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  • The auto alliance of Nissan and Renault said Wednesday it will be sharing more vehicle parts, technology and models to save costs as the industry struggles to survive the coronavirus pandemic. Alliance Operating Board Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard said the group, which also includes smaller Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors Corp., will have each company focusing on geographic regions. He stressed the alliance needs to adjust to the “unprecedented economic crisis,” to pursue efficiency and competitiveness, not sheer sales volumes. “Now is the time to rebuild,” Senard said, making clear he believed the alliance remained strong. All automakers are suffering from the pandemic, and scaling back or suspending production, but Nissan was reeling before the crisis struck from a scandal involving its former chairman, Carlos Ghosn. Yokohama-based Nissan is due to report its annual results on Thursday and has forecast it will slip into its first yearly loss in 11 years. Under the latest initiative, Nissan Motor Co. will focus on China, North America and Japan; Renault on Europe, Russia and South America and North Africa, and Mitsubishi on Southeast Asia and Oceania, for the benefit of the entire alliance. Nissan Chief Executive Makoto Uchida said the alliance planned to pursue fiscal strength together. “The synergy is huge,” he said. Vehicles sharing the same platform will double by 2024, saving 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion), according to Senard. The shared technology will also include electric cars and autonomous driving, platforms and car bodies, the executives said. Nissan is a leader in electric cars with its Leaf, but such technology will be available to the other alliance members, they said. Renault owns 43% of Nissan, while Nissan owns 15% of Renault. The government of France owns 15% of Renault. France’s government announced on Tuesday a bailout of more than 8 billion euros ($8.8 billion) for the nation’s auto industry. A 5-billion-euro ($5.5 billion) French government loan guarantee is under discussion for Renault. The measures include subsidies to encourage people to buy low-emissions models. Analysts say automakers, including Nissan, need to slash costs. “Car companies find themselves in extraordinary times right now due to the COVID-19 crisis and the impact of lockdowns and economic recession on sales. A key theme emerging in companies’ response to the crisis is the need to focus on core and profitable activities,” said David Leggett of analytics company GlobaData. Nissan's brand suffered from the arrest of Ghosn in November 2018 on suspicion of various kinds of financial misconduct, including under-reporting promised compensation and misusing Nissan money. Ghosn had been sent in by Renault in 1999, to save Nissan from the brink of bankruptcy. He insisted on his innocence from the start and accused some at Nissan of concocting allegations to block a merger with Renault. Preparations were underway for a courtroom showdown when Ghosn fled to Lebanon while out on bail in late 2019. The Brazilian-born Ghosn holds Lebanese citizenship and Lebanon does not have an extradition treaty with Japan. U.S. authorities recently arrested two Americans accused of helping Ghosn escape, reportedly by secreting him in a box for musical instruments flown in a private jet. Japanese prosecutors issued arrest warrants for them last year and are seeking their extradition. Before his downfall, Ghosn was a revered figure in the auto industry, especially in Japan, where he was a corporate superstar. ___ Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama
  • The European Union unveiling a massive coronavirus recovery plan worth hundreds of billions of euros to help countries rebuild their ailing economies, but the bloc remains deeply divided over what conditions should be attached to the funds. The move Wednesday comes as the 27-nation trading bloc is set to enter its deepest-ever recession as the impact from the coronavirus pandemic ravages economies. Virtually every country has broken the EU’s deficit limit as they’ve spent to keep health care systems, businesses and jobs alive. Earlier this month, the leaders of Germany and France — historically, the two main drivers of EU integration — agreed on a one-time 500 billion-euro ($543 billion) fund, a proposal that would add further cash to an arsenal of financial measures the bloc is deploying to cope with the economic fallout. That plan would involve the EU borrowing money in financial markets to help sectors and countries that are particularly affected by the pandemic. The European Commission’s blueprint is likely to resemble the Franco-German plan in many ways while attaching the fund to the EU’s next long-term budget. The big question will be how much money will take the form of grants and how much would be loans. Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden — a group of countries dubbed the “Frugal Four” for their budgetary rectitude — are reluctant to see money given away without any strings attached, and their opposition to grants could hold up the project. “Will it be grants or loans? And if it will be grants, who are going to pay the grants? Loans, I think is a more interesting way forward to discuss, but we also have to discuss under what conditions shall we give these loans,” Swedish Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson said Tuesday. Whatever its content, the commission’s plan is likely to spark heated debate and the EU does not have time for the wrangling to drag on. The new budget period begins on Jan 1, and countries across the bloc are desperate for funds now. All 27 member countries must agree for the recovery fund to take effect. ___ Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.
