NC'S POSITIVE TESTS FOR CORONAVIRUS ARE DOWN TO 6.5%: At least 821,894 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus, and 10,491 have died since March, according to state health officials. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Sunday reported 3,170 new COVID-19 cases, down from 4,130 reported the day before. As of Sunday, 1,989 people in North Carolina were reported hospitalized with the coronavirus, down by 112 from the day before. As of Friday, the latest date for which data are available, 6.5% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. Health officials say the percentage should be about 5% or lower to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The state reports more than 1.6 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.
ADVOCATES FOR THE DISABLED WANT THEM HIGHER ON NC COVID VACCINE PRIORITY: People with disabilities have been pushed down the priority list in places like North Carolina and California, where the state reversed course after days of public pressure. Groups like older people and essential workers are in dire need of the vaccine and state health departments say their plans are aimed at making the most of limited supplies. But the pandemic has also taken a disproportionate toll on people with disabilities around the world. People with intellectual and developmental disabilities are often immunocompromised, putting them at greater risk for complications if they get sick. They're also more likely to lose their jobs, can have a harder time with mask-wearing and social distancing, and have had to worry about whether they would be less likely to get critical care at hospitals. Many have also had to make do with less help, since caregivers can be an infection risk. In states such as North Carolina and Minnesota, meanwhile, health officials say their plans are still in progress and aimed ending the pandemic as soon as possible. In California, public health officials said people with disabilities could begin getting the vaccine in a month, an announcement that came nearly two weeks after they were pushed down the list.
NC GOP PLANS TO CENSURE RICHARD BURR FOR VOTING GUILTY IN TRUMP IMPEACHMENT: North Carolina Republicans are moving to censure Sen. Richard Burr in retaliation for his unexpected guilty vote Saturday in former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial. Members of the North Carolina Republican Party will hold an emergency meeting Monday night at 8 p.m. and they will be issuing a statement afterward. Burr was one of only seven Republicans to vote in favor of convicting Trump of inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Sen. Thom Tillis, Burr's North Carolina colleague, voted not guilty. The final vote tally was 57-43, but a two-thirds majority was needed for conviction. Members of the North Carolina Republican Party will hold an emergency meeting Monday night at 8 p.m. and they will be issuing a statement afterward.
STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS LOST 5% OF EMPLOYEES DURING PANDEMIC: Facing deep budget shortfalls, state and local governments have shed 1.3 million jobs since the pandemic began last year — translating into a loss of more than 1 in 20 government jobs, according to a Washington Post analysis of government data. While tax revenue grew in some states last year, the majority — at least 26 states — were hit with shortfalls. Revenue declined by 10 percent or more in five states, including a 43 percent drop in Alaska and a 10 percent decline in Florida. The toll was felt in both Republican led states like Texas, which saw a 10 percent shortfall, and Democratic led ones, like Oregon which weathered a 13 percent drop. Rescuing struggling state and local governments has been at the center of Congress’ debate over how to address the economic upheaval caused by the pandemic for months. Republicans oppose the idea, calling it a “blue state bailout” that would reward poor local financial management. Democrats say that without this help, states and local governments could turn into a drag on an already slow economic recovery, and have set aside $350 billion in aid to state and local governments in the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package making its way through Congress. State and local governments are large employers, accounting for about 13 percent of non-farm jobs in February 2020. The public sector jobs also historically take longer to rebound from a recession than private sector ones, even when there isn’t a public health crisis, economists warns.
ANGRY WITH BURR, REPUBLICANS WANT LARA TRUMP CANDIDACY EVEN MORE: Senator Richard M. Burr’s decision to vote for the conviction of Mr. Trump incensed many Republicans in his home state of North Carolina, and in doing so reignited talk that Ms. Trump, a native of Wilmington, N.C., would seek the Senate seat Mr. Burr will vacate in 2022. “My friend Richard Burr just made Lara Trump almost the certain nominee for the Senate seat in North Carolina to replace him if she runs,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said in an interview on Fox News on Sunday. Ms. Trump did not respond to a request for comment. One senior Republican official with knowledge of her plans said that the Jan. 6 riot soured her desire to seek office, but that she would decide over the next few months whether to run as part of a coordinated Trump family comeback. First, however, there is the question of her residence. Ms. Trump currently lives with her husband, Eric, and their children in the northern suburbs of New York City and would have to move back. Then there is the less straightforward question of branding. The Trump family name is a wild card — it will be a plus with loyalists and fund-raising nationally, but it could be a liability in a battleground that the former president won by a mere 1.3 percentage points in 2020. There is also a possibility Ms. Trump’s candidacy could help increase Democratic turnout, especially among the state’s large Black population. Or it might be a wash. “There is a myth that Trump voters will come out for Trump candidates or family members,” said John Anzalone, a Democratic pollster and a veteran of campaigns in the South. “Cult members only come out in full force for the cult leader.”