Thursday News: Short-term solutions


$300 BOOST TO UNEMPLOYMENT CHECKS WILL ONLY LAST 3 WEEKS: Gov. Roy Cooper said Wednesday that he expects North Carolinians on unemployment will see the $300 federal boost in their checks next week. "We're hoping that's when that's going to happen," Cooper said Wednesday afternoon, during a news conference on his new budget proposal. That money won't last long. So far, the federal government has approved only enough money to cover three weeks of payments, all of which have already passed. The benefits will be paid retroactively. Congress may eventually approve more funding, and it's possible that the North Carolina General Assembly will increase state-funded benefits when they gather for another legislative session next week. A $600-a-week unemployment boost, also funded by the federal government, ran out in late July.

CHARLOTTE POLICE INTENTIONALLY TRAPPED PROTESTERS, THEN TEAR-GASSED THEM: Video released Wednesday by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police shows officers intentionally cornered nearly 200 protesters on Fourth Street on June 2 before firing tear gas from at least two directions on the trapped crowd. Police department leaders have previously denied witness and activist assertions that the protest group was ambushed that night. Dozens of videos released Wednesday provide the most detailed look to date at an incident that sparked widespread condemnation of CMPD and calls for far-reaching reforms within the department. In the footage, one officer is heard saying police were about to “hammer their ass” from two locations, and he told officers with the department’s bicycle unit that the plan called for those marching to be “bottle-necked” on Fourth Street. Then, as the protest group passed by chanting “Hands up, don’t shoot,” the officer says: “Hey, wave goodbye. They’re all about to get gassed.”

NC STATE IS MOVING STUDENTS OUT OF DORMS AFTER MORE CORONA CLUSTERS ARE DETECTED: Thursday is the first day students at North Carolina State University will start moving out of on-campus housing per the school's request as officials work to halt the spread of coronavirus clusters on campus. N.C. State just reported three new clusters – two in main campus dorms and one in Greek Village. Officials said the university is scheduling move-out time slots or appointments through Sept.. 6 to ensure the moves can be accomplished with social distancing. About 6,500 students are currently living on campus, but officials want to get that number down to 2,000, allowing each student to have his or her own bedroom and bathroom. Students can apply to remain on campus if they have people in their homes who are at higher risk from the virus, if going home presents travel difficulties or if they don't have internet access at home or a financial hardship.

PENCE LEADS REPUBLICAN SPEAKERS WHO TOUT TRUMP'S SUPPORT OF POLICE: Vice President Pence, the headliner of the night, took the lead in painting Trump as projecting leadership abroad and overseeing a strong domestic economy before it was battered by the coronavirus pandemic. And in one of the night's sharpest attacks against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, Pence warned: "You won't be safe in Joe Biden's America." “From Seattle and Portland to Washington and New York, Democrat-run cities across this country are being overrun by violent mobs,” said South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem, one of the opening speakers. “People that can afford to flee have fled. But the people that can’t — good, hard-working Americans — are left to fend for themselves.” In the face of accusations that Trump and Republicans' rhetoric toward the racial justice movement is racist, Pence said the administration supports both the Black community and the police departments that have come under increasing scrutiny for how they patrol communities of color. "The American people know we don't have to choose between supporting law enforcement and standing with our African American neighbors to improve the quality of their lives, education, jobs and safety," Pence said. "And from the first days of this administration, we've done both. And we will keep supporting law enforcement and keep supporting our African American and minority communities across this land for four more years." None of the speakers specifically addressed the police shooting of Jacob Blake Jr., a Black man, in Kenosha, Wis., on Sunday, which left him paralyzed from the waist down. Violent protests have since ensued, and on Wednesday, local officials said a 17-year-old had been charged with homicide after two people in Kenosha were killed and another seriously wounded by gunfire during overnight protests.

FEBRUARY BIOGEN MEETING (REMEMBER?) LED TO TENS OF THOUSANDS OF COVID 19 INFECTIONS: On Feb. 26, 175 executives at the biotech company Biogen gathered at a Boston hotel for the first night of a conference. At the time, the coronavirus seemed a faraway problem, limited mostly to China. But the virus was right there at the conference, spreading from person to person. A new study suggests that the meeting turned into a superspreading event, seeding infections that would affect tens of thousands of people across the United States and in countries as far as Singapore and Australia. The study, which the authors posted online on Tuesday and has not yet been published in a scientific journal, gives an unprecedented look at how far the coronavirus can spread given the right opportunities. “It’s a really valuable study,” said Dr. Joshua Schiffer, a physician and mathematical modeling expert who studies infectious diseases at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and was not involved in the research. The researchers were able to sequence 28 viral genomes from people at the meeting. All of them shared the same mutation, called C2416T. The only known samples with that mutation from before the Biogen event came from two people in France on Feb. 29. As the attendees spent hours together in close quarters, in poorly ventilated rooms, without wearing masks, the virus thrived. While replicating inside the cells of one meeting attendee, the virus gained a second mutation, called G26233T. Everyone who was subsequently infected by that person carried the double-mutant virus. From the meeting, the researchers concluded, this lineage spread into the surrounding community. In a Boston homeless shelter, for example, researchers found 51 viral samples with the C2416T mutation, and 54 with both mutations. The researchers estimated that roughly 20,000 people in the Boston area could have acquired the conference virus.



In case you don't remember...

Five Triangle employees of Biogen were at that conference and brought the virus back home with them:

Biogen, a biotechnology company with a large presence in Research Triangle Park, is asking employees to work from home after five Wake County employees who attended a company conference in Boston contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The conference, held in Boston between Feb. 24-27, led to an outbreak of more than two dozen coronavirus cases in multiple states.

An Indiana resident who attended the conference — and later visited Biogen’s RTP office — has also tested positive for COVID-19.

Might be 'rona under the bridge, but it looks like Biogen may have actually prevented a major outbreak by taking early steps to isolate employees. Wake County does have a lot of infections, but nothing like what happened in Boston.

That headline should read ...


Let's call it what it is and not mince words here.

Duly noted.

Crafting headlines is a (daily) decision-making process. It is of course subjective in nature, and I often lean into advocacy when doing so, sometimes just with the inclusion of a single word or phrase.

But reading those headlines is also a subjective evaluation.