Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EDT
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA
N.C. stay-at-home order eased starting late Friday
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina residents will be able to frequent reopening businesses and parks as Gov. Roy Cooper’s modified statewide stay-at-home order to address COVID-19 takes effect. More North Carolina businesses can be open starting Friday afternoon as long as they limit customer occupancy. All but one state park will be open starting Saturday. Restaurants are still barred from offering dine-in options for at least another two weeks. And, barber shops, gyms and movie theaters will remain closed. Cooper and state health officials are urging people to remain vigilant in keeping their distance and washing their hands.
Critically endangered wolf pups born at North Carolina zoo
ASHEBORO, N.C. (AP) – A zoo in North Carolina has announced the birth of five American red wolves. The animals are critically endangered. There are only 15 to 20 red wolves still believed to be in the wild in eastern North Carolina. The North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro announced the births in a statement on Friday. The five pups were born as part of its American red wolf breeding program. The litter brings the number of red wolves in the Zoo’s breeding program to 25. That makes it the second-largest pack in the nation after Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington.
Report: Off-duty officer shot suspect who charged at him
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina police department says an off-duty officer shot and wounded a suspect who charged at him. The Durham Police Department released a preliminary report Thursday detailing the May 1 shooting. It states that recruiting officer C.T. Strickland had just arrived home from work when he heard gunshots at his apartment complex and saw 27-year-old Wesley Watkins near a wounded victim. Watkins was accused of later charging toward the officer, who shot and struck him. The report says the wounded victim was pronounced dead and identified as Watkins’ roommate. Officials said Watkins was charged with murder and Strickland was placed on administrative duties as the shooting is investigated.
ELECTION 2020-HOUSE-PRIMARY RUNOFF
Absentee ballots now getting mailed for N.C. Congress runoff
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina election administrators say voters shouldn’t fear the new coronavirus while casting ballots in next month’s primary runoff for a congressional seat in the mountains. Election boards in 17 counties within the 11th Congressional District will begin on Friday mailing absentee ballots to voters requesting them for the June 23 GOP runoff between Lynda Bennett and Madison Cawthorn. Mail-in ballots are likely to be in higher demand due to the COVID-19 outbreak. State elections Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell says safety precautions also will be in place at in-person voting sites.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-HIGH POINT TRANSIT
North Carolina transit system to require masks for riders
HIGH POINT, N.C. (AP) – One North Carolina transit system is requiring its passengers to wear masks beginning next week. The News & Record of Greensboro reported that, starting Monday, High Point Transit passengers will have to wear protective masks or face coverings. A news release from the city said the mask must cover passengers’ noses and mouths. Passengers without a face covering will be given a disposable mask. The city said that while High Point Transit will continue to operate fare-free until further notice, passengers must have an intended destination.
FLU DEATHS-NORTH CAROLINA
North Carolina flu death toll at 185, including 2 last week
Two more people in North Carolina died from flu-related symptoms last week, raising the death toll to 185 with one week left in the reporting season. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services says both victims were ages 65 and older. Of the 185 deaths this season, 105 were 65 or older. DHHS extended this flu season’s reporting period to the week that ends May 16. Typically, the flu season runs between Oct. 1 through March 31. By comparison, health officials have reported 507 deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic since early March.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-SMOKY MOUNTAINS
Smoky Mountains National Park to reopen over weekend
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is set to reopen on Saturday, becoming one of the biggest federal attractions to reopen amid the national lockdown prompted by the coronavirus crisis. The nation’s most visited national park has been closed since late March in response to the pandemic. The park says some of its most popular trails will remain off limits for now. It says new safety measures will be implemented in facility operations and services to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Most national parks remain closed, though Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah and the Everglades National Park in Florida have also announced phased reopenings.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-GOP CONVENTION
N. Carolina Republican state convention pushed back to July
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina Republican Party has delayed its convention by two months because of the continuing COVID-19 outbreak. The party had planned to hold the four-day convention in Greenville starting May 14. Now it’s been pushed back to July 9 at the Greenville Convention Center. Party activists will elect Republican National Committee members and state delegates to the national covention, which is still set for late August in Charlotte. áNorth Carolina GOP Chairman Michael Whatley says the party is committed to hosting the state convention, but that it had to adapt to the “evolving timeline” for reopening the state.