VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA-COOPER
Forest abandons lawsuit challenging Cooper executive orders
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest has ended his lawsuit against Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. The Republican had argued Cooper unlawfully issued executive orders limiting mass gatherings and business operations during the coronavirus pandemic without the necessary approval from the Council of State. The two are competing in this year’s gubernatorial election. The 10-member council includes both of them, Attorney General Josh Stein and other statewide elected officials. A court ruled in Cooper’s favor on Tuesday by saying the governor had sufficient emergency authority to act in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘Impossible’: School boards are at heart of reopening debate
ROCK HILL, S.C. (AP) — School boards nationwide are facing what one South Carolina leader calls an impossible decision. It’s a simple question: Do we return to school amid the coronavirus pandemic? But officials say there are no right or easy answers. In Rock Hill, South Carolina, trustees pored through policy documents and had dozens of hours of discussions. Members ultimately decided to split students into groups and stagger in-person days at school. Board chairwoman Helena Miller called it the hardest decision of her life, involving sleepless nights with the safety of 17,000 students on her mind. Her board took a democratic approach, with much community input. Similar scenarios are playing out across thousands of U.S. towns and cities.
BC-NC-VIRUS OUTBREAK-MAYOR DEATH
Virus claims life of mayor of eastern North Carolina city
WASHINGTON, N.C. (AP) — The mayor of the eastern North Carolina city of Washington has died from complications of the coronavirus. The Raleigh News & Observer reports that the city announced his death on Wednesday night. Mac Hodges had been mayor since 2013 and was described as a “legend and a leader.” He had tested positive for COVID-19 in July. City officials said in a statement that “we are heartbroken. But the statement also said that they are thankful for his amazing leadership and the friendship he provided. Gov. Roy Cooper tweeted his condolences. He said he’s “grateful to have worked with such a strong leader and ECU supporter who made a real difference in the lives of many.”
VIRUS OUTBREAK-COLLEGE PARTY
College party with 400 people shut down in North Carolina
GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) — University police say about 20 parties, including one with nearly 400 people in attendance, were shut down at a university in North Carolina during the school’s opening weekend. A campus police official at East Carolina University told McClatchy News Wednesday the parties were held last week and over the weekend. The official says most of the gatherings that authorities shut down had between 25 and 50 people in attendance. Parties of 25 people or more violate the state’s ban on large gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic. The school’s website shows there are two confirmed coronavirus cases among school staff, and 28 cases among students at the university.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA-UNEMPLOYMENT
N.C. governor says he’ll seek jobless aid that Trump offered
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Gov. Roy Cooper says he’s preparing to accept extended unemployment benefits for North Carolina that President Donald Trump ordered as part of the continuing response to the COVID-19 economic downturn. The Democratic governor told top Republican legislators of his plan Wednesday. GOP leaders asked him on Tuesday to act quickly to ensure North Carolina workers can get an additional maximum weekly benefit of at least $300. The legislature says it plans to authorize the state’s share of matching funds the order requires next month. Cooper’s letter also blasted Republican lawmakers for state benefits he says are too long and don’t last long enough.
NC candidate defends posts; says he despises racism
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A young Republican congressional candidate in North Carolina says suggestions from his election rival and others that he has an affinity for white supremacist causes are ridiculous and based on a lack of historical knowledge. Madison Cawthorn is the GOP nominee for the 11th Congressional District seat after winning a primary runoff in an upset. His Democratic opponents and other critics are questioning photos that Cawthorn posted of his 2017 visit to Adolf Hitler’s mountaintop chalet. They also are highlighting other images and phrases linked to Cawthorn. But one expert says such images are used as much or more often by nonextremists than extremists.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA
N.C. ‘reporting error’ fuels 200,000 COVID testing overcount
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina public health officials have announced a major reporting error in the number of coronavirus tests conducted since the start of the pandemic. North Carolina previously reported having more than 2 million COVID-19 tests performed. Officials now say that is 200,000 more than were actually performed. They blame LabCorp. DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen says the company gave different numbers when it reported electronically and manually. She noted the error doesn’t affect data on key metrics such as the number of confirmed cases and deaths. LabCorp is one of two nationwide lab chains that are the backbone of COVID testing in the United States.
BIG DONOR-NORTH CAROLINA
Prosecutor asks 14 years for billionaire in bribery case
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A federal prosecutor says a billionaire businessman should spend 14 years in prison for trying to bribe North Carolina’s top insurance regulator with large political contributions. Prosecutors presented their sentencing recommendation Wednesday in federal court in Charlotte in the case of Durham businessman Greg Lindberg. U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray said Lindberg is unrepentant and blames others for his decision to offer a bribe to Insurance Commissioner Wayne Causey. Lindberg was convicted along with an associate by a federal court in May of two corruption charges. Sentencing is scheduled Aug. 19 before a U.S. district judge.
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