coronavirus

UNC needs volunteers for Coronavirus vaccine trials

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It's a strangely attractive offer, but that could just be a brutal case of cabin fever:

The vaccine trial at UNC will be a Phase 3 clinical trial of a vaccine against COVID-19 developed by Moderna, a private research company.

Moderna’s vaccine is based on taking genetic material, known as mRNA, from the coronavirus. When a person gets the vaccine, their cells will make viral proteins from this mRNA, just as they would if they were infected by the coronavirus. Their immune system should learn to detect these proteins to fight off future exposure to COVID-19.

While I'm trying to decide if I want to be one of UNC's little Outbreak monkeys, here's some stuff on genetics that flies over this primate's head:

Will reopening of NC’s universities in the fall be safe?

As North Carolina into a Phase 2 reopening plan, even as the number of COVID-19 cases are increasing in the state, universities are trying to decide what they’ll be doing this Fall. Will students return? Only some students? Will all classes be online? Only larger classes? How will they keep faculty, staff, and students safe?

In an online Board of Governors meeting, the UNC System’s president, Bill Roper, said he expects a return to campus by students in the fall and they’ll be finalizing guidance to the system’s 17 institutions by the end of the month. According to an email newsletter from IndyWeek, UNC-Chapel Hill may announce their fall plans as early as tomorrow. In a university-wide Zoom call yesterday, the administration announced a mix of instruction, with students wearing masks and in-person class sizes reduced.

Colleges and universities are unique institutions, bringing together a large population from around the country and even internationally in common spaces such as dorms, eating areas, research labs, and libraries. Some have working hospitals and medical clinics attached to them. The impacts of a contagious virus breakout wouldn’t be isolated to the campus - a university is part of the city or town surrounding it, where faculty, staff, and students live and mingle with the larger population. Think about the Tyson chicken processing plant outbreak in Wilkesboro and how that has spread COVID-19 to the surrounding community and across county lines.

It’s a complex issue to sort out. We have a large number of colleges and universities in all parts of the state, many part of the larger UNC system and others that are private secular and religious colleges.

If you aren’t paying attention to this debate and what universities are planning for the fall, you should be.

Recommended reading: The return to "normal"

Since the mysterious so-called "ReopenNC" movement and Civitas has been pressing the issue with Governor Cooper, it's time for a reality check.

Just what will it mean to get back to "normal"? When will it happen? What can "normal" look like?

The Atlantic gives an opinion on what to expect, informed by scientists and researchers and not social media memes and political slogans.

WRAL Not Reporting Full Story on Franklin Graham's COVID-19 Stunt in New York

Recently, I highlighted the controversy surrounding Franklin Graham's publicity stunt, setting up a Samaritan's Purse outreach effort in Central Park under the guise of a "field hospital".

WRAL seems to be playing along with Graham's publicity machine, reproducing little blurbs about the makeshift "hospital" in their Coronavirus update every few days.

Damned if you don't

Resign, Mr. Burr

Richard Burr's latest transgression has me thinking about the two ways to remove a senator: (1) resignation, and (2) expulsion by the Senate. Either or neither could happen.

Is it a good thing to try to oust Burr now? From a political perspective, I'm not sure. The replacement process would be wicked, with the deck stacked in favor of Republicans.

From a moral perspective? Absolutely.

This is about America, not just North Carolina. As a country and as a state, we cannot tolerate this kind of craven behavior.

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