GOVERNOR COOPER ANNOUNCES NEW COVID 19 RESTRICTIONS: Cooper issued a new executive order that, starting late Wednesday, would make it a misdemeanor for there to be assemblies of more than 50 people, compared to the current prohibition of over 100. The 50-person limit is in keeping with previous guidance from health officials. President Donald Trump also has urged avoidance of gatherings of more than 10 people. Cooper's order also will direct that by 5 p.m. Wednesday all hair salons, barbershops, gyms, fitness clubs and movie theaters must close, as well as similar business activities that run counter to social distancing. Bingo parlors, bowling alleys, tattoo parlors also are on the closure list. Across North Carolina, restaurants and bars can continue to remain open only for delivery or take-out meals. Grocery stores also continue to operate. Public schools statewide will now remain closed for in-person instruction until May 15, Cooper said. He had already ordered closings of at least two weeks beginning March 16.
NC NOW HAS 412 REPORTED CASES OF CORONAVIRUS: North Carolina has at least 412 reported cases of coronavirus as of Tuesday morning. About half of the state’s 100 counties have reported at least one case of COVID-19. Mecklenburg County has the highest number of cases in the state, with 106. Durham County has 71 reported cases, and Wake County has 66. Eleven people were hospitalized with the virus in North Carolina as of Monday, Gov. Roy Cooper said. More than 8,400 people had been tested for COVID-19 in North Carolina as of Monday afternoon, and thousands more samples are waiting to be processed. Three North Carolina communities have effectively issued shelter-in-place orders, getting ahead of state leaders who have not yet put in place the strict measure. Madison County in Western North Carolina, Pitt County and the town of Beaufort on the coast asked residents on Monday to stay home and limit travel. Residents are still allowed to go to work, the pharmacy, grocery stores or medical appointments.
GASTONIA TEXTILE MILL IS LEADING THE CHARGE TO MANUFACTURE FACEMASKS: The Charlotte Observer reports that Gastonia-based Parkdale Mills Inc. is working with companies such as Hanesbrand, Fruit of the Loom and others to build a manufacturing supply chain for the masks. Parkdale is one of the country's largest yarn spinners. The National Council of Textile Organizations said in a news release that the companies are often competitors in the marketplace, but are banding together "for the greater good of a nation facing one of its most monumental challenges.” Medical workers across the country are facing a shortage of protective equipment as they respond to COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus. The textile council said that Parkdale Chief Executive Officer Anderson Warlick worked closely with White House officials to expedite the process, allowing production to begin soon after the masks were approved and certified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Production is expected to begin Monday and deliveries could begin in the middle of the week. The coalition said once it reaches full capacity in about four to five weeks, it expects to produce up to 10 million face masks per week.
STIMULUS BILL CLOSER TO PASSING AFTER LATE-NIGHT NEGOTIATIONS: Among other provisions, the two sides appeared to have reached an agreement, at least in principle, to ensure substantial oversight over a $500 billion economic stabilization fund that would be used to bail out distressed companies, according to two officials familiar with the talks. The officials, who were not authorized to discuss them publicly, said the details were still being worked out. Despite a sense of desperation in both parties and at the White House about quickly enacting legislation to deliver critical financial support to businesses forced to shutter and relief to hard-pressed American families, sharp ideological differences between Republicans and Democrats have made it difficult to finalize a compromise. The late-night optimism was a marked turnaround from earlier in the day, when the normally staid Senate dissolved into shouting and partisan bickering before the vote, as senators sparred over the stimulus package, which is emerging as the largest in modern history. Republicans blasted Democrats for delaying desperately needed economic aid, while Democrats said the measure under discussion did too little to help ordinary Americans or to ensure that federal money would not be abused by businesses that received aid.
2020 TOKYO OLYMPICS POSTPONED UNTIL SUMMER 2021: Facing heavy global pressure and rising athlete dissent, the International Olympic Committee sharply reversed course Tuesday and agreed with Japanese officials that the Olympics and Paralympics will not take place this summer in Tokyo in the wake of the growing novel coronavirus pandemic. Organizers say they now hope to stage the Games by the summer of 2021. The Olympics are the biggest event to date that has been scuttled due to the virus, which has now claimed at least 16,767 lives and has infected more than 387,000 people on six of the seven continents, upend daily lives and forcing the postponement and cancellations of sporting events, concerts and conferences across the globe. The decision came after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday proposed a one-year postponement to IOC leadership, including President Thomas Bach. The IOC’s stunning decision is without precedent. While an Olympics has never been postponed, several have taken place later on the calendar, including the 2000 Sydney and 1988 Seoul Games, which both took place in late September, and the 1964 Tokyo and the 1968 Mexico City Games, which took place in October. The modern Olympics, which date to 1896, have been canceled three times (1916, 1940 and 1944) because of world wars.