Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT
Alarming rise in virus cases as states roll back lockdowns
NEW YORK (AP) – Coronavirus cases are rising in nearly half the U.S. states. And while many are chalked up to increased testing or to small, local outbreaks, others are more alarming. In Arizona, hospitals were notified over the weekend to prepare for the worst amid surges across the state. And the governor of North Carolina says recent jumps have caused him to rethink plans to reopen schools or businesses. Texas and Utah are among the states that have also been identified as worrisome hot spots. What’s tricky is sorting out exactly why different surges are happening. The answer may vary from state to state, and even from county to county, some experts say.
N.C. governor says he tested negative for COVID-19
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says his test for COVID-19 came back negative. Cooper said at a media briefing earlier this week he would get tested, and he revealed the result on Thursday. His decision to test came with the release of new guidance from state health officials to medical providers recommending testing for people who had attended protests, rallies or other mass gatherings. The Democratic governor participated briefly in a racial justice demonstration outside the Executive Mansion last week. The number of completed tests statewide since the pandemic began is now well over 572,000.
N.C. teacher pay plan in Senate offers bonuses next year
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Senate Republicans would offer North Carolina public school teachers one-time bonuses above and beyond their usual experience-based raises in legislation advancing through the chamber. áThe bill expected on the Senate floor early next week would provide $350 bonuses to teachers and instructional support personnel. The bill also encourages Gov. Roy Cooper to use federal COVID-19 relief funds earmarked for education to give additional $600 bonuses, although the governor’s office says he’s not allowed to use the money that way. The leading lobbying group for teachers opposes the measure. Republicans say they’ve got to act carefully with state funds given the economic downturn.
Bill easing N.C. absentee ballot access goes to governor
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina lawmakers are sending Gov. Roy Cooper a bill making it easier for voters to access absentee ballots during a COVID-19 pandemic this fall while ensuring in-person voting sites are clean and safe. The legislation received bipartisan support on Thursday during final Senate and House votes. The bill expand the options for registered voters to receive an absentee ballot request form. More than $27 million also would be distributed to election boards for things like ballot equipment and security upgrades. A handful of Democrats said the measure didn’t go far enough to help voters isolated by the pandemic.
AMERICA PROTESTS-CONFEDERATE MONUMENT PLAQUE
Protesters add George Floyd plaque to NC Confederate statue
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A group of protesters has added a plaque honoring George Floyd to a Confederate monument that sits on the grounds of the North Carolina state Capitol. News outlets reports a group called Raleigh United placed the gold plate over the monument’s existing inscription on Wednesday. The action came during ongoing demonstrations sparked by the death of Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died two weeks ago after a white police officer pressed his knee on his neck as he pleaded for air. The plaque covers the words “To our Confederate dead,” and says “In honor of George Floyd.”
VIRUS OUTBREAK-DRIVING TESTS
Solutions for youths awaiting license clear N.C. legislature
RALEIGH, N.C (AP) – North Carolina legislators have agreed about what to do for teenagers whose attempts to get a license have been thwarted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The House and Senate voted separately on Thursday for compromise legislation that defers the behind-the-wheel tests for young people seeking a limited provisional license. The Division of Motor Vehicles isn’t currently offering those tests due to social distancing concerns. The bill heading to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk also addresses what happens to young people who could only partially complete 30 required hours of classroom instruction to receive their first license before schools were shuttered.
Judge orders N.C. track with large crowds to stop races
GRAHAM, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina judge has ordered a small stock-car track halt races after state health officials declared it was violating Gov. Roy Cooper’s COVID-19 executive order with recent large weekend crowds. The judge said on Thursday he would issue a temporary restraining order preventing the operators of Ace Speedway in Alamance County from holding events. The state health secretary this week declared the speedway an “imminent hazard” and ordered it closed, but there was no indication the operators had done so. Media outlets had reported weekend crowds at the speedway exceeding 2,000 people, even as Cooper has restricted outdoor mass gatherings to 25.
‘One Tree Hill’ stars ask fans to help fire N.C. professor
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – Celebrities from the former hit TV show “One Tree Hill,” are calling on a university in North Carolina to remove a professor after he called the state’s governor “Massa Cooper.” Mike Adams tweeted in May he dined with six men and said he “felt like a free man who was not living in the slave state of North Carolina” before adding “Massa Cooper, let my people go!” Actress Sophia Bush and her former co-star, Hilarie Burton Morgan, are now calling on fans of the TV show to take action to remove Adams from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. The show had been filmed in Wilmington, North Carolina.