Newswire : Senate passes bill to create African American Burial Grounds Network

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Proposed monument in African-American Burial Ground

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation that would better protect historic African American cemeteries.
The measure also paves the way for the creation of an African American Burial Grounds Network.
“We know that for too long in too many parts of our country, Black families were blocked from burying their loved ones in white cemeteries,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) remarked.
“These men and women were freed slaves, civil rights champions, veterans, mothers, fathers, workers in communities. We need to act now before these sites are lost to the ravages of time or development,” Brown concluded.
Initially introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2019 by Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-NC) and Congressman Donald McEachin (D-Va.), the bill primarily addresses at-risk Black cemeteries in South
Still, it authorizes the Department of the Interior to conduct a thorough investigation of African American burial grounds across the country.
According to a Smithsonian Magazine report, the study would “lay the groundwork for the network, allowing experts to coordinate research efforts, create a nationwide database of Black cemeteries, and receive grant funding.” Sen. Brown and now ex-Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) later introduced the measure in the Senate. It now heads back to the House for a formal vote.
The action is yet another recent legislative attempt to honor and preserve Black burial grounds.
In 2019, then-Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), along with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), were joined by Reps. Gregory Meeks, Yvette Clarke, and Adriano Espaillat (all of New York), and announced the African Burial Ground International Memorial Museum and Education Center Act’s reintroduction.
That legislation would establish a museum and education center at the African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan.
This site currently holds the remains of an estimated 15,000 free and enslaved Africans and early-generation African Americans from the colonial era. The National Park Service would manage the museum in consultation with the African Burial Ground Advisory Council, which would be established by the legislation.
“The African Burial Ground is culturally and historically significant to New York and the nation. The establishment of a museum and an education center at this cemetery will illuminate the plight, courage, and humanity of the free and enslaved Africans who helped create New York,” Sen. Schumer told NNPA Newswire in 2019. “As a nation, we must always remember the tremendous burdens and afflictions experienced by those who were brought here in bondage, and who fought – for generations – against impossible odds to achieve the full measure of dignity and equality and justice that they were due. I am proud to cosponsor this legislation, and I urge my colleagues to pass this bill and for the president to sign it into law.”
The African American Burial Grounds initiative would provide grant opportunities and technical assistance to local communities as they work to recover and preserve those historic sites.
According to the letter signed by more than 60 organizations dedicated to cultural heritage and preservation, cemeteries are places of tribute and memory, connecting communities with their past. “Unfortunately, many African-American burial grounds from both before and after the Civil War are in a state of disarray or inaccessibility,” the letter stated.
“By creating a national network, the African American Burial Grounds Network Act would help re-discover the existence of burial grounds ahead of commercial development, helping to avoid disturbances that create distress and heartache in communities. Preserving and protecting these sacred sites, and the stories they tell is an integral part of our American heritage.”

