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ALGOP holds 2020 Winter Meeting

Brandon Moseley

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Saturday, the Alabama Republican Party held its annual Alabama Republican Party State Executive Committee meeting. Over 450 Republican Executive Committee members, Republican elected officials and candidates gathered at the Montgomery Marriott Prattville Hotel and Conference Center. The state party committee focused on several resolutions and preparations for both the 2020 Republican National Convention in Charlotte, NC and the 2020 U.S. Senate race.

Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan said, “The Alabama Republican Party is ready to take back the U.S Senate seat and do its part to re-elect President Donald Trump. Our membership is energized to defeat Senator Doug Jones who continues to cast votes against the majority of the will of Alabamians – especially on voting to impeach President Trump.”

Lathan praised ALGOP’s longest serving Chief of Staff Harold Sachs, longest serving Political Director Reed Phillips, longest serving Business Administrator Rudy Scott, press secretary Jeannie Faherty, and Shannon Whitt. Lathan also thanked AFRW President Britney Garner.

Lathan said that over 66 percent of all partisan elected officials are now Republicans. Last year the Alabama Republican Party raised over $1.3 million and comes into the 2020 elections with over $680,000 in the bank.

“The enemy is complacency,” Lathan warned. “We cannot give Democrats the reins of power.”

Lathan said that 100 percent of County Chairs have participated in the Growing Republican Organizations to Win. “Planning in August or September is too late. We work now to win in November.”

“We must not let liberal Doug Jones sit in the floor of the Senate and vote against the will of the majority of the people of Alabama,” Lathan said. “We need to end his arrogant tenure. Today we proclaim him ‘One and done Doug.”

Senate candidate Stanley Adair told the Republicans: “Our worst day as a Republican is better than their best day as a Democrat. We are going to re-elect our President, Donald Trump, one of the greatest Presidents ever and we are going to defeat Doug Jones.”

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“Doug Jones said Alabama is ready for gun control,” Adair said. “He is not talking to the people that I know. We like our guns and we like our freedom.” “There are a lot of good people in this race and any of us would do a better job than Doug Jones.”

Senate candidate State Representative Arnold Mooney said, “This election is about our children and grandchildren. I have 8 grandchildren now and it will be ten grandchildren by the end of the year.”

Mooney said that he is running to give them the same freedoms that we have enjoyed.

“I have been endorsed by Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and conservative thought leader Mark Levine,” Mooney said.

Senate candidate Judge Roy Moore quoted Patrick Henry who said that the question before us is nothing less than freedom or slavery.

“One nation under God,” Moore said. “All our rights and liberty come not from government but from God. We have got to remember that.”

“If we don’t go back to God, socialism will begin to creep in,” Moore said. “It is not the Democrat party or the Republican Party that will save us, but a return to God.”

Senate candidate Ruth Page Nelson said that “It has been a long road and a steep learning curve,” but that she is committed to “Bringing Republican values to people of color. I am a Trumper from a long ago.”

“God was preparing me a long time for this,” Nelson said.

Nelson said that she opposes NAFTA which adversely affect people of color through a loss of jobs and an influx of drugs.

Nelson said that people of color are the people blessed most by President Trump and that the Republican Party is the right party for them to vote for.

Bradley Byrne, Jeff Sessions, and Tommy Tuberville attended Friday night’s ALGOP Winter Dinner; but were not at the Winter Meeting on Saturday.

Paul Reynolds and Vicki Drummond were both re-elected as National Committeeman and National Committeewoman. They had no opposition and were elected by acclamation.

Greg Cook of Jefferson County is the Alabama Republican Party’s legal advisor.

Cook said that two weeks ago the state and the party defeated people in court who were “trying to gerrymander our appeals court.”

Cook thanked Attorney General Steve Marshall and Secretary of State John Merrill for defending the Alabama appellate court system which are elected statewide.

The executive committee approved the 2020 Alternate delegate qualifying process

Cook explained that Alabama has 50 delegates to the Republican National Convention. Lathan, Drummond, and Reynolds through their positions are three of them. The other 47 will be selected by Republican voters on March 3. The party is also sending 47 alternate delegates. Each congressional district gets 3 and the rest are running statewide.

