DEATH TOLL FROM PANDEMIC IN NC REACHES 1,785: A total of 1,785 have died from COVID-19 complications, up seven from the day before. The number of completed COVID-19 tests increased by 34,343 Sunday to 1,613,385. Sunday marks the third highest one-day total for new tests. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,621 new COVID-19 cases across the state Sunday, bringing the total up to 112,713. The percentage of positive cases from daily testing increased to 9% Saturday, the latest date available, up from 7% the day before. The number of those in the state hospitalized for COVID-19 increased by two on Saturday to 1,170.
TRUMP WILL BE IN TRIANGLE TODAY TO VISIT VACCINE COMPONENT PRODUCER: President Donald Trump will be in the Triangle on Monday to tour a Morrisville plant that is making key components of a potential coronavirus vaccine, a White House official said Thursday. FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies, a contract manufacturer for vaccines and gene therapies, is working with Maryland-based Novavax, which recently won a $1.6 billion federal contract to develop a vaccine. Diosynth has already started production of the first batch of Novavax's NVX-CoV2373 vaccine candidate. "This is just really exciting for us. We're so happy to be involved in this," Diosynth Chief Executive Martin Meeson said. "Being able to respond to a global pandemic by having this ability to manufacture [a vaccine] is just a real honor for us." Novavax's vaccine is in a Phase 1 clinical trial and is expected to progress into Phase 2 in mid-August and Phase 3 in the fall.
MOST NC SCHOOLS WILL BEGIN WITH REMOTE LEARNING: At least 46 school districts and 30 charter schools have decided over the past week to use remote instruction when classes resume in August, according to totals compiled by The News & Observer. Those schools represent 788,491 students, accounting for 51.7% of the state’s K-12 public school enrollment. Fears of returning for in-person instruction during the coronavirus pandemic have been a major theme at school board meetings across the state. “We can always fix the academics of the kids,” Cumberland County school board member Joseph Sorce said before this week’s vote to start students with six weeks of online classes. “But we can’t fix somebody that passes away from this terrible disease.” But some board members think it’s a mistake to delay bringing students back to school, even if’s only for a few days a week or an alternating weeks. The state’s 1.5 million students haven’t been in school for face-to-face classes since mid-March.
CONGRESS MAY BE ON THE VERGE OF EXTENDING EVICTION MORATORIUM: The administration’s chief negotiators — White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin — were returning to the Capitol later Sunday to put what Meadows described as “final touches” on a $1 trillion relief bill Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is likely to bring forward Monday. Both Mnuchin and Meadows said narrower legislation might need to be passed first to ensure that enhanced unemployment benefits don’t run out for millions of Americans. They cited unemployment benefits, money to help schools reopen, tax credits to keep people from losing their jobs, and lawsuit protections for schools and businesses as priorities. Separately, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said a federal eviction moratorium on millions of rental units, due to expire at the end of the month, will be extended. “We will lengthen it,” he said, without specifying for how long. Republicans have argued that federal benefits should be trimmed because the combination of state and federal unemployment assistance left many people better off financially than they were before the pandemic and therefore disinclined to return to their jobs.
ANTI-ABORTION SENATOR SAYS HE WON'T VOTE FOR SUPREME COURT CANDIDATE UNLESS THEY'RE READY TO OVERTURN ROE V. WADE: “I will vote only for those Supreme Court nominees who have explicitly acknowledged that Roe v. Wade is wrongly decided,” Hawley said in an interview with The Washington Post. “By explicitly acknowledged, I mean on the record and before they were nominated.” Hawley added: “I don’t want private assurances from candidates. I don’t want to hear about their personal views, one way or another. I’m not looking for forecasts about how they may vote in the future or predications. I don’t want any of that. I want to see on the record, as part of their record, that they have acknowledged in some forum that Roe v. Wade, as a legal matter, is wrongly decided.” Hawley’s new marker comes as Republicans are preparing for the possibility that President Trump could name a third member of the court later this year, should there be a vacancy. And it comes as conservatives nationally are pushing to overhaul the court’s jurisprudence supporting the right of a woman to choose the procedure. But they have recently been disappointed by the court’s rulings on this front — and particularly by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. Last month, the Supreme Court struck down a restrictive Louisiana abortion law. It was a dramatic victory for abortion rights activists and a bitter disappointment to conservatives in the first showdown on the issue since Trump’s remake of the court.