Weekend Digest – September 5, 2021

Weekend Digest – September 5, 2021

1. Amid virus surge, rising vaccination rates offer hope

  • FILAlabama’s improving COVID-19 vaccination rates are offering a glimmer of hope to medical officials as the state continues to see a crush of virus patients in hospitals.
  • But there is also concern about what is coming as the state moves through Labor Day weekend gatherings, the start of football season and other potentially virus-spreading events.
  • State Health Officer Scott Harris said the state continues to be in a difficult place with near-record level hospitalizations and a record number of virus patients in intensive care. But he said they are encouraged by the recent uptick in vaccinations.
  • “We do have one bright spot in a way if we could call it that. We are seeing people finally show up to get vaccinated,” Harris said.
  • As of Thursday, Alabama ranked eighth from last among states in the percentage of the population that was partially vaccinated, but continue to occupy the bottom two spots — along with Mississippi — for the percentage of people who are fully vaccinated, according to numbers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Read more from Kim Chandler HERE.


2. Alabama to use $12 million in relief funds to recruit nurses

  • Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Friday reallocated $12.3 million of the state’s coronavirus relief funds to hire travel nurses to help state hospitals overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.
  • The Republican governor announced the move as the state continues to see a surge in virus cases, straining hospital resources and staff.
  • “I’m pleased to see more folks getting vaccinated, but we are still in the thick of COVID-19 and our hospitals are overwhelmed,” Ivey said in a statement. “The money is coming from the state’s share of CARES Act funds. Until our vaccination rates rise and our COVID-19 hospitalization rates fall, we will need the extra support these nurses provide.”
  • Alabama on Thursday had 2,838 COVID-19 patients in state hospitals, a number just below the January pandemic peak of a little over 3,000. But the state has a record number of virus patients in intensive care, causing hospitals to convert other areas to make-shift intensive care units. The state has 1,541 staffed intensive care unit beds, but on Thursday had 1,661 patients receiving intensive care. More than half of the intensive care patients are people with COVID-19.
  • Read more HERE.


3. Alabama reports almost 9,200 coronavirus cases in schools

  • Alabama schools reported more than 9,195 virus cases in students and staff in the past week, a surge that has caused more schools to make a temporary switch to remote learning.
  • A state dashboard was updated Friday with information from 84 of the 143 school districts. Superintendent Eric Mackey first disclosed the number during an event Thursday with the Medical Association in Alabama.
  • Mackey said the statewide spike in COVID-19 cases — fueled by the highly contagious delta variant — came at the same time schools were opening for the academic year.
  • “We had dozens of students sent home on the first day of school, and then more and more,” Mackey said. “Now we have scores of campuses that are closed to in-person instruction.”
  • Mackey said schools are trying, if possible, to avoid closing for long periods of time.
  • Read more HERE.


4. Biden tells storm-ravaged Louisiana: ‘I know you’re hurting’

  • Giant trees knocked sideways. Homes boarded up with plywood. Off-kilter street signs.
  • Less than a week after Hurricane Ida battered the Gulf Coast, President Joe Biden walked the streets of a hardhit Louisiana neighborhood and told local residents, “I know you’re hurting, I know you’re hurting.”
  • Such a scene likely will be repeated early next week when Biden tours parts of the Northeast that also were battered by flash flooding caused by Ida’s soggy remnants. The White House announced Saturday that Biden will visit Manville, New Jersey, and the New York City borough of Queens on Tuesday.
  • In Louisiana, Biden pledged robust federal assistance to get people back on their feet and said the government already had distributed $100 million directly to individuals in the state in $500 checks to give them a first slice of critical help. Many people, he said, don’t know what help is available because they can’t get cellphone service.
  • Read more HERE.


