CMS readying plans for flu
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is working on plans to handle a flu outbreak serious enough to close schools, Superintendent Peter Gorman told the school board last week.
As the school year opened, CMS focused on its plans to promote hand-washing, keep parents informed about any cases of the H1N1 flu at their kids' schools and work with health officials to monitor the pandemic. But board member and CMS parent Trent Merchant said he worries that's not enough. He said officials should be prepared to keep teaching, perhaps via school Web sites and CMS TV, in case schools must close.
“Hopefully it won't happen and I'll look like Chicken Little,” Merchant said.
Gorman said his staff has just started planning for such a contingency. “It is not done and ready,” he said. “It is begun.”
Board member James Ross raised another tough question: CMS plans to pull kids with flu symptoms out of class, isolate them from other students and keep them off CMS buses. Officials have urged parents to make sure schools have up-to-date phone numbers in case they must come pick up their kids. But what, Ross asked, will happen when parents don't have cars?
Barb Pellin, the assistant superintendent who's overseeing flu plans, said she's talking to the Department of Social Services about options. Ann Doss Helms
All homeowners would shore up N.C. hurricane fund
Gov. Bev Perdue signed a bill last week that obligates homeowners across the state to pick up the tab if a mega-hurricane hits North Carolina and exhausts the state's emergency insurance pool.
The law requires homeowners to pay a surcharge, not to exceed 10 percent of their annual premiums, to cover storm damage that exceeds the financial capacity of the Beach Plan, an insurance plan created by the state for people who can't get coverage elsewhere. For the average homeowner, the surcharge will be capped at $65 a year.
The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America praised the new law.
“The General Assembly responsibly chose to solve the problem before the storm,” said David Sampson, president and CEO of the group, “instead of after a devastating event.”
Legislators passed the law amid warnings that some insurers would stop doing business in the state without a financial backstop. The surcharge on all homeowners would be triggered only if the state endured what is often called a once-in-a-century storm. The storm would have to cause $2.4 billion in damage to exhaust the Beach Plan's resources.
The largest payout by the plan so far was $130 million during Hurricane Fran in 1996.
Obama health plan backers to rally in Raleigh
Earlier this month, several hundred opponents of health care proposals before Congress rallied outside the Raleigh office of Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan.
On Sept. 5, supporters of President Barack Obama's health care proposals plan to hold a rally at 9 a.m. in front of the same federal building.
“It's not a demonstration,” said Mike Gould, a local representative for Organizing for America, the pro-Obama committee. “Congress is returning to Washington after Labor Day. This is our way of saying thank-you to Kay Hagan and our Triangle area congressmen Bob Etheridge, Brad Miller and David Price for their support of true reform, and for putting people above politics and commercial interests.”
Polling blog: Burr's re-electability improves
The FiveThirtyEight blog ranks Sen. Richard Burr's seat as the 11th most likely to change parties in next year's Senate elections.
The blog, which analyzes polling data, reports that Republicans are now more likely to gain seats than lose seats in next year's elections. Burr's seat ranks 11 of 15 on the blog's August ranking in likelihood that it would change party.
That's an improvement for Burr, whose seat was listed by the blog as seventh most likely to change parties in May.
Citing analysis by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver says Burr's low name recognition and low approval numbers suggest that his chances will depend on whether the election is an anti-incumbent year.
That may be especially true because the Democrats are still scrambling to find a strong challenger to Burr. There are little-known figures such as former state Sen. Cal Cunningham of Lexington, Durham lawyer Kenneth Lewis and Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy. And there are potential candidates who are better known, but seem less sure of running. They include U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge of Lillington, former Lt. Gov. Dennis Wicker of Sanford and Secretary of State Elaine Marshall of Lillington. Mark Johnson, Rob Christensen and Benjamin Niolet contributed.