Newswire: 1 in 5 prisoners has tested positive for COVID-19, 1,700 Have Died

By: Associated Press
One in every five state and federal prisoners in the United States has tested positive for the coronavirus, a rate more than four times higher than the general population. In some states, more than half of prisoners have been infected, according to data collected by The Associated Press and The Marshall Project.
As the pandemic enters its 10th month — and as the first Americans begin to receive a long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine — at least 275,000 prisoners have been infected, more than 1,700 have died and the spread of the virus behind bars shows no sign of slowing. New cases in prisons this week reached their highest level since testing began in the spring, far outstripping previous peaks in April and August.
“That number is a vast undercount,” said Homer Venters, the former chief medical officer at New York’s Rikers Island jail complex.
Venters has conducted more than a dozen court-ordered COVID-19 prison inspections around the country. “I still encounter prisons and jails where, when people get sick, not only are they not tested but they don’t receive care. So they get much sicker than need be,” he said.
Now the rollout of vaccines poses difficult decisions for politicians and policymakers. As the virus spreads largely unchecked behind bars, prisoners can’t social distance and are dependent on the state for their safety and well-being.
This story is a collaboration between The Associated Press and The Marshall Project exploring the state of the prison system in the coronavirus pandemic.
Donte Westmoreland, 26, was recently released from Lansing Correctional Facility in Kansas, where he caught the virus while serving time on a marijuana charge. Some 5,100 prisoners have become infected in Kansas prisons, the third-highest COVID-19 rate in the country, behind only South Dakota and Arkansas.
“It was like I was sentenced to death,” Westmoreland said.
Westmoreland lived with more than 100 virus-infected men in an open dorm, where he woke up regularly to find men sick on the floor, unable to get up on their own, he said.
“People are actually dying in front of me off of this virus,” he said. “It’s the scariest sight.” Westmoreland said he sweated it out, shivering in his bunk until, six weeks later, he finally recovered.
Half of the prisoners in Kansas have been infected with COVID-19 — eight times the rate of cases among the state’s overall population. Eleven prisoners have died, including five at the prison where Westmoreland was held. Of the three prison employees who have died in Kansas, two worked at Lansing Correctional Facility.
In Arkansas, where more than 9,700 prisoners have tested positive and 50 have died, four of every seven have had the virus, the second-highest prison infection rate in the U.S.
Among the dead was 29-year-old Derick Coley, who was serving a 20-year sentence at the Cummins Unit maximum security prison. Cece Tate, Coley’s girlfriend, said she last talked with him on April 10 when he said he was sick and showing symptoms of the virus.
“It took forever for me to get information,” she said. The prison finally told her on April 20 that Coley had tested positive for the virus. Less than two weeks later, a prison chaplain called on May 2 to tell her Coley had died.
The couple had a daughter who turned 9 in July. “She cried and was like, ‘My daddy can’t send me a birthday card,’” Tate said. “She was like, ‘Momma, my Christmas ain’t going to be the same.’”
Nearly every prison system in the country has seen infection rates significantly higher than the communities around them. In facilities run by the federal Bureau of Prisons, one of every five prisoners has had coronavirus. Twenty-four state prison systems have had even higher rates.
Prison workers have also been disproportionately affected. In North Dakota, four of every five prison staff has gotten coronavirus. Nationwide, it’s one in five.
Not all states release how many prisoners they’ve tested, but states that test prisoners broadly and regularly may appear to have higher case rates than states that don’t.
Infection rates as of Tuesday were calculated by the AP and The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization covering the criminal justice system, based on data collected weekly in prisons since March. Infection and mortality rates may be even higher, since nearly every prison system has significantly fewer prisoners today than when the pandemic began, so rates represent a conservative estimate based on the largest known population.
Yet, as vaccine campaigns get underway, there has been pushback in some states against giving the shots to people in prisons early.
“There’s no way it’s going to go to prisoners … before it goes to the people who haven’t committed any crime,” Colorado Gov. Jared Polis told reporters earlier this month after his state’s initial vaccine priority plans put prisoners before the general public.
Like more than a dozen states, Kansas’s vaccination plan does not mention prisoners or corrections staff, according to the Prison Policy Initiative, a non-partisan prison data think tank. Seven states put prisoners near the front of the line, along with others living in crowded settings like nursing homes and long-term care facilities. An additional 19 states have placed prisoners in the second phase of their vaccine rollouts.
Racial disparities in the nation’s criminal justice system compound the disproportionate toll the pandemic has taken on communities of color. Black Americans are incarcerated at five times the rate of whites. They are also disproportionately likely to be infected and hospitalized with COVID-19, and are more likely than other races to have a family member or close friend who has died of the virus.
The pandemic “increases risk for those who are already at risk,” said David J. Harris, managing director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School.
This week, a Council on Criminal Justice task force headed by former attorneys general Alberto Gonzalez and Loretta Lynch released a report calling for scaling back prison populations, improving communication with public health departments and reporting better data.
Prison facilities are often overcrowded and poorly ventilated. Dormitory-style housing, cafeterias and open-bar cell doors make it nearly impossible to quarantine. Prison populations are sicker, on average, than the general population and health care behind bars is notoriously substandard. Nationwide, the mortality rate for COVID-19 among prisoners is 45% higher than the overall rate.
From the earliest days of the pandemic, public health experts called for widespread prison releases as the best way to curb virus spread behind bars. In October, the National Academies of Science, Medicine, and Engineering released a report urging states to empty their prisons of anyone who was medically vulnerable, nearing the end of their sentence or of low risk to public safety.
But releases have been slow and uneven. In the first three months of the pandemic, more than 10,000 federal prisoners applied for compassionate release. Wardens denied or did not respond to almost all those requests, approving only 156 — less than 2%.
A plan to thin the state prison population in New Jersey, first introduced in June, was held up in the Legislature because of inadequate funding to help those who were released. About 2,200 prisoners with less than a year left to serve were ultimately released in November, eight months after the pandemic began.
California used a similar strategy to release 11,000 people since March. But state prisons stopped accepting new prisoners from county jails at several points during the pandemic, which simply shifted the burden to the jails. According to the state corrections agency, more than 8,000 people are now waiting in California’s county jails, which are also coronavirus hot spots.
“We call that ‘screwing county,’” said John Wetzel, Pennsylvania’s secretary of corrections, whose prison system has one of the lower COVID-19 case rates in the country, with one in every seven prisoners infected. But that’s still more than three times the statewide rate.
Prison walls are porous even during a pandemic, with corrections officers and other employees traveling in and out each day.
“The interchange between communities and prisons and jails has always been there, but in the context of COVID-19 it’s never been more clear,” said Lauren Brinkley-Rubinstein, a professor of social medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill who studies incarceration and health. “We have to stop thinking about them as a place apart.”
Wetzel said Pennsylvania’s prisons have kept virus rates relatively low by widely distributing masks in mid-March — weeks before even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began recommending them for everyday use in public — and demanding that staff and prisoners use them properly and consistently. But prisoners and advocates say prevention measures on the ground are uneven, regardless of Wetzel’s good intentions.
As the country heads into winter with virus infections on the rise, experts caution that unless COVID-19 is brought under control behind bars, the country will not get it under control in the population at large.
“If we are going to end this pandemic — bring down infection rates, bring down death rates, bring down ICU occupancy rates — we have to address infection rates in correctional facilities,” said Emily Wang, professor at Yale School of Medicine and co-author of the recent National Academies report.
“Infections and deaths are extraordinarily high. These are wards of the state, and we have to contend with it.”

