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COVID-19 – good news; bad news

Let’s start off with some good news for a change.

Late last week, the Internal Revenue Service announced that they would begin sending out the first round of stimulus cash this week as part of an approved coronavirus relief package.

This initial round of funds –$1,200 per taxpayer (plus $500 per child) – will be sent to those who have filed tax returns for the last two years and have authorized direct deposit. Those on Social Security will also get their direct deposit payments automatically.

Now for the bad news…..due to a mad dash about a month ago, toilet paper is extremely hard to come by these days. I saw where one person was advertising (online) one roll for $100. That means a typical 12-pack of t-paper will set you back one stimulus check.

Easy come…easy go!!

But look at the bright side, while you out shopping from store to store in an effort to locate toilet paper, at least it’s inexpensive to drive with the cost of gas so low these days. According to the AAA, oil prices are down 56 percent since Feb. 21. During that time, the price of crude plummeted from $53 per barrel to $23 per barrel. At $1.86, today’s national average is 6-cents less than last week, 44-cents cheaper than a month ago and nearly $1 less than a year ago.

Gasoline demand has decreased 44 percent as residents self-isolate due to stay-at-home orders. The longer demand is down, the more crude and gasoline supplies will build.

Here’s even some more good news to share. If you are reading this on Wednesday (April 15), Happy Tax Day that’s not actually Tax Day. Due to COVID-19, that annual trek to the Post Office today to pay Uncle Sam and Roy Cooper has been delayed until July. Guess we’ll all wait until July 14 and burn the midnight oil on filling out those dreaded income tax forms.

And, if you are reading this on April 15, join me in wishing my mother – Blanche Joyner Bryant – a happy heavenly birthday. Had she lived to see today, mom would be 91 years young. Unfortunately she wouldn’t be able to do what she always loved to do on her birthday…go shopping and then enjoy a great dinner at a restaurant.

Skipping over to politics, one thing that hasn’t slowed down during the COVID-19 pandemic is the bickering between candidates vying for to win a seat this coming November.

Incumbent U.S. Senator Thom Tillis is taking a beating from the DNC (Democratic National Committee). He’s taking heat because of the national shortage of PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) during the COVID-19 crisis. Gee, what’s next….the DNC pointing a finger of blame at Tillis for the lack of toilet paper?

Heck, I’m even getting emails from Lucy McBath, a Democrat seeking the 6th District Congressional seat in Georgia. She needs some money – and needs it fast – because the GOP is dumping millions of dollars in TV ads attacking her. She wants me to donate so she can attack them right back. I don’t even donate to my North Carolina representative in Congress.

I started this column off with some good news….and I’m going to end it the same way as it appears that even the criminals are scared of coronavirus.

Major cities across America are reporting drastic drops in the crime rate. According to an April 3rd story posted by thehill.com, the New York City Police Department said that crime across all five of the city’s boroughs and within the transit system and public housing fell by nearly 20 percent from March 12-31. In the second half of last month, murder decreased by 25 percent, robberies fell by 10 percent and grand larcenies dropped by 37 percent.

The drop appeared to coincide with the declaration of a state of emergency in the city — prior to the declaration, crime had increased by nearly 28 percent in the first half of the month.

Crime is also down in Los Angeles where homicides fell by almost 43 percent, while rape dropped by about 37 percent and robbery declined by 14 percent.

Come to think of it, this newspaper hasn’t published a lot of local crime-related stories since COVID-19 invaded our little corner of the world.

As we continue to ride out this medical tidal wave, here’s encouraging everyone (even the criminals) to stay at home and stay safe!

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.