Vecinos evolves to bring its service to migrant workers during COVID. (Aug. 5)

The Sylva Herald, By Beth Lawrence

Vecinos, a nonprofit dedicated to meeting healthcare and other needs of Western North Carolina’s farmworkers, has had to change the way it delivers its services amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The biggest impact to Vecinos has been the change in how it provides medical services, said Marianne Martinez, the group’s executive director. The organization previously hosted a free health clinic on the campus of Western Carolina University. When the campus closed the clinic was forced to close.

“I guess our last clinic was at the end of March, so we started right away offering telehealth,” Martinez said. “Since then about 99 percent of what we’ve done as far as medical stuff has been telehealth. We transitioned really quickly and have tried to keep that up to keep the contacts low in our population since it’s such a vulnerable population.”

Telemedicine itself presented a unique set of challenges. Clients sometimes do not have internet or smart phones to video chat, and cellular and internet service can be spotty, rendering video calls nearly impossible. After recent changes in formerly strict telehealth policies, visits are now allowed to take place by phone call.

However, some clients must be seen in person. When that happened early on, visits took place at Vecinos medical director’s office. A tent was set up outside, and providers wore full personal protective equipment.

The organization recently began offering clinic visits again albeit in an adapted fashion. Staff set up an outdoor health center under tents in Jackson County Department of Public Health’s parking lot after hours to see patients.

“We just had our first in-person clinic a week and a half ago,” Martinez said. “It’s just like an outreach clinic. It’s not very different than what we do for our migrant workers.”

Early on, Vecinos outreach team picked up, to some extent, where the clinic left off when it closed. They began visiting each migrant camp in the area.

“(They) gave health education and handed out hand sanitizer, facemasks and did check-ins,” Martinez said.

Martinez and her outreach coordinator spoke to farmers in the region to assess plans to protect their employees and themselves, gauge their needs and offer assistance.

An outbreak among migrant workers in Macon County in July allowed the organization to fine tune its response to the disease in a congregate living area.

“We worked really close with the grower to get everybody tested,” she said. “When you’re quarantined you can’t go to the grocery store or go out and do your own thing, so our team mobilized to get them groceries and get them all kinds of stuff. We did daily check-in calls either with outreach workers or the medical providers to make sure (exposed workers) were healthy and not having symptoms.”

Migrant workers are often deeply affected by reduced hours, unemployment or wages lost due to sickness. Vecinos raised funds to help with rent, utilities and food.

“A lot of these folks are in the frontline jobs where if you don’t work you don’t get paid, or it’s high exposure, hard to wear masks or they don’t have the resources available to them,” she said.

The group raised nearly $40,000 to meet the immediate needs of approximately 75 families.

The nonprofit also created a COVID Community Health Worker team to coordinate with community partners.

“They have three charges,” Martinez said. “The first charge is resource distribution. They’re doing these mask and hand sanitizer distribution events at different places. The second charge is to work with businesses and individuals to give out health education, going around to different businesses helping them make sure they have masks helping them make sure they have the right signage, going to different communities or worksites talking to different people.”

The team reaches out to businesses with a large Hispanic workforce.

The third goal is increasing the availability of tests for the Hispanic community. 

Like most everywhere else, that is a work in progress, Martinez said.

What’s ahead for WCU as fall semester begins with COVID-19 on the horizon. (Aug. 5)

The Sylva Herald

Editor’s note: The Herald submitted a series of questions to Western Carolina University leadership regarding the opening of the school year amid the coronavirus pandemic. Below are answers from various campus leaders. The Herald thanks Chief Communications Officer Bill Studenc for his legwork in getting the responses.

SAM MILLER, vice chancellor for student affairs:

Earlier this month, a group of current and emeritus faculty from across the UNC system sent a letter to top UNC System leadership and the UNC Board of Governors, urging them to join other university systems in making online instruction the default for the coming fall semester as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. The letter said “current student housing plans put our dormitories in the Center for Disease Control’s ‘highest risk’ category for spreading the virus.” What steps are being taken to ameliorate that risk?

At WCU, the residence halls will be opening with fewer students living on campus this year, and with the common areas, such as kitchens and study rooms, being off line. We’re also implementing new limits on residence hall visitation to try to limit the spread of COVID-19. Residential Living information is posted at the fall 2020 operations and procedures website linked on WCU’s main page or at this direct link: https://www.wcu.edu/operations-procedures/move-in.aspx.

What if school opens and then shuts down? What happens to students in dorms who have no other place to stay?

Earlier this year, WCU provided housing and food services to several hundred students when classes shifted to online. In March 2020, WCU made an application process available for students to apply to remain on-campus. A committee reviewed the applications and allowed students to stay on campus as approved on a case-by-case basis. While we can’t offer any guarantees about the future, WCU might use a similar process depending on the circumstances.

What’s the status of the dining halls and takeout venues?

Catamount Dining will offer take-out only service at all venues with limited seating available. The conference center space of Blue Ridge Hall will also be made available as a seating area where students can eat. Details about Catamount Dining information are posted at the fall 2020 operations and procedures website linked on WCU’s main page or at this direct link: https://www.wcu.edu/operations-procedures/campus-dining.aspx

Will widespread testing be available for students? What’s the turnaround time on tests?

WCU’s Health Services clinic is available to students and offers COVID-19 testing. Testing is not available on demand at WCU Health Services. Tests are administered based on screening guidelines. Individuals concerned they have been exposed to COVID-19 should follow CDC guidelines and call WCU Health Services to discuss symptoms and concerns with a health care provider to determine the need for testing.

Should a student show symptoms, where would they isolate?

WCU will encourage these students to self-isolate and quarantine back home at their permanent residence. For students living on campus, if traveling home isn’t an option, Madison Residence Hall will be utilized this fall as an isolation and quarantine facility. For students living off campus, if traveling home isn’t an option, they’ll be asked to isolate and quarantine at their apartment or rental residence.

What are the plans to ensure students practice masking and social distancing at non-school sponsored events?

WCU has a promotional campaign called “Catamounts Care,” which encourages everyone in the campus community to embrace the recommended prevention practices. Individuals who fail to follow these standards may be asked to leave venues and may be refused access to services. In some circumstances, some students may be subject to the student discipline process. Details about Catamounts Care and related information are posted at the fall 2020 operations and procedures website linked on WCU’s main page or at this direct link: https://www.wcu.edu/operations-procedures/community-standards.aspx.

Are there plans for the school to respond to, say, invitations on social media to large gatherings/parties?

WCU does not monitor social media for student gatherings. For non-school sponsored events, WCU is encouraging students to be responsible members of the community. WCU will address behaviors in the campus community by providing additional information and education about the dangers associated with community spread of COVID-19.

MELISSA WARGO, chief of staff:

What steps are being taken to ensure/improve/expedite communication between WCU and the surrounding community regarding COVID updates?

We will continue to update the fall 2020 website (https://info.wcu.edu/fall2020), where we post all of the latest information related to our plans for the fall semester. We will continue to provide weekly Campus Updates as needed. These updates are shared with key community partners such as Jackson County Public Health, the Jackson County manager’s office, Harris Hospital, Southwestern Community College, Jackson County Public Schools and others. We also are glad that our friends in the regional media are helping spread the word about our efforts at WCU to develop plans for fall through an inclusive process in which we make decisions based on science and data, and with guidance from local and state agencies, the governor and the University of North Carolina System.

Will face coverings be required for all students, faculty and staff, indoors and/or outdoors? Will they be supplied to students or available for purchase? Handwashing stations?

According to the community standards of WCU’s Catamounts Care campaign, face coverings are REQUIRED in all public instructional and work environments. Those not wearing face coverings may be asked to leave a classroom, office or public event. All students, faculty and staff are being issued free of charge six cloth face coverings, a personal thermometer, a personal refillable hand sanitizer, and a flyer on our Catamounts Care Community Standards. Hand sanitizing stations will be available at the majority of main entrances to campus buildings.

Has the COVID response at WCU benefited in any unique way from Kelli Brown’s health background?

Yes, Chancellor Brown’s background has been essential in providing context and expertise for return to learn and return to work procedures. And I believe the entire UNC System has benefited from the experience of interim President Bill Roper, former CEO of the UNC Health System and a physician who previously served as director of the CDC.

RICHARD STARNESinterim provost:

Should COVID cases spike on campus, is there a number that would cause a shutdown?

We are discussing various metrics to track COVID-19 related issues on campus, and to inform response and decision making, as are other schools in the UNC System. WCU will not shut down, and did not shut down in the spring term. Authority for any decision to move to a fully-online instruction modality rests with the UNC System president and the UNC Board of Governors.

Are there intermediate steps that would be implemented short of a shutdown?

WCU has not prepared any intermediate steps. We will continue to monitor federal, state and local guidance and calibrate our day-to-day operations accordingly. WCU is intertwined with Jackson County, the WNC region and North Carolina. We will follow the science and guidance as best we can with the goal of serving our educational mission while maintaining the well-being of our campus community members.

MIKE BYERS, vice chancellor for administration and finance:

Will Cat-Tran buses be limited as to how many passengers they can take?

