Monday News: Nineteen thousand, one hundred twenty one


CORONAVIRUS POSITIVE RATES ARE UP TO 7.8 PERCENT IN NC: At least 1,589,054 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus, and at least 19,121 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials. At least 1,584 people were reported hospitalized with COVID-19 on Dec. 17, including 420 adults being treated in intensive care units, health officials said. A new study published on Friday, Dec. 17, projects the omicron variant could break records for COVID-19 hospitalizations in North Carolina. The study was published by the COVSIM modeling team, which is made up of scientists from the University of North Carolina, North Carolina State University and Georgia Tech, The News & Observer reported. It estimated hospitalizations in the state could exceed what they were during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic in January 2021 within the first few months of the new year. Limit your potential exposure, holidays can be deadly.

BALDWIN DECIDES TO KEEP RALEIGH'S INDOOR MASK MANDATE IN EFFECT: Raleigh’s mask mandate will stay in place for all indoor, public spaces for now due to a rise in COVID-19 cases and concerns about the omicron variant, Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin said Friday. Baldwin had recently asked city staff to evaluate whether Raleigh could lift the requirement to help gyms, small businesses and those who have been struggling with their mental and physical health. After reviewing local and national COVID trends, however, Baldwin said she decided now is not the right time to relax the mask mandate. During a City Council meeting earlier this month, Baldwin said she had heard from business owners who were struggling under the mandate, not sure they would make it until next year. At the time, Baldwin said the city would wait until two weeks after Thanksgiving to see if COVID cases rose before making a decision. In addition to Raleigh, five other Wake County municipalities (Garner, Knightdale, Morrisville, Rolesville and Zebulon) are under the county’s indoor mask mandate, which also applies to unincorporated areas.

GREENSBORO EMULATES RALEIGH, CONVERTS MOTEL INTO HOMELESS SHELTER: The guest list at the old Regency Inn & Suites is growing. Three new people moved in recently. “It’s not the Ritz but it’s clean, it’s safe and it’s warm,” said Mike Cooke, an advocate for the homeless whose nonprofit, Partnership Homes, buys troubled properties and gives them new life. This former motel, which Partnership Homes bought with financing help from the city and is in the middle of renovating, is serving as the winter emergency housing program for the homeless with room for up to 100 people. The winter program provides shelter for the homeless during the coldest months of the year and for more than a decade operated mostly out of repurposed spaces in local churches. No walk-ins are being accepted. Guests must be referred through Greensboro Urban Ministry or the Interactive Resource Center. Cooke’s group, which has been renovating rooms since February to have a majority of them ready by December, the program’s traditional start, has projects all over the city. With temperatures already dipping below freezing this month, this is among the most important at the moment.

CHARTER SCHOOLS CAN'T CLAIM IMMUNITY, NC SUPREME COURT RULES: The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled on Friday that nonprofit charter schools can’t avoid facing civil fraud claims alleging mismanagement of taxpayer money by arguing they are immune from such lawsuits like a state agency. The justices reversed a 2019 Court of Appeals decision that had dismissed claims against Kinston Charter Academy, which closed abruptly to 190 students and their teachers in 2013. A 2016 lawsuit by then-Attorney General Roy Cooper sought financial damages for the state and monetary penalties against the academy, its CEO and the chair of its board. Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that receive state funds on a per-pupil basis and have more flexibility — with instruction and enrollment among them — than traditional K-12 schools. They are overseen by the State Board of Education. Kinston Charter Academy and leaders were accused by Cooper's office of violating the state’s False Claims Act and deceptive trade laws. State attorneys allege the school provided a bogus upgraded enrollment estimate to state education officials that meant receiving additional funds, even as leaders knew the school would not last the 2013-14 school year. Grifters gonna grift.

JACKASS FROM WEST VIRGINIA KILLS BUILD BACK BETTER: Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) on Sunday said that he could not support Democrats’ roughly $2 trillion bill to overhaul the country’s health care, education, climate, immigration and tax laws, dealing a potentially insurmountable political blow to the final piece of President Biden’s economic agenda. The statement of opposition amounted to the most forceful condemnation yet from the moderate Democratic holdout, who cited rising consumer prices, a growing federal debt and the arrival of a new coronavirus variant as reasons he could not supply his must-have vote to help his own party adopt its signature spending initiative. Democrats across the Capitol quickly blasted Manchin, arguing that he had failed to negotiate in good faith, especially since Biden with the backing of party leaders had painstakingly scaled back their original ambitions to win his support. Even the White House rebuked Manchin on Sunday, issuing a stern rebuttal that alleged he had backtracked on his initial promises to strike a deal. The chain of events began early in the day, when Manchin appeared on “Fox News Sunday” and outlined his opposition to the proposal known as the Build Back Better Act, which borrows its name from Biden’s own 2020 campaign pledge. “I can’t move forward. I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation, I just can’t,” he said. “I tried everything possible,” Manchin added. “I can’t get there. . . This is a no." You didn't try shit. We tried, you lied. And now millions will suffer because of it.