Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. EDT


North Carolina jobless claims slowed, still historic

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The surge in unemployment claims in North Carolina has slowed in recent days, but remains at historic levels. U.S. Labor Department data released on Thursday shows applications for temporary unemployment assistance in North Carolina last week fell by 20% compared to the week before. But the data also shows that the state’s unemployment benefits office has processed close to 404,000 claims since March 14. Workers at shuttered restaurants are feeling much of the losses. The economic struggles come amid a statewide stay-home order issued late last month. North Carolina health officials reported about 3,650 positive COVID-19 cases and 65 virus-related deaths as of Thursday.


North Carolina store, business occupancy begin next week

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina groceries and other retailers still open must meet capacity restrictions and cleanliness standards if they want to keep operating next week under a new executive order by Gov. Roy Cooper. Retailers, pharmacies and other businesses will have to limit entry to discourage crowds starting Monday. Stores also will have to mark out spacing in cashier lines. A statewide stay-at-home order began last week, but people can still go out to get groceries and prescriptions, as well as get some exercise. The order also gives more strength to directives announced Wednesday to boost patient and staff protections at nursing homes.


Police department warns against drive-in Easter services

WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina police department is warning residents not to attend drive-in church services during Easter. The Wilmington Police Department issued a statement in which City Attorney Daniel Thurston urged all churches and places of worship to continue with virtual services. Police said the statement was in response to local pastors who were asking whether drive-in services are permitted under Gov. Roy Cooper's executive order. The statement pointed out that the order prohibits any event or gathering that brings more than 10 people together, either indoors or outdoors.


Group sues for more robust N. Carolina voter roll cleanup

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A conservative-leaning group has sued North Carolina election officials, accusing them of not doing enough to thin out voter registration rolls as federal law directs. Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against the state, state election administrators and those in two large counties on Thursday. Its lawyers say the officials aren’t complying with laws demanding they carry out a program that reasonably attempts to cancel registrations of people deemed ineligible to vote. State elections director Karen Brinson Bell says the voter maintenance program is being carried out in a uniform and nondiscriminatory way. North Carolina has nearly 7 million registered voters.


Authorities search for child missing after mom's stabbing

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina police department says a 2-year-old boy who they believe was taken from his mother's home after she was stabbed has been found in Maryland. A statement from the Durham Police Department says 22-year-old Emerson Ezequille Rivas-Melendez and his son, Jeremy Rivas-Munoz have been located in Prince George's County in Maryland. Police spokeswoman Kammie Michael says the boy is OK and that Rivas is in custody. Durham police said the woman suffered non-life threatening injuries when her son was abducted early Thursday. Multiple warrant issued against the father include charges of  attempted first-degree murder and first-degree burglary.


Body of 17-year-old drowning victim found at lake

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Authorities in North Carolina said the body of a teenager who disappeared underwater while swimming with friends was recovered. The Wake County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the body of 17-year-old Davion Davis was found Thursday at Falls Lake. County Sheriff Gerald Baker said a witness saw people swimming near a rocky area of Falls Lake and one of them disappeared under the water. Baker said one of Davis’ friends thought he was having some trouble and jumped in the water to help him but Davis never came back up. Investigators believe Davis may have hit his head on a rock. Davis’ death was ruled an accidental drowning.


Judge: Confederate group must return statue fund to UNC

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina judge has ruled that a $2.5 million fund that was set up to maintain a Confederate statue will have to be returned to the University of North Carolina. The judge’s order is the latest step in the dismantling of a controversial deal that struck between the university and a Confederate heritage group. The deal was made after the Silent Sam statue was toppled on campus in 2018. The Raleigh News & Observer reported Wednesday that the judge has orderedthe money returned. However, he did approve tens of thousands of dollars in legal expenses and other costs that had already been spent.


More deaths spur new North Carolina nursing home directives

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina health officials are ordering new resident and employee protections in the state’s nursing homes after the new coronavirus has penetrated further such facilities. Gov. Roy Cooper said on Wednesday that more than 60 residents at an Orange County long-term care facility have tested positive and two of them have died. Moore County health officials also announced more than two dozen residents at a rehabilitation center as having COVID-19. The additional restrictions come as civil rights groups and prisoners asked the North Carolina Supreme Court to order the state prison system to release high-risk offenders and others already soon to be let out.