Daily dose

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


JUST WEAR THE STUPID MASK: It shouldn’t be surprising, we guess, that during a public health crisis that’s become politicized, with the debate over staying at home becoming partisan, that the latest thing to become a red or blue badge is the simple act of covering your nose and mouth in public. Really? We’re fighting over face coverings? Just wear the stupid mask. It’s not caving to tyranny. It’s not a betrayal of the president. It’s not a sign that you’re sick. It’s a health measure in places where it’s difficult to socially distance. If you wear it, you protect others from your possibly asymptomatic COVID-19 self. If you wear it, you also protect yourself from others. It’s safer. That’s it. And yet, instead of being a simple collective action to slow a virus that’s killed tens of thousands of Americans, it’s become a flashpoint. Elected officials, notably including the president, say they won’t wear one. People are threatening and shoving and even wiping their nose on retail employees who tell them they need to wear one. What’s wrong with us?

Saturday News: Corporate death-trap


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.

Friday News: Gee thanks, Rowan

CARL FORD PUSHES FOR BIGGER RALLIES, SPONSORS ANTI-COOPER BILL: In a May 6 interview with Sen. Carl Ford, R-Rowan, ReOpenNC founder Ashley Smith credited Ford with helping to inspire her to start the group and asked him whether the rallies are working to put pressure on Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper to speed up the reopening process. Ford said the rallies are helping, "but I'd like to see us have 10,000 or 20,000 in Raleigh. That would really get the message across." Ford is one of three primary sponsors of a Senate bill that would dismiss criminal penalties for any business owner who violates the governor's emergency closure orders and protect business owners who have to be licensed from any potential disciplinary action by the relevant licensing authority. "I’m sure there’ll be a long and very exciting debate, including the Democrats trying to talk through their masks," Ford told Smith.

Thursday News: All in the (corrupt) family


BURR'S BROTHER-IN-LAW ALSO DUMPED STOCKS IN FEBRUARY: Sen. Richard Burr was not the only member of his family to sell off a significant portion of his stock holdings in February, ahead of the market crash spurred by coronavirus fears. On the same day Burr sold, his brother-in-law also dumped tens of thousands of dollars worth of shares. The market fell by more than 30% in the subsequent month. Burr’s brother-in-law, Gerald Fauth, who has a post on the National Mediation Board, sold between $97,000 and $280,000 worth of shares in six companies — including several that have been hit particularly hard in the market swoon and economic downturn. A person who picked up Fauth’s phone on Wednesday hung up when asked if Fauth and Burr had discussed the sales in advance.

Wednesday News: Here we go...


PHASE 1 OF GOVERNOR COOPER'S REOPEN PLAN BEGINS FRIDAY: We’ll still have a stay-at-home order in Phase 1, but it’ll be modified to ease us into reopening. Prior to 5 p.m. on May 8, people were only supposed to venture out for essential tasks, such as grocery shopping and health care. During Phase 1, more businesses can open and people are allowed to venture out for more reasons. Businesses that do open have to implement social-distancing and cleaning rules, just like those currently in place at grocery and hardware stores. State parks can also open, but with limits on the number of people who can gather there. Businesses will still be encouraged to continue teleworking (working from home) when possible. We will live in Phase 1 for two weeks, as long as trends continue to move in the right direction. Even during Phase 1, public schools and non-essential businesses such as gyms and salons remain closed, but other activities will be allowed. If all goes well during Phase 1, Cooper suggested that Phase 2 can begin on May 22.

Tuesday News: Witness = Corona exposure


LAWSUIT FILED TO MAKE NC'S MAIL-IN VOTING LESS COMPLICATED: A group of voters backed by Democratic legal groups sued North Carolina on Monday seeking to loosen rules around absentee mail-in ballots amid predictions that the coronavirus pandemic will make voting by mail a widespread practice. They want the state to provide prepaid postage on all absentee ballots, change a requirement for two witnesses to sign a ballot, extend the deadline for receipt of ballots until nine days after Election Day and give voters a chance to fix signature discrepancies before election officials reject those ballots. North Carolina’s state board of elections endorsed the first two provisions in a proposed list of election changes released in March. The new lawsuit was filed in Wake County Superior Court with support from the Right to Vote Foundation and the National Redistricting Foundation, which is affiliated with the National Democratic Redistricting Committee led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

Monday News: 99 counties


AVERY IS THE LAST REMAINING NC COUNTY WITH NO COVID 19 CASES: As state officials consider relaxing social restrictions by the end of the week, the coronavirus has now been recorded in all but one of North Carolina’s 100 counties. The state’s Department of Health and Human Services reported the first case in Yancey County, located on the western side of the state along the Tennessee border. That leaves only Avery County, another sparsely populated county in western North Carolina, as the lone county not to record a COVID-19 case. The state has now recorded 11,664 cases statewide in 99 counties. That’s a relatively small increase of 155 cases over Saturday’s updated total from DHHS. The state recorded two new coronavirus-related deaths Sunday morning, increasing that total to 422. The number of hospitalized patients dipped to 475, the first time that total has been below 500 since Tuesday.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


FACTS & FIXES TO REALLY HELP NC'S UNEMPLOYED: A look at the fine print in the law, says any change in the number of weeks for benefits to be paid will be based on “the average of the seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for the state for the preceding months of January, February and March” for the change that would be made on July 1. With that standard, state law allows for NO change in the number of weeks benefits are paid. Why? Because – and here’s the math – the January unemployment rate was 3.6%. The February unemployment rate was 3.6% and the March unemployment rate was 4.4%. That comes to an average of 3.9% -- well below the 5.6% needed to add even another week – let alone the maximum to add an additional 8 weeks when the rate exceeds 9%. So, thanks to the clever bill authors in 2013, even though there’s likely to continue to be high unemployment rates – it won’t be until January 2021 that there’s any hope of increasing the number of weeks benefits are offered.

Saturday News: Right to live


JUDGE ORDERS NC PRISONS TO EXPLAIN COVID 19 PROTECTIONS FOR INMATES: A state judge on Friday demanded that North Carolina's prison system provide detailed information about how it's trying prevent the spread of the new coronavirus among offenders. “It is impossible for the court to determine whether specific practices and procedures undertaken at each of North Carolina's incarceration facilities comply with defendants' statutory and constitutional obligations,” Rozier wrote. He is seeking the information by May 8, after which he'll hold a hearing. Several prisoners and civil rights groups, which include the state NAACP and Disability Rights North Carolina, filed a petition three weeks ago with the state Supreme Court asking the justices to act. The Supreme Court dismissed the case but left open the door for the matter to be refiled in another court, Disability Rights attorney Susan Pollitt said Friday.

Friday News: Monumental screwup


AUTHOR OF REVISION TO NC SOCIAL STUDIES CURRICULUM STILL A MYSTERY: DPI is distancing itself from the monument recommendation for third-grade students. Lori Carlin, DPI section chief for K-12 social studies and arts education, noted that students already learn about monuments in 4th- and 7th grades and in high school. “We were pleased with the objective in draft one and are unsure as to where or why the writing team determined a more specific focus was necessary for the 3rd grade,” Carlin said in an email. “At this time, we are recommending that draft 3 revert to the original language from draft 1.” Scioli, a social studies teacher at Leesville Road High School in Raleigh, said they’ve been unable to find out how the changes were included because the teachers on the writing teams signed a confidentiality notice. “I think the lack of transparency in the process prevents us from feeling great about the process,” she said.


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