Commission uses CARES funds to equip courthouse with remote access for conferences, training, and court sessions

At the Greene County Commission meeting, held Monday, January 11, 2021, Macaroy Underwood, CPA, noted that additional technology capacity, authorized by the Commission, has been installed in the William M. Branch (county) Courthouse. The new equipment will allow the commissioners to conduct or attend conferences and training workshops remotely, as well as to live-stream the commission’s local meetings. The monitors and cameras will allow the judges to hold remote court sessions. Macaroy noted that the foyer entrance to the courthouse is also equipped for public wi-fi access. Courthouse personnel will receive training relative to use of the new equipment and their courthouse duties.
The county invested approximately $20,000 from federal CARES funds to cover cost of equipment purchase, installation and training.
In new business before the commission, the body approved a resolution, presented by County Engineer, Willie Branch, accepting the Community Development Black Grant and authorizing the commission chairperson to sign the accompanying paperwork. At the Greene County Commission meeting, held Monday, January 11, 2021, Macaroy Underwood, CPA, noted that additional technology capacity, authorized by the Commission, has been installed in the William M. Branch (county) Courthouse. The new equipment will allow the commissioners to conduct or attend conferences and training workshops remotely, as well as to live-stream the commission’s local meetings. The monitors and cameras will allow the judges to hold remote court sessions. Macaroy noted that the foyer entrance to the courthouse is also equipped for public wi-fi access. Courthouse personnel will receive training relative to use of the new equipment and their courthouse duties.
The county invested approximately $20,000 from federal CARES funds to cover cost of equipment purchase, installation and training.
In new business before the commission, the body approved a resolution, presented by County Engineer, Willie Branch, accepting the Community Development Black Grant and authorizing the commission chairperson to sign the accompanying paperwork.The county was awarded a CDB Grant in the amount of $385, 000, of which $350,000 is to be paid from grant funds and $35,000 is to be paid for using local in kind labor and equipment matching funds.
The grant was awarded by ADECA to construct improvements on several roads throughout the county.
In the financial report to the commission, CEO Macaroy noted the following bank balances as of December 20, 2020: Citizen Trust Bank – $3,891,168.27; Merchant & Farmers Bank – $2,886,877.41; Total Investments – $1,148,604.63; Total claims paid for December – $598,159.92, with total electronic claims paid at $57,323.67.
The commission noted that courthouse personnel remain on ac rotating schedule, as a continued precaution relative to the COVID-19 pandemic and rising positive rates in Greene County. The various offices will serve the public on a first come basis, no appointment needed, but the courthouse will close at 3:00 pm until further notice.

