COVID-19

Will reopening of NC’s universities in the fall be safe?

As North Carolina into a Phase 2 reopening plan, even as the number of COVID-19 cases are increasing in the state, universities are trying to decide what they’ll be doing this Fall. Will students return? Only some students? Will all classes be online? Only larger classes? How will they keep faculty, staff, and students safe?

In an online Board of Governors meeting, the UNC System’s president, Bill Roper, said he expects a return to campus by students in the fall and they’ll be finalizing guidance to the system’s 17 institutions by the end of the month. According to an email newsletter from IndyWeek, UNC-Chapel Hill may announce their fall plans as early as tomorrow. In a university-wide Zoom call yesterday, the administration announced a mix of instruction, with students wearing masks and in-person class sizes reduced.

Colleges and universities are unique institutions, bringing together a large population from around the country and even internationally in common spaces such as dorms, eating areas, research labs, and libraries. Some have working hospitals and medical clinics attached to them. The impacts of a contagious virus breakout wouldn’t be isolated to the campus - a university is part of the city or town surrounding it, where faculty, staff, and students live and mingle with the larger population. Think about the Tyson chicken processing plant outbreak in Wilkesboro and how that has spread COVID-19 to the surrounding community and across county lines.

It’s a complex issue to sort out. We have a large number of colleges and universities in all parts of the state, many part of the larger UNC system and others that are private secular and religious colleges.

If you aren’t paying attention to this debate and what universities are planning for the fall, you should be.

Northwest NC Covid-19 Report

I don't know if it is because of lower concentrations of people, better quarantine procedures, or just luck but the northwest counties of Wilkes, Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe, and Alleghany have reported only one Covid-19 deaths thus far.
There are as of this morning around 40 of the 100 counties that have no fatalities contributed to the virus which gives North Carolina a much better average than that of the nation.

Is Art Pope Behind #ReOpenNC?

Earlier in the week, we saw a ragtag group of shrill evangelicals, right-wing “Don’t Tread on Me” freedom mongers, and air-headed anti-vaxxers and multi-level quack health promoters create a stir on Facebook and lobby the NC legislature to “reopen” NC for business in the middle of a pandemic - a call for reopening that is coming at a time when the US has been hitting new records for daily deaths from the crisis - 4,591 people died Thursday, bringing the US total to more than 33,000 killed by the pandemic.

As the week unfolded, it became clear that #ReOpenNC wasn’t some local grassroots effort - similar right-wing groups in Alabama and Texas, for example, and Fox News pundits rallied a drumbeat for “getting back to business, with President Trump announced a “plan”, if you can call it that, for “reopening America” on Thursday.

Buried in an NBC News story about the protest in Michigan, was a clue on what might actually be going on here.

ReOpen protestors at Michigan state capital

WRAL Not Reporting Full Story on Franklin Graham's COVID-19 Stunt in New York

Recently, I highlighted the controversy surrounding Franklin Graham's publicity stunt, setting up a Samaritan's Purse outreach effort in Central Park under the guise of a "field hospital".

WRAL seems to be playing along with Graham's publicity machine, reproducing little blurbs about the makeshift "hospital" in their Coronavirus update every few days.

New Yorkers discover Franklin Graham's extremism

The Gothamist published a piece this morning on Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse ministry setting up shop in Central Park to test and treat COVID-19 victims.

And, they pointed out the group's history of using these medical crises as an opportunity to against LGBTs and Muslims.

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