Monday, March 23, 2019
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NC COVID-19 Response
NCDHHS maintains the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 in NC here .
Video:"North Carolina coronavirus cases rise over 300; Wake announces measures to slow spread" (News & Observer, 3/23/20)

Headline:"Coronavirus live updates: Here’s what to know in North Carolina on March 23" 'UNC Health and WakeMed are asking for the public’s help getting the medical supplies they need. The most “urgent needs” include N95 masks, surgical masks, nasal swabs, disinfectant, eye protection, face shields, disposable gloves, gowns and shoe covers, and hand sanitizer and soap. Local organizations have started donating items to the hospitals.
TEXTILE COMPANY MAKING FACE MASKS A North Carolina textile company is leading an effort to increase the production of face masks across the country. Parkdale Mills Inc. in Gastonia is working with several other companies in the United States to create a face mask “manufacturing supply chain” for health care workers. The company plans to start production Monday and expects to produce 10 million masks a week starting in about four or five weeks." (News & Observer, 3/23/20)

Headline:"Winston-Salem based Hanesbrands to produce masks during COVID-19 shortage" "Hanesbrands Inc. will begin producing cotton surgical masks at some of its factories in Latin American as part of a federal contract to combat a national shortage of face masks resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. At peak output, the company expects to produce about 1.5 million masks a week. The announcement came Saturday during President Donald Trump’s media briefing about the new coronavirus and the federal government’s response. Hansesbrands, a global apparel manufacturer based in Winston-Salem, has joined a cooperative consortium of other major apparel manufacturers led by Parkdale Mills America that are dedicating manufacturing capacity to meet the U.S. need for masks during the COVID-19 outbreak, according to a Hanesbrands spokesman." (Winston-Salem Journal, 3/21/20)

CBC Editorial:"EXPERT ADVICE: Three steps we all can take to slow COVID-19's spread" "With the cases of COVID-19 increasing across our state, and the images we are seeing from other countries, concerns about the potential impacts to North Carolina are high. At the same time, with so much information circulating, people can feel overwhelmed without a clear sense of how to best fight this pandemic. We have been fortunate in our state to have the leadership of Gov. Roy Cooper, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen, and our State Health Director Dr. Betsey Tilson who have acted decisively to help protect our citizens during these challenging times. As six former State Health Directors for North Carolina, we are speaking with one voice to urge each North Carolinian to take three critical steps to slow the spread of COVID-19. We acknowledge that for many, these recommendations may be more difficult to follow. Barriers like lack of health insurance and paid sick leave and limited telework options can create additional hardships for many families." (CBC Editorial, 3/22/20)

Headline:"N.C. making plans to activate ‘small number’ of National Guard soldiers to help with supplies" "North Carolina is making plans to activate a “small number” of National Guard soldiers to assist with making sure supplies get to where they are needed across the state. Director of Emergency Management Michael Sprayberry made the announcement during a press conference with health officials Friday afternoon to update the public on the state’s ongoing response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Sprayberry said the soldiers will “serve in a logistical capacity helping with warehousing and transportation of supplies and equipment.” He added that those supplies would largely consist of “personal protection.” There is no word on when the soldiers will be activated or where they will primarily be operating. Sprayberry also stressed the need for N.C. residents to not buy supplies, particularly food, in bulk. “Please resist the urge to buy in excess - stores will remain open and there is not a food shortage,” Sprayberry said. He said that anyone with questions about food assistance, help for families or coronavirus preparedness can still call N.C. 211." (WBTV, 3/20/20)

Headline:"As coronavirus keeps spreading across NC, National Guard activated and citizens stock up" "Coronavirus cases continued to mount across North Carolina on Friday, as state residents did what they could to make life feel as normal and sustainable as possible. North Carolina counties had reported at least 179 cases by Friday evening, according to The News & Observer’s tracking of cases from county health department announcements. The state also reported Friday that 3,233 tests have been completed. During a Friday afternoon briefing with the state Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Elizabeth Tilson, state health director and chief medical officer, said community spread has expanded in the state from one case to three. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, community spread is when someone contracts the illness without traveling to an area where there is an outbreak and without having any connection to a person known to be infected." (News & Observer, 3/20/20)

COVID-19 State News
Headline:"Wake County reports 3 new coronavirus cases. NC total tops 300" "Wake County reported three new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday evening, bringing the county’s total to 52. Wake County has the second highest number of reported coronavirus cases in the state. One of the reported cases is a person at Sunrise of Raleigh, a senior living community on Edwards Mill Road. Sunrise has moved residents to their suites, moved to in-room dining and limited visitors, with exceptions such as immediate family members of those nearing the end of their lives, according to a statement from Michelle Minor, regional vice president of operations for Sunrise Senior Living. As of 5 p.m. Sunday, Wake County officials said they are investigating a total of 54 people who were exposed to the virus and have developed symptoms. There are now over 300 reported cases in North Carolina, according to The News & Observer’s tally. That figure differs from the state’s number because it can take 24 to 48 hours for cases reported by individual counties to be included in the state figures." (News & Observer, 3/22/20)

Headline: "Latest: Local grocery stores struggling to keep up with demand"
"Gov. Roy Cooper will host a state briefing at 1 p.m. Monday. Watch here or on WRAL-TV. At least 306 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the new coronavirus, including two in nursing homes, according to data from state and county leaders. No deaths haven been reported in the state. More than 34,000 people in the U.S. are infected, and more than 413 people have died across the country. Wake County ordered the closure of public playgrounds, gyms and salons and concert venues through April 30. Greenways and trails remain open along with essential stores like pharmacies, grocery stores and banks. Businesses that remain open are encouraged to take the temperatures of all employees and customers before allowing them in the building." (WRAL, 3/23/20)

Civitas Poll:"Despite COVID-19 news, optimism persists among North Carolina voters" "The latest Civitas Poll, conducted between March 15-17, 2020, asked likely voters across the state a variety of questions, including how closely they were following the coverage of the novel coronavirus, as well as their concern over contracting the disease, COVID-19, and their opinion on President Donald Trump’s response to the pandemic:

How closely are you following the news about coronavirus?

74% following very closely
20% following somewhat closely

Taking into consideration both your risk of contracting it and the seriousness of the illness, how worried are you personally about experiencing coronavirus?

48% worried
51% not worried

Do you approve or disapprove of the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak?

53% approve
41% disapprove" (Civitas, 3/20/20)

Headline:"NC funeral homes cope with coronavirus restrictions by delaying or streaming services" "Andy Medlin watched his mother fight cancer for nearly four years before she died a week ago in the middle of the COVID-19 outbreak. The next day, Gov. Roy Cooper ordered that there be no gatherings in the state of more than 100 people. Not only did that put an end to entertainment events but it canceled some funerals and weddings. By the time Medlin got to the funeral home Monday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had recommended gatherings remain under 50 people. Medlin said he and his family had already decided an indoor funeral was a bad idea. So they had planned a graveside service that included anyone who wanted to attend. But it didn’t take long before he changed his mind. “By the time I got to the cemetery, 20 minutes later, I decided that was not a good idea,” Medlin said. He added that he didn’t want to put anyone in a position to choose between their health and paying their respects. The family decided to do a graveside service with just immediate family members — fewer than 10 of them — and then hold a memorial service later in the year." (News & Observer, 3/21/20)

Editorial:"Government declarations need common sense" "Two government declarations were made this past week that had major economic impact on our county. But the implementation of the decisions stands in stark contrast as to how the respective government agencies understand the ramifications of their decisions. Governor Cooper announced at 2 p.m. Tuesday that all restaurants statewide were to close to all in-dining customers at 5 p.m. that evening. Two days later, Carteret County commissioners declared a state of emergency, announcing that visitors were being “discouraged” from coming to the county. The difference in the two actions warrants comparison. The governor’s announcement was made with only a three-hour warning for those affected. The suddenness of the governor’s declaration was a financial hit and possibly devastating to most if not all of the county’s dining facilities. Most restaurants work on their menus days and even weeks ahead, purchasing supplies and preparing dishes in advance of the doors opening for diners. Many of our county restaurants are privately owned and are working on a weekly if not daily schedule to provide some of the best, if not the best, dining in the state." (Carteret County News Times, 3/21/20)

