Latest North Carolina News:
In omicron outbreak, US governors lose appetite for mandates
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Governors across the U.S. took sweeping action during earlier surges of the COVID-19 pandemic, but are taking a much different approach during the record-setting caseloads caused by the omicron variant. Previously, many of them closed schools or ordered businesses shut down. They issued mask mandates, vaccine requirements and, in some places, quarantines for those who had traveled to hot spots out of state. While governors are now sending help to hospitals, they are displaying little appetite for widespread public orders or shutdowns even as the omicron surge shatters COVID-19 case records. Even Democratic governors who passed strict mandates early on are relying more on persuasion than dictates.
35-YEAR-OLD KIDNAPPING CASE
North Carolina man arrested in 35-year-old kidnapping case
WAKE FOREST, N.C. (AP) – Police in North Carolina say a man has been arrested on charges stemming from the kidnapping of a 4-year-old South Carolina girl in 1986. The town of Wake Forest says in a news release that police assisted the Lexington County, South Carolina, Sheriff’s Office on Thursday morning in arresting 61-year-old Thomas Eric McDowell at his home. Authorities filed multiple charges against McDowell, including murder, kidnapping and burglary. He is being held in the Wake County Detention Center without bail. WRAL-TV reports deputies said McDowell lived in Lexington County in 1986 when Jessica Gutierrez was murdered. She disappeared from her home in June 1986 and was never seen again.
Rev. Barber tests positive for COVID-19, says symptoms mild
GOLDSBORO, N.C. (AP) – The Rev. William Barber II says he has tested positive for coronavirus. The Goldsboro minister and civil rights leader announced Wednesday night that he tested positive as part of his regular testing routine. He says his symptoms are mild so far and he’s following CDC guidelines to notify his close contacts and isolate for five days. Barber is the national president of the civil rights nonprofit Repairers of the Breach and the co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. He expressed gratitude for the vaccine and booster shot that prepared his body to fight the virus and encouraged anyone who hasn’t received a vaccine or booster yet to do so.
NC redistricting trial concludes; ruling coming within days
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A rapid trial over North Carolina’s new congressional and legislative districts has concluded with arguments over whether the boundaries contain unlawful gerrymanders that must be replaced. The three trial judges now have until Tuesday to rule, the result of a directive by the state Supreme Court. The justices delayed the March primary until May in the meantime. The plaintiffs’ lawyers said Thursday that the maps approved by the General Assembly include illegal partisan and racial gerrymanders and must be redrawn. Republican legislative leaders say the boundaries are lawful and the maps’ challengers failed to explain exactly how much partisanship in line-drawing is too much.
MISSING GIRL-FATHER CHARGED
N. Carolina man charged in wife’s death; daughter unharmed
SANFORD, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina man has been charged in connection with the death of his wife after authorities tracked him to Tennessee, where they found his daughter unharmed after she was reported missing, police said. Brent James Bockes, 50, was taken into custody on Wednesday by deputies from the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office and officers with the Murfreesboro Police Department in Tennessee, news outlets reported. Bockes is charged with first-degree murder, robbery and larceny of a motor vehicle, according to Sanford police. Riley Harper Bockes, 3, who had been the subject of an Amber Alert, was found unharmed, police said.
Longtime N. Carolina Gov. Cooper senior aide Eudy retires
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s senior adviser during his first five years in the office has retired from the administration. The governor’s office says Ken Eudy’s last day was Dec. 31. Eudy is a former newspaper reporter, state Democratic Party executive director and founder of the Capstrat public relations firm. He was a leader of Cooper’s transition team that developed after the November 2016 election before taking the adviser’s position. Cooper says the Stanly County native “brought vast experience in the business world” to the governor’s office and “was instrumental in helping recruit major companies and moving North Carolina in the right direction.”
North Carolina deputy in critical condition after crash
WINDSOR, N.C. (AP) – Officials say a North Carolina sheriff’s deputy is hospitalized in critical condition after his cruiser ran off a road. WITN reports thee N.C. State Highway Patrol says the crash occurred just before noon Wednesday on U.S. Highway 13 near Windsor. Officials say the cruiser driven by Bertie County Sheriff’s Deputy Colter Lipscomb hydroplaned in rainy weather, skidded into some woods and hit a ditch and some trees. Officials say Lipscomb underwent multiple surgeries on Wednesday, adding that he is also being monitored for bleeding on the brain. It’s not known whether Lipscomb was responding to a call at the time of the crash.
DOCTOR INDICTED-FRAUD CHARGES
N. Carolina physician indicted for altering medical devices
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A federal prosecutor says a grand jury has indicted a North Carolina physician accused of altering medical devices for reuse and bilking Medicare out of more than $46 million U.S. Attorney Michael Easley said that according to a superseding indictment, between 2014 and 2018, Anita Louise Jackson billed Medicare more than $46 million for allegedly administering more than 1,200 applications of balloon sinuplasty services to more than 700 patients. Her practice received more than $5.4 million for the services. Jackson faces multiple charges, including adulteration of medical devices, making false statements relating to health care benefits and mail fraud