Each week, staff at Carolina Journal looks back at the week in N.C. politics and chooses several interesting, relevant stories you may have missed. Here’s this week’s review:
Grim milestone: North Carolina had its first deaths from COVID-19. A Cabarrus County resident died from complications associated with the virus, state officials announced March 25. The person was in their seventies and had underlying medical conditions. A Virginia resident in their 60s who was passing through North Carolina also died from complications related to COVID-19. The state’s third death was Adrian Grubbs, a 37-year-old supervisor in the Raleigh Solid Waste Services Department. A fourth patient from Harnett County died March 26 from the virus. The person was in their late 30s and had underlying medical issues.
Reusing masks: Duke Health has found a way to safely reuse N95 masks used by health care workers as concerns of shortages of protective medical equipment grow. Aerosolized hydrogen peroxide can decontaminate the masks without harming the materials in the masks. “The ability to reuse the crucial N95 masks will boost the hospitals’ ability to protect frontline health care workers during this time of critical shortages of N95 masks,” Dr. Cameron Wolfe, an associate professor of medicine and infectious disease specialist, said in a written statement obtained by the News & Observer. The technique will be used at all three of Duke Health’s hospitals in Durham and Raleigh.
Increased patrols: Greg Seabolt, the Randolph County sheriff, is increasing patrols to ensure residents are complying with the governor’s executive orders. The uptick in patrols will also help in the event of civil unrest. “We don’t know if the governor is going to shut down everything, and if that happens, the whole state would be in a panic and there could be some looting, protests or whatever. We’re just preparing for the worst,” Seabolt said in a statement obtained by the Winston-Salem Journal. Randolph County has three confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Possible COVID-19 treatment: Duke Health has joined a national effort to study a potential treatment for COVID-19. Hospitalized adults with severe symptoms can participate in the study to see if remdesivir, an antiviral treatment, is effective. Remdesivir has shown promise in animal studies against MERS and SARS, and was tested against Ebola. “Currently, there are no approved therapies for this disease, so we are eager to contribute in any way to help find ways to fight this global pandemic,” Cameron Wolfe, M.D., the study’s principal investigator, said.
Rep. MaryAnn Black: Rep. MaryAnn Black, D-Durham, has died after a battle with cancer at age 76. Black has worked as a social worker for more than 30 years and served as a Durham County Commissioner from 1990-2002. The National Association of Social Workers named her “Social Worker of the Year” in 1994. “MaryAnn Black made a powerful difference in the lives of North Carolinians through decades of service,” Speaker of the House Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said in a news release. “With over 30 years of service prior to her political career, MaryAnn’s soul of a social worker poured out into everything she touched,” U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, 1st District, said in a news release. “This is a great loss for the city of Durham, the state of North Carolina and all those who have benefitted from her passion and compassion.”