Headlne:"Outdoor Torah lessons? Confessions by appointment? NC faith groups adapt to COVID-19" "Churches, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship are making hard decisions to protect their congregations after Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order and CDC recommendations to stop gathering in groups larger than 10. Many are livestreaming services and other weekly rituals. Some are deciding whether to close their doors indefinitely. Rabbi Eric Solomon of Beth Meyer Synagogue in Raleigh and Father Scott McCue of St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Chapel Hill said the coronavirus presents challenges they’ve never faced before. The CEO of the Islamic Association of Raleigh (IAR), Mohamed Elgamal, called the situation “a trying time for everybody.” He’s still learning how to livestream, setting up the camera just right to avoid glare, and thought it was going OK until a congregant reached out to him afterward. One of his neighbors had been mowing their lawn during the lesson, and his viewers could barely hear him" (News & Observer, 3/22/20)
COVID-19 County News
Headline:"Buncombe County confirms first case of COVID-19 in county resident" “This is not a day that we did not expect, and those of us who have been waiting the test results for some time, we knew that some of them would be positive," Mission Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. William Hathaway said. Buncombe County officials made an announcement on Facebook Live @Buncombegov at 1 p.m. on Saturday. County officials said Spanish translation of this live event will be available after the conclusion of the announcement @bchhs." (WLOS, 3/21/20)

Headline:"Second Carteret County case of COVID-19 confirmed as state numbers continue to rise" "Carteret County officials confirmed the county’s second case of COVID-19 late Friday, as cases across the state continue to rise. The first local case, identified Friday afternoon, stemmed from international travel, according to officials. The second confirmation was received Friday by a local health care provider. Both people are in isolation at home, and the county has said they will release no further personal information about them. “Given the spread of COVID-19 across North Carolina, we are not surprised to receive another COVID-19 case,” Carteret County Health Director Stephanie Cannon said in Friday night’s release. “We continue to recommend everyone practice social distancing and employ preventive measures to reduce the spread of illness in Carteret County.” Friday morning, North Carolina health officials had confirmed 137 cases, with 3,233 tests completed. That statistic jumped as of Saturday morning, with the state reporting 184 confirmed cases and 5,276 tests completed.  The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported those cases were among the 15,219 in the nation, with 201 American deaths as of Saturday morning." (Carolina Coast Online, 3/21/20)

Headline:"Concord airport checks flyers for fevers, CLT reduces parking to curb COVID-19 spread" "People flying into Concord-Padgett Regional Airport are screened for potential coronavirus symptoms — the latest safety measure for travelers to go into effect locally. As soon as passengers arrive at the airport, certified nurses take their temperatures using no-touch forehead thermometers. People with a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19 will receive “appropriate medical attention,” the airport and Cabarrus Health Alliance said in a news release. The new screening began Sunday. “Concord-Padgett Regional Airport and Cabarrus Health Alliance are taking every precaution to provide a safe and healthy environment for staff and travelers arriving into Cabarrus County,” officials said in the news release." (Charlotte Observer, 3/22/20)

Headline:"Wake heightens state of emergency, tightens restrictions to slow virus spread" "Wake County declared a heightened state of emergency over the coronavirus outbreak Sunday, limiting crowd size, closing some businesses and urging employers to screen workers for high temperatures. The county’s move falls short of ordering residents to shelter-in-place, but officials in Raleigh and other towns hinted Sunday that level of restriction may be coming. “We don’t want to overreact, but we want to stay on top of things,” Wake Commissioner James West said Sunday. “We possibly could have to take on more restrictions because there’s just so many unknown factors in terms of the spread. ... We don’t want to create panic.” (News & Observer, 3/22/20)

Headline:"Wilson coronavirus case spread without known exposure" "Wilson County has the state’s first documented case of community-spread COVID-19, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Thursday. Community spread means the patient had no recent travel history and no known exposure with somebody else who already tested positive for the virus. “This is an expected, but still unfortunate benchmark in this new pandemic,” Cooper said in a press conference. This is the same case Wilson County health officials announced as a newly diagnosed COVID-19 case Wednesday. The patient, a woman over 50 who has underlying health conditions, became symptomatic and tested negative for flu, according to Wilson County Health Director Teresa Ellen. The Wilson woman, who is not employed, was tested Monday, Ellen said. The test result came back Wednesday." (Wilson Times, 3/19/20)
Headline:"Alamance County declares state of emergency" "With its first confirmed case of COVID-19, Alamance County has declared a state of emergency, which makes it eligible for material assistance in dealing with the emergency, and possible financial assistance afterward. Amy Galey, chair of the county commissioners, declared the state of emergency effective at 10 a.m. Friday, March 20, according to a county news release. It lets the county coordinate, provide and request additional emergency supplies, and receive mutual aid from the state and federal governments. It will put the county higher on the list for supplies like masks, gloves and hand sanitizer now that the virus is affecting the county. County offices will stay open, but residents are asked to conduct as much business with the county as possible over the phone and online:" (Burlington Times News, 3/20/20)
COVID-19 National News
Headline:"In hard-hit areas, testing restricted to health care workers, hospital patients" "Health officials in New York, California and other hard-hit parts of the country are restricting coronavirus testing to health care workers and the severely ill, saying the battle to contain the virus is lost and the country is moving into a new phase of the pandemic response. As cases spike sharply in those places, they are bracing for an onslaught and directing scarce resources where they are needed most to save people’s lives. Instead of encouraging broad testing of the public, they’re focused on conserving masks, ventilators and intensive care beds — and on getting still-limited tests to health-care workers and the most vulnerable. The shift is further evidence that rising levels of infection and illness have begun to overwhelm the health care system." (Washington Post, 3/21/20)

Progressive Pulse:"What the Families First Coronavirus Response Act does (and doesn’t do) for working people" 'On Thursday, the U.S. Senate passed (and President Trump signed) the second of at least three anticipated emergency packages designed to respond to the rapidly spreading COVID-19 virus. In line with the version passed by the House on Tuesday, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides working people with critical support and protections to weather the crisis, yet the package left several gaping holes that place workers at risk and should be addressed in future measures. Here’s what the bill does and doesn’t do for working people: Provides coverage for COVID-19 testing for all workers, even those without health insurance, and boosts assistance for state Medicaid programs. Once more tests become available, the bill ensures that workers without health insurance will still be able to receive the test — a critical step to ensuring mass testing, which most public health experts agree is essential to stopping spread of the virus. Additionally, the package increases federal support to state Medicaid programs by 6.2%. This will mean that the federal government will provide North Carolina with an estimated $900 million to cover health care services for those currently enrolled in Medicaid." (Progressive Pulse, 3/21/20)

Headline:"3 GOP Senators In Self-Quarantine Will Be Unable To Vote On Coronavirus Relief" "As Senate Republicans try to push through a $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief bill this week, they are doing so without a handful of votes in the closely divided chamber: Sens. Rand Paul, Mitt Romney and Mike Lee. That's after Kentucky's Sen. Paul, 57, revealed on Sunday that he had tested positive for the virus and Sens. Mitt Romney and Mike Lee, both of Utah, said they had recent contact with Paul, but showed no symptoms. All three are now in self-isolation. Get breaking news alerts and updates about the coronavirus outbreak across New England in your inbox. Sign up now. A statement from Romney's office said: "He has no symptoms but will be tested." In a separate statement, Lee said he also showed no symptoms or other risk factors and that he had been advised that a test for the virus "was not warranted." (WBUR, 3/23/20)
COVID-19 Jobs & Economy
Headline:"New unemployment claims in North Carolina approach 50,000 this week" "The number of North Carolinians who have filed for unemployment this week is approaching 50,000, as coronavirus closures rattle the service and hospitality industries. Approximately 42,000 people filed for unemployment between Monday and Friday at 8 a.m., said Kerry McComber, a state Commerce Department spokeswoman, and almost all of them listed COVID-19 as the reason. Media reports from around the country show that hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs in the last few days. President Donald Trump’s administration reacted by asking states to stop giving the public detailed updates, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported Thursday." (Charlotte Observer, 3/20/20)

Headline:"Layoffs costing hundreds of people their jobs in NC but notices don’t capture true scope of cuts" "As the coronavirus takes a growing toll on the slowing US economy, hundreds of people in North Carolina from resorts in Greensboro and Kitty Hawk to an airline operating out of Raleigh-Durham International Airport are losing their jobs, according to layoff notices filed with the state of North Carolina. But the official notices are – so far- only a small indicator of job cuts. More than 83,000 claims had been filed from March 16 to March 21, compared to weekly filings of about 3,500 claims in recent months, Larry Parker, a spokesman for the Division of Employment Security told The Associated Press. COVID-19 was cited for the claims request in 85 percent of the cases, Parker said. Only seven formal notices had been filed in recent days as the number of job cuts soared, according to the NC Department of Commerce which lists the filings. The so-called WARN, which stands for Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, filings are required by federal law." (WRAL, 3/22/20)

