Latest North Carolina News:
VIRUS OUTBREAK-REOPENING SCHOOLS
North Carolina health officials urge schools to reopen
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina public health officials say they want K-12 public schools to offer as much in-person instruction as possible to the state’s roughly 1.5 million students. The new guidance mirrors some of what was outlined in a school reopening bill that Gov. Roy Cooper had rejected. The guidance was released shortly before Senate Republicans resumed their attempt to override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of legislation that would mandate – not just urge – K-12 school districts to offer in-person instruction to all students. The instructions from state health officials gives schools “operational flexibility,” but calls for them to reopen.
NC House gives unanimous OK to $1.7B COVID relief measure
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina House voted unanimously to distribute another $1.7 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds. The bill approved Wednesday puts most of the funds toward virus testing and prevention, public university campuses, child-care assistance and transportation projects. The bill is the latest in a series of measures allocating funds appropriated by Congress to the states. The Senate will take up the measure Thursday. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper signed another measure last month distributing $2.2 billion in federal relief dollars. House Democrats backed the final measure even though two spending amendments their members introduced were defeated.
POLICE DOG-TRAINING VIDEO
Video of North Carolina K-9 training prompts investigation
SALISBURY, N.C. (AP) – Officials say an investigation of K-9 training is underway after video showed a North Carolina officer lifting a dog by a leash and slamming the animal into the side of a police vehicle. Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes told news outlets Tuesday he couldn’t comment in detail on what happened. Stokes says the dog wasn’t hurt or stunned and has since been separated from the officer. The video shows the officer swinging the dog by a leash before slamming it into a police SUV and shoving it inside the vehicle. Stokes says an outside agency will be investigating. The department is reviewing its K-9 policy and guidelines. The officer’s name wasn’t immediately released.
Smokies sees more than 12M visitors despite virus closure
GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) – Despite closing for more than a month because of COVID-19, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park experienced its second busiest year on record last year. According to a news release, the park on the Tennessee-North Carolina border had a total of 12,095,720 visits in 2020. But the surge in use has brought problems with traffic, overflowing parking lots, crowded bathrooms, damage and litter. Over the last year, park managers worked with local communities and visitors to try to solve the challenges, collecting more than 2,000 ideas. Park managers are using those ideas to develop a pilot project for at least one park destination in 2021.
ELECTION 2022-HOUSE-NORTH CAROLINA
Minister, LGBT advocate plans bid for NC Rep. Cawthorn seat
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A western North Carolina county commissioner and LGBT activist says she’ll seek to unseat first-term GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn next year. Democrat Jasmine Beach-Ferrara of Asheville announced her bid on Wednesday. She’s criticized Cawthorn for his words challenging the results of the November presidential election, including his speech in Washington on the day of the riot at the U.S. Capitol. Beach-Ferrara is a Buncombe County commissioner, United Church of Christ minister and founder of the Campaign for Southern Equality. Cawthorn was one of the youngest members ever elected to Congress when he won the 11th District seat in November at age 25.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper receives COVID-19 vaccine
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has gotten a coronavirus vaccine. The governor visited the WakeMed Raleigh Campus and received the Pfizer vaccine Wednesday. Cooper and other elected officials are now eligible for a COVID-19 shot under new guidance the governor outlined earlier this week. The updated distribution plan makes Cooper, other elected officials and a broad group of people who are considered frontline essential workers eligible. Dr. Mandy Cohen is the state’s top public health official and plans to get vaccinated this week. Johnson & Johnson vaccines have arrived in the state. Health officials say the single-dose shot is similarly effective to Pfizer and Moderna in preventing COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths.
AP-NC-RACIAL INJUSTICE-NORTH CAROLINA DEATH
Judge: Records in Black inmate’s death will remain sealed
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – A judge says records related to the death of a North Carolina jail inmate will remain sealed. The Winston-Salem Journal reports Forsyth County Superior Court Judge David Hall made the decision on Wednesday after a virtual hearing. John Neville died in December 2019 after having a medical emergency at the Forsyth County Jail. The News & Observer of Raleigh initially requested the records from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, which in late January said it would release them. A Forsyth County assistant district attorney filed an objection and an order was issued temporarily sealing the documents.
ELECTION 2022-SENATE-NORTH CAROLINA
Durham scientist joins U.S. Senate field in North Carolina
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – A scientist and university administrator says he’ll run for a North Carolina U.S. Senate seat being vacated at the end of 2022 by Republican incumbent Richard Burr. Richard Watkins Jr. of Durham announced Wednesday that he’s entering the Senate race in part to ensure “science is represented at the highest levels” of government. Watkins joins at least two other Democrats who’ve announced their candidacies in current state Sen. Jeff Jackson and former state Sen. Erica Smith. Former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker announced in December that he’ll run for the Republican nomination. Watkins works at UNC-Chapel Hill and operates a consulting firm.