The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather

    Excerpt:

    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower

    Excerpt:

    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships

    Excerpt:

    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

4 hours ago

Tuberville on China, coronavirus: ‘We’ve got to worry about Alabama and this country’ right now

(Tommy Tuberville, Jeff Sessions/Facebook, YHN)

Former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville is taking a different stance on China than his Republican primary runoff competitor, former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

In an appearance on Talk 99.5’s “Matt and Aunie Show” Thursday morning, Tuberville was asked about what he thought was happening with China.

He responded, “Well, we can’t worry about China right now. We’ve gotta worry about Alabama and this country.”

Experts agree that the novel coronavirus originated somewhere around the city of Wuhan in China, and the country spent several weeks trying to obscure the extent of the outbreak. There have since been significant indications that the death toll in China is higher than the country is publicly reporting.

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Sessions has called for an extensive investigation into the communist government that runs China, and blasted the current leadership there, calling it an “evil regime.”

“You know, I hear about all these people hollering for investigations and we always investigate,” commented Tuberville on Thursday, before later adding, “[Congressional committees] investigate and nothing ever comes of it, so right now we’ve gotta worry about this country. ‘Cause right now we’re in trouble.”

In tweets responding to the Tuberville interview, Sessions said, “China’s where the virus is from, and their deliberate lies hid the danger & resulted in a pandemic that never should’ve happened! We must take on China NOW and WIN, not run scared like Tommy Tuberville!”

Later in the interview, Tuberville praised President Donald Trump’s efforts to shift the United States’ economic relationship to China.

“They’re gonna be knocked to their knees, and they should be,” the former coach said.

Paul Shashy, Tuberville’s campaign manager, said in a statement to Yellowhammer News, “If Jeff Sessions was too afraid to stand up to Robert Mueller, how can we ever expect him to stand up to China? Like President Trump, Coach Tuberville believes we should focus all of our resources on ending the Coronavirus pandemic, fixing our economy, and helping the Alabamians who need help now. Once that’s done, he’ll stand with the president to hold the Chinese fully accountable, unlike Jeff Sessions, who voted with Ted Kennedy and John Kerry to reward China with permanent trade status.”

Tuberville and Sessions will face each other at the ballot box on July 14 in the Republican primary runoff.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

5 hours ago

Ivey issues ‘stay-at-home’ order for the state of Alabama effective Saturday afternoon

(Gov. Ivey/Twitter)

MONTGOMERY – Governor Kay Ivey has issued a “stay-at-home” order for the state of Alabama as coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and deaths continue to rise.

The order is effective beginning Saturday, April 4, at 5:00 p.m. and will expire Thursday, April 30, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. CT.

Exceptions apply for essential activities and businesses.

The order can be read here.

An updated supplemental State of Emergency can be read here.

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Ivey made the announcement at a press conference Friday at 4:00 p.m. CT alongside State Health Officer Scott Harris, Attorney General Steve Marshall and the Reverend Cromwell A. Handy of Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. Reporters were able to attend and ask questions live afterwards while following social distancing guidelines.

In a statement, Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth said he supports the stay-at-home order.

“I agree with Gov. Ivey’s decision to issue a stay-at-home order throughout Alabama, and though many may find it inconvenient, her action is the best method of combatting and controlling the spread of COVID-19 in our cities, towns, and communities,” he said.

“Alabamians have always shown courage in a crisis, so at this critical time, the best way we can stand together is by staying apart,” Ainsworth concluded.

Ainsworth’s full statement can be read here.

Ivey said in her remarks that it became obvious to her Thursday afternoon that more must be done to flatten the curve.

The governor advised she was “convinced our previous efforts to reduce social interaction [had not been enough].”

“That’s why we are taking this more drastic step,” she added.

Ivey cited the jump in confirmed cases the state experienced Thursday, along with location data made available by news outlets, as sources of information she found relevant in making her decision.

“April stands to be very tough, and potentially very deadly,” warned Ivey.

The governor said that Alabama should expect a surge in hospitalizations that she estimates will peak in 2-3 weeks.

Harris noted the the models projecting caseload change every day.

Marshall said that intentionally violating the new order is a class-c misdemeanor.

Marshall urged law enforcement officers around the state to practice restraint in enforcing the order, only using criminal action if someone was endangering others.

This story is breaking and will be updated.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

6 hours ago

Alabama’s budgets will face real issues post-coronavirus

(Pixabay, YHN)

Every American is fixated on the current coronavirus pandemic. It dominates local and national news, daily talk radio and Alabama’s major newspapers three days a week.

The Alabama political press is busy using this to accuse Governor Kay Ivey of wanting Alabamians to die because she hasn’t issued a “shelter-in-place” order. To their credit, usually, it’s Alabama’s budget cuts, low taxes, taxes on food, failure to expand Medicaid or abortion bans that are being used as an implement of murder by their target of the day, so give them credit for creativity.

If we as a state look past this healthcare issue and look at the damage it is already doing to the state’s economy, we will see a bunch of major issues on the horizon.

When State Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) appeared on WVNN Friday morning, he talked about budgeting issues that will definitely be of major concern when the state is back open for business and the legislature resumes its budgeting process.

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Orr, who has chaired both the General Fund and Education Trust Fund committees, said that the next legislative session will be a hard one with hard fiscal choices.

Planned pay raises for teachers and other state employees are gone. Orr noted that the budgets that are passed will be “level-funding” — or close to it — and hard choices will have to be made.

But that “pain” may be short-term, not that the reverberation of the coronavirus pandemic won’t last for years. There could be long-term issues as well.

The Retirement System of Alabama has long been a hot-button in this state.

Orr sounded the alarm on the viability of the system, saying, “The RSA is among, if not the most, highly exposed defined benefit, public defined benefit plan in the country to equities or to the stock market.”

He noted, “When the stock market has tanked 30 plus percent, RSA feels a much larger hit than other retirement funds. It’s going to be a concern.”

My takeaway:

With a defined benefit payout and few opportunities to increase revenue. the actuarial tables will take a beating as the stock market slides.

Most expect the market to rebound eventually, but Orr has been talking about the RSA’s vulnerabilities for years. And this will not help.

Even if you aren’t a beneficiary of the Retirement System of Alabama, you will still feel the impact if its finances continue to head south. Orr warned of a stark reality where “taxpayers will be ending up having to pay more for retirement for all the government employees.”