Progressive Pulse:"Pandemic likely to render effects of NC’s existing affordable housing shortage even more dire" "Now more than ever, housing is a health care issue. People who don’t have safe, secure housing are struggling to follow social distancing and personal hygiene guidelines. Isolation strategies, like stocking up on food and working from home, are a luxury that many cannot afford. Businesses that have closed are already laying people off. When people earn less, they are more likely to become homeless because they can no longer afford housing. Not surprisingly, the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) has confirmed that extremely low-income renters are most at risk for being inadequately housed. This NLIHC’s latest report found that no state has an adequate supply of housing. In fact, the United States faces a shortage of over 7 million affordable and available homes for renters making less than 30% of the area median income. For people who lack the safety and security of an affordable home, this pandemic could be a death sentence." (Progressive Pulse, 3/20/20)

Headline:"We may not be able to survive:’ Small businesses struggle through coronavirus" "Surviving the coronavirus pandemic isn’t just a worry for people; it’s a legitimate concern for many small businesses around Wilmington. After Governor Roy Cooper’s executive order Tuesday, all area restaurants have shut down their dining rooms and have resorted to pick-up and carry out service. For Hayley Jensen, owner of Skytown Brewing Company and Beer Barrio in Wilmington, sales have dropped drastically since Gov. Cooper’s mandate. That’s why Caring to Deliver and Scott Adams, the creator of the Wilmington area - Take Out and Delivery Options Facebook group, started and initiative, designating Friday as national carry out day for Wilmington. “Our food purveyors reached out to me and they wanted to focus on local restaurants with national carry out day, and because of the situation that we’re not able to serve food inside, it’s just perfect timing,” said Jensen. " I think people do want to come support us, so this is just a push so customers will come to local businesses and put money back into the community for people who are suffering through this." (WECT, 3/20/20)

Headline:"Restaurants and bars fight to survive amid pandemic" "The novel coronavirus is having a major impact on the state’s restaurants and breweries, with Gov. Roy Cooper announcing that all restaurants and bars close except for takeout and delivery services. With most North Carolinians staying home and practicing social distancing, the restaurant and bar business will be the second wave of industries to be squarely impacted by the virus outbreak after the airline, cruise and hotel sectors. What makes matters worse is at restaurants and bars, most workers don’t have benefits and they rely on tips for income. When no one is coming through the doors, there are no tips. To make the situation slightly bearable, Cooper has reduced restrictions to unemployment benefits for affected workers because of the COVID-19 outbreak." (Triangle Business Journal, 3/20/20)

Headline:"Coronavirus fuels calls from Triangle renters for freezes on evictions and rents" "To help slow the spread of coronavirus, State Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley placed a 30-day suspension this week on courthouse activity across North Carolina, including eviction and foreclosure hearings. Advocacy organizations say this isn’t enough. They’re asking for stronger concessions for cost-burdened renters, such as a state-sanctioned moratorium on evictions, utility shut-offs and rent increases until year’s end. NC United for Survival and Beyond, a coalition of over 60 social advocacy groups and nonprofits, has called for lawmakers to consider a number of additional measures aimed at vulnerable populations during the pandemic, The News & Observe reported this week. “In the middle of this pandemic, no one should be homeless, and in a program that’s provided for homeless people and low income and disadvantaged people,” said Barbara Lyons, in a online press conference. Lyons, a Durham public housing resident who has experienced eviction, expressed concern for future evictions in the McDougald Terrace public housing complex and criticized the Durham Housing Authority for continuing existing eviction proceedings." (News & Observer, 3/20/20)

Headline:"Thousands apply for unemployment due to COVID-19" "It wasn’t long after N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper removed barriers to unemployment insurance that the system used to process online applications couldn’t keep up with the demand. Rep. Brian Turner, who represents the western part of Buncombe County in the North Carolina General Assembly, said thousands of requests from Western North Carolina alone were submitted. “In advance of the executive order, [Cooper] met with commerce and the department of employment security,” Turner said. “They were scaling up their capacity in terms of web presence so they could handle the influx, but the surge was more than anyone expected.” Turner added that some of the problem was the fact that the state website interfaces with the federal Social Security database, which may have contributed to delays. In a story from the News & Observer, Larry Parker, a spokesperson for the state’s Department of Employment Security, said that 4,721 applied for unemployment due to COVID-19 as of March 19. Cooper issued his executive order on March 17. Along with mandating that all restaurants and bars cease dine-in services, it also provided expanded access to unemployment insurance. “I recognize this decision will cost people their jobs, so this order also brings them some relief,” Cooper said. “Today I am taking down barriers to unemployment benefits in response to this unprecedented health crisis.” (The Mountaineer, 3/20/20)

News & Record Opinion:"Our Opinion: Fraud’s going viral" "Jim Bakker doesn’t have a cure for the coronavirus. But that didn’t stop him from trying to sell you one. The disgraced televangelist was peddling a treatment for COVID-19 that he suggested would make you better. For only $80 per 4-ounce bottle. Specifically, Sherrill Sellman, a so-called “natural health expert,” touted Bakker’s wonder drug, “Silver Solution,” for killing earlier strains of coronavirus during an appearance on Bakker’s TV show. This meant, she said, that it probably would the current strain as well. “Well, let’s say it hasn’t been tested on this strain of the coronavirus, but it has been tested on other strains of the coronavirus and has been able to eliminate it within 12 hours,” Sellman said. “Totally eliminate it. Kills it. Deactivates it.” But wait. There’s more: Silver Solution also has killed SARS and HIV! The truth, of course, is that Silver Solution does not kill anything. Nor do similar concoctions that contain colloidal silver, which, in fact, can be dangerous. So, good for the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, which sued Bakker and his company, Morningside Church Productions, for selling it. The New York Attorney General’s Office also has sent Bakker a cease-and-desist order. Bakker no longer markets the miracle elixir. But this just goes to show you: Some people will do anything to make a buck, including preying on the fears and anxieties of others." (News & Record, 3/21/20)

Headline:"State Treasurer says state retirement fund remains strong amid shaky market" "North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell is confident the state’s retirement system will continue to be able to meet its obligation to retirees, despite the economic downturn. Folwell talked with WBTV on Thursday afternoon to provide updates on how the multi-billion-dollar state pension fund—which funds retirement benefits for employees of state government, local government and teachers—and the state health were faring during the economic turmoil. According to Folwell, the pension fund’s value had dropped roughly ten percent compared to the 25 percent downturn the market had seen. One percentage point is equal to roughly $1 billion, Folwell said. Despite that, the Treasurer said, the fund had about $10 billion in cash on hand, which his agency was using to acquire more investments to take advantage of the lower rates. Folwell attributed the state’s strong position to a conservative investment strategy. “Chief Investment Officer Magazine just did an article last week that said while other pension plans crumble, North Carolina shines,” Folwell said. “With everything that’s going on in our society right now—the angst and anxiety—the last thing I want any public servant leaving home worried about is the safety of the health plan and the safety of the pension plan.”" (WBTV, 3/20/20)

Headline:"North Carolinians can pay their taxes later. Other economic relief could be on way." "Some North Carolina state lawmakers want to put money in the hands of residents as part of an economic stimulus plan because of the coronavirus pandemic. While the federal government has extended the tax filing deadline and Congress is working on a plan to do more, North Carolinians are also getting some economic relief at the state level. On Thursday, the North Carolina Department of Revenue announced it has extended the deadline to pay state taxes to July 15, like the IRS had. The federal government on Friday morning announced that taxpayers don’t have to file their taxes until July 15. The state has not yet announced an extension to filing, just paying. Gov. Roy Cooper said Thursday they are working out what the legislature will need to do for more economic relief beyond unemployment benefits and the U.S. Small Business Administration approving his request for a disaster declaration. “I’m talking to leaders on both sides of the aisle and everybody is rowing in the same direction,” Cooper said. “Everything, I would say right now, is on the table.”" (News & Observer, 3/20/20)

