The Alabama Rural Broadband Coalition
1. State further lifts restrictions
- Alabama will revive more of its economy by letting entertainment venues, athletics and schools reopen Friday afternoon despite shaky progress in taming the coronavirus pandemic.
- Gov. Kay Ivey announced new rules Thursday that allow casinos, tourist attractions, bowling alleys, youth sports practices and arcades to resume along with schools, child care facilities and summer camps. All remain subject to capacity, social-distancing and sanitation rules, she said.
- Ivey acknowledged the state health officer’s assessment that “our numbers are not as good as we would hope” and that there are areas including Montgomery where a large number of hospitalizations is a concern.
- “Today, however, is the next step in what has seemed like a long and difficult process of reopening our economy while at the same time remaining true to the belief, the fact, that y’all, this is a serious, deadly disease,” she said.
- The changes came as an Associated Press analysis of testing data from The COVID Tracking Project showed that, over the past 14 days, the situation in Alabama has gotten worse. New daily cases have risen to 304 from 268, and the positivity rate of daily tests has increased from 6.7% to 7.6%. The AP used seven-day rolling averages to account for daily variability in the testing data. The data includes counts through May 20th.
- Dr. Scott Harris, the state health officer, said the rate of positive tests in the state has decreased by the state’s count. He added, however, that people are still “safer at home” despite the loosened restrictions.
- Full story HERE.
2. ALDOT considering allowing police cameras, plate readers
- The Alabama Department of Transportation is considering allowing law enforcement agencies access to ALDOT rights-of-way and structures to install license plate readers and other surveillance equipment.
- Tony Harris, government relations manager for ALDOT, told Alabama Daily News the proposed rules are a result of recent requests from multiple police agencies.
- “It will be our practice to limit the use of those devices to law enforcement and public safety,” Harris said.
- At least one Alabama lawmaker said legislation may be needed to regulate the use of the devices and information they collect.
- Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said he’s gotten calls from concerned constituents about the proposal.
- “This reminds me of ‘big brother’ and the police state,” Orr said. “I’m all for helping law enforcement catch criminals, but we must be careful that it doesn’t lead to gathering information on everyone else.”
- A sample application provided in the public notice lists license plate readers, gunshot detection devices and legacy surveillance cameras as allowable devices. Agencies can also submit other uses on their applications.
- As of early 2019, 16 states, including Georgia, Tennessee and Florida, had statutes about the use of automated license plate readers that capture computer-readable images, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
- Full story from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.
A message from
The Alabama Rural Broadband Coalition
- The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the significant need and demand for the expansion of rural broadband all across Alabama.
- Fast and reliable internet is something that all Alabamians should enjoy, not just those who are fortunate enough to live within the current coverage areas.
- For Alabama to thrive in a 21st century economy, every Alabamian should have access to a reliable internet connection. High-speed broadband is a basic personal necessity in today’s society and will bring an array of benefits related to education, telemedicine, economic development and agriculture.
- Our children, our economy and our livelihood depend on it.
3. About that Montgomery hospital scare
- This week, Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed has been sounding the alarm about an uptick in coronavirus cases in the Capital City.
- Wednesday’s report that the city’s hospitals had reached their ICU bed capacity and were diverting patients to Birmingham was especially concerning to many residents.
- However, the managers of those hospitals and the state health officer on Thursday offered some important context that takes some of the shock value out of the news.
- Dr. Scott Harris said that having near capacity in a hospital’s ICU unit was not unusual, nor is working with other hospitals to handle patients.
- The CEOs of both Baptist Hospital and Jackson Hospital echoed Harris’ assessment and confirmed that none of their patients had been sent to Birmingham.
- Read the full story from WSFA HERE.
4. Senate declines more coronavirus aid for now
- Last week, the Democrat-led U.S. House of Representatives quickly passed another $3 trillion coronavirus relief package.
- This week, the Republican-led Senate declined to take it up, opting instead to take a wait-and-see approach to first assess how the first $3 trillion package passed in March is being used.
