2 months ago

Trump: ‘I LOVE ALABAMA!’

President Donald Trump on Thursday afternoon exuberantly tweeted his affection for the state of Alabama, however the image he sent out along with the tweet has political observers in the Yellowhammer State collectively scratching their heads.

Along with his caption of “I LOVE ALABAMA!” Trump tweeted out a graph depicting the topline results of an Alabama Farmers Federation poll that was conducted in early December on the Republican U.S. Senate primary.

To be clear, this polling data is at least somewhat outdated. Almost two full months have passed since the survey was conducted, and Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) has since started advertising on television.

You can read about that poll from Yellowhammer News’ original reporting here.

While people not-named Donald Trump may speculate as to why the president tweeted out the poll now — and exactly what he likes about it — only Trump really knows at this point.

Ultimately, all of the top GOP Senate campaigns right now are just as confused as the general public about the tweet.

However, it is noteworthy in and of itself that Trump tweeted anything at all about the primary. He has remained silent on the race since initially answering questions after his former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions entered the primary in early November.

In a statement to Yellowhammer News on Thursday, Sessions campaign manager Jon Jones reacted to the tweet by saying, “President Trump loves Alabama — and Alabama loves our president. Alabama gave President Trump one of his biggest margins of victory in 2016, and as this and other polls have shown, Republican voters in Alabama solidly back Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate race.”

“It’s easy for politicians to talk big now, but when the chips were down in 2016, Senator Jeff Sessions was President Trump’s strongest ally. Jeff Sessions is the conservative fighter Alabama needs in Washington, helping to advance the Trump agenda in the U.S. Senate,” he concluded.

Lenze Morris, press secretary for Byrne’s campaign, also reacted in a statement.

“We’re excited the president is watching this race. That polling is over two months old, and we know this is a close race. Bradley Byrne is going to win,” she said.

Former State Rep. Perry O. Hooper, Jr. (R-Montgomery) on Thursday afternoon told Yellowhammer News that the one thing above speculation is that Trump is looking forward to Alabama sending a second Republican senator to support his agenda in Washington, D.C. All of the top three Republican Senate contenders, Hooper said, would handily defeat Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) in November, which is the ultimate goal.

Trump’s Alabama approval rating has consistently been among the nation’s highest — if not the highest.

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

17 mins ago

Merrill outlines how Alabama will spend election-related federal stimulus money

Included in the recently enacted $2 trillion federal coronavirus (COVID-19) stimulus package was $400 million to be allocated to the states to protect the integrity of the nation’s electoral process.

Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill’s office on Monday released information detailing that the Yellowhammer State will receive $6,473,611, which will further be matched 20% by the secretary of state’s office ($1,294,723) for a total of $7,768,334.

This funding will cover both the primary runoff on July 14 as well as the general election on November 3.

“Our intentions are to use this funding to reimburse counties for various preparation and election expenses including, but not limited to, masks, gloves, disinfectant spray, hand-sanitizer, alcohol wipes, and professional cleaning services to return the polling places back to their safe and sanitary pre-election condition,” the secretary of state’s office stated.

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An application for county commissions to request reimbursement will be provided on the official website of the secretary of state’s office as soon as the money is made available to the State.

Additionally, $900,000 of the total will be allocated to reimburse absentee election managers for increased costs resulting from the lengthened absentee voting period, and $1,000,000 will be used to compensate poll workers with an additional $25.00 on Election Day.

“I am extremely grateful for the leadership displayed by Senator Mitch McConnell and Senator Richard Shelby and for their listening to the concerns I expressed as well as the advice and guidance provided by other chief election officials from across the country. It is important that those at the state and local level are granted the flexibility to address the needs of their respective communities,” Merrill said.

“This funding will protect the health and safety of our voters, poll workers, and others involved in the electoral process,” he added. “I also appreciate the assistance provided by Governor Kay Ivey’s Office, the State Comptroller’s Office, and the Association of County Commissions of Alabama.”

Reports of state spending will be submitted to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission for full transparency and public inspection. All resources must be expended for these purposes no later than December 31, 2020, Merrill’s office advised.

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

54 mins ago

Ivey urges Alabamians to practice social distancing — ‘With faith and perseverance we’ll get through this together’

Governor Kay Ivey released a video Monday urging Alabamians to practice social distancing, staying six feet apart from each other, during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“For now and for the foreseeable future please consider staying safe at home,” says Ivey near the beginning of the video.