Headlne:"Every door you knock on is closed.’ Out of work, airport workers fear what’s next" "It started with a short shift last weekend. Then, HMSHost, Jeanette McClure’s employer at Charlotte’s airport, asked her to take the next day off. A few days later, Gov. Roy Cooper announced he would close all restaurants and bars except for takeout and delivery. HMS operates airport concessions across the country — including where McClure works, at the Tequileria restaurant in Charlotte Douglas International Airport. After Cooper’s announcement, HMS closed the restaurant McClure had worked at for four years, and she was unsure of her fate with the company. She was furloughed indefinitely. It’s been a week since she has earned any income. Her $950 rent was already a struggle for her and her husband to pay, even when she was working two jobs, the other in airport security. He travels for work but hasn’t been able to do so because of the virus. She’s tried calling her landlord and charity groups like United Way and Crisis Assistance Ministry. But so far, she hasn’t been able to find help. “It’s like every door you knock on is closed, or it might be open a little bit but you can’t get in the door,” she said." (WBTV, 3/21/20)
Richard Burr
Headline:"Sen. Richard Burr Calls For Senate Ethics Committee To Review His Finances" "Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina called for the Senate Ethics Committee today to conduct a complete review of his own actions. This follows reports that Sen. Burr sold up to $1.7 million worth of stocks just before the recent market collapse. And then Sen. Burr delivered some mixed messages. He gave the general public an optimistic picture of the coronavirus, but behind closed doors, he painted a much dire - much more dire picture, comparing it to the 1918 flu pandemic. NPR's Tim Mak has been following this story and how it raises questions about an eight-year-old law designed to prevent elected officials from profiting off information they learn while serving in Congress." (NPR, 3/20/20)

Headline:"How damning are Richard Burr’s and Kelly Loeffler’s coronavirus stock trades? Let’s break it down." "The Stock Act was passed in 2012 to make sure that members of Congress don’t trade stocks and enrich themselves based on something amounting to insider information. And now that we have our first major market drop since its passage, senators’ stock trades are being scoured for possible personal enrichment. Facing particularly stark questions Friday morning are two GOP senators, Richard Burr of North Carolina and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia. New disclosures show both of them dumped between hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars worth of stock early in the coronavirus outbreak. They did so even as they were offering public assurances about the government’s ability to deal with the situation — and even as one of them, Burr, was offering some much more dire comments privately. Burr, as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also reportedly received daily briefings about the threat." (Washington Post, 3/20/20)

Progressive Pulse:"Fallout from Burr revelations, including calls for resignation, continues to spread" "It shouldn’t have come as any great surprise that North Carolina’s senior senator, Republican Richard Burr, has a penchant for bringing a “me and my portfolio first” approach to public service. Burr, who is now at the center of a growing national political firestorm after yesterday’s revelation that he warned a wealthy donor group that the new coronavirus would have devastating effects and sold stocks in hotels last month after receiving a briefing about the virus in his role as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has taken similar action before. The senator acquired the derogatory nickname “Bank Run Burr” in the aftermath of the last great national financial crisis after telling his wife at the onset of the crisis to “draw out everything it will let you take” from their bank accounts via an ATM on successive days. And while the fallout from the previous episode was limited — mostly to the senator attracting comic and unflattering assessments from critics who already saw him as the quintessential lightweight pol — the latest one seems unlikely to melt away quite so quickly." (Progressive Pulse, 3/20/20)

Headline:"Tillis: 'Sen. Burr Owes North Carolinians An Explanation'" "Thom Tillis tweeted Friday morning that his colleague, fellow Republican Sen. Richard Burr, “owes North Carolinians an explanation” for Burr’s sale in February of up to $1.8 million in stock. Burr, who is a co-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, had reportedly been receiving multiple briefings early in the year on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic -- the disease caused by the coronavirus -- and the danger to the United States. Given the circumstances, Senator Burr owes North Carolinians an explanation. His self-referral to the Ethics Committee for their review is appropriate, there needs to be a professional and bipartisan inquiry into this matter, which the Ethics Committee can provide. He wrote: “Thankfully, the United States today is better prepared than ever before to face emerging public health threats, like the coronavirus, in large part due to the work of the Senate Health Committee, Congress, and the Trump Administration.” Financial disclosure forms he provided to the Senate show that less than a week later, on Feb. 13, he sold up to $1.8 million in stock. The disclosure forms require senators to list the name of the stock sold and give a range of how much the stock was worth, so it’s difficult to know the exact value." (WFAE, 3/20/20)

Headline:"U.S. Sen. Richard Burr faces calls for resignation over stock sale, speech on COVID-19. He asks committee to review sale" "U.S. Sen. Richard Burr is facing bipartisan calls for his resignation following disclosures he gave a stark warning about COVID-19 at a Feb. 27 private event that he has not repeated publicly, and for selling stock shares a week before the stock market began its sharp decline. Burr’s comments carry significant weight in part because he is author of the federal Pandemic All-Hazards Preparedness Act of 2006. Resignation calls have come from Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who is in frequent contact with President Donald Trump, as well as the N.C. Democratic Party, at least one N.C. Democratic senator, and social media commentators." (Winston-Salem Journal, 3/20/20)

Progressive Pulse:"Sen. Richard Burr asks Senate Ethics Committee to review stock deal" "In response to mounting calls for his resignation, North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr has asked the Senate Ethics Committee to review his recent stock transactions. ProPublica first reported Burr’s move to sell off $1.7 million in stocks while receiving daily coronavirus briefings as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Burr says he made the well-timed decision based on watching CNBC. Just when the Senate Ethics Committee would take up Burr’s case remains unclear. Like many agencies dealing with the pandemic, the office is closed and scattered staffers are working remotely. Here’s a screen grab from the committee’s website:" (Progressive Pulse, 3/20/20)

Progressive Pulse:"Why the Right may be willing to throw Richard Burr over the side — Hint: it’s about politics" "Nationwide, an outraged public has called for North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr to resign, after revelations that he failed to warn people about the new coronavirus pandemic. Burr, who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, had access to crucial information as far back as January about the likely impact, but assured the public the situation was under control. Instead, he sold stocks in companies likely to be lose value as result of the crisis. Meanwhile this has been striking: the crickets chirping over on Right-Wing Avenue. Rather than leaping to Burr’s defense as they usually do when, say, President Trump is the object of allegations of impropriety, (which happens weekly), most conservative forces have been muted. (Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson is the exception, calling for Burr to explain himself or resign.) While it would be nice to believe that this reaction is about morality and a concern for ethics in government, that seems extremely unlikely for a movement that has been joined at the hip with the Great Prevaricator for three years. Here is the more likely explanation: politics." (Progressive Pulse, 3/21/20)

Headline:"There is no greater moral crime’: Tucker Carlson calls for Sen. Richard Burr’s resignation over stock sell-off" "After news broke Thursday evening that Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) sold off a significant share of stock just weeks before the market crashed because of the coronavirus pandemic, many horrified critics called for the Senate Intelligence Committee chairman to resign. Perhaps the loudest among those detractors was Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who called on Burr to resign if he was unable to explain his actions. “Now maybe there’s an honest explanation for what he did. If there is, then he should share it with the rest of us immediately,” Carlson said Thursday. “Otherwise, he must resign from the Senate and face prosecution for insider trading.” Carlson, whose nightly show reportedly has significant sway on President Trump’s thinking, continued condemning the Republican senator, whose estimated $628,033 to $1.72 million in stock market sales were described by many as “stomach-churning” and “personal corruption.” (Washington Post, 3/20/20)

Politico: "Burr moves to quell fallout from stock sales with request for Ethics probe" "Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) on Friday asked the Senate Ethics Committee to review stock sales he made weeks before the markets began to tank in response to the coronavirus pandemic — a move designed to limit the fallout from an intensifying political crisis. Burr, who chairs the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee, defended the sales, saying he “relied solely on public news reports to guide my decision regarding the sale of stocks" and disputed the notion he used information that he was privy to during classified briefings on the novel coronavirus. Burr specifically name-checked CNBC’s daily health and science reporting from its Asia bureau. “Understanding the assumption many could make in hindsight however, I spoke this morning with the chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee and asked him to open a complete review of the matter with full transparency,” Burr said in a statement. Burr, who is retiring at the end of 2022, has faced calls to resign from across the ideological spectrum since ProPublica reported Thursday that he dumped between $628,000 and $1.72 million of his holdings on Feb. 13 in 33 different transactions — a week before the stock market began plummeting amid fears of the coronavirus spreading in the U.S." (Politico, 3/20/20)
COVID-19 Legislative Committee
Progressive Pulse:"New legislative committee focuses on COVID-19 pandemic" "House Speaker Tim Moore has appointed 44 Republicans and 29 Democrats to the House Select Committee on COVID-19. It includes smaller working groups for economic support, health care, education, and continuity of state operations, such as emergency services, elections and public safety. The full committee and working groups will primarily work remotely, such as by telephone or video conferencing, and “minimize gatherings of staff and members.” “The health and safety of members, staff and the public shall be prioritized, Rep. Moore wrote in a document creating the select committee. The select committee will study and if necessary, introduce legislation to address the “anticipated economic impacts,” including job loss, reduced consumer spending, and health care resources and response. Measures could include “economic and regulatory relief.” The committee has not scheduled a meeting, but people can sign up for committee notices by email." (Progressive Pulse, 3/20/20)

