SCV MUST RETURN $2.5 MILLION TO UNC-CH, MINUS LAWYER FEES: The judge approved those costs, saying they are “reasonable” and “necessary” and would be distributed within 10 days, according to court documents. The remaining balance in the trust, which is just under $2.42 million, will be returned to the UNC System within 10 days and then to UNC-Chapel Hill, which initially transferred the funds for the settlement. At that point, the trust will be dissolved. The judge also extended the time for the SCV to return the Silent Sam statue to the UNC System to May 5 because of the “situation with COVID-19.” UNC System Interim President Bill Roper and Board of Governors Chairman Randy Ramsey have said the statue will not be their primary focus. But they, along with UNC-Chapel Hill leaders, have made clear that the statue will not return to campus.
NC NAACP AND OTHER GROUPS FILE LAWSUIT TO GET PRISONERS RELEASED: A coalition of civil rights groups filed suit against the Cooper administration Wednesday, seeking the immediate release of state prison inmates who are at high risk for serious illness from COVID-19. The emergency petition filed with the Supreme Court says Gov. Roy Cooper and Department of Public Safety Secretary Erik Hooks "each have a legal duty to act to protect the people incarcerated in North Carolina's adult and juvenile facilities." The suit was filed on behalf of the NAACP, Disability Rights North Carolina and the ACLU of North Carolina, as well as four inmates and the spouse of an inmate. "North Carolina courts did not sentence thousands of people to suffer and potentially die from a pandemic," state ACLU legal director Kristi Graunke said in a statement. "Numerous people who are incarcerated right now could be sent home to live safely with their families without posing a danger to the public."
GOVERNOR COOPER ISSUES NEW COVID 19 DIRECTIVES ON NURSING HOMES: North Carolina health officials on Wednesday ordered new resident and employee protections in the state's nursing homes and similar settings after the new coronavirus further penetrated those facilities, leading to more deaths. The new directives, which will require all workers to wear masks when interacting with patients and daily health screenings of residents and staff, come as more than 60 residents at an Orange County long-term care facility have tested positive. Two of them have died and seven are hospitalized, Gov. Roy Cooper said. “These are shockingly large numbers,” Cooper said of the facility, which local legislators identified as PruittHealth-Carolina Point. Moore County health officials also announced Wednesday that more than two dozen residents and several staffers at Pinehurst Health Care and Rehabilitation Center also have COVID-19. One resident at a Northampton County adult care home died at a Virginia hospital last month. The state had more than 3,400 positive cases of the virus Wednesday morning — 200 cases more than Tuesday — according to data from the state Department of Health and Human Services. More than 50 state residents have died and close to 400 people testing positive are hospitalized.
BERNIE DROPS OUT, TRUMP THINKS HE CAN REEL IN HIS SUPPORTERS: President Trump and his campaign greeted the ostensible end of the Democratic presidential primary process Wednesday with two conflicting but revealing messages. Former vice president Joe Biden became the presumptive nominee, they argued, because he was the choice of his party’s embedded establishment that disrespected the populist movement behind rival Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. “The Bernie people should come to the Republican Party,” Trump tweeted, arguing that he is a better fit for Sanders’s voters than Biden. But Biden also pulled it off, they said, because he embraced the far-left policies of the anti-establishment Sanders and is indistinguishable from the self-described socialist. “They are both the same,” tweeted Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale. The comments from Trump and his campaign Wednesday underscored how they plan to begin the general election by running two distinct campaigns against the presumptive Democratic nominee. One is a competition for the ideological center of the country, run through the tony, tax-skeptical suburbs of key swing states that rejected the GOP in 2018. The second is a fight for the mostly working-class populism of the left, which has rejected the establishment politics of both national parties.
U.S. AND EUROPE ARE MONOPOLIZING PROTECTIVE GEAR AND TESTING SUPPLIES: Crates of masks snatched from cargo planes on airport tarmacs. Countries paying triple the market price to outbid others. Accusations of “modern piracy” against governments trying to secure medical supplies for their own people. As the United States and European Union countries compete to acquire scarce medical equipment to combat the coronavirus, another troubling divide is also emerging, with poorer countries losing out to wealthier ones in the global scrum for masks and testing materials. Scientists in Africa and Latin America have been told by manufacturers that orders for vital testing kits cannot be filled for months, because the supply chain is in upheaval and almost everything they produce is going to America or Europe. All countries report steep price increases, from testing kits to masks. “There is a war going on behind the scenes, and we’re most worried about poorer countries losing out,” said Dr. Catharina Boehme, the chief executive of Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, which collaborates with the World Health Organization in helping poorer countries gain access to medical tests. In Africa, Latin America and parts of Asia, many countries are already at a disadvantage, with health systems that are underfunded, fragile and often lacking in necessary equipment. A recent study found that some poor countries have only one equipped intensive care bed per million residents.