North Carolina News – November 19

North Carolina News – November 19


Not just COVID: Nursing home neglect deaths surge in shadows

As more than 90,000 of America’s long-term care residents have died in the coronavirus pandemic, advocates for the elderly say a tandem wave of death separate from the virus has quietly claimed tens of thousands more, often because overburdened workers haven’t been able to give them the care they need. Care home watchdogs say they are being flooded with reports of residents withering away in starvation or thirst. An expert who conducted an analysis of nursing home deaths for The Associated Press believes that non-COVID excess deaths, beyond what is normal, could total 40,000 this year.


N.C. House speaker’s chief of staff going to UNC system

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — State House Speaker Tim Moore’s chief of staff is leaving the post for a job within the University of North Carolina system. Moore announced on Wednesday that Bart Goodson will become senior vice president for government affairs at the system. He’s been chief of staff since 2017 and previously served as Moore’s general counsel. Goodson will be replaced by current general counsel Neal Inman. The changes were announced two days after Republicans who won House seats on Election Day agreed that they’ll back Moore for a fourth term as speaker. The next two-year session begins Jan. 13.


State hospital group says racism is a public health crisis

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A group that represents North Carolina’s 130 hospitals has joined a growing number of organizations and governments that have declared racism to be a public health crisis. The Raleigh News & Observer reported Wednesday that the North Carolina Healthcare Association has pledged to work harder to provide equitable care to everyone. The association said that challenges to achieving that goal are barriers to employment and education that people face because of their race. The group also referred to the coronavirus pandemic and long-term health disparities that “impact people of color and other marginalized groups.”


Asheville police to probe complaints about excessive force

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Police in the North Carolina city of Asheville will investigate new excessive force complaints stemming from Black Lives Matter protests in the spring. The Asheville Citizen Times reported Thursday that the complaints stem from demonstrations that occurred in May and June following the death of George Floyd. He was the Black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis. Racial Justice Coalition attorney Ben Scales said police failed to follow policies regarding chemical munitions and rendering aid to the injured. Asheville police Chief David Zack said the department will identify “policies and practices that failed to meet community expectations.” He said individual complaints against officers would be handled in a separate process.


NC agency, HBCU to work in communities harmed by COVID-19

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina agency is joining a historically black college to help communities hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic address food insecurity needs. Gov, Roy Cooper’s office said in a news release that the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities in the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is partnering with Livingstone College in Salisbury to execute a community-based program to provide critical resources to vulnerable populations impacted by the pandemic. The news release said communities will have access to $5 million in grants as the state and the school execute a community-based program to provide critical resources to vulnerable populations.


N.C. panel: Small amounts of pot should be decriminalized

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A task force created to address and eliminate racial disparities in North Carolina’s criminal justice and court systems will recommend that legislators decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. The panel was created by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper following George Floyd’s death and subsequent demonstrations. Attorney General Josh Stein and Supreme Court Justice Anita Earls lead the panel. Data show a disproportionate percentage of non-white residents are convicted on these misdemeanors. The panel said Wednesday that lawmakers should make such small possessions a civil offense, like a traffic infraction. The panel’s report will be finalized next month.


Cooper warns N.C. counties of further virus restrictions

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is warning counties they may face extra coronavirus restrictions if they do not follow public health guidelines. Cooper and health officials unveiled Tuesday a new alert system to encourage counties with high levels of virus transmission to more aggressively enforce statewide health guidelines. Counties will be marked different colors based on cases, hospitalizations and the percentage of tests coming back positive. The state health department has labeled 10 largely rural counties “red” because of critical community spread. Several others are being asked to consider stricter enforcement of the statewide mask mandate and an earlier time for ending alcohol sales each night.


NC elections official blocks mom’s ballot after her death

BOLIVIA, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina elections director had to ask members of her board to reject her mother’s absentee ballot because she died several weeks before the general election. Sara Knotts made the request last week because her mother, Anne Ashcraft, submitted her ballot in September, but then died of brain cancer on Oct. 11. Knotts is director of elections in Brunswick County. North Carolina election law requires voters to be alive on Election Day. This includes voters who cast their ballots by mail or during in-person early voting. Knotts said in a tweet last week that it was the hardest thing she’s ever done as an elections administrator.

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