Monday News: Get tested


STAY ONE STEP AHEAD OF OMICRON: Register for a time slot at any of them by calling 800-701-1023 or registering here. (Website: Boys and Girls Club – 721 N. Raleigh Blvd. in Raleigh Care Tax Service – 909 Rock Quarry Road in Raleigh Justice Served – 202 N. Tarboro St. in Raleigh McDonald’s (adjacent parking lot) – 830 E. Williams St. in Apex The Fountain of Raleigh Fellowship – 9621 Six Forks Road in Raleigh. In addition to these sites, many pharmacies, doctors’ offices and health clinics offer testing for the virus, the county release stated. • Use this online tool: Use the COVID-19 Test Site Finder for a complete list of locations and to find the ones closest to you. This N&O report has complete instructions for using the COVID-19 Test Site Finder. You can also request a free at-home testing kit shipped overnight via FedEx, with results available online usually within two days after your sample arrives at the lab, according to the release. I'm getting tested later this morning, was possibly exposed on Christmas Eve. Fingers crossed...

DURHAM RENTERS APPEAL TO CITY COUNCIL OVER EVICTIONS: Ferguson moved into her home in March 2019 and said her rent rose from $795 to $850 per month in July. She is currently two months behind, owing $1,700. In September, she applied to Legal Aid of North Carolina for emergency pandemic rental assistance from Durham County. Ferguson’s application was approved, but her landlord, Rick Soles, is not participating in the program. She is among about 160 people who rent from Soles who applied for aid, according to county records. Soles filed an eviction notice on Ferguson in late November. “I can’t even think about Christmas right now,” Ferguson said in an interview before the holiday. “I have to worry about making sure I can keep the roof over their head.” Decades-long residents of the Braswell Properties apartments on North Buchanan Boulevard — many of them disabled, elderly, and/or families with young children — are being forced to leave their homes by Dec. 31. “I am angry. I am very angry tonight,” City Council member Charlie Reece said during a Monday council meeting. “Tenants at the Braswell Properties, some who have resided in the neighborhood for almost 50 years, were made aware that their property had been sold out from under them by their landlord and told to vacate by the end of this year.” Go get 'em, Charlie. This is wrong, and everybody knows it, especially the landlords.

THOUSANDS OF FLIGHTS CANCELLED CHRISTMAS WEEKEND DUE TO OMICRON: Major US airlines canceled hundreds more flights Sunday, the third day in a row of mass cancellations and delays over Christmas weekend, as staff and crew call out sick amid the Omicron surge. More than 1,200 US flights were canceled and more than 5,000 were delayed Sunday, according to FlightAware. Globally, there were over 2,000 cancellations. Delta and JetBlue each saw over 100 cancellations Sunday. Globally, airlines canceled more than 6,000 flights on Christmas Eve, Christmas and the day after Christmas, according to FlightAware. That includes about 1,700 flights within, into or out of the United States. Operational snags at airlines are coming as millions are still flying in spite of rising coronavirus cases. The TSA says it screened 2.19 million passengers at airports across the country on Thursday, the highest figure since the uptick in holiday travel started a week ago. You have to wonder about the people who got stuck in the middle when their connecting flights got cancelled. Yeesh.

OMICRON COULD CAUSE 1 MILLION CASES PER DAY IN UNITED STATES IN THE FOLLOWING WEEKS: Coronavirus cases are being reported at record levels across the world — surpassing even last winter’s devastating peak in some places — as officials grapple with a surge caused by the omicron variant. France recorded more than 104,000 new cases Saturday, reaching a six-figure daily tally for the first time. Britain, Italy, Ireland and the Australian state of New South Wales also reported record high levels of new cases over the weekend. In the United States, the seven-day average of new daily cases was more than 203,000 on Sunday, according to a Washington Post tally, a level not seen since Jan. 19 last year. U.S. health officials warn that the country could soon see more than 1 million new cases per day, far beyond last winter’s peak of 248,000. Hospitalizations and deaths from covid-19 have not risen as sharply, raising hopes that the omicron variant may not be as severe as the delta variant, although those figures typically lag days to weeks behind spikes in cases. Still, some places in the United States are already hitting records: Washington, D.C., is averaging more than 1,300 cases per day, far surpassing last winter’s peak of 322. Cases in Maryland have risen sharply, with the state averaging nearly 6,200 cases daily — nearly double its highest point last winter. New York state recorded more than 49,000 new cases on Sunday, its highest reported total yet during the pandemic, though testing was not widely available during the state’s first surge in early 2020.

AND OF COURSE REPUBLICANS ARE MAKING IT HARDER TO FIGHT THE VIRUS: Under a new law in Ohio — one of at least 19 states this year that have restricted state or local authorities from safeguarding public health amid the coronavirus pandemic — Franklin County’s health commissioner Joe Mazzola can no longer intervene. The county health department was stripped of its power to compel people to wear masks even as the omicron variant fuels a fifth coronavirus surge in the United States. “We’ve not been able to put in place the policy that would protect our community,” Mazzola said. The number of states that have passed laws similar to Ohio’s is proliferating fast, from eight identified in one study in May to more than double that many as of last month, according to an analysis by Temple University’s Center for Public Health Law Research. And around the country, many more measures are being debated or being prepared for legislative sessions to start early in the new year. These laws — the work of Republican legislators — inhibit health officers’ ability to require masks, promote vaccinations or take other steps, such as closing or limiting the number of patrons in restaurants, bars and other indoor public settings. Often, the measures shift those decisions from health experts to elected officials at a time when such coronavirus-fighting strategies have become politically radioactive. A new Indiana law gives city councils and county commissions power to overrule local health officials if their efforts to tame the pandemic are more stringent than rules in effect statewide. Tennessee lawmakers have taken away health officials’ ability to decide whether public schools should be closed in an emergency, giving that authority to school boards while also allowing the governor to order all schools to teach students in person. And in Arkansas, a statute forbids any state or local official from compelling masks. As the delta variant was racing around in August, the state’s Republican governor, Asa Hutchinson, said he regretted the measure and summoned legislators into a special session to rethink it. The law stayed in place. Pro-life my ass. These idiots have been steadily killing people since this pandemic began, and still the voters keep sending them back. *sigh*