NC COURTS PUT ON 30-DAY DELAY OVER COVID 19: Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley directed most Superior Court and District Court cases to be pushed back for at least 30 days starting Monday, with some exceptions. Trials and grand juries with jurors already seated will continue as scheduled. Bond and probable cause hearings will still be held, domestic violence protection proceedings won't stop and magistrates will continue to be in place at courthouses across the state to issue warrants, state court leaders said. Beasley said the delays will affect thousands of court cases and likely will lead to backlogs in the months ahead. But she said the pause is needed so the judicial branch can do its part to curb the virus spread.
STATE EMPLOYEES ADVISED TO TELEWORK AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE: “Based on the guidance of public health experts, we encourage all state government employees, temporary employees, and contractors working anywhere in North Carolina to telework to the greatest extent possible starting [March 13],” the email stated. Employees were also told that jobs referred to as “mandatory” or “essential” aren’t conducive to teleworking. “Not all state jobs lend themselves to telework. Mandatory employees, including law enforcement and health professionals, continue to provide essential services while taking necessary steps to limit their exposure to COVID-19,” said Jill Warren Lucas, spokesperson for the Office of State Human Resources. State agencies have been encouraged to be “as flexible as possible in supporting employees in both alternate work arrangements and taking leave where necessary,” she said. The OSHR updates its FAQs for state employees at oshr.nc.gov/coronavirus.
PRIMARY ELECTION CONTINUES IN SPITE OF CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK: Elections officials in the four states holding presidential primaries next week say they have no plans to postpone voting amid widespread disruptions caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Instead, they are taking extraordinary steps to ensure that voters can cast ballots and polling places are clean. They have been scrambling to recruit replacements for poll workers dropping out over fears of contracting the virus, providing cotton swabs for voters to use on touchscreen machines and extending absentee voting deadlines. Only one state, Louisiana, announced plans to postpone its primary, from April to June. The top elections officials from the four states — Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio — said in a joint statement that the vote will go on Tuesday, saying they were confident the elections would be secure and safe. They encouraged healthy poll workers to show up.
TRUMP IS STILL SHAKING HANDS EVEN AFTER DIRECT CONTACT WITH INFECTED PERSON: President Trump said Friday that he has not yet been tested for the novel coronavirus, even as three people who were with him at the Mar-a-Lago Club last weekend have now tested positive. Trump said he would be tested “fairly soon. We’re working on that. We’re working out a schedule.” Trump also said he will not self-quarantine, as members of Congress and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have chosen to do after known exposures. “No. We have no symptoms whatsoever,” Trump said. In his case, Trump suggested the risk of exposure from a Brazilian official was low, even though the two had posed for a photo together. Trump said he had posed for so many photos, and shaken so many hands, that he did not remember the man. “I take pictures and it lasts for literally seconds. I don’t know the gentleman that we’re talking about. I have no idea who he is,” Trump said. “I take sometimes hundreds of pictures a day and that night, I was taking hundreds of pictures. So, I just don’t know.”
U.S. HOUSE PASSES COVID 19 RELIEF BILL, DOES NOT INCLUDE TRUMP'S PAYROLL TAX CUT: The relief deal, whose cost is unclear, would allow for two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of family and medical leave for those affected by the crisis. It provides tax credits to help small- and medium-size businesses finance the new benefit. It does not include the payroll tax suspension that Mr. Trump wants. Any such suspension could cost more than $800 billion and would not provide help to workers who lose their jobs or stop drawing salaries in the outbreak. The House voted overwhelmingly to approve the aid bill, which was unveiled minutes before midnight and passed 363 to 40 at 12:53 a.m. Saturday. Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, the chamber’s lone independent, voted present. The bill includes enhanced unemployment benefits, free virus testing and additional funds for food assistance and Medicaid. Senators, who left Washington for the weekend on Thursday, are expected to take up the measure when they return next week. Mr. Trump has signed off on it.