Headline:"Rep. Chris Humphrey named to NC House Committee on Covid-19" "Representative Chris Humphrey (R-Lenoir, Pitt) has been appointed to the Economic Support Working Group of the North Carolina House Select Committee on Covid-19 by Speaker Tim Moore. The committee will meet remotely to prepare immediate and long-term legislative responses to the developing crisis. The committee meetings will be held by telephonic and remote participation. Members of both parties will chair the policy working groups that will minimize gatherings of staff and members in accordance with the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The state House Select Committee on COVID-19’s charge includes addressing “documented and anticipated economic impacts associated with the spread of COVID-19 virus on North Carolina’s economy, including workforce dislocation, health system resource management, declined consumer activity, and temporary industry contraction.” (Neuse, 3/21/20)

Headline:"McGrady appointed to bipartisan COVID-19 House committee" "N.C. Rep. Chuck McGrady has been appointed by Speaker of the House Tim Moore to the bipartisan North Carolina House Select Committee on COVID-19, which will be made up of policy working groups that will meet remotely to prepare immediate and long-term legislative responses to the developing crisis. The committee meetings will be held by telephonic and remote participation, McGrady said in a news release. Members of both parties will chair the policy working groups that will minimize gatherings of staff and members in accordance with the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. The state House Select Committee on COVID-19′s charge includes addressing “documented and anticipated economic impacts associated with the spread of COVID-19 virus on North Carolina’s economy, including workforce dislocation, health system resource management, declined consumer activity and temporary industry contraction.” (Blue Ridge Now, 3/20/20)

Headline:"Political notebook: Reps Warren, Howard, Sasser appointed to COVID-19 House Committee" "Reps. Harry Warren, R-76, Julia Howard, R-77, and Wayne Sasser, R-67, have been appointed by House Speaker Tim Moore to the bipartisan North Carolina House Select Committee on COVID-19, which will be made up of working groups that will meet remotely to prepare immediate and long-term legislative responses to the developing crisis. Howard is the chair of the Economic Support Working Group. Warren is a member of the same select committee. Sasser is in the Health Care Working Group. “I appreciate the speaker’s confidence in appointing me to the House Select Committee on COVID-19,” Warren said. “I am especially excited to be serving on the Economic Support Group sub-committee.” (Salisbury Post, 3/23/20)
COVID-19 Health System
Headline:"Rural areas may be the most vulnerable during the coronavirus outbreak" "Covid-19 may pose the greatest risk to Americans in rural areas if deaths from the coronavirus pandemic are similar to those from the standard flu. Other concentrations of sick and old people may also be at risk. With more than 100 Americans already dead, scientists project the future by measuring the people at greatest risk and deaths from similar threats. Biostatistician and infectious disease specialist Nicholas Reich from the University of Massachusetts is participating in the White House Coronavirus Task Force modeling efforts. He said the death rates from flu for people over 50 could be a good indicator of vulnerability for covid-19. He said flu death rates are “probably not a perfect measure but a good place to start.” (Washington Post, 3/19/20)

Headline:"Millions of older Americans live in counties with no ICU beds as pandemic intensifies" "More than half the counties in America have no intensive care beds, posing a particular danger for more than 7 million people who are age 60 and up ― older patients who face the highest risk of serious illness or death from the rapid spread of COVID-19, a Kaiser Health News data analysis shows. Intensive care units have sophisticated equipment, such as bedside machines to monitor a patient’s heart rate and ventilators to help them breathe. Even in communities with ICU beds, the numbers vary wildly ― with some having just one bed available for thousands of senior residents, according to the analysis based on a review of data hospitals report each year to the federal government. Consider the homes of two midsize cities: The Louisville area of Jefferson County, Kentucky, for instance, has one ICU bed for every 442 people age 60 or older, while in Santa Cruz, California, that number stands at one bed for every 2,601 residents." (North Carolina Health News, 3/22/20)

Headline:"Mission Hospital to suspend all elective surgeries & procedures amid COVID-19 concerns" "On March 21, 2020, Mission Hospital announced it will be suspending all non-essential surgery and procedures effective Monday, March 23, in response to new CMS Guidelines issued as a result of the growing COVID-19 outbreak. “Mission Hospital has well-established protocols in place to care for patients with infectious diseases, and we have been working diligently in our preparations for COVID-19,” said William Hathaway, MD, Chief Medical Officer for Mission Health in a press release. “Part of our response includes balancing our readiness to care for patients with COVID-19 while continuing to make sure the many other patients who depend on our hospitals receive needed and timely care. We have been closely following the recommended guidelines from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to review scheduled procedures based on a number of factors, including the urgency of the procedure, the clinical judgement of our physicians as well as the current circumstances in the facility and the community.” (WLOS, 3/21/20)

Headline:"WNC VA Health Care System suspends visitation due to coronavirus concerns" "Western North Carolina VA Health Care System – which includes Charles George VA Medical Center and its three Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs) in Franklin, Hickory and Rutherford County, is suspending visitation in an effort to protect patients and staff from the COVID-19 outbreak. Effective immediately, no visitors of any age will be allowed to enter the medical center or CBOC facilities, according to a press release sent on Sunday. The release said exceptions to the visitor restrictions include those who need to provide medical care, support patient care activities, or visit under urgent circumstances, such as grave illness or imminent death of a family member under care in the facility. Outpatient Veterans will be allowed a caretaker if required." (WLOS, 3/22/20)

Headline:"Duke, UNC, WakeMed hospitals to severely restrict visitors, starting Monday" "Starting Monday, visitor access to Duke, UNC and WakeMed medical facilities will be severely restricted as a response to the growing coronavirus pandemic. On Saturday, all three released information saying no visitors will be allowed in patient areas, beginning Monday, with limited exceptions. Duke’s new policies apply to Duke University Hospital and Duke Regional Hospital, both in Durham, as well as Duke Raleigh Hospital. WakeMed’s policies apply to all its facilities." (News & Observer, 3/21/20)
COVID-19 Education
Headline:"Virus means graduation disruptions, possible refunds to students moving off UNC system campuses" "Spring graduation ceremonies likely won't come off as planned because of the coronavirus outbreak, but just what to do about them will be a campus-by-campus decision, University of North Carolina Interim President Dr. Bill Roper said Friday. "There will not be a single way of doing graduation for the entire system," Roper said during a morning UNC Board of Governors meeting. UNC-Chapel Hill announced soon after that it will postpone its graduation ceremonies. "We have had to confront the impact of this new reality on our spring commencement exercises," Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said in a statement. "I am committed to celebrating the accomplishments of our many talented students. In the coming days, I will send a survey to all members of the Class of 2020 to ask their opinions about alternative dates and other options." (WRAL, 3/20/20)

Headline:"UNC System cancels spring commencements amid COVID-19 outbreak" "Commencement exercises at the 17 schools in the University of North Carolina System have been postponed because of the ongoing threat of coronavirus, the system's interim president said Friday. Interim president Bill Roper made the announcement during a special meeting of the UNC Board of Governor, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported. Roper said he knows the cancellation will disappoint students and their families, but the health and safety of students, staff and faculty are the top priority." (AP, 3/21/20)

Progressive Pulse:"Commencement cancelled for UNC System schools as system prepares for long-term COVID-19 changes" "Commencement ceremonies for all UNC System schools has been officially cancelled over concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, UNC System Interim President Bill Roper announced Friday. “Simply put, we believe spring graduation ceremonies will be disrupted and it’s time to make alternative plans,” Roper said at the UNC Board of Governors meeting. The system doesn’t anticipate the pandemic will disrupt the completion of the spring semester and the awarding of degrees, Roper said — just the ceremonies themselves, which can’t be held with appropriate social distancing procedures. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have emphasized that people should be no closer than 6 feet apart from one another. “I know and understand this will disappoint our students and their families who have worked so hard toward this goal for so many years,” Roper said. “But health and safety of our students, faculty and staff must be our top priority.” (Progressive Pulse, 3/20/20)

