Associated Press

Two members of North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s Cabinet won’t remain in their posts as his second term begins next month. The Democratic governor said on Tuesday that Military and Veterans Affairs Secretary Larry Hall and Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Susi Hamilton are leaving their jobs in the coming weeks. Cooper didn’t immediately announce their successors, who like other Cabinet secretaries are subject to state Senate confirmation. Hamilton and Hall were state House members when Cooper picked them for his administration.

NCDHHS

North Carolina is reporting a record increase in cases of the coronavirus and hospitalizations in the state. North Carolina reported Saturday morning that the state has had 6,018 cases since Friday. North Carolina says there are 2,171 people with COVID-19 in the state's hospitals. That's up 14 from a day earlier. The state's health secretary says the increase is very worrisome. Mandy Cohen notes that in less than a week, the state has gone from exceeding 5,000 new cases reported in one day to exceeding more than 6,000.

North Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger’s next chief of staff will be his top legal adviser since 2018. The Republican announced on Friday that Brian Fork will succeed Andrew Tripp, who is leaving to become general counsel for the University of North Carolina System. The succession is similar to what’s happened over in the House, where Speaker Tim Moore announced last month his chief of staff’s departure for a post within the university system.

A judge has agreed to name a third-party expert to scrutinize the COVID-19 response within North Carolina’s prison system. Prisons are experiencing a surge in cases and a growing number of inmates have been hospitalized. Superior Court Judge Vince Rozier said on Friday that he’s worried about the pressure the coronavirus is now placing upon correctional institutions. A key task of the special master he picked will be to ensure that additional inmates at higher risk for COVID-19 complications can serve at home or in safer settings.

North Carolina's election board says hand recounts of a small portion of ballots cast statewide in the extremely close race for North Carolina Supreme Court chief justice will begin next week. Democratic incumbent Cheri Beasley asked for the partial hand-to-eye recount immediately after the machine recount of millions of ballots cast in her race with Republican Paul Newby was finally completed Wednesday. Newby remains 400 votes ahead of Beasley. The partial hand recount could be expanded statewide if there are great enough differences in the results in the random precincts.

NCDPS

Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths in North Carolina have reached their worst levels since the pandemic began. But the state's top health official said Thursday more restrictions may not be needed if people follow the existing rules. Dr. Mandy Cohen, health department secretary, says the state is open to further restrictions. But she also repeated her calls for more mask wearing, hand washing and physical distancing. Meanwhile, Gov. Roy Cooper has been reluctant to impose additional restrictions on businesses. Pfizer's vaccine could arrive in North Carolina as early as Dec. 15.

NCDPS

North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is unveiling a bipartisan commission he hopes will plow aside past acrimony with the Republican-controlled General Assembly and improve health care access through legislation next year. The North Carolina Council for Health Care Coverage holds its first meeting on Friday, with big names from health care, business and state government serving. Cooper tried to get Medicaid expansion approved in his first term but was blocked by Republicans. Cooper told The Associated Press he believes there are core principles on health care access all can agree to.

Republican Paul Newby’s narrow lead over Democratic incumbent Cheri Beasley changed little overall as a statewide machine recount of North Carolina’s very close race for Supreme Court chief justice was finally completed. The machine recount that finished Wednesday night left Newby with a 401-vote lead over Beasley with nearly 5.4 million votes cast in the race. Beasley’s campaign says it immediately asked the State Board of Elections for a hand recount of a small portion of ballots statewide. Newby led by 406 votes before the machine recount.

State Auditor Beth Wood's office says North Carolina’s education department has failed to monitor sufficiently whether over $140 million in federal coronavirus relief money was used properly or met its intended purposes. That is the conclusion of a performance audit released Wednesday that goes through August. Wood's auditors focused on money for nutrition services and summer learning programs and for distribution to local districts. Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson disagrees with much of the audit's findings.

A federal appeals court has ruled that a lower court judge wrongly blocked the implementation of North Carolina’s latest photo voter identification law with her legal injunction last year. Wednesday's unanimous opinion by a panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided District Judge Loretta Biggs erred by declaring the 2018 requirement was tainted by racial bias largely because a previous voter ID law had been struck down on similar grounds. Both were approved by the Republican-controlled legislature.

