Connect with us


Jones calls for continued social distancing, wearing masks amid partial reopening

Eddie Burkhalter



Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, on Friday urged Alabamians to heed Gov. Kay Ivey’s warning that, despite her decision announced earlier on Friday to relax more of the provisions of her “safer-at-home” order, COVID-19 is still with us, and still deadly. 

“I appreciate the fact that the Governor is doing all she can to walk a fine line between trying to get our economy open, trying to get folks out and going while at the same time following the advice of health care professionals,” Jones said in a press conference Friday, moments after Ivey’s own, in which she discussed the changes. “It’s a difficult balance I think she’s trying to thread here.” 

Ivey’s announced earlier on Friday that beginning at 5 p.m. on Monday restaurants, bars, gyms, barbershops and salons could reopen with social-distancing restrictions. 

The amended public health order also allows non-work-related gatherings of any size, so long as people can maintain at least 6 feet of physical distancing, a change from the previous order, which limited such gatherings to 10.

“But the key is really not the governor,” Jones said. “The key is really each of us.” 

Jones called for Alabamians to continue to practice social distancing, wear masks in public and to recognize that what they do today will impact what they’ll be able to do in the coming weeks and months. A vaccine for coronavirus may be a long way away, he said. 

As of Friday, there were 9,188 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 374 deaths in Alabama caused by the virus, and 114,649 Alabamians had been tested for COVID-19.

Public Service Announcement

Jones cited APR reporter Chip Brownlee’s data analysis that uses Alabama Department of Public Health data to show that Alabama reported on Thursday nearly 2,000 new COVID-19 cases over the previous seven days. 

Those recorded cases were the highest number of new reported cases over a seven-day period since the outbreak began, and Thursday’s 355 new cases was the largest single-day increase in newly reported cases.

“What we’re seeing here is not just an aberration or a blip. This is a relatively-sustained increase,” Jones said, adding that it may be in part because we’re testing more, but that “that really shouldn’t really give people any comfort.” 


The more Alabama tests, the more cases the state finds, Jones said, which is a sign of continued community spread of the virus.  

Jones said he hoped the public wouldn’t focus on what’s going to be opened up starting Monday under the new public health order, but rather what Ivey said at the start of her press conference earlier on Friday. 

“Let me be crystal clear to the people of Alabama. The threat of this disease continues to be active, and it is deadly,” Ivey said before discussing changes to the state’s order. 

Jones did take exception to Ivey’s statements earlier in the day, however, that she believes Alabamains are following existing distancing guidelines and staying home when at all possible. 

“That’s not been what I’ve seen,” Jones said, citing a University of Maryland study that showed that Alabamians aren’t heeding the pleas to stay at home. 

According to the university’s study of cell phone location data as of May 1, the percentage of people in Alabama who are staying at home was the lowest its been since March 16.

“Right now if you go out you’re going to see a smaller percentage of folks wearing masks. You’re going to see more people out, and they’re not doing the social distancing,” Jones said. 

Speaking of his work on legislation to aid in the recovery efforts, Jones said his Paycheck Security Act, if passed, would save American workers’ paychecks and existing healthcare, and keep the businesses that hire them going amid the COVID-19 crisis, without the pressure to reopen too soon. 

“By doing that, we save lives and we save businesses,” Jones said. 

Jones also said that next week he’ll introduce a bill that would give businesses tax incentives to produce personal protective equipment – masks, gloves and gowns – and ventilators in the U.S., to free the country from dependence on international manufacturers of the live-saving products. 

Jones also suggested repurposing closed plants in Alabama to produce those items, bringing new jobs to the state and helping to save lives in the process. 

“We can make Alabama a healthcare-manufacturing hub,” Jones said. 

Jones said in state-after-state, black Americans are contracting and dying from COVID-19 in greater numbers, and that President Donald Trump’s administration’s problems with testing and distribution of testing plays a role in that. 

Asked by APR whether, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics putting the national unemployment rate at nearly 15 percent on Friday, what more he thinks should be done to expand or shore up unemployment insurance, Jones said he thinks that “it is a given” that Congress will need to put more money into the program. 

“I think that the Payroll Protection Program that’s in place now, we’re going to have to look at that. We’re going to have to extend deadlines,” Jones said. 

