What do the battle against omicron and HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge have in common?

Equity is top of mind this week. First, the omicron variant is now the topic of global conversation. How the story unfolded in the U.S. illuminates how disparity and racism are intrinsic to keeping the virus evolving. Harvard University public health expert Dr. Ingrid Katz speaks with Mary C. Curtis about how global vaccine equity is the only way through this pandemic and the only path to preparing for the next. Then we feature a conversation with Housing Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge about housing, infrastructure and reconciliation.

Local News Roundup: Mecklenburg mask mandate continues; Gov. Cooper will sign NC budget into law; Cam Newton’s return a roaring success

On the next Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup:

Mecklenburg County has not managed to keep its COVID-19 positivity rate low enough for long enough to remove the county mask mandate. We’ll get an update on where the county stands on COVID-19 trends and hospitalizations.

Gov. Roy Cooper says he’ll sign the North Carolina legislature’s budget bill into law, noting that it’s a compromise, but that the good “outweighs the bad.”

Hundreds of parents from Hopewell High School gathered at a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools town hall this week in Huntersville after an incident where guns were found at the school. We’ll discuss what they had to say about how they wanted to see the school district address safety for students.

And Cam Newton is BAAACK. His first game back in a Carolina Panthers uniform last week was a roaring success, and he helped the team put a W on the board. Can he do it again, and will he be the starting QB this week?

Mike Collins and our roundtable of reporters delve into those stories, updates on county commission and city council, and all the week’s top news on the Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup.

Guests:

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com, host of the Rollcall podcast “Equal Time”
Katie Peralta Soloff, reporter for Axios Charlotte
Steve HarrisonWFAE’s political reporter
Joe BrunoWSOC-TV reporter

Local News Roundup: Election recap; mask mandate update; children’s vaccines; guns found at Hopewell High

On the next Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup:

Election Day was Tuesday with many local offices on the ballot around Mecklenburg County. We’ll go over some of the key wins in the region and the impact those wins may have.

Guns found at Huntersville’s Hopewell High School prompt conversations about safety at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

Mecklenburg County Commissioners discuss the future of the county’s mask mandate, as questions are raised about the metrics being used to calculate COVID-19 positivity rates in the county.

Vaccines have been approved for children ages 5-11 and are already available in the Charlotte region.

CMS is weathering news of another sexual assault allegation — this time, one that resulted in a suspension for the student reporting the assault.

And the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality filed a lawsuit against Colonial Pipeline for the largest gasoline spill in state history, which happened in Huntersville last year.

Mike Collins and our roundtable of reporters delve into those stories and all the week’s top news on the Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup.

Guests:

  • Nick OchsnerWBTV’s executive producer for investigations & chief investigative reporter
  • Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com, host of the Rollcall podcast “Equal Time”
  • Claire DonnellyWFAE health reporter
  • Joe BrunoWSOC-TV reporter

What keeps the White House COVID-19 task force chair up at night?

ary C. Curtis, host of the Equal Time podcast, usually ends her show by sharing what’s keeping her up at night. This past week, she posed the same question to Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, chair of the White House’s COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force and associate dean for health equity research at the Yale School of Medicine.

Here’s a transcript of that conversation, edited for clarity and brevity, on the latest on COVID-19 and equity:

Local News Roundup: redistricting continues, another high school lockdown, new nondiscrimination ordinance for Mecklenburg

On the Local News Roundup, the redistricting process continues for state and local elections. Legislators get into the nitty-gritty of drawing state Senate and House districts while Mecklenburg County Commission reviews three possible maps for local districts.

A local Charlotte high school goes on lockdown after a gun is found on campus. One student is arrested and charged following a shooting near the school.

Volleyball players at Olympic High are benched for participating in a protest over sexual assault.

And, Mecklenburg County passes its own LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinance.

Our roundtable of reporters fills us in on those stories and more.

Guests

Steve Harrison, WFAE’s political reporter

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com, host of the Rollcall podcast “Equal Time”

Joe Bruno, WSOC-TV reporter

Nick Ochsner, WBTV’s executive producer for investigations & chief investigative reporter

‘White folks don’t care about dead Black and Brown people like they ought to’

It has been more than a year since the killing of George Floyd sparked cries for police reform and even defunding. But it has all but stalled on the national level as time has passed and as the FBI reports a historic rise in murder rates.

