Lisa Worf

Morning Edition Host and Executive Producer

Lisa Worf traded the Midwest for Charlotte in 2006 to take a job at WFAE. She worked with public TV in Detroit and taught English in Austria before making her way to radio. Lisa graduated from University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in English. 

Ways to Connect

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An old comment from U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis has been resurfacing during the coronavirus pandemic.

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President Trump on Thursday called off the Jacksonville, Florida, portion of the Republican National Convention, saying, “it’s not the right time” for a large convention. The GOP last month moved most of the convention from Charlotte after Gov. Roy Cooper wouldn’t guarantee the Republicans a packed house at the Spectrum Center.

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It's been four months now since North Carolina shut down for the coronavirus. And though a lot of businesses have reopened, many are struggling, trying to get by with fewer customers and sales. Shanté Williams represents many small business owners as chair of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Black Chamber of Commerce. We spoke with her in late April, just after Gov. Roy Cooper extended the stay-at-home order. And we're checking in with her now.

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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will open next month in a way that comes as a surprise to parents and teachers because it wasn't either of the options that the Board of Education had presented earlier. Students will start the year in person, rotating in groups through the first two weeks then move to remote-only learning. 

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Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest over the weekend gave an interview with the Hendersonville Times-News in which he questioned Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s mandate that North Carolinians wear masks in public when social distancing isn’t possible.

Gyms are among the businesses that remain closed under North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper's order. He said he's concerned heavy breathing associated with exercise accelerates the spread of the coronavirus. His opponent, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, says Cooper is, "picking winners and losers." He tweeted last week, "Forty-six states have gyms/fitness centers open. North Carolina is one of four states that does not." WRAL's Paul Specht joins us to assess that last statement.

Courtesy Cristina Bolling / Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter

Here’s a startling statistic: Latinos only make up 14% of Mecklenburg County’s population but 38% of its confirmed COVID-19 cases. Most are younger adults. The Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter's managing editor Cristina Bolling recently looked at how Latinos are coping with COVID-19.

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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is expected to announce this week whether the state will move forward into Phase 3 of its reopening process. This comes amid a surge in coronavirus cases in North Carolina and mounting pressure from businesses and lawmakers.

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Protests of racial injustice and police brutality continued this weekend in Charlotte. As usual, Charlotte Mecklenburg police were on the scene, but they were operating under a temporary restraining order. A superior court judge on Friday signed the order halting the department's use of riot control agents like tear gas and flash bang grenades against peaceful protesters. That was a response to a lawsuit filed by groups including the local chapter of the NAACP, the ACLU of North Carolina and Charlotte Uprising. Alex Heroy helped to argue their case in court. He joins “Morning Edition” host Lisa Worf.

Pape Ndiaye
Jodie Valade / WFAE

For years, Charlotte's hosted a Juneteenth celebration that spans several blocks and days. More accurately, Pape Ndiaye has hosted the celebration. When he first came to Charlotte, he felt there wasn't much recognition of the day that memorializes the end of slavery in this country. So he started his own and invited the community.

Tyson processing plant
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Meatpacking plants have become hotspots for the coronavirus. More than 2,500 workers at 27 plants throughout the state have now tested positive for the virus. That includes nearly 600 workers at a Tyson chicken plan in Wilkesboro.

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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper eased restrictions last month to allow most businesses to reopen, but churches could only hold indoor gatherings of at most 10 people. This was how he explained his reasoning: “We know that inside it is much more likely that you’re going to transmit this virus, particularly when you’re sitting or standing in one place for a long period of time.”

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Heal Charlotte

When we talk about front line workers, we think about nurses, grocery store clerks and bus drivers. Among that bunch are others who keep their communities together. 

Mandy Cohen
NC Department of Public Safety

Along with Gov. Roy Cooper, Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen is at the forefront of North Carolina’s plan to reopen from the coronavirus shutdown. Phase 2 of the plan that begins Friday at 5 p.m. is a modified version of what was expected to be announced. WFAE’s Lisa Worf spoke to Cohen about the reasoning for that, the confusion of what’s allowed and her thoughts on the Republican National Convention coming to Charlotte this summer.

Mandy Cohen
NC Department of Public Safety

North Carolina’s Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen says the Republican National Committee should “hope for the best, but plan for the worst” when it comes to having its convention in Charlotte in August. 

