COVID Numbers Mixed, State Parks Set Record, Second Doses of Vax Begin


Restaurant Capacity Increases In Buncombe County

(Buncombe County, NC) -- Buncombe County restaurants are being allowed to increase capacity again. Commission chair Brownie Newman signed a declaration this week that recommends a cap of 50-percent indoor dining, which aligns with the state's measures. Buncombe restaurants had previously been under a 30-percent capacity for several weeks. A report of lower community spread of COVID-19 was key in the county's decision.

North Carolina's Senators Say Impeachment Trial Is Unconstitutional

(Washington, DC) -- North Carolina's Senators are joining other Republicans in opposing the impeachment trial of former President Trump. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis both said the trial would be unconstitutional, during a procedural vote at the U.S. Capitol yesterday. The vote failed, as five GOP members joined 50 Democratic Senators in support of the trial's constitutionality. It does point to the larger fact that there already may not be enough votes to convict Trump for incitement of insurrection.

Police Findings Over Protests Delayed

(Asheville, NC) -- City officials will have to wait a little longer on an after-action protest report from the Asheville Police Department. Police Chief David Zack told the public safety committee yesterday that he's awaiting some information from the FBI before sending a report detailing the police response to last summer's protests in the wake of George Floyd's death. A staff shortage has also caused an extra delay. Findings are now expected to be presented in March.

State Parks Attendance Sets Record

(Raleigh, NC) -- North Carolina's state parks are proving to be popular places to visit during the coronavirus pandemic. A new report shows that an all-time high of nearly 20-million people came out to state parks in 2020. Governor Roy Cooper said the record shows North Carolina's outdoor spaces hold even greater value. The record number came in even as many of the parks were shut down when the public health crisis began.

Second COVID-19 Vaccine Doses Begin In Buncombe

(Buncombe County, NC) -- Some people are receiving their second COVID-19 vaccine doses through Buncombe County Health and Human Services. Around 200 were expected at a drive-thru event at A.C. Reynolds High School yesterday. Health officials say they've only been getting just under one-thousand vaccines a week, despite having a goal of giving out several thousand.

WNC Food Box Program Begins Again Tomorrow

(Swannanoa, NC) -- A large food box program in western North Carolina is ramping back up again. WLOS-TV says Hearts with Hands in Swannanoa is now in charge of the Farmers to Families program, which gives dairy, meats, fruits and grains to those in need. A drive-thru event will be held tomorrow at Trinity Baptist Church in Swannanoa.

Charlotte State Senator To Run For U.S. Seat

(Charlotte, NC) -- A state senator from Charlotte is starting a run for U.S. Senate. Democrat Jeff Jackson of Mecklenburg County's 37th District announced through Twitter yesterday he's officially seeking the Senate seat that will be left vacant by Republican Richard Burr in 2022. Former state Senator Erica Smith is also taking part in a bid for the Democratic ticket. Jackson said he'll be running a 100-county campaign.

CMS Approves Emergency Pay For Hourly Employees

(Charlotte, NC) -- CMS is providing emergency leave pay for the school district's hourly employees. The school board approved a plan last night that will extend 80 hours of pay for employees who aren't able to conduct their jobs while class is in remote learning. Those positions include bus drivers and cafeteria workers. In-person instruction is currently set to begin again for the system's youngest students on February 15th. Remaining students are expected to return on February 22nd.

Vaccine Appointments Fill Up For Stadium Event

(Charlotte, NC) -- No appointments are left for a mass vaccination event at Bank of America Stadium this weekend. Atrium Health announced Tuesday morning that all slots had already been filled. Health officials have a goal of vaccinating 20-thousand people at the stadium from Friday through Sunday. Thousands of doses were given out at a separate event last weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

One Dead, One Injured In North Charlotte Homicide

(Charlotte, NC) -- The CMPD is investigating a homicide in north Charlotte. Investigators say one person was killed and another was injured in a shooting on West Sugar Creek Road last night. Injuries to the hospitalized victim were not considered to be life-threatening. There's no word yet if any charges have been filed.

