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League Bulletin

July 30, 2021

WHAT HAPPENED: A largely quiet week for the N.C. General Assembly with a chunk of its membership at an out-of-state conference. Rather, most of the attention fell on the federal infrastructure package that the League and other affiliates during a Tuesday press conference urged Congress to approve.

WHAT IT MEANS: We explain in a brief article below; the milestone is that the U.S. Senate has agreed to take up the $579 billion plan, although any final votes in the Senate and House are likely several weeks away. The package would significantly increase spending on infrastructure so supportive of communities' quality of life and economic positioning. According to Reuters, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called the bipartisan plan a "focused compromise" and an "important, basic duty of government."

ON TAP: Watching those metrics. Public health leaders in North Carolina and beyond have documented unfortunate coronavirus infection trends and warned of the reportedly more infectious delta variant just as the confidence was on the mend. To exit the pandemic once and for all, officials including President Joe Biden and Gov. Roy Cooper have announced varying, new vaccination guidelines or requirements (including potential steady testing of persons who decline) within federal and state government; they cited shortcomings in vaccine acceptance as a challenge to the overall recovery. 

THE SKINNY: State legislative committees are back on the calendar next week, as some lawmakers will have returned from the conference they're attending (of the American Legislative Exchange Council, in Utah). Read on for specifics from the central news of interest to cities and towns as we work together on infrastructure advocacy and pandemic recovery.

Just hours before a bipartisan group of U.S. senators reached a historic agreement on infrastructure spending, mayors representing the League and other affiliates weighed in with their support at a morning news conference Tuesday.

Speaking on the importance of the deal to North Carolina cities and towns were Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander, president of the N.C. League of Municipalities; Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan, chair of the N.C. Metropolitan Mayors Coalition; Kinston Mayor Don Hardy, chair of the N.C. Mayors Association; Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer; and Mooresville Mayor Miles Atkins.

The event received far-reaching print and television news coverage. Video of the full news conference is archived online.

Mayor Alexander noted the bipartisan infrastructure plan would provide resources communities need to pursue the unique visions of each to improve the economy and quality of life. Vaughan said the plan also offered opportunity to “show the American people that government can still work together, in common purpose, without thinking of the next election, in a way that benefits us all."

Several of the mayors thanked North Carolina's U.S senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, for their work and backing of the bill. The Senate voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to take up the $579 billion plan, although any final votes in the Senate and House are likely several weeks away.

​The N.C. Pandemic Recovery Office (NC PRO) has begun distributing funds allocated through the American Rescue Plan to the more than 500 non-entitlement units of government (NEUs) that have submitted all the required documents to NC PRO. In North Carolina, all but 26 of the most populous cities are considered NEUs and will receive American Rescue Plan funds through NC PRO. The processing time required to distribute funds to more than 500 municipalities means the aim is to have funds distributed to all cities requesting funds by the end of August. Updates on funds that have already been disbursed are on the NC PRO website. Funds are being distributed once a week in the order in which all required documents were received, so if you requested funds and have not yet received them, they are in all likelihood still on the way. If you have questions about your status and whether all documents have been properly received by NC PRO, please feel free to contact us at arp@wwwwzy.com and we will follow up. You can also continue to visit www.arp.wwwwzy.com for all the latest information on American Rescue Plan funds.

The COVID-19 metrics in North Carolina, with analysis of the circulating delta variant, have government and business leaders weighing and in some cases ordering new protocols to outrun a frustrating infection trend -- coming right when so many people were accepting some shared sense of win over what had been a downcurving pandemic. President Biden on Thursday ordered federal workers and contractors be vaccinated or comply with steady testing and other requirements. Gov. Roy Cooper announced a variation of such measures and accordingly encouraged businesses to tighten up as well. “Until more people get the vaccine, we will continue living with the very real threat of serious disease, and we will continue to see more dangerous and contagious variants like Delta," said Governor Cooper in a news release. A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report in the headlines this week set a disheartening tone for the delta variant, saying it can spread like chicken pox -- generally speaking, more transmissible than what's been going around. 

State health leaders emphasized the shot. “There is only one way out of this pandemic and that is vaccination. Our trends are accelerating at an alarmingly fast rate and the highest rates of viral spread are happening in areas with low vaccination rates and among those who are not fully vaccinated," said N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen.

According to state numbers, North Carolina has given out 9.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine. Less than 60 percent of the adult population is fully vaccinated, with 61 percent of adults having received at least one dose.

You can learn more about North Carolina's vaccine distribution at myspot.nc.gov (English) or Vacunate.nc.gov (Spanish).


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