Tag: Board of Pardons and Parole
MONTGOMERY — A bill to overhaul the state Board of Pardons and Paroles advanced through a Senate committee Tuesday over the objections of the current board leadership, Democrats and prisoner advocates. Read more.
MONTGOMERY — A bill to overhaul the state Board of Pardons and Paroles advanced through a Senate committee Tuesday over the objections of the current board leadership, Democrats and prisoner advocates. Read more.
The opening of new COVID-19 testing sites this week brings the number of places where tests are available in the Birmingham area to more than two dozen.
Testing is available for people who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, who have had significant exposure to someone with the disease or whose employer requires screening.
See a list of screening sites and how to contact each.
Alabama has recorded 55 deaths of people who tested positive for COVID-19, the state Department of Public Health, reported today. Updated figures show that 39 of those deaths have been officially attributed to the disease, with the remaining 16 still under investigation.
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state stood at 2,089.
Jefferson County led with 449 confirmed cases of the disease. The county has recorded 11 deaths of patients who tested positive, with five of those confirmed to be from COVID-19.
Alabama has seen a record number of unemployment claims because of the coronavirus. The state Department of Labor is trying to keep up. Read more.
Roy Brook of Bessemer stood with the flag for two hours Friday morning at the eastern end of Railroad Park. Brook said he was expressing his solidarity with his fellow Alabamians and countrymen and expressing his optimism that the country will meet the challenge of the COVID-19 virus. Read more.
Tom Gordon walked through a nearly empty Railroad Park. The usually bustling park, along with other parks in the city, is under threat of closure if people do not abide by rules set to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. Parkgoers are allowed to use the park for solitary exercise but cannot linger, sit or gather with others.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Doug Jones says Alabama is an “unhealthy” state with a high-risk population. He says officials should implement strict measures to fight the spread of COVID-19. Read more.
As the fear of coming into contact with the novel coronavirus increases, people are asking how long the virus can live on surfaces and in the air. There’s no one easy answer because the virus can live for different lengths of time on different surfaces, but a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine sought to break down those risks. The study found that the half-life of the virus hanging in the air is about one hour. But researchers still could measure viable virus in the air after three hours. Read more.
UAB has created a new symptom checker to track the spread of COVID-19. The website hopes to give public health officials insight on virus hotspots, especially in underserved communities. Read more.
The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham is dedicating more than $1 million from its competitive grantmaking funds for a first phase of response to the COVID-19 crisis. Applications are being accepted now from organizations on the front lines of providing critical services and economic assistance in the Birmingham region. Read more.
The coronavirus pandemic in Alabama is not as bad as hot spots elsewhere in the country, but public health officials expect that to change. Read more.
Some Alabamians enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly called SNAP and formerly referred to as food stamps, will be getting additional funds today as part of a federal response to the COVID-19 crisis.
“Current SNAP recipients will receive a supplement in their accounts (today) that will take their March benefits to the monthly maximum for family size regardless of income,” Barry Spear, a spokesman for the Alabama Department of Human Resources, told Alabama Daily News. “Families already receiving the monthly maximum benefit will not receive the supplement.”
The International World Games, scheduled for 2021 in Birmingham, will be held in 2022.
The event, originally slated to occur July 15-25, 2021, will now be held July 7-17, 2022, the International World Games Association announced Thursday morning.
The change is meant to avoid a clash with the Olympic Games, which was postponed to July 2021 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The games were originally slated to take place this July in Tokyo.
If you’re following the coronavirus pandemic, you’re probably seeing a lot of numbers: confirmed cases, number of tests, deaths. The Alabama Department of Public Health has a map to keep track of it all.
But if you’re tracking the coronavirus numbers carefully, you might notice they don’t always move the way you’d expect them to. For instance, the number of confirmed cases goes up while the number of tests don’t. Deaths are reported in the media, but they don’t show up in the state’s total.
It’s all a product of how the state’s numbers are gathered and the time it takes to ensure they’re correct.
MONTGOMERY — State lawmakers walked one by one into their respective chambers, each keeping a strict distance from one another and many wearing protective masks and gloves as the House and Senate met at the State House Tuesday.
