Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

League Bulletin

November 20, 2020

​WHAT HAPPENED: COVID-19 cases climbed to alarming new levels, with yet another record-breaking single-day tally of new cases in North Carolina – nearly 4,300. As of Thursday, there were 325,158 total cases across the state. Hospitalizations hit a new record Friday at 1,571. Forty-three people died of the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, WRAL just reported.

WHAT IT MEANS: For contrast, the single-day record breaker on Nov. 11 was just beyond 3,100. A little more than 1,260 were hospitalized. New efforts are underway to change the course, and the League's Board of Directors has discussed actions for the community level.

ON TAP: The state this week announced a new tool that may help local leaders better understand what’s on the ground in their areas and see where the highest case numbers are, with recommendations from the state to fight back. It’s called the COVID-19 County Alert System and we explain how it works in this Bulletin.

THE SKINNY: We also report on legislative leadership and the ever-important municipal experience in the chambers headed into the new biennium. But it’s so vital to recognize where we are in this pandemic and to follow experts’ advice and resources to stabilize the situation. The quicker we do, the better off our communities – livelihoods, families, economies – will be.  

​North Carolina had 317,495 COVID-19 cases and nearly 5,000 deaths recorded by Tuesday as Gov. Roy Cooper and Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Secretary Mandy Cohen announced a new county alert system to help pinpoint where the highest numbers are and make recommendations to change the trajectory. “We are seeing more people need hospital care than ever before,” Cohen reported at a public briefing announcing the new tool. The COVID-19 County Alert System “will help give local leaders another tool to understand how their county is faring and to make decisions about actions to slow viral spread,” a press release explained. “The map will be updated every four weeks.”

On Thursday, the state announced the highest single-day increase of positive tests: 4,296. “The record-high day follows several days of increasing trends in new cases, the percent of tests that are positive and hospitalizations,” DHHS said in a statement. Said Governor Cooper, “By pinpointing counties with high virus transmission and asking everyone in those counties to work with us and do more right now to slow the spread of the virus, we can succeed.”

The alert system, visualized as a map of North Carolina counties, uses three tiers to portray severity – yellow (significant community spread), orange (substantial community spread), and red (critical community spread).

DHHS also offers the SlowCOVIDNC Exposure Notification app, which can notify users if they’ve been in close contact with someone who has reported a positive coronavirus test result to the app.

The Raleigh News & Observer has further coverage.

NCLM Board Discusses Community Health, Local Businesses 

In related news, the League's Board of Directors met this week to discuss how cities and towns can help keep their communities safe and healthy and also prevent sweeping closures to businesses. Local government is uniquely qualified to take a proactive role encouraging their residents to follow public health guidelines to slow the spread, which ultimately keeps businesses open and the economy going. The League's staff is compiling outreach resources and data to help members share these important public health and safety messages locally. Be on the lookout for a message sharing those materials early next week.

​House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger are set to continue in their chamber leadership roles in the new biennium. The news for Rep. Moore broke this week as the House Republican caucus held elections for the top posts. Rep. Moore would be in his fourth term as speaker. According to Rep. Moore’s news release about the nomination, that would tie the state record for most; the only previous House speaker with four terms in the role was Rep. Liston B. Ramsey (1981-1989). The chamber will formally vote on the speaker role when the session begins in January.

Also continuing in their roles, per the caucus elections this week, are Reps. Sarah Stevens (speaker pro tem), John Bell (majority leader), and Brendan Jones (deputy majority leader). Rep. John Szoka will be conference leader, Rep. Jon Hardister will be majority whip, and Rep. Pat Hurley will be joint conference leader.

