Monday News: Five thousand, two hundred forty


COVID 19 HOSPITALIZATIONS IN NC APPROACHING 2,000 MARK: At least 361,778 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 5,240 have died, according to state health officials. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Sunday reported 3,820 new COVID-19 cases, up from 3,444 reported the day before and the seventh-highest daily total since the start of the pandemic. The numbers highlight a surge of new cases in November. The state averaged fewer than 2,000 new cases a day in October. Twenty-one additional deaths were also reported Sunday. At least 1,885 people in North Carolina were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Saturday — surpassing the previous record of 1,840 reported the day before. About 8.6% of tests were reported positive as of Friday, the latest day for which data are available.

TRIANGLE CONGREGATE CARE FACILITIES HIT HARD BY CORONAVIRUS: The state’s most recent data pertaining to outbreaks in congregate living facilities, updated on Nov. 24, revealed 27 such ongoing outbreaks among nursing homes, residential care and correctional facilities across Wake, Durham and Orange counties. The state defines an outbreak as two or more positive cases at those facilities. In Wake, 136 coronavirus cases have been reported among staff and residents at the Dan E. and Mary Louise Stewart Health Center. Among the 72 residents who tested positive for the virus, 10 have died. In Durham County, the Carver Living Center, a nursing home, reported 128 cases — 86 among residents. Among those 86 cases, 10 people have died. The Durham Ridge Assisted Living Facility, meanwhile, has reported 160 cases among staff and residents. Five of the 117 residents who tested positive have died. During the past week alone, the state reported nearly 3,000 more positive cases in Wake, Durham and Orange combined. That was about 700 more than the week before.

NEWBY GOES AFTER BLACK VOTERS IN HIS ELECTION CHALLENGES: Paul Newby has challenged thousands of mail-in ballots across North Carolina in the tight race for state Supreme Court chief justice. But a disproportionate number of those protests have been filed against Black voters, an analysis by The News & Observer has found. Newby, a Republican who currently holds a seat on the high court, leads Democratic opponent and sitting Chief Justice Cheri Beasley by fewer than 500 votes in the unofficial results. That close margin and an ongoing recount kept the State Board of Elections from certifying the race. Although the cause of the outsize impact on Black voters may be unclear, the disparity is “nonrandom and unignorable,” says Chris Cooper, a professor of political science and public affairs at Western Carolina University who reviewed the N&O’s findings. “We expect partisans to act like partisans. We don’t expect partisans to target people of certain races more than others and to challenge the votes of people of certain races more than others,” Cooper said. “I do think that is a difference that is worth noting.”

MODERNA WANTS FDA TO GREENLIGHT ITS CORONAVIRUS VACCINE: Biotechnology company Moderna, one of the leaders in the race for a coronavirus vaccine, announced it would file Monday for regulatory clearance — a critical milestone that brings the United States a step closer to having two coronavirus vaccines before the end of the year. Moderna’s vaccine was 94 percent effective at preventing illness in a 30,000-person clinical trial, the company said — a performance that exceeds expectations and is on par with the best pediatric vaccines. All 30 cases of severe covid-19, the illness caused by the virus, were in a group that received a placebo. The application will arrive as public health experts gird for a blitz of coronavirus cases seeded by holiday travels and gatherings — a surge coming so soon that no vaccine can blunt it. But Moderna’s filing marks the fourth Monday in a row with good news about the vaccine effort and means the United States could have enough vaccine to treat 20 million people by year’s end, between doses of Moderna’s vaccine and those of another candidate that is about a week ahead from Pfizer and German firm BioNTech. The Food and Drug Administration could authorize the vaccines for emergency use by mid- to late December. “You don’t want to get ahead of yourself and claim any victories, but this has the makings of a very, very important positive impact on ending this outbreak,” said Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “A vaccine that is highly efficacious, if taken by a very, very high percentage of people, could potentially crush this outbreak — similar to what was done with outbreaks of measles and polio and smallpox and other diseases.”

SUPREME COURT LOOKS AT REMOVING IMMIGRANTS FROM CENSUS COUNT: The Supreme Court will hear arguments on Monday on President Trump’s efforts, in the final days of his presidency, to exclude unauthorized immigrants from the calculations used to allocate seats in the House. If the court rules for the administration, it would upend the agreement that the census must count all residents, whatever their immigration status, and could shift political power from Democratic states to Republican ones. But the case is riddled with practical complications. Census Bureau officials have said they cannot produce the required data until after Mr. Trump leaves office in January. Even if they do, it is not clear that congressional officials would accept what they may view as flawed calculations, and President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. may try to reverse course once he takes office, prompting further litigation. The core question in the case — who counts for purposes of congressional reapportionment — is fundamental and largely untested. Removing undocumented immigrants from the count would most likely have the effect of shifting seats to states that are older, whiter and typically more Republican. Mr. Trump ordered Wilbur Ross, the secretary of commerce, to provide him with two sets of numbers, one including unauthorized immigrants and the other not. It was not clear how Mr. Ross would derive the second set of numbers, as last year the Supreme Court rejected his efforts to add a question on citizenship to the census.