On Wednesday Governor Cooper extended the statewide 10 PM to 5 AM curfew for an additional 3 weeks. The extension comes in response to worsening spread of COVID-19 in North Carolina and increasing hospitalization numbers. HHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen expressed great concern about the dire state of the epidemic in North Carolina and advised leaving home only for essential activities.
COVID-19 vaccinations are underway in North Carolina, with over 180,000 doses administered as of Friday. Cooper has mobilized the National Guard to support NC counties’ vaccination processes; the first teams are expected to begin this work early this week. On December 30, Governor Cooper and Dr. Cohen announced a change to the state’s vaccination plan, allowing more people 75 or older to be vaccinated earlier.
On Wednesday the NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) approved a controversial air permit for a proposed biogas processing facility designed to convert swine waste from nineteen hog farms to energy. The facility, however, will not begin processing biogas until the participating hog farms receive required permits from the Department of Water Resources. The Southern Environmental Law Center issued a statement opposing the DEQ’s approval of the permit.
LGBTQ Rights/Criminal Justice
On December 31 the NC Court of Appeals struck down a state law that excludes people in same-sex relationships from obtaining certain protective orders against abusive domestic partners. The court ruled 2-1 that the law limiting 50B protective orders -- domestic violence protective orders that include provisions to strip the offender of access to firearms, among other provisions -- to opposite-sex couples violated the equal protection and due process rights of the plaintiff, a Wake County woman who had sought a 50B protective order against a former female partner. Prior to this ruling, North Carolina was the only state in the country that did not allow domestic violence protective orders for same-sex partners.