Roughly 20 percent of the incoming General Assembly membership for the next biennium will have municipal experience to call upon in their legislating. They include mayors, council members, planning commissioners and the like, with 26 of them in the House and 9 in the Senate. New or returning to the legislature, they are:


-District 5, Sen. Don Davis, Mayor, Snow Hill

-District 6, Sen. Michael Lazzara, Mayor Pro Tem, Jacksonville (pic'd here)

-District 19, Sen. Kirk deViere, Council Member, Fayetteville

-District 22, Sen. Mike Woodard, Council Member, Durham

-District 23, Sen. Valerie Foushee, Chapel Hill Police Department

-District 26, Sen. Phil Berger, Attorney, Mayodan

-District 44, Sen. Ted Alexander, Mayor, Shelby

-District 47, Sen. Ralph Hise, Mayor, Spruce Pine

-District 49, Sen. Julie Mayfield, Council Member, Asheville


-District 8, Rep. Kandie Smith, Mayor and Council Member, Greenville

-District 9, Rep. Brian Farkas, Greenville Comprehensive Planning Committee

-District 12, Rep. Chris Humphrey, Council Member, La Grange

-District 13, Rep. Pat McElraft, Commissioner, Emerald Isle

-District 26, Rep. Donna White, Clayton Planning Commission, Board of Adjustment

-District 27, Rep. Michael Wray, Commissioner, Gaston

-District 28, Rep. Larry Strickland, Commissioner, Pine Level

-District 29, Rep. Vernetta Alston, Council Member, Durham

-District 27, Rep. Erin Pare, Holly Springs Board of Adjustment

-District 41, Rep. Gale Adcock, Mayor Pro Tem, Cary (pic'd here)

-District 42, Rep. Marvin Lucas, Mayor, Alderman, Spring Lake

-District 49, Rep. Cynthia Ball, Raleigh Service Commission

-District 61, Rep. John Faircloth, Council Member, High Point, Chief of Police, High Point/Salisbury

-District 71, Rep. Evelyn Terry, Council Member, Winston-Salem

-District 73, Rep. Lee Zachary, Mayor, Commissioner, Yadkinville

-District 74, Rep. Jeff Zenger, Council Member, Lewisville

-District 79, Rep. Julia Howard, Commissioner, Mocksville

-District 89, Rep. Mitchell Setzer, Mayor, Commissioner, Catawba

-District 92, Rep. Terry Brown, Charlotte Board of Adjustment

-District 93, Rep. Ray Pickett, Council Member, Blowing Rock

-District 94, Rep. Jeffrey Elmore, Commissioner, North Wilkesboro

-District 98 Rep. John Bradford, Council Member, Cornelius

-District 99, Rep. Nasif Majeed, Council Member, Charlotte

-District 100, Rep. John Autry, Council Member, Charlotte

-District 107, Rep. Kelly Alexander, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission

-District 119, Rep. Mike Clampitt, Firefighter, Charlotte

The General Assembly has an official Municipal Caucus, formed in 2015. “The mission of the (Municipal) Caucus is to create an opportunity and open environment for legislators who are former mayors, city council representatives, attorneys or employees to offer education about the state-city partnership, and to share information and ideas about legislation that will impact city government,” the formation letter stated. “Active participation by caucus members will bring greater awareness to the decisions made at the state level and how they will practically affect services to citizens at the city level.”

Past coverage from Southern City: Municipal Caucus: The Lawmakers Bringing City Government Experience to the General Assembly

​The State Water Infrastructure Authority (SWIA) met Wednesday to approve criteria to identify distressed water and wastewater systems; their approval followed the Local Government Commission (LGC) taking the same action the week prior.. Session Law 2020-79 created the Viable Utility Reserve (VUR) fund – a new grant program to support financially struggling public water and wastewater systems by facilitating viable operations and encouraging regionalization – and tasked the LGC and SWIA with developing criteria together to identify utilities that are in distress

The VUR fund received $9 million in non-recurring state funds in 2020, and at their most recent meetings SWIA and LGC also identified four utilities as distressed, directing VUR grant funding to those utilities. Session Law 2020-79 was the result of a yearlong legislative study and stakeholder process that focused on the more than $17 billion in water and sewer infrastructure needs statewide.