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Alabama coronavirus cases continue upward trend

Brandon Moseley

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The Alabama Department of Public Health on Monday reported that an additional 1,718 Alabamians were diagnosed with the coronavirus. This breaks the record just set on Thursday of 1,129 cases, but the large increase on Monday was largely due to a data reporting delay that caused cases from Saturday and Sunday to be reported on Monday.

“The automatic feeds from laboratories that make up the majority of the SARS-CoV-2 lab reports received did not process,” the Department of Public Health said in a statement. “The backlog for June 27 should be fixed and reflected in the June 28 daily total on the dashboard which will occur in tomorrow’s update. Therefore the June 29 update will include the lab results from June 27 and 28. This also affects the total Confirmed Cases and Total Tested numbers that appear on the dashboard today and tomorrow.”

Despite the problem contributing to a higher reported total Monday than otherwise would have been the case, cases continue an upward trend and the seven- and 14-day averages of new cases — used to smooth out daily variability and inconsistent reporting of day-to-day case increases — are at their highest points since the pandemic began.

This raises the total number of coronavirus cases in the state to 36,682, as of Monday.

In the last seven days, 6,651 people were diagnosed with the coronavirus as the virus is surging across the state. The novel strain of the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, causes the condition known as COVID-19. In most cases of COVID-19 symptoms are mild, but it can be severe and even lead to death.

In the first 29 days of June, 18,730 cases have been diagnosed across the state of Alabama. This is more than double the number of coronavirus cases that were diagnosed in March, April and May combined.

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In the U.S., 381,876 cases have been diagnosed in the last ten days, but deaths nationally have been gradually dropping.

In Alabama, new cases are rising much faster than COVID-19 deaths, but deaths have also risen. At least 275 Alabamians have died from COVID-19 in the month of June. At least 630 died in the previous three months, with 358 deaths in the month of May, 259 in April and just 12 deaths in March.

All 67 counties in the state have had coronavirus cases with Jefferson County having the most cases with 4,053 cases. 3,727 cases have been diagnosed in Montgomery County. Mobile County is next with 3,537 cases. They are followed by Tuscaloosa with 1925, Marshall with 1453, Lee 1135, Shelby 1018, Madison 996, Morgan 939 and Franklin with 831.

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In March and early April, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey shut the Alabama economy down to fight the spread of the virus. Eventually a shelter in place order was placed on the people of Alabama. At the end of April, the shelter in place order was lifted and order were given to reopen the economy. The economy has reopened, but now coronavirus cases are surging again. Ivey replaced her shelter in place order with a safer-at-home order that is set to expire on Friday.

Ivey will have to decide whether to extend her safer-at-home order in the next several days.

Based on the growing number of coronavirus cases in the state, it is still safer at home. Public health officials are urging citizens to practice social distancing. Specifically, avoid crowds, don’t shake hands, keep six feet away from everyone else, wash hands frequently, avoid touching your face, wear a mask or a cloth face covering, and stay at home whenever possible.

“Infections and hospitalizations are rising across the state and continue to remain a threat to the health of all Alabamians,” Congresswoman Martha Roby stated. “State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris along with ADPH highly encourage all individuals to wear some type of facial covering when necessary to help prevent infection. Each Alabamian should practice personal responsibility in order to slow the spread of Coronavirus across the state. It is up to each of us to protect those in our communities.”

There are fears that the pending Fourth of July holiday will only lead to more gatherings, less social distancing, and more spread of the coronavirus.

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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Poll: 24 percent say that they will definitely not get a new COVID-19 vaccine

Brandon Moseley

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A new poll by the Pew Research Center shows that the percentage of American adults who will get the new coronavirus vaccine has dropped to just 51 percent. At least 24 percent were adamant that they will definitely not get the new vaccine, while another 25 percent answered that they will probably not take the new vaccine if and when it is approved.

Just about half of U.S. adults, some 51 percent, now say they would definitely or probably get a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 if it were available today.

The percentage who would get the vaccine if it was available has fallen dramatically from the 72 percent who answered that they would take it back in May.