Cat-Tran began operating on a modified schedule beginning Aug. 1. Shuttles will run at 50 percent of normal seating capacity to allow social distancing. Passengers will be required to wear a face covering. Eating or drinking will not be permitted on the buses. Cat-Tran drivers will wear a face covering and a Plexiglas barrier has been installed between the driver’s seat and the passenger seating area. Shuttle cleaning procedures have been established in accordance with CDC guidelines for public transit.

7 WCU athletes test positive; league chancellors to meet, eye path forward. (Aug. 5)

The Sylva Herald, By Carey Phillips

Western Carolina has reported seven student-athletes tested positive for COVID-19 last month.

Meanwhile the Catamount athletic department is waiting for direction from the NCAA Board of Governors and Southern Conference chancellors to determine the path forward for fall sports.

“We administered 145 tests to the limited number of student-athletes we welcomed back on July 14, along with staff working in close proximity to them,” Athletic Director Alex Gary said. “Seven tests were positive for COVID-19, and each individual was asymptomatic.”

As part of the protocols established in the return to campus plan by WCU and in consultation with local and national officials and guidelines, those with a positive test were placed into isolation for 10 days and their close contacts were quarantined.

“We remain committed to the health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and the community for the anticipated resumption of fall sports,” Gary said.

The NCAA Board of Governors, was to meet Tuesday to vote on whether or not there will be fall championships. Chancellors of Southern Conference schools had a meeting scheduled for Wednesday to discuss how the Board of Governors’ decision will impact fall sporting events for the conference, according to Gary.

Results of those meetings were not known at the Herald sports deadline.

The seven WCU COVID-19 cases were not considered a cluster because they did not meet the definition of “a plausible linkage between the cases.”

“The WCU student-athletes were required to self-quarantine for seven days before arriving on campus and then tested upon arrival,” said Melissa McKnight, deputy director of the Jackson County Department of Public Health. “Since the student-athletes had little to no interaction with each other prior to testing, we have found no plausible linkage between the cases. It is more likely that those who tested positive were exposed to and contracted the virus from people other than their student-athlete peers.”

McKnight said whether WCU students who test positive will be included in Jackson County’s case total or in the cases for their home county will depend on the address they give their healthcare provider when they get tested.

“If they give a Jackson County address, it will immediately come to JCDPH and be counted in our total,” she said. “If they gave their parents’ address, it will go to the health department where their parents live.”

She added that each health department does “case investigation” where they call those who test positive to seek additional information such as “Where are you residing right now?”

“If the health department staff member finds out that the student is actually in Jackson County, they will forward the case to us,” McKnight said. “We will be able to include the positive student in our case count then.”

As Students Return to School, North Carolina to Remain Paused in Phase 2. (Aug. 7)

Stabilizing trends are good but fragile, and now is the time to double down on safety measures

Governor Roy Cooper today announced that North Carolina will remain paused in Safer At Home Phase 2 for another 5 weeks as students and staff return to schools, colleges and universities and the state doubles down on efforts to decrease COVID-19 numbers.

“Other states that lifted restrictions quickly have had to go backward as their hospital capacity ran dangerously low and their cases jumped higher. We will not make that mistake in North Carolina,” said Governor Cooper. “In keeping with our dimmer switch approach with schools opening, and in order to push for decreasing numbers which will keep people healthier and boost our economy, North Carolina will remain paused in Safer At Home Phase 2 for 5 weeks.”

Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services shared an update on North Carolina’s data trends. Dr. Cohen explained that while some of North Carolina’s numbers have mostly leveled, any progress is fragile as other states have shown with sudden and devastating surges in viral spread.

“While overall we are seeing signs of stability, we still have much work to do. Our recent trends show us what is possible when we commit to slowing the spread by wearing face coverings and following those simple but powerful 3Ws,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D.

Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is declining, though remains elevated.

Trajectory of Lab-Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of lab-confirmed cases has stabilized but remains high.

Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is stable but still elevated.

Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is beginning to level.

In addition to these metrics, the state continues building capacity to be able to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread. These areas include:

Laboratory Testing

While testing turnaround times have improved, the number of tests done has decreased over the past week. Testing is a priority for anyone who has symptoms or those who may have been exposed to COVID-19, including:

  • Anyone who has attended a mass gathering including a protest.
  • Anyone who works in a setting at higher risk of exposure such as a grocery store, restaurant, gas station, or childcare program.
  • People who live or work in high-risk settings such as long-term facilities, homeless shelters, correctional facilities or food processing facility.

Tracing Capability

We continue hiring contact tracers to bolster the efforts of local health departments. There are over 1,500 full-time and part-time staff supporting contact tracing efforts, including the 615 Community Care of North Carolina (CCNC) contact tracers.

Personal Protective Equipment 

  • Our personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are stable.

View the slides and graphs from today’s presentation.

Read the Executive Order.

 

NCDHHS Selects Vendors to Supervise 250+ New Community Health Workers in 50 Counties with COVID-19 Hot Spots. (Aug. 7)

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) today announced its selection of seven vendors to hire and manage over 250 Community Health Workers, who will be deployed in 50 targeted counties to connect North Carolinians affected by COVID-19 with needed services and support.

“Community Health Workers will bolster our statewide COVID-19 response and help North Carolinians navigate the complex impacts of this pandemic,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D.

The teams of Community Health Workers will connect North Carolinians affected by COVID-19 with medical and social support, including diagnostic testing, primary care, case management, nutrition assistance and behavioral health services. NCDHHS has selected the following vendor organizations to recruit, train and manage Community Health Workers in areas with high COVID-19-related needs:

  • Curamericas Global (based in Raleigh; serving Buncombe, Henderson, Wilkes, Surry, Forsyth, Davie, Gaston, Davidson, Guilford, Randolph, Alamance, Durham, Orange, Wake, Johnston, Chatham, Lee, Harnett, Granville, Vance, Warren, Wayne, Pitt, Franklin, Craven and Onslow counties)
  • Kepro (serving Mecklenburg, Union, Rowan, Gaston, Cabarrus, Stanly and Montgomery counties)
  • One to One with Youth (based in Goldsboro; serving Wilson, Johnston, Duplin, Sampson, Greene, Wayne, and Lenoir counties)
  • Vidant Health (based in Greenville; serving Halifax, Northampton, Hertford, Bertie, Edgecombe, Beaufort, Duplin, Pitt, Dare and Chowan counties)
  • Mount Calvary Center for Leadership Development (Based in Burgaw; serving Robeson, Bladen, Columbus, Duplin, Sampson, and Pender counties)
  • Catawba County Public Health (Based in Hickory; serving Catawba County)
  • Southeastern Healthcare NC (Based in Raleigh; serving Orange, Wake, and Johnston counties)

Residents across 50 counties will receive services, with some counties receiving support from multiple vendors. These vendors, a limited number of subcontractors and the Community Health Workers they employ will work in coordination with local health departments and COVID-19 community contact tracers to identify and assist individuals who need help accessing medical or social services, finding a safe location to isolate, or connecting with other COVID-19-related assistance.

The selected vendors will equip all Community Health Workers with personal protective equipment, including face coverings. Vendors will also provide Community Health Workers with tablets and mobile hotspots to leverage NCCARE360, the nation’s first statewide coordinated care technology platform, which is now operational across the state. NCCARE360 unites individuals with traditional health care settings and organizations that address non-medical drivers of health, such as food, housing, transportation, employment and interpersonal safety.

Community Health Workers are most successful when they can deliver culturally and linguistically appropriate services. During the contractor selection process, NCDHHS prioritized vendors’ ability to ensure cultural and linguistic diversity throughout the initiative’s governance, leadership and workforce. If Community Health Workers are unable to meet an individual’s linguistic needs in person, they will use strategies including interpreter services, telephonic interpretation or video remote interpreting.

The NCDHHS-funded COVID-19 Community Health Worker initiative will run through December, with the possibility of renewal. Success criteria for vendors will include the number of clients assisted with COVID-19-related services and supports, the number of referrals made and the referrals in which individuals are connected to resources.

NCDHHS COVID-19 Community Testing Events Continue; No Cost for Testing. (Aug. 3)

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has 38 upcoming community testing events scheduled in Alexander, Beaufort, Bertie, Chowan, Columbus, Duplin, Graham, Henderson, Hertford, Jackson, Lenoir, Pitt, Randolph, Sampson, Wake and Wilson counties as part of the initiative to increase access to free COVID-19 testing for African American, LatinX/Hispanic and American Indian communities that currently have limited testing sites.

So far, more than 180 testing events have been coordinated through this initiative, which is being extended into August. There is no cost to people getting tested. Insurance, if available, will be billed but there are no co-pays or cost-sharing for anyone seeking testing. Those who are uninsured are also tested at no cost.

For an up-to-date list of events, visit the Community Testing Events page of the NCDHHS COVID-19 website. NCDHHS testing events are listed under the name of their coordinating vendor: NCCHCA, Orig3n, Inc or Vidant Health. NCDHHS is updating the Community Testing Event website as notified by vendors of any closures in response to Tropical Storm Isaias. Individual testing events will determine whether they will cancel, reschedule or change logistics for their community testing event. During a hurricane or tropical storm, the safety of staff and of people getting tested is prioritized.