The Legislature was forced to convene Tuesday to formally adopt a joint rule allowing for the postponement of a legislative session during a state of emergency. Fifty-eight of 105 House members were in attendance, each asked to sit with a seat between them in chairs specially marked by neon green sticky notes. Twenty-two of 35 senators were present in the much more spacious upper chamber, enough to conduct the limited business of the day: deciding when to reconvene the 2020 regular session amid the outbreak of the new coronavirus.
Both the House and Senate agreed to meet again on April 28, hoping the worst of the outbreak will be over by then. Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has many people wondering about their economic future and the safety of their money. Banks report experiencing more cash withdrawals in the last few weeks. In fact, demand was so high at one Manhattan bank that it temporarily ran out of $100 bills. Experts say hoarding cash can be risky, both financially and to your health. Scott Latham is President and CEO of the Alabama Bankers Association. He says banks across the state have been preparing for a crisis of this magnitude for years with help from the Alabama Recovery Coalition. Read more.
An employee at the Bill Nichols Veterans Home in Alexander City has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, the state Department of Veterans Affairs announced this morning. In addition, a patient at the Cherryhill Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Forestdale has tested positive for the virus. Read more.
Public drinking water is safe, and one thing Alabama residents don’t need to worry about, as the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the state, the director of the Alabama Department of Environment said today.
“With so many things Alabamians have to worry about – their jobs, social distancing, the welfare of loved ones, gathering food and other necessities — the safety of their drinking water shouldn’t be one of them,” ADEM Director Lance LeFleur said.
“The water they get from their tap, whether it’s from a large municipal system or a small, rural utility, is 100 percent safe due to the proven safety requirements they are required to follow and that ADEM enforces.
Like a lot of places these days, the Homewood Public Library is closed. But on Saturday, Dr. Theresa Northern was sitting out front with large cardboard boxes, awaiting donations of personal protective equipment, or PPE.
Northern is part of a Birmingham group for physician moms, which has organized donation drives the past two weekends.
“We’ve gotten a lot of gloves and some masks as well,” Northern said.
The group is specifically requesting N95 masks, or respirators, which have special filters that can help protect against the coronavirus. Other types of PPE also needed by health care providers include face shields and isolation gowns. Read more.
A payday lender in Jefferson County said he’s seen a recent decrease in the short-term loans taken out by Alabamians, but advocates for more regulation on that industry are worried more people will turn to loans as businesses remain closed. Read more.
There’s been a sharp uptick in malicious online activity in Alabama and elsewhere in recent weeks. Scammers are increasingly using fake emails, social media posts, and text messages to steal passwords, money, and personal information from unsuspecting users.
Gary Warner, head of research in computer forensics at UAB, says scams around COVID-19 have proliferated. Retailers are peddling all sorts of bogus remedies. Spam email subject lines say things like ‘Are you safe from Corona?’ and ‘Would you like to protect your family from Corona?’ Following these links can redirect users to download a program that infects a computer with malware to steal passwords. Warner says high anxiety around coronavirus has created the perfect panic moment for scammers.
Voterama in Congress
WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives approved a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill during the legislative week ending March 27. Congress debated no other substantive measures during the week. Alabama’s House of Representatives members supported the bill, although not always happily.
Charitable work has joined a long list of activities in the Birmingham area that have been disrupted in the coronavirus crisis. A survey of local nonprofit organizations found 83% of those reporting said they were not able to provide services to the same extent as customary. Read more.
Birmingham Aids Outreach hasn’t let up on the services it provides to HIV-positive clients and members of the LGBTQ community. But the demands of social distancing have demanded the group re-create how it’s doing some usually ordinary things, said Karen Musgrove, CEO of BAO. See how the group is working around the difficulties.
UPDATED: MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Legislature is on hold for now, and it’s unclear when legislators will return to Montgomery. The regular session ends May 18, and House Speaker Mac McCutcheon said he’s not sure whether the House could reconvene before that, making a special session likely. On the Senate side, leaders are talking about returning to the State House on April 28. Budgets and other important legislation had not been passed when legislators left Montgomery to combat the spread of COVID-19. Read more.