Headline:"NC students may not have to take state tests because of coronavirus school closures" "North Carolina public school students may not need to take state standardized exams this school year amid the uncertainty over the coronavirus closures. President Donald Trump announced Friday that the U.S. Department of Education will not enforce standardized testing requirements in elementary through high school this year. This waiver would affect the North Carolina end-of-grade exams given in grades 3-8 and end-of-course exams typically given to high school students. “Neither students nor teachers need to be focused on high-stakes tests during this difficult time,” U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said in a news release Friday. “Students are simply too unlikely to be able to perform their best in this environment. “Our actions today provide turnkey flexibilities for state and local leaders to focus on the immediate needs of their students and educators without worrying about federal repercussions.” The U.S. Department of Education normally requires that states test their students as a way to hold schools accountable. But multiple states have requested waivers citing how long schools will be closed due to COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus." (News & Observer, 3/20/20)
COVID-19 Justice System
Progressive Pulse:"During COVID-19 crisis, officials begin reviewing jail population for early release" "North Carolina criminal justice officials have begun reviewing the number of people in jail and releasing nonviolent inmates as a precaution to protect against COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, which has become a pandemic. Reports from across the state indicate that Wake, Durham, Alamance, Orange, Chatham, Forsyth, Guilford, Mecklenburg and Buncombe counties have started releasing individuals from jails or delaying intermittent weekend sentences to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in facilities. Other counties could be doing the same, but those listed have been confirmed. Durham County District Attorney Satana Deberry said Friday that while community residents are rightly heeding the advice of health officials to stay home and avoid crowds to the extent possible, social distancing for incarcerated individuals is not possible. For the health and safety of both those incarcerated and employees at the Durham County Detention Facility, Deberry said in a news release that she has worked with defense attorneys and judges to identify people who could be safely released through a modification of release conditions or disposition of their case. Specifically, they have worked to identify individuals who do not pose a public safety risk, people who are over the age of 60, and people with health conditions that put them at high risk of serious illness due to COVID-19." (Progressive Pulse, 3/20/20)

Headline:"With NC COVID-19 cases ballooning, warning that jails and prisons could accelerate spread" "With the first “community spread” case of COVID-19 reported in North Carolina on Thursday, the state Department of Public Safety and some local sheriffs are taking measures to head off a potentially catastrophic explosion of new cases across the state’s vast network of detention facilities. The Department of Public Safety, which oversees the state prison system, reported a raft of measures on Thursday, including screening vendors and contractors who do business with facilities, “aggressive cleaning efforts,” screening new prisoners and contractors, limiting transportation of prisoners and thoroughly cleaning buses after use, and waiving medical copays for prisoners reporting fevers and flu-like symptoms. In Forsyth County, Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough said during a press conference on Tuesday that he was working with judges and the district attorney’s office to identify candidates for early release. “If the courts are closed, right, that means no one is going to court,” he said. “But guess what? People are still committing crimes and people are still being arrested. Which means that people are coming in and no one’s going out. That creates not only a health issue; that creates a safety issue. And so many other issues spawn from the decisions that are being made.” (Triad City Beat, 3/20/20)
Headline:"NC Governor Roy Cooper requests federal waivers for food, Medicaid" "Gov. Roy Cooper is requesting federal government waivers so more North Carolinians can get food and health care during the coronavirus pandemic.
As of Friday morning, North Carolina has more than 130 reported cases of COVID-19. Cooper wrote a letter to President Donald J. Trump asking for the waivers. In his letter, Cooper said that the “widespread panic surrounding COVID-19 has caused many retailers to experience extreme shortage of goods for purchase.” Cooper is requesting the federal government loosen requirements for food benefits, especially for children. Schools are closed across the state until at least March 30. “We need to get food to children who are now not in school and these waivers will help,” Cooper said in an emailed statement. “They also will help healthcare providers who need to concentrate on patients, not paperwork.” (News & Observer, 3/20/20)

Headline:"Roy Cooper to Wilmington restaurants with outdoor service: Nice try" "According to a clarification issued by N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper, who ordered bars and restaurants closed due to the coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic, outdoor seating or on-premises consumption is not allowed. All of the StarNews’ coverage of coronavirus is being provided for free to our readers. Please consider supporting local journalism by subscribing to the StarNews at It turns out that closed actually means closed. Restricted to take-out and delivery by an order from N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper on Tuesday closing all bars, restaurants and breweries in the state due to the coronavirus pandemic, some establishments responded by offering table seating, and even full service, outdoors. But according to guidance issued by the governor’s office on Thursday afternoon, “It has been clarified for us that any kind of outdoor table service is prohibited,” said Kate Oelslager, communications and outreach coordinator with New Hanover County." (Star News Online, 3/20/20)
Attorney General
Headline:"Pandemic Price Gouging: AG’s office says they are ready to respond aggressively if needed" "Responding to the novel coronavirus may look different than a hurricane or ice storm, but the North Carolina Attorney General says the state of emergency declared by Governor Roy Cooper does the exact same thing for him: engages the state’s price gouging law. As of Wednesday, March 18, Attorney General Josh Stein’s office has received 136 complaints of price gouging from accross North Carolina. The number one offending product: toilet paper, with 35 complaints about the personal product alone. Stein says it is still early in the COVID-19 situation, and they expect there to be more reports of gouging as things progress. “When we see them, we will act aggressively just like we did after Hurricane Florence and Michael, where we in Southeastern North Carolina went after a number of tree removal companies that were ripping people off unconscionably and we returned something like $750,000 to the people of Southeastern North Carolina," Stein said." (WECT, 3/20/20)

Headline:"Guard against these scams related to the coronavirus outbreak" "As unbelievable as it is in these trying times, scammers are using fears associated with the coronavirus outbreak to prey upon seniors isolated at home as they guard against infection. North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein addressed this in a virtual town hall yesterday, as well as published this guide for seniors and their loved ones to refer to during this period. Specific scams to watch out for that have been mentioned in various news sources include: Don't believe a caller claiming to be from a medical organization saying that their coronavirus vaccine is ready and to send a payment. There is no vaccine for coronavirus. Be wary of special deals to clean and sanitize your homes or special products, requiring payment upfront over the phone." (WRAL, 3/20/20)

Headline:"N.C. Attorney General warns against Coronavirus-related scams" "As the number of cases of the novel coronavirus in North Carolina grow, so too will the number of attempts to scam people out of their resources, state Attorney General Josh Stein said. “The sad truth is, is even as our neighbors kind of go above and beyond to help each other out, there are going to be some greedy people who are going to try to steal your money,” he said. The state’s price gouging law has been in effect since March 10, when Governor Roy Cooper enacted a state of emergency, but Stein says the threat of other types of unscrupulous behavior is just as high. Stein said in the last week he’s been made aware of a variety of new scam attempts, particularly in the robocall and phishing-email space. He said he was told of one instance where a caller pretends to be from the would-be victim’s local health department, saying that person has been exposed to COVID-19, and needs to purchase a test over the phone." (WBTV, 3/19/20)
2020 Congressional Elections
First quarter reports were due Feb. 25, view them on our blog here .
Progressive Pulse:"GOP runoff primary moved from May to June 23 in response to COVID-19 pandemic" "North Carolina State Board of Elections Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell announced today that she is moving the Republican runoff primary for the 11th Congressional district from May 12 to June 23 in response to the public health emergency around COVID-19. Bell said that in crises the agency is tasked not with stopping elections but with finding a safe and accessible way to proceed. She signed an executive order today moving the election, extending some related deadlines and closing county boards of elections offices to the public. Those boards will continue to accept voter registration forms, absentee request forms and other documents. She made the announcement to the State Board of Elections at its noon meeting today. Board members supported the decision, and one person asked the public, candidates for office and committees for patience and cooperation." (Progressive Pulse, 3/20/20)

