NC'S HOSPITALIZATIONS AND POSITIVE TEST RATE INCH UP, DESPITE VACCINATIONS: At least 943,693 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 12,387 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 2,475 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, up from 2,434 the day before. At least 1,064 people in North Carolina were reported hospitalized with the coronavirus as of Friday, up from 1,020 on Thursday. On Wednesday, the latest day for which data is available, 5.5% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. Edgecombe County was the only red county in the state’s tiered COVID-19 county alert system as of Friday, indicating it has the most severe spread. There were no red counties at the last update two weeks ago, The News & Observer reported.
VP KAMALA HARRIS WILL BE IN NC TODAY TO PROMOTE JOBS PLAN: On Monday afternoon, Vice President Kamala Harris will be in North Carolina to highlight the American Jobs Plan. Harris will be in Greensboro and High Point to talk about growing our economy and creating jobs, according to a schedule released by the White House. Before heading back to Washington, D.C., Harris will tour a manufacturer of electric school buses, an important part of the American Jobs Plan's investment in electric vehicles. Gov. Roy Cooper will join Harris for her first visit to North Carolina since taking office. Live reports begin on WRAL News at Noon. She will be at Guilford Tech Community College (601 E. Main St Jamestown) just before noon, and then travel to Thomas Built Buses (1408 Courtesy Rd High Point) early- to mid-afternoon.
LEGISLATIVE REPUBLICANS SPAR OVER (PERSONAL) ETHICS OF WAIVING TAXES FOR PPP LOANS: “I was given orders from the speaker that we would hear this PPP bill today,” Howard said when she reluctantly moved the bill in a committee hearing Tuesday. Moore denied the claim, saying he never had a conversation with Howard about the legislation. The dispute over an obscure tax bill is an unusually public rift between Republican leadership in the state House. “I told the boys in the caucus meeting, ‘I am concerned that you should not be filing bills if you took the money,’” Howard said in an interview with The News & Observer on Friday. Rep. John Bradford, a Republican from Cornelius and a supporter of the bill, for example, could see his businesses’ taxes owed reduced by up to $20,000. Bradford is the CEO of a software company and sole owner of a property management company. “It’s not a favor for a legislator — one or two — or anything like that,” said Republican Rep. Jason Saine, one sponsor of the bill, in a press conference Thursday. “Just simply as being business owners who were eligible to take the PPP loans.”
AG JOSH STEIN WARNS OF FAKE COVID VACCINATION CARD MOVEMENT: The listings are a “perfect example” of burgeoning scams involving coronavirus vaccination cards that could undermine people’s safety, as well as the success of the nation’s largest mass vaccination effort, said North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein. Individuals might use them to misrepresent their vaccination status at school, work or in various living and travel situations, potentially exposing others to risk. Stein, who led a recent effort with 47 colleagues demanding that eBay and other e-commerce platforms crack down on the scams, pointed to the FBI’s warning that anyone who makes or buys a fake vaccine card is breaking the law, and said he would consider prosecution, too. “This is a concern that is national and bipartisan,” Stein added, saying the spread of fake vaccination cards “will extend the pandemic, resulting in more people sick and more people dead.” At least 129.5 million Americans have gotten at least one or both doses of a coronavirus vaccine and have received a free proof-of-vaccination card with the logo of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as officials push to inoculate the nation. But that vaccination drive has pitted people like asianjackson, selling blank or fake credentials, against law enforcement officials rushing to stop them — and warning that the full scope of the problem is impossible to grasp. While state and local immunization registries do store individual coronavirus vaccination data, officials said there’s no current system that would allow businesses, schools and other organizations to easily check the databases to see if a visitor was presenting a falsified paper card. HHS did not respond to questions about health officials’ decision to opt for paper cards and whether that increased the risk of scams. An HHS spokesperson pointed to an October playbook (Trump) that instructed accredited vaccinators to provide “a completed COVID-19 vaccination record card to every vaccine recipient/parent/legal representative.”
AS CHAUVIN TRIAL WINDS DOWN, MINNESOTA COPS UNDER SCRUTINY FOR ATTACKING JOURNALISTS: Tim Walz, the governor of Minnesota, on Sunday responded to reports that the state’s police officers had assaulted journalists covering the unrest in a Minneapolis suburb, saying, “Apologies are not enough; it just cannot happen.” On Saturday, a lawyer representing more than 20 news media organizations sent a letter to Mr. Walz and leaders of Minnesota law enforcement organizations detailing a series of alleged assaults of journalists by police officers in the past week. Journalists have been sprayed with chemical irritants, arrested, thrown to the ground and beaten by police officers while covering protests, wrote the lawyer, Leita Walker. Joshua Rashaad McFadden, a freelance photographer who was covering the protests for The Times, said in an interview on Sunday that the police surrounded the car he was in on Tuesday as he tried to leave the protests. They beat on the windows with batons, then entered the car to force him out, beating his legs and striking his camera lens, he said. “It was definitely scary — I’ve never been in a situation like that with so many police officers hitting me, hitting my equipment,” Mr. McFadden, 30, said. Mr. McFadden, who is Black, said the police did not believe his press credentials were real until another photographer vouched for him — a situation that has happened to him and other Black journalists many times, he said. Later in the week, he said, he was forced to the ground along with other journalists and photographed by the police. A spokeswoman for The New York Times Company on Sunday confirmed that Ms. Walker’s letter represented the company’s response. On Friday, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order forbidding the police to use physical force or chemical agents against journalists. But Ms. Walker wrote that officers were still engaging in “widespread intimidation, violence and other misconduct directed at journalists.”