Monday News: Twelve thousand, six hundred fifty one


OVER 40% OF NORTH CAROLINIANS ARE FULLY VACCINATED: At least 969,752 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus, and 12,651 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 2,231 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, up from 1,985 reported the day before. At least 1,101 people were hospitalized with the coronavirus as of Friday, down from 1,137 reported on Thursday. As of Wednesday, the latest day for which data is available, 4.8% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. Nearly half of adults in North Carolina, or 49.2%, have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. At least 40.5% are now fully vaccinated.

NC HOUSE BILL WOULD CREATE DATABASE TO TRACK POLICE MISCONDUCT: Lawmakers in more than 20 states have considered bills this year to make the disciplinary records of police officers public or to share them with other agencies, a push that comes amid high-profile deaths at the hands of law enforcement. In North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature, lawmakers want to create a confidential database from which law enforcement agencies in the state can track all disciplinary actions to prevent officers from hiding past problems when looking for a new job. “We enable agencies to better screen individuals ... so that we can weed out who the bad apples are,” said Republican state Sen. Danny Britt. Under an expansive police reform bill Britt is sponsoring, authorities also would track all use of force by officers resulting in serious injury or death. And the legislation would create an “early warning system” to collect data on citizens' complaints and any transgressions with the aim of correcting an officer's behavior before it leads to a deadly outcome.

STUDY SHOWS BLACK STUDENTS SUSPENDED AT A MUCH HIGHER RATE THAN WHITES: A Times-News analysis of school disciplinary data shows that from 2015 to 2019, Black students, particularly Black female students, were significantly more likely than their white counterparts to receive short-term suspensions in the Alamance-Burlington School System. Black males received more short-term suspensions than any other group, male or female, in terms of raw numbers. They were more than twice as likely as white males to receive short-term suspensions. Black females were disciplined at four times the rate of white females, and in one year that ratio was almost five times the rate of their white peers, according to our analysis of short-term suspensions. “The problem here is that racism is weaved into the fabric of American society in such a way that it is sometimes very obvious and sometimes it is very subtle,” says Brown, who wasn’t surprised by the findings. "We've got a history in this country of systemic racism that we have never fully addressed.” Seneca Rogers, a former Alamance-Burlington school board candidate, blames a lack of diversity in the school system as one of the main reasons these disparities persist. “If our school system can get intensive on the fact of going after a more diverse school system, staff, teachers, principals, counselors, just all that across the board, I feel like that starts to make a difference,” says Rogers.

MODERN-DAY SLAVE MASTER FORCED TO PAY MORE TO THE BLACK MAN HE ABUSED: A Black man with intellectual disabilities who was enslaved for five years at a restaurant in Conway, S.C., should be awarded double the amount of restitution from the White man now imprisoned for the crime, according to a recent court ruling. As part of his 2019 guilty plea to a forced labor charge, Bobby Paul Edwards, 56, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered by a court to pay back John Christopher Smith $273,000 in unpaid wages and overtime compensation at J&J Cafeteria. The Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled on April 21 that the previous amount decided by a district court “had erred” in not accounting for federal labor laws entitling him to $546,000, or double the amount he was owed from his imprisonment between 2009 and 2014. Through physical violence, threats and intimidation, Edwards coerced Smith, 43, into working more than 100 hours per week without pay, The Washington Post reported. Smith was forced to work more than 100 hours each week without pay and no days off as Edwards took advantage of the Black man’s mild cognitive disability, court records state. Edwards’s “reign of terror” included keeping Smith isolated from his family, threatening to have him arrested and calling him racial slurs. He was whipped with belts and kitchen pans and punched multiple times by Edwards, court records state. One of the more heinous alleged acts of brutality came when Edwards thought Smith didn’t deliver fried chicken to the buffet as quickly as he demanded. In response, Edwards dipped metal tongs into hot grease and pressed them into Smith’s neck, according to court records.

U.S. SENATE REINSTATES METHANE RULE THAT TRUMP TRIED TO WIPE OUT: The Senate voted on Wednesday to effectively reinstate an Obama-era regulation designed to clamp down on emissions of methane, a powerful, climate-warming pollutant that will have to be controlled to meet President Biden’s ambitious climate change promises. Taking a page from congressional Republicans who in 2017 made liberal use of a once-obscure law to roll back Obama-era regulations, Democrats invoked the law to turn back a Trump methane rule enacted late last summer. That rule had eliminated Obama-era controls on leaks of methane, which seeps from oil and gas wells. The 52-42 vote was the first time congressional Democrats have used the law, called the Congressional Review Act, which prohibits Senate filibusters and ensures one administration’s last-minute regulations can be swiftly overturned with a simple majority vote in both chambers of Congress. Three Republican senators — Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Rob Portman of Ohio — joined Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents to vote for the measure. Passage of the measure in the House next month is considered pro forma, as is Mr. Biden’s signature. And with Donald J. Trump’s regulation out of the way, the Obama methane rule would go back into force. That rule, released in 2016, had imposed the first federal limits on methane leaks from oil and gas wells, requiring companies to monitor, plug and capture leaks of methane from new drilling sites. Mr. Biden has vowed to place climate change at the top of his agenda. He rejoined the Paris climate change agreement, assigned his cabinet heads to enact climate-friendly policies across the government, and included hundreds of billions of dollars in spending on renewable energy projects in an infrastructure package pending before Congress. Last week, Mr. Biden announced at a global climate summit that the United States would cut its greenhouse emissions by 50 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.