The State of Things

 

The issues, personalities and places of North Carolina right to you, every day in your podcast feed. Hosted by Frank Stasio and Anita Rao. Listen and subscribe on Google PlayApple Podcasts or wherever you get your favorite shows. Tweet us @state_of_things and see more show content on Facebook and Instagram.

 

Frank Taylor/Carolina Public Press

In North Carolina it is unlawful to separate a child from a biological parent without the oversight of a judge. But in Cherokee County, a grand jury has indicted at least three current and former Department of Social Services officials for allegedly doing just that. 

Nursing home residents sit around a table.
PJ Johnson

Nursing homes are hotspots for spreading the coronavirus. Long-term residents can more easily stay isolated from family and friends, but workers and short-term patients travel in and out of nursing home communities. Many may be asymptomatic, unknowingly providing an opportunity for the virus to enter and exit vulnerable communities. 

Headshot of Andrea Harris.
Courtesy of The North Carolina Institute of Minority Economic Development

Andrea Harris was a force to be reckoned with. An advocate for the economic advancement of minority communities in the state, she tore down barriers that prevented those communities from owning homes or running businesses. 

Meet 'The Coronavirus Hunter' Ralph Baric

May 25, 2020
Image of Epidemiologist Ralph Baric
Christopher Janaro/christopherjanaro.com

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 took most of the world by surprise — but not Ralph Baric. He is an epidemiologist at UNC-Chapel Hill who has been dubbed “the coronavirus hunter.”

Kristy Dactyl

As colleges across the nation deliberate over whether to continue holding classes remotely in the fall, UNC system schools — including North Carolina A&T State University, NC State University, UNC-Greensboro, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — have already announced their tentative plans for campus reopening.

Christine Rucker-Putnam

Strikes and labor organizing are on the rise as essential workers grapple with safety concerns while on the job. Meatpacking plants, city sanitation and healthcare are some of the industries where workers are striking or organizing.

Sara Deek / Courtesy of Webtoon

When Victoria Lee first wrote “The Fever King” (2019/Skyscape), they did not intend to predict the future. Rather, they hoped to explore our habit of repeating history. Then the coronavirus hit, and the parallels between the fictional Durham, Carolinia in 2074 and the real Durham, North Carolina in 2020 deepened further.

Rudell leans against a white wall while holding a mug.
Yuri Vaysgant Photography

As a holiday weekend typically celebrated with travel and social gatherings approaches, Governor Roy Cooper announced the state’s plans for proceeding with Phase Two of reopening. 

Courtesy of Crystal Moore

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, people with substance use disorders and those in recovery find themselves at risk for relapses and overdoses. Feelings of isolation, fear and anxiety act as triggers for substance use and mental health issues. 

Courtesy of Trey Roberts

Over one million North Carolinians have student loan debt, and the average borrower owes about $25,000. Even under normal circumstances, education debt can be prohibitive. 

Pittman Drug Co. / UNC Libraries

Summers were spent at his father’s gas station. Charles Townsend met all sorts of folks while manning the ice house. In the muggy lowlands of Robeson County, ice was a sought after commodity — no matter if you were raising tobacco or bidding on it in the warehouses. But as the cash crop went into decline, and Townsend considered his career prospects, he chose to leave the town of 2,000 people to work in retail. 

Andrea Circle Bear was eight months pregnant and serving a two-year sentence for a drug charge when she became the first female federal prisoner to die from the coronavirus. Her death sparked questions and conversation about what placed her in prison and why she was held there under the circumstances. 

Forrest Mason Media

North Carolina is known for its barbecue and its bustling food scene. But the state’s restaurants and bars have grown quiet and empty over the last few months. Some eateries have been able to offer takeout, delivery or curbside pickup — but not all dishes work well in a box. 

 

Headshot of Kumar
Courtesy of Cheetie Kumar

North Carolina’s chefs have all had to pivot and change their business models in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Cheetie Kumar closed her Raleigh restaurant Garland in mid-March, right after she closed her music venue Kings.