The share who say that they would definitely get a coronavirus vaccine has now dropped to just 21 percent — down from 42 percent in May. Some 30 percent answered that they would probably take the vaccine.

The vaccine is more popular with Democrats than Republicans, but those willing to get vaccinated has dropped among all demographics. Just 17 percent of those who identify as being Republican or leaning Republican say that they will definitely get the vaccine versus 24 percent for Democrats or lean Democrat.

Some 30 percent of Republicans and 18 percent of Democrats answered that they will definitely not get the vaccine if it were available — up from 15 percent and 8 percent in May.

Fifty-six percent of men answered that they will definitely or probably get vaccinated while just 49 percent of women said the same. Some 52 percent of whites will definitely or probably get vaccinated, while just 32 percent of Black people — the demographic which generally has the worst COVID-19 outcomes — responded that they will get the vaccine.

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Seventy-one percent of Asians and 56 percent of Hispanics say that they will definitely or probably get the vaccine.

Some 57 percent of those who are planning to get a vaccine say that they would be a little (36 percent) or a lot (21 percent) less likely to do so if they had to pay for it themselves, and 42 percent said that out-of-pocket costs would not change their likelihood of getting the vaccine.

Public health officials worry that if less than half of the population even gets vaccinated then herd health immunity will not be achieved through vaccination and the coronavirus could continue to spread.

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The new national survey by the Pew Research Center was conducted between Sept. 8 to 13 among 10,093 U.S. adults.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Johnson & Johnson announced that they have begun the third and final phase of vaccination trials. Sixty thousand people age 18 and over are participating in five countries including the U.S.

Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca have been in phase 3 trials for weeks now and have suggested they may have enough data to know whether their vaccines are safe and effective by October or November of this year.

AstraZeneca suspended their trials in the U.S. after the early results showed some side effect issues, though those trials have since resumed.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a one shot vaccine while the other three require a second booster shot, doubling the logistical issues associated with mass vaccination.

President Donald Trump has said that the vaccine could be available at that time, but CDC Director Robert Redfield has scoffed at that optimistic timelines, saying he anticipates a vaccine not being ready until the middle of next year.

White House Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Anthony Fauci testified to Congress on Wednesday that vaccine production is already underway so that if one of the four companies in trials now receive FDA approval, ramp up time to full production will be minimal.

Redfield told Congress this week that the CDC urgently needs $6 billion for COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts.

Globally 982,513 people, including 206,598 Americans, have died from COVID-19 and more than 32 million people globally have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, including 7,140,137 Americans.

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Congress

Sewell votes to keep government open, extend programs

Brandon Moseley

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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.

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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.

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National

SBA offers disaster assistance to businesses, residents affected by Hurricane Sally

Brandon Moseley

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Gov. Kay Ivey took a tour of the damage from Hurricane Sally on the gulf coast Friday September 18, 2020. (Governor's Office/Hal Yeager)

Businesses and residents in Alabama counties designated as disaster areas after Hurricane Sally can now apply for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Small Business Administration administrator Jovita Carranza issued a statement following the announcement of the presidential disaster declaration, which began Sept. 14.

“The SBA is strongly committed to providing Alabama residents with the most effective response possible to assist businesses, homeowners and renters with federal disaster loans,” Carranza said. “Getting businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is our highest priority.”

The disaster declaration covers Baldwin, Escambia and Mobile counties in Alabama, which are eligible for both physical and economic injury disaster loans from the SBA.

Small businesses and most private nonprofit organizations in the following adjacent counties are eligible to apply only for SBA economic injury disaster loans: Clarke, Connecuh, Covington, Monroe and Washington in Alabama.

Due to COVID-19, the SBA will not establish a field presence to assist survivors. The SBA, however, will continue to provide customer service and conduct outreach virtually with webinars, Skype calls, phone assistance and step-by-step application assistance.

The SBA has opened a virtual disaster loan outreach center/business recovery center to help survivors apply online using the electronic loan application via the SBA’s secure website at disasterloanassistance.sba.gov.

