Good morning!

Thanks so much to everyone who offered feedback on my latest column. I've never heard from so many people on a single article. Just wait until we get into electoral math.

Here's your Daily News for Thursday, September 24.
1. One week to go in Census
  • The deadline for participating in the 2020 census is Wednesday and Alabama’s response rate remains the lowest in the nation.
  • With a congressional seat and federal funding in jeopardy, Gov. Kay Ivey and other state officials urge Alabamians to respond to the census as soon as possible.
  • “We still have census workers knocking on doors, so, I am anticipating our numbers to go up from that,” Ivey told ADN in an emailed statement. “Bottom line is that Alabama has too much at stake, so, fill out your census today. Time is of the essence.”
  • Alabama is ranked last in the nation for the amount of households counted at 89.8% as of Tuesday, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Alabama’s self-response rate -- surveys conducted online, by mail or by telephone -- is at 62.8%, lower than the national rate at 66.2%.
  • Read more from ADN's Caroline Beck HERE.
2. Initial numbers show decreases in community college, undergrad enrollments
  • Preliminary numbers show some significant drops in enrollment this semester at some of Alabama’s two- and four-year colleges.
  • Undergraduate enrollment at four-year universities is down a combined 2% from fall 2019, the Alabama Commission on Higher Education reported Tuesday.
  • Twenty-one of 24 community colleges saw enrollment declines, according to the initial numbers. In all, enrollment dropped by 12.6%, more than 10,000 students. According to ACHE, numbers may change as students enroll in the mini semesters offered by community colleges.
  • “The coronavirus pandemic that disrupted spring classes continues to have an impact on higher education,” ACHE Executive Director Jim Purcell said. “Although faced with challenges, our institutions have quickly adapted to hybrid methods of course delivery.”
  • Graduate enrollment is up 8.6% with increases at 11 of 14 schools.
  • Read more from ADN's Mary Sell HERE.
3. Fauci: No cutting corners on vaccine
  • A huge international study of a COVID-19 vaccine that aims to work with just one dose is getting underway as top U.S. health officials sought Wednesday to assure a skeptical Congress and public that they can trust any shots the government ultimately approves.
  • Hopes are high that answers about at least one of several candidates being tested in the U.S. could come by year’s end, maybe sooner.
  • “We feel cautiously optimistic that we will be able to have a safe and effective vaccine, although there is never a guarantee of that,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious disease chief at the National Institutes of Health, told a Senate committee.
  • As for the testing of vaccine candidates, Fauci added: “There is no cutting corners.”
  • President Donald Trump is pushing for a faster timeline, which many experts say is risky and may not allow for adequate testing. On Wednesday he tweeted a link to news about the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine study and said the Food and Drug Administration “must move quickly!”
  • “President Trump is still trying to sabotage the work of our scientists and public health experts for his own political ends,” Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington state, said before ticking off examples of pressure on the FDA.
  • FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn pledged that career scientists, not politicians, will decide whether any coronavirus vaccine meets clearly stated standards that it works and is safe. Vaccine development usually takes years but scientists have been racing to shorten that time, in part by manufacturing doses that will have to be thrown away if studies find they don’t work.
  • “Science will guide our decisions. FDA will not permit any pressure from anyone to change that,” Hahn said. “I will put the interest of the American people above anything else.”
  • Full story HERE.
4. For GOP Senate, court seat gain is worth the risk
  • Beyond the Nov. 3 elections, some Republican Senators feel the generational goal of a solidly conservative court is worth the potential blowback. 
  • And whatever their personal views of President Donald Trump and his presidency, Republicans also see a political payoff in sticking with him and plunging ahead to confirm his pick to fill the court vacancy before the election.
  • “Most of us came to the Senate, ran for the Senate, in a lot of ways for big moments like this — for an opportunity to fill seats on the Supreme Court,” said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., the GOP whip who is not up for reelection this year.
  • By Wednesday, as mourners gathered to view the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's casket on the court's iconic steps, objections from Democrats that the presidential winner should name the nominee had slipped by GOP senators. They were preparing for confirmation hearings as soon as Oct. 12, with a possible full Senate vote Oct. 29. Trump is to announce his choice Saturday. 
  • “The process is going to go very quickly,” Trump said at the White House.
  • Republicans are eagerly running into the election year fight, sensing a reward greater than the risk.
  • Read more HERE.
5. Media picks Alabama to win SEC
  • Alabama is the media favorite to win the Southeastern Conference title while Florida is the pick to win the Eastern Division.
  • Alabama received 77 votes to win the championship game on Dec. 19 in Atlanta, while Georgia and LSU each were picked on seven ballots. The SEC released results of voting Wednesday from reporters covering the league.
  • The Gators edged Georgia 624 points to 613 in the East while Tennessee was picked to finish third.
  • Alabama was a lopsided pick in the West with 660 points topping LSU (489) and Auburn (488). 
  • The Crimson Tide also led the way with 13 players on the Preseason All-SEC team, including eight first-teamers. LSU had 10 and Georgia nine.
  • The media has correctly picked the champion only seven times since 1992.
  • See the entire preseason All-SEC list HERE.
  • Sadly, many traditions are going by the wayside this year, including Auburn's War Eagle flights and Georgia's Uga bulldog on the sideline. Read more about why HERE.
  • Speaking of Auburn, officials are asking fans to not roll the new oak trees at Toomer's corner in the event of an Auburn win (knock on wood). That story HERE.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - One week left in census counting, Alabama response rate still last in country

