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VIRUS OUTBREAK-MEDICAL GROUP LAYOFFS
North Carolina medical group lays off workers, cites virus
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A health group says it has closed 11 of its offices in North Carolina and laid off more than 170 support staff workers because of a drop in office visits which it blames on the COVID-19 pandemic. Holston Medical Group said on its website that a combination of the decline in office visits and the stay-at-home orders caused a significant impact. In addition, 35 doctors who had resigned from the health group earlier in the year and were scheduled to leave in September have been dismissed. The health group also operates in Virginia and Tennessee.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA
North Carolina reports 1st death of state prisoner
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Officials have announced the first COVID-19-related death of an offender inside North Carolina’s state prison system. The Division of Prisons says that a prisoner at the medium-security Pender Correctional institution in Burgaw died at an unnamed hospital on Tuesday, nearly two weeks after he started showing viral symptoms. The agency won’t release the prisoner’s name but says he was in his late 50s and had preexisting conditions complicated by the new coronavirus. At least nine other state prisons have reported positive COVID-19 cases among those serving sentences. The largest outbreak is at Neuse Correctional Institution in Goldsboro, where there are over 440 positive cases.
FOOTBALL PLAYER-FATAL SHOOTING
N. Carolina man arrested in football player’s shooting death
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – Police in North Carolina have arrested a man in last month’s shooting death of a college football player. Durham police said in a news release that investigators arrested 20-year-old Denzel James Fitzgerald, who was indicted this week on a murder charge. News outlets say Fitzgerald turned himself in to police. According to police, officers found 20-year-old Trevor Malik VanDyke shot to death around 9:30 p.m. on March 3. Investigators said VanDyke, who played football at North Carolina Central University, was apparently shot in one location and drove to the spot where he was discovered.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-HOTEL EVICTIONS
N.C. hotel attempts to evict residents amid virus
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Residents at a Charlotte hotel say management told them to leave their rooms, and shut off power and water in violation of North Carolina’s guidelines on evictions amid the coronavirus pandemic. WJZY-TV reports residents at the Days Inn in the city’s Woodlawn neighborhood were told Monday they had only had a few hours to move out. The decision caught residents by surprise since some had paid for their rooms in advance. North Carolina has halted eviction hearings until June 1, including for hotel residents. Water and power were restored Tuesday after Legal Aid lawyers intervened. Days Inn says it’s “troubled” by the situation.
Seafood industry visa fix in question after virus outbreak
WASHINGTON (AP) – With the aid of lawmakers, seafood businesses in Maryland, Virginia, Alaska and North Carolina last month won federal approval of an additional 35,000 visas for non-immigrant workers, but the timing couldn’t have been worse. Within days, the coronavirus pandemic began shutting down businesses, including restaurants and retail outlets the seafood industry supplies. Some seafood operations let employees go, while others have hired fewer people than they would in a more typical season. John Martin, owner of the Martin Fish Co. in Ocean City, Maryland, told Capital News Service that due to the virus, Martin Fish has been able to open its retail store.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA
Hundreds demand North Carolina governor end stay-home order
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Hundreds of people angry and frustrated with North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s stay-at-home order marched around his home while demanding that he cancel it to help restore the state’s economy. The crowd gathered on Tuesday before being escorted by Raleigh police motorcycles to walk through downtown Raleigh streets, including those surrounding the Executive Mansion. Cooper’s current order expires April 29, but the governor has said goals still must be met to ease movement and commerce restrictions. He says he’ll release more specifics this week about quantifying those goals. Governors of some surrounding states already have announced plans to reopen some businesses.
N. Carolina ballot probe defendant now faces federal charges
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The political operative already accused in state court of absentee ballot fraud during a 2018 North Carolina congressional election now faces federal charges. Court documents show Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. was indicted by a federal grand jury this month on four counts related to accusations that he fraudulently received Social Security benefits while getting paid for political work. Dowless has been at the center of a state elections and criminal investigation probe into illegal ballot “harvesting” in the 9th Congressional District campaign. Dowless and others were indicted in state court in 2019. Dowless’ state counts are still pending.
Troopers look for minivan driver who hit, killed pedestrian
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina State Highway Patrol is looking for the driver of a minivan after a pedestrian was hit and killed. A news release from the patrol says 28-year-old Julian Patterson Scott of Raleigh was walking along a road on the city’s south side around 1 a.m. on Wednesday when he was hit by a red minivan. The patrol says Patterson-Scott was taken to a local hospital, where he died from his injuries. The patrol cites witnesses who said the driver of the minivan fled the scene.