The governor’s video comes on the same day President Donald Trump approved a State of Emergency for Alabama that will make it easier for the federal government to provide assistance in recovering from the coronavirus.

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Ivey tells the public that now is a time for neighborliness. She urges people to let others help them if help is needed.

To conclude the message Ivey quotes part of 1 Peter 5:10. She says, “The God of all grace, after you have suffered a little while, will restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

Watch:


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

2 hours ago

UAB will test a COVID-19 vaccine candidate created by Altimmune Inc.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham is launching a collaboration with the biopharmaceutical company Altimmune, Inc. for preclinical testing of a potential vaccine to prevent COVID-19 disease.

The testing at UAB will investigate immune responses to the vaccine in mice — a key step before the Gaithersburg, Maryland-based Altimmune can launch a Phase 1 human safety and immunogenicity trial in patients in Q3 of this year. The COVID-19 vaccine, called AdCOVID, is a single-dose vaccine candidate that is delivered by an intranasal spray.

Altimmune created AdCOVID in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic. The company has significant experience in the development of intranasal vaccine candidates for respiratory pathogens, including a seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccine and a vaccine for inhalation anthrax. The anthrax vaccine candidate is being developed under a $133.7 million contract with the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

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“We are eager to collaborate with Altimmune on this important project,” said Frances E. Lund, the Charles H. McCauley Professor and Chair for the UAB Department of Microbiology. “The expertise and infrastructure at UAB will be invaluable to the rapid progression of this vaccine into clinical studies,” she added.

Six UAB labs will work together on this urgent collaboration with Altimmune. “This project will be our highest priority for the group in the next few months as the goal is to get the data to Altimmune as rapidly as possible, so that they will use the information gained from the preclinical study to design their clinical trial in people,” Lund said.

In addition to Lund’s lab, the labs are led by Troy Randall, Ph.D., professor of medicine in the UAB Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology; Kevin Harrod, Ph.D., professor in the UABDepartment of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine; and three more UAB Department of Microbiology labs led by Rodney King, Ph.D., assistant professor, Todd Green, Ph.D., associate professor, and John Kearney, Ph.D., professor.

“It is critical that the biotechnology industry and academic institutions work together to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, and UAB is an ideal partner to support us in this effort,” said Vipin K. Garg, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of Altimmune. “UAB has an impressive track record of cutting-edge research in virology and immunology, as well as in the clinical development of vaccines. In fact, Altimmune was founded through a technology license from UAB in 1997. We are excited to collaborate with UAB in our efforts, and we look forward to addressing this crisis together.”

UAB also has extensive experience in conducting clinical studies of vaccines and has participated in studies sponsored by the Vaccine Evaluation and Trial Unit, part of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.

Altimmune expects that the COVID-19 vaccine candidate will activate mucosal and cellular immune responses, as well as a strong antibody response in the blood, as was found for its influenza vaccine candidate, which uses the same proprietary intranasal vaccine technology. If the AdCOVID vaccine candidate is as stable as Altimmune’s influenza and anthrax vaccines candidates, that may allow inexpensive and efficient distribution of the millions of doses needed for widespread vaccination of populations.

At UAB, Randall holds the William J. Koopman Endowed Professorship in Rheumatology and Immunology, Harrod holds the Benjamin Monroe Carraway, M.D., Endowed Chair in Anesthesiology and Kearney holds the Endowed Professorship in Immunology.

(Courtesy of UAB)

4 hours ago

7 Things: Trump extends social distancing to April 30, bleak outlook with the coronavirus ahead, Rogers wants medical equipment manufacturing done in America and more …

7. Trump handling of the economy and favorability hit all-time highs

  • Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump are locked in a dead heat, according to a new poll, but that poll also shows there has been a “rally around the flag” moment for President Trump with the president receiving his highest average approval rating (47%) and rating on the economy (57%) of his presidency. 
  • Granted, the approval numbers are not great, but he has never been able to get great approval from Democrats, including when he was a candidate. It also doesn’t help that the mainstream media have been on a mission to destroy his presidency from day one. 

6. Florida stopping people from coming in

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  • In an effort to crack down on travel to Florida and slow the spread of the coronavirus, there have been checkpoints set up on the state line, including Alabama’s border with Florida. 
  • At checkpoints, people will have to provide the address of where they intend to quarantine themselves for two weeks. Florida has also stopped vacation rentals for at least two weeks due to the number of people who were going to the state because of coronavirus lockdowns. 