But Jones said his bipartisan Paycheck Security Act legislation “is the only way that we can save these businesses. It’s the only way we can save these individuals.” 

Jones said that he doesn’t foresee another emergency stimulus payment to individual U.S. citizens. 

“If we do the things that I think we should do, and that is to keep people on payrolls,” Jones said, adding that he believes people would rather keep their jobs and the benefits that come with them, and to stay on the payrolls rather than get another one-time check. 

Gov. Ivey on Thursday sent a tersely-worded statement to the Republican-controlled state Legislature threatening to call off a likely special session later in the year if the lawmakers didn’t give her a detailed plan for how they wanted to spend nearly $1.8 billion in federal COVID-19 aid money through the CARES Act. 

“I have already seen one ‘wish list’ that includes a new $200 million statehouse for the Legislature,” Ivey said in the statement. “To me, that is totally unacceptable and not how President Trump and Congress intended for this money to be spent.” 

Asked about the dispute between Ivey and the legislature over the federal aid, Jones said the nearly $1.8 billion to Alabama was intended to be spent on CARES Act-related expenses. 

“Certainly not on a new statehouse building to build a new Taj Mahal for legislators,” Jones said. 

Jones said that he believes Ivey’s response was strong, and sent state legislators a clear message, but that he may have done it differently. 

“I’d have probably just said ‘to heck with you’ and, you know, ‘sue me’,” Jones said. 

“It was a mess down there,” he said. “But I hope, quite frankly, if the Legislature is going to do this they look very carefully at how this legislation was crafted and what it was intended to do, and that they follow Congress’s intent, because we’re going to try like crazy to get more money for state and local governments.” 

“And if they start doing things like building $200 million statehouses then they will probably see that there will be very little appetite to give state governments any money and we will direct as much as we possibly can to cities and counties,” Jones said. “Which is frankly where I want to see a lot of it directed anyway.” 

Jones near the end of his press conference Friday also asked those in the public who’ve recovered from COVID-19 and who have and been tested and shown to have antibodies, to donate blood to help save others with the virus. 

“That is going to be so, so important going forward,” Jones said. “As folks recover, please consider doing that.”

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.



Sewell votes to keep government open, extend programs

Brandon Moseley



Congresswoman Terri Sewell (VIA CSPAN)

Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Alabama, this week voted for a measure to continue funding for the programs contained in the 12 annual appropriation acts for FY2020. The bill, HR8337, passed the House in a final vote of 359 to 57 and 1.

“I voted for today’s legislation to avert a catastrophic government shutdown and fund the critical programs that my constituents depend on,” Sewell said.

“At a time when our country is in the middle of a pandemic and millions of Americans are losing their homes and livelihoods to natural disasters, including hurricanes on the Gulf Coast, our government needs to be fully funded and operational so that the American people can get the resources they need,” Sewell said. “I am particularly proud of the provisions Democrats secured to save our seniors from a Medicare Part B premium hike, protect health, housing, and other programs for Veterans, and to provide repayment relief for our health care providers at the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The resolution provides funding for critical government programs through Dec. 11 and extends vital health, surface transportation and veterans’ programs.

“While I’m disappointed that Senate Republicans and White House didn’t come to the table to agree to pass the long-term FY2021 funding bills that the House passed earlier this year, I look forward to working with my colleagues to make sure a long-term funding bill is passed before this CR expires in December,” Sewell said. “Additionally, an agreement on further Coronavirus relief legislation is desperately needed. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs and as the pandemic continues, municipalities, health care providers, essential workers, and small businesses are running out of resources from the CARES Act and relief is needed now.”

HR8337 included a list of programs that Sewell worked directly with House appropriators to secure in the FY2020 funding bill, which are extended in Tuesday’s continuing resolution. These include:

  • Rural Water and Waste Disposal Program Loans
  • Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer for Children (Summer EBT) program
  • Commodity Supplemental Food program
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program
  • 2020 Decennial Census Program
  • Community Health Centers
  • Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education Program
  • Special Diabetes Program
  • Grants for transportation to VA medical facilities for Veterans living in “highly rural” areas
  • Childcare assistance for Veterans while they receive health care at a VA facility
  • An initiative to assess the feasibility of paying for veterans in highly rural areas to travel to the nearest Vet Center, a community-based facility that provides readjustment counseling and other services

The bill also funded the Department of Labor’s homeless veteran reintegration programs, such as job training, counseling and placement services.

