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Madison County Democrats pledge their support for England

Brandon Moseley

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Monday, the Madison County Democratic Party congratulated new state party Chairman State Representative Christopher John England and former Rep. Patricia Todd on their elections to the leadership of the Alabama Democratic Party.

The Madison County Democratic Party expresses its congratulations and full support for the newly-elected leadership for the Alabama Democratic Party in a statement.

On Saturday, England was elected chair, and Todd was elected vice chair during Saturday’s meeting of the State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC). Their tenure began immediately, and was sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

“This is a new day for Alabama Democrats,” said Dr. Amy Shadoin, secretary of the Madison County party. “We congratulate Rep. England and former Rep. Todd on their elections to chair and vice chair and we look forward to helping rebuild the party state-wide and electing Democrats in 2020.”
In addition, 71 individuals were added to the SDEC rolls throughout the DNC-encouraged Diversity Caucuses. Forty-eight members were chosen for the youth caucus. eight members were seated for the LGBTQ caucus, seven members for the Hispanic caucus, three for the Asian/Pacific Islander caucus, two for the Native American caucus, and three existing vacancies were filled. The Madison County Democrats said that these members depict the diversity of Democrats in Alabama.

The Madison County Democrats said in their statement that they believe in the equality of all people, the power of education, the dignity of work, and our responsibility to each other, especially the least of these. We promote and support progressive ideals and candidates throughout our communities.

Former Chairwoman Nancy Worley maintains that Saturday’s meeting was invalid and that she is still the Chair. At the Saturday meeting, she was removed by the SDEC in a 172 to 0 vote that was followed by a formal moment of celebration. Worley, Vice Chair Randy Kelley, Vice Chair for Minority Affairs Joe Reed, and over half of the existing SDEC did not attend Saturday’s meeting.
Worley and her loyalists have set their own SDEC meeting for November 16. Since they have declared Saturday’s meeting of the SDEC as invalid, it is expected that the credentials of the 71 new members who were added to the SDEC Saturday will also not be accepted as valid. Similarly the loyalists added members to the SDEC at their meeting on October 12. The DNC has declared that everything that happened in that Oct. 12 meeting is invalid, even though it was called by the acting Chair of the ADP, Worley.

New Chairman England has said that he is optimistic that the divisions between the two halves of the ADP can be healed and that the party can come together with elections in less than one year.
Failing a negotiated end to the feuding, the party squabbles are likely to end to the court system.

Madison County is one of the fastest growing counties in Alabama.

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House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville) gave a speech at Saturday’s meeting urging the SDEC to elect England.

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Health

Cases jump in Alabama nursing homes, tests still scarce, association says

Eddie Burkhalter

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Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alabama nursing homes have jumped in recent days, and delays in getting test kits and test results is putting lives at greater risk, according to the Alabama Nursing Home Association.

As of Monday, 31 nursing homes in 17 counties had confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to a statement from Alabama Nursing Home Association President Brandon Farmer.

The last update from ANHA on March 28 noted eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 in six nursing homes across the state.

John Matson, director of communications at ANHA, told APR in a message Monday that the organization was uncertain how many individual COVID-19 cases were currently in the 31 homes.

“These reports involve residents, staff members or both at nursing homes in rural and urban locations. These nursing homes are following the reporting guidelines and implementing isolation procedures,” Farmer said in the statement. “I predict the number of nursing homes with cases will grow as more tests are administered and the results are returned. As previously stated, the delays in receiving test kits and test results are beyond our control yet places our residents and employees at great risk.”

State nursing homes have stopped visitations and early on began screening staff for symptoms of the virus and strengthening infection control measures, Farmer noted in the statement.

“They continue to practice infection control guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and isolate residents who test positive or are believed to have been exposed to someone who is COVID-19 positive. Like other health care providers, nursing homes need a sufficient supply of personal protective equipment (PPE). Infection control measures will only be as effective as our ability to secure PPE,” Farmer said.

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Economy

Gov. Ivey launches state guide to COVID-19 relief efforts

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Governor Kay Ivey on Monday announced the launch of altogetheralabama.org, an online resource that will serve as a hub of information for the state’s response to the coronavirus crisis.

The site becomes the state’s official guide to COVID-19 relief efforts, to help empower those impacted by the outbreak and those who want to offer support.

“We wanted to quickly create a trusted resource that centralizes information, resources and opportunities for businesses and individuals in need of support,” Governor Ivey said. “We are all in this together.”

The website is designed to be a comprehensive guide to aid in navigating all issues related to the COVID-19 response. Individuals and business owners can seek help and identify state and federal resources that can provide a lifeline in the form of low-interest loans and financial assistance.

Business owners, for example, can learn about the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, which launched April 3 to provide a direct incentive for them to keep their workers on the payroll. Displaced workers, meanwhile, can use the site to learn about enhanced unemployment benefits.

“It’s important for Alabama’s business owners and its workforce to take full advantage of the resources being made available through the federal government’s $2 trillion coronavirus relief package,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “The site is meant to expedite the process so both employers and employees can get back up on their feet as fast as possible.”

At the same time, the site will function as a pathway for Alabama’s good corporate citizens and the general public to offer support and solutions that can help spark recovery across the state. It will act as a portal for companies, non-profits and individuals to volunteer, make donations of supplies, offer an assistance program, and even post job openings.

The site was developed in partnership with Opportunity Alabama, a non-profit organization that promotes investment in the state’s designated Opportunity Zones. It was facilitated by a partnership with Alabama Power.

