Thursday News: Poison pill


SENATE RELIEF BILL STILL CONTAINS ONLINE LEARNING NONSENSE: A sticking point between senators on Wednesday was something that’s not in the House bill: a June 30 deadline for detailed remote instructions plans for the 2020-21 school year. However, that was later resolved with an amendment that extended the deadline until July 20. Still, the entire Senate will have to approve it. All of North Carolina’s public schools have switched to teaching students online since Gov. Roy Cooper ordered school buildings closed on March 14. The school days are generally shorter, with schools saying they have to take into consideration that some families are struggling and not all 1.5 million students have the same internet capabilities for online learning. “A piece of legislation that says we need to prove that online learning gets the same outcomes as in-person learning sets us up for failure,” Angie Scioli, the founder of the Red4EdNC teachers group, said in an interview Wednesday. “If our legislature is so out of touch that they don’t know that, they need to get in touch with teachers.”

GASTON CHAIRMAN IN HOT WATER OVER EFFORT TO REOPEN COUNTY: Gaston County has issued a “clarification” of its so-called back-to-work order stating that Gov. Roy Cooper’s statewide stay-at-home order remains in effect. The governor’s office issued its own statement, calling Gaston County’s action “dangerous” and that it creates “confusion during a public health emergency.” “This order’s only effect is to create confusion during a public health emergency, which is dangerous,” according to a statement from the governor’s office. “The Gaston County order itself says that the statewide Stay At Home order remains in effect, and state leaders urge people to continue following it.” Gaston County leaders backtracked from statements made by Gaston County Commission Chairman Tracy Philbeck that his order to be signed and to take effect Wednesday would allow some Gaston County businesses to re-open. The statewide stay-at-home order issued by Cooper remains enforceable across the state, including Gaston County, say state and county officials.

KRISTEN VS ASHLEY: REOPENNC LEADERSHIP SPLITS OVER EXTREMIST BEHAVIOR: One of the founders of the movement opposing Gov. Roy Cooper’s stay-at-home order has left the group, citing objections to how one of her co-founders acted at Tuesday’s protest. Kristen Cochran posted on her Facebook account Wednesday that she is no longer in the ReOpenNC group after a disagreement with co-founder Ashley Smith. On Tuesday, Smith was one of four people arrested outside the governor’s mansion during ReOpenNC’s third public protest in downtown Raleigh. “This movement has taken a turn that we were not in agreement with,” Cochran wrote in the post. “Ashley acted on her own yesterday with nearly inciting a riot. I have said from the beginning, we are a peaceful action group and I have carried myself that way and protected our group with every fiber of my being.” On Tuesday, Smith was arrested along with three others when they stepped onto the sidewalk outside the governor’s mansion on Blount Street, violating police instructions. They were charged with violation of the executive order and resisting a public officer. The fourth person also was charged with injury to real property.

NC COLLEGE STUDENTS ARE SUING FOR TUITION REIMBURSEMENT: College students in North Carolina are suing universities in hopes of getting reimbursements for tuition and fees after campuses shut down and moved classes online during the coronavirus pandemic. The Raleigh News & Observer reported Tuesday that the institutions that are being sued include schools in the University of North Carolina system. Students say in the lawsuits that universities made the right decision to shutdown classes. But they claim that they were deprived of a college experience that includes in-person instruction, access to campus facilities and student activities. East Carolina University and UNC-Asheville said they are aware of the complaint and declined to comment on pending litigation. UNC System spokesman Josh Ellis and a UNC-Charlotte spokesperson also declined to comment. The UNC System has started to distribute prorated reimbursements for unused housing and dining services.

ANIT-VIRAL DRUG REMDESIVIR SHOWS PROMISE IN TREATMENT OF CORONAVIRUS: The study showed that patients treated with remdesivir were ready to be discharged from the hospital within 11 days, on average, compared with an average of 15 days for patients who had received a placebo. While not a “knockout,” Fauci said that shows an important and promising avenue for further study. “What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus,” Fauci said. Remdesivir can have serious side effects, according to previous trial results, including loss of kidney function and declining blood pressure. Those symptoms are caused by severe cases of covid-19, as well, making it difficult to determine which problems were caused by the drug and which by the illness. The NIAID study is the most rigorous test to date of the potential treatment because it is a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, the gold standard for seeing whether a drug is safe and effective. The study showed only a marginal benefit in the rate of death. Fauci said that a death rate of 8 percent for those taking the drug versus 11 percent for those taking the placebo is not statistically significant but that the results will undergo further analysis.