Driver Facing Charges In Hickory Death

(Hickory, NC) -- A driver is accused of being under the influence in connection to a deadly wreck in Hickory. A 61-year-old woman was killed when her car was hit head-on along Highway 70 Southeast on Monday afternoon. The suspect has been charged with death by motor vehicle and reckless driving.

Belk Files For Bankruptcy

(Charlotte, NC) -- Charlotte-based Belk is filing for Chapter Eleven bankruptcy. The Charlotte Observer is reporting the private equity firm that owns the chain is planning to keep the department stores in operation as normal through the process. Belk is looking to eliminate around 450-million-dollars in debt. The company was founded more than 130 years ago in Monroe.

Cold Air Mixed With Rain Expected To Turn Into Snow

(Raleigh, NC) -- A mass of cold air that will move into central North Carolina late tonight is expected to also mix with rain and moisture, resulting in snowfall for parts of the Triangle northward. Weather forecasters are predicting accumulations of between a half inch and an inch of snow between midnight and 6 a.m. tomorrow. With temperatures expected to be in the low to mid 30's, the snow will probably only stick to grassy surfaces and not on roadways, causing hazardous travel conditions.

Many NC Providers Will Have Fewer Or No Vaccines To Distribute This Week

(Raleigh, NC) -- With the state of North Carolina set to receive an allocation of just 120-thousand doses of coronavirus vaccines today, many health care providers will have little or no doses to distribute this week. That's because the backlog of vaccines has been cleared, and most of the new doses are already scheduled to be delivered to mass COVID-19 vaccination sites across the state. State Health Officer Dr. Mandy Cohen says many smaller distribution sites will have to reschedule their appointments until more doses come in.

Fraudulent Unemployment Claims, Mistakes Resulted In Millions Sent To Wrong People

(Raleigh, NC) -- Since the start of the pandemic, North Carolina has paid out more than 70-million dollars in unemployment benefits to people who did not qualify. That word from North Carolina Division of Employment Security Assistant Secretary Pryor Gibson, who told members of the state legislature Tuesday that many of those individuals filed fraudulent claims. Gibson said his agency is working to recover those lost benefit payments.

Feds Award Greensboro $9M In Rental Assistance Funds

(Greensboro, NC) -- The federal government is giving Greensboro millions of dollars in rental assistance funds. They're a part of the Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The City Council will vote to adopt acceptance of the funds during its meeting on February 2nd. After that, they'll figure out details of the program and the application process.

COVID-19 Cases Continue Decline

(Undated) -- Coronavirus cases in North Carolina are at their lowest level in about a month. The state Department of Health and Human Services reported three-thousand-980 new COVID-19 cases yesterday. That's the lowest number since December 29th. There are currently three-thousand-368 people hospitalized with the virus.

North Carolina Has Administered 95% Of Its COVID-19 Vaccines

(Undated) -- North Carolina has administered almost all of its coronavirus vaccines. State health providers say they have about five-percent of their supply left. This after 260-thousand shots were given last week. The Biden Administration announced yesterday its giving states an approximately 17-percent boost in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in early February.

Pedestrian Hit, Killed In Greensboro

(Greensboro, NC) -- An investigation is underway in Greensboro where a pedestrian was hit and killed. The accident happened Monday evening near the intersection of West Friendly and North Elam avenues. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene. Police say the driver remained at the scene and has not been criminally charged. Neither the victim nor the driver has been identified.

Rockingham Co. Considering Virtual Learning Plan For Younger Students

(Rockingham Co., NC) -- Rockingham County school officials are considering a virtual learning plan for students in grades four through eight. The Board of Education would open an e-learning academy for 50 students in each grade level who would prefer to learn from home. Under current guidelines, virtual learning is only available for high school students. The Board is expected to vote on the proposal during its next meeting on February 8th.