Virtual customer support representatives are available to help applicants complete the online application daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. E.T. at [email protected] and 800-659-2955.

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These services are only available for the Alabama disaster declaration as a result of Hurricane Sally beginning Sept. 14, 2020, and not for COVID-19 related assistance.

Survivors should contact the SBA’s Disaster Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 to schedule an appointment for assistance in completing their loan applications. Requests for SBA disaster loan program information may be obtained by emailing [email protected]

The SBA will conduct extensive outreach to ensure that those affected by the disaster have an opportunity to apply for assistance.

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Businesses and private nonprofit organizations of any size may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. Applicants may be eligible for a loan amount increase up to 20 percent of their physical damages, as verified by the SBA for mitigation purposes.

Eligible mitigation improvements may include a safe room or storm shelter, sump pump, French drain or retaining wall to help protect property and occupants from future damage caused by a similar disaster.

For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations, the SBA offers economic injury disaster loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster.

Economic injury disaster loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage.

Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible up to $40,000 to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed personal property.

Interest rates are as low as 3 percent for businesses, 2.75 percent for nonprofit organizations and 1.188 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

Applicants may apply online using the electronic loan application via the SBA’s secure website at disasterloanassistance.sba.gov.

To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, applicants should register online at disasterassistance.gov or download the FEMA mobile app. If online or mobile access is unavailable, applicants should call the FEMA toll-free helpline at 800-621-3362. Those who use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services should call 800-621-3362.

Businesses and individuals may also obtain information and loan applications by calling the SBA’s customer service center at 1-800-659-2955 (1-800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing), or by emailing [email protected] Loan applications can also be downloaded at sba.gov.

Completed applications should be mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155. The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is Nov. 19, 2020. The deadline to return economic injury applications is June 21, 2021.

The disaster declaration means that federal funding is available to state, tribal and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures in Baldwin, Escambia and Mobile counties and for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

Pete Gaynor is the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Gaynor has named Allan Jarvis as the federal coordinating officer for federal recovery operations in the affected areas.

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Elections

President Donald Trump endorses Barry Moore for Congress

Brandon Moseley

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President Trump and Barry Moore (OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE PHOTO/JOYCE N. BOGHOSIAN)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday endorsed Republican 2nd Congressional District candidate Barry Moore, sharing his endorsement on Twitter.

In the tweet, the president wrote, “Barry Moore (@RepBarryMoore) will be a terrific Congressman for Alabama! An early supporter of our #MAGA agenda, he is Strong on Jobs, Life, the Wall, Law & Order, and the Second Amendment. Barry has my Complete and Total Endorsement! #AL02”

Moore met with the president in the White House on Wednesday.

“I’m truly honored to be endorsed for Congress by President Donald J. Trump,” Moore said. “I have never regretted being the first elected official in America to endorse him for president in 2015, and I’m looking forward to working with him in the next Congress during his second term.”

“President Trump has already accomplished so much and kept so many of his campaign promises despite all that the establishment and the Democrats have done to obstruct him, but he knows there’s still lots to be done,” Moore continued. “We must contain and control the COVID pandemic, restore our economy to the pre-pandemic level of growth and prosperity we enjoyed during his first three years in office. We must restore and maintain law and order on our streets and in our cities. We must finish building the wall, and then fix our broken immigration system.”

“We had great meetings at the White House with the president’s domestic policy team,” Moore said. “Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, was also there. We discussed a new health care plan being introduced, economic recovery, trade with China and expansion of opportunity zones in depressed areas. The president has a bright vision for America.”

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“I’m convinced that Donald J. Trump is the president we need to lead us for the next four years, and I hope the people of Alabama’s 2nd District see fit to elect me to work with President Trump as their congressman on Nov. 3,” Moore concluded.

Moore served two terms in the Alabama House of Representatives from 2010 to 2018. Moore is a graduate of Auburn University, a veteran, a small business owner, husband and father.

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Moore is running for Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District in the Nov. 3 general election. Incumbent Congresswoman Martha Roby, R-Alabama, is not seeking another term. Moore faces Democratic candidate Phyllis Harvey-Hall.

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