Wednesday News: Economic lifeline

COOPER LOOSENS RULES FOR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS DURING PANDEMIC: Although drive-thru, takeout and delivery food orders are still available, he said, "I recognize this decision will cost people their jobs." So, the executive order also adjusts rules for jobless benefits: The one-week waiting period for benefits has been suspended. People won't be required to look for another jobs to obtain benefits. Workers who have had their hours cut back can seek benefits. People can apply online or over the phone and don't need an in-person interview. Employers won't be held responsible for anyone seeking benefits because of the outbreak. "These changes are designed to lessen the hit on our economy and workers wallets," Cooper said during a news conference. "We know people want to work and that businesses want to stay open. The reality is that many can't."

DAN FOREST ACCUSED OF SOWING CHAOS BY OPPOSING RESTAURANT CLOSURE: North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper lacks the authority to order bars and restaurants to close down, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest said Tuesday afternoon — quickly drawing the ire of Cooper’s office, which said Forest is wrong. Cooper’s order says he got the council’s approval for a second part of the order making it easier to qualify for unemployment benefits, but that he “reserves the right to act” on his own with regard to the restaurant closure. The order cites several laws as a basis which don’t require others’ prior approval for Cooper to act. “The Governor is taking action to protect the health and safety of North Carolinians and does not need concurrence,” Cooper spokeswoman Sadie Weiner said in a news release. “The Governor and the Secretary of DHHS have the authority to do this under state public health and emergency powers law.” “It’s one thing to disagree, it’s another to create a chaotic situation in the middle of a pandemic,” Weiner said.

CONVICTION OVERTURNED FOR FACEBOOK DEATH THREATS AGAINST DA: A Macon sheriff's detective took screenshots of posts before they were deleted. One that read if “our head prosecutor won’t do anything then the death to her as well" served as the primary basis for the charge against Taylor. In a whole-context review of the posts, Court of Appeals Chief Judge Linda McGee wrote no evidence was presented to support a finding that Taylor “in posting his comments was to cause D.A. Welch to believe defendant was going to kill her.” Proving a “true threat" is required by the First Amendment, based on a 1969 U.S. Supreme Court decision, McGee wrote while offering standards for courts to handle such anti-threat statutes in North Carolina. The ruling directs that Taylor be acquitted. Judge Richard Dietz, who wrote a separate opinion, described Taylor's post as including “political hyperbole” about “his distrust in politicians, the justice system, and the government." Such tirades, Dietz said, used to be limited to “living rooms or pool halls.”

BIDEN EXTENDS LEAD OVER SANDERS AFTER SWEEPING 3 MORE STATES: This was the third consecutive week of voting in which Biden dramatically outperformed Sanders, including 16 of the past 21 contests before Tuesday’s. “Our campaign has had a very good night,” said Biden, speaking briefly Tuesday evening on a live stream from his home in Wilmington, Del. “We moved closer to securing the Democratic Party’s nomination for president. And we’re doing it by building a broad coalition,” he said, pointing to support from minorities and suburban women. In the general election swing state of Florida, the biggest prize of the night, with 219 pledged delegates, Biden was winning more than twice as many voters as Sanders after the vast majority of votes had been counted. He won every county in the state, claiming voters at least 45 years old by 6 to 1, according to a statewide voter poll by Edison Media Research. Sanders won voters younger than 45 by just over 10 percentage points, far too little to overcome Biden’s lead with older voters. In Illinois, with 155 delegates at stake, over 6 in 10 voters said they trusted Biden more than Sanders to handle a major crisis, and nearly 7 in 10 said Biden has the better chance of defeating President Trump in November.

U.S. DEATH TOLL FROM COVID 19 SURPASSES 100, ALL 50 STATES NOW HAVE CASES: At least 100 deaths in the United States have now been linked to the coronavirus, according to a New York Times database that is tracking and mapping every known case in the country as more people are tested. On Tuesday evening, West Virginia became the 50th state to report an infection. The 101 deaths, all announced in the last three weeks, came as the number of known coronavirus cases in the United States soared past 5,600 on Tuesday. Hundreds more are learning they have the illness each day, including more than 800 diagnoses on both Monday and Tuesday, as the nation’s testing capacity has grown significantly and as the virus spreads. About half the country’s reported deaths have been in Washington State, including at least 30 linked to a long-term care facility in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland. Most of those who have died from the virus have been in their 60s or older, and several have been in their 90s. But other patients who died have been younger, including a corrections worker in New York City in his 50s and a man from the Seattle area in his 40s. Stocks fell sharply on Wednesday after a big Tuesday rally on Wall Street, as persistent worries about the world economy overcame hopes for a major stimulus package from Washington.