Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT
N.C. session marked by empty seats, stay-home opponents
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina General Assembly began its annual session by turning immediately to legislation to distribute COVID-19 federal relief funds amid unprecedented operating rules with social distancing in mind. House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger gaveled in their floor sessions on Tuesday with only a few dozen legislators in attendance. The chambers hope to pass legislation addressing the coronavirus by the end of the week. Hundreds of demonstrators angry with Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s extended statewide stay-at-home order greeted lawmakers while rallying for the third Tuesday in a row. They expressed their grievances in front of the Legislative Building.
REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION-GRANT
2020 GOP convention host city accepts grant amid virus fears
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina city slated to host the Republican National Convention has voted to accept a $50 million grant for security-related costs, despite concerns the event may not proceed as planned amid the coronavirus pandemic. Charlotte’s city council voted 6-5 Monday to accept the federal medical services funding for the convention. The event is expected to draw 50,000 people from Aug. 24-27 and some councilors expressed concern that it could lead to new outbreaks. Other officials argued Charlotte was obligated to host the convention regardless of accepting the money. The Republican National Convention’s leadership has said the event is set to move forward.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-STRAWBERRY FARM
Pick-your-own farm closes after positive COVID-19 tests
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – A pick-your-own strawberry farm in North Carolina has temporarily closed after laboratory tests confirmed eight workers tested positive for coronavirus. Rudd Farm said on its Facebook page that it took preventative measures, including having workers wear gloves and masks and using a drive-through service to maintain social distancing. According to the post, one worker said he felt sick and tested positive, and several other workers also tested positive for COVID-19. The News & Record of Greensboro reported that the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services confirmed eight cases linked to on-site housing for farm workers.
TOLEDO UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT
University of Toledo president leaving for NC-Charlotte post
TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) – The president of the University of Toledo is leaving to become chancellor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Sharon Gaber announced her plans to resign Tuesday. Her departure date from Toledo is still being negotiated, but she’s scheduled to start her new job on July 1 with a salary of $525,000. Gaber became president at the University of Toledo in July 2015 and received a three-year contract extension in 2018. University officials praised her accomplishments, crediting her for increasing student retention and graduation rates, strengthened research efforts, and adding added training programs aimed at diversity, inclusion, and sexual assault awareness.
HOUSE FIRE-BODY FOUND
One person found dead after Fayetteville house fire
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Firefighters in North Carolina say one person has died in a house fire. News sources report the Fayetteville Fire Department said firefighters responded to a call just before 9 a.m. on Tuesday that a person was trapped in a fire at a one-story home. The report indicated smoke and flames were coming from the home. When firefighters entered the home to battle the blaze, they found the victim and removed them from inside. The victim’s identity hasn’t been released, and an investigation into the fire is underway.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA
N.C. data release shows 4 nursing homes with 10-plus deaths
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Four North Carolina nursing homes have each had at least 10 deaths of residents diagnosed with COVID-19. That comes from new detailed data released on Monday by the Department of Health and Human Services. It names more than 70 long-term facilities, rehabilitation centers, adult care homes and other locations where outbreaks have occurred. The department hadn’t earlier identified the specific facilities, with officials saying it could break confidentiality rules on patient information. But some county health agencies had released those details anyway. Overall, North Carolina reported more than 9,100 positive cases statewide as of Monday and over 300 deaths.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-CANCELED GRADUATION
Charlotte schools cancel traditional graduations amid virus
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools have canceled traditional graduation ceremonies in step with other high schools and universities across the nation amid the coronavirus outbreak. The Charlotte Observer reports the schools have assembled a task force to plan an alternate celebration for the more than 30 graduation ceremonies that were scheduled to take place in the next two months. The task force includes high school seniors, parents and school administrators. A district official says they are working to find a safe way to hold these important celebrations. The official says a decision on the format will be made in early May.
N. Carolina historians asking for help to remember pandemic
North Carolina historians are already pondering how the COVID-19 pandemic will be remembered by future generations and wants the public to help. The Department of Natural and Cultural Resources says it’s collecting objects, digital and physical documents and web content about what’s happening. It’s also asking residents to share with the agency their experiences and to save materials that could wind up in the State Archives and North Carolina Museum of History. The museum and archives are currently closed, so citizens are asked to save physical items for future collection.