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Doug Jones: Anniston could still be called upon to treat coronavirus patients

Brandon Moseley

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U.S. Sen. Doug Jones issued a statement Monday about the possibility of coronavirus patients being transported to and housed at the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama.

“Over the weekend, my staff and I participated in briefings regarding the announcement that Americans from the Diamond Princess cruise ship who tested positive for the coronavirus might be transported to and housed at the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) in Anniston, Alabama,” Jones said. “We were advised that the announcement on Saturday regarding the CDP was premature, and although the CDP is one of a number of contingency sites, at this time, the multi-agency plan anticipates using other sites first.”

“It is my understanding that this information is being provided to officials in Anniston, and the folks at the CDP have been told that if their facility is needed in the future, adequate notice and details will be provided,” Jones continued. “I urge the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Centers for Disease Control to do all they can to provide the best care possible for those who must endure quarantine and those who are suffering from this virus.”

“My first priority is to protect the people of Alabama, and I have the utmost confidence that, if called upon, the unmatched professionals at the CDP will rise to the occasion,” Jones stated. “I urge the Administration to continue to keep Congress and the American people informed about their response to this virus and their efforts to prevent any further infections in the United States. We will continue to monitor this evolving situation with hope and compassion for all affected.”

The Calhoun County Commission has announced plans to sue to prevent the City of Anniston from being used to house infected virus patients. They are arguing that while the CDP is used for training purposes, it is not equipped to deal with providing medical care for potentially dozens of people needing serious medical treatment in a quarantine situation.

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), Coronaviruses are a common family of viruses that is found throughout much of the animal kingdom. This strain of the virus appears to have originated among bats, which are eaten by the Chinese. The virus appears to have crossed species and was first identified in China’s Wuhan City in Hubei Province. Researchers are referring to the disease caused by this strain COVID-19.

As of Monday there have been 80,154 COVID-19 diagnosed cases. 27,591 of those have recovered and been released from medical care. 2,701 people have died from this. Most of the deaths have been in China; but the death toll now includes twelve in Iran, nine in South Korea, seven in Italy, two in Hong Kong, as well as one death each in the Philippines, France, Japan, and Taiwan. This leaves 49,762 active cases of the illness. Of these currently Infected patients, 40,547 (81%) have mild conditions. 9,215 (19%) are currently in serious or critical condition.

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There are 691 cases of COVID-19 that have been diagnosed among the passengers and crew of the Diamond Princess. Four of these have already died. 35 of these are in serious or critical condition. Only ten are totally recovered from their illness. Only a portion of the passengers were Americans.

To this point, there are only 53 diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in the United States, but that is up from 35 on Sunday. There have been no deaths yet, but six of these are in serious or critical condition. The stock market was down more than one thousand points on Monday due to fears that the coronavirus is going to negatively impact global trade, particularly the flow of manufactured goods coming out of China, the world’s second-largest economy. The outbreak in South Korea is particularly alarming for Alabamians given our close trade ties with the country, particularly with Hyundai having a manufacturing plant in Montgomery.

For more about the possible coronavirus pandemic, click here.

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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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Health

Gov. Kay Ivey extends statewide mask order, allows limited nursing home visitations

“This mask ordinance is working. It works, and we have evidence of that,” State Health Officer Scott Harris said.

Eddie Burkhalter

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Gov. Kay Ivey held a Coronavirus update Press Conference Wednesday September 30, 2020 in Montgomery, Ala. (Governor's Office/Hal Yeager)

Gov. Kay Ivey on Wednesday extended Alabama’s statewide mask order, citing the upcoming general election and a reduction in the spread of the virus since her order went into effect in July. Ivey’s new order also allows for limited visitations in state nursing homes, and keeps all other previous social distancing restrictions in place.

“I’d hate to see us pull back too quickly and negate the progress that we’ve made in our daily positive numbers and our hospitalization rates by risking another spike due to a false sense of security, the upcoming winter months, the flu season and a host of other reasons,” Ivey said during a press conference Wednesday. 

Ivey said that with the Nov. 3 Election Day nearing “it’s important to have a safe environment where our poll workers poll watchers, and those of us who would like to vote in person.” 

