Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA
N. Carolina to get 85,000 initial Pfizer COVID vaccine doses
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina will soon get about 85,000 doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine. Gov. Roy Cooper and state Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen say healthcare workers will be the first to receive it. Nursing home staff and residents and people who self-report at least two serious underlying health issues will be next in line. Cooper said the state is working through logistical challenges in getting the vaccine to rural communities that lack sufficient storage capacity. The first disbursement of vaccines comes as North Carolina is seeing its highest count of COVID hospitalizations since the start of the pandemic. More than 2,000 patients are currently hospitalized.
ELECTION 2022-SENATE-NORTH CAROLINA
Mark Walker takes early jump into N. Carolina Senate race
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Outgoing North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker has announced his bid to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr in 2022. It’s a path the Republican indicated a year ago he’d pursue after he declined to seek reelection in his House district following an unscheduled redistricting. He said in a video message on Tuesday that he’s running in part because he’s got “the experience to fight and to win in Washington.” Walker is a Baptist minister and favorite of the state’s Republican base. His quick entry may signal an attempt to make other big-name conservatives think twice about getting in. Those include Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law.
North Carolina Rep. Ted Budd tests positive for COVID-19
ADVANCE, N.C. (AP) – Republican U.S. Rep. Ted Budd of North Carolina says he’s tested positive for COVID-19 and will complete his recovery at home. Budd said in a video message posted Tuesday on social media that he has “very mild symptoms” and will work remotely from his family farm with staff in the district and in Washington. The 49-year-old Budd won reelection last month to represent the central 13th Congressional District. North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis tested positive for the virus in early October and recovered back home as well. Budd was first elected in 2016.
Aid will help seniors, those with disabilities to heat homes
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – Officials in North Carolina say that some households in the state will be eligible to receive federal money to cover one monthly winter heating bill. The Winston-Salem Journal reported Monday that the money would come from the federal Low-Income Energy Assistance program. North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services said the money is meant to help thousands of eligible seniors and people with disabilities during the coronavirus pandemic. The payment amounts will be based on the heating source. For instance, $300 will available for coal or wood. People who use natural gas or oil would get $400. For electric, the amount is $500.
2017 ban on local LGBT ordinances ends in North Carolina
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A 3 1/2-year ban on new local ordinances aimed at protecting LGBT rights in North Carolina has expired. The expiration of the moratorium Tuesday prompted gay rights groups to urge the passage of such measures. The ordinances would prohibit LGBT discrimination at workplaces, hotels and restaurants. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper agreed to the moratorium on the ordinances in March 2017. In return, GOP lawmakers agreed to eliminate a provision of a 2016 law that required transgender people to use public bathrooms matching their biological sex. The “Bathroom Bill” drew widespread condemnation and prompted several large corporations and sports teams to relocate events to other states or reconsider expanding in North Carolina.
AP-NC-SNOWY WEATHER-NORTH CAROLINA
First North Carolina snow closes Blue Ridge Parkway
The first significant snowfall in North Carolina has closed parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and forecasters say some areas could get up to a foot. News outlets report ice and snow forced park officials to close Newfound Gap Road, a major highway connecting the west and east sides of the park. Forecasters at the National Weather Service say light snow was to continue along the Tennessee border through Tuesday morning, and that most areas will see around an inch of additional accumulation during the day.
AP-VA-CHESAPEAKE BAY PLUNGE-LAWSUIT
Widow’s lawsuit over fatal Chesapeake Bay plunge to be heard
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) – A trial involving a widow’s lawsuit filed over the death of her husband who was killed when his tractor-trailer plunged over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel begins in a Virginia court. The Virginian-Pilot reported in January that the lawsuit filed by Billie Jo Chen against the CBBT says the bridge-tunnel’s own wind and gauge policy should have prohibited Joseph Chen from crossing the bridge in 2017. Billie Jo Chen is suing for $6 million. CBBT is claiming sovereign immunity, which typically protects governmental entities from negligence lawsuits. A CBBT police investigation concluded Joseph Chen was responsible for the accident. The trial is scheduled to begin on Tuesday.
Criminal record, sentence changes among new N. Carolina laws
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – New laws are taking effect in North Carolina to help more people convicted of lower-level crimes and nonviolent drug trafficking get their records cleared or punishments eased. The “Second Chance Act” and “First Step Act” are among nearly a dozen state laws approved since 2019 by the General Assembly and taking effect fully or partially on Tuesday. The First Step Act allows a judge to deviate from mandated prison sentences and hefty fines for drug-trafficking convictions if several conditions are met. The Second Chance Act expands upon other criminal expunction options approved in recent years. Other new laws address delivery robots and occupational licensing.