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Immigration Bill Appears Dead: Sessions Remains Cautious

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

A year ago, President Obama was re-elected President of the United States and his party built on its thin majority in the United States Senate. The emboldened President began his new term by forcing a massive tax increase and debt ceiling increase through the Congress without giving Republicans any concessions on runaway spending or his unpopular Healthcare Reform law (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act).

Claiming an electoral mandate from the people, the President set gun control and comprehensive immigration reform as the two centerpieces of his 2013 legislative agenda. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D) from California controversial wide ranging assault weapons ban failed to get to the Senate floor. A more limited gun control proposal failed to pass the Senate.

The bipartisan “Gang of Eight” prepared a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would have dramatically increased the number of legal immigrants that the U.S. would allow in the country and would give legalization and a pathway to citizenship to an estimated 12 million illegal aliens already in the country. U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R) from Alabama was an instant vocal critic of the controversial bill. The bill passed the Senate with additional border security proposals, but quickly stalled in the Republican controlled U.S. House of Representatives.

On Wednesday, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R) from Ohio said he would not conference with the Senate immigration bill; giving the appearance that comprehensive immigration reform, or at least the ambitious Gang of Eight version, is dead in this Congress.

Senator Sessions praised the announcement in a written statement while also sounding a note of caution. 

Sen. Sessions said, “Today’s announcement is an important and positive development for our nation, our people, and the Republican party. House Republicans are resisting an influence campaign and standing for the interests of the American people. But a word of caution: the groups pushing for Gang of Eight-style legislation are well-financed and very powerful. The Gang of Eight’s bill’s fatal flaw was always that it answered to the special interests at the expense of the national interest. Arguably the single most destructive feature of the Senate’s immigration bill was the massive permanent surge in low-skill immigration that would reduce wages and increase unemployment. The White House and Senate Democrats shamelessly coordinated with a small cadre of CEOs to pressure House Republicans to yield.”

Sen. Sessions continued, “It’s time for Republicans to tell these special interests to get lost and to be the one party that will defend the interests of the millions of low-wage Americans looking for better jobs and better wages. This is the moment for a vision to emerge centered on growth and prosperity for working Americans—not just the powerful and well-connected.”

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Senator Sessions has been a vocal critic of the proposal and cited the Obama administration’s poor track record of enforcing current immigration law and the terrible jobs situation the country has faced since the Great Recession of 2008-2009 as reasons to oppose the complicated Gang of Eight immigration proposal that passed the U.S. Senate.

Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III has represented Alabama in the Senate since his election in1996. Prior to that Sessions was Alabama Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney for South Alabama.

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Vote on Amy Coney Barrett confirmation could come as early as today

Brandon Moseley

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Sunday, Republicans in the Senate voted to end debate on the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett as a United State Supreme Court Justice. The final Senate vote on her confirmation is expected to come Monday evening.

Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) voted to cut off debate and advance Judge Barrett’s confirmation. The Republican Senate majority voted to end debate on the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett on a 51 to 48 vote. The move means that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) is likely to put forward the vote on Barrett’s confirmation sometime today. Democrats continue to filibuster and use the Senate’s arcane rules to delay the vote as long as possible. It appears that Republicans have enough votes to confirm Barrett to the High Court.

“After speaking with Judge Barrett, I am confident that she is the right choice to serve on the Supreme Court,” Sen. Shelby said. “Judge Barrett is exceptionally qualified for this role and maintains strong conservative values and a deep commitment to our Constitution.”

U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Alabama) voted with his party and voted “No” on moving forward on Barrett’s confirmation.

Jones refused to speak with Barrett and admitted to reporters that he has not watched any of Barrett’s confirmation hearings. Focusing instead on his efforts on the campaign trail.

Jones said after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died that he would not support any Trump nominee before the November 3 general election.

Judge Barrett is a Notre Dame graduate and instructor. She is a devout Catholic with seven children, including two adopted children from Haiti. She currently serves on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. She was appointed by President Trump in 2017.

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After graduating from law school, Judge Barrett clerked for D.C. Circuit Judge Laurence Silberman and for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Judge Barrett practiced both trial and appellate litigation in Washington, D.C. at Miller, Cassidy, Larroca, & Lewin, and at Baker Botts. She worked for more than 15 years in academia, shaping the next generation of legal minds and supporting the professional development of her students, before being appointed to the federal judiciary by Pres. Trump.

