Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 4:20 p.m. EDT


North Carolina sheriff sued over halting pistol permits

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Gun rights activists filed a lawsuit against a North Carolina sheriff who temporarily halted handgun permits amid a surge of interest during the coronavirus outbreak. The lawsuit against Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker was filed Friday in federal court by Grass Roots North Carolina, the Second Amendment Foundation and Firearms Policy Coalition. The lawsuit asks a judge to force Baker to start issuing pistol permits again, arguing that state law requires him to process the permits. The lawsuit says that while a sheriff can deny an individual application for certain reasons, state law doesn't give the authority to halt all applications.


Man arrested, accused of coughing on fellow store customer

BELMONT, N.C. (AP) — Police in North Carolina have arrested a man they accuse of coughing at a customers at a Walmart store and saying he had COVID-19. The Gaston Gazette reports that Robert Eugene Heffner, 26, of Belmont, was arrested on Friday night. The newspaper cites arrest warrants stating that Heffner  “purposely coughed at a customer” and said he had coronavirus. The warrant warns that his actions could cause fear among the public. Online jail records show that Heffner was charged with misdemeanor counts of a public health violation and failure to comply. Jail records didn't list whether he has an attorney who can speak on his behalf.


North Carolina receives 26,000 unemployment claims Friday

North Carolina is reporting another heavy day of unemployment claims as nonessential businesses close or scale back operations during the COVID-19 outbreak. The North Carolina Department of Commerce said in a news release that the state had received more than 26,000 unemployment claims on Friday. Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the state typically received about 3,000 a week. The state has received nearly 246,000 claims from March 16 through March 27. All but about 30,000 of them are related to COVID-19. By comparison, the state received about 100,000 claims received per month during the Great Recession about a decade ago, according to state officials.


North Carolina Highway Patrol trooper dies in fatal crash

The North Carolina Highway Patrol said one of its troopers has died in a fatal vehicle crash. The Patrol issued a news release saying Trooper Nolan J. Sanders was on interstate 795 in Wayne County Friday night when his vehicle left the road. He struck a concrete culvert and came to a stop. The five-year veteran was pronounced dead at the scene. No other vehicles were involved. Troopers are working to reconstruct what led to the crash. The Patrol said in its news release that it's mourning the loss.


Cape Fear Valley Health to furlough about 300 workers

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Officials with Cape Fear Valley Health say the health system will temporarily furlough approximately 300 employees starting Sunday to reduce spread of the new coronavirus. News sources report the furloughs will take effect on Sunday. A news release said the health system has temporarily closed some services and rescheduled nonessential surgeries, procedures or diagnostic testing. Full-time employees will continue to receive health insurance benefits, with the health system paying premium costs during the furlough. Nurses and nursing assistants in affected areas will be offered temporary positions at the health system’s hospitals.


North Carolina GOP convention pushed back to June by virus

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina Republican Party's state convention is being delayed by three weeks due to the new coronavirus emergency. The state GOP announced that the convention will now be held June 4-7 in Greenville. It was originally scheduled for mid-May, but party Chairman Mike Whatley says the alteration was made in light of numerous safety regulations issued to respond to the outbreak. The Republican National Convention is still set for late August in Charlotte, where President Donald Trump would formally accept the GOP nomination.


Nursing board adjusts rules to help students earn degrees

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina board has made adjustments in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic to ensure undergraduate nursing students complete their requirements to earn a degree and join the health care field. The Asheville Citizen Times reports the North Carolina Board of Nursing recognized a roadblock and changed policy to allow remote instruction as a way to satisfy clinical requirements. Scott Pearson is interim dean of Mars Hill University’s undergraduate nursing program. He described moves by both Mission Hospital and the Veterans Administration which ended programs that offered local nursing students clinical experience under faculty supervision.


Old military target washes up on North Carolina beach

KILL DEVIL HILLS, N.C. (AP) — A device that looks like an old mine has washed up on North Carolina's Outer Banks. But police say it's nothing to worry about it. Police in Kill Devil Hills said in a statement earlier this week that it appears to be some kind of “anti-submarine” target and not an explosive device. The spherical object is covered in barnacles and was painted withe the words “inert” and “target.” Police said it's filled with concrete. The Charlotte Observer reported that North Carolina's barrier islands have a history of collecting mines, torpedoes and military ordnance lost at sea. Discoveries are common because of previous target practice by the U.S. Military.