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Monday News: Keep staying at home


NC NOW HAS 8,830 CASES OF COVID 19, MECKLENBURG LEADS WITH 1,482: Mecklenburg County has 1,482 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Sunday, according to data from the state Department of Health and Human Services. There were no new deaths disclosed Sunday morning. The county reported late Sunday a total of 1,471 cases and said 40 residents have died from coronavirus. State officials report 1 additional death, for a total of 41. State and county coronavirus data can differ, with the county reporting only deaths and positive test results among Mecklenburg residents. North Carolina data includes people who are being treated locally or who test positive in Mecklenburg but live elsewhere. Statewide, cases rose Sunday, with 289 deaths reported. But N.C. health officials also said Sunday an earlier reporting error inflated the statewide case total. Officials corrected Saturday’s total number of cases to 8,542 and reported a total of 8,830 on Sunday morning.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


FEDERAL STIMULUS AIM IS TO HELP THE NEEDY, NOT ENRICH THE GREEDY: Most basically, the hope is that families in need will spend the $1,200 per adult on making sure, as far as it will go, the basics of life are taken care of – shelter, food and health. There’s plenty of advice for those who may be in a position to share some of their stimulus check with organizations that help those in need. But some North Carolinians and others across the nation are discovering someone else has already decided what will happen to those stimulus funds – and grabbed them within seconds of the funds arriving in a bank account. Banks, lending institutions, debt collectors and others are making claim. Consumer advocates, members of Congress who voted for the legislation and 25 state attorneys general – including North Carolina’s Josh Stein – say that’s wrong. They’re right. This is meant to help wage-earners live – not provide relief to big financial institutions, commercial lenders and debt collection agencies.

Saturday News: Survival & Beyond

COALITION OF ADVOCACY GROUPS PUSH FOR POLICY CHANGES TO FIGHT INEQUALITY: The group has a heavy focus on immigrant rights, with a long list of priorities calling on government to address injustices that amplify the economic crash's impact on people who can least afford it. Their top priorities are expanding Medicaid to provide health insurance long-term to North Carolina's working poor and ensuring "free and widespread testing, treatment and medication" for COVID-19. Medicaid expansion remains unlikely to move in the coming legislative session, but free testing and treatment is something state and federal leaders have backed for people who meet income thresholds. The group also wants prison system reforms, including an end to cash bail, assistance programs for immigrants regardless of legal status and an end to state cooperation with federal immigration enforcement.

Friday News: Not nearly enough


LEGISLATURE BUDGETS $600 MILLION, HOSPITALS LOSING $1 BILLION A MONTH: Lawmakers in the state House backed a bill Thursday with more than $600 million in it for COVID-19 research, medical care, hospital bailouts and a slew of other programs. A key budget writer called it "phase one." The North Carolina Healthcare Association says hospitals around the state are out about $1 billion a month because of the elimination of profitable non-essential procedures and spending on COVID-19 preparations. The House working group, laying out priorities ahead of next week's legislative session, also approved a bill that details long-term plans for a new state stockpile of personal protective equipment – the PPE considered so crucial to protect hospital and other front-line workers from the new coronavirus.

Thursday News: Stay tuned


GOVERNOR COOPER TO RELEASE DETAILS OF REOPEN PLAN TODAY: Gov. Roy Cooper will make an announcement at 3 p.m. Thursday about when and how to start lifting restrictions, as North Carolina tries to control the spread of coronavirus, a source close to the governor confirmed. Cooper had earlier said he would announce a decision this week about the stay-at-home order, which is set to expire April 29, and on opening school facilities, which are now closed through May 15. Cooper did not hold a press conference on Wednesday. Cooper also said Tuesday that he wants to “ease back” restrictions so the virus does not spike and overwhelm our hospitals. The governor said the decision about the reopening of schools will include guidance from public health officials about what is needed to make students safe in school, the N&O previously reported.

