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VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA
Judge refuses to intervene in N.C. prisons’ virus response
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A judge has refused the requests of several offenders and civil rights groups for him to tell North Carolina corrections leaders to reduce the prison population further to protect inmates from COVID-19. Wednesday’s denials by Superior Court Judge Vince Rozier came after he received last week an extensive report from prison officials about what wardens were doing to discourage the virus’ spread. That includes sending home hundreds of additional inmates. The plaintiffs argued that more meaningful action was needed. More than 640 offenders in about a dozen prisons have tested positive for the new coronavirus, and five of them have died.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-CHURCH SERVICE LIMIT
N. Carolina sheriff won’t enforce limit on church attendance
SMITHFIELD, N.C. (AP) – A sheriff in North Carolina says his department won’t enforce state guidelines limiting church attendance during the coronavirus pandemic. Johnston County Sheriff Steve Blizell said in a letter Wednesday that the state’s 10-person limit on church services was unfair and morally wrong while retailers are continuing to operate with social-distancing guidelines. Blizell has been part of the executive committee of the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association that asked Gov. Roy Cooper to allow indoor church services last week. Cooper said Tuesday that it is more likely people will transmit the virus when they are sitting or standing in one place for a long time.
N.C. senator asks Cooper to let counties reopen barbershops
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – One of North Carolina’s most powerful Republican elected officials has called on Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper to give county governments the ability to reopen barbershops and hair salons. Senate leader Phil Berger said on Wednesday that most Southeastern states have allowed these personal service businesses to reopen in some capacity. Salons and barbershops remain closed in the first part of Cooper’s three-phase plan to ease out of the state’s stay-at-home order. They could reopen in some capacity statewide later this month. Cooper has taken heat recently from Republicans about his steps to ease out from the stay-home order.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-TRAIN SERVICE
North Carolina-operated passenger train service suspended
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina transportation officials have suspended the state-sponsored train service between Raleigh and Charlotte because of the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on revenues. The Piedmont runs three trips a day between the state capital and North Carolina’s largest city. N.C. Department of Transportation said in a news release on Wednesday people traveling between Raleigh and Charlotte by train can take the Carolinian, which departs Charlotte each morning daily and stops in Raleigh en route to New York. The Carolinian returns from New York, makes a stop in Raleigh before reaching Charlotte in the evening.
ATRIUM HEALTH LOSS
Atrium Health loses $30M in first quarter of 2020
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina health care system has lost nearly $30 million in the first quarter of this year as it dealt with the coronavirus pandemic. The Charlotte Observer reported Atrium Health’s operating loss announced Tuesday is down $56 million from the system’s $26 million income during the fourth quarter of 2019. The hospital system’s CEO said in April they have resumed non-essential procedures after a pause in March caused significant financial consequences. The system’s board also gave the green light in April to allow the health system to borrow up to $750 million for operations related to the virus outbreak.
SEXUAL ASSAULT-MAN CHARGED
North Carolina man accused of 11 years of sexual assault
KINSTON, N.C. (AP) – Authorities have jailed a man who they say committed multiple sex offenses over an 11-year period. The Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release that the victims of years of sexual assault reported crimes against them on May 1. Detectives conducted interviews which showed the alleged offenses took place between 2001 and 2012 on numerous occasions. Authorities arrested Christopher Canuette on Tuesday and charged him with seven counts of first- degree statutory sex offense. Canuette is jailed on a $500,000 secured bond. It’s not known if he has an attorney.
Virus restrictions fuel anti-government ‘boogaloo’ movement
SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) – It’s a fringe movement with roots in an online meme culture steeped in irony and dark humor. But experts warn that the anti-government “boogaloo” movement has attracted a dangerous element of far-right extremists. The loose movement’s name is a code word for a second civil war and comes from a critically panned 1984 movie about breakdancing called “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.” Armed protests against stay-at-home orders across the U.S. have provided a public platform for the internet-driven movement. “Boogaloo” supporters and other right-wing extremists are seizing on a moment of social unrest and economic calamity to amplify their violent messages.
CASH BAIL LAWSUIT
North Carolina county agrees to some bail system changes
GRAHAM, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina county has agreed to change some conditions of its bail policy as part of an ongoing lawsuit with the American Civil Liberties Union. The Times-News reports that a federal judge approved some amendments to Alamance County’s pretrial release system in a joint motion filed late last week. The civil rights group sued the county sheriff and several judges and magistrates in November, alleging that the bail system unfairly jailed the poor while releasing people with money. An ACLU representative said that under the new terms, every defendant would get a “prompt” bail hearing and judicial officers would be required to discuss their ability to pay bond.