The Senate late Thursday night voted 96-0 to pass at $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill. Both of Alabama’s senators voted for the bill. Members of the House of Representatives have been called back to Washington to take up the bill Friday morning.
Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, a Democrat, said the bill wasn’t perfect, but it did include a lot of good things for the state. Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, a Republican, said the bill would help state and local governments that are in desperate need while grappling with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.
Public health agencies in Alabama are offering websites to provide a wide range of information about COVID-19 cases, where they are occurring and how to get tested. The sites are updated twice daily as the number of cases increase. The Jefferson County Health Department’s coronavirus site offers information ranging from a breakdown of cases by ZIP code to tips on coping with the disease, sources of various types of information and listings of business closings.
The Birmingham City Council on Wednesday approved spending $1 million from its General Fund on a small business loan program designed to help small businesses struggling with the impact of COVID-19. The money is in addition to $200,000 put in the program fund Tuesday from the city’s innovation and economic opportunity fund. Read more.
State education leaders are trying to figure out how to teach students in an era of coronavirus. Read more.
The Alabama Department of Public Health has established a phone number and email for residents to ask general questions about COVID-19. Read more.
Gov. Kay Ivey on Friday gave authorization for up to 100 National Guardsmen to be activated if needed in the battle against COVID-19.
“While there is no immediate need for us to deploy our Guard, I have given authorization to Adjutant General Sheryl Gordon to be on standby, should our first responders and health care providers need additional support,” Ivey said in the statement. Read more.
UPDATED — Stepping up its response to one of its employees’ testing positive for the COVID-19 virus, the Alabama Department of Corrections said Friday its prisons will not take in any “new inmates from county jails for the next 30 days.” Others subject to the moratorium include those who have violated terms of their parole or probation and those ordered back to prison by a court.
In a news release, the department said it would “continue to receive inmates with severe medical or mental health conditions, subject to the usual review process by the Department’s Office of Health Services.” It said it would screen those inmates to ensure they have no symptoms of the COVID-19 virus. Read more.
The first confirmed case of COVID-19 has surfaced in the Department of Corrections, the department stated in a news release.
The department said the person who tested positive was an administrative employee, not an inmate. Citing privacy and security reasons, the department did not disclose the individual’s name or workplace.
“We will closely monitor inmate health at all facilities,” the department stated. “All individuals within the Department who have been in direct contact with the individual who tested positive are now in self-quarantine for a 14-day period.” Read more.
Dr. Michael Saag knows a thing or two about infectious diseases. He’s director of the Center for AIDS Research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Right now, though, he’s a patient. Saag announced Tuesday that he’s tested positive for coronavirus.
Saag said he was being vigilant by practicing social distancing, wiping down surfaces, washing his hands frequently and trying not to touch his face, but the coronavirus is so contagious he caught it anyway.
His message to others? “Stay at home! Do not go out unless it’s essential,” Saag said. Read more.
Alabama’s major car plants have been hit by coronavirus. Read more.
The Birmingham City Council will vote next Tuesday on an ordinance that would provide emergency loans to certain small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic — but the program will need additional votes next week to take effect.
The loan program would allocate nearly $1.2 million to revenue-generating small businesses affected by the novel coronavirus; individual businesses would be eligible for up to $25,000 in loans, with an anticipated average of $10,000 per business. The funding would come largely from the city’s general fund, which would contribute $1 million; the remaining $200,000 would be provided by the city’s Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity.
“Part of what we have to do is bridge small businesses into a new economic environment in what is really a turbulent time,” Dr. Josh Carpenter, the city’s director of innovation and opportunity, told the council Tuesday morning. Read more.
State lawmakers are expecting the coronavirus, and attempts to stop its spread, to affect Alabama’s tax revenues and the 2021 budgets they’re drafting.
“I think it could have a dramatic impact,” Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, said Monday afternoon. He’s chairman of the House General Fund budget committee. He said it could be several weeks to a month before the financial toll of closures and social distancing are known. State and federal officials have said states will be reacting to the coronavirus for at least six to eight weeks.
