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Local News Roundup: New COVID-19 Strain Found; Senate Race Heats Up; CMS Sports Resume

Belk Bankruptcy, Cooper Extends Curfew, CMS Sports Resume, City Council Non Discrimination
Clockwise from top left: Belk is declaring bankruptcy, Gov. Cooper is extending North Carolina's current COVID-19 restrictions, CMS sports are resuming and Charlotte City Council is considering a non-discrimination ordinance.

After an alarming holiday surge, Mecklenburg County’s COVID-19 numbers are showing some signs of progress. New cases and hospitalizations are going down, as well as the positivity rate. But Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris says people need to stay vigilant. Also this week, Gov. Roy Cooper extended the statewide curfew for another month. What will this mean for businesses and citizens around North Carolina?

The new, more contagious COVID-19 strain has surfaced in Mecklenburg, and the county is still struggling to find ways to vaccinate everyone who is eligible (including Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles, who got her first shot this week). Plus, in South Carolina, there are two reports of another new strain first found in South Africa. We'll bring you the latest.

Since Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr says he won’t be running for reelection in 2022, candidates are already lining up, vying for seat. North Carolina Democratic state Sen. Jeff Jackson has announced that he’ll run, along with former Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Walker, former Democratic state Sen. Erica Smith and Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump. We’ll talk about the chances for all.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools says sports will resume in the system earlier than expected, with some sports coming back as early as Feb. 5. Why the change? The system is also working to support hourly employees during the pandemic by offering 80 hours of emergency leave pay. This will allow employees who can’t work remotely the option to take paid leave until they are called back to work. And CMS leaders are expressing concern this week that kidswith COVID-19 are not being linked back to schools by contact tracing. We’ll discuss.

Charlotte-based Belk says it’s filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but the chain promises its stores will stay open.

Mike Collins and our roundtable of reporters delve into the week’s top news on the Charlotte Talks local news roundup.


Steve Harrison, WFAE political reporter

Glenn Burkins, founder and publisher of Qcitymetro.com

Joe Bruno, WSOC-TV reporter

Annie Ma, education reporter for the Charlotte Observer

Charlotte Talks Executive Producer Wendy Herkey has been with WFAE since 1998, beginning in the membership department, and has been on the Charlotte Talks staff since 1999.