Mary C. Curtis speaks with author and professor David Kennedy, director of the National Network for Safe Communities, to understand why and what the next steps should be. Also, ‘Equal Time’ checks in on COVID-19 vaccine equity with Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, who leads President Joe Biden’s health equity task force.

Local News Roundup: Charlotte’s Redistricting Maps Unveiled; COVID-19 Update; Streetcar’s Low Ridership

Charlotte’s redistricting process progresses this week as City Council’s committee on redistricting releases three possible maps for public review. We’ll talk about what the maps look like and what council members said.

North Carolina, as a state, is also preparing for redistricting. We’ll hear what people had to say at a recent public meeting on the topic.

After Latta Plantation closed earlier this year following concerns about an event planned around the Juneteenth holiday, the county is discussing the future of the historic site. We’ll talk about the group that has been assembled to figure it out.

This week, 375 employees from Novant Health were suspended for not following the company’s COVID-19 vaccine policy. We’ll talk about what will happen to those workers and give an overall update on the virus, the vaccine and compliance in our region.

Charlotte’s new, free streetcar’s ridership is low, so will they start charging people to ride? The city holds a public hearing to get consensus.

Mike Collins and our roundtable of reporters delve into those stories and all the week’s top news on the Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup.

GUESTS:

Erik Spanberg, managing editor for the Charlotte Business Journal

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com, and host of the Rollcall podcast “Equal Time”

Steve Harrison, WFAE’s political reporter

Joe Bruno, WSOC-TV reporter

Dysfunction in America is no longer just knocking on the door

My college roommate has been much in demand in the last few years. (In truth, the presidency of Donald Trump marked a definite uptick in her mainstream media popularity.) You see, her academic specialty is Sinclair Lewis. And if his 1935 novel, “It Can’t Happen Here,” was once seen as dystopian political fantasy, it became — in some circles — a plausible blueprint for the state of the United States of America. What, exactly, is happening here?

It’s human nature not to take crises too seriously until they come knocking at your front door. But we’ve passed that point on a host of issues, with too many citizens either in denial or using the dysfunction as a partisan tool rather than an all-hands-on-deck call to action.

Joe Biden, in his first address to the United Nations as president, asked questions the world hasn’t yet answered: “Will we meet the threat of challenging climate — the challenging climate we’re all feeling already ravaging every part of our world with extreme weather? Or will we suffer the merciless march of ever-worsening droughts and floods, more intense fires and hurricanes, longer heat waves and rising seas?”

It wasn’t that long ago, in 2015, in fact, that Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe toted a snowball onto the Senate floor to prove that the globe was not warming. And while that demonstration stands out for its absurdity and rejection of science, there are still leaders who downplay the importance of the effects of global warming, despite the reality of ever-more-destructive hurricanes in the South, never-ending fires in the West and scenes of New York subway stations awash in flood waters.

The U.S. has rejoined the Paris climate agreement that the Trump administration backed the country out of. But the size and scope of provisions in the congressional budget package to deal with the effects of climate change, a major part of the Biden agenda, are still being debated, including within the Democratic Party that barely controls the House and Senate.

That won’t stop climate from touching almost every other issue, from housing to food production to immigration. Certainly, those seeking refuge in the U.S. from places such as Central America and Haiti, ravaged by developments they may have had nothing to do with, won’t be stopped by walls or agents on horseback.

Local News Roundup: COVID-19 Cases Rise In Schools, 3-Year-Old Killed By Gun Violence, Redistricting Begins In Charlotte

On the Local News Roundup: COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the community and area schools. Where this is happening and what are officials doing about it?

In Union County, not much. Their school board votes to keep mask-wearing optional for students and teachers — one of only three systems in the state to reach that decision.

Mecklenburg County releases data on its employees’ vaccination rates as organizations representing police and fire prepare to push back on possible vaccine mandates.

And a Charlotte City Council committee starts drawing new election maps based on 2020 U.S. Census Bureau data.

Our roundtable of reporters fills us in on those stories and more.

Guests

Ann Doss Helms, WFAE Education Reporter

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com, host of the Rollcall podcast “Equal Time”

Hunter Saenz, WCNC Reporter

Nick Ochsner, WBTV’s Executive Producer for Investigations & Chief Investigative Reporter

Reporters’ Roundtable

We’re at the Reporters’ Roundtable with a look at the top stories of the week.  As always… there’s a lot to talk about.  Hurricane Ida, back to school in the DMV, recapping the March On Washington, and gun violence in our communities.  We start with the end of the war in Afghanistan.