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - Initial numbers show decreases in community college, undergrad enrollments

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - Fauci: ‘no cutting corners’ as vaccine tests expand

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - Media picks Alabama to top Florida in SEC championship game

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - Auburn to football fans: No TP rolling on replanted oaks

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - Games go on, but many traditions on hold in college football

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - No Labor Day holiday spike in COVID-19 cases in Alabama

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - New commission to study state’s prisons for future uses

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - House easily passes stopgap funding bill, averting shutdown

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - Stacy Column: find your voice, but don’t lose your mind

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - Pandemic, new rule increase Medicaid enrollment

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - Daily News Digest – September 23, 2020

AL.COM - Alabama adds 464 new coronavirus cases; 77% of deaths among those older than age 65
AL.COM - Alabama Power reopens business office lobbies; offers new payment plans
AL.COM - ‘Cosmopolitan’ kitchens pop up to replace lack of government aid in areas hit hardest by Hurricane Sally
AL.COM - St. Clair County government offices hit by cyber attack
AL.COM - Mystery surrounds large boat found in Alabama bayou after Hurricane Sally
AL.COM - State opposes Mike Hubbard’s request for revised sentence
AL.COM - Yellow Hammer Farms hydroponic farm and market coming to downtown Birmingham
AL.COM - Apple-supported Ed Farm workforce training program gets award
AL.COM - Contributor Riva Fralick: Storms, a coal ash pond and the climate crisis: You matter
AL.COM - Contributor Chad Jackson: Will Trump play checkers or chess with nomination?

Montgomery Advertiser - Fraternal Order of Police donates $2,000 toward wheelchair accessible van for injured officer

Montgomery Advertiser - Oakwood Cemetery struggles to manage upkeep during pandemic

Montgomery Advertiser - Chicago priest of ASU student's accused killer Ivry Hall expresses dismay, shock over charges

WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham - Resources still available for businesses impacted by COVID-19 pandemic

WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham - Apple apologizes after ‘Siri’ points users to law enforcement as terrorists

WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham - Stacy Column: Find your voice, but don’t lose your mind

Tuscaloosa News - Group begins series of drive-thru voter registration events

Tuscaloosa News - POW-MIA ceremony includes tribute to fallen police officer

Tuscaloosa News - McFarland Boulevard under I-20/59 closing this weekend for construction work

