NC Covid Anomalies: Part II

A few days ago, I pointed out how NC’s Covid-19 death rate was an outlier. NC was low in comparison to other states with similar infection rates. I have some more good news, this time in the form of positive cases in the Tar Heel State, and it may help to explain NC’s low death rate.

NC has increased its testing dramatically. 28,679 North Carolinians have been tested as of today:

But, NC is seeing a very small share of positive cases. NC’s positive test rate is only 6.5%.

Meanwhile, the United States as a whole has a positive test rate of 18.3%.

https://covidtracking.com/data/us-daily

You want a low positive rate. It means you’re testing liberally, ruling out doubt, and getting closer to an accurate measure of the disease in your state.

If your positive rate is high, you could be missing a majority of your cases, especially if you’re being stingy with tests by saving them for serious and critical cases.

For example….

Our neighbors to the South have a positive rate of 20.4%, higher than the national average:

Two facts emerge:

  1. It is likely that far more than 1,293 people have Covid-19 in South Carolina.
  2. It is less likely that far more than 1,857 people have Covid–19 in North Carolina.

It’s probable that NC has a better grasp of the extent of the disease within its borders. This is probably why SC has more deaths than NC, despite fewer reported cases.


The whole point of this is to get an accurate depiction of the mortality rate and the extent of the disease. In short, how many people will die, and what are the steps, if any, we can take to protect people. With accurate data, you’re less likely to be caught off guard (any more than we already are). You’re also less likely to take extreme mitigation measures that aren’t necessary (like curfews in Fayetteville, NC).

Our Nation’s data is behind “the curve.” North Carolina is trying to catch up and is doing substantially better than the majority of the Union. What you see is what you get here.

Esse Quam Videri.

Seal of North Carolina - Wikipedia

NC’s Anomalous COVID-19 Numbers

With the obvious caveat that everything is subject to change on an hourly basis, as of March 31, North Carolinians are showing abnormal resistance to COVID-19. Only eight people have died from the virus, and only two of those were under the age of 65. Our mortality rate is currently 0.53%. It’s quite possible that the rate is much lower, due to the number of people with mild symptoms that are not being tested.

There are 24 states with case counts greater than 1,000. North Carolina is one of them, but it is the only one with a single-digit death count. North Carolina now has fewer deaths than Idaho and Kansas, despite having 4-5 times the number of confirmed cases.


For some more perspective on these numbers, let’s look at some more data:

  • In 2018, 2,067 people died from influenza and pneumonia in North Carolina.
  • In 2018, 5,367 people died that same year from “lower respiratory diseases.”

You can search for any other year or disease with this link from NCDHHS.


In writing this, I don’t have an agenda. I’m coping with it like you all are, as best I can. Facts and data help me to get my fear and emotions in check. What I see, at least as far as North Carolina goes, is that we’re doing pretty well compared to some places, and I wanted to point that out.

Let’s hope this trend holds. Let’s also hope that reason, common sense, science prevail over paranoia and fear.

We’re going to have to get back to work, school, and life soon.

Preach

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the Republican candidate for Governor, Dan Forest. The post included a video of a speech Forest gave on M.L.K. Day. The controversy surrounding the speech was covered in state-wide news, and some national sites even picked up on it.

Well, I watched the video again. Then I watched it a few more times.

I put my lawyer cap on and tried to look at it objectively, focusing not so much on what was said, but on what was happening in the room. What struck me as I continued to replay it was that Forest has his intended audience eating out of the palm of his hand. Those in attendance even began to enthusiastically quote Bible verses back to Forest.

The speech could easily be a sermon, Forest a preacher, and his audience a congregation at any evangelical church in North Carolina on any given Sunday. This is what gives it political power. You can criticize the content, but you can’t really argue against its effectiveness.

The Political Power of Preaching

First off, this isn’t a case study in evangelical politics. I’m not going to discuss abortion, or gay marriage, or the bathroom bill. This is about an oratory skill that certain individuals possess in politics.

I’m talking about a politician’s ability to “preach” to his/her audience, regardless of the content of their speech or the “content of their character.” (This post started with M.L.K., after all.)

