NC'S NATIONAL FORESTS ARE CLOSING CAMPGROUNDS, TRAILS STILL OPEN: The national forests in North Carolina will close all campgrounds starting Monday until at least May 15, the U.S. Forest Service announced Sunday. That includes dozens of campsites in the Pisgah National Forest, Nantahala National Forest and others. The roads and trails will remain open, but some trailhead facilities, like restrooms, may be closed. North Carolina has at least 307 reported cases of coronavirus as of Monday morning. Mecklenburg County has 80 reported cases, the most in the state. Wake County has 52, and Durham County has 41. Wake County declared a heightened state of emergency on Sunday, putting in place additional measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. The county is closing some public spaces and urging businesses to screen workers for high temperatures. Public gatherings are limited to 50 people.
NC REPUBLICANS WILL GO AHEAD WITH IN-PERSON CONVENTION AND RNC: In an open letter to state Republicans over the weekend, party Chairman Michael Whatley said the Republican National Committee "is firmly committed to moving forward" with the quadrennial convention set to be held in late August. It's there that President Donald Trump would formally accept the GOP nomination. Whatley said the RNC is working closely with governments to determine whether any changes to the convention scheduled are needed. Whatley also said the state GOP convention slated for mid-May in Greenville is still on, but the schedule or venue could be changed depending on COVID-19 developments. Otherwise, the state party's county conventions that are yet to be held will be conducted by teleconference, while district conventions will be held using both online and teleconference activities, Whatley wrote.. District convention participants can seek to be presidential electors or national convention delegates.
SHORTAGE OF VENTILATORS COULD FORCE DOCTORS TO CHOOSE BETWEEN PATIENTS: It’s a scenario few health-care leaders want to contemplate much less discuss: What if the ranks of desperately ill patients overwhelm the nation’s ability to care for them? With respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus rapidly spreading, nowhere is that potential more evident than the nation’s limited supply of mechanical breathing machines called ventilators. Desperate scenes are playing out in Italy, where a spike in COVID-19 cases have overwhelmed the medical system and doctors have reported shortages of staff and equipment. More than 4,800 people have died there, surpassing China in total deaths. Because the worst cases of COVID-19 rob a person of their ability to breathe, patients die unless they get life-sustaining oxygen from machines. But there are fewer than 100,000 ventilators in the United States and millions of patients struggling to breathe might need such care. n a worst-case scenario of ventilator shortages, physicians may have to decide “who lives and who dies,” said Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, an oncologist and chairman of the University of Pennsylvania’s department of medical ethics and health policy. “It’s horrible,” Emanuel said. “It’s the worst thing you can have to do.”
SENATE DEMOCRATS BLOCK STIMULUS PACKAGE OVER $500 BILLION CORPORATE "SLUSH FUND": Senate Democrats and Republicans spent Friday and Saturday negotiating over the legislation, with both sides saying they had made progress, until McConnell announced late Saturday he was moving forward on drafting a bill even though there was not yet a final deal. Each side quickly blamed the other for the breakdown. After the vote failed, McConnell angrily lectured Democrats about the outcome. Republicans had hoped to move forward to final passage of the legislation on Monday, a goal that now looks improbable. A major sticking point is a $500 billion pool of money for loans and loan guarantees that Republicans want to create, which some Democrats are labeling a “slush fund” because the Treasury Department would have broad discretion over who receives the money. There is little precedent for a program with a similar size and scope. “They’re throwing caution to the wind for average workers and people on Main Street and going balls to the wall for people on Wall Street,” Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) said of Republicans.
PUBLIC ANGER DIRECTED TOWARDS ASIAN-AMERICANS OVER VIRUS, TRUMP FANS THE FLAMES: As the coronavirus upends American life, Chinese-Americans face a double threat. Not only are they grappling like everyone else with how to avoid the virus itself, they are also contending with growing racism in the form of verbal and physical attacks. Other Asians-Americans — with families from Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, Myanmar and other places — are facing threats, too, lumped together with Chinese-Americans by a bigotry that does not know the difference. In interviews over the past week, nearly two dozen Asian-Americans across the country said they were afraid — to go grocery shopping, to travel alone on subways or buses, to let their children go outside. Many described being yelled at in public — a sudden spasm of hate that is reminiscent of the kind faced by Muslim-Americans after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. But unlike 2001, when President George W. Bush urged tolerance of Muslim-Americans, this time President Trump is using language that Asian-Americans say is inciting racist attacks. Mr. Trump told reporters on Tuesday that he was calling the virus “Chinese” to combat a disinformation campaign by Beijing officials saying the American military was the source of the outbreak. He dismissed concerns that his language would lead to any harm. San Francisco State University found a 50 percent rise in the number of news articles related to the coronavirus and anti-Asian discrimination between Feb. 9 and March 7. The lead researcher, Russell Jeung, a professor of Asian-American studies, said the figures represented “just the tip of the iceberg,” because only the most egregious cases that would be likely to be reported by the media.