National Roundup

Exposure app has been downloaded by 100K adults

DOVER, Del. (AP) — An app that alerts people in Delaware to potential exposures to the coronavirus has been downloaded by more than 100,000 adults in the state.

The Delaware State News reported Tuesday that the download numbers have surpassed the expectations of state officials.

The state had initially hoped to reach about 10% of the adult population, or about 77,000 Delawareans, when it was launched in September. But the COVID Alert DE app has been downloaded 100,005 times as of Tuesday.

“As the winter surge of COVID-19 cases strained our contact tracing system, COVID Alert DE filled a big gap,” Gov. John Carney said in a statement. “It anonymously notified Delawareans of potential exposures to the virus and gave Delawareans good information to help keep their family, friends, and neighbors safe. I want to thank all of my fellow Delawareans who have downloaded this app to help limit the spread of COVID-19 in our state.”

A person with the app will receive an anonymous notification if they’ve been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. The app is built on Bluetooth technology from Apple and Google.
Health officials stress that the app is not a substitute for basic public health precautionary measures, including mask-wearing and social distancing.

South Carolina
Former utility executive to plead guilty in two courts

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The utility executive who spent billions of dollars on two South Carolina nuclear plants that never generated a single watt of power is expected to plead guilty to federal and state charges in two courts Wednesday.

Former SCANA Corp. CEO Kevin Marsh is scheduled to be in federal court in Columbia at 10 a.m. Wednesday to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, prosecutors say. He will then head to Spartanburg in the afternoon for a hearing on a state charge.

In a plea deal Marsh signed last year, prosecutors said they would ask for 18 to 36 months in prison — all spent in federal custody instead of a state prison, per Marsh’s request. Marsh would also pay $5 million in restitution, with $3 million due before he is sentenced. A judge will hand down the final sentence after the investigation concludes.

Marsh and other executives insisted the project to build the two reactors at the V.C. Summer site north of Columbia was on track ever since it started in 2008.

But prosecutors said that as the project lagged, Marsh lied repeatedly to investors, regulators and the media, insisting the reactors would be making power by a 2020 deadline to get $1.4 billion in federal tax credits needed to keep the $10 billion project from overwhelming SCANA and its subsidiary, South Carolina Electric & Gas.

An independent report commissioned by SCANA in 2015 estimated the reactors would not be finished in 22 years. Executives fought to get the estimate removed from the copy of the report shared with utility Santee Cooper, which held a 45% stake in the new reactors, prosecutors said.

The state-owned utility ended up $4 billion in debt from the project. Lawmakers are still arguing over whether to sell or reorganize the utility.

Dominion Energy of Virginia bought out SCANA in 2019 after the company was crippled by the nuclear debacle.

In December, the Securities and Exchange Commission said both SCANA and its subsidiary agreed to settle a civil lawsuit filed by the SEC in February for $137.5 million, including a $25 million civil penalty.

Former SCANA Executive Vice President Stephen Byrne pleaded guilty to federal charges similar to Marsh’s in July. He is also awaiting sentencing.

New Jersey
Prosecutors drop drunken driving charge against Springsteen

The government dropped drunken driving and reckless driving charges against Bruce Springsteen on Wednesday stemming from an incident in November, admitting that the rocker’s blood-alcohol level was so low that it didn’t warrant the charges.

Springsteen pleaded guilty to a third charge, consuming alcohol in a closed area, meaning the Gateway National Recreation Area. Better known as Sandy Hook, it is an Atlantic Ocean peninsula with views of the New York City skyline.

Facing a judge and more than 100 onlookers in a video conference, Springsteen sat next to lawyer Mitchell Ansell and admitted he was aware it was illegal to consume alcohol at the park.

“I had two small shots of tequila,” Springsteen said in response to questions from an assistant U.S. attorney.

U.S. Magistrate Anthony Mautone fined Springsteen $500 for the offense, plus $40 in court fees.

“I think I can pay that immediately, your honor,” Springsteen told Mautone.

According to a probable cause document written by park police, Springsteen told a park officer he had done two shots in the previous 20 minutes but wouldn’t take a preliminary breath test before he was arrested.

The officer at Gateway National Recreation Area wrote in the statement of probable cause that he saw Springsteen take a shot of tequila and then get on his motorcycle.

When he took a breath test at the park’s ranger station, his blood-alcohol came back .02, a quarter of the legal limit in New Jersey.

The officer wrote that the rocker “smelt strongly of alcohol” Nov. 14 and “had glassy eyes” and that there was a bottle of Patron tequila that was “completely empty.”

The report described Springsteen as “visibly swaying back and forth” during a field sobriety test and said he declined to provide a sample on an initial breath test.

After news of the arrest, Jeep put on pause an ad that ran during the Super Bowl featuring Springsteen in Kansas urging people to find common ground. In a statement, Jeep said it would pause the commercial “until the actual facts can be established.”

Springsteen had performed Jan. 20 as part of President Joe Biden’s inauguration, singing “Land of Hope and Dreams” in front of the Lincoln Memorial.