COOPER AND OTHER GOVERNORS FILL TRUMP'S COVID 19 LEADERSHIP VOID: Amid the stumbling, contradictions, inaccuracies and confusion coming from Washington on confronting the coronavirus outbreak, governors offered hope and real action. States, local governments and institutions are acting on their own. North Carolina is the textbook example. Two weeks before Trump acted, Cooper created a special state task force to monitor and when the situation necessitated, coordinate and direct actions to deal with the coronavirus outbreak. They have acted in a timely manner to address the rapidly changing health environment and worked diligently to be open and keep the public informed. Difficult decisions are being made – it seems on an hourly basis. The impacts aren’t being taken lightly since they involve very significant investment, expense for individuals and disruption to long-made plans. It has been the state agencies that have provided the credible information.
HARDER DAYS MIGHT BE COMING WITH THE CORONAVIRUS. HERE'S HOW TO MEET THEM: We are at the end of an exhausting and anxious week for our country. Covid-19 is spreading. The stock market has plummeted. Sports have been shut down. And we don’t know what harder days might come. It is, we know, a somewhat helpless feeling. But while we are vulnerable, we are not powerless. And so, to all the recommendations you have seen and will see, we add three more. Listen to the experts: If you think the media is overreacting to the threat of the coronavirus, fine. If you think the president is downplaying the spread because it hurts him politically, also fine. Listen to the experts, the scientists, the public health officials. They are not hard to find. They don’t have a political agenda. They have a loyalty to the facts, to their job and, in this case, to our health. People are scared. They’re uncertain about their health and their livelihoods. We should lift them up in big ways and small. That means not only advocating for meaningful sick leave measures, but also grabbing only the toilet paper you need right now from the grocery store shelf. It means not only seeking help for the vulnerable in our communities, but being patient with people’s impatience. It means tipping really well. We don’t know what’s ahead in the coming days or weeks. But we know what’s always been a simple but difficult truth — that our best path forward is one we walk together. P.S. - Wash your hands.
SECRETARY COHEN ROASTS GOP LEGISLATORS FOR $42 MILLION IN CUTS TO HER AGENCY: If it were not for Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the General Assembly leadership’s budget, the state agency most responsible for dealing with the coronavirus outbreak in North Carolina might be waging a short-handed struggle now amid a shrunken budget and dramatic staff cuts. Instead, the veto blocked more than $42 million in crippling cuts. Overshadowed earlier this week by Cooper’s declaration of a state of emergency because of the spread of COVID-19, was state Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen’s stern admonition to legislators about the potential jeopardy their ill-conceived budget might have caused. What’s clear is that legislative leaders, who’ve ignored the pleading of hospitals, doctors and insurance companies, don’t want to hear the truth from Cohen either. Do they even care? “We had a conference budget that the General Assembly put forward, to remind folks that it cut $42 million worth of people at our department over two years. … I can’t hire people with non-recurring funds,” Cohen told the Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services.
WHAT EVERY MAYOR NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT CORONAVIRUS: Speak as one voice across government, and start by telling people how to keep themselves safe. Act now to prohibit large events and postpone all nonessential gatherings. Announce clear public health rules for all transit, retail, restaurants and grocery stores. Ensure your first responders and health-care workers have personal protective equipment; we already face shortages and rationing of gowns, masks and gloves. Urge telecommuting policies for your workforce and your local employers. Engage your nonprofits and foundations to create response funds for the most vulnerable and for small businesses. Ensure all workers know about the new flexibility in unemployment insurance to help provide relief to more Americans affected by the outbreak. Working with public health officials, thoughtfully prepare to close your schools, community centers and libraries while understanding many families rely on these resources for meals and child care. Plan for outbreaks in your most vulnerable communities, including senior facilities or shelters for individuals experiencing homelessness. Be prepared to rapidly stand up prevention, isolation, quarantine and recovery sites around your region. Repurpose city resources for meals, child care, rental assistance and small-business assistance. Impose an eviction moratorium so individuals can’t lose their home amid this crisis.
WE NEED TO FLATTEN THE CURVE. TRUMP AND FOX ARE MAKING IT WORSE: I am guessing that something about “remote work” strikes the Trump and Fox base — possibly correctly — as an option for the pampered. It’s what the tech geeks of Twitter and Google do. It’s what the writers and editors of The New York Times do. It’s what the rich kids in Ivy League schools do, as do their comfortably tenured professors. Motoring on through adversity seems, at this moment, like the macho thing to do. Social distancing is seen as cowardly and weak, rather than what it truly is, which is altruistic and courageous. A real leader, one who’s secure in his own skin and intellect, could explain the paradox of aggression through isolation. He could encourage cooperation through isolation too, explaining that the two needn’t be incompatible. But we don’t have a real leader. We have Trump. And we have Fox, whose relentless message is the same as that of Sept. 11: Go about your daily lives or the terrorists win. But pandemics aren’t terrorists. Go about your daily lives and the virus wins. Viruses need crowds. True leadership means telling those crowds to disperse.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
WILLIAM GUY BURTON: AMERICA'S LATE START ON TESTING IS THE PROBLEM: As a retired molecular biologist with decades of experience in academic settings as well as corporate biotechnology entities focused on development and commercialization of diagnostic tests, I read with great interest how the president has put together a task force of private companies to rapidly develop and produce virus test kits. One million CDC kits are forecast for shipment in the near future. All this while countries in Europe and Asia have been conducting millions of tests for better than a month. For example, South Korea is performing 15,000 tests a day. Why? Because the rest of the world recognized the impending epidemic in January. Commercial diagnostic test manufacturers worldwide started what the U.S. is just now initiating, so test kits are available elsewhere. For whatever reason, no one in a position to do so has known to, or chosen, to pick up the phone.
SALLY GREASER: GOP OPPOSITION TO MEDICAID EXPANSION IS MORALLY BANKRUPT: Regarding “Republican legislators aren’t convinced that insuring women will save NC infants’ lives,” (March 11): Once again, Republican members of the N.C. General Assembly refuse to listen to experts who know far more about the subject than they do. It is apparent the only way we are going to get Medicaid expanded and have more people insured is to change which party controls each chamber of our General Assembly, as happened in Virginia. With COVID-19 affecting more people and the possibility of more novel viruses in the future, this expansion is no longer a political issue, but a moral one. How anyone who professes to be a Christian can be against expanding Medicaid and providing some form of health insurance for those who cannot afford it is beyond my understanding.
LAURA STILLMAN: ANTI-ABORTION ATTACKS ARE RELENTLESS: The latest attack on abortion before the Supreme Court illustrates the continued push to turn back time and keep women in their place. All who care about individual freedom should be ready to defend the law of the land, which allows a woman to choose based on her situation. It doesn’t require those who don’t approve of abortion to do anything. It simply allows freedom of choice. If these same supporters would show as much energy and passion to insist on better education regarding sexuality for young women and men, make men more accountable for their actions, just as they demand of women, and put real force into punishing sexual harassment and assault, the incidence of pregnancy and abortion would no doubt decrease. Focusing on the single issue of abortion devolves into penalizing and diminishing women in society. We have gone way beyond that, and the polls indicate far and away the desire for choice. Since women are the majority of the population in America, it would be wise to drop these misguided assaults on their rights.