Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA
N. Carolina governor to ease stay-home order later this week
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Gov. Roy Cooper has agreed to ease North Carolina’s stay-at-home order originally issued several weeks ago due to COVID-19. A new order taking effect Friday replaces a more restrictive mandate that Cooper had issued. Cooper said he signed the new order Tuesday because COVID-19 cases are generally stable and testing, tracing and health care supplies are improving enough to warrant increased commerce and movement. Retail businesses previously considered nonessential will be able to open with capacity limits. Bars, barber shops and gyms still must be closed, and restaurants still can’t provide dine-in meals. Church services can be held outdoors with social distancing.
In clamor to reopen, many black people feel overlooked
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) – Many African Americans watching protests calling for easing restrictions meant to slow the spread of the new coronavirus see them as one more example of how their health and their rights just don’t seem to matter. To many, it seems that the people protesting – who have been predominantly white – are agitating for reopening because they won’t be the ones to suffer the consequences of it. Instead, those will fall disproportionately on the shoulders of black people and other marginalized groups. The pandemic has highlighted gaping inequalities in the United States. Black people are dying in disproportionate numbers from COVID-19 in the U.S.
PRICE GOUGING LAWSUIT
N. Carolina sues towing company for price-gouging amid virus
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Authorities in North Carolina have filed the state’s first price-gouging lawsuit against a towing company accused of employing predatory towing and booting practices during the coronavirus pandemic. North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said in a statement Tuesday a temporary restraining order was issued on Charlotte’s A1 Towing Solutions and its owner, David Satterfield, for allegedly violating the state’s price gouging statute. The order bans them from conducting their towing business until a court hearing. The lawsuit filed Monday says the company charged drivers more than $4,000 to release their trucks after improperly towing and booting them.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-UNC WILMINGTON
UNC Wilmington extends cancellation of summer programs
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – The University of North Carolina at Wilmington says it is extending the cancellation of its summer programs, camps and non-athletic conferences due to the coronavirus pandemic. The school had initially announced that its summer programming was canceled through June 24. Another announcement from the school said the programming is now canceled through Aug. 5. UNCW said in a statement that that some camps and programs will be offering participation online and urges those interested to check individual programs’ websites for information. UNCW Athletics will announce a decision about its camps by May 15.
Audit: N. Carolina transportation agency overspent by $740M
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – An audit says the North Carolina Department of Transportation needs to improve monitoring of its spending after determining it spent $740 million beyond what it planned to last year. The performance review released on Tuesday by State Auditor Beth Wood’s office says the overspending happened because DOT cost estimates were based on past spending levels, not on specific projects and operations. The performance audit also found the Chief Engineer’s Office failed to closely monitor the spending of the department’s 14 regional offices. The General Assembly ordered the audit. It reflects recent fiscal troubles for DOT that have been made worse as revenues dwindle during the COVID-19 pandemic.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-CHAIRMAN RESIGNS
Health system board chair resigns over social media comments
GASTONIA, N.C. (AP) – The chairman of the board of a North Carolina health care system has resigned after reports about his social media posts, including one in which he called stay-at-home orders “tyranny.” The Charlotte Observer reports CaroMont Health board of directors chairman Donnie Loftis resigned after eight years. On his personal Facebook page, Loftis showed support for anti-abortion protesters who violated the stay-at-home order. Last month, Loftis shared a picture of a pie chart that suggested he was more concerned about the loss of his rights than COVID-19 and that others should be concerned as well.
PRINCIPAL APOLOGIZES-RACIAL REMARK
N. Carolina principal sorry for racial remark during meeting
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A school principal in North Carolina apologized after making a reference to “colored folks” during a staff meeting. The Charlotte Observer reports the apology by Charlotte’s Ardrey Kell High School Principal David Switzer was made in a follow-up staff meeting to the cultural training in August. Switzer says in a recording obtained by the Observer that he thought he said persons of color instead of colored folks. Switzer told the Observer that he made the comment while noting the importance of “cultural proficiency” training that is available for staff at the school.áThe Observer reports the comments follow a string of racial incidents at the school.
Biden pressed to choose a black woman as his running mate
DETROIT (AP) – As Joe Biden’s search for a vice presidential running mate heats up, he is facing growing pressure to choose a black woman. The move could further energize the Democratic Party’s loyal base of African American voters. But the public conversation is more nuanced. Biden has already committed to selecting a woman as his second-in-command, but the choice won’t be easy. While some believe race shouldn’t necessarily drive his selection, experts are warning it could be risky for his camp to assume black voters would still turn out in record numbers in November without a diverse ticket and tangible return for their fierce loyalty.