COVID-19, News

Senators urge federal funding for state distribution of COVID-19 vaccine

News

NC certifies 2020 election results and puts up some staggering numbers

The North Carolina State Board of Elections voted Tuesday to certify all but a handful of contests in the 2020 general election.

“We officially recorded the voices of more than 5.5 million North Carolinians in certifying this historic election,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections.

Other notable numbers from the November 3rd election as highlighted by the state board:

7.36 million: Registered NC voters (most in NC history)

5.55 million: Ballots cast (most in NC history)

75.35: Percent turnout of registered voters (most in modern NC history)

1 million: Absentee by-mail ballots cast (most in NC history)

471: Early voting sites (most in NC history)

77,887: Early voting hours (most in NC history)

348,000: In-person early votes cast on October 15 (most ever in a single day)

3.63 million: In-person early votes cast (most in NC history)

900,000: Approximate ballots cast on Election Day (November 3)

2,660: Precincts open on Election Day

57,017: Poll workers recruited through Democracy Heroes program

14 million: Items of personal protective equipment delivered to county boards of elections

6 million: Single-use pens delivered to county boards

0: Clusters of COVID-19 tied to voting sites in North Carolina

Only five races were not authenticated this week due to pending election protests: Chief Justice of the N.C. Supreme Court, District Court Judge – 10F (Wake County), N.C. House District 36 (Wake County), Hoke County Board of Education and Wayne County Register of Deeds.

A statewide recount is underway in the Chief Justice race where Paul Newby holds a 432 vote lead over Cheri Beasley.

COVID-19, News

More in NC go hungry in the pandemic, NCCU finds

Nearly 80% of North Carolinians are at least considering sharing a meal with someone outside their household on Thanksgiving or winter holiday, and nearly 18% reported having too little food on at least one day in the previous week, according to preliminary results from an online survey conducted
Nov. 17-22.

N.C. Central University researchers sponsored the survey on COVID-19 and its effects on households. Researchers found increased food insecurity and lower household incomes.

“This suggests food insecurity is higher than it has been,” Christopher Paul, NCCU assistant professor of public administration and principal investigator on the food insecurity research project, said in an interview. “In this initial analysis, it’s at some of its highest levels in recent history.”

Thirty-two percent of respondents to NCCU’s survey reported losing income, and 38% said that if they got sick, it was unlikely they could count on neighbors to shop for them.

It’s not known whether the 77.4% who said they were at least considering dining with people outside the household over the holidays planned to do so indoors or outdoors, Paul said. Nearly 40% answered “yes” to the question.

“We don’t know a lot about how people are gathering,” Paul said. “A major factor is there is a confusion about what is safe, and there’s still a great desire to gather.”

The survey helps expose the COVID-19 pandemic’s broad impact, he said.

“We see how our food and well-being intersect. It shows these vast impacts on our wellbeing as individuals and as a society. There are things we can do as a society, checking in on neighbors, through government and nongovernment organizations, to make sure we maintain people’s access to food and social supports.”

The 1,345 respondents were part of an internet survey panel and include residents in 97 counties. NCCU’s full report is expected in mid-December.

The US Department of Agriculture reported 13.1% of North Carolina households from 2017-2019 did not have enough food, relied on food banks or food stamps, or used other strategies to eat.

News

U.S. Senate runoffs: Was Biden win a fluke or has Georgia flipped to blue?

Clockwise from top left: Sen. Kelly Loeffler, Rev. Raphael Warnock, Sen. David Perdue and Jon Ossoff. Photos by Georgia Recorder staff

Democrat Joe Biden flipped Georgia with a slim 13,000 vote lead, buoying the spirit of Democrats who have dubbed the state “Joe’gia” and angering President Donald Trump who continues to pursue legal challenges meant to overturn the results.

But whether Biden’s win here represents anything more than a fluke fueled by Trump-weary voters is one of the big questions left lingering after the now-certified results make Biden the first Democrat presidential candidate to win the state in three decades.

Georgians won’t have to wait long to get some answers: Democrats who came up short this month have another shot to try and rally enough support statewide to oust the state’s two sitting Republican U.S. senators.

Those runoffs, which are set for Jan. 5, have momentarily made Georgia the center of the political universe because of their potential to put the Senate in Democratic hands. Hundreds of millions of dollars will likely pour into these pivotal races as each side races to rally their bases after a hard-fought presidential election and in the midst of the holiday season and a worsening pandemic.

Jon Ossoff, who is an investigative journalist, will have to overcome an 88,000-vote gulf between him and Sen. David Perdue in this month’s three-way matchup with a libertarian candidate who siphoned away about 115,000 votes.

