NC Guv Does The Unthinkable, Shuts Down Auto Racing

stock car racing
Image: Royalbroil

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The administration of North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has ordered the closure of a small stock car track that’s allowed large crowds to gather repeatedly for weekend races, declaring it an “imminent hazard” for the spread of COVID-19.

The order signed by Cooper’s health secretary says Ace Speedway in Alamance County, 65 miles (105 kilometers) northwest of Raleigh, is violating the governor’s executive order limiting outside mass assemblies to 25 people.

Media outlets have reported crowds at the speedway exceeding 2,000 people, including a gathering last Saturday even after the Democratic governor’s office wrote a letter stating the speedway’s actions were in “open defiance” of the health restrictions.

Media reports indicated many attendees at three weekend races since late May sat and stood near each other, and few wore masks.

...article continued below
- Advertisement -

The action came after Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson announced on Monday he wouldn’t issue a misdemeanor citation to the speedway.

He questioned the legality of Cooper’s restrictions and said local tracks elsewhere weren’t being punished for opening. Cooper had said he would act if Alamance County officials wouldn’t.

“North Carolinians are making huge sacrifices to protect their families and neighbors. This virus is highly contagious and very dangerous,” Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen said in a news release Tuesday. “Bad actors who flagrantly violate public health orders put all of our families and loved ones at risk.”

An email sent through the speedway’s web site seeking comment from father-and-son owners Robert and Jason Turner wasn’t immediately returned Tuesday. A message at the speedway’s main phone number said the voice mail was full.

Disclosure of the legal action came as North Carolina reported another record high of virus-related hospitalizations at 774 as of Tuesday morning.

...article continued below
- Advertisement -

There have now been over 37,150 positive COVID-19 cases in the state since the pandemic began and about 1,030 deaths, according to Department of Health and Human Services data.

The number of tests completed has exceeded 553,700, and health officials unveiled updated testing guidance that encourages doctors to consider testing of people who have participated in protests and other mass gatherings where exposure could have occurred.

Cohen’s order issued Monday tells the owners they must announce publicly that the races are canceled until Cooper’s executive order expires June 26, although that could be extended.

She said the speedway could reopen sooner if its operators create a plan that would keep spectators away, perform daily symptom checks of employees and conduct frequent cleaning.

The next regularly scheduled race at the 0.4-mile track is June 19.

The speedway appeared to attempt to bypass the governor’s rules last Saturday by suggesting the gathering was protected by a First Amendment exemption. A placard at the speedway read: “This event is held in peaceful protest of injustice and inequality everywhere.”

Demonstrations had occurred in major cities over the past 10 days after the Minnesota police custody death of George Floyd.

NASCAR, which resumed racing last month at its major tracks without any crowds, announced Tuesday it would allow some fans back for races later in the month in Florida and Alabama.

Cooper’s executive orders limiting commerce and movement during the pandemic have caused him grief from industries still unable to open. He’s been sued by bars, gyms and adult entertainment clubs seeking to overturn his restrictions.

A Business Court judge on Tuesday denied motions by a handful of gyms, martial arts facilities and a primarily outdoor bar seeking to reopen immediately, but the lawsuits aren’t over.

Cooper vetoed a bill last week from the Republican-controlled legislature that would have allowed bars to reopen outdoors only and give more outdoor seating options to restaurants that still must cap their indoor capacity. The governor said it prevented him and other emergency officials from easily shutting them down in case of a surge of the virus.

After sharp debate weighing the physical health of residents and financial struggles of business owners, the state Senate voted late Tuesday for a measure that contains the bar and restaurant language while also partially reopening gyms.

It also contains a new provision letting Cooper close them down again provided he receives the backing of other statewide elected leaders.

While some Democrats complained the provision would let Republican Council of State members block such action by Cooper, seven Democrats joined all Republicans in voting for the full measure. The bill needs one more affirmative House vote before heading to Cooper’s desk.

ALSO ON HEADLINE HEALTH TODAY: Covid-19 Made In A Lab? Latest Views | Satellite Images Reveal Secret China Virus Activity | Cracker Barrel Now Serving Cocktails

- Advertisement -


Unvaxxed Sailors Face “Serious Consequences”

The Navy said Thursday that those who don't get an approved exemption by the deadline "will receive no lower than a general discharge under honorable conditions" and that "this type of discharge could result in the loss of some veterans’ benefits."

COVID Cases Still Rising In 5 States

THE HILL – Cases of COVID-19 are declining across the country, with 90 percent of states seeing numbers either sustained or going down over...

Bill Clinton Hospitalized With Sepsis

Former President Bill Clinton was admitted to a Southern California hospital with an infection but is "on the mend," his spokesman said.

New Sex Charges Against ‘Predator’ Bill Cosby

"The Pennsylvania Supreme Court let a predator back on the streets." – Cosby accuser Lili Bernard

Animal Rights Law Lays An Egg

Egg-laying hens are required to have 1 and 1/2 square feet of floor space under a law that was to become effective this month. But it's become clear that few egg producers can meet the Massachusetts standard.

Which COVID Vaccine Boosters Work Best?

A study by the National Institutes of Health this week suggests people who got the J&J vaccine as their initial vaccination against the coronavirus may get their best protection from choosing an mRNA vaccine as the booster.

Unvaxxed United Employees Win Reprieve

A federal judge has extended a ban on United Airlines putting employees on unpaid leave for seeking a medical or religious exemption from the airline's requirement to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Walgreen’s Accidentally Injects Tots With Covid Vaccine

Two children were mistakenly given the Covid-19 vaccine instead of a flu shot a week ago at their local pharmacy -- and are now dealing with some adverse symptoms.

Biden Pushes Largest Permanent Food Stamp Increase Ever

FOUNDATION FOR ECONOMIC EDUCATION – The Biden administration has just introduced the largest increase in the history of the food stamp program (now SNAP, for...

Biden/Pelosi Covid Recovery Spending Plan Fails

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi could have been speaking for the majority of Democrats in Washington when she said on Tuesday that she was “very disappointed” that President Biden’s domestic agenda will have to be pared down because of opposition from Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
- Advertisement -