FILE - North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore

North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland

(The Center Square) – North Carolina lawmakers have formed a remote committee that will work on legislation to address issues surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak.

House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, launched the North Carolina House Select Committee to work on legislative solutions to the health crisis surrounding COVID-19, which has infected more than 130 North Carolinians and closed businesses statewide.

“The General Assembly has prepared for times of crisis with smart savings and disaster readiness policy that enable the administration to respond effectively," Moore said in a statement Thursday. "But for actions the administration cannot take on its own, the House Select Committee on COVID-19 and its crisis policy working groups will identify immediate and long-term reforms to assist North Carolinians through this emergency.”

The bipartisan committee first plans to look at the anticipated economic impacts of the spread of the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus as soon as next week.

Moore said Thursday he has urged the governor to delay sales and unemployment tax remittance deadlines and permit and occupational license expirations.

Also topping Moore's list of priorities are the elderly and the state’s vulnerable populations. Members also will “identify measures necessary to maintain essential functions,” such as education and voting.

State schools and certain businesses have been closed because of the worldwide pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned against gatherings of 10 or more people to help stop the spread of the disease. 

Many of those directives have left businesses empty and with limited daily operations across the state. Unemployment claims have increased fivefold since Tuesday.

Many lawmakers, including Moore, have put out statements reassuring the public about the state’s fiscal strength.

In a report released Thursday, Pew researchers ranked North Carolina ninth out the 50 states for its fiscal health.

North Carolina has $3.9 billion in its unemployment reserves, $1.1 billion in savings, a $74 million disaster relief fund, $184 million in Medicaid contingency reserves and a $2.2 billion balance of unappropriated cash-on-hand, Moore said.

Members of the public will be able to hear live audio from the meetings on the General Assembly’s website.

COVID-19 can spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets, according to CDC officials.

The disease has caused at least 150 deaths in the U.S. COVID-19 symptoms appear within two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, runny nose and difficulty breathing. 

Staff Reporter

Nyamekye Daniel has been a journalist for three years. She was the managing editor for the South Florida Media Network and a staff writer for The Miami Times. Daniel's work has also appeared in the Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and The New York Times.