Judge dismisses lawsuit challenging Alabama mask mandate

Dec 16, 2020

A lawsuit challenging Alabama's mask mandate has been thrown out by a federal judge. 

U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins of Montgomery called the suit a "shotgun pleading" that makes accusations without organization or legitimate legal claims. Watkins also refused a request to block the mask rule in October.

Former chief justice Roy Moore filed the lawsuit on behalf of Alabama residents against Gov. Kay Ivey and the state health officer claiming the mask mandate is unconstitutional.

Watkins allowed three weeks for a replacement lawsuit.

Alabama homeowners warned about Christmas tree fire safety

Dec 16, 2020
Christmas tree

Holiday decorations are doing up and that’s prompting annual warnings on Christmas tree safety.

The National Fire Protection Association said that between 2014 and 2018, Christmas tree fires did $10 million in damage in the U.S.  That includes an average of 160 incidents per year.

Andrea Vastis is the Association’s Director of Public Education. She said there’s a safe way to celebrate the holidays with a Christmas tree.

The Alabama Department of Public Health isn’t saying which three hospitals got the first shipments of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for security sake. 

Cullman Regional Medical Center says it will start giving shots today.

Alabama space museum names new CEO

Dec 15, 2020
APR's Pat Duggins

The U.S. Space and Rocket Center has hired a new chief executive. 

Veteran NASA manager Kimberly Robinson will oversee the the visitor center after working for NASA for over three decades. She starts in February.

The center has struggled financially due to shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Vaccinations begin in Alabama as COVID-19 cases soar

Dec 15, 2020

Vaccinations for the coronavirus are starting to arrive in Alabama after the state hit record numbers of cases and hospitalizations. 

A nurse from the Cullman Regional Medical Center received an initial dose of the two-step vaccine on Tuesday, one day after it arrived to the hospital.

More hospitals will continue to provide vaccinations, firstly to front-line health care workers.

Over 300,000 people in Alabama have had COVID-19 and more than 4,120 Alabamians have died from it.

The National Weather Service said a tornado touched down in Alabama over the weekend. 

A storm survey team said there is evidence that it touched down in southern Jefferson County near Bessemer. Surveyors said the storm's top winds reached 75 mph. 

Officials said some trees were uprooted and homes recieved some structural damage.

Alabama loosens licensing rules for doctors as virus rages

Dec 15, 2020

Out-of-state doctors will now have an easier time working in Alabama amidst the arrival of the coronavirus vaccine.

Two medical boards decided to let physicians from other states and Canada seek temporary emergency licenses to work in the state. 

The Alabama Hospital Association reported staff shortages due to an inadequate number of beds and lack of staff members to treat patients because they are also falling ill. 

The announcement was made Monday when initial shipment of 41,000 doses of vaccine started arriving in Alabama.


The busiest mailing week for the holidays is underway. Today is first deadline to impact the majority of people trying to get their holiday mail out on time. Officials say it’s important you mail your packages carefully so they get to their destination on time. Deborah Fetterly is a Postal Service Spokesperson for the Alabama Postal District. She says it’s important to address mail correctly with an extra mailing slip inside the package.


A Medal of Honor recipient from Alabama who died of COVID-19 will be laid to rest this week at Arlington National Cemetry. 

The body of Bennie G. Adkins of Opelika was escorted to the Atlanta airport by the Lee County Sheriff's Office on Monday and will be buried with full military honors on Wednesday in Arlington. He will rest beside his late wife, who died last year. 

Adkins was 86 when he died in April after contracting COVID-19.

Retired Alabama Supreme Court Justice Hugh Maddox dies

Dec 14, 2020
The Birmingham News file

A former member of the Alabama Supreme Court died last Friday. Retired Associate Justice Hugh Maddox was 90 years old.

Maddox died in his home and no cause of death has been given. 

The former justice was first appointed to the court in 1969 and won five more terms before retiring in 2001. Maddox also served as a legal advisor to three governors and a colonel in the Air Force Reserve.

He is survived by his wife and two children. A private graveside service is planned due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Some Alabamians may soon be rolling up their sleeves for the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.

An advisory panel for the Food and Drug Administration is recommending emergency approval for the inoculations. The agency later gave its full endorsement.

Fifteen Alabama hospitals are equipped with the supercold refrigeration units needed to store the Pfizer vaccine.

Dr. Richard Friend is Dean of the University of Alabama’s College of Community Health Sciences. He said getting the vaccine doesn’t mean just taking one shot.

Democrats prepare for runoff election

Dec 14, 2020

Voters are heading back to the polls tomorrow in Montgomery. There's a runoff election to see who will represent the Democratic party for the District 26 senate seat race. The runoff is between sitting House member Kirk Hatcher and former representative John Knight.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said the runoff and general election will be well timed for the winner to take their place on the senate. 


A Monday meeting may determine whether Alabama resumes allowing bars and restaurants to make curbside alcohol sales.


Alabama has one of the highest rates of inmate deaths from COVID-19.

Forty-three inmates and two staff members have died from the coronavirus since the pandemic began. Figures compiled by The Associated Press and the Marshall Project rank Alabama prisons fourth in the U.S. for the number of COVID-19 deaths per 10,000 inmates.

Pet Adoption Scams

Dec 12, 2020
Kim Alaniz [Flickr]

Some internet pet sellers are legitimate, but scammers often use available online photos (like the one shown here) to lure you in.   If you want a specific breed, statistics show 1 of every 4 shelter dogs is a purebred.  So be a hero, and adopt a new best friend from your local animal shelter or rescue group.


Expanded ER and trauma center opens at Mobile hospital

Dec 11, 2020
University Hospital
USA Health

University Hospital in Mobile has opened an expanded emergency department and trauma center.