The Alabama Republican Party Executive Committee will meet to select the alternate delegates in a special meeting on May 30 in Pelham. Running as an alternate will require a $150 fee, except for people who ran as delegates in the Republican primary and lost. Their fee is waived. Qualifying to run as an alternate delegate will open at 8:30 a.m. CST on Monday, March 16, 2020 and close on Friday, April 17, 2020 at 5 p.m CST.

On Friday night, ALGOP honored Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) for her service. Roby is not seeking re-election. Roby was honored with a standing ovation by Winter Dinner attendees and was presented with an original piece of artwork commissioned by ALGOP.

Executive Committee member and Trump finance committee member former State Representative Perry O. Hooper Jr (R-Montgomery) is a lifelong friend of Roby. Hooper’s wife, Judy Hooper, who was coached as a cheerleader by Hooper’s wife Judy Hooper was Martha’s Cheerleader Coach at Trinity Presbyterian

“She has done a great job,” Hooper said. He thanked, Martha for her great service to America.”

Roby is serving in her fifth term in Congress.

The next meeting of the Alabama Republican Party will be May 30. The annual summer meeting will be in August.

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Health

840 hospitalized with confirmed, suspected COVID-19 in Alabama

Chip Brownlee

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Stock Photo

More than 800 people are hospitalized in Alabama with a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

State Health Officer Scott Harris said Friday evening that 255 people are hospitalized with a confirmed positive case of the virus. An additional 586 people are hospitalized with a suspected case of the virus, pending results of a test.

The rising number of hospitalizations, confirmed cases in nursing homes and the number of infections among the state’s health care workers — which is as high as 200 cases — contributed to Gov. Kay Ivey’s decision to issue a stay-at-home order Friday evening.

With 255 hospitalized confirmed cases, that means about 17 percent of the state’s confirmed cases are hospitalized.

Not all of the patients in the group of suspected cases will end up testing positive for the virus, though, Harris said.

Some could be flu, pneumonia or some other unknown respiratory illness. Tests will need to be completed on those to determine if they truly have the virus, but hospitals are treating them as if they do have the virus.

By Friday evening, 1,535 people in Alabama have tested positive for COVID-19. There have been at least 38 reported deaths.

APR has been analyzing data released by Alabama hospitals or provided to APR for the past two weeks in an attempt to determine how many people are hospitalized in the state.

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Our analysis, as late as Wednesday, showed that about 120 people were hospitalized with confirmed cases.

The numbers from the state health officer today, reported by the Alabama Incident Management System, are higher than our highest estimates because our data only included ten of the state’s largest hospitals. The number of confirmed hospitalizations is also growing.

UAB said Friday afternoon that it is treating 62 positive inpatients, up from 52 at the beginning of the week.

In the middle of a severe outbreak in Chambers and Lee counties, East Alabama Medical Center said Friday that it has 32 positive patients and 20 more suspected patients. It’s already discharged 19 people from inpatient care.

The number of hospitalized patients in Alabama is expected to grow until at least April 17, when modeling from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation suggests Alabama will reach its peak resource usage.

At that point, the modeling shows that Alabama could be short 20,000 hospital beds and short 5,000 ICU beds. Harris said the Alabama Department of Public Health has found the IHME’s modeling helpful for its timeline, but he’s hopeful that the numbers may not be so high.

“I’m not saying they’re wrong but I think that the timeline is the part that I really feel like has been most useful,” Harris said. “I think that’s the part where there’s the least amount of variability.”

via IHME

Alabama is already facing difficulty in finding new ventilators to bolster its surge capacity. Harris said Friday in an interview with APR that the state requested 500 ventilators from the national strategic stockpile, but the Department of Health and Human Services doesn’t appear likely to fulfill that request any time soon. The state has added a few hundred ventilators to its capacity by converting anesthesia machines and veterinary ventilators into ventilators that can be used for COVID-19 patients.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is also looking at hospitals and other sites around the state that can be converted into field hospitals.