People who may not currently have symptoms but may have been exposed to COVID-19 should get tested, especially people from historically marginalized communities, including Latinx/Hispanic, Black/African American, and American Indian populations. A disproportionately high percentage of North Carolina’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 have occurred among historically marginalized populations, and mounting evidence shows the members of these populations experience higher rates of COVID-19 mortality and serious complications.

In addition, testing is a priority for anyone who has symptoms or those who may have been exposed to COVID-19, including:

  • Anyone who has attended a mass gathering including a protest.
  • Anyone who works in a setting at higher risk of exposure such as a grocery store, restaurant, gas station, or childcare program.
  • People who live or work in high-risk settings such as long-term facilities, homeless shelters, correctional facilities or food processing facility.

North Carolinians can find testing sites available in their community through visiting Find My Testing Place and Community Testing Events on the NCDHHS website. Check the Community Testing Events page daily for more events provided by NCDHHS in partnership with Vidant Health, Orig3n, Inc and the North Carolina Community Health Center Association.

More Information
For more information on testing and contact tracing, please see the NCDHHS Frequently Asked Questions about Testing and the NCDHHS Frequently Asked Questions about Contact Tracing. For the latest information on COVID-19, visit nc.gov/covid19. For more data and information about North Carolina’s testing strategy, visit the North Carolina COVID-19 Dashboard: covid19.ncdhhs.gov/dashboard.

Fourth death here from COVID-19 is reported. (Aug. 4)

The Sylva Herald, By Dave Russell

The Jackson County Department of Public Health reported Monday the death of a fourth county resident related to COVID-19.

The individual was between the ages of 65-74 with underlying health conditions. The health department investigated the death and confirmed that COVID-19 was a contributing factor.

Jackson County COVID-19 cases rose by 13 percent over the last week. That’s down from 22 percent a week ago and around 40 percent the previous two weeks.

As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, the health department reported 425  cases of full-time residents and 8,678 tests reported to the agency.

Last Tuesday, the health department reported 376 cases of full-time residents and 8,203 tests performed.

The county has 94 cases per 10,000 residents, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. DHHS on Tuesday reported 128,161 cases and 2010 deaths in the state, with 1,854,026 tests conducted.

Nationwide, cases number 4,698,818 and deaths 155,204 as of 4 p.m. Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Jackson County currently has 36 people isolating due to COVID-19 infection. Last week there were 71 in isolation.

Misinformation about COVID-19 abounds, said Melissa McKnight, deputy health director at JCDPH.

“We are inundated with information from so many sources who are touting themselves to be reputable, accurate and timely,” McKnight said. “The World Health Organization director (Tedros Ghebreyesu) put it best when he said ‘We’re not just fighting an epidemic; we are fighting an infodemic.’”

Relying on science and experts such as the CDC and WHO is more important than ever in guiding decision-making, she said. 

Hydroxychloroquine, touted in some corners, including President Donald Trump, as effective in fighting COVID-19, has made headlines lately. It has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as effective for the treatment of COVID-19. 

“I have not seen any scientific proof that hydroxychloroquine works as a treatment or prevention for COVID-19,” McKnight said. “The FDA revoked the emergency use authorization to use this drug to treat COVID-19 on June 15, based on the results from a large, randomized clinical trial in hospitalized patients that found that this medicine showed no benefit for decreasing the likelihood of death or speeding recovery.” 

Fighting COVID-19 should have galvanized the country to fight it, but instead has become political, McKnight said.

“I am saddened when a public health crisis such as this becomes political,” she said. “I truly believe that many in our community, state and nation are working day and night on this pandemic. People are working to prevent those from getting COVID-19, identify those who have COVID-19, toward a treatment and trying to find a vaccine. It’s hard and often thankless work. I know many are working their hardest because they care about their patients, they want to save lives, and they want to get back to normal.”

Gov. Roy Cooper announced last week that restaurants had to stop serving alcohol at 11 p.m., a move McKnight applauds.

“I am supportive of anything right now that builds an environment that supports positive behaviors and wise decision-making,” she said. “If (stopping alcohol sales) early means fewer people will be congregating – or even congregating for a shorter period of time – and fewer people will be making decisions that may not be in their best interest, I am all for it.”

McKnight reiterated what she has said all along about controlling the virus.

“It’s those basic public health tools of washing your hands, waiting 6 feet apart and wearing a cloth face covering,” she said. “We’ve been talking about this for months now. We all just need to keep doing it no matter how hard it may seem. And we need to build a community that supports these behaviors.”

Moe Davis for Congress Newsletter – August 3

A MESSAGE FROM MOE …

I recently moved into a new house in Asheville and have been opening old boxes of memorabilia long stored away. I discovered this picture from my 25-year career in the Air Force, when I served in Saudi Arabia during Operation Southern Watch.There are those who talk about how they’d defend America and then there are those of us who did.

Experience matters.

HOW DO THEY COMPARE?

Moe Davis doesn’t have a lot in common with Madison Cawthorn when it comes to policy proposals for Western North Carolina. Here’s a quick glance at what each candidate has said about key issues:

HEALTHCARE

Moe Davis: Supports a public option to ensure that everyone has healthcare coverage, but allows those who prefer to procure their own insurance at their own expense to do so.

Madison Cawthorn: Seeks to allow more insurance companies to compete with Blue Cross and Blue Shield to lower costs. Of course, that will do nothing for those who lost employer-based health insurance. And allowing out-of-state insurance companies would strip away the state’s authority to regulate them, meaning fewer consumer protections.

COVID-19

Moe Davis: Believes it is a global pandemic that threatens our health and our economy, and follows state guidelines on masks and social distancing to protect others.

Madison Cawthorn: Says it’s no different than the flu, that we shouldn’t shut down our economy, and rarely wears a mask or practices social distancing.

BROADBAND

Moe Davis: Supports Jim Clyburn’s HR 7302 Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act, an $80 billion investment in expanding broadband to rural areas.

Madison Cawthorn: Supports tax incentives for ISPs to get them to expand their networks. (This has been tried for nearly 20 years and has ultimately failed because ISPs won’t invest in expansion to rural areas where they can’t make a profit, even if they are given incentives to do so.)

EDUCATION

Moe Davis: Supports greater investment in Title I spending to improve rural education, supports tuition assistance for technical schools and state public universities and zero-interest loan programs.

Madison Cawthorn: Seeks to eliminate the Department of Education and end government student loan programs; believes colleges and universities are “indoctrination camps.”

VETERANS

Moe Davis: Will fight to protect the VA from privatization.

Madison Cawthorn: Supports a president who is seeking to privatize VA healthcare.

JOBS AND A LIVING WAGE

Moe Davis: Attracting jobs to Western North Carolina depends on expanding access to healthcare, adding broadband capability and training students for high tech jobs in green energy and green technology that pay well and will protect our environment. We also must raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Madison Cawthorn: No mention of jobs or wages on his website.

ENVIRONMENT

Moe Davis: Believes in science and the need for policies to reverse climate change because it is our moral obligation to preserve and protect our land, air and water for our children and future generations. Will work to extend and expand federal support for commercial and consumer alternative energy programs including wind, solar, geothermal heating and cooling. Supports a return to the Paris Agreement.

Madison Cawthorn: Crickets.

RACIAL INEQUALITY

Moe Davis: Supports ending qualified immunity so that police officers can be held liable for violating the rights of people they serve. He would push to establish a federal model policing program that creates standards of conduct including de-escalation and the use of non-lethal force. He supports efforts to give back to the Black community to compensate for decades of racist economic policies.

Madison Cawthorn: Called Democrats racists and said reparations are not needed because 600,000 died to free slaves in the Civil War. Offered hydration packs to Asheville police a day after police made international news by destroying a medic station and slashing bottles of water meant for protestors.

WOMEN

Moe Davis: Supports North Carolina’s bid to approve the Equal Rights Amendment.

ENDORSEMENT FROM REP. SETH MOULTON’S SERVE AMERICA PAC

Congressman Seth Moulton’s Serve America PAC, which recruits and supports veterans and service-oriented candidates including political newcomers, has announced it is endorsing Moe Davis for Congress in North Carolina’s 11th District.


“Retired Col. Moe Davis has repeatedly demonstrated that he is unafraid to stand up for what’s right, even when it comes at his own personal and professional expense,’’ Rep. Moulton said. “Over the course of his career in the Air Force and in government service, Davis consistently challenged the status quo and stood up for his principles, and our country is better for it. I look forward to seeing him bring that sense of integrity and moral authority to Washington.’’

Serve America PAC joins veterans groups VoteVets.org and Common Defense along with the Sierra Club, North Carolina Association of Educators, AFL-CIO Western North Carolina Central Labor Council, Equality NC, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Patriotic Millionaires, Progressive Turnout Project and Moms Demand Action in supporting Davis.

“I’m grateful to Representative Seth Moulton and Serve America for their support of my campaign to represent Western North Carolina in Congress,’’ Davis said.  “Like Representative Moulton, I’m proud to be a Veteran and I share his commitment to put service before self and stand up for what’s right even when doing so comes at a cost. I look forward to serving with him in the 117th Congress and working with him to get our country back on the right track. We can and will do better.”

150,000 … AND COUNTING

The death toll from COVID-19 continues to rise unabated as our country fails to take the necessary steps that other nations have committed to in order to control the spread of this deadly global pandemic.

Moe posted this video on reaching yet another grim milestone.