“I think we’d need to wait as late as possible on the budgets to see how everything develops,” Clouse said.
The chief medical officer of Jefferson County expressed concern for the physical welfare of people as well as the fiscal welfare of businesses Monday when he gave his orders to combat the coronavirus.
While saying that on-premise dining and drinking at bars, restaurants and breweries is to stop for one week, Dr. Mark E. Wilson made it clear that he doesn’t want those businesses to stop. Read more.
The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board is temporarily closing 78 stores and reducing hours at others today in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
“Because of staffing requirements and health concerns, we believe that closing some of our stores will provide the greatest amount of employee/customer protection, while ensuring maximum productivity and efficiency,” ABC’s government relations manager, Dean Argo, said in an email.
Stores remaining open will operate from noon to 7 p.m.
Many folks may be lying low because of the coronavirus threat or locked in lines under harsh fluorescent lights trying to stock up on toilet paper. But you would not have known it Saturday afternoon in Railroad Park.
As passing clouds competed with the sun, people of all ages and backgrounds were in the park’s walkways and open spaces. There were dog-walkers, families, skateboarders, picnickers, Frisbee enthusiasts, sunbathers, kids on scooters and even a young lady in a ballgown celebrating her Quinceañera (15th birthday) with about a dozen friends, relatives and photographers. Read more.
If you were planning to take in a Birmingham Bulls hockey game, or a youth volleyball tournament or youth soccer play, you’re bound for disappointment.
Sports have been anything but fun and games this week as COVID-19 has knocked much of the sports world off its axis.
The diagnosis that one, and then a second, player in the National Basketball Association has contracted the virus began a domino effect that continues to ripple across the country and even to some youth sports in metro Birmingham.
Locally, a weekend bicycle race, a volleyball tournament and youth soccer play are among the events that have been called off. Beyond today, Gov. Kay Ivey announced that public schools will close at the end of business Wednesday and remain closed for about two weeks with a proposed reopening on April 8.
During that school closure, there will be no school sports events or practices. Read more.
Alabama Daily News
The Alabama Legislature and Gov. Kay Ivey on Thursday issued $5 million to help the Alabama Department of Public Health prepare for and test more Alabamians for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
As of Thursday evening, State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said there have been no positive cases found in the limited number of Alabamians tested for COVID-19. But he believes the virus is in the state.
“I don’t think there is any doubt we have disease circulating to some degree,” Harris said. Read more.
Troy University sophomore Nicholas Gil had been planning a trip to China since September to further his education during spring break.
Those plans ended abruptly, however, when the airlines began canceling flights and colleges and universities across Alabama suspended travel due to the coronavirus spreading around the world.
“I was majorly disappointed,” said Gil, whose canceled trip was part of the Confucius Institute at Troy. Confucius institutes are affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education to teach Americans about Chinese business, education, culture and public interests.
The coronavirus is disrupting the lives of students, faculty members and business people across Alabama as entities race to protect their constituents and prevent the introduction and spread of the virus onto their sites. Read more.
KEY VOTES AHEAD
Congress will take up its third coronavirus relief package in the week of March 23, a measure that could promptly send at least $500 billion in direct payments to individuals and households and provide bailouts to industries including the airlines.
WASHINGTON — The Senate on Wednesday, March 18, passed a $100 billion safety-net and economic stimulus package to help families, individuals and small and medium-size businesses cope with the first wave of the coronavirus outbreak, and the president signed it the same day.
The Senate vote was near to a sweep with 90 for and eight against. Both Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, a Republican, and Sen. Doug Jones, a Democrat, voted for the measure. Read more.
The Birmingham City Council quietly restructured its committee system Tuesday, voting without discussion to institute several leadership changes and to split the Administration and Education Committee in two.
The changes were spearheaded by William Parker, who took over as council president in October. Parker added the new lineup to Tuesday’s meeting agenda as a last-minute addendum, handing out paper copies of the assignments just before the vote was called. “Just make sure we pass that,” he said to the council. Councilors appeared to be studying the list intently up until the moment of the vote. Read more.
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