Monday News: Nine thousand, nine hundred eighty three


HOSPITALIZATIONS FOR COVID 19 IN NC HAVE DROPPED LAST 13 DAYS: At least 796,195 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus, and 9,983 have died since March, according to state health officials. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Sunday reported 4,674 new COVID-19 cases, up from 4,172 reported the day before. At least 2,378 people in North Carolina were reported hospitalized with the coronavirus as of Sunday, down 90 from the day before. The number has steadily dropped over the past 13 days. As of Friday, the latest day for which data are available, 7.4% of coronavirus tests were reported positive.

FORMER NC CHIEF JUSTICE MARK MARTIN WAS BEHIND CRAZY LEGAL EFFORTS BY TRUMP: First, according to the Times report, Martin helped ghost-write what would become a lawsuit by the state of Texas attempting to overturn Biden’s pivotal electoral victories in Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. The complaint, which was sent directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, was quickly dismissed by the justices in December due to Texas not having a legal right to challenge the elections in other states. Then, with Trump’s legal defenses crumbling in courts around the country, Martin, who had connected with the president through White House Chief of Staff and fellow North Carolinian Mark Meadows, offered what amounted to a last firewall. According to the Times, Martin advocated a “radical” constitutional interpretation giving Vice President Mike Pence the authority to reject any state election returns he deemed fraudulent — a theory that legal scholars across the political spectrum dismissed as nonsensical and which even Pence, one of Trump’s most loyal allies, refused to embrace.

DURHAM SCHOOLS WILL CONTINUE REMOTE LEARNING, POSSIBLY INTO THE FALL: “We have no illusions that COVID will be eradicated by the time the start of the school year comes up,” said William “Chip” Sudderth III, a spokesperson for Durham, North Carolina schools, whose students have been out of school buildings since March. The pivot to distance learning last march has proved a lifeline for the education system, but concerns have grown with each passing month about the effects on racial inequities, students' academic performance, attendance and their overall well being. In Durham, North Carolina, schools — which has been fully remote since March — announced last month that it would remain that way through the end of the current academic year. Beyond that, Sudderth said, “the prevalence of the disease will determine what we are able to do.” The guideline for whether the 32,000-student district could move from remote to hybrid learning in January was a testing positivity rate below 4%. But it’s unclear whether that metric or others that until now have been set by states or districts will hold.

GOVERNOR COOPER WANTS TO BOOST UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS $150 PER WEEK: Gov. Roy Cooper said Thursday he supports offering North Carolinians 26 weeks of state unemployment benefits and raising the weekly maximum benefit from $350 to $500. Cooper made his comments as part of unveiling his state budget proposal for 2021-22. "Even before the pandemic, North Carolina had some of the shortest and stingiest unemployment benefits in the country," Cooper said. Since July 2013, unemployed North Carolinians have been eligible for a maximum of 12 weeks of regular state unemployment benefits at a weekly maximum of $350, down from $530. Benefits were cut by the Republican super-majority in the legislature and signed into law by then-Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. The state had $3.85 billion in the state Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund in mid-March. State legislators said Sept. 2 that between $2.9 billion and $3 billion remained in the fund at that time. The third COVID-19 relief bill added $87 million. Cooper said Thursday that the fund contains $2.59 billion, and that he supports using additional money from the fund. "The trust fund can help people right now," Cooper said.

EVIDENCE FOR TRUMP'S IMPEACHMENT TRIAL IS ALREADY BEING PRESENTED IN INSURRECTIONISTS' TRIALS: Evidence to bolster the Democratic case has already emerged in federal criminal cases filed against more than 185 people so far in the aftermath of the insurrection. Trump’s pull on his supporters is a dominant theme. Court documents show that more than two dozen people charged in the attack specifically cited Trump and his calls to gather that day in describing on social media or in conversations with others why they decided to take action by coming to Washington. Even when Trump is not cited by name, filings in dozens of other cases show how alleged rioters were broadly motivated by his rhetoric about a stolen election — including his false claims that Vice President Mike Pence could have used his ceremonial role to stop the counting of the electoral college votes. According to prosecutors, Pittsburg QAnon supporter Kenneth Grayson wrote to an associate on Dec. 23: “I’m there for the greatest celebration of all time after Pence leads the Senate flip!! OR IM THERE IF TRUMP TELLS US TO STORM THE FUKIN CAPITAL IMA DO THAT THEN!” Grayson has been accused of trespassing into the Capitol and charged with five felonies. A lawyer for Grayson did not respond to a request for comment. House managers have already cited videos taken in the crowd, which show that after Trump exhorted the group to “show strength,” people could be heard shouting, “Take the Capitol right now!” and “Invade the Capitol!” In their brief, they quoted from videos taken inside the Capitol, where one rioter exclaimed, “We wait and take orders from our president!” and another taunted a police officer, “We were invited here . . . by the president of the United States!”