STATEMENT ON TROOP WITHDRAWAL IN GERMANY

Donald Trump said, “We don’t want to be responsible anymore” to explain why he’s pulling one-third of U.S. troops — about 12,000 of roughly 36,000 troops — out of Germany. He said Germany hasn’t lived up to its financial commitment to NATO; therefore, he’s cutting our troop presence.

U.S. troops are stationed in Germany and other NATO countries as a forward presence to deter Russian aggression, which is a key strategic interest of the United States … or at least it was until January 20, 2017. Trump acts like our troops are mall cops, and if store owners aren’t ponying up enough to suit him, he’ll pull his rent-a-guards out of the mall and put it at risk in order to shake down the store owners. Whether it’s through ignorance, indifference or to appease his pal Putin, Trump’s actions are feckless and reckless.

At any given point in time, about 1 in 15 of America’s 1.3 million active duty troops are overseas. We have troops in about 150 countries. There are just a few troops in many countries, often at our embassies, and tens of thousands in others where a large forward presence supports our strategic interests. Moe is a firm believer in fiscal responsibility and hasspent most of his adult life involved in military and national security matters. He understands the importance of striking a reasonable balance between spending and security. We need to continually assess where we deploy our military assets and increase or decrease them as appropriate at the time and consistent with our strategic interests. But arbitrarily yanking troops out of Germany to poke them for not paying what Trump believes they owe isn’t just foolish, it’s dangerous.

Our troops deserve a Commander-in-Chief they can trust. America deserves a President who puts America’s national security first. The world deserves an America that is responsible.

We all deserve better than Donald Trump.

SUPPORTING NURSES

Mission Hospital Nurses Moe Davis stands with you. The decision to unionize is your decision to make. Thank you for all you do for Western North Carolina.

 

APPLY FOR AN ABSENTEE BALLOT

Concerned about voting in the age of the coronavirus? You can protect yourself and still exercise your right to vote using an absentee ballot, a method we are urging voters to choose this election cycle. You can go to this link for an application. Bear in mind there could be changes to the absentee ballot application. We’ll keep you updated.

Voters have until Oct. 27 to request an absentee ballot, but we would recommend you apply now and vote early so that the State Board of Elections isn’t inundated at the last minute and there isn’t any delay in getting the ballot back in time.

Reminder, you don’t have to vote by absentee ballot if you apply. But it is a great back-up if there are any disruptions and a reduction in polling locations due to the pandemic. Keep in mind that even if you apply now, you won’t actually receive an absentee ballot until September.

EXPERIENCE ISN’T ALL THAT MATTERS

We’ve said it before: Experience matters. But unfortunately, money matters, too. We need to increase our fundraising so that we can get the message out about Moe Davis’s experience.

Help us spread the word. Donate.

Stay safe. Stay home. Stay healthy.

Mountain Strong

Complete United Way COVID-19 impact survey

Smoky Mountain News, by Admin

United Way of North Carolina launches a statewide survey today to assess how COVID-19 has impacted community members across the state. All North Carolina families are invited to complete the United Way of North Carolina COVID-19 survey at http://www.covidsurveync.org.

The outcome report will reflect all individual responses, which are confidential. The online survey will remain open through Aug. 21. Preliminary results from the survey will be released in September.

“United Way would like to give a voice to those individuals and families experiencing hardships, some for the first time ever, due to the impact of COVID-19.”said Laura Zink Marx, United Way of North Carolina President and CEO.

Marx said that this survey represents an opportunity to better understand the impact that COVID19 has had across the state, community by community.

“The results will help inform United Ways, state and community leaders in how best to fund solutions and tailor services specific to needs emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.

Before the pandemic hit, many North Carolina households were led by workers unable to earn enough to cover basic expenses and save for an unexpected crisis or job loss. For many, the economic crisis has stripped available assets and abruptly repositioned families into unfamiliar financial positions. The survey seeks information on a wide range of topics, including the most pressing concerns, job changes, schooling and childcare challenges and economic changes North Carolina families are navigating.

“On a daily basis, United Ways throughout North Carolina work hard to serve those suffering from loss of basic needs and sense of security due to workforce interruptions,” said Marx. “As we respond to immediate needs, United Ways are thinking ahead to the next phase of recovery and what will be needed most to help get families back on track.“

The survey is available in English and Spanish. Completing the survey takes about ten minutes. It includes questions such as:What concerns are you facing in the weeks and months ahead? 

“If you’ve felt the economic impact of the COVID19 pandemic, we would appreciate your taking the time to complete the 10-minute survey,” Marx said. “United Way wants to hear your voice so we can best help inform solutions in local communities. Complete this survey.”

WCU Athletes And Staff Test Positive For COVID-19 As Students Move In

Blue Ridge Public Radio, by Lilly Knopp

Catamount Athletics says that seven people who have been back on campus for sports training have tested positive for COVID-19. In total 145 people were tested – all student-athletes in sports with permitted summer access activities, coaches and staff. This information was shared on July 22 as part of a campus update.  It was not sent to the media.

Some of the sports that were allowed to return were football, as well as, both men’s and women’s basketball. These student-athletes were able to return to campus as early as July 6, according to the athletic department.

“Students –  just like everyone else in our community, around the state and in Jackson County – are experiencing the COVID-19 illness and the coronavirus is here in our communities and is spreading,” says Miller.

Western Carolina University students will be back on campus this weekend.  Students will be required to wear face coverings in all public spaces. There are also new residence hall policies and  increased cleaning procedures. Western will be giving out face masks and PPE to students through its Catamounts Care program.

Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Sam Miller expects about 400 students will move into the residence halls on Saturday. Students have signed up for specific times to remain socially distant.

In total, about 3,500 students will be living in the dorms when classes start on August 17. Miller says this is down from about 4,000 last year for a variety of reasons.

Western Carolina says it is on track to have over 12,000 students enrolled for the fall semester.

SM soccer player tests positive for COVID-19

The Sylva Herald, By Carey Phillips

Part of Smoky Mountain’s men’s soccer workouts were shut down last week after a player tested positive for COVID-19.

Athletic Director Adam Phillips said one pod of 10 players was shut down for two weeks. N.C. High School Athletic Association guidelines call for players to participate in pods of no more than 10 in an effort to control a possible COVID-19 outbreak.

“We are following all the protocols of the N.C. High School Athletic Association and the local health department,” Phillips said.

He said the unnamed player was asymptomatic. Others players in the pod will not be required to be tested as that will be up to their parents.

Phillips had words of praise for Stephen Brown, SM’s men’s soccer coach.

“I can’t say enough about Stephen Brown and his staff following protocols and procedures and staying on top of things,” Phillips said. “It’s very reassuring from an athletic department standpoint. I’m sure the parents appreciate that also.”

The voluntary workouts being allowed have numerous restrictions. Those include no contact and no sharing of balls or other equipment.

The NCHSAA has postponed the official start of practice for fall sports, including men’s soccer, from Aug. 1 until Sept. 1.

Community Table scrambles to serve amid COVID-19

The Sylva Herald, By Kelly Morgan

Jackson County’s long-standing food bank and soup kitchen, the Community Table, has faced unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19. In an email brief last week, the organization described the adjustments it has made to cope with the virus.

All operations have moved outdoors into their parking area, under tents. For the time being, the pantry is no longer “self-shop.” All food is pre-boxed and drive-up only. Clients should remain in their vehicles, and a worker will bring the food to the client’s car.

Meals are also to-go only. To facilitate that process in a sanitary manner, the Community Table made an emergency purchase of a meal packing machine and 12,800 trays. These prepacked meals are more sanitary, can be frozen for up to three months and can be safely reheated in a microwave or oven.

“I could write you a treatise on how COVID-19 has affected us,” Director Paige Christie said Friday. “We’ve seen a major increase in the clients we’re serving. In March, we closed our dining room. Everything’s been outside in the rain and heat. Everything’s carryout. We have had to let our volunteer base go for health reasons, for their safety and ours. We’re running on a skeleton crew.”

However, Christie also said community support during this time has been incredible.

“From individual donations, to restaurants that had to shut down and donated their extra food to us, to monetary donations, to local grant funders reaching out to us, to local businesses reaching out to us even though they’re having trouble themselves – it has just been amazing,” Christie said.

To make contributions, people can bring food or monetary donations to the Community Table in person, they can mail monetary donations to P.O. Box 62, Dillsboro, NC 28725, or they can donate online at communitytable.org.

The Community Table is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

The next Blue Plate Special lunch fundraiser will be Aug. 26. Further details, such as who will cater, are pending.

National, local businesses are requiring masks

The Sylva Herald, By Kelly Morgan

Face masks, this year’s most notable fashion statement, have been a mandatory part of North Carolina’s dress code for more than a month.

Gov. Roy Cooper issued an executive order June 24 stating that retail businesses must have all customers wear face coverings when they are inside stores and have the potential to be within 6 feet of another person, unless the customer states that an exception applies.

In response, many businesses have clearly stated mandates requiring their customers to wear masks. Sylva’s major corporations and grocery stores, including Ingles, Walmart, Food Lion, Lowe’s, Sav-Mor and Harold’s all require masks unless customers have medical exceptions. Some even provides customers free masks at the door.

