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Pandemic program to boost Alabama internet use mostly unused

A $100 million program to increase internet usage among low-income Alabama families during the pandemic has gone mostly unused, and the state is sending 300,000 more vouchers in a search for additional takers.

Posted: Oct 3, 2020 7:39 PM

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A $100 million program to increase internet usage among low-income Alabama families during the pandemic has gone mostly unused, and the state is sending 300,000 more vouchers in a search for additional takers.

Al.com reported that the state is attempting to expand the Alabama Broadband Connectivity for Students program after only 44,000 of 250,000 vouchers mailed in late August were used.

While 75,000 students have gained internet access so far through the program, which seeks to make it easier for students to get online for school, around 450,000 students qualify statewide, said Mike Presley, spokesman for the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.

The second round of vouchers is being sent by a state contractor to increase participation.

“This second mailing, mailed last week by our contractor CTC Technology and Energy, also includes a resending of letters to households that have not redeemed a voucher sent in the first mailing earlier in September,” said Presley.

The vouchers, which are good for internet service through Dec. 30, are being made available through a $100 million allocation from federal CARES Act funding. Qualifying families are eligible to redeem vouchers worth an estimated $400 per family.

The vouchers can be used to pay for existing service or to connect new service. With high-speed internet service often unavailable across rural Alabama and in some urban areas, the funding can go toward technology including wireless hot spots.

Every district in the state is offering a remote learning option for families who are worried about contracting the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and Presley said vouchers have been used all over the state with about three dozen internet providers.

At least 2,550 people in Alabama have died of COVID-19, and more than 155,000 have tested positive for the illness. The number of new cases being reported daily in the state has been on a slow rise over the last week, statistics show.

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Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 156868

Reported Deaths: 3851
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10409104
Hinds10279202
Harrison7313112
Jackson6566128
Rankin5887106
Lee529496
Madison5014107
Forrest389786
Jones369088
Lauderdale3594147
Lafayette338253
Washington3246108
Lamar297850
Oktibbeha252362
Lowndes247064
Bolivar244384
Panola232653
Neshoba2249121
Marshall222851
Leflore208591
Monroe206778
Pontotoc204231
Lincoln197366
Sunflower192655
Warren180258
Tate177751
Union171926
Copiah167940
Pike165359
Yazoo160140
Scott159430
Itawamba157635
Alcorn155628
Pearl River155368
Coahoma152743
Simpson152653
Prentiss151331
Adams144752
Grenada143345
Leake139744
Holmes133461
Covington128639
Tippah128430
George128325
Winston125526
Hancock124341
Wayne121323
Marion119446
Attala119334
Tishomingo112443
Chickasaw109432
Newton108229
Tallahatchie98127
Clay94727
Clarke93653
Jasper85223
Stone80615
Calhoun78713
Walthall77629
Montgomery76926
Carroll74115
Lawrence73814
Smith73216
Yalobusha73128
Noxubee72717
Perry68326
Tunica62619
Greene61522
Jefferson Davis59017
Claiborne58916
Amite56615
Humphreys54719
Benton50018
Quitman5007
Webster46714
Kemper45018
Wilkinson40522
Jefferson37112
Choctaw3617
Franklin3555
Sharkey32417
Issaquena1204
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 252900

Reported Deaths: 3638
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson33526501
Mobile20103365
Madison13723151
Tuscaloosa13366154
Montgomery12552236
Shelby1079677
Baldwin9051137
Lee787266
Morgan696451
Calhoun6598121
Etowah656167
Marshall647357
Houston541038
DeKalb498137
Cullman462443
St. Clair441956
Limestone440445
Lauderdale426754
Elmore421164
Walker3735111
Talladega370157
Jackson340423
Colbert332042
Blount306140
Autauga281842
Franklin257434
Coffee250015
Dale239054
Dallas231532
Chilton228939
Russell22663
Covington225034
Escambia202331
Tallapoosa187291
Chambers182750
Pike161514
Clarke161019
Marion144736
Winston137523
Lawrence133436
Pickens126518
Geneva12508
Marengo123424
Bibb120418
Barbour118911
Butler118642
Randolph105522
Cherokee105124
Hale98131
Fayette94616
Washington93219
Clay92824
Henry8896
Monroe83011
Lowndes80929
Cleburne78814
Macon75522
Crenshaw72230
Bullock70119
Lamar7018
Conecuh70014
Perry6916
Wilcox64818
Sumter58622
Greene43518
Choctaw43114
Coosa3664
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