Judge John H. England, Jr. retires from the Judicial Bench after serving 27 years

Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court Judge John H. England, Jr. will officially retire from his current judicial duties, Monday, January 18, 2021 after 27 years on the Judicial Bench as Tuscaloosa County Circuit Judge and a member of the Alabama Supreme Court.
Judge England, who proudly claims his birthplace in the Alabama Black Belt, was born in Perry County (Uniontown) and attended public schools in Birmingham, AL. He is a 1969 graduate of Tuskegee Institute (University) with a BS Degree in Chemistry. In 1999, Tuskegee bestowed him with an Honorary Doctor of Law Degree.
England served two years in the U.S. Army as a Military Policeman and later graduated from the University of Alabama Law School in 1974, and began his law practice.
In reviewing Judge England’s preparations and achievements, it becomes apparent, that as an African American, he was the first or among the first in instances on his journey. He was the first in his family to attend college. He was a member of the first class of Blacks to enter the University of Alabama School of Law, graduating in 1974 and began his law practice in Tuscaloosa.
He takes a father’s pride and joy in the fact that he is the first African American UA Law School graduate to witness his three children, John H. England, III, U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Northern District in Alabama, April England Albright, a Civil Rights Attorney in Atlanta and Chris England, Alabama State Representative and Chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, also graduated from the UA Law School.
He and SCLC President, Charles Steele, were the first African Americans elected to the Tuscaloosa City Council in 1985. England served two terms and was Chairman of the Finance and Community Development Committee.
As he pursued his career as a young barrister, England was the first Black attorney to represent the Perry County School Board. He was the attorney for the Greene County Commission from 1981 until he assumed the Bench in 1993. He also represented the Greene County Racing Commission and the Town of Forkland and served as a part-time instructor at Miles College-Eutaw Extension. England often remarks that he got his gray hair in Greene County.
When he was appointed to the Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court in 1993 by Governor Jim Folsom, England became the first African American to hold a county-wide political office. He was re-elected to a full term in that office in 1994, where he served until he was appointed to the Alabama Supreme Court by Governor Don Siegelman in 1999, the third African American to hold such a seat. England returned to the Circuit Court of Tuscaloosa County in 2001 and has served continuously through his current retirement.
Judge England currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama and in 2019 was the first African American to have a dormitory on the University’s campus named for him (John H. England, Jr. Hall).
England is a graduate of the 1996 Leadership Alabama Class. He has also served as State President of Alabama New South Coalitions and in other leadership roles with ANSC.
In the course of this interview, Judge England noted that he is retiring from the bench, “ I am not retiring from giving whatever service I can wherever I feel I am needed and can contribute. I will take time to decide what I will do,” he said.
In his continuing reflections, England emphasized that he has learned much over the years. “I learned a lot about what passes for justice in our community. I’ve also learned there are things I have conveyed that I think have helped those who have come before me, such as clients, lawyers and judges, and I have learned a lot from them as well,” he stated.
England said he believes listening is a key to learning. “ I have come to value that you can learn something from any person, if you are listening. Many people who came before my court have later attested, ‘I was heard,’ including some individuals I had ruled against.”
In remarking on what he would have done differently, Judge England stated,” I can’t think of a particular thing I would have done differently. Even with the few times a higher court reversed a decision, I know I made the best decision I could with what was presented to me at the time. I can live with myself.”

