Monday News: Eleven thousand, eight hundred twenty


POSITIVE TESTS FOR CORONAVIRUS IN NC APPROACH 900,000: At least 895,263 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 11,820 have died since last March, according to state health officials. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 2,034 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, up from 1,915 reported on Friday. At least 964 people in North Carolina were reported hospitalized with the coronavirus as of Saturday, down from 970 on Friday. As of Thursday, the latest date for which data are available, 4.9% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. More than 3.5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in North Carolina, and more than 1.4 million people in the state have been fully vaccinated as of Thursday.

DUKE UNIVERSITY EASES RESTRICTIONS CAUSED BY FRATERNITY SUPERSPREADING PARTIES: Duke University has lifted a stay-in-place order it issued last week for all undergraduate students following a spike in COVID-19 cases that officials blamed largely on students attending fraternity rush events. The lifting of the order Sunday morning means all in-person courses will resume their standard delivery method, whether in-person or hybrid. Students living in university-provided housing are again allowed to move about campus, but are being asked to leave campus only for essential travel and health-related activities through March 28. Students living off-campus in the Durham area are permitted to be on campus only to attend in-person classes and essential academic activities, participate in surveillance testing, seek medical care or pick up food orders. The stay-in-place order was imposed March 13 after a week in which more than 180 students were in isolation after testing positive, and another 200 students were in quarantine as a result of contact tracing. Officials said last week that more than 550 students had contracted the virus since Jan. 3, compared to a total of 241 cases reported during the entire fall semester.

WAKE COUNTY WILL VOTE ON ORDINANCE BARRING DISCRIMINATION OF HAIR STYLES: On Monday at 1 p.m., county commissioners will vote on an ordinance that supports the inclusion of natural hair and hairstyle protection for Wake County employees. Several cities have already passed similar protections, including Carrboro and Durham. Wake County Commissioner Shinica Thomas believes people should be able to freely decide how to wear their hair without fearing discrimination. If the bill is passed, Thomas said a training video will educate employees about the new policy. A similar bill, called the CROWN Act (Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) has been introduced in the state house and is is already law in California, New York and New Jersey. CNN reports the legislation has been introduced in more than 20 states. A Duke University study showed Black women with natural hairstyles, including curly afros, twists or braids, are less likely to get job interviews than white women or Black women with straightened hair.

OUTGOING U.S. ATTORNEY FOR DC SAYS SOME CAPITOL ATTACKERS MAY BE CHARGED WITH SEDITIOUS CONSPIRACY: Former interim U.S. attorney Michael R. Sherwin, of Washington, reiterated Sunday that he thinks charges of seditious conspiracy could be brought against certain defendants in the Jan. 6 Capitol breach, a rarely invoked charge for those who use violence to hinder the execution of federal law. In a “60 Minutes” interview aired on CBS two days after he stepped down from supervising the investigation, Sherwin said, “I personally believe the evidence is trending toward that, and probably meets those elements.” Federal law makes conspiring to overthrow or oppose by force federal authority punishable by up to 20 years in prison, including the use of violence to prevent, hinder or delay the execution of law. Sherwin also told “60 Minutes” that he personally witnessed some of the events Jan. 6, noticing some people in Kevlar vets, helmets and tactical gear leave early while he accompanied D.C. police to President Donald Trump’s rally on the Ellipse. In unaired portions of the interview, Sherwin debunked claims about left-wing extremists posing as Trump supporters and discussed tours of the building that took place before Jan. 6, “60 Minutes” reported. Sherwin said investigators are examining whether suspects who toured the Capitol days before the attack were “casing or doing reconnaissance runs” or on “a basic tour.” He called the possibility troubling. Sherwin, a career prosecutor from Miami, was named by then-Attorney General William P. Barr to be the top D.C. federal prosecutor last spring, while he was on detail to Barr’s deputy. Sherwin stepped down March 3, allowing the Biden administration to rename Channing D. Phillips as acting U.S. attorney while the White House and Attorney General Merrick Garland select a permanent nominee.

LOUIS DEJOY IS STILL SCREWING AROUND WITH THE POSTAL SERVICE: Already the postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, is completing a soon-to-be-released plan to stabilize the agency’s finances over 10 years that is expected to prioritize reliability and cost effectiveness over speed. In part, that could mean people like Mr. Pietri no longer find their Christmas gifts lost in transit, but it almost certainly would slow the delivery of some mail even further. Mr. DeJoy’s report is expected to propose eliminating the use of planes for the first-class mail service to transport letters and other flat mail in the contiguous United States, according to someone familiar with the planning. It is also expected to propose lengthening the agency’s standard delivery time for first-class mail, which includes many envelopes and lightweight packages, from within three days to within five days. Among other ideas under consideration: shuttering processing facilities and reducing some post office hours. Mr. DeJoy told lawmakers last month that price increases would also be part of the strategy. The plan is part of a concerted effort by the agency to shift its resources to shipping packages, which have become a growing share of its business as traditional mail volumes have declined. The proposal is almost certain to prompt resistance from the Democrats who control Congress and the White House, but it is also unclear what they will do about it. Mr. DeJoy, a former logistics executive and Trump megadonor, had already drawn Democrats’ wrath when slowdowns began last year as he instituted operational changes during an election year with a historic influx of mail-in ballots. But President Biden cannot directly fire him. Instead, his fate rests with the Postal Service Board of Governors, minus Mr. DeJoy himself, composed entirely of Trump appointees. Some Democrats have called for Mr. Biden to fire all of the governors, and though he may have the legal authority to do so, the president has shown little appetite for such a drastic move after repeatedly criticizing his predecessor for norm-breaking firings across the government. He has nominated three new governors for open spots, but the board does not intend to wait for the confirmation of Mr. Biden’s picks to complete its 10-year plan.