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VIRUS OUTBREAK-MILITARY CHAPLAINS
Military chaplains pivot to serve soldiers in virus outbreak
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) – For the chaplains serving the storied Green Berets of Fort Bragg’s 3rd Special Forces Group, ministry is all about in-person connections. Trust is earned by training and deploying alongside soldiers who leave their families time after time for Afghanistan, Syria and other hot spots. But amid the coronavirus pandemic, many soldiers are spending more time at home, forcing chaplains to get creative with their outreach. They’ve turned to virtual messages and Facebook Live sermons to preach about patience and hope during a time when stress is elevated.
Census delay could put off new voting districts, primaries
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – The U.S. Census Bureau wants more time to wrap up the once-a-decade count because of the coronavirus, and that could delay the divisive process of drawing new legislative districts. Redistricting could help determine what political party is in power, what laws pass or fail and whether communities of color get a voice in their states. The census data guides that process, and a delay could postpone some primary elections. The Census Bureau wants to push back the deadline for turning over information to the states from the end of March 2021 to the end of July 2021. Congress must approve that.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA
North Carolina public schools closed for rest of school year
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Gov. Roy Cooper has announced that North Carolina’s public school buildings won’t reopen this school year due to COVID-19. Cooper originally closed K-12 schools in all districts in mid-March for two weeks, then extended his executive order through May 15. Cooper says the decision wasn’t taken lightly but it’s important to protect the health and safety of students and school staff. He says remote learning will continue for the rest of the school year and that the reopening of buildings this summer and fall will depend on meeting health goals that will be developed.
Earnhardt race car up for auction to fund virus relief work
WELCOME, N.C. (AP) – NASCAR team owner Richard Childress is auctioning off one of racing legend Dale Earnhardt’s cars to raise money for coronavirus relief efforts. The Charlotte Observer reports that this is the first time Childress has sold or given away an original Earnhardt car from his personal collection. A news release Thursday from Richard Children Racing officials doesn’t specify which of Earnhardt’s trademark No. 3 race cars is up for auction. Childress tweeted Friday that parting with one of his cars is “a small sacrifice” for him to make.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-COOPER’S BUDGET
N. Carolina governor seeks to spend $1.4B for COVID-19 aid
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Gov. Roy Cooper has asked North Carolina legislators to distribute $1.4 billion in federal funds to cover immediate health, education, small business and government needs created from the COVID-19 crisis. Cooper unveiled his emergency pandemic package Friday. The General Assembly convenes its session next week. Many of Cooper’s requested items have already worked their way through legislative meetings. The Democratic governor and Republican legislative leaders say they generally have bipartisan support. The package includes $300 million each for local governments and the Department of Transportation, and $285 million for the public schools and university system.
N.C. Republican leader: We won’t seek budget veto override
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s powerful Senate leader says the chamber’s Republicans won’t try anymore to override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget veto from last summer. Sen. Phil Berger said in an interview with The Associated Press that state government’s precarious fiscal situation due to COVID-19 would make it unwise to carry out the two-year spending plan. An override vote cleared the House last September but hasn’t succeeded in the Senate. The legislature returns on Tuesday briefly to approve emergency coronavirus spending and policies. Berger says an override is off the table next week and when the legislature meets again later in the year.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-COURTHOUSE CLOSED
Courthouse closes after worker tests positive for COVID-19
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina courthouse is closed to the public after a worker tested positive for COVID-19. The Winston-Salem Journal reports Todd Burke, senior resident Superior Court judge, signed an order on Thursday which closed the Forsyth County Hall of Justice effective on Friday. The court is scheduled to reopen to the public on May 4. Burke said an employee came to work on Thursday exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Accordoing to Burke, the employee left work immediately and went to a medical professional to get testing. Burke said he was told late Thursday afternoon that the employee tested positive for COVID-19.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-MEDICAL CENTER-FURLOUGHS
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center announces furloughs
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – The top executive at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center says leadership and administrative employees will be furloughed beginning either next week or in early May because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Winston-Salem Journal reports Dr. Julie Ann Freischlag, the center’s chief executive and medical school dean, said in a memo sent on Wednesday that the furlough period would last 16 weeks, but it’s not clear how many furlough days or weeks employees will be required to take. The memo also said management, from the vice presidential level and above, and department chairs will take pay reductions of between 20% and 30% during the furlough period.