Wednesday News: Fraud is my middle name


MCCRAE DOWLESS CASHED SSI DISABILITY CHECKS WHILE WORKING: McCrae Dowless, the Bladen County political operative at the center of the allegations of absentee-ballot fraud that brought down Republican congressional candidate Mark Harris in 2018, has been indicted on new charges. A federal grand jury accused Dowless of collecting thousands of dollars in Social Security disability payments in 2017 and 2018 even though he was working for multiple political campaigns including Harris’ bid for the 9th Congressional District, according to a newly unsealed federal indictment. Social Security disability payments are typically available only to people who can’t work because of a disability. And Dowless, the indictment said, told the government that “he remained disabled and did not receive income beyond his SSI benefits” even though in fact he was working. Ultimately, he’s accused of taking at least $14,000 in unauthorized payments.

Tuesday News: Going nowhere, fast

NC REPUBLICANS PUSH FOR NO-FAN NASCAR RACING: Calls are mounting from elected officials hoping to see NASCAR return to North Carolina on Memorial Day weekend, with the Coca-Cola 600 run in front of an empty stadium in Charlotte because of coronavirus concerns. House Speaker Tim Moore joined the call Monday, writing a letter to Gov. Roy Cooper about the prospect. State Treasurer Dale Folwell, who was recently hospitalized and recovered from COVID-19, the illness associated with the virus, made much the same ask. They joined five Republican state senators who broached the subject last week. Cooper's press office said Monday that he's "already been talking with track and team owners about how we could potentially restart racing."

Monday News: Death sentence


FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DOES NOT TRACK COVID 19 CASES AT PRIVATELY-RUN PRISONS: On Sunday, a public health director in North Carolina confirmed one inmate and at least three staff members have tested positive for the virus at Rivers Correctional Institution near the Hertford County town of Winton. It is a low-security prison for men run by the GEO Group in Boca Raton, Fla. Sue Allison, a spokeswoman for the bureau, confirmed last week in an email that the bureau’s case tracking does not include the privately run prisons. She did not say why. Efforts to reach bureau officials on Sunday by phone and email were unsuccessful. Irving Joyner, a law professor for N.C. Central University in Durham, said the lack of reporting out of privately-run federal prisons is another example of governmental officials not taking seriously the health and welfare of inmates in a pandemic. “This is just another example of dereliction of duty as it relates to the safety of that population that’s incarcerated by our government,” he said.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


LEGISLATORS SHOULD FOCUS ON HUGE VOTER TURNOUT, NOT PARTISAN ADVANTAGE: Our state – for nearly a decade – has been ground-zero for just about every effort to sway election outcomes. It has been in: Hyper-partisan gerrymandering that courts have repeatedly criticized and rejected as unconstitutional and denied millions of North Carolinians a fair voice in Congress and the General Assembly. Cutting access to the ballot by efforts to limit polling places and moving them from places easily accessible to large number of voters, particularly on college campuses. Mid-election changes to the order of candidates on ballots. The elimination of non-partisan and publicly funded judicial elections. Baseless challenges to local board of elections voter rolls. Reckless allegations that some voters who cast ballots may have been ineligible. It is an indisputable record of the current legislative leadership’s relentless pursuit to enshrine GOP domination – regardless of the will of the voters.

Saturday News: 6,000+ infected


172 NC FATALITIES ASSOCIATED WITH CORONAVIRUS COMPLICATIONS: North Carolina has at least 6,031 reported cases of the coronavirus as of Saturday morning, and 172 people have died, according to state and county health departments. The state health department reported 394 new cases on Friday, the second-highest jump since the outbreak began. At least 429 North Carolinians were hospitalized with COVID-19 Friday, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. That’s down from Thursday’s all-time high of 452. Mecklenburg County, home to Charlotte, has the most reported cases in the state, with 1,136. The county has reported 24 deaths. Wake County, which includes Raleigh, has 574 reported cases and three deaths. Durham County has 338 reported cases and four deaths.


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