The power of preaching can be used to draw out a person’s deepest emotions. Human emotions can be relatively positive (hope, justice, compassion) or they can be negative (anger, fear, retribution). Regardless, the people that matter in politics are prospective voters. Emotions drive these voters to the polls. When that happens, assuming your preaching didn’t backfire, you win.

Oratory skills can make up for a lot of deficiencies in politics. They can also be used as a spring-board for fame and higher office. The “Cross of Gold” Speech, in which William Jennings Bryan evoked the literal crucificiction of the working man by elites, made him a national superstar.

“You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.”

Most contemporary press accounts attributed Bryan’s nomination to his eloquence, though in the case of Republican and other gold-favoring newspapers, they considered it his demagoguery. The pro-silver Cleveland Plain Dealer called Bryan’s speech “an eloquent, stirring, and manly appeal”. The Chicago Tribune reported that Bryan had lit the spark “which touched off the trail of gun-powder.” The St. Louis Post-Dispatch opined that with the speech, Bryan “just about immortalized himself”.

The current president has been compared to Bryan often. Here’s a story from the Wall Street Journal, describing Bryan as “The Trump Before Trump.” According to the Journal, “Both men used their communication skills to upend well-established political hierarchies.”

Image result for trump rally

Care for a recent Democratic example? How about this one…..

Barack Obama does not win the Democratic Nomination in 2008 without that speech. It just doesn’t happen.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to be “flashy” like Bryan, Trump, and Obama to be an effective political preacher.

Robert Kennedy wasn’t master orator. In fact, he was probably below-average. He just kind of talks his way through it, but he draws out some of the purest emotion that a heart can imagine. The man could “preach.”

RFK’s “preaching” power lies in the depth and quality of his words as well as the steady conviction with which he serves them.

Tar Heel Preachers

Despite being the in the Bible Belt and the home-place of Billy Graham, North Carolina politics have been somewhat devoid of the kind of preaching we see on the national stage. You can go back to Jesse Helms for a little firebranding, but for the most part, we’re a little too “reserved” in our politics.

Image result for jesse helms fire brand

Our current Senators, Burr and Tillis, are low-key men. They’re simply not ones to get you inspired or stirred up. Burr doesn’t even bother wearing socks, after all.

The last man I can think of that had the oratory skills I’m describing (and still does despite his age) is Jim Hunt. Kay Hagan didn’t. Pat McCrory didn’t. Roy Cooper doesn’t.

So we have to wonder whether the Tar Heel State needs a preacher in 2020?

I think it might…

The Right Side

My first post of the year was about the concept of “fear” in the 2020 election. Well, that was before the outbreak of the coronavirus. You could say that we’re in an uncertain time right now.

We’re also in a massively divisive time in terms of partisan politics. I’m not going to get into that. It’s self-evident, and if it’s not, pay attention to the impeachment vote in the Senate in a few days.

So we have a lot of uncertainty, some fear, and a huge partisan fight going on. Where do people turn when all this happens?

I think it comes down to whether you’re in the fight or not. If you’re on the outside looking in, it’s easy to shrug off these feelings. One “preacher” made that same mistake, and it cost him a lot of votes, although he still won the election:

I don’t think we have the “elitist” luxury of sitting back and analyzing this fight in 2020. We’re all in it this time. Trump picked a fight for the whole country. Democrats answered the call by impeaching him, and 2020 is shaping up to mean more than a normal election.

Everyone wants to be right.

Everyone can’t.

The man who can make Tar Heel voters feel and believe that they are on the right side of this partisan war will win the Governor’s race.

Roy Cooper better step up his game. He’s got a preacher comin’ for him.

Out here in the middle
Where the center’s on the right
And the ghost of William Jennings Bryan preaches every night
Savin’ lonely souls
In the dashboard light.

Dan Forest Discusses Race Extermination on MLK Day

“There’s no doubt that, when Planned Parenthood was created, it was created to destroy the entire black race. That was the purpose of Planned Parenthood. That’s just the truth. That’s not just some bloc on the side. That was the purpose when that organization was created.

How the black community can’t come together and see that and understand that and fight against it, I don’t know. And how the white community can’t come together and see that and fight against it, I don’t know either.”

Dan Forest

Dan Forest is your Lieutenant Governor. If you haven’t heard, he’s running against Roy Cooper with a hope to remove the “Lieutenant” from his title.

