We Need Systematic Testing

WRAL recently presented a story on what we need for life to return to normal based on an interview with Mark McClellan, Director of the Margolis Center for Health Policy at Duke. Four criteria were presented two of which were 1) that the State needs to be able to test everyone that presents symptoms and 2) to monitor all confirmed cases and their contacts. Within the past two days Dr. McClellan and others at the Margolis Center published a webpage about creating a national COVID-19 testing system

(https://healthpolicy.duke.edu/sites/default/files/atoms/files/covid-19_surveillance_roadmap_final.pdf) .

I applaud this work because such a systematic approach will be vital for any return to normal life.

To date, the efforts to “flatten the curve” really have rested on the shoulders of citizens to 1) close businesses, 2) stay at home, 3) practice “safe distancing”, 4) wear (often homemade) face masks. We need government to present a plan for establishing a systematic COVID-19 testing and monitoring system. We need Federal and State funding.

We need the North Carolina State Legislature to approve emergency funding for such a system. Doing anything less will sadly ensure a long, drawn out effort to control the spread of Coronavirus.

David Cox, PhD

Raleigh City Council

Virtual Raleigh City Council Meeting

FRIDAY, APRIL 3, AT 5PM IS THE DAY/TIME YOU MUST SIGN UP BY IN ORDER TO PARTICIPATE IN PUBLIC COMMENTS OR HEARINGS. SEE LINKS BELOW FOR SPECIFIC INFORMATION.

Hearings

On April 7th, Raleigh will hold its first virtual city council meeting. There will be an afternoon session beginning at 1pm and an evening session at 7pm.

We have an aggressive agenda with 17 items scheduled for public hearing in the evening session.

Public hearings are opportunities for members of the public to speak and address Council. How can you participate given that we will be conducting a virtual meeting and the City Municipal building will closed?

To speak at any of the hearings, please follow this link for instructions:

https://raleighnc.gov/services/government/public-hearings-city-council

Public Comments

The evening City Council meeting is also an opportunity to make comments on any topic during the Public Comment section of the meeting. We will hold a public comment section as usual and you can find instructions for signing up at this link:

https://raleighnc.gov/services/government/petition-address-city-council

Other Information

If you do not plan to speak either for a hearing or for public comment, you can watch the meeting either online or on TV.

Broadcast for viewing by the public via the following channels: the City’s website, the City’s YouTube Live Stream, or Chanel RTN-11.  If you are unable to access via TV or web, please contact cityclerkpetition@raleighnc.gov or 919-996-3040 to obtain instructions for how to listen via telephone.

Stay At Home Order

The following information is copied fro the following website

http://www.wakegov.com/news/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=1200

As the number of positive COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Wake County, so are concerns that the virus could overwhelm our local healthcare system. To help prevent that from happening, Wake County Board of Commissioners Chairman Greg Ford signed a proclamation today that puts a stay-at-home order in effect on Friday, March 27, at 5 p.m.

“If we’re serious about protecting our community, we need to get serious about staying at home, so we can slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Chairman Ford. “That’s why we moved swiftly to implement this measure. Our short-term sacrifices can mean very literally the difference between life and death for some of our residents – and it would be irresponsible not to act.”

The goal of the proclamation is for Wake County residents to stay home and away from others who are not immediate members of their family or household. By restricting contact, the county hopes to reduce the rate at which COVID-19 is infecting residents.

What is Not Allowed under the Proclamation

The stay-at-home order includes the following mandates:

• All non-essential facilities, services, operations and retail businesses must close.

• Gatherings of any size are prohibited.

• People of any age with medical conditions should not leave their homes except to get medical care.

• Social distancing must be practiced while in public.

• Public transportation should only be used if necessary. If public transport is a person’s primary way to get around, they should abide by social distancing best practices, standing and sitting at least six feet apart and using sanitizing products.

What is Allowed under the Proclamation

The stay-at-home does not restrict activities such as:

• Shopping for food at the grocery store or picking up take-out meals from a local restaurant

• Operating businesses that provide critical services like hospitals, government agencies and financial institutions

• Caring for a family member or pet in another household

• Providing childcare for parents who have to go to work at jobs that are considered essential

• Utilizing plumbers, electricians, exterminators and others who help maintain the safety and sanitation of residences

• Visiting a local park, greenway or nature preserve while practicing social distancing

For a comprehensive list, read the proclamation, which is attached to this news release. It will remain in effect until April 17 at which time the county will re-evaluate the situation and determine if an extension is needed.

“We’ve been in constant conversation with our partners at the local hospitals and in the municipalities since the pandemic took hold here,” said Wake County Manager David Ellis. “Together, we looked at the growing caseload in our community and determined a stay-at-home order was the best way to help protect our residents and healthcare workers from contracting COVID-19.”

Information for Businesses

Wake County has set up a dedicated phone line – 919-856-7420 – to address business-specific questions related to the stay-at-home order. In addition, special FAQs focused on the business community are posted on the county’s COVID-19 webpage here.

Wake County is also working with the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and Wake County Economic Development to help communicate with the business community about these changes and share important resources to support them during this challenging time.

