Monday News: Take your shot


PRESIDENT BIDEN TO PROMOTE VACCINES IN NC: It’s Biden’s first visit to North Carolina since taking office. The visit comes as part of Biden’s “National Month of Action,” a nationwide sprint in June to get 70% of adults at least partially vaccinated by July 4. But two weeks out from that date, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that roughly 65% of adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. And in North Carolina, that figure is significantly lower. As of June 18, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reports that just 55% of adults in the state have received a dose of the vaccine. Earlier this month, The News & Observer reported that at its current pace, the state will not reach Biden’s vaccine target until November.

GOVERNOR COOPER SPEAKS AT RALEIGH JUNETEENTH EVENT IN DIX PARK: "It’s a day to accept the joy of how far we have come and to accept the challenge of how far we still have to go for racial equality in this state and in this country," Cooper said. "I want to accept the challenge here with you today to make sure that we have a North Carolina that works for everyone," Cooper said. Rachel Costin, who lives in Raleigh, attended Saturday's event. "Today is important just to have people be exposed to the culture," she said. Meanwhile, down the street at the State Capitol in downtown Raleigh, an artist drew chalk sketches of freedmen and freedwomen with connections to the area. As visitors added to the chalk drawings, historic interpreters with the Capitol shared stories of the people being remembered. “A lot of the history I feel like, we have, as African Americans is very unknown," Artist Ayana Jarvis said. "Even to us. So, it is nice to get more recognition for our history and contributions to America.”

NC REALTORS PUSH GOVERNOR TO LET EVICTION MORATORIUM EXPIRE JUNE 30: With the statewide eviction moratorium set to end on June 30, the North Carolina Association of Realtors sent a letter to Gov. Roy Cooper, urging him not to extend the order because of its financial impact on landlords. “Businesses by and large are operating normally again,” the association’s letter reads. “The same cannot be said for small business housing providers who continue to operate under severe restrictions.” Cooper’s statewide moratorium is in keeping with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s nationwide moratorium, which has been in effect since early September. “The problem is that a lot of people are dealing with a massive amount of accumulated rental debt,” said Jesse McCoy, an attorney who defends tenants in court at Duke University’s Civil Justice Clinic. “The moratorium should be extended,” he said, “to give the social services organizations and NC HOPE the opportunity to get through the applications.”

FORMER FDA CHIEF WARNS ABOUT ANOTHER COVID SURGE DUE TO DELTA VARIANT: The transmission of the more contagious delta variant in the United States could spur a fall surge in coronavirus infections if only 75 percent of the country’s eligible population is vaccinated, former Food and Drug Administration chief Scott Gottlieb said Sunday. Although Gottlieb cited one projection forecasting an increase in infections reaching as high as 20 percent of last winter’s peak, he called that an “aggressive estimate,” saying he doesn’t “think it’ll be quite that dire.” But he said states with low vaccination rates already are showing a concerning rise in cases with the spreading of delta, which is up to 60 percent more contagious than earlier variants. Gottlieb also expressed concern about a recent U.K. study showing a shrinking of brain tissue in people after they had developed covid-19. The study results were published online last week before being peer-reviewed, meaning they haven’t yet been vetted by medical experts who weren’t involved in the study. “It’s very concerning because it does suggest that the virus could be having a direct effect on certain portions of the brain,” Gottlieb said. “I think what it suggests is that the balance of the information that we’re accruing does indicate that covid is a disease that could create persistent symptoms,” he said. “So, this isn’t a benign disease. This is something you want to avoid. And the bottom line is we have the tools to avoid it through vaccination.”

BIDEN ADMIN UNVEILS PLAN TO COMBAT WHITE SUPREMACISTS: The Biden administration on Tuesday unveiled a national strategy to combat domestic extremism, calling for aggressive steps such as hiring more intelligence analysts and screening government employees for ties to hate groups. The 32-page plan highlights a shift in the government’s approach to counterterrorism, which for decades has prioritized fighting foreign terrorists. But violent attacks by American extremists are growing, a problem laid bare by the deadly Capitol riot on Jan. 6. “We cannot ignore this threat or wish it away,” President Biden wrote in the strategy document. “Preventing domestic terrorism and reducing the factors that fuel it demand a multifaceted response across the federal government and beyond.” Mr. Biden ordered the review of how federal agencies addressed domestic extremism soon after coming into office, part of an effort to acknowledge white supremacists and militia groups as top national security threats. The strategy, which aims to coordinate efforts across the government, outlines four priorities: improving information sharing among law enforcement agencies, preventing recruitment by extremists groups, investigating such groups and confronting the longstanding drivers of domestic terrorism: racism and bigotry. The administration also requested over $100 million in additional funds for the Justice Department to hire prosecutors, investigators and analysts.



As you may have noticed,

our normal Monday coronavirus update is missing. A few weeks ago the N&O shunted their coverage from mainstream news over to a Coronavirus page, and I contemplated discontinuing the update at that time, but I'm also prone to a little, "Don't tell me what to do!" so I kept it going. Here are the current numbers:

At least 1,010,113 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 13,340 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 220 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, down from 362 on Thursday.

At least 475 people were hospitalized with the coronavirus as of Friday, down from 485 the day before.

As of Wednesday — the latest day with available data — 1.9% of coronavirus tests were reported positive.

Unless those numbers begin to spike again, we will likely not be updating the stats on a regular basis.

You can access up-to-date info from the N&O link above or the NCDHHS Covid Dashboard.