Public Service Announcement

Additionally, the legislation:

  • Ensures USDA can fully meet the demand for Direct and Guaranteed Farm Ownership loans, especially for beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers
  • Allows increased flexibility for the Small Business Administration to process certain small business loans and SBA Disaster Loans
  • Provides a one-year extension for surface transportation programs, including federal highway, transit, and road safety programs
  • Reauthorizes the Appalachian Regional Commission for one year
  • Delays a scheduled $4 billion reduction in funding for disproportionate share hospital (DSH), which are hospitals that serve large numbers of low-income and uninsured patients
  • Protects Medicare beneficiaries from the expected increase in Part B premiums for 2021 that is likely to result from the COVID-19 public health emergency
  • Provides repayment relief to health care providers by extending the time in which they must repay advances and reducing the interest rate under the Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payment program until the end of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Allows Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to use the full amount available in the Disaster Relief Fund to respond to declared disasters
  • Increases accountability in the Commodity Credit Corporation, preventing funds for farmers from being misused for large oil companies
  • Ensures schoolchildren receive meals despite the pandemic’s disruption of their usual schedules, whether virtual or in-person, and expands Pandemic EBT access for young children in childcare

It has been 20 years since Congress has passed a balanced budget.

Sewell is running for her sixth term representing Alabama’s 7th Congressional District. Sewell has no Republican opponent in the Nov. 3 General Election.


Continue Reading


Resources are available to persons damaged by Hurricane Sally, Roby says

Brandon Moseley



A satellite image of Hurricane Sally. (VIA NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE)

Hurricane Sally struck on the Alabama Gulf Coast as a category two hurricane on Sept. 16, but authorities, property owners and farmers are still assessing the damage.

“As Hurricane Sally moved through Alabama last week, I remained in close communication with Governor Ivey’s office regarding recovery efforts, and she ensured us that the appropriate state agency resources will be available to our counties and municipalities in the Second District,” said Congresswoman Martha Roby. “My team also stayed in contact with leaders and elected officials across the district to communicate with them our readiness to assist.”

“My thoughts and prayers are with those throughout our state who have been affected by this powerful storm,” Roby added. “Please do not hesitate to reach out to one of my offices if you or someone you know needs assistance.”

“The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries launched a survey to gather information from farmers and producers who experienced agricultural damages due to Hurricane Sally,” Roby said.

Separately, the Alabama Farmers Federation is also collecting information from affected farmers. For more information on disaster assistance, visit this website.

Prior to and after Sally hit our state, the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries has been hard at work to assist Alabama farmers and consumers. The department is gathering information from farmers who experienced agricultural damage from the excessive winds, rainfall and flooding caused by Hurricane Sally.

This information can be helpful to federal and state leaders in the aftermath of the storm.

Public Service Announcement

To collect the most accurate damage assessments, the department has established an online reporting survey to simplify the process for producers who have experienced agricultural damage. Producers should visit to complete the survey.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who experienced significant damage during this powerful hurricane,” said Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries Rick Pate. “Alabama farmers have already faced economic hardships this year due to market instability, trade concerns and the coronavirus pandemic.”

Many farmers had a crop that was ready for harvest. Many of those farmers lost that entire crop.


“Most of our farmers had as good a crop as we’ve ever seen, and it was so close to harvest for cotton, soybeans, peanuts and pecans,” said Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell. “It’s devastating to lose a crop that had so much promise. Our farmers are great people who are assisting each other with cleaning up the damage, and we’re so grateful to everyone across the state who is helping in some way.”

According to the department, reportable damage would include structural, crop and livestock losses. Producers are also encouraged to take photos of damage.

Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Alabama, said, “Feeding the Gulf Coast has a number of distribution and pantry options for those in who need food assistance due to Hurricane Sally. You can find the locations on their website.”

“If you have insurance, you should file a claim with them first before registering with FEMA,” Byrne said. “That will allow for the quickest response. Even if you have made a claim with your insurance company, you can still register for FEMA assistance.”

To apply for FEMA disaster assistance visit or call 1-800-621-3362.

