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

Chip Brownlee | The Trace

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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.

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“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.”

“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.

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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.

Chip Brownlee is a former political reporter, online content manager and webmaster at the Alabama Political Reporter. He is now a reporter at The Trace, a non-profit newsroom covering guns in America.

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Aderholt says that low Census response rate will come with big consequences for Alabama

Brandon Moseley

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Congressman Robert Aderholt (VIA CSPAN)

Alabama trails the nation in 2020 Census response and that matters, says Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) in an email to his Fourth Congressional District constituents.

“In more ways than we could possibly name, Alabama is the best state in the nation,” Rep. Aderholt said. “However, when it comes to the 2020 Census, we are sitting in last place in the country. Currently 81.5% of Alabama households have been counted, but that is nearly 10% less than the national count of 90.1%. I think we can do better, so let’s make Alabama count.”

“Why it Matters. One of the biggest questions asked every decade when the Census comes up is: why does it matter?” Aderholt said. “This is a great question, and I understand why it gets asked so often. So, I want to give you a few different answers that are grounded in facts. Federal Funds: It is estimated that per 100 people not counted in the Census, roughly $1.2 million dollars of federal funding is lost for your community. Here are just a few of the many items that would have funding severely cut due to a lack of Census responses: Schools, roads, hospitals, block grants, vocational education, and fire departments. These are all crucial aspects of living in a community, and they are all at risk of funding decreases. Jobs: Census numbers are used by both public and private organizations to determine where to build and bring business. This means that employment opportunities and economic development are at stake when it comes to the Census. This aspect is often overlooked, but it may just be the most consequential of them all. Representation in Congress: You probably know this one already, but Congressional districts are based on population. This means that the more people that are counted in your state the more representation your state has in the House of Representatives. For Alabama, we are in danger of losing a Congressional seat, so our count this year matters a great deal. Civil Rights: As a matter of fact, certain programs based around civil rights issues are directly correlated to the Census. Things like compliance with the National Voting Rights Act of 1965, housing, employment, and education anti-discrimination laws are monitored and enforced using the population count from the Census.”

“The best news about the Census is that it is easier than ever to fill out!” Aderholt explained. “All you have to do is go to https://my2020census.gov/ and follow the instructions on screen, or you can call 844-330-2020. I would encourage you all to fill yours out today and make Alabama count for the next decade! If you have already completed your Census, please tell your friends and family to fills theirs out and spread the word.”

Aderholt explained that the Census first started in 1790 and was conducted by Thomas Jefferson. The nation then had a population of just 3,929,214, compared to roughly 328 million today.

“From 1790 to 1879, the Census was counted by Federal Marshals going door-to-door across the country,” Aderholt explained. “Back then they would show up to your house on horseback and fill out the numbers on parchment or animal skin. Although this sounds pretty cool to me, I am sure glad we can do it on our phones now. The Census started out with only 6 questions, then rose to 34 in 1920, but has settled back down to an even 10 the past couple decades.”

The state of Alabama has seven congressional districts currently; but it appears that we are likely to lose at least one given the state’s modest growth over the last decade and the people of Alabama’s awful Census response rate.

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Robert Aderholt is in his twelfth term representing Alabama’s Fourth Congressional District. He faces a general election challenge from Democrat Rick Neighbors.

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Aderholt supports the Republican Commitment to America plan

Brandon Moseley

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Congressman Robert Aderholt (VIA CSPAN)

Congressman Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama, released a statement this week in support of the Republican Commitment to America, a plan put forth by House Republicans if the voters will give them control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the upcoming elections.

“The future of our country will be determined in the next few months,” Aderholt said, “Make no mistake about it, what we do right now will have a ripple effect for many years to come. That’s why I fully support and endorse the Commitment to America, because the clear path toward a bright future is paved with a restoration of our way of life, the rebuilding of the greatest economy in history, and a renewal of the American Dream.”

“First and foremost, we need to restore our way of life,” Aderholt said. “We are well on the way to defeating the virus and deploying a vaccine. This also means we need to stop the rioting, defend the police, and help people feel safe again. Second, we must restore what was once the greatest economy the world has ever seen. We will support local businesses and spur activities to create new jobs. And it’s time for us to bring manufacturing back to America and hold China accountable for their unfair trade practices, their theft of intellectual property, and their crackdown on human rights. Finally, we must renew the American Dream and ensure it returns to the pedestal it belongs on. This starts by giving every family a choice in where to send their kids to school, taking care of and hiring our veterans, and promoting opportunities for workforce development.”

