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Saturday News: Hurry up and wait


COVID SURGE IS SLOWING DOWN AMBULANCE SERVICE: Emergency Medical Service departments across the Triangle say they're being slowed down by crowded hospitals as 911 calls hit record levels due to the pandemic. The impact is highest in Wake County, where EMS responded to a record-breaking 10,000 calls in May, and has set new, higher records each month this summer, according to Wake County EMS Assistant Chief Brian Brooks. Brooks said average time it takes to check a patient into the ER and get back out on the road used to be between five and 15 minutes. Because ERs are so crowded, it now takes 45 minutes. "We’ve had times up to two hours on several occasions last week, but that’s not a normal occurrence," Brooks said. "It certainly trickles down to the streets, because those units are now tied up in the hospital and not able to answer the next emergency call that comes up." It did not have to be like this, it's a result of wanton irresponsibility.

Friday News: Déjà vu all over again


UNC-CH AND NC STATE SEE SPIKES IN COVID CASES: At UNC-CH, new daily student cases have quadrupled since the first day of classes last week. Fifty cases were reported on Wednesday, according to the COVID-19 dashboard. That’s nearly triple the amount of new cases reported the previous day. The university is not requiring vaccines, but 88% of UNC-CH students and 82% of employees have reported they are vaccinated as of Aug. 26. At N.C. State, 44 students tested positive on Tuesday and another 21 new cases were reported Wednesday. N.C. State is not reporting vaccination rates on its website, but reports that more than 28,000 members of its campus community are vaccinated. Vaccinations should be required, at all UNC System schools.

Thursday News: Sorry, NC farmers


REPUBLICANS SCREW UP NC MEDICAL MARIJUANA BILL: Pat Oglesby, a former business and law professor at UNC who has worked on medical marijuana issues in other states, told lawmakers Tuesday that they should reconsider the part of the bill related to who can get a license to grow medical marijuana in North Carolina. The current version would require a grower to previously have had “at least five years of experience in cultivation, production, extraction, product development, quality control, and inventory management of medical cannabis in a state-licensed medical or adult use cannabis operation.” Oglesby said this isn’t about something like building a nuclear power plant; it’s about growing a plant, and North Carolinians can do that. But there’s probably almost no one in North Carolina who would technically qualify under those rules, Oglesby said. I wonder if they even asked Steve Troxler about this?

Wednesday News: Tarheel Taliban


MARK ROBINSON TAKES HIS "TEACHER INDOCTRINATION" CRUSADE TO THE NEXT STEP: Some North Carolina teachers are misusing their position to indoctrinate and influence students, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson claimed in a report he released Tuesday. The “Indoctrination in North Carolina Public Education Report” comes as Robinson and other state Republican leaders are trying to pass legislation that would put new rules on how schools teach about race and racism. GOP leaders say the report, which they insisted is not meant to be a teacher witch hunt, shows that there’s a need to pass legislation regulating what’s taught in schools. But Charlotte-Mecklenburg teacher Justin Parmenter says the complaints he got from the task force as part of a public records request were “dominated by white racial resentment.” I don't believe a damn word coming out of Robinson's mouth. Trump 2.0.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


PISTOL PURCHASE PERMIT REPEAL ENDANGERS LIVES, MUST BE VETOED: The federal system only involves gun purchases from a “Federal Firearms Licensee.” There are NO checks for guns purchased from individuals or at gun shows. The system also only tracks and accounts criminal convictions – NOT recent arrests, pending charges that might have been dropped or if someone’s in the midst of a legal proceeding concerning a domestic abuse or violence restraint order. Current law requires sheriffs to both check the national system as well as criminal history from the state Administrative Office of the Courts. State Sen. Natasha Marcus, a Mecklenburg County Democrat, says in the last fiscal year more than 2,300 Mecklenburg County permit applicants passed the “National Instant Criminal Background Check System” but not the local background review. And that's why they want it repealed, so they can game the system.

Saturday News: Get. Your. Shot.