  • Global stock markets were mixed Wednesday as U.S.-Chinese tensions over Hong Kong vied with optimism about recovering from the coronavirus pandemic. Benchmarks in Shanghai and Hong Kong retreated after the White House said a proposed national security law might jeopardize the Chinese territory’s status as a global financial center. “Mounting U.S.-China tensions bodes ominously for the global economy amid pandemic fragilities,” Mizuho Bank said in a report. London and Frankfurt opened higher, while Tokyo also advanced. The FTSE 100 in London rose 0.9% to 6,123.50 and Frankfurt's DAX added 1% to 11,617.13. The CAC 40 in France gained 1.1% to 4,656.90. On Wall Street, the future for the benchmark S&P 500 Index was 0.9% higher and that for Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 1%. On Tuesday, Wall Street closed at its highest level in nearly three months on hopes the global economy might be recovering from its deepest slump since the 1930s as more countries reopen factories, shops and other businesses. In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.4% to 23,301.36 after falling as much as 0.7% earlier in the day. The Shanghai Composite Index declined 0.3% to 2,836.80. The law under consideration for Hong Kong by the Chinese legislature has prompted warnings it might erode the independence of courts and other elements that help to make the former British colony a business center. The legislation would alter Hong Kong’s Basic Law, or mini-constitution, to allow Beijing to compel its government to enact laws. That would circumvent a local legislature that withdrew a proposed security law in 2003 following public protests. Hong Kong’s leader tried Tuesday to reassure businesses and the public the law wouldn’t threaten civil liberties. Details haven’t been released, but the decision to enact the law reflects the determination of President Xi Jinping’s government to tighten control over Hong Kong following anti-government protests. President Donald Trump said he was working on a response but declined to give details. Trump is “displeased with China’s efforts and that it’s hard to see how Hong Kong can remain a financial hub if China takes over,” said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. She declined to elaborate. Friction has already mounted over the pandemic, which originated in China, and over whether Beijing is delivering on pledges to boost imports from the U.S. as part of a trade deal with Washington. Elsewhere in Asia, the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo recovered from early losses to gain 0.7%, closing at 21,419.23. The Kospi in Seoul edged less than 0.1% higher to 2,031.20 and Australia’s S&P-ASX 200 was off less than 0.1% at 5,775.00. India’s Sensex rose 2.8% to 31,455.60 and New Zealand gained 1.2%. Singapore declined while Bangkok and Jakarta advanced. On Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose 1.2% on Tuesday. It is 12% below its all-time high in February. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 2.2% and the Nasdaq composite rose 0.2%. Financial and industrial stocks accounted for much of the market’s gains. Companies that rely on consumer spending also rose broadly. Airlines were big winners as traders welcomed data showing a pickup in air travel during the long holiday weekend. Fears of a crushing recession due to the coronavirus sent the S&P 500 into a skid of more than 30% in March. Hopes for a relatively quick rebound and unprecedented moves by the Federal Reserve and Congress to stem the economic pain drove a historic rebound for stocks in April and have bolstered optimism that the market won’t return to the depths seen two months ago. Fresh optimism about the development of potential vaccines for COVID-19 has also helped lift stocks. Investors are focused on the process of reopening the U.S. economy, which is likely to accelerate over the summer. In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude lost 40 cents to $33.95 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.10 on Tuesday to settle at $34.35. Brent crude, used to price international oils, declined 54 cents to $36.20 per barrel in London. It rose 64 cents the previous session to $36.17. The dollar gained to 107.58 yen from Tuesday’s 107.54. The euro retreated to $1.0966 from $1.0993.
