Top Headlines: Many states fall short of reopening criteria, US firms return virus loans

Many states fall short of White House reopening criteria
Around the U.S., states are debating whether and how to reopen their economies and lift social-distancing measures. But are they ready?…Whether they are or not, many are moving ahead. President Donald Trump insisted on Tuesday that the country had to reopen its economy, even at the risk of more infections. — Bloomberg

‘Stop the Alabama Shutdown’ protestors gather at capitol
On Tuesday about 75 protestors gathered at the Cramton Bowl stadium in Montgomery and marched to the front steps of the state capitol to protest Governor Kay Ivey’s safer-at-home order that extended some business closures statewide until at least May 15th….Not all of Alabama’s leadership have been totally on board with how the pandemic closure has been handled. Most notably, Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth, in conjunction with the Small Business Commission, urged Kay Ivey to avoid extending the economic shutdown and to allow all businesses to reopen. — Alabama Today

US firms return virus loans as Treasury threatens penalties
More than 40 public companies are pledging to return money to the government’s small business coronavirus fund now that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is threatening criminal prosecutions for violating the rules of the program….The administration has given companies until May 14 to give back money without penalty. It’s a key test for President Donald Trump’s administration as it tries to ensure the $600 billion-plus emergency lending program helps small employers preserve jobs in an economy shedding them at a staggering rate. — ABC News

11 attorneys general seek probe into meatpacking industry for price-fixing
The attorneys general for 11 Midwestern states urged the Justice Department on Tuesday to pursue a federal investigation into market concentration and potential price-fixing by meatpackers in the cattle industry during the coronavirus pandemic. — AP

Residents express concern as new unemployment claims increase in the Chattahoochee Valley
According to the Georgia Department of Labor, 4.2 percent of Georgians are now without a job and the numbers continue to rise since March….The Alabama Department Labor said it’s experiencing a high call volume and trying to get back to people within five days. It may take longer for some, and when asked of the possibility of unemployment funds running out due to the increase in people filing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the department said it’s not a concern now. — WTVM

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Legislature proposes bill that would give businesses immunity from COVID-19 lawsuits
A bill that would limit lawsuits against businesses if someone claimed they contracted coronavirus is being proposed in the Alabama Legislature. — Alabama News

1818 Farms owner receives award from AMLA
A woman with a farm in Mooresville has been named a North Alabama Elite Tourism Professional through a program of the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association….Natasha McCrary of 1818 Farms received the title for her contributions to the tourism industry. She was one of several in the 16-county North Alabama region recognized during National Travel and Tourism Week for their customer service and hospitality. She was featured in Business Alabama in December. — News Courier

UAB Student Entrepreneurs Compete In ‘Shark Tank’-Style Pitch Competition
University of Alabama at Birmingham student entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas to compete for $6,500 in prizes at the fourth annual Blazer Innovation Challenge….The Collat School of Business and Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship hosted the virtual event sponsored by IBERIABANK. The challenge promotes student entrepreneurship and innovation toward solving product, service or process problems. — Patch

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