RALEIGH'S HOPSCOTCH MUSIC FESTIVAL WILL REQUIRE VACCINE CARD: In order to gain entry, attendees will need to show their vaccination card, a photocopy of it, or photograph of it on their phone, or they’ll need to show negative test result for the virus obtained within 72 hours “for each day that you attend the festival,” organizers said in an announcement on the festival’s website. Attendees must also bring photo ID. The festival is also strongly encouraging attendees to wear masks, regardless of their vaccination status or seating location. And while the festival will be held at outdoor stages in Downtown Raleigh, event organizers reminded patrons that masks will be required at all indoor spaces, per the city’s recently adopted mask mandate.

Friday News: God bless Canton


FLOODING IN NC MOUNTAIN AREAS CAUSED BY FRED IS HORRIFIC: The water that tore through Pressley’s home on Tuesday, caused by the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred, killed at least two people and has left 20 more missing as of Thursday, according to officials with Haywood County Emergency Services. The identities of the deceased have not yet been released. Emergency crews from around the state are on the ground to assist local personnel from the small towns that make up this part of the Blue Ridge Mountains region. The area is popular with tourists, campers and hikers, known for its scenic mountain views and beautiful rivers. But on Thursday, crews were searching for people who went missing shortly after the Pigeon River had crested its banks. Haywood County Emergency Services director Travis Donaldson said a search mission is underway by close to 200 personnel, along 47 miles of riverbank.

Thursday News: Reckless endangerment


ACTIVISTS SPEAK OUT ON BILL THAT WOULD GET RID OF PISTOL PERMITS: Under state law, handgun buyers must obtain a permit from a local sheriff and undergo a background check. But House Bill 398, which is currently in the Senate, would repeal the permit requirement. On Wednesday, Becky Ceartas, executive director of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence, called the permit law the “backbone of public safety in North Carolina.” Gerald Givens Jr., president of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP, said the issue should not be partisan. “This issue is not about Democrats. It’s not about Republicans,” he said. “It’s about us doing the work that we can to prevent homicides as well as suicides.” On Tuesday, Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat, called the permit law “one of our most effective tools to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, felons and other dangerous people.” Bolding mine, because those are not random potential victims, they are specific targets for abusive husbands and boyfriends. We need to watch more closely, not back off.

Wednesday News: Losing the best and brightest

SUSAN KING, UNC'S DEAN OF JOURNALISM, IS STEPPING DOWN: Susan King announced that this will be her last year as dean in her weekly email newsletter to journalism faculty. “I believe after 10 years a new dean will bring fresh eyes, additional perspective and new energy to our school,” King wrote. The news comes on the heels of journalist Nikole-Hannah Jones’s tenure controversy that placed the UNC-CH journalism school in the national spotlight earlier this summer. King, 74, said she never intended to stay on as dean for more than a decade, but plans to return as a tenured faculty member after a leave. “Media — journalism, public relations and advertising — are in a state of great change,” she wrote, noting that it is not the same world or business that it was in 2012 when she arrived on campus. Can't say I blame her, but damn.

Monday News: Preventable problems


NC HAS A CRITICAL TEACHER SHORTAGE: A spokeswoman for the State Department of Public Instruction said the state's overall vacancy rate has actually held stable despite the pandemic, and it's expected to improve by the end of September. But the N.C. Association of Educators says statewide numbers don't tell the whole story. They say teachers are leaving the state or the profession due to low pay and lack of respect. The group held a news conference Friday with teachers, parents and students to discuss the chronic shortage of licensed, permanent teachers in classrooms. Phillip Gillis, a teacher and vice chair of the Person County School Board, said his county's vacancy rate is over 13%, which he called "alarming." When his district gets extra money from the county or state, it has to be spent on fixing crumbling buildings, not on teacher supplements, Gillis said. "We do all we can," he explained. "We work with our county commissioners, we work with our local government. We do what we can in Person County. We cannot compete with the tax base of larger counties and larger cities."


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