For adult care home infection control, the House budget went with an industry rewrite

The House budget proposal is filled with law changes that don’t have anything to do with spending tax money. One of the special provisions is about actions adult care homes should take to prevent the spread of contagious diseases.

The state adopted temporary rules last year on infection control in adult care homes intended to curb the spread of COVID-19.  The state Department of Health and Human Services wanted to make the temporary rule permanent, but the NC Senior Living Association didn’t like it. The association had its preferred version implanted in the House budget.

“We had concerns about some rules the state was getting ready to pass,” said Jeff Horton, association executive director.  “We felt like we would put what we wanted in statutes.”

Friends of Residents in Long-Term Care in a legislative alert called the House budget provision “ambiguous at best and potentially harmful.”

The rule on infection prevention expands on a law passed about 10 years ago that focuses on curbing the spread of bloodborne diseases.  A fatal hepatitis outbreak at a Mt. Olive assisted living center in 2010 that was traced to staff members using one device to draw blood from multiple diabetic residents spurred the original law.

The rewritten would cover all infectious diseases, including respiratory diseases.

The rule DHHS proposed would require adult care homes use CDC guidelines as a basis for writing and implementing infection control measures.

The budget version says adult care home plans should meet “accepted national standards” for infection control.

The reference to accepted national standards is far too vague, said Bill Lamb, board chairman for Friends of Residents.

“That ambiguity and what would become the standard in place of the CDC guidelines gives us pause,” Lamb said in an interview.

In a May letter objecting to the proposed rule, Horton wrote that information on the CDC website changes, and the CDC links to other websites with changing information. It would be unreasonable for adult care homes to keep track of the CDC information, update their own polices to match, and train staff in new procedures, he wrote.

In an interview, Horton said the association wants DHHS to develop the training program rather than have each facility do its own thing.

In response to questions, DHHS said in an email last month that the department looked forward to working with policymakers on the guidelines.

“Providing clear and enforceable guidance to facilities like adult and family care homes regarding basic health protocols like infection prevention is important, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the email said. “There are aspects of this provision that could be amended to better protect North Carolinians living in these settings by adding specificity and clarity to the standards these facilities should meet, transparency for the public, and consistency with existing public health regulations.”

A deluge of desperate ‘Team Trump’ emails: ‘There is no end to them’

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Former President Donald J. Trump must be getting desperate.

Over the past few weeks he has deluged me with emails begging for money and trying to sell me various sorts of stuff that I would mostly describe as “junk.’’

He is clearly deranged.


President Trump knows you have been here for him since day one.

Despite the never-ending WITCH HUNTS, the countless calls for his IMPEACHMENT, the FAKE NEWS LIES, AND most recently, the Censorship coming from BIG TECH, he’s always been able to count on you, Lucy.’’

That is merely the beginning of a September 5 email sent by “Team Trump.’’

Contribute any amount, the emails repeatedly say, promising that someone will increase that by 400 or 500 percent. They don’t say who will do this.

Some of his emails offer bargains like some of Mike Lindell’s “MyPillow’’ collection or special t-shirts made to insult someone.

He also wants me to claim my “Official Trump Card,’’ the one with an Eagle on the front and the infamous Trump signature in the corner.

Or buy his new T-shirts printed with “Everything Woke turns to Sh-t.’’

Some emails try to link Dr. Fauci to Hitler and promote various miracle cures for things like “mosquito bites’’ or old people who fall down.

He also promises “Biblical weapons’’ which sound suspiciously like home grown marijuana to rid us of constant pain. He says God told him about the “Biblical weapon’’ that will usher in a new era of spiritual and physical healing in America.

He constantly criticizes the vaccines that are being dispensed to save us from COVID-19, President Joe Biden and the “lamestream media,’’ and the handling of our withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Every day he wants more money so he can “flood the airwaves with our new video.’’ He says he wants to see a list of “every patriot who steps us to help us reach our $1,000,000 goal. I hope to see your name.’’

On Sunday one of his fundraising emails even came from former U.S. Rep. Newt Gingrich, with a promise to put my name on the “Gold Medal” list.”

In between emails seeking contributions, Trump is peddling a “kicka$$ EDC fixed blade survival knife’’ at a 66 percent discount or a military styled knapsack with a stars and stripes patch on the front.

His emails predict a coming fall in the value of our dollar and the decline of stocks and tout a mysterious substance that will relieve “digestive discomfort, fatigue, any joints, brain fog, dry skin and weight gain.”

There is no end to them. They come from the “Daily Trump Report.’’

Could he be more misinformed?

They must really be desperate to think any contribution might come from me.

Pulitzer Prize-winner Lucy Morgan was chief of the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times capital bureau in Tallahassee for 20 years. She is now a contributor to the Florida Phoenix, which first published this essay.


NC surpasses 15,000 COVID deaths, nearly one-third of new cases in children under 17

Gov. Roy Cooper

Governor Roy Cooper said Thursday there is increasing urgency for everyone ages 12 and older to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

For the week ending Sept. 4, children age 17 and under made up 31% of the state’s new COVID-19 cases.

That is the highest percentage since the pandemic began.

“The numbers aren’t good, especially the number of people in the hospital and dying,” Cooper said.

In the past 24 hours, the coronavirus has claimed 110 lives with North Carolina recording 15,004 deaths from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

By far, the most people hospitalized right now by COVID are unvaccinated.

The governor said COVID vaccines are continuing to do their job, stopping severe illness and death among those who have had the shots.

“If you’re still unsure about getting one, how about getting off social media and get on the phone with your doctor,” Gov. Cooper pressed. “That is the best place for accurate medical information.”

North Carolina is averaging 6,000 new cases of COVID daily, in large part because of the highly contagious delta variant.

