172 NC FATALITIES ASSOCIATED WITH CORONAVIRUS COMPLICATIONS: North Carolina has at least 6,031 reported cases of the coronavirus as of Saturday morning, and 172 people have died, according to state and county health departments. The state health department reported 394 new cases on Friday, the second-highest jump since the outbreak began. At least 429 North Carolinians were hospitalized with COVID-19 Friday, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. That’s down from Thursday’s all-time high of 452. Mecklenburg County, home to Charlotte, has the most reported cases in the state, with 1,136. The county has reported 24 deaths. Wake County, which includes Raleigh, has 574 reported cases and three deaths. Durham County has 338 reported cases and four deaths.
BATTLE BREWING OVER HOW TO SPEND NEARLY A HALF-BILLION IN FEDERAL EDUCATION DOLLARS: All told thus far, the state is set to receive up to about $484 million in federal relief for K-12 schools. That amounts to about 5 percent of the state's annual spending on K-12 schools, which was about $9.6 billion in 2018. The rising tensions over those funds could foreshadow months of disagreement over how all education relief funds should be allocated and who should be in charge of those decisions. In a House working group on education needs due to the coronavirus pandemic, legislators are poised to recommend waiving all state testing requirements in public, private and home schools for the current school year. That includes waiving the K-3 reading testing and retention requirements. They're also expected to recommend giving school districts more funding flexibility, delaying class size reduction, waiving school accountability measures and teacher preparation requirements and postponing many deadlines for reporting and spending from K-12 schools through community colleges and universities.
DAN BISHOP WILL JOIN THE OTHER EXTREMIST IDIOTS TO PROTEST STAY-AT-HOME ORDER: The growing struggle pits public health advocates against people whose lives have been upturned and who watch as millions join the unemployment rolls. On Tuesday Smith, who home schools her children, joined more than 100 others at a protest outside the General Assembly. One protester was arrested. In a tweet, the Raleigh police department called it a “non-essential activity.” A similar protest this coming Tuesday will include at least one member of Congress. “After the Raleigh Police announced that protesting was a ‘non-essential’ activity, I decided to attend the rally to stand for our Constitution and North Carolinians’ First Amendment rights because Governor Cooper has not stood up for those First Amendment rights,” Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop said through a spokeswoman. “I am deeply troubled . . . by government infringing upon those rights.”
TRUMP IS FANNING THE FLAMES BY TELLING PEOPLE TO "LIBERATE" THEIR STATES: Trump on Friday took aim at Democratic-led states, tweeting about a need to “LIBERATE” places such as Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia while seeming to side with protesters there who are rebelling against restrictions that match the Trump administration’s own social-distancing recommendations. Conservative groups have bolstered the protests, lending support and guidance in an effort to create a nationwide movement in favor of restarting economic activity on a broad basis despite the health concerns. The effort by Trump and some of his allies to portray a country split between a few hard-hit hot spots and a much larger expanse of America ready to quickly get back to work is at odds with hesitancy among state and local leaders about lifting the restrictions before the coronavirus crisis is more firmly under control. Republican governors in places such as Missouri and Mississippi did not adhere to the president’s call Thursday for less-hard-hit states to “very quickly” begin relaxing their stay-at-home orders. Though Trump declared on Thursday that some states were ready to begin lifting their restrictions immediately, several Republican governors responded by extending the orders. Some administration officials say the White House has not done enough to focus on testing, an issue that has become a growing source of tension between local officials and the president, who has dismissed concerns by declaring that he has done a great job.
ONE-FIFTH OF U.S. COVID 19 DEATHS ARE ASSOCIATED WITH NURSING HOMES: The first warning of the devastation that the coronavirus could wreak inside American nursing homes came in late February, when residents of a facility in suburban Seattle perished, one by one, as families waited helplessly outside. In the ensuing six weeks, large and shockingly lethal outbreaks have continued to ravage nursing homes across the nation, undeterred by urgent new safety requirements. Now a nationwide tally by The New York Times has found the number of people living in or connected to nursing homes who have died of the coronavirus to be at least 7,000, far higher than previously known. In New Jersey, 17 bodies piled up in a nursing home morgue, and more than a quarter of a Virginia home’s residents have died. At least 24 people at a facility in Maryland have died; more than 100 residents and workers have been infected at another in Kansas; and people have died in centers for military veterans in Florida, Nevada, New York, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington. The virus is known to be more deadly to aging, immune-compromised people, and small, confined settings like nursing homes, where workers frequently move from one room to the next, are particularly vulnerable to spreading infection. But oversights and failures also have contributed to the crisis. Virus tests and protective gear have been scarce inside many of these facilities, which are among the most overlooked players in the health care system. All of these factors have allowed the virus to thrive, making its way into at least 4,100 American nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, despite increasingly desperate efforts to stop the spread.