  • Only about half of Americans say they would get a COVID-19 vaccine if the scientists working furiously to create one succeed, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. That’s surprisingly low considering the effort going into the global race for a vaccine against the coronavirus that has sparked a pandemic since first emerging from China late last year. But more people might eventually roll up their sleeves: The poll, released Wednesday, found 31% simply weren’t sure if they’d get vaccinated. Another 1 in 5 said they’d refuse. Health experts already worry about the whiplash if vaccine promises like President Donald Trump’s goal of a 300 million-dose stockpile by January fail. Only time and science will tell -- and the new poll shows the public is indeed skeptical. “It’s always better to under-promise and over-deliver,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “The unexpected looms large and that’s why I think for any of these vaccines, we’re going to need a large safety database to provide the reassurance,” he added. Among Americans who say they wouldn’t get vaccinated, 7 in 10 worry about safety. “I am not an anti-vaxxer,” said Melanie Dries, 56, of Colorado Springs, Colorado. But, “to get a COVID-19 vaccine within a year or two ... causes me to fear that it won’t be widely tested as to side effects.” Dr. Francis Collins, who directs the National Institutes of Health, insists safety is the top priority. The NIH is creating a master plan for testing the leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates in tens of thousands of people, to prove if they really work and also if they're safe. “I would not want people to think that we’re cutting corners because that would be a big mistake. I think this is an effort to try to achieve efficiencies, but not to sacrifice rigor,” Collins told the AP earlier this month. “Definitely the worst thing that could happen is if we rush through a vaccine that turns out to have significant side effects,” Collins added. Among those who want a vaccine, the AP-NORC poll found protecting themselves, their family and the community are the top reasons. 'I’m definitely going to get it,” said Brandon Grimes, 35, of Austin, Texas. “As a father who takes care of his family, I think ... it’s important for me to get vaccinated as soon as it’s available to better protect my family.” And about 7 in 10 of those who would get vaccinated say life won't go back to normal without a vaccine. A site foreman for his family’s construction business, Grimes travels from house to house interacting with different crews, and said some of his coworkers also are looking forward to vaccination to minimize on-the-job risk. The new coronavirus is most dangerous to older adults and people of any age who have chronic health problems such as diabetes or heart disease. The poll found 67% of people 60 and older say they’d get vaccinated, compared with 40% who are younger. And death counts suggest black and Hispanic Americans are more vulnerable to COVID-19, because of unequal access to health care and other factors. Yet the poll found just 25% of African Americans and 37% of Hispanics would get a vaccine compared to 56% of whites. Among people who don't want a vaccine, about 4 in 10 say they're concerned about catching COVID-19 from the shot. But most of the leading vaccine candidates don't contain the coronavirus itself, meaning they can't cause infection. And 3 in 10 who don't want a vaccine don't fear getting seriously ill from the coronavirus. Over 5.5 million people worldwide have been confirmed infected by the virus, and more than 340,000 deaths have been recorded, including nearly 100,000 in the U.S., according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. Experts believe the true toll is significantly higher. And while most people who get COVID-19 have mild cases and recover, doctors still are discovering the coronavirus attacks in far sneakier ways than just causing pneumonia — from blood clots to heart and kidney damage to the latest scare, a life-threatening inflammatory reaction in children. Whatever the final statistics show about how often it kills, health specialists agree the new coronavirus appears deadlier than the typical flu. Yet the survey suggests a vaccine would be no more popular than the yearly flu shot. Worldwide, about a dozen COVID-19 vaccine candidates are in early stages of testing or poised to begin. British researchers are opening one of the biggest studies so far, to test an Oxford University-created shot in 10,000 people. For all the promises of the Trump administration’s “ Operation Warp Speed,” only 20% of Americans expect any vaccine to be available to the public by year’s end, the poll found. Most think sometime next year is more likely. Political divisions seen over how the country reopens the economy are reflected in desire for a vaccine, too. More than half of Democrats call a vaccine necessary for reopening, compared to about a third of Republicans. While 62% of Democrats would get the vaccine, only 43% of Republicans say the same. “There's still a large amount of uncertainty around taking the vaccine,” said Caitlin Oppenheimer, who leads NORC's public health research. “There is a lot of opportunity to communicate with Americans about the value and the safety of a vaccine.” ___ AP video journalist Federica Narancio contributed to this report. ___ The AP-NORC poll of 1,056 adults was conducted May 14-18 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.
