Food banks embark on expansions with lessons from COVID
ATLANTA (AP) — Food banks have ramped up their output during the coronavirus pandemic to meet an explosion of need from families facing financial hardship. Now, some are preparing to permanently boost their food distribution with major expansion projects driven in part by their experiences during the pandemic. Food banks in Florida, North Carolina and Utah are all working on adding capacity. The projects come amid persistent food insecurity in the U.S. despite the country’s slow crawl back from the economic fallout of the pandemic. While demand has dropped from pandemic peaks, the need remains far above pre-pandemic levels.
North Carolina legislators taking final redistricting votes
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina General Assembly is about to finalize maps for the state’s legislative and congressional districts that are supposed to last for the next decade. The House and Senate scheduled floor sessions Thursday to debate and vote on the lines drawn based on 2020 census figures. Maps for the state House, state Senate and U.S. House delegation had already passed one chamber by Wednesday. Republicans would largely fare well under the plans. Democrats and their allies say the maps contain illegal partisan and racial gerrymanders. One lawsuit was filed last week and more could be coming.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA
COVID shots for North Carolina kids 5 to 11 widely available
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina health officials are starting to receive some of the more than 400,000 Pfizer vaccines they expect get in the coming week for children ages 5 to 11. Federal regulators recently signed off on the kid-sized doses to protect against COVID-19. The shots will be available at federal pharmacy sites, such as CVS and Walgreens, as well as local health offices. The shots coming into the state will cover most of the nearly 893,000 North Carolina youngsters in that age range. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services believes vaccinations will ramp up in the coming days and run more fully next week.
BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY-WEATHER
Snow forecast prompts closure of parts of Blue Ridge Parkway
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Officials say portions of the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina are closed in advance of a forecast of winter weather. In a Facebook post, parkway officials say areas in the higher elevations are most at risk into Thursday morning. The Charlotte Observer reports the closure came after Mount Mitchell State Park, which is on the parkway, closed due to snow and ice.. Parkway officials say the road closures will remain in effect until crews assess road conditions on Thursday morning as weather allows. A list shows the parkway is blocked between mile marker 411 and mile marker 469, south of Asheville.
NC Sen. Berger willing to consider Medicaid expansion
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger has been a longtime opponent of expanding Medicaid coverage through the 2010 federal health care law. But now the Republicans says he’s been willing to consider enacting expansion as part of horse-trading with Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper over a state budget. Still, Berger told reporters GOP legislators aren’t proposing expansion in bargaining because legislative Republicans are divided over the issue. House Speaker Tim Moore says there isn’t support in his chamber’s Republican caucus. Cooper has sought expansion since taking office. Moore and Berger say they remain far apart with Cooper over finalizing a two-year budget.
SEXUAL ASSAULT-MAN SENTENCED
North Carolina man gets 26 years for assaulting a child
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina district attorney says a man has been sentenced to 26 years in prison after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting his partner’s daughter more than three years ago. The News & Observer of Raleigh reports the news release from the Durham County District Attorney’s office says 37-year-old Francisco Alvarado was found guilty by a jury on Oct. 28. Alvarado had faced felony charges of taking indecent liberties with a child and statutory rape of a child by an adult.
911 OPERATOR-HARASSMENT LAWSUIT
N. Carolina emergency communications worker settles lawsuit
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Department of Justice says it’s reached a settlement in a lawsuit filed against a North Carolina county alleging that an emergency communications unit engaged in unlawful retaliation when it fired a worker who told supervisors that she had been sexually harassed on the job. A news release from the department on Wednesday says a consent decree calls on Wilson County to develop and submit for approval revised discrimination and retaliation policies, investigation procedures for complaints of discrimination and trainings that will apply countywide. The consent decree further calls on Wilson County to pay Jennifer Riddle $100,000 in compensatory damages and back pay.
NC Democrats walk out to protest Republican joining House
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Dozens of North Carolina House Democrats left the chamber when Republicans seated a new member who has said he was just outside the U.S. Capitol during the insurrection in January. All but a handful of Democratic caucus members left their desks for the exits as Rep. Donnie Loftis of Gaston County took the oath of office Monday evening. Gaston Republican activists picked Loftis to succeed the late Rep. Dana Bumgardner. Loftis has said he had “zero involvement in the rioting” and condemned how others went inside. At least one Democrat said Loftis’ rally participation crossed the line.
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