Protecting Yourself

You can protect yourself from COVID-19 and any other flu-like illness by following these simple steps:

• Stay home and go out only to take care of basic needs.

• Stay away from sick people and practice social distancing measures.

• Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.

• Don’t touch your eyes, nose and mouth.

• Clean and disinfect surfaces using household cleaning spray or wipes.

• Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue in the trash.

Staying Updated

Wake County has made it easy for you to stay updated on the latest information about COVID-19.

You can visit our COVID-19 webpage, which has a set of frequently asked questions to educate residents in English and in Spanish, a list of COVID-19-related closures and service changes, as well as an email address and phone number that people can use to ask personal health-related questions about COVID-19.

The webpage also includes a “Help for Residents” area, which provides information about how to access a number of services, such as food and nutrition services, Medicaid, Work First benefits and more.

For additional information, follow Wake County on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

AAAS Report on Coronavirus

This is highly technical. But if you are interested, here is a paper from the American Association for the Advancement of Science just published on research to find a vaccine. The paper describes various viral proteins that could serve as targets of a vaccine.

These proteins have 3D structures that facilitate attachment of the virus to human cells. The 3D structures change as the virus attaches. Understanding these structures will be key to developing an effective vaccine.

The laboratory work necessary for this type of research is pretty amazing. Early in my career I worked for a few years as a lab technician in the Biochemistry Department at the University of Rochester and did some of the steps described in this paper such as running affinity and size exclusion chromatography. But that was many years ago. I am by no means an expert.

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/367/6483/1260.full

Proposed Soccer Stadium Projected Revenues

Here are the numbers on the stadium.

We are being asked to provide $13M a year for 30 years.

The taxes generated during the first ten years of operation are projected to range from $31,172 to a high of $162,099 per year.

Even the revenues in year 10 will fail to equal the taxes spent by $8 million.

These numbers were referred to by the consultant who did the study as “high level proforma”

Much of the attendance will come from existing facilities such as the soccer facility in Cary. The study shows that 46 of the expected 58 to 63 events per year already take place at other venues.

Raleigh’s Homeless Crisis

Raleigh has a homeless crisis.

The McKinney–Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987 is a United States federal law that provides federal money for homeless shelter programs. It was the first significant federal legislative response to homelessness, and was passed by the 100th United States Congress and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on July 22, 1987.

According to the McKinney-Vento Act definition for homelessness, in 2018 there were 4365 children in Wake County classified as homeless – a 100% increase over 2014. Many, if not most, live in Raleigh. Numbers for 2019 were not yet available.

Most are in families that earn less than $30,000 a year. The general requirements to obtain an apartment are the following:

Your gross income must be at least 3x the rent.

You must not have been evicted within the last 7 years

You must not have had a felony conviction within the last 7 years (for example, a drug conviction)

I obtained this information while visiting one of the largest shelters for homeless women and children in Raleigh on Capital Blvd yesterday. They are at capacity with 110 residents.

All of our shelters combined are unable to handle the growing numbers. We have a crisis and need to now give it our full attention.

What we need are 1500 to 2000 housing units to house these families. We also need services to help them stand on their own – education, training, counseling, drug rehabilitation, and ultimately jobs. It is not an insurmountable problem. Let us work together to meet this need.

Irreplaceable Loss of Public Meetings with Police

‪The motion by Saige Martin, Nicole Stewart, and Mary-Ann Baldwin to kill Raleigh’s Citizens Advisory Councils also killed monthly meetings with police officers. That’s 200 meetings a year throughout the City between citizens and officers that will not be replaced.

One of the reasons given for killing the CACs is to cut back on spending. But isn’t fostering good communications between police and citizens worth the money?

Two hundred meetings – two hundred opportunities now gone.

This is why I voted against this ill conceived motion motion to kill CACs.

Requests for Interlocal Funds

The following was provided by the City Manager regarding various requests for interlocal funds. There is $46.6M available for funding medium sized projects. The requests total $73M. Here are the details.

Mayor and Council Members:

The Request for Proposals (RFP) process for the Hospitality Tax Medium Projects allocation has closed and Wake County staff has received proposals for six (6) projects, which are summarized in the table below.

The six proposals total almost $73 million in funding requests; there is $46.6 million in Medium Projects funding allocated for this category of projects. The next steps for the process will be for an evaluation team with representatives from the City, County and community to work through each of the proposals and receive presentations from each of the proposers. Once the evaluation team wraps up its work, the results will be presented to the Wake County and City of Raleigh elected boards for decisions on funding commitments this spring.  

As a reminder, the 21st amendment signed in August of 2019 allocated funding for 1. an indoor sports facility and 2. a medium projects fund for initiatives located within Wake County; these are in addition to the other obligations of the Interlocal Fund. The 21st amendment instructed staff to proceed with two (2) RFP processes to assist in the funding recommendations. The funding recommendation for the indoor sports facility is on the consent agenda for tomorrow’s City Council meeting. Should you have any questions, please reach out to Jim Greene, Assistant City Manager or Allison Bradsher, CFO.