  • Deadlocked over the next big coronavirus relief bill, Congress is shifting its attention to a more modest overhaul of small-business aid in hopes of helping employers reopen shops and survive the pandemic. Bipartisan legislation that would give small employers more time to take advantage of federal subsidies for payroll and other costs is expected to pass the House this week, as lawmakers return to Washington for an abbreviated two-day session. Yet absent from the agenda is formal talks between congressional leaders on the next phase of the federal coronavirus response. Democrats have already pushed a $3 trillion-plus measure through the House, but negotiations with the GOP-controlled Senate and White House have yet to begin. “We can’t keep propping up the economy forever,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday in Lexington. It was one of his first public appearances in his home state of Kentucky since mid-March because of the pandemic. “The ultimate solution is to begin to get back to normal,” he said. “There are three things that are essential to have full normalcy — testing, treatment and vaccine.” Senate Republicans are divided on the next steps and wary of another sprawling negotiation where Democrats and the White House call the shots. They are also split on a central element — how much aid to provide state and local governments and other coronavirus response after earlier relief bills totaled almost $3 trillion. Even as they hit “pause” on a larger bill, Republicans are enthusiastic about improving the Paycheck Protection Program, which was established in March under the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill and was replenished last month. All told, Congress has provided about $660 billion for the program. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a key architect of the aid, said in an interview that the program has shifted from one that was intended to keep paychecks flowing during the shutdown to a bridge to help businesses pay workers as they reopen — in many cases, at less than full capacity. “It’s taken on a different level of importance now,” Rubio said. “The program has evolved from simply keeping people from getting unemployed to actually helping rehire people as these businesses open up but the cash flow lags.” The House bill would provide a 24-week window to spend PPP funds and would eliminate a requirement that 75% of the forgivable loans be used for payroll costs. The goal is to give businesses more flexibility to pay rent and other overhead costs such as installing protective equipment. Under the original program, businesses are required to spend their loan money within the eight-week window to have their loans forgiven. That deadline is fast approaching. Without forgiveness, they would face a debt burden that, for many, would be hard to bear in a struggling economy. But the eight-week window has created a problem, particularly for restaurants. Under the law, they were required to rehire all their laid-off workers despite being closed or limited to takeout and delivery. Many restaurant owners feared that they would use up their loan money before being allowed to reopen, or reopening with reduced revenue because of social distancing requirements. The House's return to Washington for voting Wednesday comes after Senate Republicans — who are on recess after spending the past three weeks in Washington — have been knocking the decision by top Democrats to largely stay out of session during the pandemic. House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy’s office announced it was filing a lawsuit Tuesday against the new system of proxy voting. Approved by House Democrats earlier this month, the first-of-its-kind rules change will be in practice this week as dozens of lawmakers sign up to have another vote on their behalf so they can avoid travel to Washington. Republicans call it unconstitutional. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the lawsuit a “sad stunt” as the nation's virus-related death toll approaches 100,000. It appears the House could be out of session for much of June as well. The House, which has more than four times as many members as the 100-person Senate, is operating under the Capitol physician’s guidance, as Washington, D.C., remains under stay-home orders. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said there isn't much legislation ready for floor votes, and committees are just beginning to write must-pass legislation like agency budget bills, the annual defense policy measure and a major reauthorization of water projects. Hoyer said political messaging bills, usually a feature of election years, are likely to take a back seat for now, as voting in the House has become an arduous and time-consuming process because of social distancing rules. In the meantime, Democrats are focused on touting the more than $3 trillion measure that they passed earlier this month, a more than 1,800-page measure crafted in response to Pelosi's admonition that they “go big” in the response. Republicans and the White House have dismissed the bill as a liberal wish list, but they have yet to coalesce around an alternative despite acknowledging the need for more legislative action. One idea gaining steam among Republicans — pushed by Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas and Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio — would deliver a bonus to unemployed people who return to their jobs. It's discussed as a replacement for the $600 per week supplemental unemployment benefit that expires July 31. “It’s something we’re looking at very carefully,” said White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow. He called the jobless aid “a major disincentive to go back to work.” ___ Associated Press writers Joyce Rosenberg in New York and Bruce Schreiner in Lexington, Ky., contributed to this report.

