Latest North Carolina News:
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA
North Carolina to open vaccines for teachers on Feb. 24
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina K-12 teachers and child care staff will soon be eligible to get vaccinated. Other frontline essential workers could get their doses as early as March 10. The updated distribution guidance from Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration addresses concerns from teachers advocates that many workers do not yet feel safe to return to in-person instruction. A bill making its way through the legislature would compel the districts to swiftly reopen but give parents the option to have their child continue to learn remotely. Cooper estimates 240,000 educators and staff can begin getting the vaccine on Feb. 24. Supply remains short as the state works to vaccine elderly residents.
XGR-VIRUS OUTBREAK-RELIEF BILL
Cooper signs COVID relief bill distributing federal money
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has signed a bill from state lawmakers that will distribute money approved by Congress for reopening schools, improving vaccine distribution and helping people pay their rent. Many parts of the proposal mirror that of a supplemental request of Cooper. Still up for discussion is an effort by Cooper to provide direct one-time checks to teachers, principals and staff members. The COVID relief package Cooper signed includes another opportunity for parents to get $335 checks to help offset costs they’ve incurred associated with childcare and remote learning.
FBI offers $10,000 for information on homemade bombs
GIBSONVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Authorities in North Carolina are asking the public for help in an investigation that involves homemade explosive devices in Gibsonville. The FBI said in a press release on Tuesday that at least five homemade explosive devices have been found in the town outside of Burlington. The agency said that residents have also reported hearing explosions for the last several months. The FBI is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who are responsible. Robert R. Wells, special agent in charge of FBI Charlotte, said he hopes the community will help the FBI resolve this “dangerous situation.”
Efforts continue to vaccinate hospital employees
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Hospitals in North Carolina are still trying to get employees vaccinated against the coronavirus. The Raleigh News & Observer reported Tuesday that the state does not yet know what portion of nearly half a million eligible health care workers have been inoculated. That’s according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. Hospital leaders are encouraging employees to get vaccinated. And they say they’re pleased with the results so far. That’s even though as many as one in four eligible workers remain unvaccinated. For instance, WakeMed estimates that 70% of nearly 18,000 employees and independent health care workers have received their initial dose.
Trust buys Virginia land to honor Black Civil War soldiers
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – A nonprofit which preserves U.S. battlegrounds has paid $260,000 to purchase land in Virginia where Black soldiers fought in the Civil War. American Battlefield Trust announced Wednesday that the money will help preserve New Market Heights, which is just outside of Richmond. The trust assembled the funds through donations and a matching grant from the state. The battle on Sept. 29, 1864, was key to securing a Union position and eventually helped lead to the Confederate surrender of their capital. That day, 14 soldiers of the U.S. Colored Troops earned the Medal of Honor, more than half the number of Black soldiers who were honored for their valor during the entire war.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-SCHOOL REOPENING
N.C. Senate approves bill requiring K-12 schools to reopen
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina state senators have sent a bill over to the House that would require K-12 public schools to offer an option of at least some in-person instruction to students. Teacher advocates worry about the safety of reopening since the state is not currently allowing those workers to get vaccinated. Gov. Roy Cooper has strongly recommended school boards reopen but does not want to mandate it. The bill introduced by Republicans would give districts a couple weeks to get kids back into classrooms. Parents would still have the option of having their child continue to learn remotely.
Sheriff: Woman’s body found in suitcase alongside river
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina sheriff’s office says a woman’s body has been found inside a suitcase near a river. Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker says a witness contacted Raleigh police Monday morning and reported seeing a body along a section of the Neuse River Trail. The case is being investigated as a homicide. A cause of death wasn’t immediately released. Baker declined to say whether the body is that of 28-year-old Brittany Samone Smith, a pregnant woman who was reported missing Thursday. Baker says the investigation is ongoing.
Schools plan for potential of remote learning into the fall
After seeing two academic years thrown off course by the pandemic, school leaders around the country are planning for the possibility of more distance learning next fall at the start of yet another school year. President Joe Biden has made reopening schools a top priority, but administrators say there is much to consider as new strains of the coronavirus appear and teachers wait their turn for vaccinations. And while many parents are demanding that schools fully reopen, others say they won’t feel safe sending children back to classrooms until vaccines are available to even young students.