By Collin Cunningham
(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) Greetings and salutations, Queen City Roundup readers! Hopefully, we haven't done anything for you to hold us in contempt. The same can't be said of former North Carolina 11th District Rep. Mark Meadows, who was found to be in contempt of Congress during the trial dealing with the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, when he served as Donald Trump's chief of staff.
Also contemptible is the omicron variant of COVID-19, which is now in South Carolina after health officials in The Palmetto State announced three mild cases on Wednesday. Speaking of the coronavirus, new treatments are coming to Charlotte in capsules, and today's roundup tells you when antiviral pills from Pfizer and Merck will arrive after the Old North State added 3,700 new COVID-19 cases and 37 deaths related to the virus yesterday.
And our Charlotte Gift Guide continues, today peering at gift ideas for local sports fans who like the Panthers, Hornets and 49ers. Today's roundup also introduced a new "Below the Fold" segment, which will provide additional context for the briefer stories contained within. Find it at the bottom of the page.
It is Thursday, Dec. 16, and here's what every resident of the Queen City needs to know until tomorrow.
What happened: The U.S. House of Representatives found Mark Meadows, a former congressional leader from North Carolina and former President Donald Trump's last chief of staff while in office, to be in criminal contempt of Congress following a vote on Tuesday.
Meadows had been under subpoena to reveal information about the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, but he failed to cooperate in answering questions about the 9,000 pages of documents he handed over to the House committee investigating the incident last week.
Why it matters: Per Reuters, contempt of Congress dates back to an 1857 law that stipulates defendants can be imprisoned between one to 12 months for failing to comply with the national body. But it's still too early to tell if the Department of Justice will indict Meadows with the misdemeanor. Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon faces similar charges but he won't stand trial until July. (Learn more Below the Fold)
What happened: Omicron, the latest variation of the coronavirus to spring up out of South Africa, has now reached South Carolina. The state's Department of Health and Environmental Control said the three cases discovered by the Medical University of South Carolina. MUSC's Dr. Julie Hirschhorn said that all three cases occurred in the Lowcountry, a region occupying the southernmost coastal regions of the state.
Why it matters: Hirschorn added that two of the omicron-positive individuals had been fully vaccinated against the virus with two vaccine doses, while the third had received one dose.
In other news relating to omicron in the Carolinas, the Old North State has a second confirmed case of the variant as of Wednesday. WRAL reports the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said a second case had been found in the eastern half of the state, but not in Charlotte. The state's first omicron case, however, came out of a UNC Charlotte student last week.
3. Pills here: When will antiviral COVID-19 medications be in Charlotte?
What's happening: Health care systems in North Carolina could begin ordering and distributing Pfizer's Paxlovid and Merck's molnupiravir pills as early as next month if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration decides to approve them. Both are antiviral pills designed to target and destroy COVID-19 cells in the body.
Why it matters: An FDA advisory panel recommended Merck's pill to the committee in November, but reports state the pill poses threats to pregnant women. Pfizer has said its pill is effective at treating COVID-19 and could potentially combat omicron. StarMed in Charlotte has stated it will order the pills as soon as they're approved.
4. Timely Queen City Holiday Preview: Charlotte Gift Guide, Part 7
Whether it's in a basket or down to the end zone, the Queen City knows how to ball out. Here are a few picks of hot sports memorabilia items to get for fans of the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets and Charlotte 49ers.
- Carolina Panthers
The Cardiac Cats' online store has a variety of items marked "Get it by XMAS" which should prove helpful to last-minute shoppers. This festive beanie somehow combines the Panthers' black-and-blue with an abridged rainbow of other colors, and it's on sale. Or you could help someone on your list celebrate Cam Newton's return to the team with a jersey carrying his name. That's $120, but it meets the $99 threshold for free shipping from the website.
For the kids or the tree, FOCO is selling an ornament of a Panthers-blue Santa Claus perhed atop a tractor with "CAROLINA PANTHERS" painted on the side.
- Charlotte Hornets
Help a gift recipient feel like LaMelo with a Wilson basketball that features Hornets colors and the team's logo, or go for the more classic, brick-colored ball. A Charlotte Hornets yoga mat can help fans calm down after the team loses to a last-second three from the opposing team.
- Charlotte 49ers
Ever feel like a Charlotte 49ers season is tumbling down around them while they're playing? This Jenga-inspired "Gameday Tower" lets you set pieces up and (try not to) knock them down, with 54 wooden blocks printed with the UNC Charlotte team's logo. Or you can help a 49ers fan feel like they're walking on turf with a pair of 49ers-branded socks from Rock 'Em Socks.
Below the Fold
Meadows, continued: Before jumping ship to lead Trump's White House staff in March of 2020, Meadows had served for seven years as the representative for North Carolina's 11th Congressional District, which includes the majority of the western half of the state, Asheville and two national forests contained within. The News & Observer out of Raleigh published a sharp criticism of the politician on Wednesday, begging the question: "When will the N.C. Republican Party censure Mark Meadows?"
More COVID-19 data and news: According to The News & Observer, about 73% of adults in North Carolina have received one dose of a coronavirus vaccine and 69% are fully vaccinated. Duke University canceled its home basketball game against Cleveland State University on Saturday due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the Ohio team.
And during a public information session hosted by Gov. Roy Cooper and NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen, Cohen said she is "worried" about the state's hospital capacities amid rising COVID-19 cases and flu season. It was Cohen's last public update in her current role; deputy secretary Kody Kinsley will step up to become secretary starting Jan. 1.