Newswire: African maternal health groups see better times for women under Biden

African women at maternal care clinic

( – Maternal health groups worldwide are hoping that the election of Joe Biden will lead to a lifting of the so-called “global gag rule’ which cut off much-needed maternal health services in many parts of the developing world.
“I am excited and hopeful that things are going to be better,” said Nelly Munyasia, executive director of Reproductive Health Network Kenya. Her network promotes health services, including offering information about abortion.
“We are going to access funding and we are going to save the lives of women and girls,” she says, before explaining how tough the past four years has been.
Current US policies restrict access to safe abortion not just by attaching anti-abortion conditions to foreign aid. The United States also imposes its rules on how medical providers and non-profits spend their own funds, and on how they care for and advise their clients. The so-called global gag rule led to more pregnancies and lower contraceptive use among women in African countries reliant on U.S. foreign aid, according to a study published in the Lancet Global Health journal.
“Our findings suggest how a U.S. policy that aims to restrict federal funding for abortion services can lead, unintentionally, to more – and probably riskier – abortions in poor countries,” said Nina Brooks, a researcher at Stanford University who co-led the work.
Stanford University’s Eran Bendavid, who co-led the study, said its findings had probably captured only a partial view of the policy’s harm to maternal health, since knock-on effects of risky abortions were not measured.
“Because abortions are an important cause of maternal mortality, the increase in abortion uptake might also increase maternal deaths — and possibly disproportionately given that abortions under the policy could be less safe,” he said.
When organizations reject U.S. funds, they often have to reduce the scale of their programs—years of work to earn the trust of marginalized communities are also lost when clinics close and there are often no other existing programs to replace the services.
Past versions of the global gag rule have shown that the policy does not reduce the number of abortions and has instead increased unsafe abortions. It also has negative impacts on maternal, newborn, and child health.
President-elect Joe Biden is expected to repeal the Mexico City Policy – also known as the ‘global gag rule’ as one of his early acts in office.
GLOBAL INFORMATION NETWORK creates and distributes news and feature articles on current affairs in Africa to media outlets, scholars, students and activists in the U.S. and Canada. Our goal is to introduce important new voices on topics relevant to Americans, to increase the perspectives available to readers in North America and to bring into their view information about global issues that are overlooked or under-reported by mainstream media.

Newswire: It’s not over: as video champions new attacks, Biden-Harris Inauguration to be held outside

By Hazel Trice Edney

Right-wing group attacks Capitol on Jan. 6 ( Photo by Hamil/Trice Edney Communications) and Insurrectionists carry Confederate flag in Capitol attack

( – A futuristic video circulating on social media early this week features the voice of President Donald Trump calling for a “Day of Reawakening” on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2021.
The three-minute video, which features images of people dressed in Trump t-shirts, hats and other paraphernalia concludes with the apparent voice of Donald Trump encouraging them to not be afraid and saying that “God will protect you.”
This kind of rhetoric has heated up since the Jan. 6 violent insurrection in which thousands of vastly White Trump supporters showed up at the U. S. Capitol where thousands rioted, vandalized and assaulted police officers. Five people died as a result of the riot; including a Capitol Police officer, Brian Sicknick, who died from injuries he received while fighting off insurgents. Another officer, Howard Liebengood, died by suicide three days after the riot.
Widespread reports, including from NBC and CNN, say the FBI has warned of more likely terrorist attacks, insurrections and riots leading up to the presidential inauguration and on that day, Jan. 20. These riots are being planned for all 50 capital cities as well as the U. S. Capitol.
President Biden says he will still hold the inauguration outside of the Capital despite continued threats. A possible 15,000 National Guard troops are expected to guard the Capitol during the ceremony. People are being encouraged to watch the swearing in on television.
Meanwhile, Congressional Democrats and some Republicans are moving ahead with the impeachment of Trump for the charge, “Incitement of insurrection” for his verbal encouragement that resulted in the rioters storming the Capitol. He would be the first U. S. president to be impeached twice. Trump has repeatedly told his supporters the lie that his election “was stolen” from them.
Members of Congress may also face punishment for their words that day, namely Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who doubled down on Trumps lie, claiming the election was stolen and led the vote against the certification of the Biden-Harris election. Some members of Congress insist that to also have been insurrection, which the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, Section 3, cites as a reason for expulsion from the seats they hold.
The Fourteenth Amendment states: “No Person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”
The “Day of Reawakening” video went dead shortly after the social media website, Parler, was taken offline on Monday. Twitter and Facebook also shut down President Donald Trump’s accounts, blocking tens of millions of his followers. But tech experts believe these actions will simply drive Trump supporters and possible rioters to other more obscure platforms where law enforcement investigators can not easily track and monitor their organizational activities.
A string of arrests has taken place since Monday, mainly of people involved in the Capitol break in and the threats on the lives of members of Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who they threatened to shoot, and also threats against the life of Vice President Mike Pence, who they threatened to hang for certifying the Electoral College confirmation of the Biden-Harris election. At least two Capitol police officers have been suspended and about 10 others are under investigation for their apparent involvement in the insurrection.
Black leaders around the country, are calling for Trump’s immediate removal. They are also raising questions about why the Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies were not better prepared and more aggressive against the perpetrators as they have been against Black Lives Matter protestors.
“What we are witnessing at this moment is the manifestation and culmination of reckless leadership, a pervasive misuse of power, and anarchy. This is not protesting or activism; this is an insurrection, an assault on our democracy, and a coup incited by President Trump,” said NAACP President Derrick Johnson during the insurrection Jan. 6. “We must not allow President Trump to continue to place our nation in peril. The NAACP calls for President Trump’s impeachment so that he will never again be able to harm our beloved country, and more importantly, its people.”