5. Alabama could be getting medical supplies from South Korea and Apple

  • On behalf of Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, the Hyundai Motor Corporation is requesting that the South Korean government send medical supplies to Alabama to assist in fighting the coronavirus. 
  • Governor Kay Ivey has announced that Alabama healthcare providers have received 63,000 masks from Apple to help in the coronavirus outbreak. 

4. China is still lying

  • While the American media is cheering the fact that America now leads the world in reported cases of the coronavirus, U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) reminds the world that the Chineses government lied when all of this started and is still lying now.
  • Senator Cotton made it clear, and minced no words, saying, “The Chinese Communist Party is still lying.” He added, “They say they’ve only had 2,500 cases that resulted in deaths or so, yet a single mortuary has ordered more than 5,000 urns. You can look at these basic facts to know that the Chinese Communist Party is still lying today, as they were in December and January, and that’s why what could have been a local problem in Wuhan turned into a global pandemic from which more than 2,000 Americans have now died”

3. Rogers wants more medical equipment made in America

  • U.S. Representative Mike Rogers (R-Saks) has come forward with the idea that the United States needs to be producing 50% of “personal protective equipment, medical devices that we use in this country” domestically.
  • Rogers has argued that this would be a measure we could take so that we aren’t reliant on China, reasoning, “They literally own the marketplace for a lot of this medical equipment, personal protective equipment and devices.” 

2. Dr. Fauci thinks there could be 100,000 deaths

  • Director for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci was on CNN on Sunday to discuss the coronavirus in the United States, and Fauci said they don’t have a “firm idea” about how the virus could grow in America. 
  • Fauci went on to say that he thinks there will be 100,000 to 200,000 deaths and millions of coronavirus cases in the country but added that “it’s such a moving target that you could so easily be wrong and mislead people.” There are currently serious problems in New York and New Orleans.

1. Social distancing guidelines extended until April 30

  • With 140,000+ instances of the coronavirus and 2,400 deaths in the United States thus far, President Donald Trump has announced that he is keeping his proposed social distancing guideline in place another month, saying, “Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before victory is won. It’s very important that everybody strongly follow the guidelines.”
  • The state of Alabama has seen as many as 10 coronavirus deaths, with four confirmed by the Alabama Department of Public Health, in 827 cases across the state.

5 hours ago

Things you can do today to help improve your mental health amid COVID-19 outbreak

Overwhelmed. Anxious. Distracted. Lonely. These are a few words that might describe the feelings of those who are transitioning into working from home, or limited work, during the novel coronavirus outbreak.

News cycles are dominated by COVID-19 news. While coverage is a pertinent necessity during a pandemic, it can be overwhelming to experience every news outlet’s abandoning its daily beat for serious COVID-19 news only. There is little to no positive news — currently, most pieces of communication are tracking ever-increasing infection and fatality numbers.

Sitting on the receiving end of virtually every possible news outlet pushing COVID-19-centric news leads to feeling distracted and overwhelmed.

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“Despite the outbreak, it’s important to remember that life still goes on and that there are a number of strategies people can use to cope with this type of stress, said Laura Dreer, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences. “We know that people have a tremendous ability to flourish in light of what one might consider life-altering situations.”

Dreer’s clinical research is on resilience of patients and caregivers in coping with traumatic injuries and chronic medical conditions and supports individuals overcoming adversity.

Ready to focus, experience mindfulness and boost your mood?

Help someone else

Helping someone else is a great way to feel more empowered about the impact of your day-to-day life. Virtually reach out to struggling co-workers or others in the community with support and encouragement, and check (again, virtually) on any elderly or vulnerable members of your community and offer to assist them through grocery shopping, picking up their medications or cutting their lawn.

Practice mindfulness

“Mindfulness means being fully present in the moment,” Dreer said. “It is easy for many of us to get caught up in things that have happened in the past or in the future while missing out on living in the present.”

Combat the pinging notifications and things vying for your attention by practicing a bit of mindfulness at the start or end of your day — or even as a lunchtime break. Check out mindfulness platform Headspace or the Resilient Option, which is offering free unlimited access to its online program.

Read a book

Whether you choose to read a positive book, a murder mystery or even a manual, reading still has proven health benefits. According to Scholastic, regular reading can decrease your stress levels by up to 68 percent and can lengthen your life by up to two years.