Obviously, no one is thinking about this right now, but we will be revisiting this in the very near future and the impact of this could go on for a very long time.

Listen:

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN.

7 hours ago

Survey: 50% of small businesses cannot survive more than two months of coronavirus restrictions

(NFIB/Facebook, YHN)

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Research Center on Friday released its latest survey detailing the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on small businesses across the country.

The survey was conducted March 30 and utilized a random sampling of the organization’s 300,000 members. This garnered 1,172 usable responses, all small employers with 1-465 employees.

Unfortunately — but also unsurprisingly, the survey showed continued overall deterioration in the small business sector since the NFIB’s previous similar survey, which was conducted on March 20. A release from NFIB on Friday stated, “The severity of the outbreak and regulatory measures that cities and states are taking to control it are having a devastating impact on small businesses.”

In the latest survey, 92% of small employers said they are negatively impacted by the pandemic, up from 76% saying the same just 10 days prior.

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The latest survey also showed 3% of small employees answering that they are positively impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. NFIB explained that these select firms are likely experiencing stronger sales due to a sharp rise in demand for certain products, goods and services. That effect will likely wane in the coming weeks as consumers feel more secure about their personal supply levels, NFIB added.

State-specific survey data was unavailable, but NFIB Alabama State Director Rosemary Elebash said in a statement, “Without a doubt, the coronavirus has taken a tremendous toll on Alabama’s small businesses. Our members are determined to get through this, and they’re working to apply for Paycheck Protection Program loans and other forms of financial relief so they can avoid layoffs and having to close the doors for good.”

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth (R-AL) noted, “We have organized an Emergency Small Business Task Force to identify problems our businesses are facing during this difficult time. We need to bring clarity to issues and government orders that are often confusing and to effectively communicate solutions and direct business owners to resources that can help. NFIB is an indispensable member helping to guide this task force.”

RELATED: State Rep. Whitt on coronavirus restrictions: ‘Our small businesses are getting destroyed’

Among negatively impacted small employers in the NFIB survey, 80% reported slower sales, 31% reported experiencing supply chain disruptions and 23% reported concerns over sick employees.

One other major point in the survey pertained to how long can small businesses can continue to operate under current conditions.

With the pandemic projected to continue for weeks, it is especially concerning that approximately half of small employers said they can survive for no more than two months. About 15% of small employers responded that they cannot last even another month.

Mitigation is ongoing, however. Due to escalating financial stress on the sector, more small businesses are now talking with their bank about financing needs than was the case 10 days ago. Approximately 29% of small employers have talked with someone at their bank or with the Small Business Administration (SBA) about finance options, and another 23% are planning to do so soon. A total of 38% of small employers have not, and do not, intend to do so, per NFIB’s survey.

Read the full survey here.

RELATED: University of Alabama program helps connect small businesses with federal relief funds

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

7 hours ago

Alabama automakers lend a helping hand in COVID-19 battle

(Toyota Alabama/Contributed, YHN)

Alabama automakers are stepping in to aid their communities in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, including support of crucial testing services and production of protective face shields for healthcare workers.

Toyota’s Huntsville engine factory is producing 7,500 protective face shields for local hospitals.

In addition, the plant has donated 160 safety glasses to local hospitals, along with $25,000 to the United Way of Madison County to support COVID-19 relief efforts.

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“With our plant idled, Toyota Alabama is eager to contribute our expertise and know-how to help quickly bring to market the equipment needed to combat COVID-19,” the company said in a statement today.

Similar efforts are also happening at Toyota facilities nationwide.

Other Alabama automakers are offering community support as well.

Hyundai Motor America and its Hyundai Hope On Wheels program have donated $200,000 to the University of Alabama at Birmingham to help expand community testing efforts.

The grant will support the existing drive-through testing site in downtown Birmingham and help other sites in Jefferson County provide much-needed screening, said UAB Medicine CEO Will Ferniany.

“Support like this gift from Hyundai Hope On Wheels helps our frontline medical staff understand that they are not alone in this fight,” he said. “This grant will help further UAB’s commitment to providing access to communitywide testing.”

The grant will also be used to expand access for pediatric-specific testing services. About 20 percent of the downtown testing site’s patient population is age 25 and under, and officials from UAB Medicine, the UAB Department of Pediatrics and Children’s of Alabama hope to continue to expand testing for this group.

Nationwide, Hyundai is donating $2.2 million to support drive-thru testing centers at 11 children’s hospitals throughout the U.S.

Hyundai Hope on Wheels supports families facing pediatric cancer, and the company said the pandemic is a particular risk to children with cancer who have compromised immune systems.

Hyundai operates an auto assembly plant in Montgomery, which has been idled amid the outbreak, as have other auto assembly plants in the state.

Honda’s plants across the U.S. are also helping out during the crisis, including its factory in Talladega County.

Honda has pledged $1 million to food banks and meal programs across North America. Plants also are donating equipment, including N95 face masks, to healthcare providers, deploying 3-D printers to manufacture visors for face shields and investigating ways to partner with other companies in producing equipment.

In Tuscaloosa County, the Mercedes-Benz plant has donated N100 reusable filters,  protective suits and other supplies to local hospitals, as well as $5,000 to the DCH Foundation to help with the hospital’s curbside testing process.

Mercedes is also working with the Alabama Department of Commerce on ways the company or its supplier network can support making parts for the medical industry, and it is providing expertise to other manufacturers that are producing healthcare supplies.

The automaker also hosted a LifeSouth community blood drive that received about 95 donors.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

8 hours ago

Birmingham nonprofit aims to feed medical workers with food from local restaurants

(CareHealth/Contributed, YHN)

A new charitable effort has sprung up in Birmingham that aims to help two of the groups hardest hit by the COVID-19 outbreak: health care workers and local restaurants.

The initiative is called CareHealth and the premise is that the group will use donated money to buy food from locally-owned restaurants and then it will give those meals to hardworking health care professionals across the Magic City.

CareHealth is a project from Urban Avenues, a collaborative coalition of charitable organizations that focuses on improving the City of Birmingham.

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So far, the initiative has partnered with local favorites like Saw’s BBQ, Eugene’s Hot Chicken and Crestline Bagel to provide meals across Birmingham’s health care system.

According to a release, CareHealth has delivered 1,700 meals in its first week and supported 15 restaurants in doing so.

