Good morning!

Here's your Daily News for Monday, March 23.
1. State cases climb; More JeffCo closures
A man has his mouth swabbed by staff during a screening at Waddell Family Medicine as Athens-Limestone Hospital opens a flu and fever clinic in Athens, Ala. (Dan Busey/The Decatur Daily via AP)
  • Health officials in Alabama's largest county on Sunday ordered the closure of non-essential businesses, including hair salons and many retail stores, to curtail the spread of the coronavirus as the number of cases in the state grew to 157 this morning. That number is expected to increase today as more samples are taken and tested.
  • Jefferson County Health Officer Mark Wilson said he was issuing the amended order to clarify what businesses should, and should not be, open. Clothing stores, barber shops, gyms, hair salons and department stores are among those that should close beginning at 5 p.m. today. Grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and hardware and office supply stores are among those that can remain open but should maintain social distancing practices.
  • “I want to be very clear. This is a matter of life and death," Wilson said in a Sunday night message. “I need your help, using good judgment, to prevent the spread of COVID-19."
  • Alabama on Sunday evening had at least 157 confirmed cases of coronavirus, of which 71 were located in Jefferson County.
  • Read more HERE.
2. Crisis highlights digital divide
  • When concerns over spreading the coronavirus shuttered schools last week, there was a lot of talk about switching to digital learning.
  • By connecting over the internet, teachers could ensure students wouldn't skip a beat. Sounds good, right?
  • The problem is that in many rural parts of Alabama, there is no internet to speak of. At least not the kind you need to connect to a digital classroom.
  • State leaders have been talking about the digital divide in Alabama for years, and the Legislature has taken action the past two sessions to try close the gap.
  • But those efforts are in their early stages and the current health crisis has laid bare the difference between the haves and have nots when it comes to broadband internet service.
  • Read the full feature story from ADN's Mary Sell and Caroline Beck HERE.
3. Democrats spike rescue plan, negotiations continue
  • Senate Democrats voted down a motion to advance the $1 trillion economic rescue package Sunday night arguing the bill is tilted too much toward corporations and doesn't offer enough relief to workers.
  • As lawmakers returned to the negotiating table, President Donald Trump took to the podium in the White House briefing room and promised to help Americans who feel afraid and isolated as the pandemic spreads.
  • “I think you’ll get there. To me it’s not very complicated: We have to help the worker. We have to save the companies,” Trump said.
  • Later, the president suggested the remedies may be more harmful than the outbreak, vowing to reassess after the 15-day mark of the shutdown. “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF,” he tweeted.
  • “Our nation cannot afford a game of chicken,” warned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., his voice rising on the Senate floor Sunday night. His goal is to vote on a newly-negotiated economic rescue package today. The Senate will re-convene at noon.
  • Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y, sounded an optimistic note.
  • “We’re getting closer and closer. And I’m very hopeful, is how I’d put it, that we can get a bill in the morning.”
  • This came as Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky announced he tested positive for the coronavirus. Paul, who is a doctor, said in a tweet he was not showing symptoms and was in quarantine.
  • Read more and watch Trump's press conference HERE.
4. SBA loans available to small businesses
  • Gov. Kay Ivey over the weekend announced that small businesses hurt by the coronavirus can apply for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans.
  • The loan program helps qualified businesses and non-profit organizations recover from economic losses tied to the abrupt economic downturn triggered by the COVID-19 disease and efforts to stop its spread. The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance for an eligible small business, according to Ivey's office.
  • “My team has worked closely with the SBA in recent days to make this economic assistance possible. We’re all grateful to President Trump and the SBA for responding rapidly to the problems faced by small businesses in Alabama,” Ivey said.
  • These low-interest loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact.
  • "This is a critical step in helping small business obtain the working capital they need during these uncertain times," Katie Boyd Britt, president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama, said. "The economic injury caused by the disruption in 'business as usual' will be significant. This assistance will help many small businesses as they work to continue to meet their financial obligations while also following the important health and safety guidelines needed to flatten the curve."
  • Read more and find out how to apply for said loans HERE.
5. Reader Feedback
  • In yesterday's Weekend Digest, Caroline Beck invited readers to share your own experiences dealing with the coronavirus.
  • Thanks to everyone who replied to share a story about how the crisis is impacting your community, business or family.
  • Dr. Martin Wybenga is a primary care physician from Prattville. He writes to say the health care industry, from hospitals to doctor's offices, need more personal protective equipment, or PPE.
  • Here is his note:

Family Medicine, taking care of newborns all the way to reaching old age, has been my life and calling for 33 years in Prattville, Alabama. Diagnosing and treating with all readily available cutting edge technologies has been the standard afforded me and my patients. 

