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Wednesday News: B or C

NC SCHOOLS WILL REOPEN IN AUGUST WITH LIMITED ATTENDANCE: North Carolina’s 1.5 million public school students will return to school in August, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday, but it will be in a world where many children only attend in-person classes every other day or every other week. Cooper announced that K-12 public schools will reopen under a “moderate social distancing” plan that limits how many people can be on campus, forcing many students to get a mix of in-person and remote instruction. The reopening plan requires daily temperature and health screening checks, maintaining 6 feet of social distancing and face coverings to be worn by all school employees and students. Cooper said school districts can reopen with remote-only instruction if they determine that it’s best for students, parents and teachers in that area. He warned that the state may switch to requiring all schools to use online-only instruction if COVID-19 cases spike and they can’t safely reopen under the new health protocols.

Tuesday News: 1,510 and counting


NC COVID 19 CASES ARE STILL ON THE RISE: At least 87,528 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 1,510 have died, according to state health officials. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Monday reported an additional 1,827 cases of the virus, down from 1,908 on Sunday and the record-high 2,462 on Saturday. Daily cases have been on an upward trend. The number of cases reported from July 7 to July 13 was about 17% higher than the number reported during the previous week. Officials also reported seven additional deaths Monday. On Monday, health officials reported completing 20,899 new coronavirus tests, for a total of more than 1.2 million. On Sunday, 10% of tests were positive. That number should be closer to 5%, health officials have said. State health officials say 67,124 people in North Carolina are presumed recovered from the virus, based on when they tested positive and if they were in the hospital. Data on recoveries is released once a week, on Monday.

Monday News: Falling like dominoes


CONFEDERATE STATUE IN CLINTON PULLED DOWN, REMOVED: A bronze Confederate statue outside the Sampson County courthouse in Clinton, found bent and teetering on its pedestal Sunday morning, has been removed, according to the county sheriff’s office. The statue was vandalized Saturday night, according to the Sampson Independent. Clinton City Council member Darue Bryant organized a protest at the monument last Monday, he said, after Sampson commissioners did not put the relocation issue on their agenda. The Sampson board of commissioners chairman could not be reached Sunday. A petition Bryant sponsored calling for the statue’s removal had more than 2,700 signatures as of Sunday afternoon.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


SERIOUSLY, JUST WEAR YOUR MASK: But please, just don’t think about it as so many Republicans do. “Mask-wearing has become a totem, a secular religious symbol,” Alex Castellanos, a longtime Republican strategist, told The Washington Post. “Christians wear crosses, Muslims wear a hijab, and members of the Church of Secular Science bow to the Gods of Data by wearing a mask as their symbol, demonstrating that they are the elite; smarter, more rational, and morally superior to everyone else.” This is a bizarre way to talk about people who are guided by facts, science and reason. It’s not about making a political point or asserting moral superiority; it’s about saving lives and protecting one another — which should be a basic element of citizenship in any democracy. Why turn a straightforward public health issue into a political one? The virus doesn’t care whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat. It ravaged blue states in the spring, and now it’s plowing through red ones. All it cares about are finding open mouths and nostrils. It’s crazy that we are having this debate after all. Dozens of countries have already mandated mask-wearing in public. It’s not a coincidence that the United States remains the world’s coronavirus hot spot.

Saturday News: It was inevitable

REPUBLICAN DANNY BRITT TESTS POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS: A Republican state senator has tested positive for coronavirus, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said Friday. Sen. Danny Britt, R-Robeson, later identified himself as the one testing positive and apologized to his colleagues. Masks became a very partisan issue over the course of the session. "Why are you not wearing a mask? Why are you putting me and all of us at risk by not wearing a mask?" Rep. Graig Meyer, D-Orange, demanded of a Republican colleague during a debate on the House floor in June. Meyer and other Democrats sent letters to Republican House and Senate leaders three weeks ago asking for more safeguards. "We’ve petitioned for mandatory masks at the legislature, asked to only have essential personnel there, asked for testing," Meyer said Friday. "But the leadership and the administration of the legislature building have refused all of those requests."

Friday News: Same old song & dance


REPUBLICAN LAWMAKERS PUSH FOR VOTER ID IN NOVEMBER: Legislative Republicans called on the courts Thursday to lift an injunction and require voter to present photo identification at the polls this November, saying a bill they passed earlier this year should satisfy the last arguments against the rule. "It is past time for activist courts to stop blocking another commonsense elections policy that is required by North Carolina's constitution and a strong majority of other states," House Speaker Tim Moore said in a statement. There are two lawsuits seeking – so far, successfully – to block the state's voter ID requirement: one state and one federal. Republican lawmakers filed a motion in the state case Thursday, asking judges to drop their injunction against the state's voter ID law. They argued that a provision included in House Bill 1169 earlier this year should satisfy the court.

Thursday News: Quit wasting time


VETO OVERRIDE VOTES FAIL IN BOTH HOUSE AND SENATE: In yet another attempt to scale back North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s coronavirus executive order that has kept some businesses shuttered, the General Assembly voted on two bills Wednesday to open gyms and skating rinks in the state. Both votes, one in the state House and one in the state Senate, failed to override Cooper’s vetoes of the bills. The House also voted on whether to override Cooper’s veto of two other bills. One would allow those with concealed carry permits to carry guns in private schools where people meet for worship. The other would have prevented the governor or local governments from prohibiting fireworks displays and parades to celebrate the Fourth of July. The House failed to override Cooper’s veto of either.

Wednesday News: Gridlock


GENERAL ASSEMBLY CAN'T AGREE ON SIMPLE PANDEMIC ISSUES: The House and the Senate remain divided over whether to extend the exemption to a state law against wearing masks in public past an Aug. 1 deadline so people can continue covering their faces during the coronavirus pandemic. There's also some concern over a proposal backed by the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association that would allow businesses to meet their obligation to enforce Gov. Roy Cooper's statewide mask requirement simply by posting a sign in their front windows. Lawmakers also are split on whether to give school districts the flexibility to start off the new school year with remote learning. Many are implementing plans to rotate groups of students through both in-person and remote instruction to limit the number of students at school at a given time, but state law currently says no remote learning is allowed during the first week of class.

Tuesday News: Poison pill


GOVERNOR VETOES BILL THAT WOULD BLOCK TRANSPARENCY OF POLICE KILLINGS: “Senate Bill 168 includes a provision to change the handling of public records by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner which could have the unintended consequence of limiting transparency in death investigations,” Cooper said in Monday’s release about the veto. “While I believe neither the Department of Health and Human Services, which proposed it, nor the General Assembly, which unanimously passed it, had any ill intent, the concerns that have since been raised make it clear this provision should not become law.” Dozens of protesters have camped outside the governor’s mansion since last Monday, to call on Cooper to veto SB 168. They have expressed concerns that limiting public access to the death records could hide actions that happen in police custody. Some have said the lack of transparency would only serve to increase police distrust.


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