The meals are delivered by volunteers, who receive training and equipment that keeps them and their deliveries safe from contamination.

“CareHealth offers a double dividend for every dollar invested. Health care providers get meals amidst their battle and the light stays on for our food community due to the good people that are investing,” said John Lankford, founder of Urban Avenues.

Those interested in donating to CareHealth, requesting a meal or getting involved in the project can do so at the Urban Avenues website.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

Birmingham meal prep business offers buy one, give one to help feed those in need

(Mealfit/Contributed, YHN)

During the novel COVID-19 economic and health crisis, one Birmingham based small business has created a way to give back. Mealfit, a catering and meal preparation company, is donating a free meal to someone in need for every meal that is ordered.

Each customer who purchases a meal for themselves will be offered an opportunity to identify someone who may be in need. Mealfit will provide a meal to those in need at no additional costs.

Mealfit founder and CEO Thomas Cox launched the program as a way to help the community during a time of need.

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“I’ve been racking my brain as a small business owner on how I can provide high-quality, healthy food in a time when people are stuck at home, while also helping people who are in need,” said Cox.

“Everyone has someone who is in need whether it be an elderly person, a single parent or someone who has been laid off because of the crisis we are going through. So from now until further notice, every time you order your Mealfit meals, we will give to a family in need,” Thomas stated.

Customers can order through the company website by 12:00 p.m. on Sunday and pick up food between 4:00-5:00 p.m. on Monday at one of 17 different locations in Birmingham. Once an order is placed the customer can simply respond to their confirmation email and identify the name, number of family members, phone number and email of the person they would like to have a free meal. Mealfit will handle the rest.

Cox only has one small request for the greater Birmingham community: “We ask that you spread the word. We can’t reach everyone on our own, but with your help, we can reach more of the people who are in need that we aren’t directly connected with.”

Go to this website and order food for you and your family. 

8 hours ago

University of Alabama program helps connect small businesses with federal relief funds

(Pixabay, YHN)

A program based at the University of Alabama’s Office for Research and Economic Development is proving especially important as Yellowhammer State small businesses attempt to navigate the complex landscape of coronavirus (COVID-19) relief funds, including monies related to the $2.2 trillion federal stimulus package.

The Alabama Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network can prevent the need for small businesses to go out and hire costly law firms or lobbyists to track down Small Business Administration (SBA) loans and other available disaster relief funds.

A recent release detailed that the SBDC’s capital access team, in collaboration with outreach partners across the state, is working to help Alabama small businesses prepare to apply for the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, which enables impacted companies to apply for up to $2 million in working capital.

This is merely one of many SBA financing programs being rolled out nationwide, and the SBDC is the agency’s key resource partner to help businesses access the programs in Alabama.

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To this point, over 2,000 small businesses in the state have participated in the SBDC’s training programs, organized with several statewide and local partners, designed to help businesses apply for the disaster loan.

“The UA Office for Research and Economic Development is dedicated to supporting the enhanced mission of the SBDC during these critical times,” stated Dan Blakley, associate vice president of the University of Alabama’s Office for Economic and Business Engagement. “The expert team of business consultants across the Alabama SBDC Network provides access to the resources small business owners in Alabama need to successfully navigate the unprecedented challenges brought on by this crisis.”

SBDC business advisers are also working with job creators to design cash flow management strategies to survive the disaster and have released a “Guide to Conquering a Business Crisis,” which provides a quick checklist to help business owners evaluate several facets of their operation.

“The SBDC team has a long history of helping Alabama’s small business owners overcome downturns and disasters. We’ve helped companies come back from tornadoes, hurricanes and oil spills,” added Michael Brooks, associate director of the statewide SBDC. “Our business advisors are on deck to help business owners access resources to make it through this disruption.”

Business owners can learn more about the Alabama SBDC Network here.

RELATED: Keep up with Alabama’s confirmed coronavirus cases, locations here

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

9 hours ago

Alabama credit unions get guidance on COVID-19 stimulus loans for small businesses, contractors

(YHN)

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) on Thursday evening issued further guidance to federally backed financial lenders across the country related to a provision within the recently enacted coronavirus (COVID-19) stimulus package that will benefit small businesses.

The funds are part of the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a $349 billion component of the relief package.

Businesses with 500 or fewer employees are eligible to receive the lesser of $10 million or 2.5 times its average payroll over the period of several months. If certain conditions are met, up to 100% of the principal on the loans will be forgiven.

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Yellowhammer News on Thursday afternoon reported that banks were still awaiting guidance from the SBA on how to proceed in regards to the PPP, even though the loans were to become available on Friday morning.

“Banks across the nation are literally waiting for instructions from the government on how to move forward,” outlined Scott Latham, president and CEO of the Alabama Bankers Association, in a statement. “While we are grateful for the help, we are frustrated that those needing help the most are forced to suffer while the rules are still being written. Banks across Alabama have a strong reputation of helping individuals and small businesses during good times as well as the challenging times, and this difficult period will be no exception. Until the rules are final, we are simply in a waiting game that is out of our control.”

Following that statement, the SBA did indeed issue an official memo announcing the interim final rule implementing the PPP.

Jared Ross, president of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions and Affiliates (LSCU), was one of the national financial services leaders on the receiving end of that memo, which can be read in its entirety here. The Alabama Credit Union Association (ACUA) is an affiliate of LSCU.

That memo featured specific guidance related to the PPP for federally-insured credit unions. Additionally, the memo answered critical questions for all lenders, including the all-important, “Can lenders rely on borrower documentation for loan forgiveness?”

In a tweet, Credit Union National Association CEO Jim Nussle said that the organization’s “advocacy and badgering… paid off” in the form of the memo being issued and offering necessary, initial guidance.

Ross told Yellowhammer News in a statement, “Credit unions are always ready to help their members and communities and this has never been more evident than now.”

“We understand many small businesses are eager to take advantage of the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program and many credit unions are just as eager to help. This is a new process that we are all trying to figure out right now, but credit unions have been very proactive in trying to help their small business members and I encourage all applicants to be patient as we work through the kinks,” he continued.

Ron Summerall, president and CEO of the Alabama Teachers Credit Union, advised Yellowhammer News that work was ongoing locally as well in regards to figuring out the PPP ins-and-outs.

