How North Carolina, National News Collide: The Week In Review From WFAE
Major U.S. News Made An Impact On North Carolina — And Vice Versa
There was a lot of news to unpack this week. On the national level, the murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged with killing George Floyd, began in earnest in Minneapolis. On Friday, an attack at a U.S. Capitol checkpoint — less than three months after the deadly insurrection — left one officer dead and another wounded. And President Biden unveiled a massive, $2 trillion infrastructure plan that he called a "once-in-a-generation investment."
Things that are happening nationally matter on the local level, too.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, extended a federal moratorium on evictions for renters behind on payments due to the pandemic just two days before the order was set to expire. That was welcome news for tenant advocates in North Carolina, where the National Apartment Association estimates 19% of renters are behind on payments.
Something else on a national level that was welcome news to many in North Carolina: expanded insurance subsidies from the COVID-relief bill that was signed in March. The legislation made Obamacare coverage a lot more affordable, and WFAE's Dana Miller Ervin dug up answers to some of the biggest questions about what it means for the Affordable Care Act.
Nationally, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have endured an increasing amount of harassment and attacks over the last year. And in Charlotte this week, a man was arrested after reportedly attacking and vandalizing a Korean-owned store, Plaza Sundries, in uptown while yelling racial slurs. In response, people blew past a $5,000 fundraising goal to help the store and its owners with recovery.
Despite everything, store owner Mun Sung told WFAE he was optimistic about the future.
"We'll make more money," he said. "We're working hard."
The nation is still very much in the grips of COVID-19, but things are getting better. The CDC this week said travel is safe for fully vaccinated Americans, though nonessential trips are discouraged. Pfizer says its vaccine showed 100% efficacy in kids 12-15, and Dr. Anthony Fauci says a surge in vaccinations may keep a fourth wave of COVID-19 at bay. Still, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky urged Americans not to act like the pandemic is over, fearing "impending doom" if the U.S. fully opens too quickly.
How to move forward in the pandemic is a national debate that again, is mirrored in North Carolina. All counties have moved out of the state Department of Health and Human Services' critical "red zone" for COVID-19 spread, and nearly a quarter of North Carolina's adult population has been fully vaccinated. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, while visiting Gastonia this week, said his administration is having "discussions" about creating "vaccine passports" for residents that would allow people to show they've been vaccinated. While Cooper was in Gastonia, state House members in Raleigh were voting to put guardrails on his emergency powers.
The "vaccine passport" idea has become increasingly controversial nationwide. Republican North Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger called it a "ridiculous concept" and said vaccine passports were in opposition to Democratic concerns about voter IDs.
Speaking of voter laws, Georgia's new rules — especially a provision stopping people from handing out water to folks waiting in line to cast ballots — have drawn blowback. Biden called the restrictions "Jim Crow in the 21st century" and this week MLB announced it was pulling its All-Star Game out of Atlanta.
WFAE's Steve Harrison compared Georgia's new law to voter regulations in other states — including North Carolina.
We'll close with flipping the narrative a bit. Many of the week's biggest stories were national events or trends that made their way here. But North Carolina — and specifically one North Carolinian — made national headlines this week.
Roy Williams, the legendary UNC Chapel Hill men's basketball coach, announced his retirement after 18 seasons and three national championships with the Tar Heels. Everyone from Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan to rival Duke University's Coach K had something to say about Williams. Even Gov. Cooper said "Dadgummit."
What made "Uncle Roy" such a great? "He was just the right guy for the right time," Charlotte Observer sportswriter Langston Wertz Jr. told WFAE.
Now the spotlight turns to finding a successor. If you know who it is, drop us a line!
ICYMI: MORE LOCAL NEWS
Every year at school budget time, UNC Charlotte education professor Walter Hart hears a similar question: "Why do you need more money? You’ve got the lottery." Lottery money for education is never as much as many people expect it to be.
A deputy U.S. marshal shot and killed a man in Charlotte last week while attempting to serve a warrant. The Marshall Project reports shootings by U.S. marshals are becoming more common as they act like local police, but officers face less accountability.
Cabarrus County Schools has reported 17 cases of COVID-19 in students at W.M. Irvin Elementary School in Concord. The school also reports 95 students are under quarantine. That’s about 19% of the school population.
Queens University in Charlotte has quietly built a swimming dynasty. Last weekend, the men’s and women’s teams both captured their sixth straight NCAA Division II titles — after a stressful season in which half the team contracted COVID-19 two months ago.
The world of competitive video gaming, known as esports, has exploded, with global audiences that now rival those in some traditional sports. An office building in Charlotte is where some of the biggest gaming action happens, reports the Charlotte Ledger.
A Salisbury police officer who was captured on video lifting a K-9 by its leash, shoving it into the side of a patrol car, and appearing to strike it, has resigned following an outside investigation into the incident.
If you're looking to buy a house in Charlotte, you've got your work cut out for you. Would-be buyers face a historically tight supply of homes and rising prices. And there are other challenges, too.
THE HIGH COST OF COVID-19
A Latino advocacy organization based in Raleigh says it's raised about $425,000 in the last year for immigrants who missed out on stimulus checks because they are in the country illegally.
As we recover from the pandemic and move forward in education, there are lots of adjustments being made. The president of the North Carolina Association of Educators talks about how teachers have managed all the changes.
With two more mass shootings in the past two weeks, Americans are once again wondering what to do about gun violence. WFAE’s Tommy Tomlinson, in his On My Mind commentary, looks at a couple of proposals that don’t seem to make sense — unless you choose to look at the world a certain way.
BEST OF CHARLOTTE TALKS
In the last two weeks, 18 people died in mass shootings in metro Atlanta and Boulder, Colorado. Why do we continue to tolerate this? What is being done to solve this recurring problem?
This week's SouthBound is a replay of a conversation Tommy Tomlinson had with musician Rhiannon Giddens back in October of 2019, on the morning of a concert she’d perform that night in Charlotte. Remember live music? In this episode, we explore how Giddens’ background in a multiracial, multicultural family laid the groundwork for her lifelong search of the musical roots that connect us all.
In the latest installment of Still Here, our series about resiliency, WFAE's Sarah Delia speaks to Joe Kuhlmann, the owner of a Charlotte music venue about surviving the pandemic and two break-ins. He says resiliency is a muscle he has to strength-train and he's been giving it a serious workout in the past year.