East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika, Harris said, is under particular strain already because of a large outbreak in Chambers and Lee County, contributing to its rising hospitalizations numbers.

“There’s no question that what’s going on in Opelika right now is related to Chambers County,” Harris said. “You know that hospital is really having a difficult time right now, and it is, by and large, connected to this outbreak that we’ve seen in Chambers County.”

Chambers County, by far, has the largest per capita number of cases in the state. The Montgomery Advertiser’s Melissa Brown reported Friday that the outbreak could be linked to church services. EAMC has said the same.

“There certainly seems to have been a church homecoming event that involved a large number of people,” Harris said. “It was before Jefferson County even issued their first order so you know it was kind of before it was on everybody’s radar locally in Alabama. And I think a lot of cases have been connected to that.”

East Alabama Medical Center also released its own modeling Friday, and it shows that in a worst-case scenario, that hospital alone could be faced with 1,750 patients on April 23.

That scenario is unlikely to play out because it assumes no social distancing, but even better-case scenarios suggest between 500 and 1,000 people could be hospitalized at EAMC alone if fewer 75 percent of the public adheres to social distancing.

via EAMC

“Social distancing is the number one denominator,” said Dr. Roberts, EAMC’s chief of staff.  “If we do a poor job of that—50 percent or less—then we’re in a situation where our hospital simply cannot handle the influx of ICU patients we will see or the number of ventilators we will need, and many people will die as a result. This includes even those without COVID-19 because we simply will not have the staff and equipment to keep up.”

If more than 75 percent of the population adheres by social distancing, EAMC’s modeling concludes, then the peak number of patients at the hospital at one time would be 74. But the peak wouldn’t be until June 15, so people would have to do the right thing for more than two months.

“And that only gets us to the peak,” Roberts said. “We would still have COVID-19 in the community.”

UAB’s director of infectious diseases, Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, said Thursday that hospitals across the state are facing a near-term shortage of personal protective equipment — a situation she called “dire.”

“The situation is dire,” she said. “It is not just masks. It’s gloves. It’s hand sanitizer. It’s gowns.”

In some of the PPE categories, the number of days left before supplies run out is in the single digits. The hospitals may get new shipments of supplies, but if the situation deteriorates, the shortages might worsen.

“This is not a hypothetical scenario,” Marrazzo said. “This is real. And these are the people who are working to take care of you and your family in our communities every single day, who are being asked to be concerned, and sometimes even make decisions about who gets to use the various degrees of PPE.”

Alabama is one of a few states that is not regularly releasing hospitalization data. In the interview with APR Friday, Harris said the Alabama Department of Public Health is working to begin providing that data regularly.

“We are about to do that,” Harris said. “We’re not trying to not put it out. It’s just been an issue with our GIS people in trying to work it out.”

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Governor

Governor prohibits evictions, foreclosures during COVID-19 outbreak

Jessa Reid Bolling

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photo via Governors Office

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued an order on April 3 to suspend the enforcement of any evictions or foreclosures due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The protective order is set to last for the duration of the state of emergency that was declared on March 13.

The order instructs all law enforcement officers to cease enforcement of any order that would leave someone displaced from their residence.

“Because COVID-19 mitigation efforts require people to remain at their place of residence, I find that it would promote safety and protection of the civilian population to grant temporary relief from residential evictions and foreclosures,” the order reads. 

“To that end: All state, county, and local law enforcement officers are hereby directed to cease enforcement of any order that would result in the displacement of a person from his or her place of residence. 

“Nothing in this section shall be construed as relieving any individual of the obligation to pay rent, to make mortgage payments, or to comply with any other obligation that an individual may have under a rental agreement or mortgage.”

The protective order on evictions and foreclosures was issued the same day that Ivey issued a stay-at-home order which will require Alabamians to stay at home as much as possible — except for essential outings like grocery shopping and getting medical care.

The stay-at-home order goes into effect on April 4 at 5 p.m. and will expire on Tuesday, April 30, 2020, at 5 p.m. 

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Four UA employees, three students diagnosed with COVID-19

Jessa Reid Bolling

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The University of Alabama confirmed on Friday afternoon that four UA employees and three UA students have tested positive for COVID-19.

