North Carolina News – August 18

North Carolina News – August 18


Judge releases pregnant woman from jail with virus outbreak

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A federal judge in North Carolina has released an inmate who is eight months pregnant from a jail that has seen dozens of coronavirus cases. The Charlotte Observer reported Tuesday that the woman’s lawyer had asked U.S. Magistrate Judge David Keesler to release her because of an outbreak in the Mecklenburg County Jail. Cowick was among a group of federal inmates who asked the courts to reconsider their detention after four dozen Mecklenburg inmates tested positive for COVID-19. Brittany Cowick left the jail last week and is on house arrest at her mother’s home in Lenoir. She still faces trial on drug charges that federal prosecutors say are connected a methamphetamine ring.


Police: Juvenile has died following car chase with deputy

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Police in North Carolina say that a juvenile has died following a chase with a sheriff’s deputy. The Winston-Salem Journal reports that the crash occurred early Tuesday morning. Police said that Forsyth County Sheriff’s deputies were pursuing a 2003 Chevrolet when the car ran off the road and hit a utility pole. Police said that one passenger in the car was pronounced dead at the scene. The person’s name was not released. Three other people were taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The injured included the driver of the car, who is a juvenile, as well as an 18-year-old and a 21-year-old.


Ban on utility shutoffs set to end in North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A moratorium on shutoffs for customers of North Carolina’s large for-profit utilities will be over at the end of the month. The News & Observer of Raleigh reports the ban issued by North Carolina’s Utilities Commission expires on Sept. 1. The commission has directed utilities to allow customers at least 12 months to repay overdue bills. An executive order by Gov. Roy Cooper halting cutoffs for all residential customers needing help due to the pandemic expired in late July, but the commission extended a delay for utilities it regulates. As of last month, over 1.3 million residential customers had avoided shutoffs because of the moratorium.


Report: Mayor hired political donor to remove statues

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A report shows the mayor of Richmond, Virginia, agreed to pay $1.8 million to a firm linked to a political donor to take down Richmond’s Confederate statues last month. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that documents that Mayor Levar Stoney office provided under a Freedom of Information Act request showed the city contracted with NAH LLC to remove Richmond’s Confederate icons during recent unrest. The newspaper reports the entity was created 10 days before Stoney ordered the statues removed and is linked to a contracting firm owned by a Stoney donor. The mayor’s spokeswoman said the donations did not play a role in the mayor’s decision.


Universities scramble to deal with virus outbreaks

North Carolina’s flagship university is switching all undergraduate classes to remote learning due to the spread of coronavirus during the first week of classes. Officials at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and schools around the U.S. are scrambling to deal with new cases amid the start of the fall semester. Cases were reported at Oklahoma State University after maskless students packed into a nightclub, and off-campus parties have been blamed for cases at Notre Dame. Schools in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama also were not immune, as officials were frustrated by the lack of social distancing and scenes of crowded entertainment districts and bars on the first weekend many students returned to school.


Portal access troubles mark 1st day of N.C. public schools

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s public schools have returned to class with most students still learning at home to start the year due to continued worries about COVID-19. Nearly all schools in K-12 districts began classes on Monday. Districts and charter schools that teach about two-thirds of the 1.5 million students chose full-time remote learning for now. The first day was marked initially by problems entering an online portal to access several digital applications for students and teachers. The Department of Public Instruction said it was back up later in the day. School buildings were shuttered in March amid the pandemic and never reopened this past year.


Politics slows flow of US virus funds to local public health

Congress has allocated trillions of dollars to ease the coronavirus crisis. A joint Kaiser Health News and AP investigation finds that many communities with big outbreaks have spent little of that federal money on local public health departments for work such as testing and contact tracing. Others, like Minnesota, were slow to do so. So little money has flowed to some local health departments for many reasons: Bureaucracy has bogged things down, politics have crept into the process, and understaffed departments have struggled to take time away from critical needs to navigate the red tape required to justify asking for extra dollars.


AP survey: States uncommitted to Trump’s unemployment boost

Most states have not committed to accepting President Donald Trump’s offer of a stripped-down boost in unemployment benefits for millions of Americans amid the coronavirus outbreak. The Associated Press surveyed state governments and found concerns about the details of Trump’s plan and whether states can afford to chip in. A federally funded $600 weekly unemployment bonus expired at the end of July. Trump’s plan would increase unemployment checks by $300 or $400. States are required to chip in $100 per claimant to be able to send out the higher amount, something few have agreed to do. In the meantime, unemployed Americans are trying to make do with thinner benefits.

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