Governor Cooper Visits Greensboro Federal COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Site PDF Print E-mail
By Donna Martinez   
Wednesday, 10 March 2021 18:00
Governor Roy Cooper visited the Federally-Supported Vaccination Center in Greensboro on its opening day. This COVID-19 community vaccination site is operating out of the Four Seasons Town Centre for the next eight weeks with options for drive-thru service in the parking lot and walk-in service.
“I am grateful for the collaboration among federal, state and local officials that have worked so hard to make this happen,” Governor Cooper said. “We want to continue our vaccine distribution in a way that's fast and fair, and this center is helping us reach that goal.” 
The community vaccination center is operating seven days per week and providing up to 3,000 vaccinations per day. The federal government is providing the center’s vaccine supply, which will be in addition to North Carolina’s weekly allotment from the Centers for Disease Control.
The vaccination center is strategically located to support the state’s goal of getting vaccines to historically marginalized and underserved communities and will have additional sites and mobile vaccination clinics in surrounding counties.
North Carolina has continued to emphasize equity in the vaccine distribution process. In the last four weeks, more than 20 percent of the state’s first doses have been administered to Black North Carolinians. On Sunday, Bloomberg News recognized North Carolina as the leader in the nation for reporting demographic data on who has been vaccinated down to the county level.
North Carolina is continuing to make more data publicly available. Yesterday, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services expanded its vaccine data dashboard to provide more demographic data on people who are partially or fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Users will be able to see vaccinations by race, ethnicity, gender and age group by county, by week and since vaccinations began. 
“This is a great day for North Carolinians, and we are thrilled to be part of opening this vaccination center in Greensboro. Our strong partnership with the state and the community at all levels of government made this possible,” said Gracia Szczech, regional administrator for FEMA Region IV. “We are committed to the equitable distribution of the vaccine and our top priority is to ensure everyone who wants a vaccine gets one.”
More than 1.1 million North Carolinians have been fully vaccinated as the state works with local health departments and providers to distribute this vaccine quickly and equitably. While supply is still limited, the increased federal allocation of doses will help providers administer vaccines to more people. 
Frontline essential workers in Group 3 are currently eligible to get their vaccine. Some members of Group 4 will become eligible next starting with people with health conditions that make them at high-risk for severe COVID-19 illness and people in some congregate living settings. 
North Carolinians can find vaccine providers in their community through the NCDHHS online tool, Find a Vaccine Location. The COVID-19 vaccine help center is available to answer vaccine questions 888-675-4567. Learn more about the state’s vaccine distribution at
Governor, Legislature Agree To Bill Reopening All NC Classrooms PDF Print E-mail
By Administrator   
Wednesday, 10 March 2021 17:55
The North Carolina Senate unanimously approved an agreement between legislative leaders and Gov. Roy Cooper to return North Carolina students to in-person learning. 
Under the agreement in Senate Bill 220, kindergarten through fifth grades will open under Plan A as defined by the latest 2021 NC Public Health Toolkit (K-12). Local districts will have the flexibility to decide between opening under Plan A, Plan B, or a combination of the two for grades 6-12. Families can still choose to continue virtual learning if that best fits their needs. 
Schools choosing to open under Plan A for grades 6-12 must notify the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to describe their plan for moving to Plan A, though DHHS will not have the authority to veto a local district’s decision to move to Plan A. 
Parents of students in grades 6-12 with IEPs attending schools in Plan B can choose to have their child attend school under Plan A.
All of the requirements of this agreement would be effective 21 days after it becomes law. However, school districts are authorized to move to Plan A or Plan B immediately after it becomes law. Schools can add additional teacher workdays between when it becomes law and the date they being operating under Plan A or Plan B so they have more time to prepare if needed.
This agreement also requires any school that opens any grades of 6-12 under Plan A to partner with the ABC Science Collaborative so the Collaborative can collect and analyze data related to reopening schools. The Collaborative’s efforts will be funded through $500,000 of federal COVID relief funds allocated to the Department of Public Instruction.
The Governor will have the authority to order a closure, restriction, or reduction of operations within schools, but can only do so on a district-by-district basis.
"This legislation accomplishes what we've wanted from the beginning, getting kids back into the classroom," Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) said. " I want to thank Sens. Ballard, Lee, and deViere for standing up for our students. Our students will be able to return to the classroom and school districts will retain the flexibility to open in a way that best fits their needs. I look forward to this bill being passed and signed into law as quickly as possible." 
Sen. Deanna Ballard (R-Watauga), the co-chair of the Senate Education Committee and primary sponsor of Senate Bill 37 said: "Reopening schools has been at the front of all of our minds since the beginning of the pandemic. This agreement signals a shared priority. I'm grateful to the parents who worked in tandem with us advocating for a return to school, my colleagues who worked around the clock to get this deal accomplished, and Superintendent Truitt who has been supportive of students and educators throughout this entire process." 
Tillis Praises Deal To Reopen All NC Classrooms PDF Print E-mail
By Administrator   
Wednesday, 10 March 2021 17:43
U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) released the following statement on the bipartisan agreement to reopen schools in North Carolina:
“I’ve heard countless stories from North Carolina parents about the hardships their families and children have faced as a result of remote learning, especially for students with physical and intellectual disabilities who need in-person schooling and services. I am glad that Governor Cooper, Speaker Moore, and Senator Berger were able to reach a bipartisan compromise to get students back to school safely and quickly. School reopenings in North Carolina and the rest of the nation must be based on what the scientists—not powerful unions—tell us, and I remain committed to pushing commonsense legislation to support our school districts as they put the well-being of students first by safely resuming in-person learning.”
Dr. Mike Walden: You Decide - Are There Costs To The COVID Stimulus Bill? PDF Print E-mail
By Administrator   
Wednesday, 10 March 2021 17:32