Republicans, including Coach Tommy Tuberville. have been very critical of Doug Jones for his refusal to support Barrett and his No vote on the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Tuberville is challenging Jones in the November 3 general election.

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Bill Pryor, Kevin Newsome are on Trump’s short list for the next Supreme Court seat

Brandon Moseley

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Supreme Court of the United States building in Washington

Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee recommended that Judge Amy Coney Barrett be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The full Senate is expected to vote to confirm Barrett to the High Court as early as Monday. The next president we elect on November 3 will likely shape the future of the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary for decades to come.

While former Vice President Joseph R. Biden (D) has not disclosed his list of possible Supreme Court picks; Donald Trump produced a list before the 2016 election and as updated his list throughout his presidency. Two of his possible future Supreme Court picks have strong Alabama ties.

Kevin Newsom presently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. He is a former Alabama Solicitor General. Pres. Trump lists Newsom as a possible future Supreme Court Justice.

Trump also listed Judge Bill Pryor as a possible future Supreme Court picks. Judge Pryor presently also serves on the important U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. He is a former Alabama Attorney General. Pryor was on Trump’s original list of possible jurists.

The Republican Attorney Generals Association pointed out that thirteen current and former Republican AGs and senior staff are currently included on President Trump’s SCOTUS short list, including Pryor, Newsome, and sitting Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron.

As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Kentucky) former legal counsel, AG Cameron had the unique experience of working side by side with the Majority Leader to help usher over 200 federal judges through the confirmation process, including Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

Other former Republican AGs and senior staff on Trump’s list include:

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  • U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz a sitting United States Senator and former Texas Solicitor General
  • Judge Kyle Duncan who sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He is a former Assistant Texas Solicitor General and Louisiana Appellate Chief.
  • Judge Allison Eid presently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. She is a former Colorado Solicitor General.
    Judge Britt Grant serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. He is a former Georgia Solicitor General.
  • Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) is a United States Senator and former Missouri Attorney General.
  • Judge James Ho serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He is a former Texas Solicitor General.
  • Justice Carlos Muniz serves as a Florida Supreme Court Justice. He is a former Florida Deputy Attorney General and Chief of Staff.
  • Judge Lawrence VanDyke serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. VanDyke is a former Nevada and Montana Solicitor General.
  • Judge Don Willett serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He is a former Deputy Texas Attorney General.
  • Judge Patrick Wyrick serves on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. He is a former Oklahoma Solicitor General.
  • Other possible future picks on President Trump’s list include:
  • Judge Bridget Bade who serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
  • Justice Keith Blackwell who serves on the Georgia Supreme Court.
  • Justice Charles Canady from the Florida Supreme Court.
  • Judge Steven Colloton from the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
  • Paul Clement who is a partner with Kirkland & Ellis, LLP.
    Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) is a sitting United States Senator.
  • Steven Engel who is Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel of the U.S. Department of Justice.
  • Noel Francisco is a former United States Solicitor General.
  • Judge Raymond Gruender who serves on United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
  • Judge Thomas Hardiman who serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
  • Judge Greg Katsas serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
  • Judge Raymond Kethledge who serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
  • Judge Barbara Lagoa who serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
  • Ambassador Christopher Landau who is the United States Ambassador to Mexico.
  • Judge Joan Larsen who serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
  • Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) a sitting United States Senator.
  • Justice Thomas Lee who serves on the Utah Supreme Court.
  • Justice Edward Mansfield who serves on the Iowa Supreme Court.
  • Judge Federico Moreno who serves on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
    Judge Martha Pacold who serves on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
  • Judge Peter Phipps serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
  • Judge Sarah Pitlyk serves on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.
  • Judge Allison Jones Rushing who serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
  • Judge Margaret Ryan who serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.
  • Judge David Stras serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
  • Judge Diane Sykes serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
  • Judge Amul Thapar serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
  • Kate Comerford Todd is the Deputy White House Counsel.
  • Judge Timothy Tymkovich serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
  • Former Justice Robert Young of the Michigan Supreme Court (retired).

Selecting federal judges is one of the longest lasting effects that a President can have on the country. President George H. Bush (R) was elected President in 1988 and served just one term, but his Supreme Court pick, Clarence Thomas, is still serving on the court three decades later. If Trump’s three Supreme Court picks last as long they could be serving past the middle of this century.