Sylvan Esso on stage performing for a standing crowd, backlit by blue stage lights.
Graham Tolbert

They are a Grammy-nominated duo of musical magpies. The shared nest of Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn is woven with treasures from ambient, Appalachian gospel, EDM, post-rock, folk-pop and trap music. Yet Sylvan Esso is anything but patchwork. 

Cooper sitting leaned over a table with reporters standing behind him.
NC Governor Roy Cooper

Hundreds of people protested Gov. Roy Cooper’s stay-at-home restrictions for churches in Raleigh Thursday morning.

A large yellow house with black shutters and a tree in the foreground.
Courtesy of Monica Edwards/Morehead Manor

In Durham, small businesses have been the backbone of downtown revitalization. But since COVID-19 forced the closures of most non-essential businesses in mid-March, brick-and-mortar shop owners have struggled to stay afloat. 
 

One person films two people kissing. The two people kissing are leaning onto a bed.
Courtesy of Pink and White Productions

How comfortable are you talking about porn and erotica? Does it make you embarrassed? Ashamed? If you knew more about how porn is made, and how to navigate your own exploration of pleasure, would you still blush at the mention of it?
 

Jason deBruyn/WUNC

A small group, mostly armed, walked the streets of downtown Raleigh Saturday in support of their Second Amendment rights. 

Courtesy of the Museum of the Cherokee Indian

The Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority has been mass testing asymptomatic residents and visitors to territories held by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. In restricting EBCI borders and closing businesses, Principal Chief Richard Sneed preempted most counties and Gov. Roy Cooper.

Will Stuart

Long-distance travellers are stopping through North Carolina this week. Despite weighing as much as a triple-A battery, the Blackpoll Warbler annually migrates from the Carribean and South America to breeding grounds in Canada.
 

Courtesy of UNC Libraries

Work-arounds are his specialty. In the Bull City, ID cards are available to undocumented residents, and a chunk of property tax revenues recycle back into affordable housing initiatives. But Steve Schewel’s use of establishment power to bend establishment norms took some practice. 

Going to a movie at a drive-in or outdoor screening makes memories: the picnic dinner with friends, that tinny sound coming through the car speakers, the joyous anticipation for the start of the movie as the giant screen looms out of the growing dusk. 

Flooding in a small town street
North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency

The Atlantic hurricane season begins in less than a month. Researchers predict an active season with as many as 22 named storms, a small portion of which may become major hurricanes. But it takes only one storm to cause major damage, and emergency managers are preparing for the worst.

Courtesy of Karen Willis Amspacher

Coping and recovering from a crisis is nothing new for North Carolina’s coastal residents. Hurricanes have altered life for generations of families along the Atlantic seaboard who regularly weather floods, evacuations and damage to homes and communities.

Courtesy of Richard Watkins

Richard Watkins has always moved in multiple circles. 

Cooper speaking at a press conference.
Governor Roy Cooper

 

North Carolina transitions into the first phase of easing coronavirus restrictions today at 5 p.m. Gov. Roy Cooper and Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, announced the new guidelines on Tuesday: retail businesses are allowed to open at 50% capacity with cleaning and social distancing standards, while bars, salons, gyms and entertainment venues will remain closed. People can visit non-family members in small gatherings. 
 

Protestors march for MMIW.
Courtesy of Crystal "Red Bear" Cavalier Keck

Gov. Roy Cooper declared Tuesday, May 5 a “Day of Awareness for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women.” The advocacy group Shatter the Silence reports that 31 native women have gone missing or been murdered in eastern North Carolina since 1998. The state tracked at least 90 cases of murdered or missing indigenous women in North Carolina since 1994. But advocates say the real numbers are likely much higher. 

A large-letter post card of Fayetteville
Steven R. Shook / Schiffer Publishing

He leads in ribbon-cuttings and celebrations of life. Mitch Colvin took over his family’s funeral home before running for office. His day-job provides insight into buileint community in difficult times. 

When this year’s seniors started their final year of high school, they could not have imagined that their spring would involve canceled proms, drive-thru cap and gown pickups and postponed graduation ceremonies.

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