“Alabama Teachers has worked extensively with the Birmingham SBA Office this week,” Summerall stated. “They have gone above and beyond in an effort to help navigate our credit union through this complex process. With only a few items remaining, and with their guidance, we hope to be processing and funding Payroll Protection Plan loans for our small businesses very soon.”

RELATED: Alabama credit unions ‘remain open and ready to serve’ during coronavirus pandemic

Governor Kay Ivey earlier this week called on Alabama small businesses to immediately contact “their local banker, accountant, financial advisor or credit union” regarding PPP funding.

“I urge business owners to act today and be prepared to apply for assistance designed specifically to get them in front of the line when relief checks are written,” Ivey said.

A detailed breakdown of the Paycheck Protection Program is available here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

10 hours ago

Brooks thanks Pence for halting shipments of American medical supplies to foreign countries

(Congressman Mo Brooks, White House/Flickr, YHN)

Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) on Thursday praised recent actions taken by Vice President Mike Pence to stop the shipping of American-owned medical supplies to other countries.

“It is the height of irresponsibility for America to ship our medical supplies to foreign countries when Americans desperately need those supplies here,” said Brooks in a statement accompanying the letter.

The representative for Alabama’s fifth district commented further, “I thank Vice President Pence and the Coronavirus Task Force for putting Americans First as we battle this once-in-a-century pandemic.”

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The shipments of supplies had been coming from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), a federal agency dedicated to supporting countries less fortunate than the United States.

According to media reports, Pence paused all shipments of protective gear to other countries upon learning that a part of the federal government was shipping medical supplies overseas

Pence also ordered the coronavirus task force he oversees to scrutinize all U.S. aid deliveries. The vice president maintains that some equipment the United States has an excess amount of will be shared with America’s allies who are in turn alleviating shortages in America.

“We applaud this decision, and commend the Task Force for taking decisive action as it manages this once-in-a-century health crisis,” wrote Brooks in his letter, which was signed by seven other U.S. Representatives.

“Until we have the capacity to produce enough PPE and medical equipment to fill anticipated supply gaps in our health care system and to replenish our domestic stockpiles, we respectfully request that the Task Force continue its moratorium on shipments of government-owned medical supplies to foreign nations,” concludes the letter.

The full text of the correspondence can be read here.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

14 hours ago

7 Things: Ivey still resisting shelter-in-place, 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide, Brooks wants people back to work and more …

(YHN)

7. Democratic National Convention postponed

  • Originally planned for July 13-16, the Democratic National Convention will now be pushed back to the week of August 17 due to concerns of the coronavirus. 
  • Democratic National Convention Committee CEO Joe Solmonese said this decision was made “to monitor how this situation unfolds so we can best position our party for a safe and successful convention.” Just a day before this was announced, former Vice President Joe Biden said he expected the convention to be postponed until August. 

6. Prisons on a two-week lockdown

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  • The Alabama Department of Corrections has noted that they have zero coronavirus cases, but federally there are 37 workers and 57 inmates who have tested positive so, in an attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has ordered that all facilities be on lockdown for the next two weeks. 
  • This shutdown includes three federal prisons in Alabama. A worker at the Talladega prison has tested positive for the coronavirus. During the lockdown, inmates will be confined to “their assigned cells/quarters to decrease the spread of the virus.”  

5. There’s a new House committee for the coronavirus

  • A new committee is being created to oversee actions taken against the coronavirus. The committee will have subpoena powers to get information from President Donald Trump, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said, “It’s no use having a committee unless you have subpoena power.”
  • Pelosi said that subpoenas wouldn’t be about “investigation of the administration,” which no one believes, but it’s about the coronavirus response. The House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis will be chaired by U.S. Representative James Clyburn (D-SC). 

4. Trump wants Sessions to stop mentioning him

  • According to a report published by the New York Times, President Donald Trump’s campaign COO Michael Glassner sent a letter to former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ 2020 U.S. Senate campaign requesting that Sessions stop tying himself to Trump. Glassner said it was a “delusional assertion” for Sessions to claim he’s Trump’s number one supporter. 
  • The letter also accused the campaign of trying to confuse voters with Sessions’ support of Trump actually supporting Sessions, saying, “Nothing could be further from the truth.” In response, Sessions campaign spokesperson John Rogers has released a statement emphasizing how well Sessions would represent the people of Alabama and once again calling for former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville to debate. 

3. Brooks wants to see people get back to work

  • U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) has co-authored a letter with U.S. Representatives Bill Foster (D-IL) and Ami Bera (D-CA) that asks the federal government to push “coronavirus antibody testing since it tells us who can safely return to work.”
  • U.S. Representatives Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham) and Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) have both signed the letter. A main argument in the letter is that many people who were “young and minimally symptomatic” have already built up an immunity to the virus. Brooks would like to see the government “deploy these antibody tests rapidly and widely to help America’s medical profession acquire another weapon in the fight against COVID-19.”

2. There are more than 1 million coronavirus cases worldwide

  • The number of coronavirus cases across the globe has surpassed 1 million, and there are more than 51,300 deaths worldwide, with 500,000 of those cases being added within the last week. Alabama currently has almost 1,300 cases and 17 confirmed deaths from the illness.
  • The United States has the most cases reported in one country with at least 234,462 cases, which has been credited to the level of widespread testing that’s occurred. And while China has reported the fifth-highest number of cases and deaths, U.S. intelligence officials have said this is due to them purposely underreporting their coronavirus cases and deaths. 

1. Ivey holds question and answer session, discusses shelter-in-place

  • President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci has repeatedly called for a national shelter-in-place order, but Governor Kay Ivey continues to resist. She was asked again during a Twitter Q&A session about why she is yet to order Alabamians to shelter-in-place, especially when a majority of the country has already done so, to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 
  • Ivey responded to these questions by saying, “All health care options are being considered.” The governor added that she’s “in communication with local, state & federal officials on a daily basis. We are taking a measured approach to keep Alabamians healthy, safe & working, wherever possible.”

1 day ago

Ivey waives certain regulations for health care professionals, releases some probation and parole violators, makes other updates to State Health Order

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey on Thursday unveiled a series of updates to the State Health Order regarding the rules across the state during the coronavirus pandemic.

The bulk of the order is aimed at temporarily increasing the size and effectiveness of Alabama’s health care workforce and facilities in anticipation of a surge of COVID-19 patients.

The governor’s updated order also mandates that any person who is currently in county jail due to a probation or parole violation, and has been there for more than 20 days, shall be released.

