REP. ALMA ADAMS SAYS PANDEMIC RESPONSE WOULD BE BETTER WITHOUT TRUMP: “I’m getting to the age where I don’t have time to mince words: If the Senate had removed President Trump in January, I believe our country’s response would have been swifter, more competent, and would have saved lives. President Trump has demonstrated that he’s incapable of leading the country during a crisis, and his inaction has cost lives,” Adams, 73, said in an emailed response to a series of emailed questions about the coronavirus and Congress’ response. Trump enjoyed a bounce in the polls for his response, which include daily on-camera press conferences from the White House. Several surveys showed more Americans approved than disapproved of his handling. However, a Wednesday poll from Politico/Morning Consult had some poor numbers for Trump. The poll found that 61% of registered voters think Trump was not prepared for the outbreak. The poll found 47% percent of voters feel the administration is not doing enough compared to 40% who think it is.
CAFETERIA WORKER IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID 19: State legislative members and staffers were alerted Wednesday afternoon that a legislative cafeteria worker has tested positive for coronavirus. The message from Legislative Services Director Paul Coble does not identify the worker. "A member of the cafeteria staff was immediately sent home last Thursday morning after showing signs of illness. The employee received the positive test results today," Coble said in the email. "That employee, and those working with her, have been placed on leave and advised to self-quarantine for the time period established by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS)." It's unclear why the restaurants had not already made that move. On March 17, Gov. Roy Cooper ordered restaurants and bars across the state to stop offering dine-in service. Most legislators have not been in the building since before the primary elections on March 3. All legislative staff who could work from home were asked to do so beginning March 16. No legislative meetings have been held in either building since.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY DEPUTY DIES FROM CORONAVIRUS EXPOSURE: A North Carolina deputy died while hospitalized in intensive care for treatment of the coronavirus, a county sheriff said Wednesday. Montgomery County Sheriff Chris Watkins said in a news release that Deputy Sypraseuth "Bud" Phouangphrachanh died Tuesday night at a hospital in Pinehurst. The 43-year-old deputy, who was married with five children, had experienced what he thought were allergy symptoms but later tested positive for COVID-19 and was admitted Monday to the hospital. Phouangphrachanh served as a school resource officer and had been with the sheriff's office for 14 years in the rural county east of Charlotte known for the Uwharrie National Forest. The governor had ordered schools closed on March 16, but the sheriff said in a statement that Phouangphrachanh served multiple roles within the department. It wasn't clear whether the deputy contracted the virus while on duty. The sheriff said in an email that he didn't have any information indicating when and how the deputy was exposed to COVID-19.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI GETS SECURITY DETAIL AFTER RIGHT-WING NUTTERS TARGET HIM: Fauci has become a public target for some right-wing commentators and bloggers, who exercise influence over parts of the president’s base. As they press for the president to ease restrictions to reinvigorate economic activity, some of these figures have assailed Fauci and questioned his expertise. Last month, an article depicting him as an agent of the “deep state” gained nearly 25,000 interactions on Facebook — meaning likes, comments and shares — as it was posted to large pro-Trump groups with titles such as “Trump Strong” and “Tampa Bay Trump Club.” Asked Wednesday whether he was receiving security protection, Fauci told reporters, “I would have to refer you to HHS [inspector general] on that. I wouldn’t comment.” The president interjected, saying, “He doesn’t need security. Everybody loves him.” Fauci has also given several interviews in which he has tempered praise for the president with doubts about his pronouncements, including about the viability of anti-malarial drugs as a treatment for the novel coronavirus. Most notably, he told the journal Science that he attempts to guide Trump’s statements but “can’t jump in front of the microphone and push him down.”
TEXAS SPRING-BREAKERS ARE NOW A CORONAVIRUS CLUSTER OF 44: Two weeks ago, amid the coronavirus pandemic, about 70 students from the University of Texas at Austin partied in Mexico on spring break. The students, all in their 20s, flew on a chartered plane to Cabo San Lucas, and some returned on separate commercial flights to Texas. Now, 44 of them have tested positive for the virus and are self-isolating. More students were monitored and tested on Wednesday, university officials said, after 28 initial positive tests. The Austin outbreak is the latest to result from a group of college students who ignored social-distancing guidelines, went on traditional spring break trips and have now tested positive for the coronavirus. Many of them appeared to be under the mistaken impression that young people are not as likely to get the coronavirus as older people are. Students at the University of Tampa, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and other colleges have tested positive after returning from spring break trips to Florida, Alabama, Tennessee and elsewhere. The state’s flagship university has been hit hard by the virus. Its president, Gregory L. Fenves, announced last month that his wife had tested positive, and that his family was self-isolating. Mr. Fenves’s wife, Carmel, began exhibiting flulike symptoms after the couple traveled to New York City for events with alumni and students. Mr. Fenves’s tests later came back negative. The group of roughly 70 students departed from the Austin airport on March 14 and many of them returned on March 19. The trip was organized by a company called JusCollege, which bills itself as a “one-stop shop” for spring break and college-oriented trips.