Headline:"NC congressional runoff election postponed to June due to coronavirus" "The runoff election in the Republican primary for U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows’ congressional seat has been postponed from May 12 to June 23 over concerns about coronavirus. N.C. State Board of Elections executive director Karen Brinson Bell told the board Friday that she’ll issue an emergency order to change the date. The second-place finisher in the 11th congressional district GOP primary earlier this month, real-estate investor Madison Cawthorn, had requested a runoff against first-place finisher Lynda Bennett, a local GOP leader who has Meadows’ endorsement. Bell said the delay “will ensure the safety of the voters, poll workers and election staff while carrying out the election process.” Rep. David Lewis, a Harnett County Republican who chairs the House Elections Committee, said he supports the change. He said he looks forward to working with the elections board and staff “on any legislative measures that could be necessary” due to coronavirus.: (News & Observer, 3/20/20)
2020 Statewide Elections
First quarter reports were due Feb. 25, view them on our blog here .
Headline:"Bloomberg’s $18 million gift could help Democrats in NC, but leave staffers jobless" "Former presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg’s announcement Friday that he’s transferring $18 million to the Democratic Party came with a downside for his campaign workers, who suddenly found themselves out of a job during a national crisis. The campaign announced it’s transferring the money to the Democratic National Committee to use in North Carolina and other battleground states. “It is critically important that we all do everything we can to support our eventual nominee and scale the Democratic Party’s general election efforts,” it said in a release. “We therefore believe the best thing we can all do . . . is to help the group that matters most in this fight: the Democratic National Committee.” But in a conference call with Bloomberg’s campaign staff Friday, workers were told that salaries and benefits they had been told would last until November were ending. “It’s a punch to the gut with the epidemic going on and the economy flat-lining,” said one former staffer, who asked not to be named because they’d signed non-disclosure agreements. “We were all promised that we’d work through November.” Bloomberg, who quit the race earlier this month, had a paid staff of 125 in North Carolina, far more than any other presidential candidate. Some workers made six-figure salaries. They had generous health care insurance coverage. And most were told they’d have jobs until November regardless of how Bloomberg did" (Charlotte Observer, 3/20/20)
Headline: "Monday numbers: A closer look at the 2020 Census" "So, you’re working from home again this week. You’d like to do something helpful, something to get your mind off current events. Well, you can stand up and make sure your household is counted in the 2020 census. A complete and accurate census count will determine how much funding local communities receive for key public services. Officials also use your answers to draw boundaries for congressional, legislative and school districts. Learn more about the 2020 U.S. census in today’s Monday numbers column:" (NC Policy Watch, 3/23/20)
Health Care
Editorial:"Our Opinion: Certificate of need laws could harm COVID-19 patients" "As COVID-19 cases mushroom, state officials have suspended a rule that would have prevented North Carolina hospitals from adding beds. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services announced March 12 it would waive the regulation “to allow the hospital(s) to provide temporary shelter and temporary services to adequately care for patients that may be stricken by COVID-19,” the John Locke Foundation’s Carolina Journal newspaper reported. Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen made a wise and prudent decision to lift the cap on new beds. It’s mystifying that the limit exists at all. For that, you have state lawmakers to thank. North Carolina is one of 35 states with certificate of need laws that prevent health care facilities from setting up shop or adding equipment and services unless they obtain a government permission slip. Regulating the number of beds a hospital can provide is part of that framework. The laws are meant to ensure medical investments meet communities’ needs and aren’t redundant, but they stifle competition and innovation and create monopolies, driving up health care costs for patients and insurers." (The Wilson Times Editorial, 3/20/20)
Headline:"NCGOP 'firmly committed' to moving forward with RNC in Charlotte" "The North Carolina GOP has been addressing upcoming events due to concerns surrounding COVID-19. While hundreds of GOP meetings across the state will be postponed or canceled, leaders say they are "firmly committed' to moving forward with the Republican National Convention in Charlotte later this year. All remaining county conventions will be conducted virtually via teleconferences, and all district conventions will be conducted virtually utilizing a combination of teleconference and online platforms. At this time, the NCGOP is still planning to hold the State Convention in Greenville, NC from May 14-17, though NCGOP leaders are monitoring COVID-19 updates. "At this time, the RNC is firmly committed to moving forward with the RNC Convention which is scheduled to be held August 24th-27thin Charlotte," an open letter to North Carolina Republicans from the NCGOP says. "However, the RNC is closely monitoring conditions regarding the COVID-19 outbreak and is working closely with federal, state, and local governments in order to determine whether they will need to make any changes to the schedule." (WCNC, 3/22/20)

Headline:"North Carolina GOP chair: Convention still on for Charlotte" "The Republican National Convention in Charlotte and the North Carolina GOP convention are on as scheduled later this year for now despite uncertainty over the new coronavirus, the state party's top leader says. In an open letter to state Republicans over the weekend, party Chairman Michael Whatley said the Republican National Committee "is firmly committed to moving forward" with the quadrennial convention set to be held in late August. It's there that President Donald Trump would formally accept the GOP nomination. Whatley said the RNC is working closely with governments to determine whether any changes to the convention scheduled are needed." (Charlotte Observer, 3/22/20)

Headline:"RNC still on for Charlotte, officials ‘closely’ monitor COVID-19. NC party goes virtual" "The Republican National Committee is “firmly committed” to hosting its convention in Charlotte this August, state GOP Chairman Michael Whatley said Saturday evening. But limits on mass gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic will drastically alter the formats of upcoming county and district conventions, forcing delegates to be elected through teleconferences and other online platforms, Whatley wrote in an “open letter” to North Carolina Republicans. “I am keenly aware that there will be challenges,” Whatley wrote. “I would ask all North Carolina Republicans to be patient with this new process and understand that we have been forced to make these changes in a very short period of time.” North Carolina Democratic officials are taking similar precautionary measures amid the COVID-19 outbreak, tasking larger counties to hold “virtual party conventions.” The RNC, planned for Aug. 24 to 27 in Charlotte, has not announced any changes since North Carolina and Mecklenburg County have declared states of emergency. Disruptions to the national convention — an event anticipated to draw more than 50,000 delegates, guests and media members— are still possible, though. President Donald Trump has cautioned the coronavirus could impede daily life through August or potentially longer." (Charlotte Observer, 3/22/20)
UNC Board of Governors
Carolina Journal: " Carolina Journal: "UNC Board member says online learning should become higher priority" " Marty Kotis, a member of the University of North Carolina System’s Board of Governors, for years has pushed for more online learning programs from UNC’s college campuses. He hasn’t gathered much support, but that may change now that the coronavirus pandemic is uprooting traditional higher education. “I hate that this is what it takes for people to understand the importance of online learning, and also the threat of online education as a major disruptor,” Kotis told  Carolina Journal . “But I think this fall that’s exactly what we are going to see.” During its meeting Friday, March 20, the UNC board voted to table plans asking the General Assembly for more money to support operations and capital projects. The decision comes in light of the ever-changing situation posed by COVID-19. As the system’s 17 schools move online to block coronavirus contagion, the board’s budget and finance committee is developing a separate proposal for a legislative relief and online learning package." (CJ,  3/20/20 ) "
Police Shooting
Headline:"Amid tension, police shooting report says suspect raised gun" "A man wounded by police in a case that sparked protests around North Carolina’s capital city was raising a gun when he was shot, according to a preliminary investigative report, which comes as community activists press for increased police transparency and accountability. The shooting of Javier Torres, 26, on March 10 ignited spontaneous demonstrations around Raleigh after social media rumors incorrectly suggested an unarmed 16-year-old was shot and killed. Hours after the shooting, news video showed crowds at the home of Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown, demanding to see her. Outside the governor’s mansion, protesters burned a flag in the street. Zainab Baloch, a member of the nonprofit Raleigh Police Accountability Community Taskforce, said that regardless of initial confusion about the age of the person shot, the protests reflected pent-up frustration surrounding recent officer-involved shootings in Raleigh, including two fatal shootings in the past year." (AP, 3/21/20)
COVID-19 General News
Headline:"Mail voting could secure the November election. But can election officials make it happen in time?" "The rapidly escalating coronavirus pandemic has forced election officials to consider a sobering reality: The crisis could run headlong into November’s presidential election, and revamping America’s voting systems before then could be difficult and in some cases impossible. Even as they postpone upcoming primaries, state and local officials are racing to find longer-term solutions to ensure that the public can safely vote on Nov. 3. While there is growing consensus that voting by mail is the safest way to cast ballots during a pandemic, implementing that system across the country is a huge undertaking that may not be possible, particularly in states where it is limited by law. In the past week, elections officials have been swapping advice on what it would take: enormous orders of printed ballots and envelopes, high-speed scanners capable of counting the returns and in some cases constitutional amendments to lift restrictions on who may vote by mail — and hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for it all." (Washington Post, 3/20/20)

Headline:"Getting exercise not simple during coronavirus pandemic in NC" "Although the new coronavirus pandemic has led gyms to close and group exercise classes to cancel, it is still important to stay active, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. coronavirus news NCDr. Alexa Mieses, an assistant professor with the UNC Department of Family Medicine, suggested avoiding shared equipment, small spaces and groups of people. Gyms, bike-sharing programs and playgrounds could all fit into those categories. “It’s really hard to set hard-and-fast rules because the most important thing, and the reason these recommendations are being made, is infection control,” Mieses, who works with an outpatient clinic in Durham and sees inpatients at UNC’s main hospital in Chapel Hill, said. As of Friday evening, there are no state-mandated beach closures in North Carolina, but some counties and towns have begun implementing changes. Dare County limited visitors’ access to the county beginning Tuesday, while Ocracoke Island announced that it would limit visitor access beginning on Thursday. Dare’s restrictions also limited visitors’ travel through the county to other popular areas, including Corolla. Currituck and Hyde counties later closed those specific areas of their counties as well, all located along the state’s northeastern Outer Banks." (Carolina Public Press, 3/21/20)

