Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA
Small number of N.C. vaccine doses thrown out, official says
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina is seeing a small amount of coronavirus vaccines thrown out for reasons including doses that weren’t used in a timely manner after being taken out of a freezer. Mandy Cohen is the state’s top public health official. She said at a news conference Thursday that the Department of Transportation will offer free rides to vaccination clinics for people who need transportation. People 65 years or older are currently eligible to get vaccinated. State health officials say more than 573,000 vaccines have been distributed thus far. Cohen wants the existing supply of first doses to dwindle. She said that would demonstrate that the state is more efficiently utilizing its resources.
UNC task force develops plan to address racial equity
GREENSBORO, NC. (AP) – A University of North Carolina task force has released a report outlining ways the system can fight discrimination and promote racial equity. The News & Record of Greensboro reports the UNC System Racial Equity Task Force unveiled its final report Wednesday at the Board of Governors meeting. The 65-page report contains six broad recommendations and 28 suggested actions across the 17-campus system. Among the recommendations, the report calls for improvement in recruitment, retention and promotion practices. The task force was formed six months ago, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police last year.
EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT
North Carolina legislators press again for ERA ratification
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Equal Rights Amendment supporters say it’s still important that the North Carolina legislature ratify the proposal even as ERA’s future is being weighed by a court. General Assembly lawmakers and state and national ERA activists announced Thursday their redoubled efforts to bring ratification up for debate and votes this year. Republicans in charge of the General Assembly have been cool to acting on these resolutions in the past. The amendment was first sent to the states in the 1970s, and Virginia became the 38th and apparent last state necessary for validation. But what happens next is tied up in litigation.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA
North Carolina prisons get first wave of COVID vaccine doses
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s Department of Public Safety has received about 1,000 doses of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine for inmates and prison staff. An additional 300 doses allocated for the prison system are expected to arrive this week. The limited supply will go to prison healthcare staff administering the vaccine, staff working with infected inmates or in housing units where offenders have tested positive for the virus and inmates 75 years or older. Commissioner of Prisons Todd Ishee worries about vaccine hesitancy among some staff members and inmates. Vaccination is currently voluntary for the roughly 14,000 workers and 29,000 inmates in the state’s prison system.
Gasoline spill in North Carolina worse than first reported
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A report filed to the state shows that a crack in the wall of a gasoline pipeline caused more than a million gallons to spill in a North Carolina nature preserve. That’s more than four times the size that a company initially reported. The Charlotte Observer reports that in September, Michael Regan, then-secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, said 273,000 gallons of gasoline spilled in Mecklenburg County’s Oehler Nature Preserve near Huntersville. But Colonial Pipeline reported to regulators Wednesday that the estimated amount of gasoline released from the underground pipeline was 1,119,982 gallons. A Colonial spokeswoman says the company is investigating why the crack formed.
OFFICER-ILLEGAL STEROID SALES
Ex-North Carolina officer charged with selling testosterone
CLAYTON, N.C. (AP) – Court documents allege that a former North Carolina police officer has been charged with making and selling a steroid that promotes muscle growth. The News & Observer reports that former Clayton Police Officer Owen Phillips was indicted by a grand jury Tuesday on charges of possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver testosterone; sale and delivery of testosterone; and manufacture of testosterone. The indictment accuses Phillips of making and selling testosterone between April and July 2020. The State Bureau of Investigation opened an investigation into Phillips in August, days after he resigned from the department. It’s unclear whether Phillips has an attorney who can comment for him.
HAIR DISCRIMINATION BAN
North Carolina cities OK ban on hairstyle discrimination
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – Two city councils in North Carolina have unanimously passed ordinances protecting against discrimination for wearing hairstyles such as braids, dreadlocks or afros. News outlets report the Durham City Council and The Greensboro City Council on Tuesday voted to ban employers from discriminating based on hairstyles. It’s an issue that Black people, especially women, say they’ve faced in their careers. The ordinances also protects residents from discrimination based on gender identity, sexuality and military status. Orange County, just northwest of Durham, also passed an anti-discrimination measure, but its ordinance did not address hairstyles.
NC Rev. Barber holds major role at inauguration service
GOLDSBORO, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina minister and civil rights leader holds a major role in the traditional prayer service held in conjunction with the inauguration of President Joe Biden. The Rev. William Barber of Goldsboro will deliver the homily at Thursday’s interfaith Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service. The event is hosted by Washington National Cathedral, but it will be largely virtual this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Barber is a minister at Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, co-chair of the national Poor People’s Campaign and president of the Repairers of the Breach. He was once president of the North Carolina NAACP.