The new Covid-19 relief bill is big – really big - as Barney Fife would say.  It will provide $1.9 trillion of federal government spending to people, businesses, state and local governments, and a variety of other institutions.  This is in addition to $4 trillion of help approved last year.

            The logic of this assistance is straightforward.  Without the funding, many households would have been destitute, lacking the essentials for living.   Also, many more businesses would have become bankrupt.  Even with the help, some economists estimate the small business bankruptcy rate may reach 25%.

            The good news is the economy has been recovering.  The bad news is not everyone is back on their feet.  Therefore, a strong case can be made that extending help at least through the summer is sensible and needed.

            Yet, after following the debates about previous Covid-19 stimulus legislation, I’ve noticed some new questions raised about the current bill, particularly by economists.  While these economists understand the need to provide continuing help to those households and businesses who have not yet financially recovered, the economists also worry that there could be some adverse side effects from the massive new federal spending.

            The concerns are in three areas: inflation, investments, and the impact of debt.  Let me look at each of these and then, as always, let you decide how significant they are.

            For the better part of a decade, inflation has been a non-issue, with average prices rising between 1% and 2% a year.  This is much different than when I joined the NCSU faculty in 1978, when inflation was “the” issue in the economy.  And for good reason.  For several years in the late 70s and early 80s, the annual inflation rate was in double digits.  That’s right, the average cost of living was rising over 10% each year.

            Higher inflation results when consumers are trying to buy more than what businesses can produce.  One famous economist once said, “inflation results when too much money is chasing too few goods and services.”

            Some economists say that with the latest $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill, the economy will actually be over-stimulated, where we will reach the point of attempting to buy more goods and services than businesses can produce.  Indeed, the Federal Reserve – the central bank of the country – has bought the majority of new debt issued by the government to fund the Covid-19 stimulus packages. The bank has issued new money to cover these purchases.  Adding to the worry is the fact that, with so many businesses lost during the pandemic, it will take time to rebuild production.

            As a result, rather than seeing annual inflation in the 1% to 2% range, we may see it in the 2% to 4% range later this year.  This will motivate workers to argue for higher wages to afford the higher prices, thereby increasing business costs and possibly setting up an inflationary cycle.

            The second worry is in investment markets, and there are two concerns here.  Research shows one-third of past household stimulus checks have been saved, with a substantial portion going into the stock market and pushing stock prices to higher and higher levels.  The same will likely happen with the new stimulus checks.  If stock prices are pushed to levels not supported by fundamental business factors, the market may be set up for a serious pullback.

            The second investment concern is if higher inflation pushes interest rates higher.  Increases in interest rates are also often associated with declines in stock values.

            The last issue is with the national debt. The federal government has borrowed all the money used in the Covid-19 stimulus plans.   The national debt is already over100% of national income for the first time since World War II, and it’s likely to go higher.

            Currently there is no need to worry the country can’t pay the interest payments on the debt.  The reason is the exceeding low interest rates prevailing today, meaning debt can be borrowed relatively cheaply.  In fact, although payments on the national debt as a percent of the value of the economy have risen in the last five years, the percentage is roughly half of what it was in the 1980s and 1990s, and is the same as it was in the year I was born (1951).

            But there is a cost associated with higher debt.  Many economists argue more borrowing pushes interest rates higher, leading to reduced private investments and slower economic growth.  In essence, by borrowing we’ve traded faster economic growth today for slower economic growth in the future. One economic model recently estimated the $1.9 trillion stimulus would slow future economic growth by 10%.  

            It these concerns are believed, we may have traded helping people and businesses and fighting the virus today for potentially higher inflation, a lower stock market, and some loss in our future standard of living.  Good trade or bad trade? You decide.


            Walden is a Reynolds Distinguished Professor and Extension Economist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at North Carolina State University who teaches and writes on personal finance, economic outlook, and public policy.



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