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AL Public Health Dept Contests Lead Reports, Infectious Disease Study Ranks Alabama Poorly

AL Department of Public Health

The Alabama Department of Public Health is contesting reports that two Alabama counties rank among the nation’s top three for lead levels in children.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from 2014 compiled by Vox shows Houston County, Alabama having the highest rate of child lead poisoning in the country. The data shows seven in twelve Houston County children having lead levels high enough to qualify as lead poisoning. Dallas County ranked third in the country in CDC lead data, with seven in twenty children qualifying for lead poisoning.

But the Alabama Department of Public Health says the data “does not provide a true picture regarding lead levels in either county.” They say the data reflects only the number of tests reported in each county, and not a percentage of all children in the area.

That doesn’t mean lead poisoning isn’t a problem in Alabama. The ADPH says the main sources of lead poisoning in Alabama are paint manufactured before 1950, occupational lead hazards and some toys.

Acting state health officer Dr. Tom Miller says the agency is working to ensure children with elevated lead levels are identified and properly addressed.

Alabama didn’t score well on a new study on controlling infectious diseases.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America’s Health teamed up on the report which ranked U.S. states on ten goals like flu vaccination rates and the reporting of AIDS cases. Alabama met four of the ten, as did Tennessee, Louisiana, Florida, and South Carolina.

Richard Hamburg is with Trust for American’s Health. He says one place where most states are failing is in the prevention of infections in hospitals.

“One in every 25 people who are hospitalized each year contracts some form of healthcare-related infection. Only 9 states decreased the amount of those infections, so that’s in that category. Most states are not adequately prepared in that area.”

Alabama did meet goals like reporting new cases of HIV and reporting cases of foodborne illnesses. The report says the state fell short on flu vaccinations and its lack of a needle exchange program.

A judge is refusing to delay the ethics trial of Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, at least for now. APR’s Stan Ingold has more…

Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker turned down Hubbard's request for a postponement after a hearing in Opelika on Tuesday.

But the judge noted that the case could still be delayed for other reasons, like an appeal of any of his pretrial decisions.

Hubbard is now set to go on trial on March 28th. He had sought a postponement until the fall after his lead attorney left the case earlier this month.

Hubbard is accused on 23 felony ethics charges accusing him of using his public positions as speaker and former GOP party chairman to benefit his businesses and clients. Hubbard maintains the transactions were legal.

Amtrak and the Southern Rail Commission are set to tour the Gulf Coast to see if it’s feasible to bring passenger rail service back to the Gulf.

The Southern Rail Commission recently announced their so-called "Inspection Train" will be making 14 stops in four states, beginning Feb. 18 in New Orleans and concluding the next day in Jacksonville, Florida. Other stops will include Gulfport and Biloxi, Mississippi; Mobile, Alabama; and Pensacola and Tallahassee, Florida.

Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman plans to host elected officials and others on the trip, which is being taken to examine the existing railroad infrastructure.

Southern Rail Commission Chairman Greg White says he is urging Amtrak to re-establish daily, round-trip service between New Orleans and Orlando. The track servicing those areas was badly damaged more than a decade ago in Hurricane Katrina, and the region has been without passenger rail service ever since.

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