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Displaced Durham Housing Authority residents struggle to adjust to new normal under COVID-19 threat 

Valencia McQueen had her hands full Tuesday at Millennium Hotel in Durham. Tevin, a busy three-year-old who folks a generation ago would have described as "all boy," was giving McQueen all that she could handle.  “They don’t have a playground, so he plays in the room, or we go into the hallway or come down to the lobby,” said McQueen, who spent the better part of an interview with Policy Watch chasing Tevin up and down the long, carpeted hallway just inside the hotel’s entrance.

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COVID-19 Law and the Courts Top Story

Left behind: Immigrant communities try to navigate COVID-19 with language barriers, lack of resources

On the day Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced it would limit enforcement action amid COVID-19 concerns, agents threatened to break a man’s truck window in a Cary parking lot to take him into custody. Mariano Rosario-Rios and his daughter locked themselves in their truck Wednesday morning and called Siembra NC’s 24-hour ICE detention hotline for help while agents surrounded them and ordered they get out of the truck. They were in a shopping center parking lot.

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COVID-19 News Top Story

With social distancing the name of the game, NC faith leaders find new ways to reach their flocks

Like most people, Rabbi Fred Guttman has spent the last week adjusting to a strange new life, one upended by COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus. Accustomed to a full crowd at Greensboro’s Temple Emanuel each Friday and Saturday, Guttman has converted both adult and youth religious services to online-only meetings conducted over the video-conferencing app Zoom. He has also organized a regular virtual lunch on Wednesdays for the elderly members of his community that he calls “a schmooze with the Rabbi.”

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COVID-19 Environment News Top Story

As NC restrictions grow to fight a pandemic, many local farmers’ markets left in limbo

Durham city and county officials have forced the popular Durham Farmers Market in Central Park to close in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, jeopardizing small farmers’ livelihoods just as the spring season begins. The Southern Durham Farmers Market on NC Highway 55 is also in limbo. The Durham Roots Farmers Market on West Main Street is not scheduled to open until April.

The Southern Durham Farmers Market on NC Highway 55 is also in limbo. The Durham Roots Farmers Market on West Main Street is not scheduled to open until April. Other markets at Duke University and UNC Chapel Hill, where students have been sent home for the semester, and in Hillsborough have also closed.

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COVID-19 Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

PW exclusive: What it’s like to get tested, wait, worry and adjust to the new normal of a COVID-19 world

“I’m not going to lie to you,” my doctor told me last week. “This is going to be unpleasant.” She then pulled the longest medical swab I’d ever seen from its sanitary seal, explaining she would need to insert it deep into my nasal passage, very nearly into my throat, to get a proper sample.

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COVID-19 News Top Story

Life in COVID-19 quarantine: PW reporter provides a first-person account

My elbows were filthy. The outsides had been used to turn on light switches and turn off faucets, to latch bathroom stalls and open hotel doors. The insides had blunted sneezes and muffled coughs. I had been diligent, fervent even, about scrubbing and sanitizing my hands and all surfaces, using my elbows to fend off a viral invasion.

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Monday numbers: Some of the challenges presented by COVID-19

One of the many challenges that state leaders will need to tackle in addressing the COVID-19 crisis is how to help workers living paycheck-to-paycheck. Workers will be forced to miss work if they are quarantined. For others in today's gig economy, having their hours scaled back could spell disaster when it comes to paying the monthly bills. All of these problems are made more acute in places like 2020 North Carolina where rents are high, unemployment insurance benefits are among the lowest in the nation and many people don't have access to paid sick leave.

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Environment Top Story

New state report: The climate crisis is coming home to roost in NC

Hot days, warm nights. Heavy rains, no snow. A greater risk of wildfires and hurricanes, droughts and floods. Released this week, the 236-page North Carolina Climate Science Report paints a dim picture of the new normal that will likely unfold through the century’s end. “Even under a scenario where greenhouse gas emissions peak around 2050 and decline thereafter, North Carolina will experience substantial changes in climate,” the report reads.

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COVID-19 News Top Story

Special update: The latest on COVID-19 in North Carolina

State leaders provide updates, announce a series of actions to address rapidly evolving health crisis Gov. Roy Cooper warned North Carolinians that COVID-19, the disease caused by a new coronavirus, is going to get worse here before it gets better. “We need to do everything that we can to work to prevent the spread of the virus and also to mitigate,” he told the Governor’s Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force this morning. “We know that lives are at stake. We also know that all of our lives will change in some way over the next few weeks and months.

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NC’s Mark Meadows: The Right’s new ally in the West Wing

WASHINGTON — North Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Meadows has a new job in the White House — a promotion that could elevate the status of the Tar Heel State in the eyes of the president and strengthen ties between the Trump administration and conservatives in Congress. President Donald Trump announced Meadows’ appointment in a tweet Friday, saying “I have long known and worked with Mark, and the relationship is a very good one.”

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Education Top Story

It’s going to take being ‘about that life’ to reduce school suspensions

NC education leaders call for better data, improved training and awareness to promote racial equity in schools Educators must be “about that life” to reduce school suspensions for children of color, State Board of Education (SBE) member James Ford recently told his colleagues. That means, among other things, beefing up the state’s "consolidated data report" to include specific incidents that result in suspensions for Black, Hispanic, Native American and mixed-race children at disproportionate rates when compared to their white counterparts, Ford said. 

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Virginia takes a giant leap on LGBTQ equality – will NC follow suit?

It’s been a historic month for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in Virginia. With Democrats in control of the state legislature and the governor’s mansion for the first time in 26 years, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has signed a raft of LGBTQ protections. Among them: the South’s first ban on so-called conversion therapy, expanded hate crime legislation, protections for transgender students in public schools and a law paving the way for local governments to pass their own anti-discrimination laws.

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Governor, bracing for long-term coronavirus impact, declares state of emergency for NC

Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency today as health officials continue to prepare for the spread of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus. There have already been seven people in the Triangle who have tested positive for the virus, which appears to be highly contagious. They are all doing well and have been in isolation, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, which is continuing to work on finding and notifying their close contacts.

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Monday numbers: A closer look at Super Tuesday totals, turnout and turnaround

Last week's Super Tuesday primary vote seems likely to have gone a long way toward setting the tone for November’s general election contests—in North Carolina and around the country. What's more, breaking down some of the final numbers in the Democratic presidential primary provides an interesting snapshot of the North Carolina electorate—who turned out, their allegiances, how it all compared to 2016 and how quickly things shifted in the days leading up to the vote.

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Education Top Story

Superintendent Mark Johnson picks a new fight with the State Board of Education

Tensions rise over new contract controversy A day after finishing a distant third in a bid to become the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, state schools Superintendent Mark Johnson took a jab at State Board of Education (SBE) colleagues over a contract he contends was improperly administered. SBE members have been critical of Johnson’s handling of contracts, most recently his controversial “emergency purchase” of services from Istation to continue K-3 reading assessments.

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U.S. Senate Democrats slam Trump officials for coronavirus response

Richard Burr voices concerns about the federal response as well WASHINGTON — U.S. senators want Trump administration officials to be more forthcoming about coronavirus amid concerns the White House has given misinformation on the disease. A Senate panel with oversight on health issues heard from top public officials Tuesday from the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health, and the Food and Drug Administration.  ...

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