Afternoon Observer: March 3

Kristen Kornbluth
·4 min read

Good afternoon, everybody! This is Kristen. Here’s a quirky read for your Wednesday: Pokemon trading cards have been disappearing from an eastern NC Walmart in what local law enforcement calls a “Pokemon card theft ring.” Two people in their 20s have been arrested in connection with the ruse. I don’t know about y’all, but I would gladly listen to a podcast about this.

Off-the-wall stories aside, let’s talk about today’s news:

1. Charlotte experts weigh in on new one-shot COVID vaccine

The newest COVID-19 vaccine is arriving in North Carolina today, and Mecklenburg is expecting thousands of doses. With the arrival of the new one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the state now has 3 varieties of vaccine to administer to patients. The other two are from Moderna and Pfizer.

As the latest vaccine lands, people are bound to have questions. Our reporter Hannah Smoot has some answers from local health care experts about common questions around the matter, such as:

  • How effective is the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

  • Should I wait to get a particular vaccine?

  • Where can I get the new shot in Charlotte?

Find the answers to these questions and others here.

2. UNCC instructor had sex with student, groped another on a school trip

The entrance to UNC Charlotte on University City Boulevard
The entrance to UNC Charlotte on University City Boulevard

A new lawsuit alleges that an instructor at UNC Charlotte acted in an inappropriate and sexual manner toward two female students during a 2017 school trip to Israel, as reported by the Observer’s Michael Gordon. Despite the allegations, the instructor, a religion historian, remains in the classroom.

Both women, according to the court document, filed formal complaints with the university against Robert McEachnie, a faculty member in the Department of History.

  • The first alleged victim says the faculty member made sexual advances and eventually groped her during the school trip.

  • She also alleges that McEachnie threatened her chances of getting into graduate school if she reported the behavior.

  • The other student accuses McEachnie of initiating a sexual relationship with her during the trip.

UNCC spokeswoman Buffie Stevens said the school does not discuss pending legal cases. “UNC Charlotte will be substantively addressing the claim in the university court filing,” Stevens said.

3. Iconic Charlotte biscuits and chicken are taking a trip north

Charlotte-based Bojangles’ said Tuesday that it has agreed to be bought in an all-cash deal by Durational Capital Management LP and The Jordan Company, L.P.
Charlotte-based Bojangles’ said Tuesday that it has agreed to be bought in an all-cash deal by Durational Capital Management LP and The Jordan Company, L.P.

Good news for citizens of the Buckeye State: The beloved Charlotte-based chicken and biscuits chain, Bojangles, is expanding the coop to Ohio. The chain also has plans to expand into New York and Texas, and to add more stores in Pennsylvania and Florida, the company told the Observer’s Catherine Muccigrosso.

Bojangles has more than 760 restaurants throughout the Southeast and is aiming to open 45 locations over the next seven years. Part of that plan is to open 15 in Columbus, Ohio. The new stores will open by the end of the year and early next year, according to Bojangles.

4. If you’ve been a smoker, you can get the vaccine. Go for it, our reporter says

As the Observer’s Théoden Janes puts it, “This is the time to get vaccinated as soon as you possibly can in accordance with the rules — no matter how dumb those rules may seem.” The rule in question here? If you have smoked 100 cigarettes, at any time, you’re in Group 4 for vaccination in North Carolina — along with individuals who have had a stroke, or suffer from cardiomyopathy or hepatitis. That includes someone like Janes, who, according to him, “hasn’t lit one up since George W. Bush was president.”

Whether the rule is “dumb” or not, Janes asserts, don’t give up your place in line if you’re a former smoker who doesn’t light up anymore. The sooner we can all get vaccinated, the better.

Are you a current or former smoker? I’m curious to hear what you think about this new NC rule. Will you be getting the vaccine now? Let me know.

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