The governor’s decree argues that “jails inherently heighten the possibility of COVID-19” and the measure is intended to reduce that risk.

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Other updates involved the ability for certain tasks like the notarizing of documents and corporate shareholder meetings to be done remotely. A notary public in Alabama can now notarize documents through videoconferencing software.

The first measure of the updated order expands the responsibilities that nurses with the proper certifications are allowed to perform. Nurses who have been certified for work in outside states are now authorized to practice in Alabama. Furthermore, doctors and other medical professionals who have recently left the field can now expect expedited reinstatement of their licenses upon application.

Red tape has been cut to make it easier for hospitals to expand their capacity should they need to.

Meetings required by law to be held in public can now be done remotely, including shareholder meetings of corporations.

The full order can be read here.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

1 day ago

Banks seek final instructions from feds on small business stimulus loans

(PIxabay, YHN)

Questions still surround the disbursement of small business stimulus funds on the eve of their availability.

The relief funds are part of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program, a $349 billion provision in the massive economic stimulus package passed by Congress.

Businesses with 500 or fewer employees are eligible to receive the lesser of $10 million or 2.5 times its average payroll over the period of several months.

Banks will distribute the funds in the form of loans granted under criteria contained in the law. Loans are set to become available on Friday.

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Gov. Kay Ivey has made an effort to steer Alabama’s small businesses toward the relief funds.

“I urge business owners to act today and be prepared to apply for assistance designed specifically to get them in front of the line when relief checks are written,” said Ivey in a statement earlier this week.

However, the banking industry is expecting further clarification on the rules and regulations they must abide by in granting the loans.

“Banks across the nation are literally waiting for instructions from the government on how to move forward,” outlined Scott Latham, president and CEO of the Alabama Bankers Association, in a statement from his organization. “While we are grateful for the help, we are frustrated that those needing help the most are forced to suffer while the rules are still being written. Banks across Alabama have a strong reputation of helping individuals and small businesses during good times as well as the challenging times, and this difficult period will be no exception. Until the rules are final, we are simply in a waiting game that is out of our control.”

An effort to press for clarified instructions comes from the industry’s fear that the process will become a chaotic scramble, according to a report Thursday in Politico.

Uncertainty also exists around the verification process and the division of those responsibilities between the banks and SBA for the government-backed loans.

If certain conditions are met, up to 100% of the principal on the loans will be forgiven.

“Banks are ready and willing to lend, but they need clear rules of the road and a streamlined process to be able to get funding into the hands of small business owners in the coming days,” Greg Baer, president and CEO of the Bank Policy Institute, told Politico.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

1 day ago

Caregiving in the era of COVID-19

(Pixabay, YHN)

Even in ordinary times, the more than 760,000 unpaid family caregivers in Alabama face a daunting set of daily tasks. Oftentimes with little or no training, they may be responsible for wound care, tube feedings, dressing, managing the finances and medical bills of their loved ones, transportation and more.

Of course, these are no ordinary times.

The coronavirus pandemic has complicated the lives of family caregivers, especially those with older loved ones who are most susceptible to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. It has added fear, anxiety and isolation to an already stressful situation. Here in Alabama, routines have been upended as communities cope with this disease. Governor Kay Ivey is urging all Alabamians to stay at home as much as possible, and nursing homes have been closed to visitors.

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Since the outbreak of the virus, AARP has been urging family caregivers to develop a plan in case they get sick or their loved one does. Our recommendations include:

Pull Together a Team. Develop a list of family and friends who can perform daily caregiving tasks. If available, identify local caregiving services who may offer a respite for family and friends.

Caregiving in the era of COVID-19​. In response to the virus, many restaurants and pharmacies are adding or increasing their delivery services. The federal government’s Eldercare Locator can help you find support services in your area. The new online AARP Community Connections enables people to enter their zip codes and find informal groups of neighbors and friends offering help right in their own communities.

Inventory Essential Items. Determine how much food, medication and basic supplies your care recipient has on hand. We recommend a two-week supply of food, water, household cleaning supplies and medical materials and equipment.

Get Prescriptions in Order. Make sure you have a list of medications, medical contacts and important information about your loved one, such as drug allergies. If there are upcoming routine medical appointments, reschedule those or, if possible, switch to a virtual visit. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommends having an extra 30-day supply of essential medications on hand. Don’t forget over-the-counter medications such as cough suppressants and fever-reducing drugs like acetaminophen.

Stay Connected. Isolation is a big issue as we all follow the social distancing guidance from the CDC. However, social distancing doesn’t have to lead to social disconnection. Develop a communication plan and identify times when members of the care team will check in on your loved one. Skype, Zoom and Facetime are useful digital apps that can help, but so are lower-tech options like email and telephone calling. To help fight the isolation, encourage people to send cards, letters, magazines, puzzles or other items a loved one would be happy to receive.

Protect Yourself. Like they tell you on an airplane, “Put your own mask on first.” Now more than ever, it is important for family caregivers to take care of themselves. Follow the CDC guidelines of washing hands frequently, avoiding crowds, practice social distancing and, by all means, if you feel sick stay home. If you develop the virus, you will be of little use to those who are counting on you.
To help caregivers, AARP has a dedicated, toll-free family caregiving line for people looking after a loved one. Agents are available to take calls Monday-Friday, 7:oo a.m. to 11:00 p.m. (ET) at 877-333-5885.

AARP also has a Facebook group where caregivers get tips from experts, share their own stories and sometimes just get a little encouragement from others in a similar situation. You can also find answers to many of your questions online at the AARP Caregiver Resource Center aarp.org/caregiving.

Though we would welcome your membership, our caregiving information and services are available to everyone. Our founder, Ethel Percy Andrus, said, “What we do, we do for all.” That has never been more important than in the face of this pandemic as we all pull together to find our way through it.

Candi Williams is State Director at AARP Alabama

1 day ago

Andy Andrews: A prayer of perspective

(Pixabay)

Andy Andrews has written a prayer he calls “A Prayer of Perspective.”

The Alabama native shared the prayer in an email to friends and followers saying, “It may seem like things are falling apart, but there is still much for which we can be grateful. I hope this message of truth resonates with you.”

Known as a world-class storyteller and inspirational voice, Andrews has sought to offer encouragement throughout the coronavirus pandemic. He has produced two videos aimed at helping people deal with the crisis: Perspective on the Coronavirus and Imagination control and the Chicken Little Syndrome.

