GOVERNOR COOPER ISSUES ORDER CLOSING ACE SPEEDWAY: Gov. Roy Cooper ordered an Alamance County speedway that’s violated his executive orders against mass gatherings closed immediately, declaring the venue an imminent hazard. In an order issued Monday night and obtained by The News & Observer, Cooper and Dr. Mandy Cohen said Ace Speedway could open again if it presents a plan to adhere to state guidelines and that plan is approved by the Department of Health and Human Services. “Mass gatherings do spread the virus,” said Cohen, the state’s DHHS secretary who signed the order closing the speedway. “It was irresponsible for them to keep operating in the way they were doing.” The imminent hazard order characterizes Ace Speedway events as “likely to cause an immediate threat to human life, an immediate threat of serious physical injury, an immediate threat of serious adverse health effects.”
NC SENATE BILL FILED TO ALLOW VISITORS FOR HOSPITAL PATIENTS: Hospital patients could designate at least one visitor, despite the coronavirus pandemic, under legislation under consideration this week in the state Senate. Senators heard painful stories Tuesday from people whose loved ones suffered alone because of visitor restrictions hospitals put in place to lower the transmission of COVID-19. Senate Bill 730, the "No Patient Left Alone Act," would guarantee patients the ability to designate one visitor with "the unrestricted privilege of being present" while the patient is in a hospital's care. Bill supporters said they understand hospitals want to limit foot traffic due to COVID-19 and that they're working with the state hospital association's lobbyist on details. The Senate Health Care committee plans to hear a presentation from the association Thursday morning, then vote on the bill. From there, the bill may go through other committees before going to the Senate, and eventually the House, for final votes.
COOPER FORMS TASK FORCE ON RACIAL EQUITY IN POLICING: North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday that he has signed an executive action on racial equity to “help eliminate systemic racism in our criminal justice system.” The executive order forms the North Carolina Task Force on Racial Equity and Criminal Justice, which Cooper said “will develop and help implement strategies and policies” that, among other things, will ensure all state law enforcement agencies have clear duty-to-intervene policies. “That means if they see a fellow officer doing wrong, they must step in,” Cooper said. Erik Hooks, director of the state’s Department of Public Safety, sent a letter Tuesday to law enforcement agencies about their duty-to-intervene policies. He also asked them to review their arrest procedures, the types of interactions that do and don’t require use of force, and to prioritize de-escalation. N.C. Supreme Court Justice Anita Earls and Josh Stein, the state’s attorney general, will lead the new task force. “For way too long, black people have not been treated equitably in the United States. We have to fix that,” Stein said. “I look forward to working closely with co-chair Justice Anita Earls and the full task force to making North Carolina a safe place for every person, no matter who you are.”
ASHEVILLE TAKES STEPS ON REMOVAL OF CONFEDERATE MONUMENTS: The joint action by the Asheville City Council and Buncombe County would establish a task force to recommend steps to remove or repurpose the monuments at the county courthouse and in the city’s Pack Square Park, WLOS-TV reported. The move comes amid national protests over the death of George Floyd that has seen Confederate monuments toppled and taken down all across the South. The figures eyed for removal in Asheville include a 50-foot monument of Confederate military officer and former North Carolina Gov. Zebulon Baird Vance, and granite markers that memorializes Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and Confederate Col. John Connally in the park. Officials are also looking to remove a small obelisk honoring the 60th Regiment of North Carolina Confederate soldiers by the courthouse entrance. The resolution calls on the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a private organization that erected the monuments, to take them down.
SCIENTISTS ARE LOOKING AT NEXT YEAR BEFORE COVID 19 VACCINE WILL BE AVAILABLE: Researchers around the world are developing more than 125 vaccines against the coronavirus. Vaccines typically require years of research and testing before reaching the clinic, but scientists are hoping to produce a safe and effective vaccine by next year. There are three phases before a vaccine is approved for use, but some projects have combined early phase trials to speed up the process. Some coronavirus vaccines are now in Phase I/II trials, for example, in which they are tested for the first time on hundreds of people. Additionally, the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed program has selected five vaccine projects to receive billions of dollars in federal funding and support before there’s proof that the vaccines work. Work began in January with the deciphering of the SARS-CoV-2 genome. The first vaccine safety trials in humans started in March, but the road ahead remains uncertain. Some trials will fail, and others may end without a clear result. But a few may succeed in stimulating the immune system to produce effective antibodies against the virus.