News

  • More than 5.6 million people worldwide -- including more than 1.6 million in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. While efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak continue, states have begun to shift their focus toward reopening their economies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Wednesday, May 27, continue below:  Worldwide coronavirus deaths top 350K Update 4:46 a.m. EDT May 27: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus reached 350,752 early Wednesday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. The United States – with nearly 1.7 million cases, resulting in 98,929 deaths to date – remains the nation with the highest number of infections and virus-related deaths. Brazil now reports the second-highest number of cases worldwide with 391,222, while the United Kingdom’s 37,130 virus-related deaths rank as second highest globally. Trump gives NC governor 1 week to decide if RNC stays in Charlotte amid coronavirus concerns Update 3:27 a.m. EDT May 27: North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper on Tuesday dismissed President Donald Trump’s tweets threatening to move the Republican National Convention from Charlotte. “I’m not surprised by anything I see on Twitter,” Cooper said. “It’s OK for political conventions to be political, but pandemic response cannot be.” According to WSOC-TV, the governor said state health officials will continue to work with convention organizers to draft guidelines that will ensure the event can be conducted safely during the coronavirus pandemic. In a series of tweets Monday morning, the president threatened to pull the event out of North Carolina if Cooper doesn’t immediately sign off on allowing a full-capacity gathering in August, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Coronavirus has infected more than 62K US health care workers, CDC reports Update 2:10 a.m. EDT May 27: An estimated 62,344 health care professionals in the United States have contracted the novel coronavirus to date, resulting in at least 291 deaths, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed. The latest figures represent a nearly seven-fold increase in less than six weeks. According to CNN, the CDC last highlighted the number of cases among health care workers April 15, revealing a total of 9,282 cases at that time. US coronavirus cases approach 1.7M, deaths near 99K Published 12:40 a.m. EDT May 27: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States surged toward 1.7 million early Wednesday across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to a Johns Hopkins University tally, there are at least 1,681,212 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 98,916 deaths.  The hardest-hit states remain New York with 363,836 cases and 29,302 deaths and New Jersey with 155,764 cases and 11,194 deaths. Massachusetts, with 93,693 cases, has the third-highest number of deaths with 6,473, while Illinois has the third-highest number of cases with 113,195. Only 16 states and territories have confirmed fewer than 6,000 cases each. Five other states have now confirmed at least 52,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: • California: 99,684 cases, resulting in 3,823 deaths • Pennsylvania: 72,778 cases, resulting in 5,163 deaths • Texas: 57,230 cases, resulting in 1,546 deaths • Michigan: 55,104 cases, resulting in 5,266 deaths • Florida: 52,255 cases, resulting in 2,259 deaths Meanwhile, Maryland, Georgia and Connecticut each has confirmed at least 41,000 cases; Virginia, Louisiana, Ohio and Indiana each has confirmed at least 32,000 cases; Colorado, North Carolina, Minnesota, Tennessee and Washington each has confirmed at least 20,000 cases, followed by Iowa with 17,703 and Arizona with 16,864; Wisconsin and Alabama each has confirmed at least 15,000 cases, followed by Rhode Island with 14,210 and Mississippi with 13,731; Nebraska and Missouri each has confirmed at least 12,000 cases, followed by South Carolina with 10,416; Kansas and Delaware each has confirmed at least 9,000 cases; Kentucky, Utah, the District of Columbia and Nevada each has confirmed at least 8,000 cases, followed by New Mexico with 7,130; Arkansas and Oklahoma each has confirmed at least 6,000 cases. Click here to see CNN’s state-by-state breakdown.
  • North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper on Tuesday dismissed President Donald Trump’s tweets threatening to move the Republican National Convention from Charlotte. “I’m not surprised by anything I see on Twitter,” Cooper said. “It’s OK for political conventions to be political, but pandemic response cannot be.” According to WSOC-TV, the governor said state health officials will continue to work with convention organizers to draft guidelines that will ensure the event can be conducted safely during the coronavirus pandemic. “I supported having the convention in North Carolina. But we have to put the health and safety of North Carolinians as the guiding star in this process, and we hope to continue the discussions and look forward to those discussions with the RNC later on this weekend and into next week,” he later added. For months, Republican leaders’ public posture has been that the party’s national convention, where Trump will be formally nominated in August, is “full steam ahead.” But on Memorial Day, the president appeared to hamstring convention planning by threatening to pull the event from Charlotte because of the governor’s COVID-19 restrictions. In a series of tweets Monday morning, the president threatened to pull the event out of North Carolina if Cooper doesn’t immediately sign off on allowing a full-capacity gathering in August, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Trump’s tweets Monday came just two days after the state recorded its largest daily increase in positive cases yet. Currently, mass gatherings at venues like arenas are prohibited as part of Cooper’s executive order because of the potential spread of the novel coronavirus. The RNC is set for Aug. 24 through Aug. 27 at the Spectrum Center and Charlotte Convention Center. Trump expressed his concern about spending millions