Author: Virginia Martin

JeffCo to Spend $200K to Set Up COVID Testing and Vaccination Site in the Cutoff

The Jefferson County Commission on Thursday approved spending $200,000 in relief funds to establish a COVID-19 testing and vaccination site to service the Bessemer Cutoff area.

Commissioners subsequently approved a resolution for additional testing/vaccination sites as recommended by the Jefferson County Department of Health.

“We want to make sure that testing is available throughout Jefferson County and that the citizens are best served by the actions of the commission,” said President Jimmie Stephens, who represents the Cutoff. “We want to make sure that if they want to be tested, if they want a vaccination, there is a convenient testing site where they can get to.”

Stephens said the county serves many residents, some of whom are affirmed. He said mass testing sites may be a 20- or 30-minute drive for some residents. Read more.

The Famous Case of the Free Press and the Atomic Bomb

A New York state judge’s order last month prohibiting The New York Times from publishing memos written by a lawyer for the political spying organization Project Veritas blatantly violates the First Amendment. But not every court case seeking to dictate press publishing decisions is as laughably wrong as this one.

Take, for instance, the case in which publication might have meant the end of mankind. True story.

In 1979, The Progressive, a politically liberal magazine based in Wisconsin that still exists today, planned to publish an article detailing how a hydrogen bomb works. The U.S. government went to court to try to prevent publication. It’s a notable case in the legal history of prior restraint. Read more.

UAB Doc: COVID ‘Not Going Away’

The current surge in omicron cases is expected to last another two to three weeks, but that does not mean the virus is going away, a UAB epidemiologist said Tuesday.

Dr. Suzanne Judd, professor and epidemiologist in the UAB School of Public Health, said she doesn’t know when the next surge in COVID-19 will come, but she’s pretty sure we’ll have one.

People do not develop lasting immunity to COVID when they either get the virus or get vaccinated, partly because the virus mutates so easily.

“I think it’s a pretty good indication that this one is not going away. we continue to see surges with new variants, and that’s likely to be what we’ll continue to see in the future,” Judd said. “So, herd immunity is probably not possible with this one, not the type of herd immunity where we never see the virus again. This one is where we’re probably going to see it pop up from time to time with regular surges.” Read more.

Birmingham Council Eyes Redrawing District Lines

The city of Birmingham has hired a local consulting service to review and potentially redraw City Council district lines in accordance with 2020 census data.

When the city opted to shift to single-member districts in 1989 — meaning that each district is represented by a specific councilor and school board member — it included a provision ensuring that the districts would be responsive to changes in census data so that the populations of each district would remain roughly equal.

“If you’ve got unequal districts, the weight of one person’s vote in a smaller district bears a heavier weight than if you’ve got a very large district,” assistant city attorney Julie Barnard told councilors Tuesday. “The goal is to try to get the population between districts as balanced as possible. That’s the primary thing driving this.” Read more.

COVID Stalls Storm Shelters; JeffCo Commission Discusses Road Projects on Grants Mill, Lakeshore

COVID-19 is known to make people sluggish. It has had the same effect on some storm shelter projects in Jefferson County.

Commissioners today moved to the agenda of Thursday’s commission meeting in Bessemer a resolution to extend for 365 days a contract with Williford Orman Construction LLC to build storm shelters in Graysville, Bagley and Glenwood. These storm shelters will be paid for through the county’s general fund.

“It’s really been two things,” said Frederick L. Hamilton, director of the county’s Department of Community Services and Workforce Development, “the supply chain delay in getting materials as well as staff, some of their staff catching COVID and not being able to work at full speed because of COVID.” Read more.

Alabama Breaks the 1 Million Mark in COVID-19 Cases

Sixteen thousand six hundred forty-one of the state’s residents have died from the disease, according to data from the Alabama Department of Public Health’s coronavirus dashboard.

The highly contagious omicron variant has fueled the recent rise in cases, although the more deadly delta variant is still hanging around in the state.

In one bright note, doctors have reason to hope cases of the omicron variant will ease off in the next couple of weeks. The variant is so virulent that it essentially burns itself out, infecting so many people in a community that it has nowhere to go. Read more.

Bham Council Approves $500,000 in BOLD Funding, Sets Legislative Priorities and Pledges In-Kind Services to Support USFL

The Birmingham City Council voted Tuesday to approve more than $500,000 in grant funding for five local nonprofits as part of the city’s Building Opportunities for Lasting Development initiative. Mayor Randall Woodfin launched the BOLD program in 2018 as a mechanism for distributing city funds to local nonprofit and economic development organizations.

The council also voted on its legislative agenda. At the top of the list for councilors is expanding the city’s number of entertainment districts from five to 15. It also approved $500,000 in in-kind services to the new United States Football League, which this year will be playing its entire season in Birmingham, including eight to 11 games at Legion Field. Read more.