“This Commitment to America is the right path to take as a country, and I would encourage my colleagues across the aisle to work with us as we enter the final stretch of 2020,” Aderholt said. “Restoring, rebuilding, and renewing our country is critically important right now, so let’s get to work.”

“We are announcing our Commitment to America with three specific objectives: restore our way of life, rebuild the greatest economy in history, and renew the American dream,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California.

“To rebuild our economy, we will commit to get America working again and add 10 million new jobs through proven, pro-growth policies,” McCarthy said. “That starts with $200 billion in forgivable loans to local businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program. This program, which I call our Marshall Plan for Main Street, has already saved 51 million jobs and can still save more. Democrats’ continued refusal to pass more relief over politics will only take our economy backward.”

“Without question, we must and we will defeat COVID-19 and keep America healthy,” McCarthy said. “To restore our way of life, we will work to triple rapid testing nationwide, deliver a vaccine that is safe, effective, and available by the end of the year, protect individuals with pre-existing conditions, and invest in therapeutics while lowering drug prices across the board.”

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“Following the recommendations of the China Task Force that House Republicans established last spring, we will increase U.S. manufacturing and build supply chain resiliency through full expensing on a permanent basis for all U.S. investment and restoration of domestic production tax credits,” McCarthy said. “While Democrats ignore the threat from China, Republicans will take it head on.”

After the COVID-19 crisis is over “many communities will still be gripped by unrest that continues to lead to violence,” McCarthy wrote. “Without respect for public safety, all the pro-growth policies in the world won’t put America back on her feet. We must ensure the security and safety of all communities. That means improving our police forces, not defunding them. We will increase funding for law enforcement by $1.75 billion for better police training, community policing, and equipment, including 500,000 more body cameras on the streets.”

“To renew the American Dream, we will ensure every child in every neighborhood can go to the school that is best for them, while directing millions towards high-quality STEM education to prepare our kids for the jobs of tomorrow,” McCarthy said in support of expanding school choice. “At the same time, we will promote opportunities for career and technical education and workforce development for any American looking to earn a promotion or pursue a meaningful new career, especially our nation’s veterans.”

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Aderholt is in his 12th term representing Alabama’s 4th Congressional District. He faces a challenge this year from Democratic nominee Rick Neighbors.

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Sen. Doug Jones: “I voted no because the American people deserve better”

“If we let this pass, there would never be another opportunity to do more, to get help to the people who need it,” Jones said. “That’s why I voted no. I voted no because the American workers deserve better.”

Josh Moon

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Incumbent U.S. Sen. Doug Jones

Calling it a “political ploy” by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Alabama Sen. Doug Jones joined his Democratic Party colleagues on Thursday in voting against a slimmed down COVID-relief bill that did little to address average workers’ problems with the pandemic. 

“Mitch McConnell doesn’t care about the American people, he doesn’t understand the American worker,” Jones said. “This was a stunt. He wants partisan agreement, not a bipartisan bill to help people who are hurting.”

Jones said that McConnell also introduced a scaled-down bill during the previous round of COVID-relief negotiations, which Democrats also defeated. After that defeat, McConnell worked with Democrats and a bipartisan bill passed the Senate with overwhelming support from both parties.

“Alabama would have lost about $2 billion had I voted for the scaled down version last time,” Jones said. “That wasn’t a good bill for the people and this one wasn’t either.”

Jones also pushed back on the notion that Democrats had “blocked” a COVID-19 relief bill, pointing out that House Democrats had passed an expansive relief bill before the summer break in July. 

“There’s no reason we couldn’t have used that bill, which wasn’t a perfect bill, as a starting point,” Jones said. “Everyone knew this virus was going to be around through the summer, through the fall. We knew it. I asked for us not to leave, to get this done (before the break). We didn’t. And now we come back and McConnell has this bill that’s less than half of what he proposed before the break, because that’s all he can get his people to agree on. It’s not good enough.”