Ivey said that voters aren’t required to wear a mask to vote in person, “I’m certainly going to wear my mask because I want to protect the poll workers and others that are going into the polls as well.” 

via Governor’s Office

Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said state hospitals are caring for about half the number of COVID-19 patients than were hospitalized in late July, during a surge in cases, hospitalizations and deaths, and just before the mask order was issued. 

“This mask ordinance is working. It works, and we have evidence of that,” Harris said. “There have not been any additional restrictions imposed on our state since this Stay at Home order at the end of April.” 

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Harris noted an August study released by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control that looked at that state’s jurisdictional mask orders, and found that in the 40 percent of jurisdictions that have mask orders COVID-19 cases were reduced by nearly half, compared to an increase in cases by 30 percent in jurisdictions without mask orders.  

White House Coronavirus Task Force Member Dr. Deborah Birx during a visit to Alabama last week urged Ivey to extend the mask order. Birx had praised Ivey’s statewide mask mandate during a previous visit to the state in July, when nine of the first 13 days of that month saw daily case increases in COVID-19 cases statewide of more than 1,000. 

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Ivey’s amended “safer-at-home” order also states that beginning Friday, hospitals and nursing homes shall ensure that each patient or resident can have one caregiver or visitor at a time, with some exceptions. 

Ivey’s order states that the changes are “subject to reasonable restrictions imposed on the entrance of persons because of the COVID-19 county positivity rate, the facility’s COVID-19 status, a patient’s or resident’s COVID-19 status, caregiver/visitor symptoms, lack of adherence to proper infection control practices, or other relevant factors related to the COVID-19 pandemic, consistent with the following guidance from the federal government,” and goes on to list links to Centers for Medicaid and Medicaid Services guidance for the different facilities. 

Ivey said during the Wednesday press conference that none of her previous statewide orders prevented anyone from accompanying a loved one into a hospital, and said despite that, there has been some confusion on the matter. She said her amended order made that fact clear.  

Dr. Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association, told The Montgomery Advertiser in June that hospitals have control over visitations. Hospitals statewide have enacted individual varying rules on visitations since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Harris also discussed the work being done to ready the state for disbursement of a vaccine, if and when one becomes available. Harris said a plan for doing so must be given to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services by mid-October. 

“Obviously, we’re following very closely the safety data and efficacy data so that we are sure that we have a vaccine product that’s going to be safe and effective,” Harris said. “And I’m confident that information will be available for us, and then we can make a really good decision on that as we start to receive this vaccine.” 

Harris said the supply of a vaccine will initially be limited, and state health officials will have to prioritize disbursement for high-risk people, including health care workers, but that the state will release its plan to do so to ensure openness in the process.

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Governor

Lieutenant governor calls for end to mask order

“Masks should be voluntary, not mandatory. We have to Make America Great Again,” Ainsworth said.

Brandon Moseley

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Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth speaks during a video message. (LT. GOVERNOR'S OFFICE)

During the presidential debate Tuesday, President Donald Trump argued for opening up the economy and a loosening of coronavirus restrictions. His opponent, Vice President Joe Biden, has said that he favors stronger measures to bring the virus under control. Alabama Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth seized on the moment to support the president and added that Alabama’s mask mandate should not be extended.

“I agree with President Trump,” Ainsworth said. “Shutdowns don’t work. People want their schools open, their businesses operating, and their jobs protected. Masks should be voluntary, not mandatory. We have to Make America Great Again.”

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, with the support of Alabama State Health Office Dr. Scott Harris, imposed a statewide mask order on July 15 when the state’s coronavirus cases were peaking, hospitals were reaching a breaking point and COVID-19 deaths were soaring.

The governor has since extended that mandatory mask order. It is currently in place through Friday, Oct. 2,

The mask order is being credited by public health officials with improving the coronavirus situation in the state, allowing the state to open its universities and play both high school and college football seasons.

It is not known, at this point, whether Ivey will further extend the mask order.

White House Coronavirus Task Force Member Dr. Deborah Birx came to Alabama just last week and urged Ivey to extend the mask order. A number of epidemiologists and doctors in the state have come forward to echo that call to extend the mandate.

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Ainsworth was one of the first public officials to call for an economic shutdown to combat the coronavirus. He was also one of the first public officials to call for reopening the economy after the governor actually did order an economic shutdown.

The Alabama Department of Public Health announced 16 more COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday to take the state’s total death toll to 2,517. Alabama currently has 86,854 active cases of the virus.

