Tuesday News: Spiking the Curve


NC FATALITIES ASSOCIATED WITH COVID 19 SURPASS 1,000: At least 36,516 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 1,041 have died, according to state and county health departments. On Monday, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported an additional 938 cases of the virus, up from 921 reported Sunday. The state was averaging about 1,000 daily cases over the last seven days as of Monday, the highest seven-day rolling average reported so far. State health officials on Monday reported completing about 8,800 new COVID-19 tests for a total of 520,113, about 10% of which have come back positive. At least 739 North Carolinians were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Monday — an all-time daily high since the start of the pandemic. The previous record was 717 hospitalizations reported on Friday.

SECOND CHANCE ACT FINALLY SEEING SOME MOVEMENT IN NC HOUSE: A long-delayed bill to make it easier for young people to expunge nonviolent criminal records will get a hearing Tuesday in a key N.C. House Committee. The Second Chance Act, one of several criminal justice reforms proposed here in recent years, passed the N.C. Senate unanimously in May of 2019. In the months that followed, the bill went to the House floor several times, but it never got a vote. It's been sitting without action in the House Rules Committee since August of 2019. Democrats on that committee called on the Republican majority Monday to hear the bill today when Rules meets at 4 p.m. "The Second Chance Act is an important piece of legislation to improve North Carolina's expunction laws," Democrats said in their email. "Its passage would be but one small step to address racism, but we need to start somewhere, and the Second Chance Act is a good place to start."

AFRICAN-AMERICAN MONUMENT ON CAPITAL GROUNDS A VICTIM OF BUDGET STANDOFF: The 2019 state budget had included $2.5 million for a monument to African-Americans in North Carolina on the Capitol grounds, plus $1.5 million for a sculpture garden between the legislature and governor’s mansion dedicated to “the enduring roles of African-Americans in the struggle for freedom in this State.” Both Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and Republican lawmakers had supported that proposal. According to the state’s most recent report, the target audience for the Capitol monument was to be school children, as they are a major segment of Capitol visitors. But due to Cooper’s veto of the budget over other policy disagreements with state legislators, that funding never materialized. And while bill filing has ended for the remainder of 2020 in the N.C. General Assembly, lawmakers can still amend existing bills to add new provisions. That does not appear to have happened yet for any renewed attempts to fund the monument or garden, however, meaning it’s likely stalled for at least another year.

DEM SENATORS CALL FOR INVESTIGATION OF TRUMP'S "PROJECT AIRBRIDGE," PRIVATE COMPANIES IMPORTING EMERGENCY SUPPLIES: The Trump administration has said it created the initiative — called Project Airbridge — to ease crippling shortages of personal protective equipment, or PPE. Under the arrangement, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has spent approximately $154 million to fly supplies secured by the six companies from overseas into the United States. In exchange, FEMA has required that half of the Airbridge-transported supplies be sold to the companies’ customers in coronavirus hot spots. The companies have been allowed to sell the rest at their discretion. The arrangement — which has funded 205 flights, with an additional 40 scheduled or in transit — drew scrutiny and criticism from federal and state lawmakers, who said it lacked oversight and sapped taxpayer dollars while allowing market forces to dictate distribution of much-needed supplies. In April, Warren and Blumenthal requested information from the six companies involved in the project: Cardinal Health, Concordance Healthcare Solutions, Henry Schein, McKesson, Medline and Owens & Minor. In response to the senators’ inquiry, McKesson wrote that it had instructed its sales team to “price products fairly” and directed that employees “not raise prices without reason.” Medline, meanwhile, wrote that it had “no knowledge” of how the government enforced the pricing requirement. Of the six companies, only Concordance provided details to the senators of where it had delivered products, according to the documents reviewed by The Post.

BIDEN OPENS STRONG LEAD OVER TRUMP IN RECENT POLLING: Mr. Trump didn’t just lose support to the undecided column; Mr. Biden ticked up to an average of 37 percent among white voters without a degree. The figure would be enough to assure Mr. Biden the presidency, given his considerable strength among white college graduates. In the most recent polls, white college graduates back Mr. Biden by a 20-point margin, up four points since the spring. It’s also an eight-point improvement for the Democratic nominee since 2016, and a 26-point improvement since 2012. Mr. Biden has also made some progress toward redressing his weakness among younger voters. Voters ages 18 to 34 now back Mr. Biden by a 22-point margin, up six points from the spring and now somewhat ahead of Hillary Clinton’s lead in the final polls of 2016. Young voters will probably never be a strength for Mr. Biden — a septuagenarian who promised a return to normal, rather than fundamental change during the Democratic primary — but for now his margin is not so small as to constitute a grave threat to his prospects. Remarkably, Mr. Biden still leads by seven points among voters 65 and over in the most recent surveys, despite the kind of racial unrest that led many of these voters to support Republican candidates at various points in their lifetimes. It should be noted that Mr. Biden’s lead among older voters is somewhat narrower than it was a few months ago, either reflecting the statistical noise of small sample sizes or reflecting the toll of recent events. Yet it is still a commanding strength for Mr. Biden compared with Mrs. Clinton’s five-point deficit among this group four years ago.