POSITIVE TESTS FOR CORONAVIRUS IN NC ARE DOWN TO 2.5%: At least 1,004,669 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 13,151 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 680 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, up from 481 cases on Thursday. At least 613 people were hospitalized with the coronavirus as of Friday, the same count as the day before. As of Wednesday, the latest day for which data is available, 2.5% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. Roughly 54% of adults in North Carolina have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine and about 50% are fully vaccinated, according to the state health department.
TRUMP ENDORSES TED BUDD IN GOP SENATE PRIMARY: Former President Donald Trump announced his endorsement for Congressman Ted Budd on Saturday night during the NC GOP State Convention after his daughter-in-law Lara Trump declined to enter the state's Senate race. Lara Trump, a Wilmington native and North Carolina State University graduate, told attendees of the convention that she was saying, "No for now, not no forever," to running for political office in the state. The North Carolina Democratic Party said," One Thing is clear: Republicans in the North Carolina Senate primary are in disarray, and this GOP intraparty fighting is only escalating," in a statement after Trump's endorsement. State Senator and Democratic Senate candidate Erica Smith said Budd has "dedicated his political career to winning favor with our twice impeached, banned from social media, former President."
NC COURT OF APPEALS PUTS HALT TO REMOVAL OF VANCE MONUMENT IN ASHEVILLE: The North Carolina Court of Appeals on Friday ordered the city of Asheville and Buncombe County to halt the demolition of a Confederate monument while an appeal plays out. The city has already removed the 75-foot tall obelisk honoring Confederate colonel and Gov. Zebulon Vance from its base downtown but was still dismantling remaining portions. The court's order specifies that the city and county must stop “any further action to deconstruct, demolish or remove the Zebulon Baird Vance Monument” pending an appeal filed by the Society for the Historical Preservation of the 26th North Carolina Troops, WLOS-TV reported. Asheville and Buncombe County also must keep all the parts of the monument already taken down, the order said. The monument is one of many Confederate statues and memorials that have been removed across the South in the past year amid protests for racial justice.
ASHEBORO GRADUATE DENIED DIPLOMA FOR WEARING MEXICAN FLAG ACROSS SHOULDERS: When Ever Lopez decided to wear a Mexican flag to his high school graduation ceremony, he hoped to support his culture. Lopez didn't anticipate anyone would react strongly against it, but because of the flag, Lopez was denied his diploma. At the Asheboro High School graduation ceremony on Thursday night, Lopez said he carried the flag in and draped it over his shoulders while he was seated. Lopez said he was seated near teachers, and no one mentioned the flag until he reached the stage. “I just gotta represent,” Lopez explains, “I did it for my family. They came over here to give me a better future.” As the first to graduate in his immediate family, the ceremony held a special significance for Lopez. When his name was called, he stepped up on stage, ready to receive his diploma. The principal wouldn’t hand it over, though, and spoke with him quietly as a line of students waited behind him. After a few seconds, he walked off the stage without his diploma. Lopez said the administration told him he was being a distraction, but a statement from Asheboro City Schools says he was out of dress code.
MANCHIN SAYS HE WILL NOT SUPPORT VOTING RIGHTS BILL: Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) on Sunday said he would not support federal voting rights legislation that his party has argued is critical for preserving democracy, in an announcement that effectively turned the path ahead for all other major items on President Biden’s agenda into quicksand. In an op-ed in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Manchin said he thought the For the People Act — which Democrats say is needed to secure free and fair elections and protect against GOP-led efforts to restrict voting at the state level, often disproportionately affecting voters of color — was too partisan. “The right to vote is fundamental to our American democracy and protecting that right should not be about party or politics. Least of all, protecting this right, which is a value I share, should never be done in a partisan manner,” Manchin wrote. On CBS News’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Manchin defended himself against charges that he was blocking Biden’s agenda. “We’re looking every way we can to bring this country together and unite the country. That’s what I’m doing,” Manchin said. “And I think anybody, whether it be a Democrat or Republican, that’s sitting today in the Senate knows who I am. And I’ve always been about bipartisanship.” However, the timing of the op-ed — just before Congress reconvenes Monday after a week-long recess to take a series of votes on Biden’s domestic agenda — also blunts hope of progress on other legislation. Similarly, the prospects for enacting gun restrictions in response to mass shootings and overhauling the immigration system are dim as a result of Manchin’s demand for bipartisanship that seems unlikely to materialize.