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s bill as a “liberal wish list.”
- The floor action this week revolved around votes on nominees for judicial and executive branch positions. Senators confirmed a new Federal Election Commission member and four federal judges. Trump’s nominee for director of national intelligence, John Ratcliffe, was confirmed Thursday.
- In considering the next aid package, some Republicans are discussing revamping the previously-passed unemployment benefits extensions with the goal of eliminating potential barriers to reentry into the job market as the economy opens back up.
- Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, said the $600 weekly boost during the pandemic approved under the earlier aid bill, would “handcuff” workers and discourage them from returning to work.
- Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said, “It was a mistake to make it so high to begin with. It would be a mistake to extend it.”
- Republicans are hopeful that as states reopen, the economy will improve, lessening the need for more federal funds. But if workers refuse to return to work, they worry companies can’t begin to rebound.
- Brady proposes giving workers a one-time $1,200 bonus to get back to work. He said conversations were happening at the highest levels at the White House.
- Full story from Lisa Mascaro HERE.
5. Column: Budget bright spots, Part One
- Remember when the Legislature adjourned Sine Die?
- Yeah, that was this week, not a month ago like it seems.
- It was truly one of the all time weirdest sessions in state history, and that’s saying something.
- No one got punched (that we know of), but there were some dramatic moments toward the end.
- Now that the dust has settled a bit, I wanted to highlight some of the positive developments that came out of the session, particularly with the budgets.
- Passing the budgets this year was no easy feat, and we ended up with some relatively healthy spending plans despite the pandemic’s threat to state revenues.
- My column this week focuses on some of those bright spots, starting with the Education Trust Fund.
- Here’s an excerpt:
- Read my full column HERE.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama unemployment rate hit 12.9% in April
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama reopening continues amid shaky coronavirus progress
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – ALDOT considering allowing police cameras, plate readers
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – GOP weighs ‘redesigning’ jobless aid as layoffs surpass 38 million
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Stacy Column: Bright spots in the budgets, Part One
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama hospitals lost $739M in revenue in March, April
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Manasco confirmed to federal bench, LaCour named
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Pomp and masks: Graduations draw thousands despite pandemic
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Watchdog cites persistent infection lapses in nursing homes
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – May 21, 2020
AL.COM – Theaters, sports practices, summer camps can reopen, Ivey says
AL.COM – Trump makes major disaster declaration for Alabama flooding in February and March
AL.COM – Youth sports practices can resume this weekend in Alabama
AL.COM – Redstone Arsenal to reopen next week, officials say
AL.COM – Freshened-up USS Alabama on course to reopen Saturday
AL.COM – How and when will Poarch Creek reopen casinos, resorts?
AL.COM – Alabamians are beginning to drive again, especially in rural counties
AL.COM – How are state offices in Montgomery dealing with virus flare up?
