COVID-19

next gen america
Rachel Weber / Next Gen America

Registering to vote is usually an interactive, interpersonal effort, where organizations host registration events at college campuses or churches. But in the time of pandemic, it's changed the way nonprofit organization are reaching potential voters.

Hal Goodtree, via Flickr / https://bit.ly/2OJVNQH

The Wake County School Board voted Tuesday to proceed with its "Plan B Transitional" plan for this fall.

That means students in all grades will start the year remotely.

Electric meter
Kevin Harber, via Creative Commons / https://bit.ly/30ykzck

The North Carolina Utilities Commission says nearly 1.5 million customers in the state have been delinquent in payments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Utilities Commission says the unpaid bills amount to nearly $260 million.

The pandemic has infiltrated and affected every aspect of human life, across the globe. The devastating health and economic impacts have been undeniable, and ever-present.

But there’s something else happening that’s not as noticeable: the animals. Creatures with fur, feathers and paws have been spotted in some unexpected places since there haven't been as many humans getting in their way.

WUNC’s Laura Pellicer and Elizabeth Friend were curious about the effect a drastic decrease in human activity might have on wildlife. So they decided to look at one animal in particular, and see if it’s behavior has changed since North Carolina shut down from COVID-19.

On this episode, we’re featuring "CREEP," an audio special about our relationship with wildlife during the pandemic.

 


Fight for 15, Black Likes Matter, Strike for Black Lives, Livable Wage
Leoneda Inge

The Black Lives Matter movement came together with the campaign for a $15 minimum wage Monday in downtown Durham.

The rally and march was part of a national “Strike for Black Lives.” Low wage workers and their supporters, many wearing red "NC Raise Up" t-shirts, say essential workers during this COVID-19 pandemic deserve at least $15 an hour.

Congress returns from a summer recess Monday as many states experience spikes in confirmed coronavirus cases.

State governments face a precipitous drop in revenue, parents and teachers are debating how kids will return to school in the fall, and millions of unemployed workers face the prospect of their pandemic assistance running out at the end of the month.

covid
LM Otero / AP

This post will be updated periodically with the latest information on how the coronavirus is affecting North Carolina. Scroll down for older updates. For a recap of last week's news, check out Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of July 13.

2:50 p.m. - A temporary waiver giving people extra flexibility in preparing Living Wills and Health Care Powers of Attorney is set to end next week. These two directives have traditionally required notarization and the signatures of two witnesses. In response to the pandemic, the General Assembly passed a law in May waiving the the witness requirement until July 31. The Secretary of State's office says emergency video notarizations will be available to people preparing their advance directives until March. - Rebecca Martinez, WUNC

This week in state politics: More remote learning became a reality this week when Gov.  Roy Cooper announced North Carolina public schools will not return like normal next month as COVID-19 cases have been on the rise.

Rob Schofield and Becki Gray discuss the governor's choice to recommend a mix of online and in-person schooling for K-12 students. 

Meanwhile, the latest campaign finance reports show Democrats are building a financial advantage. And in Asheville, city council members unanimously voted to provide Black residents with reparations.

 


The World Health Organization reports there are more than 150 vaccines for COVID-19 in various stages of development. But how do you ensure that everybody is fairly represented in clinical research trials, especially when people of color are dying at higher rates from the virus?

Host Leoneda Inge talks with Kent Thoelke, chief scientific officer and executive vice president of PRA Health Sciences, about the clinical research organization’s efforts to connect with diverse populations for COVID-19 treatment and vaccine trials.

Inge also discusses a recent measure passed by Asheville city council that will provide reparations for the city’s Black community. The resolution calls on the city to create a commission and designate funds to strengthen Black home and business ownership, and close gaps in healthcare, education and employment.


Is it just us…or have animals been acting different lately?

CREEP is an unexpected audio documentary for these challenging times. Journalists Elizabeth Friend and Laura Pellicer team up to tell the story of how the COVID-19 pandemic changed our relationship with the animals.

This half-hour special takes listeners on a virtual nature walk – one that makes some unplanned stops throughout history to examine how one species in particular has started showing up in unexpected ways since we humans started social distancing.


LM Otero / AP Photo

 Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper announced guidelines on Tuesday that will allow North Carolina K-12 schools to reopen at reduced in-classroom capacity but give parents and school districts the choice to have classes entirely online.

N.C. Governor Roy Cooper and N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen.
N.C. Department of Public Safety

North Carolina teachers, parents and students — as well as gym and bar operators — are anxious to know what Gov. Roy Cooper will say about the path ahead with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Medical personel handle testing at a community coronavirus testing site operated by Cone Health and the county Health Department in Burlington, N.C., Thursday, July 9, 2020.
Gerry Broome / AP

This post will be updated periodically with the latest information on how the coronavirus is affecting North Carolina. Scroll down for older updates. For a recap of last week's news, check out Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of July 6.

4:15 p.m. - With coronavirus infection rates setting new records across much of the country, medical troops from Fort Bragg have been deployed to help in one of the worst-hit states. Seventy-one soldiers with the 44th Medical Brigade have flown to McAllen, Texas. According to an emailed statement from the Army, they’ll help civilian hospitals in that area deal with critical care COVID-19 cases. Infection rates are so bad  in parts of Texas — including McAllen — that intensive care units are full, hospitals are adding beds in temporary facilities and refrigerated trucks have been ordered to help with overflow at morgues. The state hit a new single-day record for Covid-related deaths this week. - Jay Price, WUNC

This week in state politics: North Carolina lawmakers failed to override the governor's vetoes so that gyms and skating rinks that were shutdown because of the pandemic could reopen. But in court, a group of bowling alleys won their argument that they're no riskier than resturants operating at limited capacity. 