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Trump rallies supporters in Pensacola

Brandon Moseley

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Friday, President Donald J. Trump (R) was in Pensacola speaking to a large crowded of supporters in an effort to energize his base in the final 12 days of the campaign.

Trump acknowledged that his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.; but claimed that he did not want to be beholden to the big money donors.

“I’d be the greatest of all time at raising money, but I don’t want to call up every guy on Wall Street and say, you got to give me $10 million, they’d all give it to me,” the President said. “I would have numbers … I don’t need the money. Last time, we did it with a very small fraction of the money that Crooked Hillary used, right? No, but they were saying he raised a lot of money. That means he’s making deals.”

Trump reiterated his claim that Biden has used his office for his own personal gain and to enrich his family. The President has produced little in the way of evidence to prove that assertion.

“Joe Biden uses his public office to enrich himself and his family,” Trump charged. “I use public office to bring jobs and wealth back to American workers and American families.”

“The drug companies don’t exactly like me too much, lately, big pharma,” Trump said claiming that he was lowering drug prices. “You know what, who cares, I’m doing the right thing. Favored nations, you’ll see numbers, 50, 60, 70% lower. This is the first time in 52 years, last year, where drug prices came down. Not much one percent, but you know what, first time they’ve ever come down. But now we’re going for the big one. We pay the most of any country in the world by far. We’re going for favored nations, where we pay the lowest price anywhere in the world to matched.”

“We support our police, our great law enforcement, our police,” Trump said. “We protect our Second Amendment, which is under siege but not with me it’s not. We defend our borders, maintain energy independence. Did you hear Joe last night made a big mistake? He made a big mistake. I said, “Oh, you’re against oil.” “Well, yes, sir, we would like to get …” “Oh,” I said, “thank you.” Texas, are you watching, right? Pennsylvania, are you watching? Ohio, are you watching? And then today they came, “Well, actually we’re not rarely against it. We don’t know.” They didn’t know what the hell happened.”

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“We will deliver record prosperity, epic job growth, 11.4 million people over the last few months, it’s a record,” Trump promised. “A safe vaccine that quickly ends this horrible pandemic. And we’re rounding the turn, with or without the vaccine, we have the vaccines. They’re going to be great. But with or without it, we’re rounding the turn. Normal life, it’s all we want, fully resuming. We want normal life to fully resume and that’s happening.”

“We had the greatest year in the history of our country last year. And then we got hit with the China plague, right?” Trump said. “We got hit with the China plague. We signed a great trade deal with China. In fact, three weeks ago, they bought the largest amount of corn, the largest amount of soybeans, beef, everything, largest deal ever.”

“I gave the largest tax cut and tax reform in American history. And we will cut taxes again for the middle class even more,” Trump added. “By contrast, Sleepy Joe Biden will give you the biggest tax hike in history. He’s looking to give you the biggest … think of it. Does anybody have a 401k? Because you can just throw it right out the window if that happens.”

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Trump said that he got COVID-19; but then his doctors gave him treatment that made him better.

“I got to go back to work for the American people,” Trump said. “We got to get back, right? We got to get back to work for the American people. No, it was great. I mean, we’ve learned so much about this disease. And young people, Barron, my son, Barron, the doctor said, “Sir, Barron tested positive.” Like about 15 seconds later, he said, “Sir, he’s all cured. He just, I don’t know.” They’re young, they have a very strong immune system. What can I tell you? I said, “Barron, I’m jealous.” As you’ve heard from his own mouth last night, Joe Biden will delay the vaccine, prolong the pandemic, close your schools and shut down our country. We’re not doing that. We’re having a record comeback. And that’s despite the Democrat governors not wanting to open up.”

“Biden would bury you in regulations, dismantle your police departments, dissolve our borders,” Trump charged. “You don’t have borders, you don’t have a country, right? Confiscate your guns, want to get rid of your Second Amendment. I’m not here, if I’m not here, you don’t even have a Second Amendment, you wouldn’t have it. Eliminate private healthcare, 180 million people have incredible private healthcare. They want to end it. Terminate religious liberty, destroy the suburbs with regulations, where they want to put low-income housing projects into the suburbs. I don’t think so. That would be the end of the American dream. And they’ll abolish fracking.”