Watch a positive movie or television show

Birgit Wolz, Ph.D., a psychotherapist at the Zur Institute, facilitates cinema therapy groups. Wolz stated that watching a movie can bring “insight, inspiration, emotional release or relief, and natural change.”

Al.com has created a list of 51 hopeful movies that will make you feel good about life, now streaming on Netflix and more. Dreer also encourages watching shows focused on humor; they can also help to relieve stress as there is evidence for humor and laughter’s effects on your emotional well-being.

Stay socially connected

Dreer advocates for the importance of staying socially connected throughout this outbreak, especially when social distancing is recommended and businesses, schools, entertainment, social, and sporting events/activities are halted.

“When people are socially isolated, they can become at risk for loneliness and depression, particularly among older adults living alone or among other vulnerable groups of individuals,” Dreer said. “Stress and loneliness can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to illnesses. There are many ways to continue to engage socially and during outbreaks, and it may take some creativity.”

  • Play games with your family using virtual multi-player games. Do not forget to include out-of-state family members!
  • Write down questions to ask relatives/friends in an effort to get to know more about them. “Tell me about the last time you remember laughing so hard. What was it about?” or “Tell me about something you learned recently.”
  • Eat a meal together at home with family and/or virtually when other family/friends might be eating. Cook with family, if possible.
  • Do a puzzle together.

Limit your sources and amount of news intake

“Constantly listening to news and/or cable talk shows will only add to one’s anxiety in times of an outbreak or disaster,” Dreer said. “While it’s important to stay updated, limiting updates to once a day will help you stay more in the moment and lower your stress levels. This is particularly important for parents with young children and to be mindful of keeping the news to a minimum.”

Streamline your incoming news by picking a few reputable sources rather than relying on potentially unreliable social media. You can also get good information from sources such as the

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)UAB, World Health Organization, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Get moving and get outside

Restaurants, movie theaters and everything else might be closed; but sidewalks and trails are not! There are benefits to staying active, including boosted energy, improved mood, lowered blood pressure and reduced risk for chronic health conditions.

Getting moving is a good way to get your mind off the negative and remember the hope that is just around the corner! Fresh air and sunlight will give you a new perspective and keep you interactive in the world as daily routines are affected.

UAB News has also outlined “Six ways to stay healthy while keeping your distance” if you are looking for more ideas.

Start (or end) your day with gratitude

Taking a moment to remember all the things you are grateful for in life can be a great way to focus on the positive. To take stock of the ways in which you count yourself lucky or blessed allows you to re-center on your priorities. Dreer often gives exercises such as a 30-day gratitude challenge to her patients with vision impairments and their family caregivers. She recommends making a list of the things you are grateful for and keeping a gratitude journal.

Keep your regular routine

Try to keep regular routines and schedules, which will help you get the sleep you need and keep structure for yourself as well as your children. It may feel good at first to have no structure, sleep in, etc.; but the more you can keep yourself on your regular routine, the better your long-term mental health. Try to eat healthy foods and engage in routine exercise, even simple walks outside.

UAB Department of Psychology Professor Diane Tucker, Ph.D., shares her thoughts on making a plan for positive coping during the COVID-19 time. You can read more about her advice for positive action here.

Talk about your feelings, concerns

Dreer advocates the importance of talking about your feelings and concerns with close family and friends, neighbors, mental health provider, and/or clergy. Talking with others can help process your concerns, give you a different perspective and make you think of things in a different way.

Share with children how you deal with your own stress so that you model that for them. Limit their exposure to news and social media that may have inaccurate information.

Expand your knowledge and stimulate your mental activity!

“Now is a perfect time to pursue those things you wish you had more time to do or learn about various topics,” Dreer said. “Use YouTube to learn to play an instrument or how to fix or make something, or view TED Talks to help further your outlook and perspective on various topics.

Spend time with a pet

There is much to be said about the comfort of a pet during times of stress. Dreer says there is a body of evidence supporting the beneficial impact of having a pet on mental health.

Pets can have a calming effect on us, allow us to relax, breath slower and lower our heart rate and have been found to keep us more physically active when taking them on walks as well as socially interactive in terms of meeting new people when out on a walk. And, pets do not have to be just dogs or cats to have a beneficial impact. Even watching a fish has been found to positively impact mental health and lower stress and blood pressure.

(Courtesy of UAB)