Monday News: Two thousand, six hundred ninety two


NC COVID 19 CASES SURPASS 166,000, LESS THAN 1,000 HOSPITALIZED: At least 166,127 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 2,692 have died, according to state health officials. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Sunday reported 1,051 new COVID-19 cases, down from 2,585 the day before. The health department said the Saturday’s new cases included about 1,000 positive tests from early August that LabCorp had just reported. As of Saturday, the latest date available, health officials said nearly 9% of tests were positive. State health officials have said that number should be 5% or lower. At least 917 people in North Carolina were reported hospitalized with COVID-19 on Sunday, down from 965 on Saturday.

LEGISLATIVE REPUBLICANS PLAN TO ADD A MEAGER $50 PER WEEK TO UNEMPLOYMENT CHECKS: Legislative leaders in the House and the Senate said Friday that they back plans for an across-the-board increase of $50 a week in unemployment benefits in North Carolina. Lawmakers return to Raleigh next Wednesday for a brief session in which they expect to dole out more of the pandemic relief money the federal government sent to the state several months ago through the CARES Act. North Carolina has some of the lowest jobless benefits in the nation, capping the maximum benefit at $350 a week for up to 12 weeks. Gov. Roy Cooper this week called on lawmakers to raise the maximum to $500 and extend benefits to 24 weeks. Republican lawmakers said that, rather than simply raising the top-end benefit, they would put an extra $50 into everyone's weekly unemployment check.

PENCE, TILLIS, AND FOREST WILL ATTEND NC ANTI-ABORTION RALLY SEP. 3: Vice President Mike Pence will visit Raleigh on Sept. 3 to take part in an anti-abortion event, visit a pregnancy center and speak before a supportive police officers’ group. The Susan B. Anthony List is hosting the anti-abortion event that will take place a day before mail-in absentee ballots are sent out in North Carolina. It is part of a part of a multi-state tour Pence is headlining with the organization. “Life is winning across the nation,” SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser, a North Carolina native, said in a statement. “Communities across North Carolina are working hard to build up pro-life resources to provide for the needs of mothers and their children.” Pence will visit the Gateway Women’s Care Center and then participate in the “Life WINS!” event at Christ Baptist Church in Raleigh. Republican U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis and Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest are also expected to the anti-abortion event. Tillis is running for re-election, and Forest is running for governor.

GOVERNOR COOPER TAKES GOP LEADERS TO (NC) SUPREME COURT OVER FEDERAL GRANT SPENDING: The state Supreme Court scheduled arguments on Monday from lawyers for Cooper and GOP legislative leaders in Cooper's lawsuit challenging how federal block grant money is spent. At issue is $17 million contained in the 2017 state budget law. The legislature decided to spend those federal dollars differently than how Cooper wanted to use them. A Court of Appeals panel ruled last year that the General Assembly controlled the money because it resided within the “state treasury." But Cooper says the federal grants aren't state dollars, and it's the governor's duty to ensure they're spent in a manner dictated by Congress. Cooper has sued over several legislative actions, with some happening even before he took office in early 2017. The litigation results have been mixed for Cooper.

RECOVERED CORONAVIRUS PATIENTS ARE DISPLAYING B-CELL/T-CELL IMMUNE RESPONSE TO VIRUS: Scientists who have been monitoring immune responses to the virus are now starting to see encouraging signs of strong, lasting immunity, even in people who developed only mild symptoms of Covid-19, a flurry of new studies suggests. Disease-fighting antibodies, as well as immune cells called B cells and T cells that are capable of recognizing the virus, appear to persist months after infections have resolved — an encouraging echo of the body’s enduring response to other viruses. “Things are really working as they’re supposed to,” said Deepta Bhattacharya, an immunologist at the University of Arizona and an author on one of the new studies, which has not yet been peer-reviewed. Although researchers cannot forecast how long these immune responses will last, many experts consider the data a welcome indication that the body’s most studious cells are doing their job — and will have a good chance of fending off the coronavirus, faster and more fervently than before, if exposed to it again. Researchers have yet to find unambiguous evidence that coronavirus reinfections are occurring, especially within the few months that the virus has been rippling through the human population. The prospect of immune memory “helps to explain that,” Dr. Pepper said. In discussions about immune responses to the coronavirus, much of the conversation has focused on antibodies — Y-shaped proteins that can latch onto the surfaces of pathogens and block them from infecting cells. But antibodies represent just one wing of a complex and coordinated squadron of immune soldiers, each with their own unique modes of attack. Viruses that have already invaded cells, for instance, are cloaked from antibodies, but are still vulnerable to killer T cells, which force infected cells to self-destruct. Another set of T cells, nicknamed “helpers,” can coax B cells to mature into antibody-making machines.