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U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren coming to Alabama

Brandon Moseley

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On March 19th, U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, will travel to Selma and Birmingham as part of a three-state tour that includes stops in Mississippi and Tennessee.

The presidential campaign organizing events will be open to the public, and tickets can be reserved using the links below.

On Tuesday, the Warren campaign will have a stop in Selma. The campaign has said that more details presumably including the time will be released closer to the event.

Warren will hold an organizing event in Birmingham at historic Boutwell Auditorium.

Doors open at 5:00 p.m. and the event begins at 6:00 p.m.

Elizabeth Ann Herring was born in and grew up in Oklahoma. She married Jim Warren in 1968. They have two children. She has a bachelor’s degree in speech pathologist and audiology from the University of Houston and a law degree from Rutgers. The Warrens divorced in 1978 and she married law professor Bruce Mann in 1980; but she has retained the Warren name.
Warren has taught law at a number of universities including: Rutgers, Houston, Texas, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Harvard. She is the only tenured Harvard law professor to have attended law school at a public university.
Warren was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012 and re-elected in 2018.

Warren recently differentiated herself from Democratic rival Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont by declaring that she is not a Democratic Socialist.

“Bernie has to speak to what Democratic Socialism is,” Warren told South by Southwest reporter Anand Giridharadas.

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“And you are not one?” Giridharadas asked.

“I am not,” Warren replied. “And the centrists have to speak to whatever they are doing. What I can speak is to is how I am doing. All I can tell you is what I believe. And that is there is an enormous amount to be gained from markets. That markets create opportunities. Markets have to have rules. They have to have a cop on the beat. Markets without rules are theft.”

Recent polling has Warren running in a distant fourth for the Democratic nomination nationally.

According to the Real Clear Politics rolling average former Vice President Joe Biden is leading with 29 percent support, followed by Sanders with 22. Senator Kamala Harris is in third with 11.3 percent. Warren is in the single digits with 7 percent. Senator Corey Booker follows with 5.8 percent. Former Congressman Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke is running in sixth with 5.3 percent with another six candidates in the field are presently trailing.

Warren has vowed that if she is elected she will break up tech giants including: Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple.

“Today’s big tech companies have too much power :  too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy,” Warren said. “They’ve bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else. And in the process, they have hurt small businesses and stifled innovation.”

Sen. Booker spoke in Selma during the recent Civil Rights Pilgrimage.

Click here to RSVP

 

Original reporting by CNN, Real Clear Politics, South by Southwest, Wikipedia, and Fox News contributed to this report.

 

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National

Governor Ivey launches new COVID-19 search engine tool

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Governor Kay Ivey on Thursday announced the launch of a COVID-19 search engine tool that enhances the state’s official resource site, altogetheralabama.org.

Through a public-private partnership between Yext and the state of Alabama, this innovative platform will provide real-time answers to questions about everything from the virus itself, through a symptom checker that was developed at UAB, to upcoming COVID-19 testing site locations. 

This service is free of charge and can be accessed either through altogetheralabama.org or directly at covid19.alabama.gov.

“My priority as governor is making sure every Alabamian has the most accurate, up-to-date information about COVID-19, so we can keep our families safe,” Governor Ivey said. “To help with this, we’ve partnered with our friends in the private sector, Yext, to build this search engine tool that works in conjunction with our official resource site Altogether Alabama.”

“We are indebted to Yext for generously offering its resources and innovative technology to support the crucial job of keeping our state informed during this pandemic. Simply put, current information can be lifesaving and this resource will prove invaluable to all who use it,” Ivey said.

Using this search engine, someone can type a question about COVID-19 and get instant results directing them to answers from our local, state and federal partners.

“During a global crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, accurate answers can be a matter of life and death,” said Howard Lerman, Founder and CEO of Yext. “With Yext Answers, we can help every government organization deliver that critical information and save as many lives as possible.”

The search engine provides factual information regarding this new virus and will provide additional information that complements the work of the Alabama Department of Health.

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State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said, “I want to express my gratitude to Yext for donating services and support for the covid19.alabama.gov information hub. This further enables the Alabama Department of Public Health and the state of Alabama to provide our residents with vital resources to health information during this COVID-19 pandemic.”

Dr. Regina Benjamin, former U.S. Surgeon General of Bayou La Batre, served as an expert health care consultant in the site development and provided valuable insight of information most needed by the public.

“The information hub covid19.alabama.gov puts real-time, up to date information at the general public’s fingertips, including the latest health stats, a UAB-symptom checker, and test site locations,” says Dr. Benjamin. “You can ask ‘Natural Language’ questions and be directed to answers from trusted sources such as the ADPH, CDC, and the Federation of American Scientists.”

 

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ADOL begins paying federal $600 stimulus benefit

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Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington announced today Alabama has begun paying the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) benefit that was established with the passing of the federal CARES Act on March 27, 2020.

ADOL began paying the FPUC benefits on April 8, 2020.  Claimants whose claims have processed should expect to see the funds within 2-3 days, if not sooner.  ADOL paid $40,060,495 in FPUC benefits to 60,848 claimants yesterday.