According to a UA Alert emailed to the campus community, the four employees along with three students notified University officials of their diagnoses after students, faculty and staff left for spring break on March 13.

All of the affected individuals are quarantined and recovering away from campus.

The three students were participating in study abroad programs during the spring semester. The email did not specify where the students’ study abroad programs were located. 

The email said that if it is determined that someone who is symptomatic or who has tested positive for COVID-19 has accessed a portion of a campus facility, the University’s Environmental Health & Safety group will ensure a heightened, appropriate cleaning of the potentially affected area. 

As of April 3, there have been 1,352 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alabama, with 39 confirmed cases in Tuscaloosa County. 

The email also encouraged students and faculty still residing in Tuscaloosa to abide by the city’s 24 hour curfew and to follow guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to help flatten the curve: 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Stay at least six feet away from others.
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Congress

Alabama may need 2,500 more ventilators. It’s having to compete to get them

Chip Brownlee

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Alabama may need 2,000 more ventilators than it has, and it’s being forced to compete with other states to get them on the private market.

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said Friday that the Alabama Department of Public Health is attempting to source its own ventilators as a number of hospitals in the state are already struggling and asking for more.

The state requested 500 ventilators from the federal government through the Department of Health and Human Services and the national strategic stockpile. It asked for 200 of them to be delivered urgently.

“HHS has indicated that they’re not going to fulfill that anytime soon because they’re still taking care of places like New York City,” Harris said in an interview with APR.

When Alabama nears an expected surge — say 72 hours before hospitals are expected to be overwhelmed with patients requiring life support — they may be able to make the extra ventilators available.

So Alabama, like a number of states, is being forced to try to source ventilators on its own through the private market, where hundreds of hospitals, all the other states and other countries are trying to do the same.

Harris said he signed a purchase order Thursday for 250 more ventilators.

“We’re waiting to see, and then there are others that we’re waiting to hear from,” Harris told APR. “We’re doing our best to try to source these in any way that we can.”

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“We’re attempting to source those ourselves, but as you know, all the states are looking to source their own and in some measure competing with each other,” he said a press conference Friday evening when Gov. Kay Ivey announced a shelter in place order.

Alabama Sen. Doug Jones said Thursday that Alabama will likely make additional requests, but there are only 10,000 ventilators in the national stockpile and in the U.S. Department of Defense surplus. And with every other state in the country also requesting these supplies, the federal government has said that states should not rely on the national stockpile to bolster their ventilator capacity.

By Friday, nearly 1,500 people were confirmed positive with the virus. At least 38 have died. Dire models from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington — models that influenced the state’s decision to issue a stay-at-home order — project that by mid-April, Alabama could have a massive shortage of ventilators and hospital beds.

“The timeline I think makes sense and the time when we’re expected to have a surge is the part that was most useful to us,” Harris said. “We’ve been trying very hard to get an order in place with regards to this surge that we expect to happen.”

The model estimates that Alabama could have a shortage of 20,000 hospital beds, 3,900 intensive care beds and more than 2,000 ventilators.

At least 3,500 ventilators would be needed at the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak in mid-April, according to the IHME model. Last month, Alabama Hospital Association President Donald Williamson said the state has a surge capacity of about 800.

The same model projects that about 5,500 people could die from COVID-19 in Alabama by August. However, the model is live and is regularly adjusted. Earlier this week, it suggested that 7,000 people could die by August.

Harris said the state, over the past couple of weeks, has added a few hundred additional ventilators to its capacity by converting anesthesia machines and veterinary ventilators for use on those infected with the coronavirus.

“Yet, even with adding all of those ventilators, going up by a few hundred units, which means to tell you that we’re still using around the same percent of all of our ventilators even though the number [of ventilators] is going up,” Harris said. “So we know that there are more patients on ventilators.”

The state health officer said some hospitals in the state are already struggling but others are cooperating to share resources.

“They are really working hard to make sure that they have what they need, and we’re trying very hard, along with the governor’s office, to make sure that Alabama has enough inventory,” Harris said.

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