DELTA VARIANT PUSHES NC'S COVID NUMBERS BACK UP: At least 1,031,929 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus, and at least 13,570 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,998 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, up from 1,800 on Thursday. At least 817 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Friday, up from 751 the day before. As of Wednesday, the latest day available, 6.7% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. Roughly 60% of adults in North Carolina have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and about 57% have been fully vaccinated. State health officials round vaccination numbers to the nearest whole number. I'm glad to see those vax numbers rising again.
TILLIS GETS A HOME VISIT BY PROTESTERS OVER MASSIVE GASOLINE SPILL: Protesters of a massive gasoline spill in Huntersville gathered outside the Lake Norman home of U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis on Sunday, some willing to risk arrest by standing on his lawn. Two teenage ATV riders chanced upon the spill in Mecklenburg County’s Oehler Nature Preserve and reported the leak in August. Colonial Pipeline Co. eventually reported that almost 18 times more gasoline leaked from its pipe than its original estimate, according to a June 15 settlement with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). The protesters — part of the the national Sunrise Movement organization focused on stopping climate change — criticized Tillis and other officials for their inaction against Colonial. “For Thom Tillis, this is a 1.2 million-gallon gasoline leak near his house,” 19-year-old UNC Charlotte senior Jeremy Goldsby said. “How in the world did you let it slide?”
NC HIV/AIDS CARE HOME MARKS 30 YEARS OF SERVICE: House of Mercy opened its doors in May 1991 to help individuals who were dying of AIDS. That was the same year Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of the rock band Queen died from the disease and that L.A. Lakers player Earvin “Magic” Johnson announced he was HIV positive. Since opening in Belmont, the House of Mercy has helped more than 350 individuals. About a dozen or so individuals live there continuously. Sister Mary Wright founded House of Mercy after traveling throughout the South, taking note on how other organizations were responding to the AIDS crisis. “When she came back she didn’t know at the time that she was going to be the first CEO of House of Mercy,” said Latoya Gardner, current president and CEO of House of Mercy. The house offers several programs to those in need. One program Gardner sees as valuable to the residents is the nutritional program. All residents and staff eat together, and the setting begins to function as a support group. “When older and younger folks get an opportunity to sit at that table together, they begin to share their stories,” said Gardner. “In sharing those stories people have been able to navigate their illness.”
SOME STATES HAVE STOPPED REPORTING COVID STATS, EVEN AFTER DELTA CAUSED INCREASES: Several states scaled back their reporting of COVID-19 statistics this month just as cases across the country started to skyrocket, depriving the public of real-time information on outbreaks, cases, hospitalizations and deaths in their communities. The shift to weekly instead of daily reporting in Florida, Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota marked a notable shift during a pandemic in which coronavirus dashboards have become a staple for Americans closely tracking case counts and trends to navigate a crisis that has killed more than 600,000 people in the U.S. In Nebraska, the state actually stopped reporting on the virus altogether for two weeks after Gov. Pete Ricketts declared an end to the official virus emergency, forcing news reporters to file public records requests or turn to national websites that track state data to learn about COVID statistics. The state backtracked two weeks later and came up with a weekly site that provides some basic numbers. The trend of reducing data reporting has alarmed infectious disease specialists who believe that more information is better during a pandemic. People have come to rely on state virus dashboards to help make decisions about whether to attend large gatherings or wear masks in public, and understanding the level of risk in the community affects how people respond to virus restrictions and calls to get vaccinated.
HOUSE DEMS MOVE FORWARD WITH JAN 6 INQUIRY, REPUBLICANS WILL BOYCOTT: The House select committee envisioned to be the ultimate arbiter of what led President Donald Trump’s supporters to invade the U.S. Capitol in January is scheduled to begin its work this week under a cloud of controversy that threatens to compromise the investigation from the outset. Republican leaders, who declared a boycott after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) last week rejected two of their picks for the panel, have signaled to the GOP’s rank and file that there could be consequences for anyone who participates. As of Sunday, two have agreed to do so anyway, and Pelosi has hinted that there could be others. It’s unclear when a roster may be finalized, and Democrats running the committee have yet to articulate specific plans or timelines for their investigation. Nevertheless, on Tuesday, four police officers — two from the Capitol’s protection squad and two from D.C. police — are set to provide the first public testimony before the select committee. They are expected to testify about their experiences of both physical and verbal abuse on Jan. 6, as they tried to protect the Capitol from a swelling horde of demonstrators determined to stop Congress’s efforts to certify the 2020 electoral college results and declare Joe Biden the next president. Authorities have estimated that about 10,000 people descended on the Capitol campus and that about 800 broke inside. To date, about 550 have been charged with crimes; more than 165 individuals are accused of assaulting or impeding law enforcement.