Drugstores including Walgreens, CVS, Kel-Save, Mark’s Pharmacy and Eastgate have stated mask requirements, as have downtown businesses including Sassy Frass, City Lights Bookstore, Baxley’s Chocolates and others. In Your Ear Music Emporium sells masks for $1 to customers who don’t have them.

However, Sylva Chief of Police Chris Hatton said law enforcement cannot directly enforce the executive order.

“We can’t make people wear masks,” he said. “We can’t file a charge if they’re not wearing one. Where the strength in that order comes from is when, for example, you go into a business and you say you don’t want to wear a mask. The business requires you to have a mask on, so the business tells you that if you’re going to be in their store, you need to wear a mask. If you say, ‘I’m not going to do that; I’m not going to comply with that,’ then the business has the right to tell you to leave. If you leave, that’s the end of it. If you refuse to leave, then now you are committing second-degree trespassing, so if you refuse to leave, you are subject to a criminal charge.”

Customers with medical exceptions are allowed to enter stores without masks, and they do not have to prove their exceptions since health details are protected information.

Hatton said he has seen some businesses say, “If you have a medical exception, we’re going to hold you at the door. You tell us what you need, and we’ll work in cooperation with you to get what service you need.”

That being said, businesses still have the general ability to ask people to leave their premises.

So far, the Sylva police have not had to file any trespassing charges on people who refused to wear a mask, but they have dealt with two verbal altercations and one physical altercation over mask-wearing, he said.

COVID-19 cases here sail past the 370 mark. (July 29)

The Sylva Herald, By Dave Russell

Jackson County COVID-19 cases rose by 22.1 percent over the last week.

As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, the Jackson County Department of Public Health reported 376 cases of full-time residents and 8,203 tests reported to the agency. The county has had three deaths from COVID-19.

Last Tuesday, the health department reported 308 cases of full-time residents and 7,416 tests performed.

The county has 86 cases per 10,000 residents, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. DHHS on Tuesday reported 116,087 cases and 1,820 deaths in the state, with 1,663,540 tests conducted.

Nationwide, cases number 4,280,135 and deaths 147,672 as of 4 p.m. Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Jackson County currently has 71 people isolating due to COVID-19 infection.

Cluster in Cashiers

The Jackson County Department of Public Health has identified a COVID-19 cluster in a county church.

The N.C. Division of Public Health defines clusters of COVID-19 in workplace, educational and other community settings as a minimum of five cases with illness onsets or initial positive results within a 14-day period.

Eight individuals who attended a three-day revival on July 12-14 at the Cashiers Church of God have tested positive for COVID-19. All positive individuals are following isolation orders, JCDPH said. The investigation is ongoing. 

“If you or someone you know attended the three-day revival on July 12-14, 2020 at the Cashiers Church of God, you may have been exposed to COVID-19,” the JCDPH said in a release. 

The department urges anyone in that situation to watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath or other symptoms; stay away from others; and seek testing for COVID-19.

Businesses re-open

Bogart’s Restaurant which closed for a period due to an employee testing positive, is open for carryout orders only. No one will be allowed in the building, a Facebook post said. All orders will be brought to customers’ car.

Colima Mexican Restaurant in the East Sylva Shopping Center closed for testing as “an abundance of caution,” but is now open for dine-in and carryout service.

Not the time to slack off

Though businesses and other concerns are opening up, the public still needs to be vigilant, said Melissa McKnight, deputy health director.

“Now is not the time to ease back,” she said. “We continue to stress our best public health tools to prevent this virus – handwashing, wearing masks and staying away from others as much as possible.”

The wearing of face masks seems to be increasing, she said. 

Autumn will bring a new threat, McKnight said.

“Flu season will be upon us soon,” she said. “Flu vaccination will be so vitally important this year especially. COVID-19 and influenza are both respiratory illnesses and you can contract both at the same time. We must take all necessary precautions available to maintain health.”

NC District 11 Democratic Party, Newsletter #10. (July 28)

A Message from CD11 Chair Kathy Sinclair
I hope each of you are in good health, staying safe, and wearing a mask in public.   Wearing a mask protects others and reduces the spread of COVID-19. We all want small businesses to re-open safely and be able to remain open.  We all want workers to return to a safe workplace and unemployment rates to drop. We all want children and teachers to return to school and learn in a safe environment.  We all want our family, friends and neighbors to be healthy, and safe from COVID-19.  At this time, the only safe way to make this happen is to practice the 3Ws…Wear a Mask…Wait at least 6 feet apart…Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.  Thanks for doing your part.
November 3rd is just over 3 months away, so now is the time to provide voters with complete and accurate election information.  Several reliable resources are available to voters, and here are just a few to share with your friends and neighbors.
Absentee Ballot Requests

No Excuse Absentee Voting is available to ALL voters in North Carolina.  Absentee Ballot Requests are now being accepted by your local Board of Elections, and anyone receiving an Absentee Ballot will still have the option to vote in person.  The first thing to do is obtain an Absentee Ballot Request Form and submit it to your local Board of Elections.
 
CLICK HERE to download a Request Form from the North Carolina State Board of Election.  Page 1 includes instructions on how to complete your request.  Page 2 is the Absentee Ballot Request which you’ll complete and return to your local Board of Elections.  Page 3 is where to find the address for your local Board of Elections.  Some Boards of Elections allow Request Forms to be submitted electronically, so double-check with your local BOE for your county’s instructions.

Your actual Absentee Ballot should arrive sometime during the month of September.  To help prevent a backlog, it’s recommended that ballots be completed and returned as soon as possible.  More information on this process will follow in a future newsletter.

Andy Millard, Chair of the Polk County Democratic Party has put together this very helpful video to address questions. Scroll down to county news to find the link to the video.  

One more thing…we’d like a to ask you a favor.   Once you’ve requested an Absentee Ballot Request Form please let District 11 know by emailing us at nc11democrats@gmail.com. And if you don’t mind, include your cell phone number.  We’d like to touch base with you closer to the election via a text message.  Thank you.

Voter Guide/Sample Ballots
Another helpful resource is the link https://slate.ncdems.civicengine.com  where voters are able to obtain a personal voting guide/sample ballot.  Voters simply click on the link, enter an address, and they’ll see all the candidates on their ballot.  This link will be updated with Board of Education and Soil & Water Conservations candidates in the near future.

Voter Registration
Voter Registration is now available online to DMV customers who have either a North Carolina driver’s license or DMV-issued ID.  At this site, voters can register, update their voter registration, registration address or update their party affiliations.  There is no fee for this service.  Learn more at https://www.ncsbe.gov/Voters/Registering-to-Vote.

District 11: Executive Committee Meeting
VIRTUAL MEETING VIA ZOOM: A QUORUM IS REQUIRE

Members of the District 11 Executive Committee are required to attend or provide a proxy.
The District 11 Executive Committee Meeting is Wednesday, August 5th at 6:30 – 8:00PM.  Click the link above for a proposed agenda and information on how to join the meeting.  Two important agenda items include electing members to the Resolutions & Platform Committee and the Council of Review.  Both current members are running for re-election, however nominations will be taken from the floor.  Jeff Rose has served as our representative on the Resolutions & Platform Committee since 2018.  Beth Osgaard is serving a 2nd non-consecutive term on the Council of Review.

Protecting our Vote in the 11th District! 
In order to ensure everyone’s vote will be protected in November, we are:
  • Communicating with staff at the Boards of Election in all 17 counties to learn their plans for safety procedures at the polls, adequate staffing, and accommodating an increased number of absentee ballots.   Poll workers tend to be seniors who are at risk for Covid-19 complications, so some counties are in need of younger poll workers and staff.  These are paid positions so please check with your county boards if you’re willing to work when the polls open.
  • Working on a District plan for addressing any voter intimidation or irregularities that may arise. County party officials will have direct lines to our attorneys as needed.
  • Informed and prepared voters are the best protection when casting our ballots. This site – www.vote.org –  provides information for voters about their registration, absentee ballots, and polling locations. Please share it with every Democratic voter you know!
  • Urging Democrats to consider helping their county parties as poll greeters or official poll observers representing our party at the polls.   These folks will be on the front lines for reporting any problems voters may encounter.
Phone Banking is Now Our #1 Method for Reaching Voters!  

Political experts agree that phone banking as one of top ways to win an election, and this year, we are even more dependent on making calls because we’re unable to knock on doors.  Prior to Covid-19 about 10% of the folks we called picked up their phones, but we’re finding the pick-up rates are closer to 50% now because people are at home and eager to chat.  If your county wants help setting up a local phone bank to reach voters, please contact Kathie Kline at kathiebkline@gmail.com or 828-776-3751.  She can also pull lists for you if you’d prefer writing postcards.

Texting to Promote Absentee Ballot Requests  

We are preparing to embark on a texting campaign to encourage over 60,000 voters in our District to request absentee ballots. Democratic and left-leaning Unaffiliated voters with verified cell phone numbers living in 16 of 17 counties will receive these texts (Buncombe County has its own texting plan and we don’t want to duplicate effort).  If the response is positive and if resources allow, we may fund another campaign to Get Out the Vote when the polls open.

2020 Convention Plan Updates  
Our delegates are now being instructed in procedural matters so they will be ready to fulfill their obligations as delegates during the week of August 17-21. We hope you’ll all tune in for this exciting and yes – historic event!

