Thursday News: Chicken fever


570 WORKERS AT WILKESBORO TYSON PLANT TEST POSITIVE FOR COVID 19: Of the 570, most did not show any symptoms and “would not have been identified” if it weren’t for the facility-wide test, Tyson said. More than 2,000 were tested between May 6 and 9, according to the company. Earlier this month, Tyson temporarily closed the poultry plant for cleaning and sanitizing in response to an outbreak, The News & Observer reported. The company wouldn’t say at the time how many employees were infected with coronavirus. Wilkes County officials said that the majority of COVID-19 cases in the county were linked to the Tyson facility, the outlet reported. Production has since continued and is expected to “ramp up,” the Wednesday statement said, and new safety measures have been put in place -- including temperature screenings, face masks, and physical barriers at workstations and break rooms.

UNC BOG MEMBERS SAY FETZER WAS NOT "FORCED OUT.": Board Chairman Randy Ramsey told reporters after the meeting that Fetzer has "always been a spirited member of our board" but that he's not aware of any reasons for Fetzer leaving the board beyond the desire to spend more time with his children. "I really don't have anything else to say about it," Ramsey said when pressed. Other board members pushed back on the idea that there is further intrigue at play. "Tom and I have had long conversations about where he's at," board member Jim Holmes said. "Tom has a lot of young children. ... Of all the things ... where there may be a story you don't know about, this is pretty legit." Board member Marty Kotis said he doesn't think Fetzer was pressured to resign. "I think he made that decision on his own," Kotis said. "I think a lot of us serving on this board ... periodically evaluate; what are we doing here, what are we accomplishing?"

PHASE 2: RESTAURANTS CAN OPEN AT 50% CAPACITY, BUT BARS WILL REMAIN CLOSED: Restaurants have been allowed to stay open throughout Cooper’s original stay-at-home order, but only for takeout or delivery; dining rooms have been closed since March 17. Under Phase Two, restaurant dining rooms can open at 50% capacity, which allows for greater physical distancing within the restaurant. But bars can NOT open at this time. According to the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association, restaurants will have to follow specific guidelines to open. Tables and counter seating must be arranged to achieve at least six feet of separation between parties for both indoor and outdoor dining. Restaurants that expect lines to form near cash registers or outside must mark waiting spaces six feet apart. Cooper included hair salons, barber shops and nail salons in the “personal care” group of businesses that can start to reopen during Phase Two — but with strict rules about distancing, capacity and cleaning.

TRUMP AND MCCONNELL OPPOSE EXTENDING UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS: Top congressional Republicans signaled support for paring back these benefits during a meeting on Tuesday attended by Vice President Pence, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private conversations. Party leaders also agreed to delay another round of coronavirus aid for three to four weeks, the person said. McConnell then told House lawmakers on Wednesday that Republicans had to “clean up the Democrats’ crazy policy that is paying people more to remain unemployed than they would earn if they went back to work,” according to a person familiar with the remarks, which were first reported by Politico. McConnell added of extending the unemployment increase: “This will not be in the next bill.” “We may need to do more, and Congress may, as well,” warned Jerome H. Powell, chair of the Federal Reserve Board, during a hearing with the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday. Trump and his top aides, however, have articulated a contrary view, insisting that business are set to rebound — and jobs will return — much more quickly than experts envision. “We’re opening up; the states are opening up,” Trump affirmed again on Tuesday. “It’s a transition to greatness.”

TRUMP IS DESPERATE TO STOP INCREASES IN MAIL-IN VOTING: President Trump on Wednesday escalated his assault against mail voting, falsely claiming that Michigan and Nevada were engaged in voter fraud and had acted illegally, and threatening to withhold federal funds to those states if they proceed in expanding vote-by-mail efforts. The president inaccurately accused Michigan of sending mail ballots to its residents, as his aides later acknowledged, and he offered no basis for his claims of illegal actions by either Michigan or Nevada. The Michigan secretary of state has sent ballot applications — not the ballots themselves — to registered voters, a growing practice among election officials, including in states led by Republicans. “Trump seems to think that anything that makes it easier for people to vote is going to hurt him,” said Richard L. Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine, “and he’s consistently expressed the view that anything that makes it easier to vote leads to voter fraud when there is absolutely no evidence to support that claim.” Mr. Trump’s first tweet Wednesday targeted Michigan, a critical swing state that he won narrowly in 2016. “Michigan sends absentee ballots to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election,” the president wrote. “This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!” His attacks continue a pattern of insinuations about voting fraud that cast doubt on the integrity of elections, which some Democrats worry are a prelude to potential efforts by Republicans to dispute the outcome in November if Mr. Trump loses.



It's gone beyond surreal

I often ponder what future historians will write about the Trump era, if it will be just an embarrassing footnote or if they will explore the implications of a society that would tolerate such madness. I fear the latter is much more likely, accompanied by pictures of gun-toting extremists marching the streets. Of course what happens in November will dictate some of that, but this digital age will keep our mistake fresh for centuries to come.

Re: It's gone beyond surreal

For me, it's a matter of whether the Trump era will be seen as the beginning of a more precipitous decline for America at large or the culmination of the GOP's decades long rot of corruption. Or both.