They eye of Hurricane Sally came ashore near Gulf Shores but the damage stretches across much of south Alabama and the western Florida panhandle. Baldwin, Mobile and Escambia Counties have been declared a natural disaster by FEMA.

Continue Reading


Brooks supports DOJ decision to declare New York City an “anarchist jurisdiction”

Brandon Moseley



Congressman Mo Brooks speaks during a television interview.

Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Alabama, on Tuesday said the New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and other “socialist Democrat elected officials” have “utterly failed to maintain law and order.” Brooks said that the lack of leadership has led the U.S. Department of Justice to declare New York City an “anarchist jurisdiction.”

President Donald Trump issued a memo ordering financial retribution against cities that he views as having bowed to violent mobs and cut funding for their police departments. The declaration will purportedly allow the Trump administration to cut federal funding for the cities including New York, Portland and Seattle.

“Socialist Democrat elected officials running some of America’s largest cities have utterly failed to maintain law & order — one of the most basic functions of government,” Brooks said. “New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio have willfully allowed violent anarchists to rampage so badly that the U.S. Department of Justice has designated New York City as an ‘Anarchist Jurisdiction.’ Let Cuomo and DeBlasio’s leadership failure be a warning to American voters everywhere. Placing feckless Socialist Democrats in charge is tantamount to turning your city over to violent anarchists.”

There has been national attention on rising rates of shootings in a number of large cities.

“When state and local leaders impede their own law enforcement officers and agencies from doing their jobs, it endangers innocent citizens who deserve to be protected, including those who are trying to peacefully assemble and protest,” Attorney General Bill Barr said in a statement Monday. “We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted when the safety of the citizenry hangs in the balance.”

“It is my hope that the cities identified by the Department of Justice today will reverse course and become serious about performing the basic function of government and start protecting their own citizens,” Barr added.

White House budget director Russ Vought is set to issue guidance to federal agencies on withdrawing funds from the cities in less than two weeks. The DOJ said that the list of cities eligible for defunding will be updated periodically.

Public Service Announcement

It is not yet clear what funds are likely to be cut. New York City gets roughly $7 billion in federal funding.

New York City Council passed a budget this summer that cut $1 billion from the New York Police Department’s $6 billion annual budget amid protests against police brutality.

Brooks represents Alabama’s 5th Congressional District and has no Democratic opponent in the Nov. 3 general election.


Continue Reading


Rogers disappointed Democrats have not offered a Homeland Security reauthorization

Brandon Moseley



Congressman Mike Rogers (VIA CSPAN)

Congressman Mike Rogers, R-Alabama, wrote an editorial in the Washington Examiner saying that he is disappointed but not surprised that Democrats have yet to offer a reauthorization package for the Department of Homeland Security.

“It’s been over 1,100 days since the last Department of Homeland Security authorization bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives,” Rogers said. “And as we approach the end of the 116th Congress, the chances grow thin of the majority introducing legislation to provide the Department of Homeland Security with the resources and authorities it needs to stop the growing threats to our homeland.”

“I wish I could say I’m surprised Democrats have yet to offer a reauthorization package,” Rogers wrote. “However, this is the party that started out this Congress with calls to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”

Rogers slammed House Democrats for what he claimed is a trend of becoming increasingly anti-law enforcement and ignoring “violent mobs” that have been rioting in many major cities.

“This is the party that last year called the unprecedented migrant surge at the Southwest border a ‘Fake Emergency,’ and took half a year to vote on critical humanitarian funding to address the crisis,” Rogers said. “This is the party that turned a blind eye as violent mobs took over cities across our country. It’s reached the point that now some on the left are calling for the abolition of DHS and the defunding of our police.”

Rogers said that while Democrats have done nothing, House Republicans have introduced a two-year reauthorization bill in The Keep America Secure Act.

Rogers said that The Keep America Secure Act will provide DHS with the resources and authorities that the department needs to stay ahead of evolving threats and position DHS to be successful on new battlegrounds.

Public Service Announcement

Rogers is the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee and a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee

Rogers represents Alabama’s 3rd Congressional District. He is seeking his tenth term in the U.S. House of Representatives in this Nov. 3’s general election. Adia Winfrey is the Democratic challenger.

Continue Reading