The state remains under a statewide “safer-at-home” order. Citizens who don’t have to leave their home are urged not to leave their homes and practice social distancing and wear a mask when they do have to go out.

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At least 1,013,469 people worldwide have already died in the COVID-19 pandemic including 210,797 Americans.

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National

Leaders urge participation as Census deadline approaches

“Time is running out,” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said on Twitter. “Respond to the 2020 Census today.”

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The deadline to complete your Census so that you and your family can be counted is fast approaching. The Census is used to reapportion Congressional districts, state legislative districts and state school board districts. It is also important in how federal funds are re-distributed to states, counties and cities.CorrectionA previous version of this article — including its headline — stated that the deadline for the U.S. Census was Tuesday, Sept. 30. The current deadline is Oct. 5, though it may be extended by court order. We sincerely regret the error.

“Without every Alabamian being counted, Alabama will lose a Congressional seat, an Electoral College elector, and its share of federal funding,” said Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Alabama. “That’s why it’s so important for Alabamians to be counted in 2020.”

Congresswoman Martha Roby, R-Alabama, said in an email to constituents, “We are in the final stretch of the self-response phase of the 2020 Census, and it’s critical you participate. … Please be sure to do your part and complete your Census response before the upcoming deadline, and encourage your family and friends to participate as well.”

“Time is running out,” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said on Twitter. “Respond to the 2020 Census today.”

There has been confusion about when the Census count will end. Last week, a federal judge ordered the Census Bureau to scrap its Sept. 30 deadline, automatically reverting the deadline back to the original Oct. 31 deadline. Then the U.S. Census Bureau, however, said it plans to end the count on Oct. 5.

It remains unclear if the judge will intervene again and order the count to continue through October.

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There are four ways to complete your 2020 Census:

  • Online at my2020census.gov. (Note: The Census ID number included on your original invitation letter is not required to complete the census online).
  • Call the U.S. Census Bureau toll-free at 844-330-2020. Telephone assistance is also available in multiple languages.
  • By mail: Return the paper form included with your invitation letter.
  • In person with a Census enumerator/representative that visits your home.

Any errors or under counts in this census will not be corrected for ten years. An under count could lead to lost federal funds for the state, towns and counties.

At this point, it appears that Alabama will lose at least one of our seven Congressional districts as well as one of our nine Electoral College votes based on the modest population growth in the last decade in Alabama and the poor census response rate.

The Census is mandated in the U.S. Constitution.

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Elections

Alabama Republicans compliment Trump on debate performance

The general election will be on Nov. 3. There are two more debates scheduled in October.

Brandon Moseley

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President Donald Trump, left, and former Vice President Joe Biden, right, are running for president in 2020.

Alabama Republicans said that Republican President Donald Trump demonstrated in Tuesday’s presidential debate in Cleveland that he deserves four more years as president of the United States.

The general election will be on Nov. 3. There are two more debates scheduled in October.

Alabama Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan

Alabama Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan said in a statement: “President Trump swiftly demonstrated that his ‘Promises Made, Promises Kept’ record will continue for four more years. The comparison between the two agendas couldn’t be starker. The President’s record in 47 months compared to Joe Biden’s 47 years in office is monumental. President Trump highlighted many of his policies. Joe Biden shared none of his.”

“The topic of Obamacare was clear on the differences in the debate,” Lathan continued. “President Trump removed the individual mandated healthcare tax, implemented price lists for medical procedures and medicines and has cut drug prices. Joe Biden wants to expand government healthcare as he admitted in the debate. Americans are opposed to more government in their healthcare decisions.”

“The wide difference of opening up states to grow our economy was day and night,” Lathan stated. “President Trump wants to open up our economy, as it is already strongly rebounding, while Joe Biden wants to keep it closed by his own words. Joe Biden said he was against defunding the police, however he earlier said he was for defunding them and wanted to use the money in the community instead. He also couldn’t name any first responder groups who have endorsed him while President Trump has a large number of endorsements across the nation. Clearly, this shows where the law enforcement communities stand as the President has stood with them.”