Vaccine available for frontline health workers in Greene County; other groups remain to be scheduled based on supplies

Dr. Salahuddin Farooqui, MD shown get the vaccine.
Dr. Michael Gordon, MD receiving vaccine
Hospital staff getting shot vaccine

Last Wednesday, December 30, 2020, fourteen frontline healthcare workers at the Greene County Health System received their first dose of coronavirus vaccine at the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Dr. Salahuddin Farooqui, MD and Dr. Michael Gordon, MD were among those vaccinated in the first group. Dr. Farooqui said, “I was glad to get the shot and I am urging all others in Greene County to get vaccinated when your group is called.”
The Alabama Department of Public Health is returning to Greene County on January 6 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM and January 13 from 8:45 to 10:45 AM to provide additional coronavirus vaccinations. Healthcare workers, including EMT and other support workers should call 205-562-6952 to schedule an appointment.
Dr. Marcia Pugh said that she is expecting the residents of the Greene County Nursing Home to be vaccinated next. “We have been doing the required paperwork and getting signed approval from sponsors to vaccinate the residents of our nursing home. Their vaccines are coming through Walgreen/Pharmerica and should be scheduled soon.”
As to the next group which includes people over 75, educators and essential workers, Reagan Pettus, RN, West Central District Public Health Nurse, sent an email to Dr. Pugh advising, “We are still in phase 1a of our allocation plan which includes high risk personnel, such as frontline workers.
We have not received guidance as to when we may move to phase 1b which includes persons > 75 years, essential workers at high risk (such as teachers), and those who live in congregate settings.”
In her email, Pettus further stated, “Those who have no health problems and are not in high exposure groups will not be able to receive the vaccine until we move into Phase 2, which could be several months from now.
Alabama like many other states have been slow to receive ample supplies of the vaccines to vaccinate all the people who want to be served. Government officials say the supplies of vaccines are projected to increase in the coming months.
This news comes at the same time as Alabama and the nation are reaching record high levels of new confirmed cases, hospitalizations and deaths from the virus. Over 350,000 people nationally have died from the virus since the beginning of the pandemic in February 2020.
Monday in Alabama hospitalizations reached 3,064, which was the first time they were over 3,000 during the pandemic. Public health officials expect continuing high rates of disease, coming from the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. It will be several months, before the impact of vaccinations will reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
Public health officials are warning that people must continue to wear masks, socially distance, not participate in large indoor gathers and wash hands regularly to defeat the spread of corona virus.
More information on cases in Alabama and Greene County are in our weekly summary box on the coronavirus impacts on page 1.


As of January 6, 2021 at 11:30 AM
(according to Alabama Political Reporter)
Alabama had 384,184 confirmed cases of coronavirus,
(32,380) more than last week with 4,994 deaths (257 more than last week)
Greene County had 709 confirmed cases, (59 more cases than last week), with 20 deaths
Sumter Co. had 882 cases with 24 deaths
Hale Co. had 1,550 cases with 34 deaths