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“Over the last two years, Opportunity Zones have allowed us to build a network of stakeholders that care deeply about helping distressed places,” said Alex Flachsbart, Opportunity Alabama founder and CEO. “We hope this site will provide a gateway linking our network to those businesses and communities in economic distress, no matter where they are in Alabama.”

“These are challenging times,” added Governor Ivey. “We needed a place to efficiently and rapidly post and disseminate information – as soon as it’s available – for all affected parties. Thank you for your support and partnership in helping bring Alabama together.”

Any business, program or individual who would like to join ALtogether as a resource in COVID-19 response and relief can register at altogetheralabama.org/join.

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National

How Alabama is tracking COVID-19 hospitalizations

Chip Brownlee

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Alabama on Saturday started publicly reporting the number of people hospitalized because of COVID-19 on its data dashboard. As of Monday morning, 240 people have been hospitalized since March 13, according to that data.

The day before ADPH began publishing the number of cumulative hospitalizations on its dashboard, I reported that 255 people were hospitalized with a confirmed case of COVID-19, and another 586 people were hospitalized with a suspected case of the virus awaiting test results.

The number I reported Friday night, which I got from State Health Officer Scott Harris, is not the same number that ADPH began publishing on its dashboard Saturday morning. They do not align.

It might look like he gave me wrong numbers, or that I reported them out incorrectly. That’s not the case. Let me explain why.

The number of hospitalizations displayed on the Department of Public Health’s data dashboard (240) is a cumulative total of hospitalizations since March 13. That number is obtained by ADPH’s epidemiologists as they investigate each confirmed case of the virus. The epidemiologists follow up with everyone who has tested positive for the virus and determine if the person has been hospitalized.

“The way that works is you have a positive test that comes through. Our epidemiology staff contacts the patient. They ask, ‘Hey, what is your story? How old are you? What’re your symptoms? And were you in the hospital?’,” Harris told me.

The epidemiology staff also perform contact-tracing, asking those who have tested positive who they were around, who they live with, where they work and a lot more. These investigations clearly take time.

“It’s a cumulative number because we can’t call these people every single day for the next two weeks to found out who’s still in the hospital and how many cases are hospitalized at the moment,” Harris said.

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The reality is that there are only so many investigators and a ton of confirmed cases. There will inevitably be a delay in reporting the cumulative total as epidemiologists investigate each positive case.

This brings us to the numbers I reported Friday night.

That data (255 confirmed, 586 suspected) was obtained from the Alabama Incident Management System, or AIMS. It’s the same system that is activated when there is a major hurricane, tornadoes or even an ice storm. Hospitals directly update these numbers daily, sometimes more.

The differences in the way the two numbers are obtained explain why the number I reported Friday night was higher than the cumulative total now displayed on the ADPH’s dashboard (and on our dashboard). It was simply more current.

But even the numbers from the Alabama Incident Management System are not perfect. Hospitals voluntarily report that data to the Department of Public Health.

Alabama does not have a law authorizing a statewide hospital discharge database, unlike 48 other states, Harris said, which makes tracking real-time hospitalization data difficult.

“We actually had legislation that we introduced this year to do that, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen now because the session is gone,” Harris said.

So the Alabama Department of Public Health has to ask hospitals to voluntarily report their hospitalization data in AIMS. Most of the state’s hospitals are doing so, Harris said. But it’s still possible that some hospitals are treating COVID-19 patients who are not reflected in the AIMS data.

While the state’s public-facing data dashboard is currently showing the cumulative total obtained by epidemiology staff at ADPH, Harris said the Department of Public Health will soon display the AIMS data instead.

“The question people want to know is not how many people have been in the hospital over the past week,” Harris said. “They want to know how many people are in the hospital today.”

When that switch happens, the number may appear to jump, but it’s really just a more current dataset.

 

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Economy

BCA partners with Alabama Public Television to help small businesses

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The Business Council of Alabama (BCA) will present the Small Business Exchange on Alabama Public Television (APT) Thursday night, an event designed to help small businesses apply for federal stimulus funding under the new CARES Act.

In partnership with APT, BCA will bring together experts in business, banking, accounting and law to answer phone calls from Alabama business owners and employers as they grapple with the impact of the coronavirus on the state’s economy. New federal loans are now available for small businesses, but funding is limited in some cases and quick action is required.

“We have to make sure that Alabama’s small businesses get the loans and support they deserve in these tough economic times,” said Katie Boyd Britt, President and CEO of BCA.  “These business owners need as much help as we can give them to work through the process.  The first step in getting Alabama back to work is to get this loan money flowing to our businesses.

“Our team of experts is donating their time and resources because this is a critical time for small businesses,” said Britt.  “This federal funding can and will save companies and save jobs, so the BCA is facilitating this process in any way we can.”

There are $10 billion in Economic Injury Disaster Loans and $349 billion in Paycheck Protection Loans available to help the nation’s small businesses.  Each program has different eligibility criteria, financing, and application processes.  For the most part, small businesses of fewer than 500 employees, sole proprietors, freelancers and the self-employed, independent contractors, and 501(c)(6) organizations are eligible for one or both programs.

Because there has been confusion about the programs, too many business owners are uncertain about availability, qualifications, requirements and deadlines for each loan program.  The point of the Small Business Exchange is to get that much-needed information to business owners as quickly as possible.

The Small Business Exchange program airs Thursday night on APT from 7-8 p.m.  BCA experts will be available to answer questions from 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. Thursday night.  In addition, experts will be available for consultation from 9.a.m. to noon Friday.

To ask a question or consult with our BCA experts during these times, the phone number is 1-833-BCA4BIZ (1-833-222-4249).

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