“If Biden wins, the flag burning rioters on the streets will be running your federal government,” Trump continued. “They will decide which businesses can exist and which will be outlawed. That’s what they want to do. They will decide which rights you can keep and which will be revoked. They will reeducate your children. They will cancel your culture. Although, we’re making it very hard on them, you saw the withdrawals, I’ve made them all over the country. They wanted to reeducate our people. They wanted to disrespect our people. It was racist. It was terrible what they were doing. They’ll order you to stay at home while letting rioters and MS-13 killers roam free. You saw that, stay home, don’t go to church. They don’t want you to go to church. But if you want to riot in the middle of a main street, you can do it.”

“We’re doing much better than we did last time,” Trump claimed. “In fact, we’re leading everywhere. I think we’re leading everywhere. I’ll tell you what, North Carolina doing great. We think in Pennsylvania, doing great. They’ve got to be very careful in Philadelphia. They play games in Philadelphia and they won’t let us watch the count in Philadelphia. Remember we had a certain Republican running a number of years ago, got almost no votes in Philadelphia? Doesn’t work that way. So we’re watching Philadelphia.”

“Alabama, by the way, your neighbor, in Alabama … Whoa. Whoa. Alabama,” Trump said. “Well, wait, how many people here are from Alabama? Whoa. Whoa. How many people here are from Florida? Alabama has been growing. I’m up so much in Alabama, right? You have a great candidate, the coach, a coach, another great coach. He’s won three national championships. Urban Meyer, I was talking to him. We’re talking about your coach/Senate candidate, which hopefully will be soon. And Urban said, “Not only is he a great guy, he’s a great coach.” He’s a great coach, and he’s going to be a fantastic Senator. So that’s good. So say hello to him, Alabama. I’m glad I knew about this whole deal in terms of your location. Can you imagine if I didn’t call out Alabama for being a great state? Could you imagine? I’d be in big trouble. I’d be in big trouble. No, we’re way up in Alabama. Alabama has been good for day one.”

“One of the reasons is they say I got elected was because I put out a list of 25 great conservative judges,” Trump said. “And a lot of people, they said 22% of the people voted for me. I never believed that. But the fact is, I guess it must be so. But Joe, he won’t even say whether or not he’s going to pack the court. You know why? Because he has no idea. Other people are telling him, “Joe, you’re going to pack the court.” “Okay. Yes, sir.” And Joe, he doesn’t know. You could have 16, 18, 19, 20, 21 judges. It’s crazy.”

“I couldn’t sit by and watch these horrible trade deals that are ripping off America all the time,” Trump said. “I couldn’t sit back and watch China year after year, after year, hundreds of billions of dollars they made, and we have a much different attitude towards China now, much different, they are coming after me, a lot of people in Washington. By the way, nobody’s ever gone through what I’ve gone through. Nobody. No President has ever gone through this.”

“Under Biden and Obama our veterans were neglected, mistreated, abused, and left on the secret wastelands,” the President said. “That’s what they were. It was just a wasteland. They were on waiting lists for forever. Nothing got done. They’d have to wait for doctors for two weeks, four weeks. The VA’s office of inspector general found that over 300,000 veterans died under the last administration waiting for care. When I came into office, I signed the VA accountability act. More than 11,500 VA workers who were not giving our veterans the kind of care and respect that they deserved. We said, “Get out, you’re fired. Get out.” You couldn’t fire anybody. They could be sadists, they could be thieves. You couldn’t fire anybody. We got it passed. It’s called VA accountability. It was a big deal. For 42 years they tried to get it done, we got it done. Then to help veterans get the care they need when they need it, we approved veteran’s choice and we made it permanent.”

“We will eradicate this pandemic and defeat the scourge from China once and for all,” Trump promised. “So we’re joined today by incredible people. Ron DeSantis, you said hello to and Casey, you said hello to, but I just want to tell you, you have a great governor and you have a great, great first lady. Thank you very much. He is a great governor.”

“Tonight I also want to express my love and support for all the families here on the panhandle who were affected by hurricane Sally and other recent storms,” Trump stated. “You’ve been hit a lot, but we’re there whenever you get hit, I’m right behind that storm. Right behind it and we take care of it. We take care of it. Last month I approved a major disaster declaration for the state of Florida. And together we will rebuild the panhandle stronger than ever before. We’re doing it right now, stronger and better. Rebuilt stronger. We do plenty of others, but I won’t tell you about everything. Because we don’t have enough time. I could be here all night about what we’re doing for Florida and for Alabama.”