Decatur Daily - Online course enrollment up 14% at Athens State University due to COVID-19

Decatur Daily - First Response certificate to operate hits snag with required $2M performance bond

Decatur Daily - City Council votes to purchase disinfectant, desk barriers for Decatur City Schools

Times Daily - Hatton pleased with Lauderdale County's low COVID numbers

Times Daily - SEDA recommends $520K for retention pond work

Times Daily - UNA COVID numbers on downward trend

Anniston Star - More convenient campground for equestrians opens soon at McClellan

Anniston Star - Bennett Farms attractions return in October

Anniston Star - Anniston council approves new museum roof, street projects at final budget hearing

YellowHammer News - Barry Moore lands Trump endorsement in AL-02 following Oval Office visit

YellowHammer News - Jerry Carl visits White House, gets endorsed by President Trump in AL-01

YellowHammer News - Sara Evans is a 2020 Woman of Impact

Gadsden Times - The Chamber asks council to consider its impact, provide financial support

Gadsden Times - Gadsden's Human Relations Advisory Committee meets to organize

Gadsden Times - Green Pastures' residents oppose rezoning; Gadsden officials say they shouldn't worry

Dothan Eagle - McCraney's jury trial in deaths of J.B. Beasley, Tracie Hawlett continued to 2021

Dothan Eagle - Panhandler attacks girlfriend over $20 bill

Dothan Eagle - Dothan's Kiwanis Club celebrates 100th anniversary serving Wiregrass children

Opelika-Auburn News - Trump won't commit to peaceful transfer of power if he loses

Opelika-Auburn News - Florida wildlife refuge to take 30 former circus elephants

Opelika-Auburn News - Wildfires taint West Coast vineyards with taste of smoke

WSFA Montgomery - MPD Park, Walk and Talk program lets officers hear community concerns

WSFA Montgomery - Law enforcement organization donates $2,000 towards van for Officer Carlos Taylor

WSFA Montgomery - Suspect asks for reduced bond in ASU student murder case

WAFF Huntsville - Investigators looking for Huntsville copper theft

WAFF Huntsville - Father charged with death of 3-year-old son, Kaiden Garner, bond denied

WAFF Huntsville - 13-year-old Elkmont boy on his feet days after undergoing lifesaving liver transplant

WKRG Mobile - 2 officers shot in Louisville during protests, expected to recover

WKRG Mobile - Popular Smoky Mountain motorcycle route vandalized with Black Lives Matter graffiti

WKRG Mobile - Israel Hall convicted for felony murder of DeLauna Powell

WTVY Dothan - Trump tweets support for congressional candidate Barry Moore

WTVY Dothan - Dale County couple faces child sex charges

WTVY Dothan - Two years later: Coheelee Creek covered bridge reopens after Hurricane Michael cleanup

WASHINGTON POST - Kentucky grand jury declines to file homicide charges in death of Breonna Taylor

WASHINGTON POST - Ky. attorney general on Breonna Taylor case: ‘I understand as a Black man,’ but acting on outrage ‘is no justice’

WASHINGTON POST - Democrats decry Kentucky AG decision on Breonna Taylor as an example of systemic injustice

NEW YORK TIMES - Fired Officer Is Indicted in Breonna Taylor Case; Protesters Wanted Stronger Charges

NEW YORK TIMES - Ginsburg Remembered as Champion of Justice as Struggle Continues Over Her Successor

NEW YORK TIMES - Ginsburg Remembered as Champion of Justice as Struggle Continues Over Her Successor

WALL STREET JOURNAL - Two Louisville Officers Are Shot After Grand Jury Decision in Breonna Taylor Case Sparks Protests

WALL STREET JOURNAL - Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Commemorations Begin in Washington

WALL STREET JOURNAL - TikTok Owner Puts Deal With Oracle, Walmart in Beijing’s Hands

Front Pages (images link to newspaper websites, which you should visit and patronize)