Meanwhile, the tension over how Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is calling the shots during the COVID-19 emergency brought an abrupt end to a meeting of top state elected officials. 

Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch and Becki Gray of the John Locke Foundation discuss those developments, plus record-breaking fundraising in the U.S. Senate race, and one early outcome of protests over police misconduct. 
 


The personal loss of a loved one leads host Leoneda Inge to reflect deeply on the recent experience of saying goodbye during the pandemic.

Despite social distancing and stay-at-home orders preventing large groups from gathering together, Black communities have still found ways to mourn the loss of family and friends.  Whether it’s live streaming a service, mandating face masks, limiting attendance or offering creative kinds of support to relatives, people are adapting to the current challenges of organizing funerals and memorials.

Inge also talks with Nina Jones Mason, manager of Ellis D. Jones & Sons Funeral Directors, about grieving during this unique time.


Flickr / https://bit.ly/2ZdjmaX

A “Top Chef” contestant's restaurant in North Carolina has permanently closed down due to revenue losses amid the coronavirus pandemic.

NC Legislative building
NC General Assembly

The Republican-controlled General Assembly again fell short Wednesday in overriding several of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's vetoes. The unsuccessful votes for the GOP mean directives within the governor's COVID-19 executive orders that keep many businesses closed remain intact.

Sign on college campus reading 'International Student Programs' with an arrow pointing to the left. Street with cars in the background.
Bellevue College//Flickr//CC

U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement has issued a new temporary rule banning international students from returning to or remaining in the United States if their colleges move to online-only instruction this fall.

Tahir Siddeeq

If a drug proven to reduce coronavirus transmission by 50% to 85% existed, would you take it? Masks offer that kind of protection for public health, and yet people still go out in public without them. Why is that?

Bowling
https://bit.ly/38BZy3X / LibraryatNight via Creative Commons

A state judge has ruled that dozens of bowling alleys can reopen in North Carolina, provided they adhere to capacity limits and rules for sanitation and face coverings.

File photo of construction workers at a work site.
astrid westvang / Flickr, https://flic.kr/p/63KaFK

Juan José Mejia Guillén is considered an essential worker in North Carolina. He runs a small construction company, Olive and Sage Custom Building, LLC. With nearly 15 years of experience, the master carpenter is confident about his work.

Gerry Broome / AP

This post will be updated periodically with the latest information on how the coronavirus is affecting North Carolina. Scroll down for older updates. For a recap of last week's news, check out Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of June 29.

3:50 p.m. - Appalachian State University's September football game at Wisconsin has been canceled. That's because the Big Ten Conference decided to move to conference-only schedules for fall sports, a precaution amid the pandemic. News outlets report the cancellation will cost App State a $1.25 million guarantee for the game. - Rebecca Martinez, WUNC

A masked woman looks out her window.
Victoria Bouloubasis for Enlace Latino NC/Southerly

According to a recent poll from Elon University, Governor Roy Cooper has way more support among Democrats for his mandate to wear masks in public.

Ninety-one percent of Democrats who responded to the survey -- versus 57% of Republicans -- support such a policy. But the poll results are less clear when it comes to reopening schools this fall.

This Week In State Politics: the Governor delayed a decision about whether public schools would open in the fall.

As Democrat Roy Cooper said he needed more time, he was also served with a lawsuit. His political opponent, Republican Dan Forest, contends that the Governor is implementing too much unilateral authority.

And with lawmakers away for a little while, news trickled out of the General Assembly that a lobbyist tested positive for COVID-19. Rob Schofield and Becki Gray discuss those stories, as well as their fireworks plans for this weekend.


Gun sales continued to mushroom in June, apparently due to a confluence of Joe Biden’s surge in polls, the spread of COVID-19, and ongoing protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Americans bought 2.4 million firearms in June, according to industry estimates from Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting. That is a 145% increase from June 2019. Handgun sales make up the bulk of those estimates and increased at an even higher year-over-year rate of 178%.

The U.S. Senate is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 27, 2017, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. faces challenges within his own party this week in advancing the Republican health care bill.
J. Scott Applewhite / AP

The Senate Health Committee is discussing plans for reopening schools and offices that have been shuttered by the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

Thierry Raimbault/Flickr / https://bit.ly/2YH4TU6

This post will be updated periodically with the latest information on how the coronavirus is affecting North Carolina. Scroll down for older updates. For a recap of last week's news, check out Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of June 22.

2:44 p.m. - Hopscotch organizers have canceled this year's Raleigh-based music festival. Dates have been scheduled for mid-September 2021. - Rebecca Martinez, WUNC

This is no ordinary year.

A pandemic is sweeping across the world as cries for changes to address systemic racism fill the streets of American cities. The economy is reeling, and a presidential election is looming. But sometimes self-expression thrives amid turmoil.

Another bustling week in North Carolina politics included the toppling of Confederate monuments in the state capitol and elsewhere, the governor's decision to mandate face coverings statewide because of the coronavirus, and an after-hours marathon session at the General Assembly.

Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch and Becki Gray of the John Locke Foundation discuss executive actions, legislative inaction, and what the addition of GOP donor and policy wonk Art Pope may mean for the UNC Board of Governors.
 


Two women at a Black Lives Matter Protest
Elvert Barnes

 

American voters have a notoriously short political memory. The United States is struggling to come to terms with the inequities highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic and the recent police killings of numerous Black people — and some pundits are wondering which of the issues front of mind today will influence the upcoming elections in November.

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