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Our roundup of the week's top stories in the Charlotte area and across North Carolina. Sign up here to get it sent straight to your inbox.

Are Calmer Days Ahead? Or Is A Storm Brewing? The Week In Review From WFAE

Donald Trump white house 2021 file photo.jpg
Joyce N. Boghosian
/
White House
President Trump will leave the White House for good this week just before Joe Biden is inaugurated Wednesday.

Are Calmer Days Ahead? Or Is A Storm Brewing?

It was another busy news week, and somehow we're wondering: Is this the crest of the wave or are we still in the calm before storm?

It's pretty insane to think that the "calm" might include 1. President Trump's second impeachment and 2. Such high levels of coronavirus transmission in the Charlotte area that Mecklenburg County's public health director has recommended sticking to virtual options whenever possible for the next three weeks.

But President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration is Wednesday, and federal officials have warned all 50 states of possible planned violence. And who knows if Trump's impeachment will lead to another political battle when it gets to a Senate trial -- which won't happen until he's left office.

In the meantime, we're all still learning to live with a COVID-19 surge, with a new more easily transmissible strain expected to take hold in the U.S. that could lead to overwhelming the health care system more than it has been already. In South Carolina, one coroner is worried she'll run out of morgue space, as WFAE's Sarah Delia reported. And just Friday, Gov. Henry McMaster asked hospitals to cut down on elective procedures because COVID-19 is straining the system.

Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris
Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris

Meanwhile, county Public Health Director Gibbie Harris' directive this week to stay home except for essential activities in the next three weeks led Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools -- and many other area schools -- to scramble when assessing whether to have students return to in-person classes in the coming week. In the end, CMS opted to keep students home until Feb. 15.

At least CMS has some answers and a plan, though. Plenty of businesses -- gyms and barbershops, for instance -- are wondering whether they should remain open after Harris' directive -- which is only a suggestion, not an order.

And although the COVID-19 vaccine was approved this week for people 65 and older in North Carolina after federal recommendations, Mecklenburg County says it does not have enough vaccine doses on hand to vaccinate everyone who is eligible. We're left treading water as that storm approaches.

Even in this "calm" part, the fallout from the U.S. Capitol riot continues. We learned at least seven from North Carolina were arrested in connection with the insurrection. And, of course, the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump for a second time. WFAE's Steve Harrison and Dashiell Coleman compiled how every North Carolina and South Carolina rep voted, with the biggest stunner coming from South Carolina's Tom Rice. Although the congressman voted against certifying Biden's election results just 11 days ago, he voted for impeachment.

rice-trump.jpg
@reptomrice
South Carolina Rep. Tom Rice poses with President Trump in happier times -- February 2020 -- during a campaign event.

Rice's statement on his vote read, in part:

"Once the violence began, when the Capitol was under siege, when the Capitol Police were being beaten and killed, and when the Vice President and the Congress were being locked down, the President was watching and tweeted about the Vice President’s lack of courage.

"For hours while the riot continued, the President communicated only on Twitter and offered only weak requests for restraint.

"I was on the floor of the House of Representatives when the rioters were beating on the door with tear gas, zip-tie restraints, and pipe bombs in their possession. It is only by the grace of God and the blood of the Capitol Police that the death toll was not much, much higher."

Rice is known as a staunch conservative and he says he voted for Trump twice. For him to make a statement like that definitely made some waves.

Are those waves enough to start a new storm? We'll let you know.

ICYMI: Local News

Immigrants Struggling To Send Money Home — When It’s Needed Most

Sending remittances is a common practice for migrants. These payments are sent to their home countries to cover the costs of living for the family members left behind. But the coronavirus pandemic has put an economic strain on those who send this money.

What Will 2nd Round Of PPP Loans Mean For Charlotte's Black Businesses?

Rules guiding a new round of PPP loans have been tweaked to make them more accessible. Shanté Williams, chair of Charlotte Mecklenburg Black Chamber of Commerce, joins WFAE's Lisa Worf to talk about what it might mean for area Black businesses.

James Mitchell Resigns From Charlotte City Council

He stepped down to become a 25% owner in R.J. Leeper Construction, a firm that does business with the city. With his ownership stake being more than 10%, state law says that Mitchell’s company couldn't do business with Charlotte while he was on council.

Did Rapid Antigen Tests Help Fuel After-Christmas Surge Of COVID-19?

Despite their good intentions, some people who tested negative for the coronavirus using a rapid antigen test before visiting friends and family over Christmas may have developed a false sense of security.

Did Rapid Antigen Tests Help Fuel After-Christmas Surge Of COVID-19?

Despite their good intentions, some people who tested negative for the coronavirus using a rapid antigen test before visiting friends and family over Christmas may have developed a false sense of security.

MARTHA.jpg
Courtesy of Martha
Martha, whose last name is being withheld because she fears legal reprisal, helps collect donations for Honduras after two hurricanes struck the country in November 2020

COMMENTARY

WFAE’s Tommy Tomlinson, in his weekly On My Mind commentary, says Donald Trump has been a danger to this country through his last days in office – but he didn’t do it alone. And among those who helped him were many from the Carolinas. But Tomlinson says one name rises to the top: South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.

BEST OF CHARLOTTE TALKS

The attack on the Capitol stirred up a hornet’s nest in Congress. Though President Trump says his comments urging supporters to march on the Capitol were “totally appropriate,” House Democrats drew up an article of impeachment charging Trump with “incitement of insurrection.” With mere days to go until Joe Biden becomes president, what did that accomplish?

HAVE YOU HEARD?

Charlotte-based band Moa made the most out of 2020. From contributing an original song to the Netflix true crime documentary “Night Stalker” to hosting an eye-catching virtual performance at Charlotte’s Neighborhood Theatre and releasing a hauntingly beautiful debut album, the four-piece ambient music group created sparks in a year of darkness. Listen to their story in the latest episode of our Amplifier podcast.

Recycling can be confusing. Do you keep the bottle caps on plastic water bottles or take them off? Should you break down cardboard boxes before putting them in the bin? What about office paper with staples? FAQ City has answers!

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