Headline:"Gun sales soar as buyers fear uncertainty of coronavirus shutdowns, sinking economy" "Last week, Larry Hyatt, the owner of Hyatt Guns, noticed business was doing unusually well both online and in the Wilkinson Boulevard store. First-time buyers — including senior citizens and women — were outnumbering the employees, he said. “Friday, it hit,” Hyatt said. “That’s when evidently whatever news came out and sparked this.” Last week, Charlotte saw a flurry of announcements and closures over the novel coronavirus pandemic. Last Tuesday, N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of an emergency before President Donald Trump declared one for the nation last Friday. While the numbers haven’t been formally calculated, Hyatt said that Saturday’s sales are turning out to look like the best day for the store’s over 60-year history, followed by the sales on Monday. Hyatt Guns is closed on Sunday. Hyatt estimated that sales have been ten times greater than what is typically expected in March. The last time the store was this busy, Hyatt said, was in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The surge in sales isn’t just at Hyatt Guns. Brian Sisson — the owner of the Pineville Gun Shop and The Range, a training center and retailer in both Ballantyne and Lake Norman — said he’s noticed more people enrolling in classes and taking aim at shooting ranges." (WBTV, 3/21/20)

Headline:"As Coronavirus Takes Emotional Toll, Mental Health Professionals Brace for Spike in Demand" "For the last few days, unease and paranoia have followed Ann Ostberg like a black cloud, as the coronavirus swept through the United States, reaching all 50 states by this week. With state and local governments urging isolation to stem the spread of the highly contagious and sometimes deadly respiratory illness, the 62-year-old Nebraska woman worries she will not be able to provide emotional support for her daughter, whose husband is paralyzed with Guillain-Barre syndrome. If someone were to infect her son-in-law with his weakened immune system, “he’d be dead,” Ostberg said. Chicagoan Mike Wisler was prescribed a sedative to help him sleep when the financial and emotional impact of the pandemic hit the 50-year-old bartender. “My mind won't shut off,” Wisler said. “As soon as I wake up, it's like, ‘How am I going to get by this month?'" (Reuters, 3/20/20)

Headline:"Paying respects in the midst of the coronavirus epidemic" "Fayetteville area funeral homes are having to adapt, making adjustments to their traditional services This content is being provided for free as a public service to our readers during the coronavirus outbreak. Please support local journalism by subscribing to The Fayetteville Observer at Go to for more coronavirus coverage. Like most other businesses in these strange and stressful times, funeral homes are having to adjust the way they have always operated in order to stay open. In this case, it’s due to N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper’s March 14 executive order prohibiting large gatherings in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The governor defined a mass gathering as “any event or convening that brings together more than 100 persons in a single room or single space at the same time,” including a meeting hall, large conference room, auditorium or any other confined indoor or outdoor space." (Fayetteville Observer, 3/21/20)

John Hood Opinion: "Loosening controls helps avert disaster" " As North Carolina and other states inch towards increasingly draconian measures in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we are all weighing the potential costs of both underreaction and overreaction. Whatever we think of school closures, restaurant bans, and “shelter in place” orders that shut down broad swaths of our economy, few of us would deny that state and local governments possess the legal authority to regulate private actors in order to combat infectious disease — provided, of course, that such authority is exercised according to  the rules and procedures set forth in the relevant statutes . But increasing government regulation isn’t the only way to respond to disasters such as pandemics. Indeed, deregulation also has its uses." (CJ,  3/23/20 )
CPRNC: "NORTH CAROLINA CAN FIGHT VIRUS BECAUSE OF REFORM MAJORITY’S STRONG RECORD ON ECONOMY"  "The coronavirus threatens the world. But North Carolina has $5.9 billion in reserves to wage the virus war. Thanks to the reform majority’s work on tax cuts, fiscal responsibility and jobs, North Carolina is in a position of strength to deal with this emergency. Consider the facts laid out by conservative commentator John Hood about how our economy outperforms the nation:" (CPRNC,  3/23/20 )

CPRNC: "NEARLY 3 BILLION DOLLARS THAT GIVE US HOPE"  "Keep a “social distance.” New phrases abound from the fight against the coronavirus pandemic as we work to stay healthy and be responsible citizens. The roughly six-foot space between you and another human being brings new meaning to the term “sphere of influence.” Another phrase is about to be critically important in giving NC citizens hope as we cope with the economic reality of the coronavirus. Typically, it’s used at times of natural disasters, here in North Carolina especially when we have hurricanes. It is the Rainy Day Fund – money put aside during times of plenty and when we have a healthy economy to prepare and be ready for lean times and economic downturn." (CPRNC,  3/19/20 )

First in Freedom Daily: "‘Burr Owes NC Explanation’: Tillis Throws Burr Under the Bus on Stock Sale"  "After it was reported that Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) was one of four senate members that dumped stocks after a classified coronavirus briefing (weeks before public info led markets to crash), North Carolina’s other U.S. Senator, Thom Tillis, wasted no time in piling on. The junior senator which Burr likes to jokingly call ‘Little Richard,’ throwing his elder Republican colleague right under the bus. Ouch." (FIFD,  3/21/20 )

Civitas: "Learning from conservative and not so conservative voices on education"  "With school closings prolonged due to  coronavirus,  a lot of parents and families are getting an opportunity to think a little deeper about education. And in most instances, parents and caregivers are much more involved in the day to day aspects of educating right now. Lives have been upended, many have jumped in the trenches with their sleeves rolled up, taking initiative and doing their best to make sure learning is not canceled. How we educate our children is an essential component of society, particularly on how we collectively engage in self-government in hopes of sustaining a healthy Republic. The lessons we learn at this moment, particularly because they are so unusual given current events, will have an impact for decades." (Civitas,  3/20/20 )
Legislative Schedule
Click here for more details and to see the rest of this week's legislative schedule.
All meetings have been canceled through March 31.
Bills on the Calendar

  • The House is adjourned and will reconvene April 28, 2020, at 12 p.m.

  • The Senate is adjourned and will reconvene April 28, 2020, at 12 p.m.
Legislative Update
Bills with House action yesterday ( Click here for more details ):

n/a. The House is adjourned.
Bills with Senate action yesterday ( Click for more details ):

n/a The Senate is adjourned.
NC Government Meetings Calendar
Click here for more details on these meetings and to see schedule of future meetings.
Other Meetings and Events
If you would like your event featured below, please submit event details here .
Stag and Doe Reception for Dan Forest
Tuesday, March 24, 6 p.m.
China Grove, NC

March 26, 2020 at 6:30pm - 8:30pm
500 Greenhill Dr Whiteville, NC 28472

Forsyth County Lincoln Reagan Dinner
Fri, March 27, 2020
5:15 PM – 8:15 PM EDT
Guests + Sponsors include: Sen. Joyce Krawiec, DA Jim O’Neill, Dale Folwell

Reagan Day Dinner
March 28, 2020 at 6pm - 8pm 
300 Golf Course Ln Taylorsville, NC 28681

University Club Lunch for Dan Forest
Tuesday, March 31, 12 p.m.
Durham, NC

Triple J Manor Reception for Dan Forest
Tuesday, March 31 6 p.m.
Mocksville, NC

2nd Annual Angus Barn Wine Cellar Dinner
Thursday, April 2, 6 p.m.
Raleigh, NC
Dan Forest

2nd Annual Burrus House Inn Reception
Thursday, April 9, 6 p.m.
Manteo, NC
Dan Forest

North Harbor Club Reception for Dan Forest
Tuesday April 14, 6 p.m.
Davidson, NC

Gun Raffle for Dan Forest
Thursday April 16, 6 p.m.
Dobson, NC

Lunch with Gov. Abbott (TX) for Dan Forest
Monday April 20, 12 p.m.
Charlotte, NC

NC Bail Agents Assoc. Lunch for Dan Forest
Tuesday April 21, 12 p.m.
Concord, NC

Breakfast for Dan Forest
Monday May 11, 8 a.m.
Asheville, NC

7th Annual Western Golf Tournament
Monday May 11, 9 a.m.
Asheville, NC
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