Mark Your Calendars

*note: Blue line is a clickable link..
North Carolina Women for Biden Launch
Monday, July 27, 2020
5:30 PM  6:30 PM
Ashley Biden and Judge Cheri Beasley
On Monday, Join Ashley Biden, social worker & criminal justice reform advocate, and special guest Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, NC Supreme Court, at the NC Women for Biden Kickoff. July 27, Biden for President will launch North Carolina Women for Biden with Ashley Biden, the daughter of Jill and Joe Biden, Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, and other women leaders who will lead a community rally about what’s at stake in the upcoming election for women and North Carolinians in November.Video Conference with Pete Buttigieg and Cal Cunningham
Tuesday, July 28, 2020
5:00 AM  6:00 AM
Register for a video conference on Tuesday, July 28th, at 5:00 pm ET, and we’ll send you all the details you need to log on and chat with Pete.

Moe Davis Virtual Fundraiser
Tuesday, July 28, 2020
8:00 PM  9:00 PM Join  Joanne Kalp & Ken Kahn, Tom Maxwell & Lynn Hamlin, Greg & Amy Miller, Allison Smith and Ginny Hunneke in supporting Moe Davis for Congress. We will be joined by NC Senator Terry Van Duyn who will introduce Moe.  Click link above to register.

Henderson/Buncombe Zoom with NC Judge Candidates
Wednesday, July 29, 2020
7:00 PM  8:00 PM
Henderson and Buncombe County host Zoom meeting with the NC Judge Candidates of Democratic Party!  Watch http://www.myhcdp.com/Wordpress/events for details   

Town Hall w/ Wayne Goodwin
Wednesday, July 29, 2020
7:00 PM  8:00 PM
Hosted by Josh Remillard for NC House 117

Pride All Summer with Judge Lucy Inman
Sunday, August 9, 2020
5:00 AM  6:00 AM
Sunday August 9 5-6PM
A virtual event supporting Judge Lucy Inman.  Special guests will include Judge John Arrowood, Representative Deb Butler, and we are excited to present some entertaining surprises.2020 Defenders of Justice Awards 
Sunday, October 4, 2020, from 6:00 to 7:00 pm
Pre-event cocktail reception from 5:30 to 6 pm
Online, Virtual Event
Special Presentation by NC Poet Laureate, Jaki Shelton Green
Music by Jennifer Evans
Please join us 30 minutes earlier to mingle in our virtual cocktail hour! We hope to see you there!
Every year we come together to celebrate the inspirational work of outstanding leaders in our community who are leading the fight for justice. These few exemplify our mission — they are working to eliminate poverty in North Carolina to ensure the creation of an economy that works for everyone. They are at the front-lines of advocating for progressive and inclusive policies that advance equity and opportunity in our state.
A complete list of awardees will be announced in the next couple of weeks — stay tuned!
Please contact me at Kim_marie@ncjustice.org or (919) 856-3185 with any questions.

County News

Avery  Avery county’s early voting site will be moving to the new community pool in Newland.  They are also putting out a 4000K mailing for Moe Davis to unaffiliated voters.

Buncombe County   100 days of action until November 3!  Are you ready? On July 26, 100 days until election day BCDP along with HCDP co-hosted a Kickoff Event Guest speakers included Senator Terry Van Duyn and Sheriff Quentin Miller and other candidates.

Clay As of August 10 Clay Co. HQ is open for two masked people at a time.  They are sending postcards to Democrats and left leaning Unaffiliated including a special focus on Young Dems.  Their YD group has started a new Instagram (claycountydemsnc) and a new website is in the works.

Haywood  Haywood has been having EXECOM meetings on Zoom since May.  Their first GOTV project is a post card mailing to 4K Dems that don’t have phone numbers.  The others they will call or text.

Henderson  Hendersonville is working with BCDP on a July 29 Judge candidates zoom meeting noted in our Mark Your Calendars.  The GOTV team is sending out postcards and precinct phone banking above.  Messaging includes info on absentee ballots.  There is also a group that are writing postcards for Sam Edney.  They are also working on a peak hours poll greeters schedule.

Jackson  Jackson had their countywide meeting via Zoom on 7/21.  HQ is open 10-2  Mon-Thur.  They have sent 3K postcard to Dems and Unaffiliated Dem Leaning.  They are also working with NCDP phone banking and separate phone banking for Joe Sam Queen.  They have a WCU intern, Zachary Wyatt who is writing articles for newspapers and reporting on demonstrations and boosting their Twitter account followers. Their communications group is writing weekly letters to the editor to the local paper.  They also have a fundraiser of selling Democrat Masks at their website – JacksonDems.com.

Macon  Macon’s HQ is gearing up to expand its hours Tue-Sat from 11AM – 6PM starting July 28. Macon County Hosts Moe Davis Rally at HQ Opening.  ON Saturday, July 25, 2020 from 2:30 PM – 3:15 PM  and repeating at 3:45 PM – 4:30 PM the NCDP hosted a very successful in-person masked, social-distanced rally and ribbon cutting event. Congressional candidate Moe Davis headlined the event.  Other candidates speaking included Justin Greene, Candidate 30th District Court Judge, Betty Cloer Wallace, candidate for Macon County Commission and Emily Ritter, candidate for Macon County School Board.

McDowell  McDowell  has been working to fill chairs for their precincts and have fill all but 2.  They have completed a mass mailing encouraging voting volunteering and the use of absentee ballots.  They are also completing phone bank trainings with their volunteers.  They have developed two messages for their signage “Be the Change – Vote Democrat 2020” and “Justice for All – Vote Democrat 2020”.

Polk  Polk County doing an absentee ballot mailing to all their Dems and a group of Unaffiliated voters with a return envelope. They have produced a video (https://vimeo.com/439135004) about how to get an absentee ballot.

Rutherford  Rutherford has just concluded their Gala-in-place event to raise funds for the year.  This took place through direct mail and followed up with social media and email.  Many donors made their donations in memory of Edna Michael.  They FAR OUTRAISED not only last year but their goals for this year.  Yay to Rutherford!!!!

Transylvania  Transylvania’s EXECOM met 7/20 and selected a county commissioner candidate (Douglas Miller) for the special election this fall.  HQ is now closed.  They have been having Zoom meets.  Training is happening to use virtual phone banking.  The messaging now is to encourage people to complete the census.  The next campaign will focus on absentee voting.  
Yancey Thay are running newspaper and radio ads, and phone banking.

We will feature more County News in September’s Issue.  Please get your info pre and post to mail to: karen@programservices.org.


Rock the Vote Signs
Be a part of helping District 11 Democrats raise money for our 2020 Get-Out-The-Vote Efforts. We have 4 exciting versions of 12″ x 12″ yard signs available for you to display and have your voice be heard during the COVID-19 era.

  • EVERY VOTE COUNTS
  • IT’S UP TO YOU, VOTE!
  • WANT CHANGE? VOTE.
  • YOUR VOTE, YOUR VOICE.

Each sign is $10 each, and available for pick-up or delivery (sorry, but shipping is not available).
Buncombe County residents are especially encouraged to order our yard signs because they can be picked up at our central location after purchase.  So far, there have been no orders outside Buncombe County, but if a fair number of folks request from another county, we’ll arrange a delivery location there
Click here to order.


 

 

 

 

 

 

From 3VC: Comunications

The NC District 11 website is updated regularly.  County chairs are encouraged to have their 3rd VCs (or the person in charge of communications) get in touch to coordinate communication and planning.  Please visit your county page on the District 11 website (nc11democrats.org) and send any updates such as website URLs, FB, Twitter, Instagram addresses, postal and physical addresses, phone numbers and County officers names positions and contact email addresses (or phone).  Please also visit the state website, NCDP.org and make sure the NCDP3VC has the correct information for your county posted there.  I noted some inconsistencies so please check the state website listings.  Guidelines for posting information on the District 11 website, Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram are available upon request.  Please forward your suggestions to the email below and we will consider your input in revisions.
Candidate EventsDuring the period from the NC primary until the general election in November candidates may submit posts and events for the District website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.   Please send detailed requests with pictures for addition to the District 11 Events Calendar.  Pictures with captions of events that have recently happened in our counties are also welcome.  Please try to get permission from people before taking photos.  It’s respectful.
Karen Albig Smith 3VC: Communications karen@programservices.org
Special thanks to our social media assistance Grace Loftis.  
Look for our next newsletter in late August.
Copyright © 2020 North Carolina Congressional District 11 Democratic Party, Paid for by NC11 Democratic Party. Not authorized by any candidate or committee.

Product of NC11 Dems Communications and Public Relations Team. This NC11 Democrats Newsletter Issue was edited by Karen A Smith, District Third Vice-Chair

COVID-19 Cluster Identified at Cashiers Church of God. (July 27)

Smoky Mountain News, Written by Admin

The Jackson County Department of Public Health has identified a COVID-19 cluster in a local church. Eight individuals who attended a three-day revival on July 12-14 at the Cashiers Church of God have tested positive for COVID-19. All positive individuals are following isolation orders.

