OVER 900 COVID PATIENTS IN INTENSIVE CARE IN NC: At least 1,279,500 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus, and at least 15,075 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Friday reported 5,877 new COVID-19 cases, down from 6,290 reported the day before. At least 3,756 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Thursday, the latest date for which data is available, including 909 who are being treated in intensive care units, health officials said. Roughly 67% of adults in North Carolina have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and about 62% have been fully vaccinated. State officials round vaccination numbers to the nearest whole number. Still not enough.
NC'S SCHOOL BUS DRIVER SHORTAGE IS OUT OF CONTROL: North Carolina school districts are struggling to find enough bus drivers weeks into the start of the new school year, leading to delays getting students to and from school. Parents in school districts across the state are complaining about how it’s taking longer than normal for their children to get picked up in the morning and to get home in the afternoon. On Friday, the North Carolina Association of Educators and some Wake County school bus drivers pinned at least part of the blame on state lawmakers not approving a new budget yet that includes higher salaries for bus drivers. “Instead of passing a budget, state lawmakers sit on a $6.5 billion surplus,” Juneakcia Green, a Wake County school bus driver, said Friday at the news conference. “We have a huge surplus while ... we cannot consistently get students to school on time because we do not have enough school bus drivers.” The state pays school bus drivers $12.75 an hour, with school districts supplementing the salaries when they can. “We have some bus drivers living on food stamps,” Zac Campbell, a Wake County school bus driver, said Friday. “Who wants to sign up for that?”
ALAMANCE BATTLEGROUND: GREG DRUMWRIGHT FOUND GUILTY ON TWO CHARGES RELATED TO PROTEST: The organizer of the Oct. 31 “I am Change March to the Polls” is now convicted of two misdemeanor criminal charges but will be taking his case to a higher court. Judge Lunsford Long recently found Rev. Gregory Drumwright not guilty of willfully participating in a riot for violence that broke out when sheriff’s deputies tried to seize a prohibited generator and gas can but guilty on misdemeanor charges of failure to disperse and resisting a public officer. Drumwright’s legal team told long they would appeal the conviction to Alamance County Superior Court, where a jury will decide. “There is more going on here than a dispute over a generator,” said defense lawyer Christopher Knight. “This is about the First Amendment, this is about our right to vote, this is about our fundamental freedoms as Americans, and Rev. Drumwright was exercising those freedoms.” There were weeks of back and forth with Cole and Maj. David Sykes with the sheriff’s office to arrange to march, Drumwright said, and many things he found unclear about what would be permitted through it all. He told them he wanted it to “mirror” a large and peaceful march he led in July using the same sound equipment, stage and organizers, but in the interim the county had adopted a new facilities-use policy for demonstrations at the courthouse.
GO GET HIM, BERNIE: A political rift among Democrats over President Biden’s economic agenda appeared to widen on Sunday, after Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) threatened to vote against a tax-and-spending bill as large as $3.5 trillion. Manchin instead called on Democrats to whittle down the amount, perhaps by more than half, while reeling in broad swaths of their still-forming proposal — including some of its programs to address child poverty and combat climate change. The potential for spending cuts later troubled Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who described a smaller economic package as “unacceptable.” The twin interviews on Sunday news programs foreshadowed a significant political stalemate, as Democrats continue laboring to craft a proposal that might overhaul federal health care, education, immigration and tax laws. The process has played out across the Capitol in grueling legislative sessions that have at times pit moderates against liberals over the final package’s price tag and policy scope. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) aims to have the proposal fully written by Sept. 15. Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Manchin reiterated his broader concerns that a tax-and-spending measure as large as $3.5 trillion could add to the deficit and worsen the country’s troubles with inflation. Echoing an op-ed earlier this month, he called on Democrats to pause their legislative work. Party leaders have rejected those calls, with Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) saying last week the chamber is moving “full speed ahead” in the hopes of adopting the final measure before the end of the month. Asked about the leader’s timeline, Manchin fired back, telling CNN “That’s fine, he can, he will not have my vote on [$3.5 trillion] and Chuck knows that.” Frankly, neither one of them should be going on television arguing about this.
TEXAS IS LOSING ITS TECH LUSTER OVER ABORTION LAW: For the past several years, Texas has been selling itself as a tech haven attracting start-ups and tech companies such as Oracle, Hewlett-Packard Enterprises, and even Elon Musk, Tesla’s billionaire founder who has moved to the state. Big Tech companies such as Facebook, Amazon, and Apple all have grown their presence in the state, opening new warehouses, data centers, and production facilities. But Texas’s recent swerve to the right on abortion, voting restrictions as well as a ban on coronavirus vaccine mandates has many workers and industry leaders like Bhaskaran worried about retaining workers and recruiting top tech talent to the state. In August, Texas had 33,843 tech job openings — the second highest in the U.S. after California — according to a report from the Computing Technology Industry Association. That’s up 56% from a year earlier. Texas led the nation in population growth in 2020 attracting 373,965 residents, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. While experts say it’s too early to tell whether the new laws will cause any massive change in worker migration, they note that right-wing measures could lead to a pause of left-leaning tech workers considering moving to the state. Some professionals in the tech industry say they’re worried about what the passage of the abortion law says about the direction Texas is headed in terms of other major social issues. “It scares the living daylights out of me,” said Deep Barot, a Texas native and San Francisco-based angel investor in biotech, software, and cryptocurrency companies. “This is an abortion law, but what’s next?” Pay attention, Deep. Texas has been doing ignorant shit for decades.