McConnell’s slimmed down relief bill didn’t include rent protection to prevent those who are out of work because of the virus from being evicted (and to provide aid to landlords). It also didn’t include stimulus payments to Americans out of work or any relief to state or local governments, which are starting to lay off workers. It also trimmed by two-thirds the extended unemployment benefits for Americans out of work, taking the federal payments from $600 to $200. 

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Jones pointed out that the bill did include, oddly, a $5 billion gift to parents who send their kids to private schools. That money, he said, was included to win Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s vote. 

“We have too many people hurting right now to play these games,” Jones said. “Too many good people are out of work and need our help. We owe it to them to do better. If we let this pass, there would never be another opportunity to do more, to get help to the people who need it. That’s why I voted no. I voted no because the American workers deserve better.”

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ALGOP hits Jones for vote against “slimmed-down” COVID-19 relief bill

Brandon Moseley

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Incumbent U.S. Sen. Doug Jones

Senate Democrats held up a $300 billion Republican coronavirus stimulus package, and Alabama Sen. Doug Jones was among the Democrats who voted against the GOP’s slimmed down coronavirus relief bill. Republicans were quick to slam Jones for the vote against another round of coronavirus aid.

Alabama Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan condemned Jones’s vote against the aid, saying he is failing Alabama.

“Once again, Senator Jones has shown just how tone-deaf he is to the needs of Alabamians,” Lathan said. “This COVID Relief legislation would have provided much needed support for our school systems that are trying to open safely for our students. It would have also provided the resources needed to continue to develop and distribute a vaccine as well as improve testing. While President Trump is leading on his ‘Warp Speed’ vaccine solutions, Doug Jones is failing Alabama — again.”

Former State Rep. Perry Hooper Jr. — a member of the Trump Victory National Finance Committee, a Trump Team Leader and a member of the Alabama Republican Executive Committee — also criticized Jones for his vote against the bill.

“Doug Jones has proved once again that he cares more about trying to do political damage to our president and pleasing his liberal out-of-state donors than he does Alabama, the state that he was elected to serve,” Hooper said. “This vote is a stark reminder of how badly Alabama needs to elect Tommy Tuberville and send Doug Jones packing.”

Paige Lindgren, the deputy press secretary of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, also hit Jones for the vote.

“Anti-Trump Democrat Doug Jones voted no today on the latest COVID relief bill,” Lindgren said. “The Senate bill would provide targeted relief to states to reopen schools safely, develop and distribute a vaccine and improve testing and contract tracing efforts. Democrat leadership vowed to vote against the bill before it was even released, favoring their $3.5 trillion liberal wish list over any of the Republican-led efforts — and Jones joined them.”

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“On Tuesday, Senator Jones claimed not to know what was in the bill,” Lathan said. “On Wednesday, he said he had ‘mixed emotions’ about it. Now, on Thursday, he said it was ‘inadequate’. He’s all over the place. Instead of supporting Alabamians, he lined up behind his liberal buddies Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders to support the $3.5 trillion ‘wish list’ passed by House Democrats back in May — a list to bail out bankrupt cities that have nothing to do with the pandemic. He wants Alabama to bail out incompetently run liberal cities with our taxes. That’s a hard pass!”

“He voted in lock step with Chuck Schumer and his liberal comrades against a targeted Republican bill that would have provided badly needed aid to everyday Alabama families,” Hooper said.

“Once again, we are seeing anti-Trump Democrat Doug Jones side with his Democrat party bosses in blocking COVID relief despite touting bipartisanship on the campaign trail,” said Lindgren. “This is just another example in which Jones chooses loyalty to Chuck Schumer and partisan politics over the needs of Alabama.”

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“It’s time for Alabama to have a Senator who listens to the majority — Tommy Tuberville will be elected as our next U.S. senator this November 3rd and will follow the majority of our people’s directions,” Lathan said.

Democrats argued that the $300 billion GOP bill is far too small. The Democratic controlled House of Representatives passed the $4.3 billion Heroes Act. Senate Republicans opposed that bill, arguing that it would add substantially to the national debt. Because of the 60 vote rule to end a filibuster it takes a bipartisan supermajority to bring up a bill in the Senate for a vote. The slimmed down coronavirus aid bill managed just 52 votes. 8 shy of the number needed to shut down debate and bring the bill up for a vote.

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