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


N Carolina COVID-19 unemployment payments starting to go out

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina's governor says that the first coronavirus-related unemployment payments will be paid starting next week as the state is flooded with tens of thousands of claims. Gov. Roy Cooper issued a statement Sunday saying that the state has received approximately 270,000 claims in the past two weeks, most of them related to COVID-19 as businesses close or scale back. The state reported bout 22,000 claims on Saturday alone. By comparison, the state received about 7,500 claims in the first two weeks of March.


Police: Alcohol likely involved when driver hit police car

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Police in North Carolina say they believe alcohol played a role in a crash that happened when a man crashed into a law enforcement vehicle. The Raleigh Police Department said in a news release that a police officer was making a left turn when the man drove through an intersection and crashed into the police vehicle around 8 p.m. Saturday. A police news release said the driver fled in his vehicle, drove off the road and crashed into a tree in someone's yard. No one was seriously hurt in the situation. Police say the suspect is in custody. Charges are pending and authorities believe alcohol was involved.


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 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.