BlueNC's blog

Wednesday News: The cost of neglect

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MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS BREWING IN NC DUE TO LACK OF RESOURCES: Dr. Sy Saeed, chairman of the psychiatry department at East Carolina University's Brody School of Medicine, said the state's mental health system "was already in crisis before COVID-19," adding that demand for mental health care is likely to increase due to the virus. According to Saeed, 31 counties in North Carolina have no psychiatrist. Thirteen counties have no behavioral health providers at all, and 90 out of the state's 100 counties would qualify as shortage areas for mental health providers. Saeed is director of the state's telepsychiatry program, NCStep, which began in 2013. He said the state is "ahead of the curve" because the program is already providing services to dozens of underserved locations across the state.
https://www.wral.com/coronavirus/nc-s-rural-mental-health-care-in-dire-straits-due-to-virus-outbreak...

Tuesday News: Move over, Solar Bee

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BERGER PUSHES RANDOM TESTING BOONDOGGLE FOR CORONAVIRUS: A new study based at Wake Forest Baptist Health will mail coronavirus antibody tests to 1,000 North Carolinians, legislative leaders announced Monday. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger has been calling for weeks for random sample testing to better gauge the extent of the outbreak, and now the legislature will put up $100,000 to mount the project itself, sending people tests through the mail. People will use the kits to prick their fingers once a month for a year, and the test is meant to determine whether their blood contains COVID-19 antibodies. "Much like a political opinion poll, researchers will use the proportion of people in the representative sample who have antibodies to extrapolate the prevalence of immunity to the larger population," Berger's office said Monday.
https://www.wral.com/coronavirus/nc-legislature-will-fund-random-covid-19-tests/19054667/

Monday News: You can't fix stupid

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FACEBOOK GROUP DECRIES "COMMUNISTIC" COVID 19 RESTRICTIONS: Ashley Smith, listed as one of ReopenNC’s Facebook page administrators, posted a two-minute video on her personal Facebook page on Thursday urging North Carolina officials to relax social restrictions and allow businesses to reopen. She called the current orders Cooper has in place a “draconian, communistic government move.” The group encourages its members to contact state officials as well as their local sheriffs to demand a return to normal operating procedures. ReopenNC calls Cooper’s executive orders unconstitutional and says curtailing citizens’ civil liberties and damaging the economy is doing more harm than COVID-19 is inflicting. The group’s Facebook page, started last Tuesday, grew to include more than 15,000 members by Sunday.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article241953556.html

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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NC'S NEGLECTED UNEMPLOYED NEED AND DESERVE BETTER, NOW: That lack of concern and preparedness has left nearly half a million hard working North Carolinians, who never dreamt of being out of a job, applying for unemployment benefits as a result of policy orders relating to the COVID-19 outbreak. They may be victims of a legislature that too often sought to comfort the wealthy at the expense of the state’s working families, children and the disadvantaged. The 2013 reforms to the state’s system, in reality “was an ideologically inspired effort to effectively eliminate unemployment insurance.” It appears to have been working. At the end of 2007 about 38 percent of North Carolina’s unemployed received unemployment insurance payments for as many as 26 weeks. By the end of last year, that was down to 10 percent who received benefits for no more than 12 weeks. This is simple – either you care about our unemployed and our uninsured, or you don’t.
https://www.wral.com/coronavirus/editorial-north-carolina-s-neglected-unemployed-need-and-deserve-be...

Saturday News: Harassment is not "essential"

TED CRUZ DEFENDS NC ANTI-ABORTION PROTESTERS ARRESTED FOR COVID 19 VIOLATIONS: In the last week, police in multiple North Carolina cities have arrested anti-abortion protesters who were charged with violating the coronavirus-related order that bans mass gatherings. Arrests of abortion protesters in Greensboro led to the protesters suing city officials there. A few days later, several protesters were arrested at an abortion protest in Charlotte, too. After the Charlotte arrests made national news, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said he thought the protesters’ rights had been violated, The Charlotte Observer reported. “This is an unconstitutional arrest,” Cruz tweeted. He added that they have a First Amendment right to protest, and that they were being “fully consistent (with) public safety.” “IF providing abortions is essential, then peacefully giving pregnant women counseling on alternatives to abortion is ALSO ‘essential,’” Cruz tweeted.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article241919161.html

