North Carolina moves to limit out-of-state access to vaccine
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina public health officials are shifting their guidance to improve access to the vaccine for North Carolinians. The new state guidance permitted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention allows vaccinators to turn away people who are briefly passing through the state or are coming to North Carolina for the main purpose of getting a COVID-19 shot and then returning to another state. Non-residents can still take advantage of loopholes. Several people living outside North Carolina took advantage of mass vaccination clinics last month in the Charlotte area.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NATIVE AMERICANS
Native Americans embrace vaccine, virus containment measures
CHEROKEE, N.C. (AP) — Native Americans are bucking a trend of minority populations who harbor doubts about the coronavirus vaccines. Tribes across the nation are embracing inoculations, and also have been among the first in the country to adopt coronavirus containment measures. There are two possible explanations: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Native Americans and Alaskan Natives are four times more likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19. And community before self has long been a core principle in Native American culture. Tribal leaders and health care providers say it is about preserving a fragile heritage that has been under threat for centuries.
Bills let more NC local governments bypass newspaper notices
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — More local governments in North Carolina could bypass newspapers and instead post public notices online in legislation advancing in the state House. A pair of bills approved by a judiciary committee would allow city councils and county commissioners in about two dozen counties put notices on county-operated websites. State law usually requires these notices and advertisements be printed in the newspaper. Backers of the measures say the switch could help cash-strapped local governments cut advertising costs. The North Carolina Press Association opposes the bills, which in their current form wouldn’t be subject to Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto stamp.
WINTER WEATHER-UTILITY CREWS
Michigan utility crews to help restore power in other states
JACKSON, Mich. (AP) — Utility crews from Michigan will help their counterparts in North Carolina restore power to thousands of homes and businesses following a series of severe winter storms that swept across the nation’s midsection and parts of the South. Jackson, Michigan-based Consumers Energy says nearly 50 workers were scheduled leave Wednesday for Newton, North Carolina. The utility also says crews may be asked to perform additional restoration work in neighboring states because of the widespread damage and additional severe weather expected. Blasts of snow and deep cold have overwhelmed power grids, leaving millions of people in the United States without electricity.
UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS-NORTH CAROLINA
$10 billion in unemployment claims have been paid out in NC
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — State and federal unemployment benefit payments that have been paid out during the coronavirus pandemic have exceeded $10 billion. That’s according to the state’s Division of Employment Security. The Winston-Salem Journal reported Tuesday that most of that money was paid out months ago. For instance, more than $8 billion was paid out between late March and the end of September. Since October, unemployment benefits have totaled slightly less than $2 billion. Overall, there have been 3.36 million initial unemployment claims during the pandemic. But unemployment claims are continuing to drop in the state. State officials reported that there were a combined 12,043 initial claims filed from Friday through Monday.
Power outages linger for millions as another icy storm looms
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Nearly 3.4 million utility customers around the U.S. are still without power in the aftermath of a winter storm. Meanwhile, another blast of snow and ice is threatening to impede the efforts to restore service. The latest storm front was expected to bring more hardship to parts of Texas, Arkansas and the Lower Mississippi Valley before moving to the Northeast on Thursday. The National Weather Service says more than 100 million people live in areas covered by some type of winter weather warning, watch or advisory. At least two dozen people have died in the extreme weather this week.
Tornado levels homes in North Carolina; 3 dead, 10 injured
OCEAN ISLE BEACH, N.C. (AP) — Authorities say a ferocious tornado killed three people and injured at least 10 in a coastal community of North Carolina. Officials say the twister struck shortly before midnight Monday just inland from the barrier island of Ocean Isle Beach. The storm ripped homes apart and flipped cars over. Gov. Roy Cooper said dozens of homes were damaged. The National Weather Service says the tornado was an EF3, with winds estimated at 160 mph (257 kph). Meteorologist Mark Willis says the twister was spawned when warm air collided with a cold front bringing ice, snow and subzero temperatures to much of the nation.
Millions endure record cold without power; at least 20 dead
OCEAN ISLE BEACH, N.C. (AP) — A winter storm that left millions without power in record-breaking cold weather has claimed more lives. They include three people found dead after a tornado hit a seaside town in North Carolina and four family members who perished in a Houston-area house fire while using a fireplace to stay warm. The storm that overwhelmed power grids and immobilized the Southern Plains carried heavy snow and freezing rain into New England and the Deep South and left behind painfully low temperatures. Wind-chill warnings extended Tuesday from Canada into Mexico. In all, at least 20 deaths were reported.
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