Nearly half of third to 12th grade students at a North Carolina school district failed a class this school year while taking virtual classes. Wilson County Schools says 46% of students in those grades failed a class during the first nine weeks of the school year. That’s more than double the rate from the same period last year. WRAL-TV reports the first quarter of the school year was entirely remote. Elementary and middle school students then transitioned into hybrid learning. Superintendent Dr.

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A sheriff’s deputy in North Carolina who was seriously injured in a Thanksgiving car crash has died in the hospital. The Rocky Mount Telegram reported Tuesday that Nash County deputy Jared Michael Allison had been hospitalized since Nov. 26. Sheriff Keith Stone said that Allison was “a hero who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving the citizens of Nash County.” Allison was working Thanksgiving Day evening as part of an effort to enforce seat belt laws. Stone said that Allison had spotted a motorcyclist driving recklessly and began a pursuit.

NC DPS

North Carolina will soon get about 85,000 doses of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine. Gov. Roy Cooper and state Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen say healthcare workers will be the first to receive it. Nursing home staff and residents and people who self-report at least two serious underlying health issues will be next in line. Cooper said the state is working through logistical challenges in getting the vaccine to rural communities that lack sufficient storage capacity.

"File:Gender Neutral Bathroom Sign - Gas Station in Playa del Rey, CA - December 2017.jpg" by Peter Greenberg is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

A 3 1/2-year ban on new local ordinances aimed at protecting LGBT rights in North Carolina has expired. The expiration of the moratorium Tuesday prompted gay rights groups to urge the passage of such measures. The ordinances would prohibit LGBT discrimination at workplaces, hotels and restaurants. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper agreed to the moratorium on the ordinances in March 2017. In return, GOP lawmakers agreed to eliminate a provision of a 2016 law that required transgender people to use public bathrooms matching their biological sex.

Officials in North Carolina say that some households in the state will be eligible to receive federal money to cover one monthly winter heating bill. The Winston-Salem Journal reported Monday that the money would come from the federal Low-Income Energy Assistance program. North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services said the money is meant to help thousands of eligible seniors and people with disabilities during the coronavirus pandemic. The payment amounts will be based on the heating source. For instance, $300 will available for coal or wood.

New laws are taking effect in North Carolina to help more people convicted of lower-level crimes and nonviolent drug trafficking get their records cleared or punishments eased. The “Second Chance Act” and “First Step Act” are among nearly a dozen state laws approved since 2019 by the General Assembly and taking effect fully or partially on Tuesday. The First Step Act allows a judge to deviate from mandated prison sentences and hefty fines for drug-trafficking convictions if several conditions are met.

The North Carolina Senate will have its first female majority leader. Senate Republicans meeting on Monday elected Sen. Kathy Harrington to the post for the session that begins in January. The Gaston County legislator is the first woman in that position since the chamber created it over 40 years ago. The caucus also agreed unanimously to nominate Sen. Phil Berger of Rockingham County as its choice for Senate president pro tempore, which is the chamber’s most powerful position. Berger has held the post since 2011.

NCDHHS

North Carolina has reported its highest number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus. The Raleigh News & Observer reported Monday that there were 1,966 people hospitalized with the virus statewide. The information comes from the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. Hospitalizations had already set new records on Saturday and Sunday. The state also reported 2,734 new cases, marking the 22nd-highest number since the pandemic began. There has been an average of 3,617 new cases each day over the past week. The positivity rate’s seven-day average is now at 7.8%.

Connie Leinbach/Ocracoke Observer

A new school is set to be built on a North Carolina barrier island that was hit by a hurricane last year, leaving the former building heavily damaged. News outlets have reported that Hurricane Dorian struck the Outer Banks’ Ocracoke Island in September 2019, sending more than 5 feet of water into some areas, and flooding the only school building on the island. The Virginian Pilot says a $9.5 million building is now set to be built as a replacement. The structure will sit more than 7 feet above sea level, and is expected to be completed in 2022.

The U.S. Coast Guard says it rescued three people stranded on an island on the North Carolina coast after their boat had drifted off. A news release says personnel at the Coast Guard Sector North Carolina command center received word on Tuesday that three people were stranded on Racoon Island after their 21-foot craft drifted away. The command center dispatched a boat crew from the Hobucken station. The crew put the three unidentified people on the boat and took them to the Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge Boat Ramp in Cedar Island. No injuries were reported.

