Wednesday News: Tell Gerry what you think


PUBLIC HEARINGS COMMENCE ON REDISTRICTING PROCESS: Wednesday: Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, 6 p.m. Sept. 14: Forsyth Technical Community College, 4 p.m. Sept. 14: Elizabeth City State University, 5 p.m. Sept. 15: Nash Community College, 5 p.m. Sept. 15: Durham Technical Community College, 6 p.m. Sept. 16: Pitt Community College, 3 p.m. Sept. 16: Alamance Community College, 5 p.m. Sept. 21: Western Carolina University, 5 p.m. Sept. 22: Central Piedmont Community College, 3 p.m. Sept. 23: Mitchell Community College (Iredell County campus), 3 p.m. Sept. 28: UNC-Pembroke, 4 p.m. Sept. 29: UNC-Wilmington, 5 p.m. Sept. 30: Fayetteville Technical Community College, 6 p.m. Those who can’t make it in person can go online to the legislature’s redistricting page and leave a written comment instead.

WESTERN NC LATINO COMMUNITIES WILL HAVE MORE COVID RESOURCES THANKS TO GRANT: The Asheville Citizen-Times reported Monday that Hola Carolina has received a $308,000 grant. The grant was awarded by the Winston-Salem-based Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. The goal of the grant is to improve the dissemination of information about COVID-19 and expand access to virus-related health resources. The area's immigrant communities have been been gravely and disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services says that 8% of North Carolinians who have died from COVID-19 have been Hispanic. “Health equity is when all members of society enjoy a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible,” Hola Carolina Executive Director Adriana Chavela said. If you're not aware, the Trust has done some amazing things, and not just in the Triad. Angels among us.

DON'T MESS WITH JOANN: As the leader of a rural North Carolina hospital, Joann Anderson has spent the past 18 months figuring out how to best care for patients sick with COVID-19. Just when she thought the coronavirus pandemic had leveled off this summer, offering a glimmer of hope for a new and calmer kind of normal, a surge in cases began to overwhelm UNC Health Southeastern in Robeson County. Now Anderson is mad, and she’s letting everybody know about it. “I don’t use words like ‘infuriated’ or ‘frustrated,’” said Anderson, president and CEO of the hospital in Lumberton in southeastern North Carolina. “That’s not my norm. But I am about this situation.” Fueled by desperation, an exhausted staff and her upcoming retirement, Anderson has emerged among the state’s health care leaders as a Facebook-posting, say-it-how-it-is advocate for COVID vaccines and a fighter against misinformation, conspiracy theories and political divides. “There’s no chip,” Anderson said. “I don’t know how you’d even get a chip in there. The needle is teeny-tiny. There’s no chip there.” She shouldn't have to say that, but here we are.

MEXICO FLIPS THE BIRD TO TEXAS, MAKES ABORTION LEGAL: Mexico’s supreme court voted unanimously on Tuesday to decriminalize abortion, a striking step in a country with one of the world’s largest Catholic populations and a move that contrasts sharply with tighter restrictions introduced across the border in Texas. Eight of the 11 supreme court judges had expressed support for decriminalization in arguments that began Monday, making the decision virtually inevitable. The vote comes as a powerful women’s movement is transforming Mexico, where female politicians now make up half of Congress. While abortion remains illegal in most of Latin America, there has been a surge in demonstrations demanding more rights for women, particularly focused on rising violence. “This will not only have an impact in Mexico; it will set the agenda for the entire Latin American region,” said Melissa Ayala, coordinator of litigation for the Mexican feminist organization GIRE. She called the ruling “a historic moment for feminists and activists” who have pressed for women’s rights for years in Mexico’s state legislatures, health ministries and law schools. Four of Mexico’s 32 federal entities have broadly legalized the procedure — Oaxaca, Veracruz, Hidalgo and Mexico City.

PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS EXPIRE, PROBABLY WON'T BE CONTINUED: The federal pandemic unemployment benefits program expired yesterday, leaving more than 7 million people in the U.S. without any jobless benefits as the nation grapples with the coronavirus's delta variant. Democrats have been relatively quiet on the issue — and not a single state appears likely to extend jobless benefits using leftover state aid from President Biden's earlier stimulus bill in March — despite growing concern about the benefits lapse while the delta variant continues to severely impact the country's economic recovery. Biden administration officials have been at odds over the consequences of allowing the benefits to expire, our colleague Jeff Stein reported last week. And there has so far been little traction to include these unemployment reforms in the $3.5 trillion budget bill that House Democrats are scrambling to write by the Sept. 27 deadline set by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) last month. By the numbers: “The Labor Department says there are still 5.7 million fewer jobs than before the pandemic. Yet the department also estimated, last month, that there were roughly 10 million job openings,” the Associated Press's Ken Sweet reports. “These benefits are also ending sooner than during the previous crisis, the Great Recession. In that downturn, jobless benefits in various forms were extended from the start of the recession in 2008-2009 all the way until 2013. When those benefits finally ended, just 1.3 million people were still receiving aid.”