COVID-19 has no standard. We brace to encounter it with scant protective supplies, few diagnostic aids and no known treatment. We hope for clear medical diagnostic and treatment directives from those that are the experts. We've only had very limited success through personal professional networking using social media and professional business relationships. 

Our patients and the medical community need help desperately and we need help now. Personal protective equipment should be abundant, testing should be plentiful and treatments should be imminent... they are NOT! HELP!!

A message from the Alabama State Port Authority
Thanks to Governor Ivey and the Alabama Legislature, larger ships are welcome at Alabama’s only seaport. 

The Rebuild Alabama Act helps pay for modernizing Alabama’s harbor and channel to accommodate larger ships, deliver more capacity and lower rates for Alabama shippers. 

Keeping Alabama companies competitive helps our businesses grow, attracts new investment, and employs more Alabamians. 

The PORT: Providing Alabama products cost competitive access to global markets.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - Crisis highlights digital divide in Alabama

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - State virus cases at 157; closures ordered in Jefferson Co.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - Democrats spike rescue plan, negotiations continue

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - SBA loans available for small businesses

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - Reader feedback: Primary care doctor says more equipment needed

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - Coronavirus rekindles oil spill memories along Gulf Coast

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - Virus impact: State delays tax liabilities, lawmaker looks to protect business from COVID-19 lawsuits

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - Weekend Digest – March 23, 2020

AL.COM  - Eleven coronavirus stories you need to read today
AL.COM  - North Alabama hospital ‘urgently appealing’ for supplies
AL.COM  - Tim Cook, Apple pledge help during coronavirus pandemic
AL.COM  - Louisiana’s governor issues ‘Stay at Home’ order
AL.COM  - Coronavirus rekindles oil spill memories along Gulf Coast
AL.COM  - Violating health orders can be $500 fine in Alabama
AL.COM  - Schooling online in Alabama during a worldwide pandemic
AL.COM  - It’s Sunday in the South with no church
AL.COM  - Sessions or Tuberville; who benefits most from Alabama runoff reset?
Montgomery Advertiser - Coronavirus and Alabama: COVID-19 cases rise to 157

Montgomery Advertiser - Coronavirus and education: What's happened since Alabama's first confirmed case of COVID-19?

Montgomery Advertiser - 'Who lives and who dies': In worst-case coronavirus scenario, ethics guide choices on who gets care

YellowHammer News - State Sen. Orr on gov’t coronavirus response: ‘I’m starting to really question decisions that are being made’

YellowHammer News - Alabama small businesses can now access SBA assistance for COVID-19 losses

YellowHammer News - Facebook provides Alabamians with tools, support for 2020 tornado season

BIRMINGHAMWATCH:  Pandemic Upends Alabama Tourism Industry

BIRMINGHAMWATCH:  Slam-Packed Stores and Ghost Towns Both Signs of Life Under COVID-19

Tuscaloosa News - Tuscaloosa restaurants adjust to new reality

Tuscaloosa News - 2 years after teen’s death, family asks for accountability

Tuscaloosa News - Coronavirus outbreak highlights digital divide in Alabama

Decatur Daily - State virus cases at 157; closures ordered in Jefferson Co.