Andrews’ entire prayer as follows:

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Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for today and for the future being designed by this present. We know the hardest steel is created from the hottest fire and that the most valuable diamond is a product of great pressure. Therefore, it is not surprising that times of calamity and distress have always been producers of the greatest people.

Lord, despite all we see and hear, we vow to remain grateful for we know that You will allow us to see the truth with proper perspective even during this situation. Let those of us who have enough to eat during this time not forget those who don’t. Neither should we forget that in our midst are children who have never had enough to eat.

Let those of us with roofs, walls, and dry places to sleep remember the 1.6 billion people in the world who lack adequate housing. Similarly, for those of us forced to work from home, remind us to be grateful that we have a home from which to work. And for those of us who are working, let us remember those who, for whatever reason, cannot.

Allow those of us who are inconvenienced during this time to remember we are “inconvenienced” in a country that—because of its many blessings—has a totally different definition of inconvenience than do many countries around the world. There are billions of people (and we know this) who would do anything for the chance to live at the level about which we sometimes complain.

May those of us who’ve had to cancel vacations, remember those who have never been able to take one in the first place.

For those of us who complain about the shortages of medical equipment and test kits for the virus, remind us that a shortage is always better than none at all. And let us remember the times throughout history when disease swept through populations and there were no test kits because no one knew what to test for or where to begin looking for a vaccine.

Thank you for the opportunity to live in today’s world and in a country like America. Though we do not deserve Your attention or Your mercy, thank You Lord, for both.

Finally, Father, we ask for your blessing in the same way King David did so long ago, by saying, “Lord, when doubts fill my mind and turmoil fills my heart, quiet me; give me renewed hope and cheer.”

Amen

1 day ago

New coronavirus symptom tracker launches to improve disease tracking in rural communities across Deep South

(Pixabay, YHN)

As the Deep South sees a surge in cases of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, experts from the University of Alabama at Birmingham have created a symptom checker to identify hot spots where the virus is spreading. The new website, HelpBeatCOVID19.org, will provide public health officials insight into underserved areas based on the symptomatic data collected from the region and could help inform and enhance public health observation.

“We are taking a look at COVID-19 symptoms alongside underlying medical conditions to provide public health officials an in-depth analysis of how rural areas are affected in real time,” said Sue Feldman, Ph.D., associate professor in the UAB School of Health Professions and UAB School of Medicine. “The website asks people about their symptoms to produce an interactive map showing how areas are effected and hot spots that are showing a rise in symptoms. We hope to learn more about how coronavirus is spreading in rural communities who have health disparities so we can help fight the spread of the disease.”

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HelpBeatCOVID19 will help public health officials and health care workers track symptoms before the disease spreads by encouraging people to take a daily survey about their symptoms. The symptom tracker will provide up-to-date information that tracks the progression of symptoms in communities in real time.

“During this devastating disease outbreak, we cannot ignore anyone, any population, any demographic,” said Mohanraj Thirumalai, Ph.D., assistant professor in the UAB School of Health Professions. “HelpBeatCOVID19 gives everyone a voice and a chance to contribute to a new way of reporting symptoms that is specifically designed for the rural communities who are often without the resources of those who live closer to urban areas.”

Log symptoms daily

People can visit the website daily to report their symptoms based on if they are feeling well or experiencing symptoms related to the novel coronavirus. The questionnaire takes about three to five minutes to fill out based on how someone is feeling. There is a series of questions addressing how one feels that day, current symptoms, other existing health conditions and basic social factors.

“As people present more symptoms in these communities, public health officials will be able to look at populations in specific ZIP codes, gaining timely information to help identify priorities during the course of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Sarah Parcak, Ph.D., professor in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences. “This information will fill a void in coronavirus reporting and be of great value to help lessen the threat to public health in the Southeast. The new tool could help identify new community outbreaks more effectively taking into account all aspects of lives of the people in that community.”

While following respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19 and SARS has traditionally focused primarily on movement of people and the biological spread of the virus, HelpBeatCOVID19 includes an additional focus beyond symptoms and health to other contributing factors. This includes social factors, such as neighborhood characteristics, economic factors and others, that may become key in understanding and acting upon information gathered from the questionnaire. In particular, such information can help us understand disparities in COVID-19 spread and eventual outcomes.

HelpBeatCOVID19 is a multi-channel geographical symptom tracker platform driven by crowdsourced, consumer-generated data collection that is inclusive and representative. The inclusive system focuses on health and wellness tracking across the Southeast, with an emphasis on underserved communities and underrepresented populations.

The symptom tracker is being used for surveillance that provides foundational data for future research about COVID-19 spread. The geospatial information used to provide the surveillance was put together by a team of collaborators from UAB in 10 days, a project that would have taken eight to 10 months in normal circumstances. The project is led by Parcak, Feldman and Thirumalai with support from UAB’s Center for Clinical and Translational ScienceCollege of Arts and SciencesMinority Health and Health Disparities Research Center, School of Medicine, School of Health Professions, School of Public Health, and the UAB/Lakeshore Research Collaborative.

If you are interested in supporting HelpBeatCOVID19, please contact Camille Epps, senior director of Alumni and Development, at camilleepps@uab.edu or 205-996-2154. For media inquiries, please contact Alicia Rohan, manager of Public Relations, at arohan@uab.edu.

(Courtesy of UAB)

1 day ago

Report: Trump campaign has told Sessions to back off on claims about Trump support

(Fox News, TIME/YouTube)

A report published Thursday by the New York Times says that President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign is requesting former Attorney General Jeff Sessions stop tying himself to the president in his quest to win back the seat Sessions once held.

The Times was able to acquire the official letter that Trump campaign chief operating officer Michael Glassner sent to the Sessions campaign.

Glassner criticized Sessions for “the delusional assertion that you are President ‘Trump’s #1 supporter,’” according to the Times’ piece.

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The Sessions campaign had promoted on social media images touting the president’s support, and according to the Times, had distributed a mailer that mentioned Trump 22 times.

(Twitter/JeffSessions)

“We only assume your campaign is doing this to confuse President Trump’s loyal supporters in Alabama into believing the president supports your candidacy in the upcoming primary runoff election. Nothing could be further from the truth,” wrote Glassner.