A North Carolina sheriff's office says one person is dead after an early morning shooting at a poultry processing plant. The Duplin County Sheriff's Office tells news outlets that the shooting occurred shortly after 5 a.m. Wednesday in the parking lot of the House of Raeford chicken processing plant in Rose Hill. The sheriff's office says it has identified both the suspect and the victim, but their identities haven't yet been released. House of Raeford is headquartered in Rose Hill and also has plants in South Carolina, Georgia and Louisiana.

The recount in North Carolina's state Supreme Court chief justice race between Republican Paul Newby and Democrat Cheri Beasley will continue into next week. The State Board of Elections says three large counties in the state do not expect to complete their recounting of ballots as expected on Wednesday and will have to continue the process on Monday. The board will announce final results once counties have completed their recounts. Newby and Beasley have lodged election protests that the State Board is expected to consider on a future date.

Jared Brumbaugh

The North Carolina State Board of Elections has certified results for the 2020 general election. The state Supreme Court chief justice race between Republican Paul Newby and Democrat Cheri Beasley is still going through a recount process. President Donald Trump defeated Democratic nominee Joe Biden by 1.3 percentage points. Sen. Thom Tillis defeated Democrat Cal Cunningham by a wider margin. The state saw a record number of registered voters and mail-in votes. Over 5.5 million of the more than 7.3 million registered voters cast ballots in this year's election.

NCDOT

North Carolina transportation officials say they’re temporarily halting much construction work along interstates and other major routes to ease congestion for holiday travelers. The North Carolina Department of Transportation said in a news release that it was shutting down work along interstates, U.S. routes and key state routes from Tuesday through next Monday. In certain exceptions, work that doesn’t impact travel lanes and certain projects that would make it unsafe to open all travel lanes will continue.

Risks are rising faster than predicted for coastal residents from Long Island, New York, to the Gulf Coast as saltwater invades from above and below ground. Reporting from the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism shows ghe salting of the coast threatens drinking water, crops, property and our ability to mitigate the carbon releases driving global warming. That means higher utility bills, increased property damage and a resculpting of the coastline as forests and marshes disappear. Agriculture in California’s Central Valley also is at risk.

N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences

The skeletons of two dinosaurs that appear to have died fighting each other have been donated to a North Carolina museum. The nonprofit organization Friends of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences said in a statement Tuesday that it acquired the fossilized animals with private funds. The Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops horridus are known as the dueling dinosaurs. They were buried together 67 million years ago and are intertwined in what looks like a final death match.

The extremely close race for North Carolina Supreme Court chief justice will have a recount. Democratic incumbent Cheri Beasley on Tuesday formally asked for one while Republican challenger Paul Newby holds a narrow lead after nearly 5.4 million ballots have been counted. State election officials say counties must complete the recount by Nov. 25. Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein also declared victory Tuesday for a second four-year term after totals showed his lead outside the 10,000-vote margin in which Republican Jim O'Neill could seek a recount.

Candidates in North Carolina’s still-undecided races for Supreme Court chief justice and attorney general are awaiting final official results from just a few counties. Current Chief Justice Cheri Beasley and challenger Paul Newby remained in an extremely close election on Monday, and a statewide recount was likely as only hundreds of votes separated the candidates. State law gives the trailing candidate in the race until noon Tuesday to request a recount. In the race for attorney general, Democratic incumbent Josh Stein led Republican Jim O’Neill by a margin outside the recount window.

North Carolina House Republicans are backing Rep. Tim Moore as speaker again for the upcoming General Assembly session. The House GOP caucus met on Monday to choose their leaders for the session that begins in January. The House Republican Caucus agreed Moore would be its nominee for the speakership in January. Moore is a Kings Mountain attorney and speaker since 2015. His reelection to a record-tying fourth two-year term is expected because Republicans will hold a 69-51 seat advantage. The caucus also agreed to back Rep.

The election to lead North Carolina’s judicial branch faced a likely recount after county tallies showed an extremely close race between current state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley and challenger Paul Newby. Canvassed results reported Friday from most of the counties show the Democrat Beasley and Republican Newby neck and neck after nearly 5.4 million votes cast in the race were counted. Recounts can occur if the trailing candidate is behind by 10,000 votes or less. The county results also confirmed victories for Republican Phil Berger Jr.

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