The North Carolina Division of Public Health (NCDPH) defines clusters of COVID-19 in workplace, educational, and other community settings as: 1) A minimum of 5 cases with illness onsets or initial positive results within a 14-day period AND, 2) plausible linkage between cases where cases were present in the same setting during the same time-period (e.g., same shift, same classroom, same physical work area); that the timing fits with likely timing of exposure; and that there is no other more likely source of exposure for identified cases (e.g., household or close contact to a confirmed case in another setting).

The investigation is ongoing. Symptomatic individuals who test positive will be required to remain in isolation under the following conditions: 1) At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared AND, 2) At least 24 hours have passed since the last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications, AND 3) Symptoms (like cough and shortness of breath) have improved. Asymptomatic individuals who test positive will be required to remain in isolation under the following conditions: 1) At least 10 days have passed since their positive test assuming they have not subsequently developed symptoms since their positive test.

If you or someone you know attended the three-day revival on July 12-14, 2020 at the Cashiers Church of God, you may have been exposed to COVID-19. You should watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms, AND

Stay away from others, AND

Seek testing for COVID-19.

COVID-19 testing is available through many healthcare providers in Jackson County. To seek testing, start by calling your healthcare provider. Otherwise, visit Find My Testing Place, a public website that allows you to enter your county or ZIP code and access a list of nearby testing sites online at https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/about-covid-19/testing/find-my-testing-place.</p>

For information about COVID-19, look to reliable sources like JCDPH, NCDHHS, and the CDC. Visit JCDPH’s website at http://health.jacksonnc.org/covid19. For COVID-19 questions, call the Jackson County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at 828-631-HELP.

Moe Davis For Congress Newsletter – July 27

CAMPAIGN MANAGER GRAEME MCGUFFICKE HERE …

This was an important week for the Moe Davis for Congress Campaign. Col. Davis made a national TV appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and received an endorsement from North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.  (click on picture to see entire interview)


Col. Davis is vying with Madison Cawthorn for the seat previously occupied by Mark Meadows, now the White House Chief of Staff. That means North Carolina’s 11th District is now on President Trump’s radar as well. Moving forward, this race is likely to continue receiving national attention.

That’s good for us. The more attention this race receives, the more obvious it becomes that Col. Davis is the only candidate with the experience, knowledge and leadership ability to make a difference for Western North Carolina. With about 100 days to go, it is now a sprint to the finish line!

Thanks so much for your support, and keep spreading the word!

If you haven’t seen the interview yet, here is the video of Moe’s appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe last Thursday.

It’s all there. Knowledge. Leadership. A focus on issues that affect Western North Carolina. This is what a real representative looks like.

GOVERNOR COOPER ENDORSES MOE DAVIS!

We received notice last Monday that Gov. Cooper had endorsed Col. Davis. Just as important as national attention, state-wide recognition can only help our campaign moving forward.

Thank you, Gov. Cooper!

 

SHARE ME

Want to help elect Moe Davis to Congress? Here’s how you can do it without spending money. And you don’t even need to live in Western North Carolina.

All you have to do is help us spread the word on social media. Interactions with our @MoeDavisforCongress Facebook and Instagram accounts impact their algorithms and ultimately affect how many people see our posts.

So here’s how we can push Facebook and Instagram to promote Moe Davis:

1. React to a post with a like or a heart.
2. Click on all links within a post.
3. Leave a positive comment, “Go Moe!” or a hand clap emoji, etc.
4. Share the post.
5. If there is a video, click on the link and watch at least ten seconds.
6. Click on all photos in a post.
7. Invite friends to “like” the Moe Davis for Congress Facebook page.
8. Go back to old posts and like them as well.

9. And please subscribe to Moe’s YouTube channel.

Special thanks to Nate Worley for these tips that we hope will help spread the word about Moe Davis and help him win in November.

 

DEFENDING OUR ENVIRONMENT

Kudos to MountainTrue for joining with the Southern Environmental Law Center and 15 other conservation organizations to defend the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

For 50 years, NEPA has required federal agencies to assess the potential environmental impact of proposed major actions before deciding whether to proceed. The Trump administration’s recent overhaul of NEPA regulations reduces the types and number of federal infrastructure projects and land management actions subject to environmental review.

Even more alarming, it revokes a requirement that climate change and other “cumulative environmental effects” be considered and limits opportunities for affected populations, such as communities of color, to challenge proposed projects.

Deregulation like this puts our environment — the economic engine of our economy in Western North Carolina — at risk. We need leaders in Washington who will fight to protect our environment.

Period.

 

YARD SIGNS

Do you have a yard that faces a major road, highway or interstate? Do you want a large — 4′ X 6′ — Moe Davis for Congress sign to display? Email us at yardsign@moedavis.com and we will get a large display sign to you as soon as we can. (Use the same address for the regular sized signs and magnetic bumper stickers.)

Thank you!

 

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED

COVID-19 restrictions got you locked down and bored at home? Want to talk?

How about chatting with voters in North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District about Moe Davis?
We are asking for volunteers nationwide to phone bank for us, calling voters to get our message out. Calls can be made from anywhere in the country.
The more people know about Moe, his background, experience, knowledge and policy positions, the more likely they will support him. So please go to moedavisforcongress.com/get-involved/ to add your name if you can help.
Join us. Be a part of a team that flips Mark Meadows’s seat blue in November. It will feel soooo good.

 

MADISON’S WASHINGTON ADVENTURE

Madison Cawthorn recently attended a Trump fundraiser in Washington where he showed a video and had the opportunity to get in front of the GOP donor class. He’s already selling us out.

Those donors are going to pour millions into buying this seat. And Cawthorn’s vote.

Don’t let them get away with it.

Donate. If you can, and as much as you can. We can’t let Cawthorn anywhere near Washington.

 

Stay safe. Stay home. Stay healthy.
Mountain Strong

Climate Change: What is the DOD Doing?, Zachary Wyatt (July 24)

On Saturday June 20th, the Russian town of Verkhoyansk recorded its highest temperature ever. The town located above the Arctic Circle recorded a record temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. This is another indicator of the true effects of climate change. Siberia has already been having an unusually hot year, as the region has been experiencing wildfires currently burning 680,000 acres of Siberian wilderness. 

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the earth’s five hottest years ever recorded, occurred since 2015. Nine out of the 10 warmest years have occurred since 2005. The average global temperature for 2019 was 1.71 Fahrenheit higher than the average for the 20th century. 

Policy makers in Washington continue to be apathetic about taking any action. Some are actively trying to reverse efforts made to fight climate change. For example, President Donald Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement. 187 out of the 193 UN members are part of the Paris Climate Agreement. The US has a key role in participating in the Paris Climate Agreement because the agreement is aimed at reducing green house gas admissions, and the United States is the second largest producer of greenhouse gases. Trump dismisses climate change entirely, claiming it to be a “hoax”.

Although the policy makers in Washington seem to ignore the reality of climate change, various federal agencies prepare for its future consequences. The Department of Defense released a report in July of 2015 about the national security consequences of climate change. The report stated, “that the department must consider the effects of climate change – such as sea level rise, shifting climate zones and more frequent and intense severe weather events – and how these effects could impact national security.”

The report found that two thirds of U.S. military installations are at risk of flooding, droughts, and wildfires. The authors of the report noted that the reports mostly likely underestimate the damage caused by climate change. The report predicts that these damages are for the near future, as in the next twenty years. Out of the 79 military installations analyzed in the report, about 53 currently experience recurrent flooding, 43 have been facing drought, 36 have been exposed to wildfires, and one is dealing with thawing of permafrost.  

Climate change can make it too expensive for the United States to maintain its military abroad.  The cost for constantly repairing expensive military equipment from the world’s most advanced military will become too high. This will cause the United States to decrease its presence and influence abroad, possibly even causing the United States to lose its superpower status in the process. 

Despite all the efforts various government agencies and departments have made to urge the legislatures to act against this crisis. Many policy makers in Washington are still in denial about the effects  and the existence of climate change. While policy makers in Washington remain apathetic about the effects of this manmade disaster, the unbiased technocrats within the governments various government agencies prepare for the worst. 

Zachary Wyatt is currently an intern with the Jackson County Democrat Party

E Pluribus Unum, by William McReynolds

Immediately after declaring independence in 1776 our founding fathers adopted a motto for
the new country. That motto is “E Pluribus Unum” meaning “From many, one.”  The many at that time in our history included the 13 colonies and “the countries from which these States have been peopled.”
E. Pluribus Unum—from many, one—appears on a banner carried in the beak of an American eagle on the Great Seal of the United States of America and the Seal of the President of the United States.
“United we stand, divided we fall” became prominent in the U.S. in 1768 in “The Liberty Song” by Founding Father John Dickenson which included the verse “Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all! By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall.”  In his last public speech Patriot Patrick Henry warned Americans that “United we stand, divided we fall.  Let us not split into factions which must destroy that union upon which our existence hangs.”  This line—united we stand, divided we fall—appears on state flags and throughout our culture.
Today, the United States of America is struggling with forces of disunity. The 50 States are clearly not united but on their own in fighting against the Covid-19 pandemic and economic fallout.  The unifying federal government is AWOL during this crisis. As a matter of policy, the states are on their own in coping with, protecting from, preventing and treating Covid-19.  Our government is AWOL regarding pressing issues of health care, social justice and economic fairness.  As a result, Americans are falling: falling into disease, falling into joblessness, falling into poverty, falling into despair.  Our first responders, teachers and children are in free fall.  As a source of disunity in the world’s community of nations, America is falling.  We’ve been divided and we are being conquered.
America and Americans have lost their unity and are suffering from division because we have the most divisive president and corrupt political party in our history.  This president’s divisiveness is well known: blaming others, insulting others, withdrawing from alliances, criticizing allies, ignoring expertise, embracing bad actors, going it alone, rank nationalism and ugly populism.  His political party has enabled his destructiveness and corruption.
Your vote in November can be a vote to re-establish American unity of purpose and values and a vote against the dividedness which is our current downfall.  Voting against divisiveness is basic to our national character. Seeking unity is America’s deep desire and greatest hope.