“Our case rates are highest for children 17 and younger,” cautioned state Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen.

School districts that initially allowed for masking to be optional have reversed course to help slow the spread.

Now 109 school districts, covering roughly 96% of the state’s public school children are requiring masks to be worn indoors.

Yet only 35% of those in the 12-17 age bracket have been vaccinated.

The governor said Thursday that all options remain on the table with regards to mandating vaccinations for state employees and teachers.

“Right now we moved to have state employees and cabinet agencies required to verify that they have been vaccinated. I hope local school systems will move toward this,” said Cooper.

“I hope more teachers will understand that it’s really important to protect their students.It’s also important to protect themselves.”

Cooper said his administration will study President Biden’s new executive order requiring federal employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing.

Layers of protection

With 100 counties seeing high levels of COVID transmission, Sec. Cohen stressed the need for all North Carolinains to ‘add layers’ to protect themselves.

Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen

“Obviously, get vaccinated. Wear a mask when you are indoors in public settings. Get tested in you’ve had an exposure or if you have have symptoms. And seek treatment early for COVID.”

Click here to learn more about monoclonal antibody treatments.

Cohen said the virus is seeking out the unvaccinated, and that leaves a number of children too young to get a shot highly susceptible.

“There are going to be some cases where a child has a simple cold, and other kids get really sick. And it’s not clear which kid is going to fall into what category.”

Cohen says because of that broad spectrum, it’s imperative that adults who are able to get the vaccine get their shot.

“As a parent of two children who are unvaccinated – I have a seven and a nine year old – I feel good about them going to in-person school, when we are using those safety protocol,” said Dr. Cohen.

Cohen also encouraged those attending large outdoor events like college football games to mask-up.

“Layers of protection are important. If you are doing something where you are shouting or singing, where you are doing a lot more heavy breathing. Those are the times where you are going to want to wear a mask, because risks can increase in that case.”

North Carolina has administered over 10.7 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 62 percent of the adult population now fully vaccinated.

Biden to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for federal employees and contractors, reports say

NC House Democrats to file petitions to discuss gun control bills that stalled

At a press conference Thursday, four North Carolina House Democrats announced their plans to file petitions to discharge, or to directly bring two bills onto the House floor, for discussion next week.

The two bills would introduce a system to temporarily restrict access to firearms and to require a purchase permit for long guns. They were sent to the House rules committee but never heard in a judiciary committee.

Rep. Marcia Morey (D-Durham) described the discharge petition as “the only way that someone in the minority can try to get a bill out of committee, and put onto the floor and have a debate and a discussion.” No discharge petitions has been successful in the past few years, Rep. Julie von Haefen (D-Wake) said. But she maintained that legislators need to use the procedure now.

Morey and von Haefen said the measures are imperative given the rise in gun violent and recent school shootings, including one that resulted in the death of a student in Winston-Salem.

“In 2019, 511 people were killed by guns in our state,” said von Haefen.  “But that number increased significantly in 2020 when 670 people were killed by guns, a 31% increase in gun-related deaths in just one year.”

Rep. Marcia Morey, D-Durham speaks at a Sept. 9 press conference announcing her plan to discharge legislation that would promote gun control.

“There have been about 21 bills filed in the House in the Senate on gun laws, most of them to expand gun rights, to take away limitations to remove pistol permitting, that there are God-given gun rights,” Morey said. “But today we are demanding a response to the carnage, with two sensible gun safety pieces of legislation.”

Morey introduced House Bill 525, which would establish rules to temporarily restrict a person’s access to firearms through Extreme Risk Protection Orders. The bill would enable family members, a current or former spouse or partner, law enforcement officers and health care providers to file a petition to court to issue these orders, which would last for up to a year.

Morey recalled her meetings with with five families that lost their children to gun violence last week. She said, “And for the next years, not only will they grieve the loss of their children, or navigate funeral and medical bills, and they will wait and wait and wait for years for a court system to slowly grind to give them a day in court.”

Indeed, she said, it’s time for North Carolina to join more than 20 other states to enact such a “red flag law” that would help prevent harm and deaths caused by people who shouldn’t possess firearms.

Rep. von Haefen filed HB 623, which would require a permit to purchase long guns and rifles. Currently, federally

Rep. Julie von Haefen

licensed dealers are required to run background checks on potential buyers of long guns. But no state permit is required.

Becky Ceartas, executive director of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence, said at the press conference that the federal background checks have major loopholes.

“Our federal background check system, it only applies if you’re buying a gun from a federally licensed dealer,” Ceartas said. “That means if you’re a domestic violence abuser, a minor in my experience you experiencing a mental health crisis, you can go to a gun show or online and buy a gun, no questions asked.”

Von Haefen said she proposed a purchase permit because it helps protect lives. Ceartas said the state pistol permit closes the federal loophole for handguns; those wanting to purchase a handgun needs to obtain a pistol permit or concealed carry permit from the sheriffs’ offices, which perform their own background checks. A bill aimed at eliminating the state pistol purchase permit won approval at the Republican-controlled General Assembly, but was vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper in August.

Rep. Evelyn Terry, D-Forsyth

Rep. Evelyn Terry, D-Forsyth, said the recent shooting at Mt. Tabor high school and discovery of a handgun at Parkland High School in her district sound an alarm for the threat of lax regulation on guns.

“The guns… are in the community…in the trunks of people’s cars… that are going into the hands of children who absolutely have no business getting them at all.”

Rep. Allison Dahle (D-Wake), called on her fellow gun owners to take responsibility that comes with possessing weapons. “There’s nothing wrong with asking a law abiding citizen to get a permit,“ Dahle said. ”It’s not a difficult process to go through.”

“We don’t want your gun; We’re not going to take your gun… We’re asking that you’d be responsible,” Dahle said.