Decatur Daily - Two Hartselle residents die after Saturday afternoon crash

Decatur Daily - Experts: Avoid ‘catastrophizing’ over virus

Times Daily - Bennett closed daycare centers before governor's orders

Times Daily - Funeral home personnel staying the course with some restructuring

Times Daily - Crisis highlights digital divide in Alabama

Anniston Star - Local restaurants switch to curbside sales after dine-in ban

Anniston Star - Local urgent care company now offering COVID-19 tests by appointment

Anniston Star - Phillip Tutor: Anniston police, the pandemic and the city’s children

Anniston Star - Disrupted school year, telemedicine highlight digital divide in Alabama

WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham - Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alabama rises to 157

WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham - Piano teacher moves to online lessons: ‘We never miss a beat’

WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham - Crisis highlights digital divide in Alabama

WAFF Huntsville - Funeral homes limit services, visitation time during pandemic

WAFF Huntsville - Huntsville City Schools delivering meals to students by bus

WAFF Huntsville - Community creates handmade face masks to donate to nurses and workers

Dothan Eagle - Coronavirus update: Get essential answers from U.S. experts in these videos and articles

Dothan Eagle - A look at the empty streets of NYC amid the virus

Dothan Eagle - Wallace students, instructors quickly adjust to migrating classes online

Gadsden Times - 157 confirmed Alabama cases; 1,602 people tested

Gadsden Times - Local restaurants respond to statewide COVID-19 restrictions

Gadsden Times - Family bridges social distance at assisted living

Troy Messenger - The latest on coronavirus: FAA briefly halts flights to NYC area

Troy Messenger - Trum vs. Fauci: Gut sense collides with science over COVID-19

Troy Messenger - labama infections top 120; state backs off daycare closings

Andalusia Star News - Andalusia to limit access to city hall; County closing offices, buildings to public

Andalusia Star News - Star-News to close office to public, still produce products, amid COVID-19

Andalusia Star News - Two arrested in Opp for armed robbery

Opelika-Auburn News - COVID-19 latest: EAMC provides update, offers advice; Lee, Chambers counties confirmed cases rise, more than 150 confirmed in state

Opelika-Auburn News - Coronoavirus impact: Gyms continue to motivate during stressful, ever-changing times

Opelika-Auburn News - Presidents in health crises: Trump more hands-on than many

Daily Mountain Eagle - Walker County businesses hiring to meet consumer demand

Daily Mountain Eagle - Churches adapt as virus shuts down services

Daily Mountain Eagle - Sumiton COG: COVID-19 patient attended service

Trussville Tribune - Sonic Drive-In in Leeds closed after employee tests positive for coronavirus

Trussville Tribune - Trussville Area Chamber of Commerce selling ‘Trussville Strong’ T-shirts

Trussville Tribune - JCDH adds barbershops, hair salons, non-essential retail stores to list of mandatory closures; ‘This is not a time to look for loopholes’

Athens News Courier - State virus cases top 135; fines possible for violations

Athens News Courier - SOCIALLY DISTANCING SENIORS: Assisted living facilities find new ways to have fun

Athens News Courier - Alabama infections top 120; state backs off daycare closings

Sand Mountain Reporter - Gov. Ivey authorizes activation of National Guard 'should need arise'

Sand Mountain Reporter - COVID-19 yields local impact | Businesses make operation changes, aid students

Sand Mountain Reporter - All visitors prohibited from Marshall Medical Centers with few exceptions

WSFA Montgomery - ADPH: 157 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Alabama

WSFA Montgomery - State audit finds issues with City of Selma finances

WSFA Montgomery - Family celebrates loved one’s 90th birthday amid coronavirus crisis

WKRG Mobile - Some testing for COVID-19 begins for Mobile and Baldwin Counties

WKRG Mobile - Congressional rescue talks churn as virus crisis deepens

WKRG Mobile - Baldwin County equine group offers horse therapy to people during the COVID-19 crisis

WTVY Dothan - Officers investigate Sunday night stabbing in Troy

WTVY Dothan - DHS: Pandemic measures cut illegal border crossings by half

WTVY Dothan - NWS issues statement regarding tornado shelters during pandemic
WASHINGTON POST  - Senate falls far short of votes needed to advance coronavirus bill as clash between Republicans and Democrats intensifies
WASHINGTON POST  - As coronavirus spreads, so do doubts about America’s ability to meet the moment
WASHINGTON POST  - Inside California’s great lockdown, glimpse America’s stay-at-home future
NEW YORK TIMES  - The Virus Can Be Stopped, but Only With Harsh Steps, Experts Say
NEW YORK TIMES  - Stock Markets Tumble After U.S. Stalemate
NEW YORK TIMES  - The U.S. Needs China’s Masks, as Acrimony Grows

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