A spokeswoman for the Sessions campaign told the Times that Sessions “is indeed one of the strongest supporters of President Trump and his agenda” and “no one can change that.”

The spokesperson pointed out that voters in Alabama have bucked President Trump’s endorsement twice before: when they picked Roy Moore over Luther Strange and when they picked Doug Jones over Roy Moore.

Then-Senator Jeff Sessions was the first United States Senator to endorse then-candidate Trump during the 2016 campaign. Sessions served as Trump’s first attorney general from the beginning of the administration until fall 2018.

Sessions’ handling of the investigations into the Trump campaign while serving as attorney general incurred the president’s anger and prompted several tweets expressing strong disapproval.

In early March, Trump endorsed former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville, who is Sessions’ opponent in the upcoming primary runoff election on July 14.

The winner of that runoff will go on to face Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) in November.

The full letter from the Trump campaign COO can be read here.

Update 2:01 p.m.:

Sessions campaign spokesperson John Rogers sent Yellowhammer News the following statement:

The people of Alabama are going to decide this race, not Washington. Alabamians are an independent lot and they make their own decisions. Our campaign is resolutely focused on the important challenges facing America, and the critical issues to Alabama and our economy.

There’s no doubt that Jeff Sessions is ready to lead from Day One.

Jeff Sessions is the only person in this race who has the knowledge and toughness to hold China accountable for its cover-up of the Wuhan Virus, to end illegality at the border, and to defend the great American heritage of law, liberty, and prosperity.

That is what this race is all about. Tommy Tuberville will not be able to hide his lack of preparedness for this role. Tommy should quit hiding from these issues and the voters of Alabama—it’s time for him to man up, and debate.

Editor’s note: The Sessions campaign advised that the letter in question was in the process of being mailed before the president’s endorsement of Tuberville. The fundraising letter was reportedly mailed on March 6, and the Trump endorsement came on March 10.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

1 day ago

Listen: Exclusive interview with Governor Kay Ivey on COVID-19 response

(Governor's Office/Contributed)

MONTGOMERY — Yellowhammer News on Wednesday afternoon spoke exclusively with Governor Kay Ivey. In a phone interview lasting over 20 minutes, Ivey discussed Alabama’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, how economic considerations factor in, the possibility of Medicaid expansion, why gun stores are still open and much more.

Ivey also was asked about criticism from multiple state legislators about her latest State Health Order potentially favoring “big-box” stores over locally-owned, small businesses. The governor concluded with a message directly to the people of Alabama.

Yellowhammer News will post a write-up of the interview on Friday, but you can listen to the full interview below now:

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This interview came before Ivey on Thursday held a question-and-answer session on Twitter. You can follow that session here.

RELATED: Keep up with Alabama’s confirmed coronavirus cases, locations here

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 day ago

When people hear Yellowhammer, they stop and listen

(PIxabay, YHN)

Need to reach millions? Yellowhammer broadcasts headline news updates to radio stations across Alabama every hour, every day.

Major coverage, at a fraction of the price.

What can Yellowhammer do for you?

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1 day ago

Auburn design adapts CPAP machines into emergency ventilators

(Auburn University/Flickr, YHN)

A group of Auburn engineers has developed a way to quickly and inexpensively convert CPAP machines into ventilators, one of the most important tools hospitals have for helping COVID19 patients.

Continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, machines are commonly used to help people with obstructive sleep apnea breathe more easily during sleep. The Auburn design, called RE-INVENT, is an accessory that would safely repurpose a CPAP into a functional ventilator.

Ventilators are in short supply at hospitals across the nation as the number of patients requiring respiratory assistance due to COVID-19 rises.

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Tom Burch and Michael Zabala, faculty in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, and Hayden Burch, a sophomore in mechanical engineering, initiated the project. Additional engineering faculty and alumni helped refine the mechanical design, control system, user interface and alarms. Critical respiratory care medical professionals contributed to the design of RE-INVENT.

“What started as pure intellectual curiosity quickly grew into an emotional race against time to potentially save lives,” said Zabala, an assistant professor. “We wanted to know if we could design a solution to solve the ventilator shortage problem.”

The RE-INVENT team focused on a design that would reliably ventilate a patient for an extended period. They also considered affordability and ease of manufacture given the urgent, national need for ventilators. The device can be assembled in as little as four hours using approximately $700 in readily available component parts in addition to a standard CPAP machine. A ventilator typical in many hospitals costs as much as $25,000, often more.

“I use a CPAP machine, and it does 90 percent of what a ventilator does,” said Burch, who initially proposed incorporating continuous positive airway pressure into the RE-INVENT design.

“These are difficult times,” he said. “Everybody who understands the gravity of the situation wants to do something to help, so it feels good to think you’ve helped with something that may have an impact.”

Auburn officials are exploring options for sharing the design with health care providers and potential manufacturers. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has provided guidance to health care providers that may allow them to use RE-INVENT to help increase the availability of ventilators and other respiratory devices during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health care providers interested in collaborating with the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering during the current public health emergency can learn more online about RE-INVENT.

(Courtesy of Auburn University)

1 day ago

State Rep. Whitt on coronavirus restrictions: ‘Our small businesses are getting destroyed’

(Screenshot/WAFF)

As far as some businesses go, there have been both winners and losers with the restrictions put into place because of the coronavirus pandemic. That has led to pushback from some small businesses that are not considered “essential.” In contrast, larger retailers that have both essential and non-essential products for sale are allowed to remain open.

In an appearance on “The Jeff Poor Show” on Wednesday, State Rep. Andy Whitt (R-Harvest) agreed with that notion, noting the toll it was taking on Alabama’s small businesses.

He said he agreed with a point State Sen. Tom Whatley (R-Auburn) had made earlier in the week regarding Alabama’s rural small businesses. However, he was unsure of a remedy for small businesses.

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“I certainly agree with Senator Whatley — our small businesses are being destroyed,” Whitt said. “For instance, I had a customer call me and a constituent call regarding they have a nursery. Well, their nursery stocks tomato plants, pepper plants — things like that. It is gardening time, yet they were shuttered. When I went through Lowe’s drive-thru to look at their parking lot — what are people buying? Well, they are getting ready to plant their garden. So yes, it puts them at a deep disadvantage, and it is hurtful to our economy. I wish I knew a better answer. I just simply don’t know one at this time.”

