Weekend Digest – January 24, 2021

Weekend Digest – January 24, 2021

Good afternoon and happy Sunday!
Here’s your Daily News for Sunday, January 24.

1. Supply issues hinder COVID-19 vaccination efforts, Harris clears up confusion

  • Alabama is getting roughly half has much COVID-19 vaccine as it was expecting based on federal plans announced last year, officials said Friday, meaning it would take more than two years to vaccinate the state’s adult population without improvement.
  • The state has 800 approved vaccination sites and is trying to deliver shots as quickly as it can, but supply issues have been the biggest hinderance to state vaccination efforts, said Dr. Scott Harris, the head of the Alabama Department of Public Health.
  • “Every state had the idea that they were going to get much more vaccine than they ultimately got,” he told reporters during a briefing. “I assume this is related to optimistic projections and the inability of manufacturers to keep up that …. There just wasn’t enough vaccine to go around.”
  • Harris also explained on Friday why there is still such a large gap between how many COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered to how many have been delivered to providers.
  • Many of the vaccines in the “delivered” count also include second doses which can only be given three to four weeks after a person’s first dose. The slowness of vaccine administration in the state is not due to lack of ability but rather lack of supply, Harris explained.
  • “In public health we have appointments going into February,” Harris said. “We do have doses on the shelf, if you want to call it that, for people who just haven’t been able to get it yet but we’re trying to do those people as quickly as we possibly can.”
  • Read more from Kim Chandler HERE and from me HERE.

 

2. 2 in 5 Americans live where COVID-19 strains hospital ICUs

  • Straining to handle record numbers of COVID-19 patients, hundreds of the nation’s intensive care units are running out of space and supplies and competing to hire temporary traveling nurses at soaring rates. Many of the facilities are clustered in the South and West.
  • Since November, the share of U.S. hospitals nearing the breaking point has doubled. More than 40% of Americans now live in areas running out of ICU space, with only 15% of beds still available.
  • Intensive care units are the final defense for the sickest of the sick, patients who are nearly suffocating or facing organ failure. Nurses who work in the most stressed ICUs, changing IV bags and monitoring patients on breathing machines, are exhausted.
  • “There just hasn’t been a lot of respect for the illness, which is disappointing,” said Dr. William Smith, chief medical officer for Cullman Regional Medical Center in Cullman, Alabama. He sees that changing now with more people personally knowing someone who has died.
  • The Alabama hospital’s ICU has been overflowing for six weeks, with 16 virus patients on ventilators in a hospital that a year ago had only 10 of the breathing machines. “You can see the stress in people’s faces and in their body language. It’s just a lot for people to carry around,” Smith said.
  • Read more HERE.

 

3. For 1st Black Pentagon chief, racism challenge is personal

  • Newly confirmed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will have to contend not only with a world of security threats and a massive military bureaucracy, but also with a challenge that hits closer to home: rooting out racism and extremism in the ranks.
  • Austin took office Friday as the first Black defense chief, in the wake of the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, where retired and current military members were among the rioters touting far-right conspiracies.
  • The retired four-star Army general told senators this week that the Pentagon’s job is to “keep America safe from our enemies. But we can’t do that if some of those enemies lie within our own ranks.”
  • Ridding the military of racists isn’t his only priority. Austin, who was confirmed in a 93-2 vote, has made clear that accelerating delivery of coronavirus vaccines will get his early attention.
  • But the racism issue is personal. At Tuesday’s confirmation hearing, he explained why.
  • Read more HERE.

 

4. In first days, Biden flashes action as deep problems loom

  • Inside the White House, President Joe Biden used his first days in office to break sharply with his predecessor while signing executive orders meant as a showy display of action to address the historic challenges he inherited.
  • But outside the gates at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., there are signs everywhere that those crises are as deep and intractable as ever. The coronavirus pandemic surges, the economy teeters and Republicans in Congress have signaled objections to many of Biden’s plans.
  • Biden is looking to jump-start his first 100 days in office with action and symbolism to reassure a divided and weary public that help is in the offing. He also knows that what a president can do on his own is limited so he is calling for Congress to act while he is being candid with Americans that dark days are ahead.
  • “The crisis is not getting better. It’s deepening,” Biden said Friday about the impact of pandemic. “A lot of America is hurting. The virus is surging. Families are going hungry. People are at risk of being evicted again. Job losses are mounting. We need to act.”
  • “The bottom line is this: We’re in a national emergency. We need to act like we’re in a national emergency,” he said.
  • Read more HERE.