5. Two anchors of COVID safety net ending, affecting millions

  • Two primary anchors of the government’s COVID protection package are ending or have recently ended. Starting Monday, an estimated 8.9 million people will lose all unemployment benefits. A federal eviction moratorium already has expired.
  • While other aspects of pandemic assistance including rental aid and the expanded Child Tax Credit are still widely available, untold millions of Americans will face Labor Day with a suddenly shrunken social safety net.
  • Alabama ended its extra federal unemployment payments back in June.
  • President Joe Biden’s administration believes the U.S. economy is strong enough not to be rattled by evictions or the drop in unemployment benefits.
  • Officials maintain that other elements of the safety net, like the Child Tax Credit and the SNAP program (which Biden permanently boosted earlier this summer) are enough to smooth things over. On Friday, a White House spokesperson said there were no plans to reevaluate the end of the unemployment benefits.
  • Read more HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Amid virus surge, rising vaccination rates offer hope
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama to use $12 million in relief funds to recruit nurses
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama reports almost 9,200 coronavirus cases in schools
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Biden tells storm-ravaged Louisiana: ‘I know you’re hurting’
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Two anchors of COVID safety net ending, affecting millions
AL.COM – WWII sailor laid to rest in Alabama almost 80 years after death in Pearl Harbor attack.
AL.COM – Ongoing Gulf oil spill found following Ida.
AL.COM – AARP asks Gov. Ivey to get COVID booster shots to Alabama seniors.
AL.COM – Woodfin campaign manager, ‘political nerd’ shares strategies behind reelection landslide.
AL.COM – Columnist Frances Coleman: Abortion is wrong, but it’s not the government’s role to enforce pregnancies.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – State Sen. Orr: Texas abortion ruling won’t impact Alabama, Being used as a ‘dog whistle’ to rally Democrats.
AP NEWS – Hurricane Ida turns spotlight on Louisiana power grid issues.
AP NEWS – Shadow docket Supreme Court decisions could affect millions.
AP NEWS – The Latest: Kentucky governor calls special session on virus.
THE HILL – Five tax issues to watch as Democrats craft $3.5T bill.
THE HILL – Jobs report adds fresh concerns over Monday’s unemployment cliff.
THE HILL – Nursing homes warn vaccine mandate could lead to staff shortages.
POLITICO – Jan. 6 committee leaders call McCarthy’s Trump comments ‘baseless’.
POLITICO – Why the White House loves the Texas renter rescue: Texas has distributed more assistance funds from Washington’s $46.5 billion rental aid program than any other state, according to Treasury Department data through the end of July.
DECATUR DAILY – Speakers ask for fairness in redistricting as populations change in several Morgan, Limestone House district.
DECATUR DAILY – Q&A: Limestone industry recruiter Shockney talks diversifying employers and developing workforce.
DECATUR DAILY – The Decatur Daily: ‘You’re the ones that built America’
FLORENCE TIMES DAILY – COVID Unit Nurses: “It’s tough, but we signed up for this”
TUSCALOOSA NEWS – Tuscaloosa employers have sense of urgency as jobs go unfilled.
GADSDEN TIMES – Attalla City Schools: Mask up inside buildings, starting Tuesday.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – After Hurricane Ida, power outage highlights heat disparities in New Orleans.
DOTHAN EAGLE – COVID-19, staffing shortages, food costs stressing popular Dothan restaurants.
DOTHAN EAGLE – The Dothan Eagle: Thankful for health care workers.
WASHINGTON POST – As coronavirus fears spike, Biden’s ratings sag and workers split on vaccine mandates, Post-ABC poll finds.
WASHINGTON POST – Why America has 8.4 million unemployed when there are 10 million job openings.
WASHINGTON POST – Columnist Colbert King: Hillary Clinton warned us this day would come.
WASHINGTON POST – The covid endgame: Is the pandemic over already? Or are there years to go?
NEW YORK TIMES – Ida Reveals Two Louisianas: One With Storm Walls, Another Without
NEW YORK TIMES – Columnist Maureen Dowd: Drowning Our Future in the Past
NEW YORK TIMES – Hospitalizations for children sharply increase as Delta surges, C.D.C. studies find.
THE GUARDIAN – Louisiana Shell refinery left spewing chemicals after Hurricane Ida.