“But yes, they have an advantage,” he continued. “So many people in those stores — maybe they should start limiting them to 25% occupancy of the store and sell only the essential items. We don’t need people in there shopping for dresses or whatever at Walmart or Target. They need to go in there and get essential items or prescriptions filled, and move on about their business.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.

1 day ago

Brooks co-authors letter urging the use of antibody tests that could allow Americans to get back to work

(Congressman Mo Brooks/Facebook)

Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) co-wrote a letter this week urging federal agencies to further implement antibody testing, a type of test that can determine if a person has an immunity to COVID-19.

“It is now vital that the U.S. does not drop the ball on coronavirus antibody testing since it tells us who can safely return to work,” reads the bipartisan letter.

Brooks co-authored the correspondence with Reps. Bill Foster (D-IL) and Ami Bera (D-CA).

Two other members of Alabama’s congressional delegation, Reps. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) and Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham), signed the document once it was written.

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The letter argues that “much of our population, especially the young and minimally symptomatic, will have already acquired immunity to COVID-19, not through vaccination, but by getting infected and recovering.”

“Most of those who recover will not be certain they had COVID-19,” the letter continues.

The letter goes on to say, “Fortunately, a so-called serological test that detect[s] the immune system’s response to a viral infection, including to COVID-19, could provide such a reasonable assurance.”

A serological test is another name for an antibody test.

According to the authors of the letter, one of whom has a medical degree, the serological tests involve little more than a finger-prick of blood and can deliver results within minutes.

In comments accompanying the letter, Brooks said he wants federal agencies “to deploy these antibody tests rapidly and widely to help America’s medical profession acquire another weapon in the fight against COVID-19.”

“Americans must work for the good of their families, our economy, and our country,” Brooks advised.

The full letter can be read here.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

1 day ago

World Games in Birmingham moved to 2022

The World Games Birmingham logo

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin announced Thursday morning that the International World Games, which had been scheduled to take place in Birmingham in 2021, will now be held in 2022.

The World Games is a competition where sports and disciplines not included in the Olympics get a chance to compete on the international stage. The event is typically held one year after the Olympics.

The Tokyo Olympics were recently delayed from 2020 until 2021 due to ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Woodfin said in a video posted to social media, “It is simply not practical to hold both The Olympic Games and The World Games in the same year.”

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According to the event’s website, the new dates for the Games will be July 7-17, 2022.

The original dates in 2021 directly coincided with the new dates for the Tokyo Olympics.

The International World Games Association said in a statement, “Keeping to the original dates in July 2021 would have meant excluding many athletes and officials involved in the Olympics, and would have led to a potential reduction in public and media interest.”

“Moving The World Games to 2022 enables the IWGA, Birmingham Organizing Committee, and various sport federations to have a set date to work toward,” added Woodfin.

Birmingham’s mayor assured the public that his city and the organizing committee are still working hard to make the event the best World Games ever.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

2 days ago

7 Things: Alabama’s neighbors tighten restrictions, Alabama passes 1,000 confirmed cases, getting the stimulus check just got easier and more …

(YHN)

7. Some seniors already graduated in Alabama

  • Alabama high schools will be going back to class online, but a lot of seniors who were already “on track to graduate” this spring have been declared graduates, as decided by State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey’s task force. 
  • School districts get to independently decide if seniors will graduate early, but Madison County will grant seniors graduate status and Vestavia Hills will grant them the status but continue offering classes to prepare them for continuing their education. Huntsville City Schools have pushed graduate dates back to June 25 and 26. 

6. Hospitals in Alabama and around the country are cutting staff

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  • Huntsville Hospital CEO David Spillers has said that the hospital is cutting staff where they’ve seen a decline in patients as a way to free up funds in the event that the hospital sees a surge of coronavirus patients. Other hospitals are doing the same.
  • Spillers said that they are working “to make sure this doesn’t impact patient care when we need people to come in and take care of patients.” So far, cuts have been made to cafeteria workers, cleaning staff and construction.

5. Pence is defending the president’s response to the coronavirus

  • While on CNN, anchor Wolf Blitzer said to Vice President Mike Pence, “It would have been good if the president wouldn’t have been belittling the enormity of this crisis.” This was referring to the coronavirus pandemic and repeating a popular mainstream media talking point that President Donald Trump was slow to act with the virus.
  • Pence rejected the assumption that Trump downplayed the severity of the virus, saying Trump has “expressed gratitude and confidence in health care workers in this country.” Pence went on to bring up how Trump initially wanted to “suspend all travel from China” and how the Coronavirus Task Force was set up at the beginning of the year.

4. China lied, people died

  • Much to the chagrin of the American media and their Democrats, the United States’ intelligence community is making it clear that their narrative that China was truthful and has the coronavirus pandemic under control in their country is not true. Those still repeating those lies are handing China a propaganda win.
  • The secret report indicates that that China has been misleading the world on the number of coronavirus cases and deaths intentionally incomplete, U.S. Senator Ben Sasse and others are calling out the lies saying, “The Chinese Communist Party has lied, is lying, and will continue to lie about coronavirus to protect the regime.”

3. Trump administration fixes hiccup with stimulus checks

  • While the Internal Revenue Service announced that it would start sending out stimulus dollars over the next three weeks, they also initially said that you need to file a tax return to receive it, which, according to Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), was not the intention. He added, “IRS should follow the law that Congress passed.”
  • In response to the outcry, the administration reversed course with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying, “Social Security recipients who are not typically required to file a tax return need to take no action, and will receive their payment directly to their bank account.”

2. Alabama coronavirus cases surpass 1,000

  • The Alabama Department of Public Health has reported that the number of coronavirus cases in Alabama is at least 1,100, and there are at least 28 people who have tested positive for the virus and then passed away, but ADPH has only verified 17 of those.
  • There are at least 305 cases in Jefferson County and 107 cases in Madison County with one death in each county. Chambers County has 45 cases but the highest death toll with four.

1. Alabama still hasn’t tightened restrictions

  • After immense pressure from the media and health experts, because boats and beachgoers kept mingling in the waters off Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis (R) issued the order and shut the state down for 30 days to bring the total number of Americans under some mandatory order to 272 million. 
  • Other southern governors did similar things. Georgia issued a shelter-in-place order, and Tennessee and Mississippi now have “safer-at-home” and “stay-at-home” orders, leaving Alabama and Governor Kay Ivey as one the sole outlier in the region.