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Rep. Ray Russell’s April 29th Newsletter on Coronavirus Updates, Announcements and Info

Across the United States, as of Wednesday afternoon, April 29, the number of people who are confirmed to have coronavirus is 1,064,194. We are sure more people have the virus who have not been tested. Sadly, 61,656 people have died from coronavirus. Almost 2200 people died in the past 24 hours.
In North Carolina the number of people who are “laboratory-confirmed” to have coronavirus is 10,818. Currently, 551 people are hospitalized with coronavirus. To date, 381 North Carolinians have died from coronavirus. Coronavirus has been confirmed in all but 2 North Carolina counties. The most disturbing statistic today in North Carolina was a large jump in the number of people hospitalized (88 more).
NC DHHS revised it’s “Dashboard” to track the seven metrics they are following to plan the relaxing of social distancing orders. See https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/public-health/covid19/covid-19-nc-case-count.
Another Watauga County resident tested positive for coronavirus today, bringing the total to 9. See the press release at https://www.apphealthcare.com/confirmed-covid-19-case-for-watauga-county-bringing-total-identified-cases-to-9/. And another Ashe County resident tested positive, bringing the Ashe County total to 5. For more details about this case, see https://www.apphealthcare.com/confirmed-covid-19-case-in-ashe-county-bringing-total-identified-cases-to-5/.
Our prayers are with all these people affected by coronavirus along with their families.
Emergency NC Legislature Bills Differ
Work continued today on emergency coronavirus bills with a number of amendments in committees. Tonight, all the coronavirus emergency bills will be combined into one massive bill so we can take just one vote (in four groups) and still maintain appropriate social distancing.
While important policy issues are addressed in the bill, money will make the bigger news. The State Legislature has $3.5 billion in CARES Act emergency assistance to allocate. No one believes we should spend all the emergency assistance this week (more needs will arise over time). The House Bill contains about $1.7 billion in emergency appropriations.
I will vote for the bill, not because it’s perfect, but North Carolinians need the help! I would prefer the following items be in the bill:
  • An appropriation for the November election in order to tap the Federal money available.
  • More changes to the unemployment system to assist unemployed workers.
  • More help for small business.
  • Medicaid Expansion.
  • Broadband Expansion.
  • More support for public health.
However, House leadership promises that this bill is only the first installment and that another bill with additional appropriations will come soon.
The NC House process has been transparent and bipartisan, and tomorrow’s vote will be overwhelming “for” the bill.
Today, the NC Senate rolled out a less aggressive emergency bill with $300 million less for a hurting North Carolina. While the Senate bill addresses a few items I would like to have seen in the House bill, I believe the Senate bill does NOT include sufficient funding for:
  • Health and Human Services (including testing and research)
  • Public Health Departments
  • Hospitals
  • School Nutrition
  • Additional Medicaid Support
  • Public Schools
The House and Senate bills are far apart. We’ll see if the two chambers come together by Friday. See https://www.wral.com/coronavirus/nc-senate-oks-1-4b-coronavirus-relief-package/19077155/ for a description of the differences.
Looking Toward Fall at App State
We have a long way to go, but the following message from UNC System President Roper was promising:
“I expect to reopen our campuses for the Fall 2020 Semester and look forward to welcoming our faculty and students back to their classrooms and labs this fall. To do so, we are working closely with our chancellors to chart a course forward.”
Domestic Violence Legal Aid Provided Free of Charge
Although many court proceedings across the state have been postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, victims of domestic violence can still access the court remotely to get the assistance they need. Oasis and Legal Aid of North Carolina’s High Country will help victims draft complaints remotely, file them remotely, and when possible attend hearings remotely.
The two organizations are working in conjunction with the courts to provide comprehensive care to victims with their needs. Contact Oasis at 828-262-5035 or Legal Aid at 828-355-4851. Services are free.
Waiting on your unemployment benefits to come through and your landlord is threatening to evict you? Does he or she have the right to do that during the state of emergency? Legal Aid of North Carolina can assist you with counseling and advice for free. Follow the flow chart in the link below to see if you are being treated unfairly. Call Legal Aid at 866-219-5262 or 828-355-4851 for more information. Here’s a helpful chart from Legal Aid if you are facing eviction: https://www.facebook.com/LegalAidNC/photos/a.333612958224/10157238241793225/. Legal Aid services are free.
More Information
If you believe you have symptoms of coronavirus and live in Watauga County:
1) Call AppHealthCare at 828-264-4995 or (828) 795-1970 during regular business hours,
2) Visit https://apprhs.org/covid19-screening/ online and follow screening instructions, or
3) Call your primary care doctor.
If you believe you have symptoms of coronavirus and live in Ashe County call AppHealthCare at 336-246-9449 or call your primary care doctor.
Our public heath office, AppHealthCare, is the primary local source of information about coronavirus. See https://www.apphealthcare.com/covid-19-information/
For more information from our hospitals, see Appalachian Regional’s website at https://apprhs.org/COVID19/ or Ashe Memorial Hospital’s website at https://www.ashememorial.org/ for their updates.
For information specific to North Carolina, the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) provides the latest information on COVID-19 at https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/public-health/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-response-north-carolina. Also, North Carolina coronavirus updates are available by calling 888.892.1162 or by texting COVIDNC to 898211