VETO OVERRIDE VOTES FAIL IN BOTH HOUSE AND SENATE: In yet another attempt to scale back North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s coronavirus executive order that has kept some businesses shuttered, the General Assembly voted on two bills Wednesday to open gyms and skating rinks in the state. Both votes, one in the state House and one in the state Senate, failed to override Cooper’s vetoes of the bills. The House also voted on whether to override Cooper’s veto of two other bills. One would allow those with concealed carry permits to carry guns in private schools where people meet for worship. The other would have prevented the governor or local governments from prohibiting fireworks displays and parades to celebrate the Fourth of July. The House failed to override Cooper’s veto of either.
NC SENATE FAILS TO ACT ON ABUSIVE DEBT COLLECTORS: A top Marine Corps leader at Camp Lejeune asked state lawmakers Wednesday to crack down on the debt settlement industry in North Carolina by passing a bill that stalled last month in the Senate. The push wasn't enough. Lawmakers adjourned Wednesday afternoon without the Senate taking the measure up despite widespread support in the N.C. House. They'll return in early September. Camp Lejeune Chief of Staff Nicholas E. Davis had told legislators that Marines and their families would benefit "greatly" from the bill, which would protect them "from the abusive practices of debt settlement companies." "Some of these abusive practices fail to reduce debt obligations and leave borrowers in worse conditions with loans in default, tax bills and creditor lawsuits and judgments," Davis wrote, in a letter dated Wednesday. "In some cases, these companies steer victims into high-cost debt consolidation loans."
NC'S INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS WORRY ABOUT NEW VISA POLICY: “We are already the minority,” Wang said. “I think the fact that this is coming out just tells us that we are more unwelcome than we thought we were.” Students currently in the U.S. and enrolled in online-only programs, as Harvard University recently announced, must either leave the country or transfer to a school that offers in-person instruction. Duke President Vincent Price said the university is “deeply concerned” about the new policy. He said it will limit the ability of qualified students and scholars to begin or continue their studies in the U.S., including the thousands of international students who study at Duke each year. “This is a misguided effort that will only harm talented young people and the colleges and universities that are vital to our society,” Price said in a statement. “As a rising senior, I really want to graduate,” Guenther said. “I just don’t want my progress on my courses to be impacted by that.” But Guenther said going to class is the only option for her to stay in the United States and maintain her visa status. If N.C. State switches to online courses, she’d be forced to go back to Brazil within 10 days of that announcement.
TARHEEL FOOTBALL WORKOUTS PUT ON HOLD DUE TO COVID 19 OUTBREAK: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced Wednesday that its football team is pausing voluntary workouts due to a COVID-19 outbreak identified this week. Since UNC student-athletes, coaches and Department of Athletics staff began their phased return to campus last month, Campus Health and UNC Hospitals have initiated 429 tests to that group, a school news release said. Of those tested, 37 were positive for COVID-19. The Orange County Health Department has identified a cluster, defined as five or more related cases, the release said. As a result, the football program “will pause voluntary workouts for at least a week and will resume at a date to be determined,” the release said. Workouts, per NCAA rules, are led by student-athletes and coaches are not present. According to university protocol, student-athletes who test positive for COVID-19 will be required to isolate for up to 14 days in a campus residence hall specified by the school, or at their permanent residence.
AS VIRUS SURGES, PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT IS (ONCE AGAIN) HARD TO FIND, AND EXPENSIVE: Health-care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic are encountering shortages of masks, gowns, face shields and gloves — a frustrating recurrence of a struggle that haunted the first months of the crisis. Nurses say they are reusing N95 masks for days and even weeks at a time. Doctors say they can’t reopen offices because they lack personal protective equipment. State officials say they have scoured U.S. and international suppliers for PPE and struggle to get orders filled. Experts worry the problem could worsen as coronavirus infections climb, straining medical systems. “A lot people thought once the alarm was sounded back in March surely the federal government would fix this, but that hasn’t happened,” said Deborah Burger, a California nurse and president of National Nurses United, a union representing registered nurses. Like many health-care workers, Burger blamed the Trump administration for the lack of equipment, noting the administration has insisted the responsibility falls to state and local officials, with the federal government playing only a supporting role. As many states continue to reopen their economies, demand has also surged from the construction industry and other sectors. With soaring demand, prices have skyrocketed. Some hospitals say much of the PPE they have acquired has been exorbitantly priced. At a legislative hearing, a hospital association executive detailed how one Maryland hospital that spent $600,000 on PPE last year expects to spend $10 million this year. The struggles have been especially acute for smaller and rural providers that can’t compete with bigger health systems on price and large-scale orders, experts say.