AL.COM – Alabama in ‘holding pattern’ as COVID cases creep higher
Montgomery Advertiser – Eight people, including a child, injured in seven separate shootings within 12 hours
Montgomery Advertiser – Gov. Kay Ivey loosens coronavirus restrictions on theaters, athletic events, child care
Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery mayor Steven Reed: Hospitals asked me to sound the alarm over ICU beds
YellowHammer News – More than half a million Alabamians have filed for unemployment since March
YellowHammer News – Ivey further reopens Alabama in latest State Health Order
YellowHammer News – Legendary Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education Secretary Jeana Ross to retire, consult for Harvard
Tuscaloosa News – Gov. Kay Ivey loosens some coronavirus restrictions
Tuscaloosa News – More than 20 Tuscaloosa County Jail inmates quarantined with COVID-19
Tuscaloosa News – Alabama reopening continues amid shaky coronavirus progress
Decatur Daily – Victims of domestic abuse seeing fewer avenues of relief amid coronavirus pandemic
Decatur Daily – Wayne Farms employee tests positive for COVID-19; more workers undergoing tests
Decatur Daily – DU plans $3.8 million water booster station to benefit industry
Times Daily – Solid Waste Disposal Authority approves landfill purchase
Times Daily – Ivey Vetoes Elected School Board Bill for Muscle Shoals
Times Daily – Alabama hospitals lost $739M in revenue in March, April
Anniston Star – Free summer food programs start in June for local schools
Anniston Star – Alabama’s health order expires Friday; officials still advise caution
Anniston Star – Alabama hospitals lost $739M in revenue in March, April, group says
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Birmingham PD take robbery suspect into custody after hours of negotiations
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Ala. among few states to incorporate Apple, Google contact tracing technology
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Dr. Wilson: Most COVID-19 deaths in Jefferson Co. happened in nursing homes
WAFF Huntsville – Alabama hospitals lost $739M in revenue in March, April
WAFF Huntsville – Marshall Medical Centers see decrease in COVID-19 patients
WAFF Huntsville – Marshall County deputies searching for suspect in boat storage break-in
Gadsden Times – Ivey lifts more COVID-19 restrictions
Gadsden Times – Georgia teen’s body recovered at Little River Canyon
Gadsden Times – Sardis High School graduation 2020
Dothan Eagle – Revised Safer-at-Home order opening more of Alabama on Friday
Dothan Eagle – Photos: Man who filmed Arbery shooting video charged in his slaying
Dothan Eagle – Wiregrass Memorial Day Ceremony adjusts to COVID-19
Troy Messenger – Youth sports, camps and theaters can reopen
Troy Messenger – CHHS Class of 2020 honored with outdoor commencement ceremony
Troy Messenger – Patriot Pals parade for Class of 2020
Opelika-Auburn News – Florida governor approves short-term rental property reopening for Okaloosa, Walton counties, Bay to reopen soon
Opelika-Auburn News – Opelika City Council renews director of economic development’s contract
Opelika-Auburn News – Opelika school board outlines graduation ceremony plans
Daily Mountain Eagle – Commission gives energy savings contract to Ingenuity
Daily Mountain Eagle – 6 sworn in as new JPD officers
Daily Mountain Eagle – Box named Sumiton Christian’s outstanding female senior
Trussville Tribune – Alabama Department of Health to work with Apple, Google to track spread of COVID-19
Trussville Tribune – Thousands attend local graduation ceremonies despite threat of virus
Trussville Tribune – Morning Update: Daily number of COVID-19 cases growing with little increase in overall testing
Athens News Courier – Coronavirus-triggered layoffs in US hit nearly 39 million
Athens News Courier – BREAKING: 3 killed in wreck on U.S. 72
Athens News Courier – SAFER-AT-HOME AMENDED: Entertainment venues, summer camps can open
WSFA Montgomery – Montgomery hospitals can handle ICU bed shortages, state health officer says
WSFA Montgomery – Marine Patrol enforcing social distancing rules Memorial Day weekend
WSFA Montgomery – AHSAA schools may begin summer activities June 1
WKRG Mobile – Florida teacher convicted of sex crimes asked for castration, not prison time
WKRG Mobile – Amber Alert issued for child out of Miami, Florida
WKRG Mobile – COVID-19 question of the day: “What does it mean to be a carrier of COVID-19?”
WTVY Dothan – Farmers markets gear up for changes
WTVY Dothan – Wicksburg holds graduation/prom parade
WTVY Dothan – Man arrested for shooting in Kinsey
WASHINGTON POST – Appeals court orders Flynn judge to defend actions, as legal scholars weigh in
WASHINGTON POST – Supreme Court won’t halt preparations for transgender inmate’s surgery
WASHINGTON POST – 2.4 million Americans filed jobless claims last week, bringing nine-week total to 38.6 million
NEW YORK TIMES – University of Alabama to Push Contact Tracing App, Require Online Health Checks
NEW YORK TIMES – Trump Will Withdraw From Open Skies Arms Control Treaty
NEW YORK TIMES – Fed Chair Warns This Is a ‘Downturn Without Modern Precedent’
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