BIRMINGHAM CITY COUNCIL
BIRMINGHAM BOARD OF EDUCATION
BIRMINGHAM CITY COUNCIL
BIRMINGHAM BOARD OF EDUCATION
An additional 859 cases of COVID-19 and one new death from the disease were reported Monday by the Alabama Department of Public Health.
The state has recorded 173,485 cases of the disease and 2,789 deaths since the pandemic began in March. There have been 152,272 confirmed cases and 21,213 listed as probable. The death toll includes 2,621 confirmed and 168 probable.
Jefferson County reported 100 new cases, followed by Tuscaloosa County with 97.
Sen. Doug Jones, generally regarded as the most vulnerable member of the U.S. Senate in the November elections, is approaching Election Day with huge advantages over Republican challenger Tommy Tuberville in fundraising and spending.
Reports filed Thursday with the Federal Elections Commission show the freshman Democrat raised about three times as much as Tuberville, a former Auburn University football coach, and spent almost five times as much during the three-month period that ended Sept. 30. Read more.
People who want to vote absentee now must provide a photo ID to apply for an absentee ballot and have the signatures of two witnesses or a notary to cast the ballot itself. A federal court ruled Tuesday that the state should enforce those requirements.
However, the court did say curbside voting should be allowed in Alabama if counties want to offer it. Read more.
The Birmingham City Council has set a Nov. 10 public hearing to discuss the proposed rezoning of several properties around the former Carraway Methodist Medical Center campus.
The hospital, located at 1600 Carraway Boulevard, closed due to bankruptcy in 2008 and has been abandoned ever since. In 2019, Corporate Realty announced plans to redevelop the property into a multi-use site including retail, dining, residential and entertainment spaces. The existing hospital structures will have to be demolished, developers told residents last year, though the existing parking decks will remain.
Deputy county manager Cal Markert said the strategic plan he presented to county commissioners at their committee meeting Tuesday morning is a roadmap for the county.
“It also sets clear direction for the county as a whole,” Markert said after presenting the 25-page document. “It sets clear direction for each department. Each department has created their own plan that supports this master plan.”
Accountability is key, he said. The strategic plan includes a system for residents and employees to grade their experiences, and it includes a system to map damage to roads, so the county can address the worst roads first. Read more.
The Birmingham City Council has approved the rezoning of a downtown property that will allow for the construction of a five-story, multi-family apartment complex.
The 4.75-acre property, located at 2420 First Ave. S., is currently a construction yard, but developers plan to “raze and redevelop” the property into an apartment complex that will include 273 units and 253 parking spaces. Read more.
Birmingham city schools have a new superintendent this fall. Longtime educator Mark Sullivan officially took over the role last month. He’s the district’s fourth superintendent in the past decade but Sullivan is no stranger to the system. Many hope that will keep him on the job longer than his predecessors.
Taking on a leadership role in the middle of a pandemic requires some adjustments. Students and teachers continue virtual learning, but that hasn’t prevented Sullivan from making school visits.
On a recent day, he walked down a hallway at Birmingham’s Phillips Academy. Sullivan is here to check in with school administrators. These are halls he knows well. “I used to be principal here … it’s hard to believe,” he said. “These hallways used to be filled with students.”
The City of Fairfield benefited from a pair of actions approved Thursday during the Jefferson County Commission meeting.
Commissioner Lashunda Scales provided the city a $29,355 community grant from her discretionary funds to help offset the cost to sustain bus route No. 5 in the city. Commissioners were unable to provide funding for Fairfield in the general fund because of budget shortfalls brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, the County Commission approved a $250,000 ALDOT infrastructure grant to pave E.J. Oliver Jr. Boulevard.
Debate over the future of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat is the latest political clash. The divide is reflected in Alabama too.
Remdesivir, the drug being used to treat President Trump for COVID-19, was developed at UAB several years ago under a federal drug-discovery grant. The drug proved tried as a method to fight Ebola but proved ineffective. In the spring, scientists tested it against the novel coronavirus, and it showed early positive results. It was approved for use in hospitalized patients being treated for COVID-19. The president was given his second dose of the five-day remdesivir protocol on Saturday.
Read the story BirminghamWatch wrote about the drug when it began to show promise this spring.
The news of President Donald Trump’s positive test result Thursday night shows that the COVID-19 virus is not a respecter of persons or position, according to a specialist in infectious diseases for the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
“If one of the most powerful leaders in the world is susceptible to COVID and its consequences, that’s incredibly sobering and sad, and I’m very sorry it happened,” said Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, who works in UAB’s Division of Infectious Diseases.