 

5. Hank Aaron, baseball’s one-time home run king, dies at 86

  • His name is all over the baseball record book and, indeed, Hank Aaron could do it all.
  • Sure, he’s remembered mostly for dethroning the Babe to become baseball’s home run king on the way to 755, but don’t forget about the .300 average, or the graceful way he fielded his position, or the deceiving speed he showed on the basepaths.
  • Yet, when talking about the true measure of the man, there was far more to “Hammerin’ Hank” than his brilliance between the lines.
  • Exuding grace and dignity, Aaron spoke bluntly but never bitterly on the many hardships thrown his way — from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the ugly, racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records.
  • He wasn’t hesitant about speaking out on the issues of the day, whether it was bemoaning the lack of Blacks in management positions, or lobbying against putting Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame, or calling on those involved in the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal to be tossed from the game for good.
  • Read more HERE.

 

Headlines

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Supply issues hinder Alabama COVID-19 vaccination efforts
 
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Harris explains vaccine distribution gaps
 
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – 2 in 5 Americans live where COVID-19 strains hospital ICUs
 
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – For 1st Black Pentagon chief, racism challenge is personal
 
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Hank Aaron, baseball’s one-time home run king, dies at 86
 
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – In first days, Biden flashes action as deep problems loom
 
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – In the Weeds with Cam Ward
 
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – COVID precautions nix live audience for governor’s annual address
 
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Labor: December unemployment decreased to 3.9%
 
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – January 22, 2021
 
AL.COM – Coosa County clinic speaks to challenges of vaccinating rural Alabama.
 
AL.COM – Coronavirus cases falling in Alabama, but vaccinations still slow: Week in review.
 
AL.COM – Alabama mayor urges other city and county officials to ‘speak up’ about vaccine response.
 
AL.COM – Columnist Amanda Walker: We the people get along just fine.
 
AL.COM – ‘Mo Brooks knows no fear’: Republicans rally for embattled Alabama congressman.
 
AL.COM – Virtual memorial set for Alabama civil rights activist Jean Graetz.
 
AL.COM – Columnist Frances Coleman: This, too, has passed; now, will we try harder to get along?
 
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – State Sen. Sessions discusses coping with COVID-19 after seven-day hospital stay — ‘Praise the Lord, we’re on the mend’.
 
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Alabama 2020 oyster harvest doubles previous year’s totals.
 
THE HILL – Disjointed vaccine distribution poses early test for Biden.
 
THE HILL – Calls grow for 9/11-style panel to probe Capitol attack.
 
THE HILL – Tensions running high after gun incident near House floor.
 
POLITICO – The political roots of Amanda Gorman’s genius.
 
DECATUR DAILY – County employees to get paid COVID leave, but counties won’t be reimbursed.
 
ANNISTON STAR – Inside the COVID unit: RMC nurses speak about fear, exhaustion, patients dying alone.
 
ANNISTON STAR – Columnist Phillip Tutor: Hank Aaron, the mayor of Hobson City,
 
DOTHAN EAGLE – The Dothan Eagle: Brooks deserve censure and more.
 
WASHINGTON POST – Trump jumps into a divisive battle over the Republican Party — with a threat to start a ‘MAGA Party’.
 
WASHINGTON POST – Capitol attack will spur broad crackdown on domestic extremists.
 
WASHINGTON POST – The Washington Post: No, President Biden has not already renounced ‘unity’.
 
WASHINGTON POST – Contributor George Conway: Donald Trump’s new reality.
 
WASHINGTON POST – Democrats make federal election standards a top priority.
 
NEW YORK TIMES – Black, Deaf and Extremely Online
 
NEW YORK TIMES – Columnist Nicholas Kristof: Is an Innocent Man Still Languishing on Death Row?
 
NEW YORK TIMES – Restoring Environmental Rules Rolled Back by Trump Could Take Years