“The President moved quickly with a massive response to the COVID pandemic. He shut down travel with China early on over Democrat objections, including Joe Biden, and instituted ‘Operation Warp Speed’ that is now producing rapid testing and vaccines,” Lathan stated. “Joe Biden said he would do what has already been done by President Trump when pushed on his plan. President Trump made a strong case why he and the U.S. Senate should move swiftly to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy with highly qualified jurist Amy Coney Barrett. Joe Biden continues to hide his list of potential Supreme Court nominees and would not agree to address ‘packing’ the Supreme Court when directly asked.”

“President Trump rejected the radical environmental ‘New Green Deal’ while Joe Biden said he did too, however Mr. Biden is on record embracing it – multiple times,” Lathan said. “He is all over the place on this left-wing AOC agenda. Joe Biden wants to count votes days after they come in past November 3rd as he admitted in the debate. Laws of states prohibit this chaos and courts are stopping it on a daily basis. Americans want someone who will fight for them to keep our country safe and great. President Trump showed tonight he’s a heavyweight fighter who has been putting America first. That’s why President Trump will win re-election on November 3rd.”

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Congressional candidate Barry Moore

“Joe Biden has 47 years of experience at dodging, evading and just flat-out refusing to answer questions on real issues, and it showed during the debate,” Congressional candidate Barry Moore said. “For decades, he’s made a career of empty platitudes, vague accusations and deliberate misstatements, and that was what we saw Tuesday on stage. Joe Biden did everything short of walking off stage to keep from giving specifics about what he will do as President, except for eliminating the Trump tax cuts and raising our taxes to finance his party’s radical agenda. Mr. Biden did that because he’s a politician to the core and that’s what he’s done for his entire career.”

“Donald Trump, on the other hand, doesn’t act like a politician even after nearly four years as President,” Moore continued. “He answered questions directly with facts about his record, and didn’t let Joe Biden get away with his usual waffling, lies, and empty promises. The President’s personal style is confrontative, and I understand that some people don’t like that. But, I also know many, many people who welcome Donald Trump’s standing up to the bullies of the Left, and he did a great job confronting Joe Biden with Biden’s own statements and record.”

“The American people have a clear choice: a man who’s spent nearly half a century as a politician and accomplished little or nothing, or a President who gave us three years of booming economy and is leading us during this pandemic with confidence and conviction,” Moore concluded. “Donald J. Trump is clearly the best choice to be our President for the next four years.”

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Moore is the Republican nominee in Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District. Moore faces Democratic nominee Phyllis Harvey Hall for the seat currently held by Congresswoman Martha Roby, R-Alabama.

Trump Victory Finance Committee member Perry Hooper Jr.

“The Liberal News media is saying that Biden won the Debate,” said Trump Victory Finance Committee member Perry Hooper Jr. “I thought the President won the Debate on the issues.”

“I enjoyed hosting a Trump Debate Watch Party last night. Country music Artist And Runner Up Miss Alabama performed for us before the Debate,” Hooper added. “She sang The National Anthem, Proud to be an American and Eye of the Tiger. Everybody says that the President won the debate but they also are saying he was to aggressive. Come on friends, Trump was Trump and that why we like him. I think the President killed Biden when Biden could not denounce violence and antifa. He hasn’t even called the Democrat Governors and asked them to stop the violence. It’s plain and simple that Biden is beholding to the Left Wing.”

National Federation of Republican Women President Ann Schockett

“President Trump clearly demonstrated how he has accomplished more in 47 months than his opponent has in 47 years of being a career politician,” National Federation of Republican Women President Ann Schockett said. “The President successfully highlighted an historic record of promises kept for the American people and strongly articulated a clear case for guiding our nation to even greater heights during a second term. He emphasized his efforts to combat the pandemic, reignite the economy, champion our first responders and military, uphold the rule of law, and nominate exceptional Supreme Court justices.”

“Joe Biden, as vice president, had presided over the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression and has little to show for decades spent in Washington D.C.,” Schockett continued. “He evaded questions and offered misleading rhetoric to conceal his true agenda of dangerous radical proposals that would wreck our economy, destroy American jobs, undermine our energy independence, and dismantle and destroy our Constitution and country.”

“Affirming the President’s words during the debate that we have to go back to our core values of our country, the NFRW is confident that four more of years of Donald Trump will bring a thriving economy and safer communities,” Schockett concluded. “He is a President who defends our rights and freedoms, loves our country, and embraces what makes America exceptional. Our NFRW army is hard at work getting out the vote for President Trump and our Republican candidates. We’re ready for Election Day.”

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