Newswire: Most Africans will not receive COVID vaccine this year, report says

COVID clinic in Africa

Jan. 4, 2021 (GIN) – Countries across Africa are hunting for deals to obtain COVID-19 vaccines at affordable prices but their limited funds will cover less than half of their citizens. One estimate places access to a vaccine at one person out of 10.
According to a report in The Hill, a U.S. news website, 9 out of 10 people in nearly 70 poor countries will not get a COVID-19 vaccine this year due to government funding shortfalls.
In Uganda, nine million doses of the life-saving vaccine have been ordered through GAVI – Global Alliances for Vaccines and Immunization – amid surging new infections in the country. The vaccines will cover only 20 percent of the country’s population.
In Kenya, the country is seeking 24 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine from COVAX, a global initiative to ensure rapid and equitable access to COVID vaccines with 1.2 billion doses of safe and effective vaccines to be shared among 92 lower-income countries this year.
With an additional $92 million, Kenya can buy more doses, enough to vaccinate 30 per cent of its citizens.
AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical company and part of COVAX, said it will provide vaccines at cost “in perpetuity” to countries in the developing world at a cost of no more than $3 a dose.
Pfizer, a for-profit operation, has not joined the initiative. The wholesale price for their drug is $20 a dose – out of reach for most of Africa.
Morocco and Egypt are buying vaccines from the China-based Sinopharm. Last week, Egypt received the second batch of Sinopharm’s Covid-19 vaccine, bringing the country’s inventory to 100,000 – enough for 50,000 people, a small fraction of a total 98 million population.
Morocco says it will vaccinate 80 percent of adults with Sinopharm starting this month after King Mohammed VI instructed the government to make the vaccine free, according to a Royal Palace statement.
In the East African region, Rwanda and Kenya say they’ve applied for the AstraZeneca/Oxford product.
Rwanda is set to acquire the vaccine in the first quarter of 2021 and distribute it to 20 percent of the population.
“Rich countries have enough doses to vaccinate everyone nearly three times over, whilst poor countries don’t even have enough to even reach health workers and people at risk,” said Mohga Kamal Yanni, from the People’s Vaccine Alliance. “The current system, where pharmaceutical corporations use government funding for research, retain exclusive rights and keep their technology secret to boost profits, could cost many lives.” 

Newswire: Former NBA star Junior Bridgeman purchases EBONY magazine

Junior Bridgeman

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

The legendary EBONY magazine is being revived.
Former NBA star Junior Bridgeman reportedly has anted-up $14 million for the famed Black media publication.
The magazine, which was founded by John H. Johnson in 1945, was forced into bankruptcy earlier this year after an attempt to revive EBONY failed. EBONY sold its photo archive for $30 million last year, and Willard Jackson briefly took over as CEO but left the company soon after.
“EBONY kind of stood for Black excellence, showing people doing positive things that could benefit everyone,” Bridgeman said, according to Black Enterprise. “It just made you feel good.” Bridgeman has a history of business success, Black Enterprise reported.
As the CEO of Manna Inc., the holding company for his franchise empire of quick-service restaurants, he is a longtime member of the [Black Entreprise] 100s.
According to the Michigan Chronicle, Bridgeman, who played for the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers, was once featured on a 2016 Forbes top-paid athletes list.
He is the CEO of a Coca-Cola bottling company and part-owner of Coca-Cola Canada Bottling Limited.
The former athlete attempted to purchase Sports Illustrated in 2018 but eventually withdrew his bid a year later.
According to, EBONY earned fame by honoring Black identity – portraying Black life, refuting stereotypes, and inspiring readers to overcome racial and other barriers to success. John H. Johnson began his career with Negro Digest in 1942 and started Ebony three years later. Both magazines were so successful that in 1972 the Magazine Publishers Association selected Johnson “Magazine Publisher of the Year.”

EBONY occasionally presented works by well-established literary figures such as Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks.

It also frequently published special issues, such as the 1963 one hundredth year commemoration of the Emancipation Proclamation, that highlighted issues deemed particularly relevant to African Americans.

EBONY first featured articles about notable African Americans such as celebrities and sports figures, and during the late 1950s ran Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s column, “Advice for Living By.”

By the 1960s, articles supporting civil rights appeared as the magazine provided reliable coverage of the civil rights movement as it unfolded across the United States.
EBONY also discussed the increasing opportunities for African Americans, suggested ways to overcome obstacles, and encouraged the Black community to exhibit racial pride.
“When you look at EBONY, you look at the history not just for Black people, but of the United States,” Bridgeman said. “I think it’s something that a generation is missing, and we want to bring that back as much as we can.”