SALISBURY NURSING HOME FACING LAWSUIT OVER PANDEMIC MISMANAGEMENT: The Citadel’s managers, according to the nurses’ affidavits, failed for weeks to respond effectively to signs of the emerging pandemic. As the virus spread, managers ordered nurses not to wear masks while failing to provide protective clothing or test the workers on site. When nurses and other employees got sick, they were pressured to come to work anyway, the affidavits say. Those who could work frequently found themselves placed in impossible positions of being forced to treat dozens of elderly and sometimes dangerously ill patients by themselves. As more staff got sick or stayed home last month, one nurse left to handle an entire residence hall by herself threatened to call 911 if her bosses didn’t get her help, her affidavit says. The nurses say they also witnessed nursing home managers lying to residents and their families about the results of tests.
NC BUSINESSES PUSH BACK ON COVID 19 WORKERS COMP BILL: A fight is brewing over workers compensation rules tied to COVID-19, with business groups that lobby the General Assembly pushing back against changes that would make it easier for employees to win claims. House Bill 1057 would create a "rebuttable presumption" that first responders, health care workers and other essential workers infected with the coronavirus got it at work, qualifying them for compensation unless the employer could prove otherwise. The bill has nearly 60 sponsors, almost enough to pass the House. But business groups came out against the measure this week, sending lawmakers a white paper that labeled the proposal "a fundamental threat to the continued viability of the workers compensation system in our state." Jackson, D-Wake, noted Friday that the legislature's first round of COVID-19 bills included liability protections for businesses, limiting lawsuits from people who contract the virus. The final bills also dropped a Senate-proposed increase in weekly unemployment benefits, something the N.C. Chamber opposed. "Now we need the second round of COVID-19 bills to include protections for workers on the front lines," Jackson said in an email. "Every night, I see commercials talking about and thanking our heroes. It's time to make sure they are protected."
U.S. UNEMPLOYMENT RATE HITS 14.7%, BUT IS ACTUALLY MUCH HIGHER: The coronavirus crisis has sent U.S. unemployment surging to 14.7%, a level last seen when the country was in the throes of the Depression and President Franklin D. Roosevelt was assuring Americans that the only thing to fear was fear itself. And because of government errors and the particular way the Labor Department measures the job market, the true picture is even worse. By some calculations, the unemployment rate stands at 23.6%, not far from the Depression peak of nearly 25%. The Labor Department said Friday that 20.5 million jobs vanished in April in the worst monthly loss on record, triggered by coast-to-coast shutdowns of factories, stores, offices and other businesses. The breathtaking collapse is certain to intensify the push-pull across the U.S. over how and when to ease stay-at-home restrictions. And it robs President Donald Trump of the ability to point to a strong economy as he runs for reelection. “The jobs report from hell is here,” said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, “one never seen before and unlikely to be seen again barring another pandemic or meteor hitting the Earth.”
TWO WHITE HOUSE STAFFERS TEST POSITIVE, TRUMP STILL NOT WEARING MASK OR SOCIAL DISTANCING: “I don’t worry about things. I do what I have to do,” said Trump, who this week resumed traveling with a visit to a manufacturing facility in Phoenix. “We’re dealing with an invisible situation. Nobody knows. All you can do is take precaution and do the best that you can.” The discovery of the virus within the heavily fortified White House complex this week sent shock waves through the staff and prompted renewed scrutiny of the safety measures around a commander in chief who has flouted social distancing policies and other best practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the pandemic. Like Trump, most of his aides, including Pence and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, have not worn face masks, and the president has huddled with guests at the White House for photo-ops that undermine the efforts at social distancing that do take place, such as seats placed more than six feet apart. “This is a show of bravado. This is a show of ‘I got this. I’m in control,’ ” said one former security official familiar with White House security planning during past administrations. “He’s tried to minimize this threat from day one. It’s the only way he can laugh in the face of this disease,” said this person, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to frankly address sensitive security matters. “If he backtracks now, and starts wearing a mask, it will contradict the red meat he’s feeding to his base constantly. This is the first health crisis that has been politicized.”
GEORGIA POLICE DEPARTMENT THAT FUMBLED ARBERY MURDER HAS HISTORY OF CORRUPTION: Over the years, Glynn County police officers have been accused of covering up allegations of misconduct, tampering with a crime scene, interfering in an investigation of a police shooting and retaliating against fellow officers who cooperated with outside investigators. The police chief was indicted days after Mr. Arbery’s killing on charges related to an alleged cover-up of an officer’s sexual relationship with an informant. The chief, John Powell, had been hired to clean up the department, which the Glynn County manager described last fall as suffering from poor training, outdated policies and “a culture of cronyism.” The Glynn County force was the sort of department where disciplinary records went missing and where evidence room standards were not maintained, leading the state to strip it of its accreditation. Mr. Arbery was killed after the McMichaels confronted him while he was running in the Satilla Shores neighborhood just outside of Brunswick, the Glynn County seat. But neither of the McMichaels was arrested immediately after the slaying, which occurred on Feb. 23 at about 1 p.m. Wanda Cooper, the mother of the 25-year-old victim, Ahmaud Arbery, received a call from a police investigator. She recounted later that the investigator said her son had been involved in a burglary and was killed by “the homeowner,” an inaccurate version of what had happened. More than two months after that fatal confrontation, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which took over the case this week, arrested the former officer, Gregory McMichael, and his son, Travis McMichael, on charges of murder and aggravated assault.