Under the legislation, anyone receiving unemployment compensation benefits is eligible for the additional $600 a week stimulus payment. The payment is added to the recipient’s state weekly benefit amount (maximum of $275/week). The payments will be made for eligible weeks beginning on March 29, 2020 through July 25,2020. This does not refer to the date the original claim was filed, but to the weeks being claimed.  For example, if someone filed their initial claim on March 16, 2020, and remains out of work, they will not receive the additional $600 for the weeks beginning March 15 or March 22, but would receive it for the week beginning March 29, and all weeks going forward.

ADOL will make payments retroactively for weeks already claimed since March 29, 2020.

“We understand the frustration of many Alabamians who are out of work due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and we know that they need these benefits to stay afloat,” said Washington.  “We are working as hard as we can to make sure that everyone gets the benefits they need as quickly as they can.  We are one of the first states to begin distributing these funds. We continue to urge patience as the department works to implement this vital legislation.”

Programs included in the legislation:

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – provides unemployment benefits to those not ordinarily eligible for them. This includes individuals who are self-employed or contract employees. This benefit is retroactive to January 27, 2020.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) – provides $600 per week to any individual eligible for any of the Unemployment Compensation programs. This benefit begins March 29, 2020. 

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Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) – allows for an additional 13 weeks of benefits added to the end of regular unemployment benefits. This means claimants may collect unemployment benefits for a longer period of time than under normal circumstances.

ADOL is encouraging anyone who believes they may be eligible for these programs to file a claim at www.labor.alabama.gov or by calling 1-866-234-5382. Online filing is strongly encouraged.

Those who already have an active claim, or who have already filed a claim, DO NOT NEED TO REFILE to be eligible for these benefits. ADOL will begin processing PUA and PEUC claims as soon as administratively possible.

Important note: None of the benefits described above, nor unemployment benefits of any kind, are available to employees who quit without good work-related cause, refuse to return to work, or refuse to receive full-time pay. Refusing to return to work could result in a disqualification for benefit eligibility. Attempts to collect unemployment benefits after quitting a job without good work-related cause is considered to be fraud.

The CARES Act specifically provides for serious consequences for fraudulent cases including fines, confinement, and an inability to receive future unemployment benefits until all fraudulent claims and fines have been repaid. Employers are encouraged to utilize the New Hire system to report those employees who fail to return to work.

 

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National

CDC provides guidance for cloth masks

Brandon Moseley

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that Americans wear masks when they go out to ward against the spread of the coronavirus. On Wednesday the CDC issued guidance for cloth masks, which many Americans are making themselves to protect against the virus.

The CDC said that a cloth mask should fit snugly, but comfortably against the side of the face. The mask should be secured with ties or ear loops, include multiple layers of fabric, allow for breathing without restriction, and be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.

“CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission,” the CDC wrote in a statement. “CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.”

The CDC cautioned that cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

The CDC says that cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose, and mouth when removing their face covering and wash hands immediately after removing the mask the CDC warned.

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth (R) said on social media, “‪I’m wearing my mask today to make sure I’m doing my part to protect others. If you have to go out for essential work or supplies, make sure and wear a mask. Numbers are looking better in Alabama, everyone continue to do their part to flatten the curve. We can do this Alabama!!!‬”

Trump national finance committee member former State Representative Perry O. Hooper Jr. (R-Montgomery) said that Congress should provide masks to all Americans as part of the next coronavirus relief bill.

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“Experts are now in agreement. Everyone wearing a mask in public can reduce the spread of this deadly disease,” Hooper told the Alabama Political Reporter. “We should make available for all Americans a sterile reusable mask. Funds should be made available at the state level so Governors and Mayors could decide how best to distribute these masks on the local level.”

The U.S. has 435,160 confirmed COVID-19 cases. 14,797 Americans have died in the global pandemic, including 67 Alabamians. 22,891 Americans have recovered from their illness.

Projections showing hundreds of thousands of Americans dying have been revised dramatically lower. Americans are urged to continue to practice social distancing.

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Jones asks for faster emergency loans to small businesses

Eddie Burkhalter

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U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., and a ranking Republican colleague led other lawmakers in a request that the Treasury Department and the Small Business Administration speed up loans to small businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Jones and Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., and other legislators in a letter Wednesday to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Small Business Administration Administrator Jovita Carranza asked that payroll processing companies be allowed to disburse CARES Act small business loans to speed up payments to those small businesses and to get workers paid quickly. 

“Payroll processors have the needed existing infrastructure that will enable businesses to quickly pay their workers and pending bills. Given they originate approximately 40 percent of all the payroll checks in the country and mostly cater to small businesses with 500 employees or less, involving these companies will ensure a deeper dissemination of funds nationwide to the businesses that need it most to keep their doors open,” the letter reads. 

 “It is critical that all tools be used to distribute federal funds effectively and expeditiously, including payroll processing companies used by many small businesses,” they continued. “Please consider permitting payroll processors to partner with small businesses and banks to help alleviate any potential complications for many small businesses during this tumultuous time, the letter continues. 

 Jones in a separate letter Tuesday to Mnuchin asked that the federal government expedite direct assistance payments to citizens amid the COVID-19 outbreak by allowing some to receive the money quicker through debit cards rather than paper checks. 

Senators Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Mark Warner, D-Va. and Bob Menendez, D-N.J. also signed the Wednesday letter.

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