense spending gains and threaten prized projects like the rebuilding of the nation’s arsenal of nuclear weapons.
- Defense Secretary Mark Esper says the sudden burst of deficit spending to prop up a damaged economy is bringing the Pentagon closer to a point where it will have to shed older weapons faster and tighten its belt.
- “It has accelerated this day of reckoning,” Esper said
- It also sets up confrontations with Congress over how that reckoning will be achieved. Past efforts to eliminate older weapons and to make other cost-saving moves like closing under-used military bases met resistance. This being a presidential election year, much of this struggle may slip to 2021. If presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden wins, the pace of defense cuts could speed up.
- Rep. Ken Calvert of California, the ranking Republican on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, says defense budgets were strained even before this year’s unplanned burst of deficit spending.
- “There’s no question that budgetary pressure will only increase now for all segments of our federal budget, including defense,” Calvert said.
- For military leaders, the money crunch poses an economic threat that could undermine what they see as spending crucial to U.S. security.
- Full story from Robert Burns HERE.
5. Sessions: Setting the record straight on recusal
- Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions contributes what he bills “a letter to the people of Alabama” today detailing his thought process behind recusing himself from the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election.
- Of course, Sessions is now running for his old Senate seat, and criticisms about his recusal have dogged him through the GOP primary.
- President Donald Trump has never gotten over it, convinced that all his legal troubles stemmed from Sessions not taking personal charge of the investigation.
- Sessions tells a different story, saying the law required him to recuse himself and that Trump’s troubles would have been far worse if he had flouted the law and overseen the investigation as AG.
- His letter, following previous interviews and press statements, marks a more aggressive tone Sessions is taking toward defending himself and his record on the Trump question.
- Here’s an excerpt:
- Read his full letter HERE.
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Tuscaloosa News – PARA activity centers reopen Tuesday
Tuscaloosa News – Alabama restaurants, bars, salons and gyms reopen
Tuscaloosa News – Alabama legislature approves funds to review maternal deaths
Decatur Daily – Restaurants, barber shops gradually reopen under new health order
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Times Daily – NACOLG Dial-A-Ride bus service resumes Wednesday
Anniston Star – Anniston church honors mothers with drive-in service
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WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Alabama Retail Association says businesses beyond grateful to reopen Monday
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Gadsden Times – Some local eateries opening; others holding off for now
Gadsden Times – Local salons, gyms deal with reopening
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Dothan Eagle – More Alabama businesses reopen as COVID cases rise
Dothan Eagle – 1 critically injured in Dothan firearm assault Monday afternoon
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Troy Messenger – Pike County nears 100 confirmed cases
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Sand Mountain Reporter – Albertville men burglarize home damaged by tornado in Boaz
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