USA Health opened the 27,000-square-foot addition on Friday and tripled the size of the current ER and trauma center. The $20 million project includes 38 examination rooms, three trauma bays, and X-ray and medical imaging equipment.

The organization described the facility as the only top-tier trauma center on the northern Gulf Coast.

Alabama prisons agency says federal suit ignores progress

Dec 11, 2020

The Alabama Department of Corrections has responded to the latest lawsuit from the U.S. Justice Department.

The statement said the agency has been working to hire more positions to work in understaffed prisons that the lawsuit said violates the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment because of their conditions.

The department also said the Gov. Kay Ivey's plan to construct three large new prisons will replace the older buildings.

The state said the government filed the suit without warning despite continued negotiations.

State virus deaths top 4,000 as state sets virus records

Dec 11, 2020

The number of COVID-19 patients in Alabama continues to grow as the avilabilty of intensive care beds is on the decline. 

Cases and hospitalizations have both hit new highs this week.

Head of the Alabama Hospital Association Dr. Don Williamson said the increase is a result of Thanksgiving gatherings. 

The percentage of empty ICU beds hit a new low of 7 percent while the number of confirmed and probable virus deaths topped 4,000 on Thursday.

In his final speech to the U.S. Senate, Doug Jones emphasized the need for bipartanship. 

Jones was elected in 2017 and was the first Democrat senator from Alabama in 25 years. He is being replaced by Republican Tommy Tuberville who was elected this year. 

Jones highlighted some of his favorite moments from his time in the Senate in his speech. One mentioned was his co-sponsoring of the bill eliminating the military widows' tax.

Both Minority Leader Charles Schumer and republican Alabama senator Richard Shelby praised Jones.

COVID-19 minorities

COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Alabama, but help may be on the way. Over 40,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine are expected to come to the Yellowhammer State next week. 

Studies have shown throughout the pandemic that COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting minority communities. However, many in the Black community appear hesitant to get the vaccine. Researchers believe this is tied to a long-held distrust of the government because of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study.

The Alabama Crimson Tide is suiting up for their last regular season game this weekend. The Tide will be taking on the Razorbacks of Arkansas.

Their game was originally supposed to be played last week but it was moved to accommodate the Alabama vs. LSU game that was postponed due to COVID-19.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban said the team cannot let the Razorbacks’ record fool them.

The reaction in Mobile to Kamala Harris as Vice President-Elect

Dec 10, 2020
Biden-Harris campaign

An APR news feature

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is less than a week away from what may be her comfirmation by the U.S. Electoral College. Her election attracted attention in the African-American, Asian-American, and Indian-American communities. Harris will also be the first woman to assume the second highest office in the nation. APR Gulf coast correspondent Lynn Oldshue sat down with two young ladies along the Gulf coast who have a lot to say about this moment in history.

Justice Department sues Alabama over prison conditions

Dec 9, 2020
Department of Justice / Wikimedia Commons

Alabama is once again being sued by the U.S. Department of Justice over its prison conditions.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday. said the state is failing to protect male inmates from violence projects prisoners to excessive force at the hands of prison staff. The suit also alleged that the conditions of state prisons are unconstitutional and violate the ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

The Justice Department has already released two reports that accuse Alabama of violating prisoners' rights.

Gov. Ivey said the news of the filing was disappointing.

Former Alabama coach Ray Perkins dies at 79

Dec 9, 2020
Ray Perkins
Associated Press

Former Alabama football coach Ray Perkins has died at the age of 79 in Tuscaloosa. 

Perkins, who also played reciver for the university, replaced Paul "Bear" Bryant to coach the Crimson Tide following the 1982 season after spending time coaching the New York Giants. He later went on to coach Tampa Bay and Arkansas State.

Current Alabama coach Nick Saban said Perkins "was a great coach and had a tremendous impact on the game."

His death was announced by his daughter on her Facebook page and later by the University of Alabama.

Kay Ivey
Associated Press

Gov. Kay Ivey has extended Alabama's mask and "safer at home" orders through to Jan. 22, 2021.

Ivey made the announcement as just two days before both orders were set to expire. 

Alabama's COVID-19 cases continue to rise after the Thanksgiving holiday.


Customers of Walmart and Sam’s Club can buy home test kits for COVID-19. 

The chain, which operates close to 150 stores in Alabama, said the kits are available online. Walmart and Sam’s Club are offering the kits in partnership with a California-based company. This isn’t the home kit approved by the FDA last month.

Dr. Richard Friend is the Dean of the University of Alabama’s College of Community Health Sciences and said the concern with these kits is how test results are confirmed.

A new report could give future researchers information on how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted children in the state.

The Alabama Kids Count Data Book is a project by the group Voices for Alabama’s Children. It is a collection of reports and information from state agencies to help give lawmakers and advocates an idea of where help is needed the most.

Stephen Woerner is the executive director for VOICES. He said the coronavirus pandemic makes this year’s book a little different.

Montgomery announced plans to upgrade its public transit system just days after the 65th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. 

The city received a $65 million grant through federal coronavirus relief and will use it to buy 10 new buses, install new bus shelters, improve bus stations, launch an on-demand service and give hazard pay to workers.

Mayor Steven Reed said access to public transportation continues the fight to expand civil rights.

Guntersville City Schools

The superintendent of Guntersville City Schools announced his retirement due to the coronavirus on Monday.

Brett Stanton cited the challenges public education has undergone due to COVID-19 as his reason for leaving. He started serving as superintendent in 2015 and said his last day will be Dec. 14.

The school board is working on finding temporary leadership until they hire Stanton's replacement.