And Raphael Warnock, who is the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, is now in a face-to-face runoff with Sen. Kelly Loeffler after a 20-person contest collectively produced about 48,000 more votes for the field of Republican candidates than the slate of Democrats. Loeffler, a finance executive, was appointed to the seat last year by Gov. Brian Kemp.

All four returned to the campaign trail even as Perdue and Loeffler called on the state’s top election official to resign over unspecified “failures” managing the election and as Trump’s refusal to concede complicates their campaigns. The two Republicans have united their campaigns, calling upon the GOP faithful to help “defend the majority” in the Senate and “save America.”

Ossoff and Warnock have also teamed up at times, casting the pair of runoffs as a referendum on Washington’s response to the pandemic and as a chance to advance policies that would protect and expand access to health care.

Georgia’s political status? It’s complicated

Democrats continue to gain strength in Atlanta’s sprawling and diversifying suburbs, which mirrors a pattern seen in other areas of the country. But that shift isn’t just happening at the top of the ballot.

Cobb and Gwinnett counties – which Hillary Clinton flipped in 2016 – just elected Democrats into local offices like district attorney and county commission chair. One of the few Democratic flips in the state House this year was claimed in Gwinnett; other Republican lawmakers hailing from the northern arc of Atlanta narrowly survived.

Warnock and Ossoff won Cobb and Gwinnett while running up the score in some of the state’s city centers, like Savannah, Augusta, Albany, Athens, Macon and of course, Atlanta. Republicans cleaned up in much of rural Georgia.

The GOP, though, continues to dominate all of Georgia’s statewide offices, although Stacey Abrams famously came up about 55,000 votes short in her 2018 bid that nearly made her the first Black woman elected governor in the country. Read more

COVID-19, News

Read Cooper’s latest COVID-19 statement and order here

Gov. Roy Cooper and DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen

Governor tells North Carolinians “We are in danger”

The COVID-19 pandemic in North Carolina continues to grow more dire by the day.The state continues to set more records for positive tests and hospitalizations and 20 counties are now officially considered to be in the “red zone,” which means that community spread of the virus as been deemed “critical.”

In response, Gov. Roy Cooper issued the following statement today:

With Cases Rising Rapidly, North Carolina Tightens Existing Mask Requirements and Enforcement

Ten More Counties Designated as Red for Critical Community Spread

RALEIGH: Governor Roy Cooper today issued additional COVID-19 safety measures to tighten mask requirements and enforcement as cases continue to rise rapidly in North Carolina and across the country. Executive Order No. 180 goes into effect on Wednesday, November 25 and runs through Friday, December 11.

“I have a stark warning for North Carolinians today: We are in danger,” Governor Cooper said. “This is a pivotal moment in our fight against the coronavirus. Our actions now will determine the fate of many.”

In addition to extending Phase 3 capacity limits and safety requirements, the Order tightens the existing statewide mask requirement – making it clear that everyone needs to wear a mask whenever they are with someone who is not from the same household. The Order also adds the mask requirement to several additional settings including any public indoor space even when maintaining 6 feet of distance; gyms even when exercising; all schools public and private; and all public or private transportation when traveling with people outside of the household.

The Order also requires large retail businesses with more than 15,000 square feet to have an employee stationed near entrances ensuring mask wearing and implementing occupancy limits for patrons who enter.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, updated North Carolina’s COVID-19 County Alert System map due to the rapid rise in cases and hospitalization over the past week. Since introducing the system last week, ten more counties have moved into the red category indicating critical community spread. There are now 20 red counties and 42 orange counties. Read the update to see where each county stands and how the system was designed.

“The coming weeks will be a true test of our resolve to do what it takes to keep people from getting sick, to save lives, and to make sure that if you need hospital care whether it’s for a heart attack or a car accident or COVID-19, you can get it,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D.

Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan spoke at today’s press conference to discuss what the city of Greensboro is doing to step up enforcement of existing, strong statewide safety rules. State officials have encouraged local governments to take action to require compliance and help lower COVID-19 numbers.

Dr. Cohen also provided an update on North Carolina’s data and trends.

Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is increasing.

Trajectory of Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of cases is increasing.

Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is increasing slightly.

Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is increasing.

In addition to these metrics, the state continues building capacity to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread in testing, tracing and prevention.

Testing

  • Testing capacity is high.

Tracing Capability

  • The state is continuing to hire contact tracers to bolster the efforts of local health departments.
  • There have been more than 430,000 downloads of the exposure notification app, SlowCOVIDNC.

Personal Protective Equipment

  • North Carolina’s personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are stable.

Read Executive Order 180.

Read a Frequently Asked Questions document about the Order.

Read the slides from today’s briefing.