Good afternoon and happy Sunday!
Here’s your Daily News for January 17.
1. Frustration, confusion mark early vaccine rollout
- Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Pam Stockley Causey of Duncanville has been scared to leave her house except for trips to the oncologist and grocery store. Battling neuroendocrine cancer and immunocompromised, she is anxious to get the vaccine but has no idea when it will be available to her.
- “I have been living in fear in my house,” said the 55-year-old Causey said. “This whole COVID thing has caused a lot of anxiety. I’m scared to get it because I’m scared I won’t survive it.”
- Stare Health Officer Scott Harris said limited supply has been the major problem in the rollout. As of Friday, the state of nearly 5 million people has had 370,575 doses delivered of the 640,150 doses allocated to the state, according to state numbers. And 130,000 shots have been administered. Currently, there are more than 700,000 people eligible for vaccinations in Alabama, including 325,000 health care workers and 350,000 people who are 75 or older.
- The Alabama Department of Public Health disputed data recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that ranked Alabama at the bottom in vaccine administration. The department said some entities did not report complete information, which meant that some doses administered were not included in CDC numbers.
- Read more from Kim Chandler HERE.
2. Statehouses, US capital brace for potentially violent week
- The threat of extremist groups demonstrating at state houses across the country prompted some governors to roll out a show of force and ramp up security Sunday, less than two weeks after a mob overran the nation’s Capitol.
- Fencing, boarded-up windows and extra police and National Guard troops transformed some statehouses ahead of expected protests leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday. But the grounds around capitols were generally empty and quiet early Sunday.
- The stepped-up security measures were intended to safeguard seats of government from the type of violence that occurred at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, when a supporters of President Donald Trump swarmed the building while Congress was certifying the Electoral College vote.
- As of Sunday morning, Alabama’s Capitol now has barricades surrounding the grounds. No organized protests have been seen in Montgomery so far but officials expect at least some to materialize as Inauguration Day nears.
- Read more about the measures HERE.
- Alabama is also sending 750 Army National Guard soldiers to help provide security for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, the governor’s spokeswoman said Friday.
- Gov. Kay Ivey activated the Guard at the request of Chief of the National Guard Bureau, General Daniel R. Hokanson, Ivey spokeswoman Gina Maiola said.
- The state had initially activated 250 soldiers. Maiola said Friday that the number has increased to 750 at Hokanson’s request.
- The Alabama soldiers will join more than 20,000 Guard members from dozens of other states to support security in Washington D.C.
3. Judge: Alabama transgender license policy unconstitutional
- Alabama’s policy requiring a transgender person to undergo full gender reassignment surgery before they can change the sex on their driver’s license is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled Friday.
- U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson said Alabama policy’s that people “can only change the sex designation on their driver licenses only by changing their genitalia” is unconstitutional. He directed the state to give new licenses to the three transgender women who filed the lawsuit “reflecting that they are women.”
- The federal judge said the policy subjects people to harassment and even the risk of violence when they have a license that does not match their daily appearance. In 2019 arguments in the case, Thompson said Alabama was essentially marking people with a “scarlet T.”
- “The alternative to surgery is to bear a driver license with a sex designation that does not match the plaintiffs’ identity or appearance. That too comes with pain and risk,” Thompson wrote.
- Read more from Kim Chandler HERE.
4. Some parrot far-right talk of a coming civil war
- War-like imagery has begun spreading from far right fringes into Republican circles after the attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters, with some elected officials and party leaders rejecting pleas to tone down rhetoric calling for a second civil war.
- In northwestern Wisconsin, the chairman of the St. Croix County Republican Party was forced to resign Friday after refusing for a week after the siege to remove an online post urging followers to “prepare for war.” The incoming chairwoman of the Michigan GOP and her husband, a state lawmaker, have joined a conservative social media site created after the Capitol riot where the possibility of civil war is a topic.
- Phil Reynolds, a member of the GOP central committee in California’s Santa Clara County, appeared to urge on insurrectionists on social media during the Jan. 6 attack, declaring on Facebook: “The war has begun. Citizens take arms! Drumroll please….. Civil War or No Civil War?”
- Some leftists like the group Antifa have used similar language, which Republicans have likened to advocating a new civil war.
- Read more from Jay Reeves and Julie Carr Smyth HERE.
5. LeFleur: Despite Criticisms, Alabama’s Environment Is Best It’s Been
- Alabama’s Department of Environmental Management Director Lance LeFleur has an op-ed today about why criticisms of the agency’s enforcement on environmental standards are unfounded.
- Here’s an excerpt:
“As the director of the state agency charged with safeguarding Alabama’s environment, I have great respect for and deep appreciation of our state’s wonderful natural resources and rich biodiversity of species and habitats, including many that are unique to Alabama. Protecting human health and those environmental treasures is precisely the reason the Alabama Department of Environmental Management exists.
“That’s why it concerns me when critics take unjustified cheap shots at ADEM and the work it does to protect, preserve and enhance the environment. Some blame “lax enforcement” of environmental regulations in part for the loss of rare species, or attempt to paint ADEM as an underfunded agency under threat of federal takeover by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“Those characterizations are clearly and demonstrably wrong”
- Read the full op-ed HERE.