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Why can’t bars and gyms open in the state’s modified Phase 2? How long will this second phase of reopening last? WFAE’s Lisa Worf and health reporter Claire Donnelly break it down. 

 

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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is expected to announce as early as Wednesday whether the state can move this weekend into Phase 2 of its three-phase reopening plan. On Monday, he said officials wanted “a couple more days” to look at the state’s coronavirus data. 

 

Cal Cunningham and Thom Tillis campaigns; Gage Skidmore

Responding to the coronavirus has been rough on state budgets. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he'd be in favor of changing the law to allow states to declare bankruptcy. In response, Democrat Cal Cunningham, who's challenging incumbent Republican Thom Tillis in North Carolina's U.S. Senate race, tweeted, "McConnell said he wanted states to go bankrupt instead of the federal government providing relief. Today, Thom Tillis agreed."

Carolinas Medical Center Main Complex, Charlotte.
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So much comes down to hospitals in this coronavirus outbreak. Yet, unless you're sick or caring for those who are, it's hard to get a feel for what's happening inside. Dr. Bryant Allen teaches emergency medicine at Charlotte-based Atrium Health and also works in the E.R. He gives us an inside look. 

N.C. Department of Public Safety

The coronavirus has killed more than 300 people in North Carolina. Last week, at the state's near-daily press conference, Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen said COVID-19 is now the leading cause of death in the United States. WRAL's Paul Specht joins WFAE's Lisa Worf to assess that claim.

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Gov. Roy Cooper's decision to extend his stay-at-home order is tough to accept for many small business owners, even if they understand the reasoning behind it. Shante Williams represents many small business owners as chair of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Black Chamber of Commerce.

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Under North Carolina's stay-at-home order, grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants offering takeout are deemed essential businesses and can stay open. But there are a few head scratchers among the bunch, including the state's government-run liquor stores.

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Mecklenburg County’s health department is training school nurses to help the seven staff members who perform contact tracing to try and slow the spread of COVID-19.

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The clock is ticking for many small businesses hoping to stay afloat through COVID-19 shutdowns. Banks have received hundreds of thousands of applications to tap $349 billion set aside by stimulus bills. And the program was only launched Friday. If used mostly to retain workers or rehire them, those loans don't have to be paid back. The program is managed by the Small Business Administration. Thomas Stith III is the SBA director for North Carolina.

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It's the first of the month and that means rent is due for many people who may have lost their jobs due to business closures aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus. Kim Graham is the head of the Greater Charlotte Apartment Association, a group whose members include owners and property managers of more than 165,000 apartments throughout the region. She joined WFAE's Morning Edition host Lisa Worf.

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The coronavirus has certainly affected people’s buying habits. Of course, you probably know that toilet paper and bread are in high demand. So are guns.

Federal background check statistics for March are not available, but gun shop owners across the country are reporting a surge in business. Count Larry Hyatt among them. He owns Hyatt Guns in west Charlotte and says he’s never seen demand so high.

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To help curb the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, employees in many companies are being encouraged to work from home when possible. WFAE is no different. Many of our staff members are practicing social distancing and working remotely. One of those, is reporter Sarah Delia. She’s been working from home and she’s looking for ways to connect with the community.

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It’s now the fourth day public schools in North Carolina have been closed to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Eric Davis, the chairman of the state board of education, says the school system is doing everything it can to deliver instruction, but that the closure has highlighted inequities across the state in delivering distance learning to students.

We're starting off Wednesday not with politics, but, yes, with coronavirus. Social media has been full of charts and graphics about COVID-19 and how to protect yourself against it. We look at one that's been making its rounds. The chart involves classifications of the coronavirus. Now there aren't standard definitions, but mild to moderate cases include symptoms like a fever and dry cough. Some cases may involve a mild form of pneumonia that requires hospitilizaton. The chart we're fact checking says that 80% of coronavirus cases are mild. Joining us to assess this claim is WRAL's Paul Specht.

Phil Roeder / Flickr/https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

This morning every public school in North Carolina is closed as state and local officials hash out a strategy for keeping kids safe and educated during what could be a prolonged closure for coronavirus protection. The first steps were taken in a series of weekend meetings and phone conferences.

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