Forest is a Christian conservative to the bone. He’s going to cloak his desire for political office as a calling from God. He may or may not be honest in his motives. But that’s between him and God.

However, Forest demonstrated this past weekend that he is very happy to conflate the support of a woman’s right to choose with the extermination of black people.

Welcome to the 2020 Gubernatorial Campaign in the Great State of North Carolina. This is only the beginning.

“Top 9” for 2019

At the end of 2018, I wrote a “Top 8 for 2018” post that included links to the 8 most-viewed blog posts on this site for the calendar year.

I’m a fan of tradition, so here’s your top 9 posts for the year 2019:

9. Cumberland County Commission Districts are Unconstitutional: This post examines the racially gerrymandered nature of Cumberland County’s Commission Districts and discusses recent court opinions that call into question their constitutionality.

In short: The districts are drawn on racial lines without a compelling government justification. They need to be redrawn.

8. Historic Pandering in NC-09 Congressional Race: This post discussed the political history of the Lumbee Tribe and recent Republican gains in Robeson County. It will be interesting to see whether Robeson County supports Trump in the 2020 election.

7. The Case for At-Large Seats – Fayetteville City Council: I wrote this one after abysmal turnout in last year’s municipal elections. Fayetteville’s City Council Districts chop the City into 9 in-congruent parts. At-large seats would give Fayetteville voters the ability to choose more than one member of their city council and would create council members accountable to the entire city, not “their” particular districts:

“Council members have an incentive to look after “theirs” without regard to the needs of those in other districts or the city as a whole. As it stands today, the Mayor is currently the only decision-maker on Hay Street that is accountable to all of us. “

6. The Giving Trees of Fayetteville: This post analyzed the controversy over the City Council lowering fines for cutting down large trees in town. I pointed out a mistake in the Fayetteville Observer’s coverage of the issue and took the position that the fines were excessive, angering some of my readership.

5. When the Law Says it All: This post examines the legality of Fayetteville’s Downtown Development Project (a parking deck) under the North Carolina Statutes governing these projects.

Facility for a public purpose??? You be the judge…if the deck ever opens.

4. Dirty Bucks and Studies (Downtown Fayetteville): In this post I compared the parking infrastructure problems in downtown Fayetteville to the shoes I used to wear to church as a young man.

Image result for dirty bucks

You also have the double entendre of “dirty” money in politics. I had fun writing it.

3. Prince Charles Holdings Under Scrutiny: This one discussed the News and Observer’s investigation into Fayetteville’s downtown development partners:

Readers of this site know I’ve been critical of the parking deck deal with Prince Charles Holdings for well over a year. I don’t believe it is a good allocation of tax payer resources, and it arguably violates the public purpose requirement of the North Carolina Constitution. In short, it’s an economic windfall for Prince Charles Holdings. But should we be surprised??? These guys literally wrote the book on how to do these deals. Of course they’re going to come out on top.

Today, the massive crane kept lifting steel in the air as construction continued downtown. The stadium should be done in a few months with the parking deck to follow. We seem to be stuck in this deal, despite the cost overruns. It’s going to happen.

In the last analysis, it’s a sad day for the City of Fayetteville when our downtown “business partners” are being exposed in “sunshine week” at the News and Observer.

Play Ball!!!

2. “Write-In” Campaign Gains Traction in City Council Race: This one was a case-study in Fayetteville politics: we often chirp an awful lot about things that don’t really matter. In this case, Mayor Colvin and Val Applewhite helped start the commotion around Dominique Ashley’s write-in campaign for city council. I fell into the trap, as did many others. On election day, Ashley was trounced by the incumbent, Tisha Waddell.

1. Full Court Press Downtown: This post is the culmination of all the problems I’ve had discovering the details of Fayetteville’s downtown development project. The plans for the deal have evolved into some kind of ephemeral legal smoke, and you can’t get a straight answer from anyone that should know what is going on. It’s frustrating, to say the least.

I can honestly tell you (and I hope I’ve gained your trust after these few years) that our City leaders have no idea what’s going on with this deal. Someone else is driving the ship.

In the end, it’s an irresponsible way to play with the full faith and credit of the City of Fayetteville.


I’ll try to keep shining a light in 2020. Maybe we’ll get somewhere.

Thanks for reading.