STATE NEWS BRIEFS FOR 11-26-20
MAN SENTENCED FOR THREATENING BLACK NC FAMILY
[GREENVILLE] A white North Carolina man was sentenced to 28 months in prison for threatening a Black family who rented a dwelling because of their race. Douglas Matthew Gurkins, 34, pled guilty to one count of criminal interference with the Fair Housing Act. According to a release from the U.S. Justice Dept., “Gurkins admitted that in December 2014, he drove to the home of an African American family and yelled racial slurs at the family. The defendant told the family that they did not belong in their home and then threatened to shoot the family, including four minor children, and any other African American that came onto the property. After making this threat, the defendant brandished a metal rod in a threatening manner. The family moved out of the neighborhood a few days after this incident. Within the next four years, the defendant engaged in similar criminal conduct toward two other African American families living in the same neighborhood.”
THREE HBCUS RECEIVE $3 MILLION FOR RESEARCH IN NUCLEAR PLANT SAFETY
[DURHAM] North Carolina Central University Math and Physics Dept researchers received $3 million from the National Nuclear Security Administration “….to develop better materials and sensors for early detection of defects in nuclear facilities as they age.” NCCU will lead a consortium of research teams in the project involving faculty and students from NCCU, Elizabeth City State University and Southern University at Baton Rouge.
STATE HIGHWAY PATROL ISSUES HOLIDAY TRAVEL GUIDELINES
[GREENSBORO] The State Highway Patrol is gearing up for the holiday season and for the increased number of roadway users expected across our state. Prior to traveling, the SHP strongly encourages the public to visit the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) for the latest to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Best practices during the holiday season and information on our state’s current response to COVID-19 can be found by visiting the DHHS website.
According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), more than 47 million people will travel by automobile across our nation representing a reduction from last year’s predictions. AAA relates this decrease in travelers to our country’s current public health landscape. Nonetheless, members of the State Highway Patrol will increase visibility on highly traveled corridors in an effort to promote safe driving habits.
COVID-19 PUTS NC
“IN DANGER” SAYS GOV
By Cash Michaels
As Black families come together to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, they do so in the shadow of extreme risk.
The number of coronavirus cases has risen across the state, according to the NC Dept. of Health and Human Services, and in the words of Gov. Roy Cooper Monday during a press conference, “We are in danger.”
All of the telltale signs of COVID-19 approaching critical mass statewide are now present, says NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen.
North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID - like illness is increasing; the trajectory of confirmed cases over 14 days is increasing; trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is increasing slightly; the number of hospitalizations is increasing.
Dr. Cohen assured the public that currently, the state has the capacity to manage the pandemic, just as long as citizens continue to do their part to stem the spread.
However, now 20 counties across the state are considered “red” on the color-coded alert system chart - up from nine counties when the system was introduced just last week.
Guilford County is one of the new eleven counties added to the red alert list, indicating that it has 200 cases per 100,000 people over a 14-day period; a positive test rte of 10% or higher, and local hospitals reaching COVID-19 treatment capacity.
As a result, by Executive Order 180, which is now in effect until December 11th, “…the Order tightens the existing statewide mask requirement – making it clear that everyone needs to wear a mask whenever they are with someone who is not from the same household. The Order also adds the mask requirement to several additional settings including any public indoor space even when maintaining 6 feet of distance; gyms even when exercising; all schools public and private; and all public or private transportation when traveling with people outside of the household.”
“The Order also requires large retail businesses with more than 15,000 square feet to have an employee stationed near entrances ensuring mask wearing and implementing occupancy limits for patrons who enter.”
"I have a stark warning for North Carolinians today: We are in danger," Governor Cooper said. "This is a pivotal moment in our fight against the coronavirus. Our actions now will determine the fate of many."
As of Monday, NCDHHS reported that there were over 339,194 COVID-19 cases in North Carolina, with over 5,000 deaths (almost 1,000 just in the past month).
STAY ENGAGED AFTER THE
ELECTION, SAYS REV. BARBER
By Cash Michaels
The election of 2020 may be over, but the deep healing needed to recover from the past four tumultuous years is set to begin, says Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president and senior lecturer of the nonprofit social justice organization Repairers of the Breach.
While Rev. Barber is pleased that President-elect Joe Biden and Vice Pres.-elect Kamala Harris won the election - feeling the they would be much more sensitive to the needs of the poor than Pres. Trump was - with the holiday season now upon Americans, Barber says the tremendous pain caused by Trump should not forgotten.
“Donald Trump’s refusal to concede is not just him alone, and owe should stop saying it is,” the former president of the NCNAACP said in a recent release.. “It’s Mitch McConnell and the entire (virtually all-white) Republican power structure placing the nation at risk, following the lead of the narcissistic racist they’ve chosen to line up with and follow.”
“Together this unpatriotic allegiance has done more to hurt American progress than any other group in recent history,” Rev. Barber continued. “It is currently putting at risk the nation’s response to addressing the COVID pandemic, which has now claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people. “We can’t just pass over that!”
Rev. Barber goes on to condemn Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for adjourning the US Senate last week, not planning to come back until November 30th, as “…millions of Americans continue to suffer, facing unemployment, financial devastation, and mass evictions (because of the pandemic), because Congress has once again failed to pass another COVID relief bill.”
Barber virtually led “National Memorial Service Moral Monday” caravans across the country in memory of the 250,000 who died because of COVID-19, and later that evening, delivered a sermon titled, “In Their Remembrance: From Mourning to a Moral Mandate.”
Regarding the way forward with the new Biden-Harris administration, Dr. Barber maintains that even though he was pleased that they won, pressure must continue to bring about much needed action to help the poor and end systematic racism.”
“If his administration can answer the cries of mourning people with real, transformative policy that addresses systematic racism, poverty, ecological devastation and the denial healthcare, it will indeed be a new day in America,” Rev. Barber said in a statement.