Up & Coming Weekly

July 18, 2023

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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4 UCW JULY 19 - 25, 2023 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM STAFF PUBLISHER Bill Bowman Bill@upandcomingweekly.com OPERATIONS DIRECTOR Paulette Naylor accounting@upandcomingweekly.com MANAGING EDITOR April Olsen editor@upandcomingweekly.com ASSISTANT EDITOR Hannah Lee assistanteditor@upandcomingweekly. com ART DIRECTOR Courtney Sapp-Scott art@upandcomingweekly.com GRAPHIC DESIGNER Isaiah Jones graphics@upandcomingweekly.com STAFF WRITERS Alyson Hansen Kathleen Ramsey Chayenne Burns Katrina Wilson Aubrette Reid Laura Browne CONTRIBUTING WRITERS John Hood, Margaret Dickson, Pitt Dickey, Rep. Richard Hudson, Cynthia Ross MARKETING ASSOCIATE Linda McAlister linda@upandcomingweekly.com SALES ASSISTANT Sheila Barker salesassistant@upandcomingweekly. com COVER Cover design by Courtney Sapp-Scott Image courtesy Downtown Alliance Up & Coming Weekly www.upandcomingweekly.com 208 Rowan St. P.O. Box 53461 Fayetteville, NC 28305 PHONE: 910-484-6200- FAX: 910-484-9218 Up & Coming Weekly is a "Quality of Life" publication with local features, news and information on what's happening in and around the Fayetteville/Cumberland County community. Published weekly on Wednesdays, Up & Coming Weekly welcomes manuscripts, photographs and artwork for publication consideration, but assumes no responsibility for them. We cannot accept responsibility for the return of unsolicited manuscripts or material. Opinions expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. The publisher reserves the right to edit or reject copy submitted for publication. Up & Coming Weekly is free of charge and distributed at indoor and outdoor locations throughout Fayetteville, Fort Bragg, Pope Army Airfield, Hope Mills and Spring Lake. Readers are limited to one copy per person. © 2020 by F&B Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction or use of editorial or advertisements without permission is strictly prohibited. Various ads with art graphics designed with elements from: vecteezy.com and freepik.com. Association of Community Publishers Letters to the Editor Do YOU have something to say? We want YOU to be heard! We want EVERYONE to be able to voice their opinions on current community events. Let us be a place to start much needed conversations. ALL VOICES WELCOMED! EMAIL: editor@upandcomingweekly.com CALL: 910-484-6200 PUBLISHER'S PEN Our COVID outcomes were average by JOHN HOOD Because Gov. Roy Cooper's former secretary of health and human services, Mandy Cohen, just got the nod from President Joe Biden to be the next direc- tor of the Centers for Disease Control, politicians and analysts are again debat- ing how North Carolinians fared during the COVID-19 pandemic. Defenders of Cooper and Cohen argue that their comparatively stringent regula- tions saved many lives when compared to states such as Florida where lockdowns were shorter and mandates less severe. Detractors argue that North Carolin- ians suffered greater economic pain, including lost jobs and incomes, than was necessary to combat the virus, and that the state's decision to keep public schools closed longer than neighboring states was particularly indefensible. I opined frequently about these issues during the pandemic, criticizing Coo- per's school closures and violations of the separation of powers. But I also urged everyone to try to keep a cool head, to recognize the unprecedented nature of the crisis and the difficult decisions our governor and other officials were com- pelled to make. at being said, we have more data now than we did in 2020, 2021, or even 2022 to assess the effectiveness of policy respons- es to the pandemic. e clearest finding, in my view, is that closing public schools for more than a brief period in the spring of 2020 was a wrongheaded and counter- productive policy. Schoolchildren were at extremely low risk and didn't prove to be major vectors of transmission to vulner- able populations. What about lockdowns, business closures, mask mandates, and other non- medical interventions? Some studies suggest the stringency of such regulations exhibited little correla- tion with the spread of the virus. Others, such as a major paper published in the British journal e Lancet this March, found that while regulatory stringency had some relationship to infection rates, it wasn't associated with death rates. at latter COVID outcome measure was always the better one. Infection rates have more of a reporting bias. Places that test more will detect more infections, all other things being equal, while a death is a death, although some ambiguity about its cause may persist. As for comparing the pandemic experience of North Carolinians to, say, Floridians, I'm afraid that far too many politicians and activists continue to hurl accusations based on the wrong statis- tic. ey use COVID deaths per capita without adjusting for preexisting risk factors such as age. at's silly. Many of the same people would (properly) insist on adjusting for student characteristics when assessing school performance, for example. When adjusted for age and comorbidi- ties, Florida's COVID death rate from 2020 to mid-2022 was lower, not higher, than North Carolina's. e Lancet study ranked Florida as having the 12th lowest rate in the country. North Carolina was 27th. On the other hand, many other states in the Southeast had worse death-rate rankings than we did, including South Carolina (35th), Tennessee (38th), and Georgia (43rd). Still, e Lancet authors found "no statistical association between the party affiliation of a state governor and cumula- tive death rates from COVID-19." To the extent there was a political explanation for differences in mortality, it had less to do with lockdowns and masks than with the uptake of vaccines. Repub- lican-leaning places tended to have lower vaccination rates — and that translated into higher mortality for vulnerable ++opulations. Now, here's what I got wrong in 2020: I thought the economic damage from Coo- per's lockdowns would last longer than it did. While North Carolina did experience a worse-than-average drop in economic activity, we also bounced back faster. Big losses in employment, especially in restaurants and other service sectors, were very painful in the short run. en loose eligibility standards for unemployment insurance induced some North Carolinians to stay out of the work- force for a while. When those standards tightened back up, most went back to work. (Many of those who didn't appear to have severe drug addictions or mental illnesses). In most ways, North Carolina's ex- perience with COVID was close to the national average. Unexciting but true. JOHN HOOD, Board Member, John Locke Foundation. COMMENTS? Editor@upandcomingweekly.com. 910-484-6200 Mandy Cohen, former Secretary of the N.C. Depart- ment of Health and Human Services, became the Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in June. (Photo courtesy NCDHHS)

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