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.
SPINDALE CULT IS TARGET OF ONLINE THREATS OVER CORONAVIRUS: County health officials have refused to release identifying information about where clusters of the coronavirus illness have occurred, citing federal and state privacy laws. But that hasn’t stopped widespread speculation that Word of Faith — the subject of fiery debate in and around Rutherford County for decades — has fueled the county’s outbreak. “Could we just lock up the woff compound and burn it to the ground with them inside? That way, we can open up the rest of the county,” one person wrote. Another wrote that if officials “just eradicated that compound & made it a crater this might get (the disease) under control.” Other posts singled out Jane Whaley, who founded the church with her husband in the late 1970s and who still exerts a powerful influence over the lives of the congregation. Said one person: “If I had money and I knew where she lived, I’d burn her house down.” Word of Faith attorney Joshua Farmer, also a congregation leader, said the church has reported the Facebook posts to the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office.
GEORGIA SET TO OPEN RESTAURANTS TODAY: Georgia's reopening is set to continue Monday when movie theaters can welcome customers and limited in-restaurant dining may resume in a loosening of coronavirus restrictions. This comes after other businesses, including barbershops, gyms, tattoo shops and nail salons, were allowed to start seeing customers Friday. While many gratefully opened their doors after a monthlong closure, others didn't feel ready yet and remained shuttered. A similar mixed response is expected for the businesses allowed to reopen Monday. Gov. Brian Kemp last week announced that he was relaxing restrictions despite health experts’ warnings of a potential surge in infections and disapproval from President Donald Trump. The Georgia Department of Labor announced Thursday that 1.1 million workers — about one-fifth of the state’s workforce — filed for unemployment in the five weeks since the crisis started. But public health experts have said a spike in new cases could follow if reopening happens too quickly; increased testing and diligent tracking of infected people's contacts are needed to counter that. Georgia has ranked in the bottom 10 of states for testing per capita, but some progress was made on that front last week.
TRUMP RELEASES A BITTER TWEET STORM AFTER BEING FORCED TO BACK OFF DAILY BRIEFINGS: Over the next seven hours or so, Trump took aim at everything and anyone he could, unleashing a barrage of more than 30 tweets and retweets that targeted media outlets, high-profile commentators and hosts, and Democrats. He also returned once more to the Russia probe and impeachment, promoting a tweet that accused his political adversaries of “three failed coup attempts.” The tweet went on to suggest with no evidence that the president’s opponents could “attempt to steal the election” by making the novel coronavirus’s impact on human lives seem worse than it really is. At one point, the president said reporters who covered him should return their “Noble Prizes,” appearing to confuse the Nobel Prizes with the Pulitzer Prizes for journalism. Rather than correct himself, Trump deleted the “Noble” tweets, but then said he meant to use the word “Noble,” as a form of “sarcasm.” Trump went on to retweet commentary ridiculing his Democratic challenger Joe Biden for his syntax. Trump’s decision to skip briefings this weekend follows a particularly disastrous showing last Thursday when the president found himself weathering intense backlash after he asked if highly toxic disinfectants could be injected into the human body to fight coronavirus. He was also widely rebuked for floating unproven treatments such as light therapy at the same briefing.
BUT THEN AGAIN, THERE'S STILL PENCE, UNDERMINING THE WARNINGS OF SCIENTISTS: As several states moved ahead with plans to tentatively restart their economies, many Americans were confronted with yet another new calculation on Monday. After weeks of being told to simply stay home, they would now have to decide how to make sense of conflicting messages from local politicians and public health officials. Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, cautioned that Americans should expect some form of social-distancing guidelines to continue for months. “Social distancing will be with us through the summer,” she said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Her comments came after Vice President Mike Pence suggested that the epidemic would be under control by the end of May. “I think by Memorial Day Weekend we will largely have this coronavirus epidemic behind us,” he said late last week. While states and localities face different challenges across the country, the pressure to ease restrictions will only grow as the economic pain deepens, restlessness grows and spring turns to summer. In Southern California this weekend, tens of thousands of people flocked to the beaches in Orange County.
Around the world, leaders are trying to strike a similar balance. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy outlined his plan to ease restrictions and reopen the country’s economy starting on May 4. “Now begins the phase, for everybody, of living with the virus,” Mr. Conte said in an address Sunday night. He added that a failure to respect social distancing would cause infections to climb again and the government to “close the tap.”