Speaking Friday in the school’s regular online news conference about the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and its effects, Marrazzo said, “I really, really hope that it perhaps makes some people who might have dismissed COVID and haven’t experienced the personal effects of it sit up and pay attention, because you can prevent yourself, protect yourself, protect yourself and your family and your community by doing the things that we have been boringly and endlessly repeating every single time we get together, which is wearing a mask, social distancing and hand hygiene.”
Barry Stephenson frequently has attended meetings of the Jefferson County Commission this year as polling places have said, ‘Thanks; no thanks’ to hosting elections during a pandemic.
The county registrar stood before commissioners during their committee meeting Tuesday, again announcing a change in a polling place.
“I hope this is the last one I bring before you,” he said. “It’s been interesting. We’ve been told to leave over the summer, and we found replacements.” Read more.
Jefferson County commissioners learned during their committee meeting Tuesday that a new auto supplier is going to the Jefferson Metropolitan industrial park in McCalla, which is called JefMet and owned by the Jefferson County Economic and Industrial Development Authority.
Development attorney Warren Matthews of Burr Foreman joined representatives of Mobis US Alabama to seek tax abatements from the commission as the firm looks to add more than 120 jobs to JefMet McCalla. Mobis expects to spend nearly $16 million to establish the operation.
“Mercedes is transitioning a lot of their fleet to electric vehicles,” Matthews said. “They are going to be the front and rear axle manufacturers for those vehicles.” Read more.
Though she insisted that she was “absolutely not here in my professional capacity,” Birmingham School Board President Daagye Hendricks addressed the Birmingham City Council on Tuesday, calling Mayor Randall Woodfin’s proposed FY 2021 budget “egregious” for cutting funding to city schools.
This year’s city budget is nearly $50 million smaller than last year’s budget, thanks to a sharp decline in the city’s business tax revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the $412 million budget’s many proposed austerity measures — which include funding cuts for external organizations and furloughs for hundreds of city employees — is a reduction of $1 million in city funding to Birmingham City Schools.
UAB’s director of infectious diseases Thursday questioned the safety of a COVID vaccine that might be released in October or early November. Dr. Jeanne Marazzo said she would want to assess the data used in development of the vaccine. She joins other scientists from across the country who have questioned whether the vaccine would be safe and effective after it had undergone such speedy clinical trials. Read more.
A UAB infectious disease doctor weighed in today on a guideline released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stating that people exposed to COVID-19 should not be tested if they do not have symptoms of the virus. “It is really extreme to say that people without symptoms do not need to be tested,” said Dr. Jodie Dionne-Odom, assistant professor in UAB’s Division of Infectious Diseases. “We know that 40% of the people with COVID are asymptomatic and are highly likely to pass the virus to other people.” Read more.
Vestiges of segregation still thread through the systems and processes with which we engage throughout our lives, influencing Black Alabamians in large and small ways, including economic opportunities and lifetime wealth, relationship with law enforcement, health care and even projected lifespan. BirminghamWatch has an ongoing effort to analyze how these sometimes unrecognized vestiges of segregation are playing out in people’s lives today. Read stories in The Legacy of Race series.
Alabama researchers recently have been acknowledged for their work showing that gains made while children are in Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program continue into the students’ elementary years.
Their peer-reviewed article on the topic was published in the July edition of the International Journal of Child Care and Education Policy. It was written by researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, ThinkData and the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education.
The paper counters some recent studies of long-term impacts that have shown that advantages from pre-K learning diminish of “fadeout” over time.
But the Alabama researchers found no statistical evidence of fadeout through the 7th grade. Read more.
BirminghamWatch took a deeper look at the pre-K program. You can read it here:
Every sector in Alabama’s economy is shrinking this year because of the pandemic. That’s according to Samuel Addy, senior research economist and associate dean for economic development outreach at the University of Alabama.
During a press conference Thursday, Addy joined Democrat Sen. Doug Jones to talk about Alabama’s economy, which they both agreed is in ‘survival mode.’
“All the help coming from D.C., the bills that the senator and others are working on, are not stimulus bills. They are actions and investments for survival,” Addy said. “We know that we are in a worse situation than a few months ago. We need to invest for survival because if we don’t survive, nothing matters.” Read more.
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