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League Bulletin

August 7, 2020

WHAT HAPPENED: Eyes remained on Capitol Hill as leaders talked toward a deal, yet to come as of this writing, on a COVID-19 relief package. At the state level, Gov. Roy Cooper extended his Phase 2 Safer At Home order another five weeks. 

WHAT IT MEANS: While no deal is in, talking points about local government needs are circulating in D.C. According to the National League of Cities, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has repeated the message that relief to state and local governments will help keep millions of people off of the unemployment rolls in the months ahead. 

ON TAP: A deal, hopefully. We’ve also learned the Census Bureau will wrap up its community outreach efforts at the end of September, one month earlier than previously planned. The Census plays a big role in how much federal money communities get overall with a variety of programs and opportunities, so it’s important your community participates to the fullest. 

THE SKINNY: As we work toward help for our communities, we got a reminder of how fragile circumstances are in a usual summer as Hurricane Isaias shoved ashore early this week, damaging property and spinning off a suspected tornado blamed for two deaths. The North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund is taking donations to offset needs in impacted areas. Read on for more from this week.

​North Carolina will stay in the Phase 2 Safer At Home stage another five weeks as state officials seek more progress in slowing down COVID-19. “Other states that lifted restrictions quickly have had to go backward as their hospital capacity ran dangerously low and their cases jumped higher. We will not make that mistake in North Carolina,” said Gov. Roy Cooper in a press release. State Health and Human Service Secretary Mandy Cohen said North Carolina’s numbers have leveled, but with no assurances. “While overall we are seeing signs of stability, we still have much work to do. Our recent trends show us what is possible when we commit to slowing the spread by wearing face coverings and following those simple but powerful 3Ws,” Cohen said. The “3Ws” are “wear a mask,” “wash your hands,” “watch your distance.” You can view slides on the trends and metrics online. In a separate press release, the state says it has distributed roughly 3.5 million cloth face coverings, 4.5 million procedure masks and “significant amounts” of other personal protective equipment. 

​The U.S. Census Bureau has announced it will close out its community outreach operations by the end of September, but before then will hire extra staffers to complete the data collection that will add up to the 2020 Census results. “The Census Bureau’s new plan reflects our continued commitment to conduct a complete count, provide accurate apportionment data, and protect the health and safety of the public and our workforce,” the Bureau explained. The decennial headcount has coincided with COVID-19’s unprecedented limitations on most operations, but the Bureau says it’s confident it can produce. “We will improve the speed of our count without sacrificing completeness,” Bureau Director Steven Dillingham said. The Bureau says it’s working with President Trump’s executive order and July 21 memorandum regarding the exclusion of non-citizens. “A team of experts are examining methodologies and options to be employed for this purpose,” Dillingham said. 


The growing issue of struggling utilities, like water systems, in rural North Carolina has made it into headlines around the state lately. Now, an in-depth piece running in several newspapers takes a longer look at the issue and taps the League for comments. The gist: COVID-19 and the health restrictions and consumer inactivity around it are dealing crippling blows to an array of operations including utility providers, which until just recently were not allowed to disconnect service for nonpayment. Many of these utilities were already working through difficult math in good times. “This crisis, this pandemic, has created its own set of problems but basically it's layered those problems on top of some already existing problems for a number of small, rural municipal systems out there,” the newspaper article quotes of Scott Mooneyham, director of political communications and coordination for the League. “They’ve become overwhelming in some places.” The piece goes on to quote several local and state officials before turning its eye to Capitol Hill and the negotiations going on there toward a relief package that may or may not include local-level lifelines. Mooneyham pointed out that the CARES Act money approved months ago came with restrictions preventing use in the replacement of lost revenue. Read the full story