Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA
As virus spread worsens, NC is reluctant to add restrictions
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths in North Carolina have reached their worst levels since the pandemic began. But the state’s top health official said Thursday more restrictions may not be needed if people follow the existing rules. Dr. Mandy Cohen, health department secretary, says the state is open to further restrictions. But she also repeated her calls for more mask wearing, hand washing and physical distancing. Meanwhile, Gov. Roy Cooper has been reluctant to impose additional restrictions on businesses. Pfizer’s vaccine could arrive in North Carolina as early as Dec. 15. Health care workers will be first to receive the initial wave of 85,000 doses once the vaccine is approved.
ELECTION 2020-CHIEF JUSTICE
Hand recount in NC chief justice race set to begin next week
North Carolina’s election board says hand recounts of a small portion of ballots cast statewide in the extremely close race for North Carolina Supreme Court chief justice will begin next week. Democratic incumbent Cheri Beasley asked for the partial hand-to-eye recount immediately after the machine recount of millions of ballots cast in her race with Republican Paul Newby was finally completed Wednesday. Newby remains 400 votes ahead of Beasley. The partial hand recount could be expanded statewide if there are great enough differences in the results in the random precincts. A final result in the race could still be weeks away.
BC-NC-VIRUS OUTBREAK-CHRISTMAS PARADE
Town plans Christmas parade despite coronavirus concerns
YOUNGSVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A town in North Carolina is planning to hold a Christmas parade despite concerns from county health officials that the event could facilitate the spread of the coronavirus. The Raleigh News & Observer reported Wednesday that Youngsville plans a mile-long parade with up to 300 people watching. The town has faced repeated warnings from the Franklin County Health Department that COVID cases are rising. The county also said that the parade would violate Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order limiting crowds. Town Manager Phil Cordeiro told county officials that Youngsville’s parade falls under the same First Amendment exemption. He also said the parade is a permitted religious service because it starts in the parking lot of a church.
Rep. Robert Reives to lead N.C. House Democrats in 2021
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Democrats who won North Carolina House seats last month have chosen Chatham County Rep. Robert Reives to be their leader for the next two years. The incoming House Democratic Caucus met on Thursday and elected Reives unanimously. Rep. Darren Jackson of Wake County had decided not to seek reelection as minority leader, citing in part the party’s disappointing Nov. 3 election. Republicans kept control of the chamber and picked up four additional seats. Reives is an attorney who joined the House in early 2014. Reives will appoint a deputy minority leader. The caucus will elect minority whips for the two-year session.
New Mexico governor to lead Democratic governors group
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has been selected as the new chair of the Democratic Governors Association for 2021. The first-term governor previously served as the group’s vice chair and was among those seen as possible candidates for the U.S. Cabinet post of health and human services secretary in the Biden administration. The vote by the nation’s Democratic governors came Thursday during the group’s annual meeting. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper will serve as vice chair. Outgoing chair New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy was picked to serve as the group’s finance chair.
Bipartisan health care panel is Cooper’s pitch for consensus
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is unveiling a bipartisan commission he hopes will plow aside past acrimony with the Republican-controlled General Assembly and improve health care access through legislation next year. The North Carolina Council for Health Care Coverage holds its first meeting on Friday, with big names from health care, business and state government serving. Cooper tried to get Medicaid expansion approved in his first term but was blocked by Republicans. Cooper told The Associated Press he believes there are core principles on health care access all can agree to. Republicans are cautious about participating but believe there are useful alternatives to expansion.
BC-NC-FORT BRAGG-BODIES FOUND
Investigators look into two bodies found on Fort Bragg
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) – Army investigators are trying to find out details in the deaths of two men whose bodies were found at Fort Bragg. A statement from post officials says the bodies were found on Wednesday in a training area on post, and adds that the deaths are not related to official unit training. A statement from Fort Bragg on Thursday says special agents from the Army Criminal Investigation Command are investigating the deaths. The statement also said the identities of the two men are being withheld pending notification of next of kin. No other details were provided.
ELECTION 2020-CHIEF JUSTICE
Newby still up after machine recount in N.C. justice race
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Republican Paul Newby’s narrow lead over Democratic incumbent Cheri Beasley changed little overall as a statewide machine recount of North Carolina’s very close race for Supreme Court chief justice was finally completed. The machine recount that finished Wednesday night left Newby with a 401-vote lead over Beasley with nearly 5.4 million votes cast in the race. Beasley’s campaign says it immediately asked the State Board of Elections for a hand recount of a small portion of ballots statewide. Newby led by 406 votes before the machine recount. Beasley is the first Black female chief justice in the state. Newby is senior associate justice.