Friday News: The adult in the room


GOVERNOR COOPER VETOES 8 POLITICAL STUNTS: On Thursday, he vetoed bills that would have reopened bowling alleys, skating rinks, amusement parks, event venues and other businesses, as well as another attempt to get gyms operating again. He also vetoed a measure that would have prevented cities from using the pandemic as a reason to halt any local Fourth of July parades or fireworks shows sponsored by private groups. A fifth vetoed bill would have prohibited any governor from extending a state of emergency for more than 30 days without the approval of the Council of State, a group of 10 statewide elected officials. Likewise, the Council of State would have to sign off on any effort to shut down an entire business segment. "The Emergency Management Act clearly provides the Governor with statutory authority to direct the state’s response to a public health emergency that could affect the entire state’s population," Cooper wrote in his veto message.

MEDICAID TRANSFORMATION (MANAGED CARE) GETS THE GO-AHEAD TO START LATER THIS MONTH: North Carolina is set to overhaul a large part of the health care industry. The changes will give doctors incentives to focus more on preventive care or outside-the-box solutions for their low-income patients, and they could also be lucrative for health care companies. “This is a critically important topic,” WakeMed President and CEO Donald Gintzig said in a statement to The News & Observer, adding that it has been highlighted even more by COVID-19. Transformation will give health care providers more of an incentive — and, in some cases, brand-new abilities — to focus more on long-term, personalized or creative solutions for their patients. “By implementing thoughtful and thorough policy changes, this is an opportunity for our state leadership to create a healthier North Carolina for generations to come,” Gintzig said. Most of the 2.1 million people on Medicaid will start hearing from the state within the next few months about what the changes will mean for them, said Dave Richard, the deputy secretary for NC Medicaid.

PROTESTERS BLOCK TRAFFIC IN FRONT OF GOVERNOR'S MANSION: Protesters are gathering for a fifth day in a row downtown Raleigh outside the governor's mansion. These demonstrations are demanding that the governor to veto a bill that would make death investigation records private. The scene is calm downtown Friday morning. People were lying on the ground and playing music in protest, while police blocked the road outside the governor's mansion. But as the morning got busier, the protesters moved to the sidewalk. Raleigh police have arrested at least 20 protesters who were blocking traffic on inbound Capital Boulevard in downtown Raleigh on Thursday. WRAL's Joe Fisher reports police gave repeated warnings for the protesters to clear the road before the arrests were made. People gathered, stood and sat across the road and also surrounded vehicles that were blocked off. They also prevented Raleigh police who were attempting to move the vehicles who were blocked in by the protesters. The protesters had a message that started peacefully on Thursday but quickly escalated when protesters began blocking roads and intersections, surrounding police cars and blocking people driving through downtown. At times, the protesters were even jumping on people’s vehicles.

PEOPLE ARE DYING FROM HEART DISEASE OUT OF FEAR OF HOSPITALS: The coronavirus killed tens of thousands in the United States during the pandemic’s first months, but it also left a lesser-known toll: thousands more deaths than would have been expected from heart disease and a handful of other medical conditions, according to an analysis of federal data by The Washington Post. The analysis suggests that in five hard-hit states and New York City there were 8,300 more deaths from heart problems than would have been typical in March, April and May — an increase of roughly 27 percent over historical averages. Normally, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. But in the early months of the pandemic, some hospital departments were nearly devoid of the heart, cancer, stroke and other patients who populated them before. Looking at the analysis, more than 50 patients a day “died excess deaths just from heart disease, just in New York City,” said John Puskas, chairman of cardiovascular surgery at Mount Sinai Morningside Hospital in Manhattan. “Frankly, that would explain where all the patients went.” Health-care providers everywhere are now reckoning with the consequences. “All those patients that would typically have been there having cardiovascular care were not there,” Puskas said. “Those who would’ve had emergency lifesaving care did not receive that care, and they then became one of the statistics on your chart.” In many cases, experts said, patients suffered through cardiac events, strokes, hyperglycemia and other health difficulties at home, likely fearful of seeking care in hospitals where large numbers of people suffering from covid-19 were receiving treatment.

SOME 1/3 OF COLLEGE PROFESSORS MAY REFUSE TO TEACH ON CAMPUS IN THE FALL: A Cornell University survey of its faculty found that about one-third were “not interested in teaching classes in person,” one-third were “open to doing it if conditions were deemed to be safe,” and about one-third were “willing and anxious to teach in person,” said Michael Kotlikoff, Cornell’s provost. Faculty members at institutions including Penn State, the University of Illinois, Notre Dame and the State University of New York have signed petitions complaining that they are not being consulted and are being pushed back into classrooms too fast. Driving some of the concern is the fact that tenure-track professors skew significantly older than the wider U.S. labor force — 37 percent are 55 or older, compared with 23 percent of workers in general — and they are more than twice as likely as other workers to stay on the job past 65, when they would be at increased risk of adverse health effects from the virus. Many younger professors have concerns as well, including about underlying health conditions, taking care of children who might not be in school full-time this fall, and not wanting to become a danger to their older relatives. Some are angry that their schools are making a return to classrooms the default option. And those who are not tenured said they felt especially vulnerable if they asked for accommodations. Hundreds of cases have been linked to universities in Southern states in recent days, including clusters among the football teams at Clemson, Auburn and Texas Tech, and outbreaks tied to fraternity rush parties in Mississippi and to the Tigerland nightlife district near the Louisiana State campus.