FOREST PLANS TO SUE GOVERNOR COOPER OVER EXECUTIVE ORDERS: “Today, I notified Governor Cooper that, as a member of the Council of State, I will be suing his administration for violating the Emergency Management Act,” the post said. “The Governor has repeatedly ignored the law, enacting mandates that selectively target the businesses and citizens of North Carolina without concurrence from a majority of the Council of State.” During a press conference on Wednesday, Cooper announced he is extending Phase Two of the state’s reopening until July 17. It was scheduled to expire on June 26. Cooper also issued a statewide mandate requiring the use of masks or face coverings. There were 1,009 new cases reported Thursday by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services after it reported 1,721 cases on Wednesday, which was the second-highest total during the COVID-19 pandemic.
LATE-NIGHT SHENANIGANS BY REPUBLICANS PUT MASK-WEARING IN JEOPARDY: "We're going to make it illegal to wear masks in this state Aug. 1," Jackson, D-Wake, said on the House floor early Friday. "I'll never understand how science and mask-wearing became so partisan." House leaders said it was the Senate that insisted on dropping the amendment. House Majority Leader John Bell, R-Wayne, said the issue got too complicated to handle as the session stretched into the early morning hours. “I never knew masks were complicated, but masks can be complicated," Bell said. Jackson said Republicans were insisting on language that would have said the governor's mask mandate couldn't be enforced by criminal or civil penalties, which he wouldn't agree to. Republican leaders in both General Assembly chambers said they plan to keep talking, and House leaders in particular were optimistic they can find enough common ground to let people wear face coverings without – technically, at least – breaking a law passed decades ago to target the Ku Klux Klan.
GOP SENATOR JERRY TILLMAN RESIGNS, NEW CANDIDATE TO BE CHOSEN: A Republican senator announced a surprise resignation in the North Carolina Senate on Thursday, which is likely the final day of the legislative session. Sen. Jerry Tillman, one of the longest serving Republicans in the Senate, frequently uses the moments of “points of personal privilege” at the end of the day’s session to talk about country music or other topics. But on Thursday he gave an unexpected farewell speech. He told reporters afterward that he had submitted his resignation effective Tuesday, but did not give a reason other than that it was time to move on. He filed to run for a 10th term and is on the ballot this fall, but said he’s asking to be removed from the ballot in time for someone new to be on the ballot. Tillman said the Republican Party of his district will name someone to the ballot. “Oh yeah, we have a person in mind. I can’t give you his name right now,” Tillman said.
AT LEAST 10 NC SHERIFFS REFUSE TO ENFORCE MASK REQUIREMENT: In Nevada and North Carolina on Thursday, multiple sheriffs said their Democratic governors’ mask requirements were “unconstitutional and unenforceable.” After five California counties ignored a similar directive, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) threatened to withhold state funds. Another Washington state sheriff called Inslee an “idiot.” As they battle through viral Facebook posts and appearances on local TV and radio, these mostly Republican sheriffs have effectively blocked their governors’ orders. If they refuse to enforce their rules, it is unclear who else will. In North Carolina, at least 10 sheriffs this week said they would not be carrying out a similar directive from Gov. Roy Cooper (D). The minor nature of the offenses as well as a lack of resources, many said, meant they had more serious things to worry about. “I certainly encourage people to be careful and take safety precautions,” Wes Tripp, sheriff of Halifax County, wrote on social media, according to WWBT. “The wearing of a mask is a personal decision, not one of a governor in Raleigh." While a wave of newly elected black Democratic sheriffs has radically changed the face of law enforcement in North Carolina, many of those who spoke out against Cooper’s mask order were white, male and Republican.
YOUNGER PEOPLE ARE TESTING POSITIVE AT AN ALARMING RATE, SUPERCHARGING PANDEMIC: In Arizona, where drive-up sites are overwhelmed by people seeking coronavirus tests, people ages 20 to 44 account for nearly half of all cases. In Florida, which breaks records for new cases nearly every day, the median age of residents testing positive for the virus has dropped to 35, down from 65 in March. And in Texas, where the governor paused the reopening process on Thursday as hospitals grow increasingly crowded, young people now account for the majority of new cases in several urban centers. In Cameron County, which includes Brownsville and the tourist town of South Padre Island, people under 40 make up more than half of newly reported cases. “What is clear is that the proportion of people who are younger appears to have dramatically changed,” said Joseph McCormick, a professor of epidemiology at UTHealth School of Public Health in Brownsville. “It’s really quite disturbing.” The rise in cases among younger people could complicate the plans of leaders who are eager to open schools and universities, resume athletic events and return to normal life and a fully functioning economy. The increases could reflect a simple reality: Since many states have reopened bars, restaurants and offices, the coronavirus has been allowed to spread more widely across communities, including to more young people. But people in their 20s and 30s are also more likely to go out socializing, experts say, raising concerns that asymptomatic young people are helping to spread the virus to more vulnerable Americans at a time when cases are surging dangerously in the South and the West.