NC'S COVID 19 CASES APPROACH 185,000: At least 184,936 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 3,052 have died, according to state health officials. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Sunday reported 1,196 new COVID-19 cases, down from 1,454 reported the day before. Five coronavirus-related deaths were reported Sunday. About 4.9% of tests were reported positive as of Friday, the latest date available, in line with health officials’ goal of 5% or lower. At least 831 people in North Carolina were reportedly hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Sunday, down from 870 the day before. Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the state health department, said last week the state is “simmering” but still has too many cases to open additional businesses.
CUNNINGHAM AND TILLIS SET FOR LIVE DEBATE TONIGHT: Republican U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis and his Democratic challenger, Cal Cunningham, have agreed to debate in September. WRAL News will host the live, one-hour debate on Sept. 14. It will air on WRAL-TV, WRAL.com, the WRAL News app and other outlets. Tillis, a former speaker of the North Carolina House, is seeking a second six-year term in Congress. He is running on his record in both Raleigh and Washington, D.C., and is counting on the popularity of President Donald Trump in the state to boost his chances. Cunningham, a Raleigh lawyer who served in Iraq and later in the state Senate, is betting that North Carolina has soured on Trump and the gridlock in Congress, allowing him to defeat Tillis and win a Senate seat that has changed hands three times since the late Sen. Jesse Helms retired in 2002.
IVANKA TRUMP WILL HOLD "FIRESIDE CHAT" IN WILMINGTON TODAY: President Donald Trump's re-election campaign plans to host a “fireside chat” with Ivanka Trump in North Carolina on Monday. News outlets report that the event in Wilmington will be moderated by Trump 2020 National Press Secretary Hogan Gidley. It will be Ivanka Trump's second visit to North Carolina in a week. On Thursday, she toured a local farmers market in Raleigh and participated in a Farmers to Families Food Box distribution event. President Trump has made numerous stops in North Carolina over the past couple of weeks, including in Wilmington, where he declared the city a “World War II Heritage City” on V-J Day, the day when Japan surrendered, bringing the war to an end.
DEMOCRATS LEAD REPUBLICANS 5-1 IN NC ABSENTEE BALLOTS CAST: Nearly 10,000 North Carolinians had their mail-in ballots accepted in the first week of voting, according to data released Friday by the State Board of Elections. Of the 10,380 absentee ballots returned since counties sent them out last Friday, 9,966 have been accepted. North Carolina was the first state in the country to send absentee ballots to voters who requested them. The accepted ballots represent about 1% of the number requested and an even smaller fraction of the state's 7.1 million registered voters, meaning limited conclusions can be drawn so far. But the data does offer insight on how people are casting ballots and what challenges may lie ahead. Of the ballots returned so far, 6,155 are from Democrats, compared to 1,248 from Republicans and nearly 3,000 from unaffiliated voters. The multi-step process that leads to ballots being scanned and eventually counted doesn't start until Sept. 29 when county boards can meet to further review them, and tallies won't be released until election night after polls close.
TRUMP PUTS CLIMATE CHANGE DENIER IN TOP TIER POSITION AT NOAA: The Trump administration has tapped David Legates, an academic who has long questioned the scientific consensus that human activity is causing global warming, to help run the agency that produces much of the climate research funded by the U.S. government. Legates, a University of Delaware professor who was forced out of his role as that state’s climatologist because of his controversial views, has taken a senior leadership role at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The agency, which oversees weather forecasting, climate research and fisheries, has until now continued its climate research and communications activities unfettered by political influence. For that, NOAA stands in stark contrast to the Environmental Protection Agency and science agencies at the Interior Department, where the Trump administration has dismissed and sidelined climate scientists or altered their work before publication. The move to install Legates as the new deputy assistant secretary of Commerce for environmental observation and prediction, a position that would report directly to acting NOAA Administrator Neil Jacobs, is raising concerns in the science community that this could be a White House-orchestrated move to influence the agency’s scientific reports. The new hire came as a surprise to a NOAA official, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the appointment. “I knew nothing about this and here it comes as a midnight hire over the weekend,” the official said. “NOAA was being run reasonably well and the need for any new talent coming into this organization at this point is really not needed.”