GOVERNOR COOPER TO RELEASE DETAILS OF REOPEN PLAN TODAY: Gov. Roy Cooper will make an announcement at 3 p.m. Thursday about when and how to start lifting restrictions, as North Carolina tries to control the spread of coronavirus, a source close to the governor confirmed. Cooper had earlier said he would announce a decision this week about the stay-at-home order, which is set to expire April 29, and on opening school facilities, which are now closed through May 15. Cooper did not hold a press conference on Wednesday. Cooper also said Tuesday that he wants to “ease back” restrictions so the virus does not spike and overwhelm our hospitals. The governor said the decision about the reopening of schools will include guidance from public health officials about what is needed to make students safe in school, the N&O previously reported.
NC'S FIRST (STATE) PRISON INMATE DIES FROM CORONAVIRUS: Officials on Wednesday announced the first COVID-19 -related death of an offender inside North Carolina’s state prison system, reinforcing the dangers of the virus within a population behind bars in which hundreds have tested positive. The Division of Prisons said a prisoner at the medium-security Pender Correctional institution in Burgaw died at a unnamed hospital on Tuesday, nearly two weeks after he started showing viral symptoms. A positive test came back a few days later and he was hospitalized on April 13, a division release said. The agency wouldn't release the prisoner's name, citing family privacy and the confidentiality of prison records, but did say the offender was in his late 50s and had preexisting conditions complicated by the new coronavirus. It wasn't immediately clear whether the death is among the 242 overall COVID-19 deaths that had been reported by state health officials as of Wednesday morning. That's an increase of more than 20 compared to Tuesday. More than 7,200 positive cases have been recorded since the outbreak, and about 430 people are now hospitalized.
REOPENNC BULLIES HECKLED OVERWEIGHT NURSE WHO OPPOSED THEM: Brown arrived in Raleigh wearing a mask, goggles and a blue protective gown with the phrase “Rally Together and Die Alone” written on it. As she maneuvered through the crowd of protesters, the hostility and heckling started when another counter-protester grabbed her arm and said, “You’re with us.” In front of the Legislative Building, other medical professionals dressed in scrubs, masks and lab coats awaited the ReOpen NC protesters. So Brown found a spot and stood there in a silent protest. Protesters converged on her, first attacking her weight. Some called her a strain on the healthcare system, saying obesity kills more people than the coronavirus. But she stood strong. “I didn’t say anything,” Brown said. “I had a message, and I think it was pretty clear. I didn’t think I needed to say any words. When people are in a mob like that and they are angry and screaming, there is no reasoning with them. I wasn’t going to change their mind. I wasn’t there for them, I was there for my patients.” She said she felt threatened. There were Raleigh police officers there, but Brown said there were not many counter-protesters. A dispute could have escalated quickly.
TRUMP FLIP-FLOPS ON HIS "LIBERATE" RHETORIC, SAYS GEORGIA OPENING TOO SOON: President Trump on Wednesday criticized the decision of a political ally, Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, to allow many businesses to reopen this week, saying the move was premature given the number of coronavirus cases in the state. “I want him to do what he thinks is right, but I disagree with him on what he is doing,” Mr. Trump said at a White House briefing. “I think it’s too soon.” Mr. Kemp, a Republican, announced on Monday that he had cleared the way for what he described as a measured process meant to bolster the economy, as Georgia, like the rest of the nation, grapples with the devastation brought by the pandemic. The governor’s plan gives permission to gyms, hair and nail salons, bowling alleys and tattoo parlors to reopen on Friday. Then, on Monday, restaurants are allowed to resume dine-in service, and movie theaters and other entertainment venues can reopen. “I love those people that use all of those things — the spas, the beauty parlors, barbershops, tattoo parlors,” Mr. Trump said on Wednesday. “I love them. But they can wait a little bit longer, just a little bit — not much, because safety has to predominate.” Mr. Kemp acknowledged speaking with Mr. Trump in a series of Twitter posts after the president’s briefing. And while he praised Mr. Trump for his “bold leadership and insight,” he gave no indication he was reconsidering his decision.
IRAN RESPONDS TO TRUMP THREAT ABOUT SHOOTING THEIR BOATS IN PERSIAN GULF: A top Iranian general warned the United States on Thursday against "dangerous behavior" in the Persian Gulf, saying that his forces would target U.S. naval ships that posed a threat to Iran's national security. “We are determined to defend our national security [and] maritime borders,” Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami, commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said in an interview with Iranian state television. He added that any act by U.S. forces that endangers Iranian military or civilian ships “will be met with an immediate and decisive response.” Salami made the remarks a day after President Trump said he had directed the U.S. Navy to “shoot down and destroy” Iranian gunboats that “harass” U.S. ships in the gulf. The U.S. military said that vessels belonging to the Revolutionary Guard came dangerously close to U.S. ships in the area last week. Salami on Thursday blamed the incident on U.S. forces, accusing the American ships of “unprofessional and dangerous behavior.”