of dollars without knowing if the state would allow them to fully occupy the space. “Plans are being made by thousands of enthusiastic Republicans and others to head to beautiful North Carolina in August,” Trump said. “They must be immediately given an answer by the governor as to whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied.” Trump said if he is not given an answer, he will find another location for the convention. “This is not something I want to do,” Trump said. “Thank you, and I love the people of North Carolina.” Cooper allowed the state to enter a second phase of gradual reopening Friday with some further loosening of restrictions on hair salons, barbers and restaurants. But he said the state must continue to closely watch virus trends and has ordered entertainment venues, gyms and bars to remain closed. On Monday, Cooper responded to Trump’s tweet, saying, “State health officials are working with the RNC and will review its plan as they make decisions about how to hold the convention in Charlotte. North Carolina is relying on data and science to protect our state’s public health and safety.” Cooper warned on Tuesday that it is still too early to give the president the assurances he demanded about “whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied.” “Already, we’ve been in talks with the RNC about the kind of convention that they would need to run, and the kind of options that we need on the table. We’re talking about something that’s going to happen three months from now, and we don’t know what our situation is going to be regarding COVID-19 in North Carolina,” he said. On Monday, Mecklenburg County and the city of Charlotte released a joint statement, saying, “We are in constant communication with our local and federal counterparts to plan and prepare for a safe Republican National Convention (RNC). The City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and other local stakeholders will continue to plan for the RNC while respecting national and state guidance regarding the pandemic. We are working with stakeholders to develop guidelines for several large events planned for Charlotte in the coming months including the RNC and anticipate providing that guidance in June.” Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles tweeted: “With the health and safety of our residents and visitors being the top priority, the city of Charlotte will continue to follow guidance from Governor Cooper and public health professionals in determining the best and safest way to host the Republican National Convention. While I’ve remained consistent in my statements regarding the RNC being held in Charlotte, the science and data will ultimately determine what we will collectively do for our city.” Meanwhile, two GOP governors on Tuesday offered up their states to host the Republican National Convention. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp sent an open plea to Trump on Tuesday to consider his state as an alternate site. Kemp’s offer was followed by one from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. The convention is expected to bring tens of thousands of visitors to the Charlotte area and millions of dollars to the local economy. In a letter that North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen sent to the RNC, she requested a written plan for how the convention plans to address COVID-19 safety protocols. The letter came in response to the president’s tweet Monday and confirmed that the RNC and state officials in North Carolina were in talks about convention planning as recent as Friday. “Jordan Whichard from Governor Cooper’s team shared with you the written protocols that NASCAR developed and then refined after discussions with our public health teams which allowed that event to occur in the Charlotte area this past weekend,” she wrote. “While the RNC convention is obviously a very different event with its unique challenges for COVID-19, we hoped it would help illustrate the type of plan that would facilitate further conversations. The status of COVID-19 infections in our state and in the Charlotte area continues to rapidly evolve, thus, it will be important to have several scenarios planned that can be deployed depending on the public health situation.' Cohen urged the RNC to consider “several scenarios” as they continue to move forward with planning, since the abrupt threat from Trump comes just after North Carolina saw its highest one-day spike in cases over the weekend since the onset of the pandemic. Cooper referenced the letter during Tuesday’s briefing, saying he aims to reach a resolution with the RNC about how to move forward with the event. “We’re going to have to take steps to protect people. We have asked the RNC to present to us in writing their proposals. We’ve had discussions with them about a very limited convention all the way up, and we want to see in writing what their plans are,” Cooper said. “We asked NASCAR to do the very same thing, and NASCAR did a good job this weekend of executing their plan,” he added. “We want to see from the RNC what their plans are, and we have asked them to submit those plans to our public health officials. They have someone hired to advise them as well. And we look forward to the back and forth on that. We’d like to reach a resolution that everybody can be reasonable about that puts public health, safety, the science and the facts as the number one thing we’re trying to do here. So we look forward to those continue conversations. Everyone wants to get back into action soon, but I think everyone knows that we have to take certain steps to make sure we’re protected.' After Cooper’s news conference, Trump said the governor needs to confirm within a week whether the GOP convention in Charlotte can go forward. “If he can’t do it, if he feels he can’t do it, all he has to do is tell us, and then we’ll have to pick another location,” Trump said of Cooper. “I don’t want to have it where we get there and they announce ... ‘Guess what? You can’t put anybody in the arena,’ or you can put a tiny number of people in.” Read more here. –Visit WSOCTV.com for the latest on this developing story.