“Under my leadership. We achieved the most secure border in US history and we are finishing the wall with nearly 400 miles already built,” Trump told supporters. “And this is the wall they wanted. This is the wall the border patrol want. And we now have just about the safest Southern border we’ve ever had, but we’ll be finished very soon with the wall.”

“Last night, Joe Biden vowed that his immigration policy will be catch and release,” Trump said. “He thinks it’s great. You catch a criminal, murderer, rapist, you catch the criminal and you release the criminal into our country. And you say, “In four years you have to be back for a court case.” Right? But they never came back. We had an argument. I turned out to be right. He said, “And then they come back.” I don’t know what he was thinking. I don’t think he had a clue.”

“If Joe and Kamala are elected, it will trigger a tsunami of illegal immigration the likes of which you’ve never seen,” Trump claimed. “Millions will come from scores of countries all over the world to take advantage of us. No community in the United States will be spared to serve his donors, Biden last night pledged mass amnesty within the first 100 days.”

“Biden is a candidate of endless war and needless death,” Trump said. “I did more in 47 months than Sleepy Joe Biden did in 47 years. A vote for Republicans is a vote for safe communities, great jobs, and a limitless future for all Americans. A vote for Republicans is a vote for the American dream, not the American nightmare.”

“Over the next four years, we will make America into the manufacturing superpower of the world.” Trump promised. “And we will end our reliance on China once and for all. It’s already started. We will hire more police, increase penalties for assaults or law enforcement. Do we love our police? Yes? I have the endorsement of almost every police organization in the country including New York’s finest.”

Trump also promised to: ban sanctuary cities, uphold religious liberty, free speech, the right to life and the right to keep and bear arms, and stand with “the people of Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and their righteous struggle for freedom. We will stand with the people of Colombia. We’re working very closely with them in their fight against the narco terrorists. We will strike down terrorist who threaten our citizens, and we will keep America out of endless foreign Wars.”

Trump has a large lead in Alabama; but Florida is a very tight. A recent Rasmussen poll had Trump up slightly; but a number of other polls have Biden up in Florida.

The general election is Nov. 3.

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Alabama’s hospitalized COVID-19 patients Sunday at highest number since Sept. 2.

It’s a trend that has public health officials and hospital staff concerned that the state may be headed for another surge.

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Alabama hospitals on Sunday were caring for 920 COVID-19 inpatients, the highest number of patients since Sept. 2 and a 23 percent increase from a month ago. 

It’s a trend that has public health officials and hospital staff concerned that the state may be headed for another  surge just as the regular flu season begins to fill up hospital beds. 

Alabama state health officer Dr. Scott Harris by phone Friday called the rising new cases and hospitalizations “worrisome.”

Alabama’s seven-day average of daily hospitalized COVID-19 patients was 864 on Sunday, the highest it’s been since Sept. 8. State hospitals saw a peak of COVID-19 inpatients on Aug. 6, when 1,613 patients were being cared for. 

The state added 1,079 new confirmed and probable cases on Sunday, and Alabama’s 14-day average of new daily cases hit 1,358 Sunday, the highest it’s been since Aug. 13. Two “data dumps” to the Alabama Department of Public Health of older confirmed cases Thursday and Friday elevated the daily counts on those days, but after weeks of daily cases hovering around 700 and 800, the state now regularly sees more than 1,000 cases a day. 

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The older test results skew the state’s percent positivity, but Alabama’s 14-day average of percent positivity on Sunday was 20 percent. Just prior to the addition of those older cases, the 14-day average was 15 percent. Public health officials say it should be at or below five percent or cases are going undetected.

As cases continue to rise, the number of tests being performed statewide continue to decline, which is increasing Alabama’s percent positivity rate. The 14-day average of daily tests was 6,619 on Sunday — a 5 percent decrease from two weeks ago. 

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There have been 2,866 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths statewide. The state’s 14-day average of daily confirmed deaths was 14 on Sunday, up from 12 two weeks ago. 

The United States on Saturday recorded its second highest day of new cases since the start of the pandemic, with 83,718 new cases, according to Johns Hopkins University. Saturday’s peak was just 39 cases fewer than the country’s all-time daily high, set on Friday. As of Sunday, 225,061 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S.

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