COVID-19: County Cases Continue To Increase

Smoky Mountain News, By Jessi Stone

Jackson County has seen a steady growth in active COVID-19 cases in the last week as an outbreak was reported at a local skilled nursing facility on July 17 and a cluster was announced at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino on July 20.

Five employees at the Skyland Care Center have tested positive for COVID-19. All positive employees are following isolation orders. The North Carolina Division of Public Health defines an outbreak in a long-term care setting, like a skilled nursing facility, as two or more laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 within two incubation periods (28 days) in the same facility.

The investigation is ongoing. Symptomatic individuals who test positive will be required to remain in isolation under the following conditions — at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared and at least 72 hours have passed since the resolution of fever without the use of medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms. Asymptomatic individuals who test positive will be required to remain in isolation under the following conditions — at least 10 days have passed since their positive test assuming they have not subsequently developed symptoms since their positive test.

Upon notification of the first positive case, Skyland Care Center coordinated with the health department to determine next steps. Quarantine and testing were recommended for close contacts of the first positive case. Upon identification of additional cases, Skyland Care Center coordinated COVID-19 testing for all additional employees and residents. Testing was completed by July 16; results are pending.

“Skyland Care Center takes the health and safety of all its residents and staff very seriously and has prepared the facility and staff for potential exposures in dealing with the pandemic. We will monitor the test results closely and will take preventative measures as necessary to reduce the potential for exposures,” said Skyland Care Center Administrator Mistie Cooley.

As of July 20, Jackson County had a total of 279 cases, 59 people currently in isolation and three deaths.

Macon County had a total of 401 cases — 122 are active cases while 278 are considered to be recovered. To date, there’s only been one reported death in Macon County. There are still 360 test results pending.

Haywood County has performed more than 5,000 COVID-19 tests and has a total of 167 positive cases, but 138 of those are considered recovered.

In Swain County, 2,668 tests have been performed and there has been a total of 81 positive cases and two deaths. The county also has 377 tests pending.

Getting test results back is still taking a week or more depending on the lab being used, according to providers and the health department. The state issued a press release last week stating that 13 additional qualified vendors have been approved to expedite testing and contact tracing efforts.

NCHSAA Delays Fall Sports Practice Until At Least Sept. 1. (July 23)

The Sylva Herald, By Carey Phillips

The N.C. High School Athletic Association has postponed the beginning of fall sports practices from Aug.1 to at least Sept. 1 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For now, workouts can continue with significant restrictions under Phase I of the NCHSAA’s plan. However, the first five days of the 2020-21 school year (Aug. 17-21) will be designated as a dead period for all sports, with no workouts allowed.

The NCHSAA will continue to operate under Phase I until further notice. The state is under Phase II of Gov. Roy Cooper’s reopening plan until at least Aug. 7.

The NCHSAA has not indicated if it would move to its Phase II if Cooper moves the state into Phase III at that time. The NCHSAA has given no indication of what can of activities would be allowed in its Phase II.

“For now, we believe these steps provide hope for our student-athletes, and the possibility for playing fall sports” NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker said. “We know that many decisions are being made relative to the reopening plan your school(s) will follow. After each (school district) has had an opportunity to formalize and finalize those reopening plans, the NCHSAA staff will survey the membership to determine how sports should and/or can fit into the various models that will exist across the state.”

Cooper announced last week that state public schools will be allowed to open under Plan B, which includes a combination of in-person and remote learning. School districts can also opt for Plan C, which is entirely remote learning. Jackson County schools are expected to operate under Plan B, although a final decision will not be made until Tuesday.

Tucker indicated that the Sept. 1 start date is not “in cement” and can be delayed further if there is not improved data from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services “or some other reason exists for delaying further into September or beyond.”

“We acknowledge that playing certain sports are more problematic at any time without a vaccine,” Tucker said. “However, we remain in consultation with our Sports Medicine Advisory Committee members, and they believe we can and should offer a sports program, with all necessary modifications, delays, etc. In the coming weeks, we will continue working with the SMAC as we plan our next steps for the fall, as well as determining when equipment could be shared (i.e. balls) and/or if we can move into Phase II of the summer workouts/conditioning.”

She said each NCHSAA board member “believes in the value of education-based athletics and is committed to safely offering a fall, winter and spring sports program during this school year.”

“However, there is also a commitment to the health and safety of students and coaches,” Tucker said. “Towards this end, we all will continue to follow the guidance of the Department of Health and Human Services relative to the data and how we all safely move forward.”

Smoky Mountain Athletic Director Adam Phillips said he remains optimistic that fall sports will be played in some form although the number of games may be reduced.

“South Carolina is putting a plan in place to have a seven-game regular (football) season,” Phillips said. “Tennessee and Georgia are moving forward. That puts a little pressure on our state.”

He said any plans about scheduling potential non-conference games are on hold until the NCHSAA releases proposed start and end dates for the season.

“I hope they will release something else soon and give us some ballpark playing dates,” Phillips said.

The regular season was originally scheduled to start Aug. 21 for football and Aug. 17 for other sports. With the start of practice delayed a month, it will likely be at least mid-September before any games can be held.

Meanwhile, Phillips is pleased with off season workouts.

“Workouts are going great,” he said. “Our numbers have been great in every sport.”

School Board To Examine Re-Entry Plans For Jackson (July 23)

The Sylva Herald, By Dave Russell

Tuesday’s 6 p.m. meeting of the Jackson County Board of Education could go a long way in determining how local schools will open on Aug. 17. Gov. Roy Cooper held a press conference last Tuesday to lay out some tweaks to previous measures set forth by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. 

DHHS had established three plans – A, B, and C – for schools to follow.

“One of the things the school board has to decide whether or not they want to go forward with the new version of Plan B, or if they would like to go with Plan C,” Assistant Superintendent Jake Buchanan said. 

Plan A, full attendance, is out of the question, as the state’s COVID-19 numbers have failed to improve to an appropriate level.

Plan B would limit attendance to about half in the building at any given time, a combination of in-school and remote learning.

Plan C would be remote only. 

Cooper gave school systems the option of using Plan B or Plan C. The school board had voted July 7 that Pre-K-5 students would attend daily, while middle- and high-school students would alternate weeks. However, new guidelines on determining classroom capacity may force that plan to be changed.

“Within our new Plan B, one of the major decisions is whether or not we will be alternating students every other day or every other week,” Buchanan said. “Under the new guidelines set forth by the governor, we cannot have all the students in the classroom at the same time. We’ll have pros and cons of each that we will lay out for the board to make that decision.”

With Pre-K-5 students making up half the county’s student total, the new plan would affect many families, he said.

There has been a switch from in-school attendance being limited by school capacity to limits based on classroom size.

The school system is measuring classrooms this week, Buchanan said.

“It’s looking as if we’re going to be at that 50 percent capacity, with most classrooms being able to hold maybe 14-18 kids,” he said. “There can be outliers on that, just because our schools are so different.”

Plans for buses have not changed.

“We’ll be going with one kid per seat, or two kids from the same household,” Buchanan said. “We are working on a bus monitor plan and looking for bus monitors. We still will be screening students prior to them getting on the bus.”

Some of the buses would have to run their routes twice but which ones has not been determined, he said.

The school system is contacting every family in Jackson County schools and asking them two questions: Do you intend to have your student attend face-to-face, or do you intend to have them learning completely remote? Do you plan on using school system transportation?

“We’re thinking that a large percentage of families are choosing not to utilize our bus transportation, so there will be some routes that have to be double routes, but it won’t be the triple and quadruple routes that it could possibly be if everyone rode the bus,” he said. “It is totally a family’s choice whether or not their student is fully remote or comes in. Families who are nervous about having their child physically in the school buildings, we understand that and we want to be supportive of those families and kids. We’ll have remote options for them to select.”

All students, even down to kindergartners, would be required to wear a mask, Buchanan said.

“We’ve done the research and consulted with the health department and shields will not take the place of masks,” he said. “We’re developing a process for what to do when there are medical reasons a mask cannot be worn.”

The schools are looking for volunteers to help as bus monitors, screening at the door taking temperatures and assistance with meals, etc., he said.

“We’re going to ramp up a campaign next week to try and get volunteers in the schools,” he said. Buchanan expects an announcement about athletics “sometime before Aug. 1.”

“Jackson County Public Schools Administration and the JCPS Board of Education strive to make decisions in the best interest of safety for all,” Superintendent Kim Elliott said. “As always, parents will make decisions for their children regarding school re-entry. We will certainly accommodate remote learning needs for students when school is in session.”

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