  • The body of a missing 5-year-old boy has been recovered in Ohio, Adams County Sheriff Kimmy Rogers confirmed Tuesday. According to WHIO-TV, Cameron Walters, who was reported missing from Mineral Springs Lake Resort in Peebles on Monday, was found dead in the water Tuesday, but authorities have not specified where. The boy went missing about 5:15 p.m. Monday, officials said. Groups of volunteers and water rescue crews returned to the campground Tuesday to continue the search for the missing boy, according to WCPO-TV. An Endangered Missing Child Advisory was issued for Walters late Tuesday morning, saying he was believed to be in danger. The Adams County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information about the case to call their department at 937-544-2314. No further information was immediately available. – Visit WHIO.com for the latest on this developing story.
  • A hair salon in North Carolina is denying service to employees at a Tyson plant due to a coronavirus outbreak. SmartCuts posted a sign at their Wilkesboro location that read, in part, “Due to the number of Tyson employees who have tested positive for COVID-19, we are unable to serve Tyson employees.' The note was widely circulated on social media. Last week, 570 workers at that Tyson plant tested positive for the coronavirus. Some of the Tyson workers WSOC-TV spoke with were upset by the sign placed outside the SmartCuts, but others said they understand the owners’ decision. David Gentry, who has worked at Tyson for years, doesn’t agree with the ban. “Knock on the door, shoot them a bird and cuss them out,” he said. “That’s me.” The business is about two miles from the Tyson plant. The sign said the business would be “unable to serve Tyson employees until approximately June 8, once the recent COVID outbreak has been controlled.” The business has enacted several precautions to keep workers and customers safe, including mask-wearing, temperature checks and social distancing measures. “I think it’s a good thing because too many people are passing who’ve had this virus,” said one customer, Frances McManus. “That there is something this place has to deal with,” said another customer, James Spears. “Because if they come in with the disease, that’s bringing it into their business.” SmartCuts said it will give Tyson employees a $3 discount once they return to providing services to them. Bob Hartley owns SmartCuts and said he’s not only trying to protect his employees but his customers and the community. “If it is unethical in some way that’s still legal but unethical, we will stop it,” he said. “It’s just an attempt to control the spread of COVID-19 on the Wilkesboro community and among our employee group.”
  • The line to get into That One Place stretched down the walkway outside the restaurant. There was no social distancing and virtually no one wore a facemask as they waited for their party to be called to an open table inside. “I’m excited, I’m looking forward to it,” said John Weiman. “It’s about time. It’s time to make a change.” His wife Michelle Weiman added, “I’m looking forward to it, very hungry. Glad he’s doing it.” The Port Orchard restaurant has been open for takeout service during the statewide coronavirus shutdown. But restaurant owner Craig Kenady said he was encouraged by his employees to open his business on Memorial Day to customers seated inside as a way of protesting, saying smaller counties such as Kitsap have fewer cases of COVID-19 and should be treated differently than larger counties such as King, Pierce and Snohomish. “I do think if we’re going to take it on a case-to-case basis then we need to actually look at our county based off of our numbers,' said Kenady. “We’re not in it to break laws, not in it to cause problems. We’re not doing this for politics. We’re doing this for freedom.” Staff in the restaurant wore masks and gloves as they serve patrons. Some tables were kept empty to keep customers further apart from each other. Kenady said his protest would last just one day, on Memorial Day before he goes back to takeout only. “We don’t discount the virus at all. We believe in it and we believe in the severity of it. But we also feel at the same time we can safely operate,” Kenady said.
  • Dozens of tombstones dating from the 19th century were found near a North Carolina neighborhood. A Piedmont Natural Gas worker told WSOC-TV that he found dozens of what appeared to be decades-old tombstones in a wooded area behind the Crestdale Crossing neighborhood. The stones appear to be from the 19th century and have what looks like dates and initials carved in them. The discovery piqued the interest of local historian Jeff Houser who said burial grounds are often lost to developments. Houser believes they are footstones created for a family grave. “These were either pulled up from someplace and set into the woods for some reason,” he said. He said the stones might have never been used, but it would take some time to uncover the truth. “We’d like to know why are these are here, how they got there and who are they for,” Houser said. Historians are working to compare the initials on the stones with census records from that time. Houser said that as of now, there is no official record of a cemetery in the area.