Friday News: Here we go again

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RIGHT-WING GROUP SUES NC COUNTIES IN EFFORT TO PURGE VOTER ROLLS: According to Judicial Watch, Mecklenburg is lagging in updating its voter list. It claims the state’s biggest county removed an average of 11,000 voters per year during the last reporting period. Dickerson says the county actually removed almost 59,000 names in 2019 alone. He also disputed Judicial Watch’s claim that Mecklenburg has more registered voters than voting-age residents. Based on 2018 Census estimate, Mecklenburg had almost 1.1 million residents, of which some 835,000 were 18 and older. About 88 percent, or 732,000 residents, are registered to vote — not the 107 percent alleged by the complaint, he said. Judicial Watch has long aligned itself with Trump on wide range of issues including immigration and Hillary Clinton’s emails.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article241895126.html

Thursday News: Show me the money

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SCV MUST RETURN $2.5 MILLION TO UNC-CH, MINUS LAWYER FEES: The judge approved those costs, saying they are “reasonable” and “necessary” and would be distributed within 10 days, according to court documents. The remaining balance in the trust, which is just under $2.42 million, will be returned to the UNC System within 10 days and then to UNC-Chapel Hill, which initially transferred the funds for the settlement. At that point, the trust will be dissolved. The judge also extended the time for the SCV to return the Silent Sam statue to the UNC System to May 5 because of the “situation with COVID-19.” UNC System Interim President Bill Roper and Board of Governors Chairman Randy Ramsey have said the statue will not be their primary focus. But they, along with UNC-Chapel Hill leaders, have made clear that the statue will not return to campus.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article241867311.html

Wednesday News: Ode to the gig workers

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UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS FOR SOME NC WORKERS ARE DELAYED: Taylor said he couldn’t yet promise lawmakers exactly when the state might be in a position to start approving people for those PUA benefits, but “I’d really like it up and running in two weeks.” The reason for the wait and the uncertainty, Taylor said, is the “tremendous amount” of paperwork needed to verify that self-employed people applying for unemployment are telling the truth about their job losses, their incomes, or even that their businesses are legitimate. And although Congress approved the PUA benefits two weeks ago, the federal government didn’t publish the actual rules for the program until Sunday. Taylor said state unemployment officials spent Monday trying to figure out all the numerous rules and requirements, and will next try to figure out how to best put the new system into place. Politico reported Monday that those rules have raised the ire of some Democratic politicians and groups for excluding too many people.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article241828321.html

Tuesday News: Keep flattening the curve

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NC'S SOCIAL DISTANCING SEEMS TO BE WORKING. IT COULD BE MUCH WORSE: At least 2,947 people in 91 North Carolina counties have tested positive for the coronavirus. There are at least 132 confirmed cases statewide of people recovering from the virus, although many counties aren't reporting those numbers. At least 44 people have died in North Carolina, and about 270 people are hospitalized. Six North Carolina residents have died of coronavirus-related complications on Monday, including three in Mecklenburg County and one in Moore County. A statewide stay-at-home order is in effect through April 30. Any local orders with tighter restrictions take precedence over the state order. Coronavirus cases at the federal prison complex in Butner have skyrocketed, from 11 reported cases on Sunday to 59 on Monday, according to local health and federal prison officials.
https://www.wral.com/coronavirus/live-nc-coronavirus-updates/19043849/

Monday News: Pandemic updates

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39 PEOPLE HAVE DIED FROM COVID 19 IN NORTH CAROLINA: North Carolina has at least 2,677 reported cases of the coronavirus as of Monday morning, and 39 people have died, according to state and county health departments. The state identified 183 new cases on Sunday. More than 260 people in North Carolina were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Sunday evening, and more than 40,000 had been tested for the virus, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. More than 90 of the state’s 100 counties have at least one reported case of the coronavirus. Mecklenburg County, considered an epicenter of the virus in North Carolina, has the most reported cases in the state, with 665.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/coronavirus/article241787796.html

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