7. Earmarks are back, baby
- Now that President Donald Trump appears to be on his way out in Washington, D.C., earmarks are back in as a way to get business done in Congress. Members of Congress can either get on board and fight for their earmarks or let other members feed at the trough.
- Bloomberg reports that Democrats are planning to use the power of the purse to “secure votes needed to pass major parts of President-elect Joe Biden’s legislative agenda and protect their House majority in 2022.”
6. Alabama counties see 50% positive coronavirus tests
- Three counties across North Alabama – Marshall, Jackson and Marion Counties – have seen 50% of coronavirus tests come back positive for the last two weeks with assistant district administrator Alabama Department of Public Health Michael Glenn saying, “It’s a north Alabama issue right now.”
- The bad news, however, is statewide with over 2,000 hospitalizations for the first time and Jefferson County continuing to set records for cases every day.
5. Alabama Department of Public Health considering revising quarantine recommendations
- Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced shortened quarantine recommendations to seven to 10 days if people can’t quarantine for a full 14 days, the Alabama Department of Public Health is considering revising their recommendations.
- State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris has said they won’t consider a seven-day quarantine “due to a number of reasons including our high case numbers and the disparity in testing resources among different parts of our state.” The department is mainly considering a 10-day quarantine recommendation.
4. Biden chooses an Alabamian for Defense secretary
- Assuming Joe Biden becomes President of the United States, an Alabama native has been chosen for the upcoming administration’s secretary of Defense, which should make those in military-related industries in the state somewhat breathe a sigh of relief.
- Mobile native and former four-star Army general Lloyd Austin, who is expected to be announced today, is a former U.S. Central Command commander and led troops in combat. Much of his announcement will be overshadowed by his race as he will be the first black Defense secretary after Biden was pressured to choose a black person for the role.
3. Huntsville City Schools are still without technology
- Huntsville City Schools returned to the classroom on Monday with students and teachers living in the past with no computers for the classroom and the entire school systems’ computers shut down. This resulted in students experiencing a very different classroom environment.
- For students in the classroom, teachers are now making copies and passing them out to the kids in the room. For virtual learners, take-home packets are created, and parents have to come to the schools to pick them up.
2. State Sen. Orr: No mandatory vaccinations
- State Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) is planning to present a bill that would prohibit State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris from ordering people across the state to get the coronavirus vaccine.
- Orr has been clear that this is about “limiting that authority that they would have, and it may not be for this particular pandemic, but unfortunately, we’ll probably have more pandemics down the road.”
1. Trump is making Americans a priority
- It’s likely that President Donald Trump will sign an executive order to ensure that people in the United States will be prioritized for receiving the coronavirus vaccine instead of doses being sent elsewhere, but there are questions about the strength of the order.
- Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the coronavirus vaccine from Pfizer and Moderna is expected sometime in the next several days, and doses will be sent out to states within 24 hours of its approval.